THE PIECE OF WOOD THAT LAUGHED AND CRIED LIKE A CHILD
There was once upon a time a piece of wood in the shop of an old carpenter named Master Antonio. Everybody, however, called him Master Cherry, on account of the end of his nose, which was always as red and polished as a ripe cherry.
No sooner had Master Cherry set eyes on the piece of wood than his face beamed with delight, and, rubbing his hands together with satisfaction, he said softly to himself:
"This wood has come at the right moment; it will just do to make the leg of a little table."
He immediately took a sharp axe with which to remove the bark and the rough surface, but just as he was going to give the first stroke he heard a very small voice say imploringly, "Do not strike me so hard!"
He turned his terrified eyes all around the room to try and discover where the little voice could possibly have come from, but he saw nobody! He looked under the bench—nobody; he looked into a cupboard that was always shut—nobody; he looked into a basket of shavings and sawdust—nobody; he even opened the door of the shop and gave a glance into the street—and still nobody. Who, then, could it be?
"I see how it is," he said, laughing and scratching his wig, "evidently that little voice was all my imagination. Let us set to work again."
And, taking up the axe, he struck a tremendous blow on the piece of wood.
"Oh! oh! you have hurt me!" cried the same little voice dolefully.
This time Master Cherry was petrified. His eyes started out of his head with fright, his mouth remained open, and his tongue hung out almost to the end of his chin, like a mask on a fountain. As soon as he had recovered the use of his speech he began to say, stuttering and trembling with fear:
"But where on earth can that little voice have come from that said 'Oh! oh!'? Is it possible that this piece of wood can have learned to cry and to lament like a child? I cannot believe it. This piece of wood is nothing but a log for fuel like all the others, and thrown on the fire it would about suffice to boil a saucepan of beans. How then? Can anyone be hidden inside it? If anyone is hidden inside, so much the worse for him. I will settle him at once."
So saying, he seized the poor piece of wood and commenced beating it without mercy against the walls of the room.
Then he stopped to listen if he could hear any little voice lamenting. He waited two minutes—nothing; five minutes—nothing; ten minutes—still nothing!
"I see how it is," he then said, forcing himself to laugh, and pushing up his wig; "evidently the little voice that said 'Oh! oh!' was all my imagination! Let us set to work again."
Putting the axe aside, he took his plane, to plane and polish the bit of wood; but whilst he was running it up and down he heard the same little voice say, laughing:
"Stop! you are tickling me all over!"
This time poor Master Cherry fell down as if he had been struck by lightning. When he at last opened his eyes he found himself seated on the floor.
His face was changed, even the end of his nose, instead of being crimson, as it was nearly always, had become blue from fright.
MASTER CHERRY GIVES THE WOOD AWAY
At that moment some one knocked at the door.
"Come in," said the carpenter, without having the strength to rise to his feet.
A lively little old man immediately walked into the shop. His name was Geppetto, but when the boys of the neighborhood wished to make him angry they called him Pudding, because his yellow wig greatly resembled a pudding made of Indian corn.
Geppetto was very fiery. Woe to him who called him Pudding! He became furious and there was no holding him.
"Good-day, Master Antonio," said Geppetto; "what are you doing there on the floor?"
"I am teaching the alphabet to the ants."
"Much good may that do you."
"What has brought you to me, neighbor Geppetto?"
"My legs. But to tell the truth. Master Antonio, I came to ask a favor of you."
"Here I am, ready to serve you," replied the carpenter, getting on his knees.
"This morning an idea came into my head."
"Let us hear it."
"I thought I would make a beautiful wooden puppet; one that could dance, fence, and leap like an acrobat. With this puppet I would travel about the world to earn a piece of bread and a glass of wine. What do you think of it?"
"Bravo, Pudding!" exclaimed the same little voice, and it was impossible to say where it came from.
Hearing himself called Pudding, Geppetto became as red as a turkey-cock from rage and, turning to the carpenter, he said in a fury:
"Why do you insult me?"
"Who insults you?"
"You called me Pudding!"
"It was not I!"
"Do you think I called myself Pudding? It was you, I say!"
