Finding that the door remained shut the little man burst it open with a violent kick and, coming into the room, he said to Pinocchio and Candlewick with his usual little laugh:
"Well done, boys! You brayed well, and I recognized you by your voices. That is why I am here."
At these words the two little donkeys were quite stupefied and stood with their heads down, their ears lowered, and their tails between their legs.
At first the little man stroked and caressed them; then, taking out a currycomb, he currycombed them well. And when by this process he had polished them till they shone like two mirrors, he put a halter round their necks and led them to the market-place, in hopes of selling them and making a good profit.
And indeed buyers were not wanting. Candlewick was bought by a peasant whose donkey had died the previous day. Pinocchio was sold to the director of a company of buffoons and tight-rope dancers, who bought him that he might teach him to leap and to dance with the other animals belonging to the company.
And now, my little readers, you will have understood the fine trade that little man pursued. The wicked little monster, who had a face all milk and honey, made frequent journeys round the world with his coach. As he went along he collected, with promises and flattery, all the idle boys who had taken a dislike to books and school. As soon as his coach was full he conducted them to the "Land of Boobies," that they might pass their time in games, in uproar, and in amusement. When these poor, deluded boys, from continual play and no study, had become so many little donkeys, he took possession of them with great delight and satisfaction, and carried them off to the fairs and markets to be sold. And in this way he had in a few years made heaps of money and had become a millionaire.
What became of Candlewick I do not know, but I do know that Pinocchio from the very first day had to endure a very hard, laborious life.
When he was put into his stall his master filled the manger with straw; but Pinocchio, having tried a mouthful, spat it out again.
Then his master, grumbling, filled the manger with hay; but neither did the hay please him.
"Ah!" exclaimed his master in a passion. "Does not hay please you either? Leave it to me, my fine donkey; if you are so full of caprices I will find a way to cure you!"
And by way of correcting him he struck his legs with his whip.
Pinocchio began to cry and to bray with pain, and he said, braying:
"Hee-haw! I cannot digest straw!"
"Then eat hay!" said his master, who understood perfectly the asinine dialect.
"Hee-haw! hay gives me a pain in my stomach."
"Do you mean to pretend that a little donkey like you must be kept on breasts of chickens, and capons in jelly?" asked his master, getting more and more angry, and whipping him again.
At this second whipping Pinocchio prudently held his tongue and said nothing more.
The stable was then shut and Pinocchio was left alone. He had not eaten for many hours and he began to yawn from hunger. And when he yawned he opened a mouth that seemed as wide as an oven.
At last, finding nothing else in the manger, he resigned himself and chewed a little hay; and after he had chewed it well, he shut his eyes and swallowed it.
"This hay is not bad," he said to himself; "but how much better it would have been if I had gone on with my studies! Instead of hay I might now be eating a hunch of new bread and a fine slice of sausage. But I must have patience!"
The next morning when he woke he looked in the manger for a little more hay; but he found none, for he had eaten it all during the night.
Then he took a mouthful of chopped straw, but whilst he was chewing it he had to acknowledge that the taste of chopped straw did not in the least resemble a savory dish of macaroni or pie.
"But I must have patience!" he repeated as he went on chewing. "May my example serve at least as a warning to all disobedient boys who do not want to study. Patience!"
"Patience indeed!" shouted his master, coming at that moment into the stable. "Do you think, my little donkey, that I bought you only to give you food and drink? I bought you to make you work, and that you might earn money for me. Up, then, at once! you must come with me into the circus, and there I will teach you to jump through hoops, to go through frames of paper head foremost, to dance waltzes and polkas, and to stand upright on your hind legs."
Poor Pinocchio, either by love or by force, had to learn all these fine things. But it took him three months before he had learned them, and he got many a whipping that nearly took off his skin.
At last a day came when his master was able to announce that he would give a really extraordinary representation. The many colored placards stuck on the street corners were thus worded:
Great Full Dress Representation TONIGHT Will Take Place the Usual Feats and Surprising Performances Executed by All the Artists and by all the horses of the company and moreover The Famous LITTLE DONKEY PINOCCHIO called THE STAR OF THE DANCE Will Make His First Appearance the theater will be brilliantly illuminated
On that evening, as you may imagine, an hour before the play was to begin the theater was crammed.
There was not a place to be had either in the pit or the stalls, or in the boxes even, by paying its weight in gold.
The benches round the circus were crowded with children and with boys of all ages, who were in a fever of impatience to see the famous little donkey Pinocchio dance.
When the first part of the performance was over, the director of the company, dressed in a black coat, white breeches, and big leather boots that came above his knees, presented himself to the public, and, after making a profound bow, he began with much solemnity the following ridiculous speech:
"Respectable public, ladies and gentlemen! The humble undersigned being a passer-by in this illustrious city, I have wished to procure for myself the honor, not to say the pleasure, of presenting to this intelligent and distinguished audience a celebrated little donkey, who has already had the honor of dancing in the presence of His Majesty the Emperor of all the principal courts of Europe.
"And, thanking you, I beg of you to help us with your inspiring presence and to be indulgent to us."
