It was a wild and stormy night. The thunder was tremendous and the lightning so vivid that the sky seemed on fire.
Pinocchio had a great fear of thunder, but hunger was stronger than fear. He therefore closed the house door and made a rush for the village, which he reached in a hundred bounds, with his tongue hanging out and panting for breath like a dog after game.
But he found it all dark and deserted. The shops were closed, the windows shut, and there was not so much as a dog in the street. It seemed the land of the dead.
Pinocchio, urged by desperation and hunger, took hold of the bell of a house and began to ring it with all his might, saying to himself:
"That will bring somebody."
And so it did. A little old man appeared at a window with a night-cap on his head and called to him angrily:
"What do you want at such an hour?"
"Would you be kind enough to give me a little bread?"
"Wait there, I will be back directly," said the little old man, thinking it was one of those rascally boys who amuse themselves at night by ringing the house-bells to rouse respectable people who are sleeping quietly.
After half a minute the window was again opened and the voice of the same little old man shouted to Pinocchio:
"Come underneath and hold out your cap."
Pinocchio pulled off his cap; but, just as he held it out, an enormous basin of water was poured down on him, soaking him from head to foot as if he had been a pot of dried-up geraniums.
He returned home like a wet chicken, quite exhausted with fatigue and hunger; and, having no longer strength to stand, he sat down and rested his damp and muddy feet on a brazier full of burning embers.
And then he fell asleep, and whilst he slept his feet, which were wooden, took fire, and little by little they burnt away and became cinders.
Pinocchio continued to sleep and to snore as if his feet belonged to some one else. At last about daybreak he awoke because some one was knocking at the door.
"Who is there?" he asked, yawning and rubbing his eyes.
"It is I!" answered a voice.
And Pinocchio recognized Geppetto's voice.