And, becoming more and more angry, from words they came to blows, and, flying at each other, they bit and fought, and scratched.
When the fight was over Master Antonio was in possession of Geppetto's yellow wig, and Geppetto discovered that the grey wig belonging to the carpenter remained between his teeth.
"Give me back my wig," screamed Master Antonio.
"And you, return me mine, and let us be friends again."
The two old men having each recovered his own wig, shook hands and swore that they would remain friends to the end of their lives.
"Well, then, neighbor Geppetto," said the carpenter, to prove that peace was made, "what is the favor that you wish of me?"
"I want a little wood to make my puppet; will you give me some?"
Master Antonio was delighted, and he immediately went to the bench and fetched the piece of wood that had caused him so much fear. But just as he was going to give it to his friend the piece of wood gave a shake and, wriggling violently out of his hands, struck with all of its force against the dried-up shins of poor Geppetto.
"Ah! is that the courteous way in which you make your presents, Master Antonio? You have almost lamed me!"
"I swear to you that it was not I!"
"Then you would have it that it was I?"
"The wood is entirely to blame!"
"I know that it was the wood; but it was you that hit my legs with it!"
"I did not hit you with it!"
"Geppetto, don't insult me or I will call you Pudding!"
On hearing himself called Pudding for the third time Geppetto, mad with rage, fell upon the carpenter and they fought desperately.
When the battle was over, Master Antonio had two more scratches on his nose, and his adversary had lost two buttons off his waistcoat. Their accounts being thus squared, they shook hands and swore to remain good friends for the rest of their lives.
Geppetto carried off his fine piece of wood and, thanking Master Antonio, returned limping to his house.
GEPPETTO NAMES HIS PUPPET PINOCCHIO
Geppetto lived in a small ground-floor room that was only lighted from the staircase. The furniture could not have been simpler—a rickety chair, a poor bed, and a broken-down table. At the end of the room there was a fireplace with a lighted fire; but the fire was painted, and by the fire was a painted saucepan that was boiling cheerfully and sending out a cloud of smoke that looked exactly like real smoke.
As soon as he reached home Geppetto took his tools and set to work to cut out and model his puppet.
"What name shall I give him?" he said to himself; "I think I will call him Pinocchio. It is a name that will bring him luck. I once knew a whole family so called. There was Pinocchio the father, Pinocchia the mother, and Pinocchi the children, and all of them did well. The richest of them was a beggar."
A Little Chicken Popped Out,
Very Gay and Polite
Having found a name for his puppet he began to work in good earnest, and he first made his hair, then his forehead, and then his eyes.
The eyes being finished, imagine his astonishment when he perceived that they moved and looked fixedly at him.
Geppetto, seeing himself stared at by those two wooden eyes, said in an angry voice:
"Wicked wooden eyes, why do you look at me?"
No one answered.
He then proceeded to carve the nose, but no sooner had he made it than it began to grow. And it grew, and grew, and grew, until in a few minutes it had become an immense nose that seemed as if it would never end.
Poor Geppetto tired himself out with cutting it off, but the more he cut and shortened it, the longer did that impertinent nose become!
The mouth was not even completed when it began to laugh and deride him.
"Stop laughing!" said Geppetto, provoked; but he might as well have spoken to the wall.
"Stop laughing, I say!" he roared in a threatening tone.
The mouth then ceased laughing, but put out its tongue as far as it would go.
Geppetto, not to spoil his handiwork, pretended not to see and continued his labors. After the mouth he fashioned the chin, then the throat, then the shoulders, the stomach, the arms and the hands.
The hands were scarcely finished when Geppetto felt his wig snatched from his head. He turned round, and what did he see? He saw his yellow wig in the puppet's hand.
"Pinocchio! Give me back my wig instantly!"
But Pinocchio, instead of returning it, put it on his own head and was in consequence nearly smothered.
Geppetto at this insolent and derisive behavior felt sadder and more melancholy than he had ever been in his life before; and, turning to Pinocchio, he said to him:
"You young rascal! You are not yet completed and you are already beginning to show want of respect to your father! That is bad, my boy, very bad!"
And he dried a tear.