This speech was received with much laughter and applause, but the applause redoubled and became tumultuous when the little donkey Pinocchio made his appearance in the middle of the circus. He was decked out for the occasion. He had a new bridle of polished leather with brass buckles and studs, and two white camelias in his ears. His mane was divided and curled, and each curl was tied with bows of colored ribbon. He had a girth of gold and silver round his body, and his tail was plaited with amaranth and blue velvet ribbons. He was, in fact, a little donkey to fall in love with!
The director, in presenting him to the public, added these few words:
"My respectable auditors! I am not here to tell you falsehoods of the great difficulties that I have overcome in understanding and subjugating this mammifer, whilst he was grazing at liberty amongst the mountains in the plains of the torrid zone. I beg you will observe the wild rolling of his eyes. Every means having been tried in vain to tame him, and to accustom him to the life of domestic quadrupeds, I was often forced to have recourse to the convincing argument of the whip. But all my goodness to him, instead of gaining his affections, has, on the contrary, increased his viciousness. However, following the system of Gall, I discovered in his cranium a bony cartilage that the Faculty of Medicine of Paris has itself recognized as the regenerating bulb of the hair, and of dance. For this reason I have not only taught him to dance, but also to jump through hoops and through frames covered with paper. Admire him, and then pass your opinion on him! But before taking my leave of you, permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to invite you to the daily performance that will take place tomorrow evening; but in case the weather should threaten rain, the performance will be postponed till tomorrow morning at 11 ante-meridian of post-meridian."
Here the director made another profound bow, and, then turning to Pinocchio, he said:
"Courage, Pinocchio! before you begin your feats make your bow to this distinguished audience—ladies, gentlemen, and children."
Pinocchio obeyed, and bent both his knees till they touched the ground, and remained kneeling until the director, cracking his whip, shouted to him:
"At a foot's pace!"
Then the little donkey raised himself on his four legs and began to walk round the theater, keeping at a foot's pace.
After a little the director cried:
"Trot!" and Pinocchio, obeying the order, changed to a trot.
"Gallop!" and Pinocchio broke into a gallop.
"Full gallop!" and Pinocchio went full gallop. But whilst he was going full speed like a race horse the director, raising his arm in the air, fired off a pistol.
At the shot the little donkey, pretending to be wounded, fell his whole length in the circus, as if he were really dying.
As he got up from the ground amidst an outburst of applause, shouts and clapping of hands, he naturally raised his head and looked up, and he saw in one of the boxes a beautiful lady who wore round her neck a thick gold chain from which hung a medallion. On the medallion was painted the portrait of a puppet.
"That is my portrait! That lady is the Fairy!" said Pinocchio to himself, recognizing her immediately; and, overcome with delight, he tried to cry:
"Oh, my little Fairy! Oh, my little Fairy!"
But instead of these words a bray came from his throat, so sonorous and so prolonged that all the spectators laughed, and more especially all the children who were in the theater.
Then the director, to give him a lesson, and to make him understand that it is not good manners to bray before the public, gave him a blow on his nose with the handle of his whip.
The poor little donkey put his tongue out an inch and licked his nose for at least five minutes, thinking perhaps that it would ease the pain he felt.
But what was his despair when, looking up a second time, he saw that the box was empty and that the Fairy had disappeared!
He thought he was going to die; his eyes filled with tears and he began to weep. Nobody, however, noticed it, and least of all the director who, cracking his whip, shouted:
"Courage, Pinocchio! Now let the audience see how gracefully you can jump through the hoops."
Pinocchio tried two or three times, but each time that he came in front of the hoop, instead of going through it, he found it easier to go under it. At last he made a leap and went through it, but his right leg unfortunately caught in the hoop, and that caused him to fall to the ground doubled up in a heap on the other side.
When he got up he was lame and it was only with great difficulty that he managed to return to the stable.
"Bring out Pinocchio! We want the little donkey! Bring out the little donkey!" shouted all the boys in the theater, touched and sorry for the sad accident.
But the little donkey was seen no more that evening.
The following morning the veterinary, that is, the doctor of animals, paid him a visit, and declared that he would remain lame for life.
The director then said to the stable-boy:
"What do you suppose I can do with a lame donkey? He would eat food without earning it. Take him to the market and sell him."
When they reached the market a purchaser was found at once. He asked the stable-boy:
"How much do you want for that lame donkey?"
"I will give you two dollars. Don't suppose that I am buying him to make use of; I am buying him solely for his skin. I see that his skin is very hard and I intend to make a drum with it for the band of my village."
Imagine poor Pinocchio's feelings when he heard that he was destined to become a drum!
As soon as the purchaser had paid his two dollars he conducted the little donkey to the seashore. He then put a stone round his neck and, tying a rope, the end of which he held in his hand, round his leg, he gave him a sudden push and threw him into the water.
Pinocchio, weighted down by the stone, went at once to the bottom, and his owner, keeping tight hold of the cord, sat down quietly on a piece of rock to wait until the little donkey was drowned, intending then to skin him.