The legs and the feet remained to be done.
When Geppetto had finished the feet he received a kick on the point of his nose.
"I deserve it!" he said to himself; "I should have thought of it sooner! Now it is too late!"
He then took the puppet under the arms and placed him on the floor to teach him to walk.
Pinocchio's legs were stiff and he could not move, but Geppetto led him by the hand and showed him how to put one foot before the other.
When his legs became limber Pinocchio began to walk by himself and to run about the room, until, having gone out of the house door, he jumped into the street and escaped.
Poor Geppetto rushed after him but was not able to overtake him, for that rascal Pinocchio leaped in front of him like a hare and knocking his wooden feet together against the pavement made as much clatter as twenty pairs of peasants' clogs.
"Stop him! stop him!" shouted Geppetto; but the people in the street, seeing a wooden puppet running like a race-horse, stood still in astonishment to look at it, and laughed and laughed.
At last, as good luck would have it, a soldier arrived who, hearing the uproar, imagined that a colt had escaped from his master. Planting himself courageously with his legs apart in the middle of the road, he waited with the determined purpose of stopping him and thus preventing the chance of worse disasters.
When Pinocchio, still at some distance, saw the soldier barricading the whole street, he endeavored to take him by surprise and to pass between his legs. But he failed entirely.
The soldier without disturbing himself in the least caught him cleverly by the nose and gave him to Geppetto. Wishing to punish him, Geppetto intended to pull his ears at once. But imagine his feelings when he could not succeed in finding them. And do you know the reason? In his hurry to model him he had forgotten to make any ears.
He then took him by the collar and as he was leading him away he said to him, shaking his head threateningly:
"We will go home at once, and as soon as we arrive we will settle our accounts, never doubt it."
At this information Pinocchio threw himself on the ground and would not take another step. In the meanwhile a crowd of idlers and inquisitive people began to assemble and to make a ring around them.
Some of them said one thing, some another.
"Poor puppet!" said several, "he is right not to wish to return home! Who knows how Geppetto, that bad old man, will beat him!"
And the others added maliciously:
"Geppetto seems a good man! but with boys he is a regular tyrant! If that poor puppet is left in his hands he is quite capable of tearing him in pieces!"
It ended in so much being said and done that the soldier at last set Pinocchio at liberty and led Geppetto to prison. The poor man, not being ready with words to defend himself, cried like a calf and as he was being led away to prison sobbed out:
"Wretched boy! And to think how I labored to make him a well-conducted puppet! But it serves me right! I should have thought of it sooner!"
THE TALKING-CRICKET SCOLDS PINOCCHIO
While poor Geppetto was being taken to prison for no fault of his, that imp Pinocchio, finding himself free from the clutches of the soldier, ran off as fast as his legs could carry him. That he might reach home the quicker he rushed across the fields, and in his mad hurry he jumped high banks, thorn hedges and ditches full of water.
Arriving at the house he found the street door ajar. He pushed it open, went in, and having fastened the latch, threw himself on the floor and gave a great sigh of satisfaction.
But soon he heard some one in the room who was saying:
"Who calls me?" said Pinocchio in a fright.
"It is I!"
Pinocchio turned round and saw a big cricket crawling slowly up the wall.
"Tell me, Cricket, who may you be?"
"I am the Talking-Cricket, and I have lived in this room a hundred years or more."
"Now, however, this room is mine," said the puppet, "and if you would do me a pleasure go away at once, without even turning round."
"I will not go," answered the Cricket, "until I have told you a great truth."
"Tell it me, then, and be quick about it."
"Woe to those boys who rebel against their parents and run away from home. They will never come to any good in the world, and sooner or later they will repent bitterly."
"Sing away, Cricket, as you please, and as long as you please. For me, I have made up my mind to run away tomorrow at daybreak, because if I remain I shall not escape the fate of all other boys; I shall be sent to school and shall be made to study either by love or by force. To tell you in confidence, I have no wish to learn; it is much more amusing to run after butterflies, or to climb trees and to take the young birds out of their nests."
"Poor little goose! But do you not know that in that way you will grow up a perfect donkey, and that every one will make fun of you?"
"Hold your tongue, you wicked, ill-omened croaker!" shouted Pinocchio.
But the Cricket, who was patient and philosophical, instead of becoming angry at this impertinence, continued in the same tone:
"But if you do not wish to go to school why not at least learn a trade, if only to enable you to earn honestly a piece of bread!"
"Do you want me to tell you?" replied Pinocchio, who was beginning to lose patience. "Amongst all the trades in the world there is only one that really takes my fancy."
"And that trade—what is it?"
"It is to eat, drink, sleep and amuse myself, and to lead a vagabond life from morning to night."
"As a rule," said the Talking-Cricket, "all those who follow that trade end almost always either in a hospital or in prison."
"Take care, you wicked, ill-omened croaker! Woe to you if I fly into a passion!"
"Poor Pinocchio! I really pity you!"
"Why do you pity me?"
"Because you are a puppet and, what is worse, because you have a wooden head."
At these last words Pinocchio jumped up in a rage and, snatching a wooden hammer from the bench, he threw it at the Talking-Cricket.
Perhaps he never meant to hit him, but unfortunately it struck him exactly on the head, so that the poor Cricket had scarcely breath to cry "Cri-cri-cri!" and then he remained dried up and flattened against the wall.
THE FLYING EGG
Night was coming on and Pinocchio, remembering that he had eaten nothing all day, began to feel a gnawing in his stomach that very much resembled appetite.
After a few minutes his appetite had become hunger and in no time his hunger became ravenous.
Poor Pinocchio ran quickly to the fireplace, where a saucepan was boiling, and was going to take off the lid to see what was in it, but the saucepan was only painted on the wall. You can imagine his feelings. His nose, which was already long, became longer by at least three inches.
He then began to run about the room, searching in the drawers and in every imaginable place, in hopes of finding a bit of bread. If it was only a bit of dry bread, a crust, a bone left by a dog, a little moldy pudding of Indian corn, a fish bone, a cherry stone—in fact, anything that he could gnaw. But he could find nothing, nothing at all, absolutely nothing.
And in the meanwhile his hunger grew and grew. Poor Pinocchio had no other relief than yawning, and his yawns were so tremendous that sometimes his mouth almost reached his ears. And after he had yawned he spluttered and felt as if he were going to faint.
Then he began to cry desperately, and he said:
"The Talking-Cricket was right. I did wrong to rebel against my papa and to run away from home. If my papa were here I should not now be dying of yawning! Oh! what a dreadful illness hunger is!"
Just then he thought he saw something in the dust-heap—something round and white that looked like a hen's egg. To give a spring and seize hold of it was the affair of a moment. It was indeed an egg.
"And now, how shall I cook it? Shall I make an omelet? No, it would be better to cook it in a saucer! Or would it not be more savory to fry it in the frying-pan? Or shall I simply boil it? No, the quickest way of all is to cook it in a saucer: I am in such a hurry to eat it!"
Without loss of time he placed an earthenware saucer on a brazier full of red-hot embers. Into the saucer instead of oil or butter he poured a little water; and when the water began to smoke, tac! he broke the egg-shell over it and let the contents drop in. But, instead of the white and the yolk a little chicken popped out very gay and polite. Making a beautiful courtesy it said to him:
"A thousand thanks, Master Pinocchio, for saving me the trouble of breaking the shell. Adieu until we meet again. Keep well, and my best compliments to all at home!"
Thus saying, it spread its wings, darted through the open window and, flying away, was lost to sight.
The poor puppet stood as if he had been bewitched, with his eyes fixed, his mouth open, and the egg-shell in his hand. Recovering, however, from his first stupefaction, he began to cry and scream, and to stamp his feet on the floor in desperation, and amidst his sobs he said:
"Ah, indeed, the Talking-Cricket was right. If I had not run away from home, and if my papa were here, I should not now be dying of hunger! Oh! what a dreadful illness hunger is!"
And, as his stomach cried out more than ever and he did not know how to quiet it, he thought he would leave the house and make an excursion in the neighborhood in hopes of finding some charitable person who would give him a piece of bread.