Whilst Pinocchio was swimming quickly towards the shore he discovered that his father, who was on his shoulders with his legs in the water, was trembling as violently as if the poor man had an attack of ague fever.
Was he trembling from cold or from fear. Perhaps a little from both the one and the other. But Pinocchio, thinking it was from fear, said, to comfort him:
"Courage, papa! In a few minutes we shall be safely on shore."
"But where is this blessed shore?" asked the little old man, becoming still more frightened, and screwing up his eyes as tailors do when they wish to thread a needle. "I have been looking in every direction and I see nothing but the sky and the sea."
"But I see the shore as well," said the puppet. "You must know that I am like a cat: I see better by night than by day."
Poor Pinocchio was making a pretense of being in good spirits, but in reality he was beginning to feel discouraged; his strength was failing, he was gasping and panting for breath. He could do no more, and the shore was still far off.
He swam until he had no breath left; then he turned his head to Geppetto and said in broken words?
"Papa, help me, I am dying!"
The father and son were on the point of drowning when they heard a voice like a guitar out of tune saying:
"Who is it that is dying?"
"It is I, and my poor father!"
"I know that voice! You are Pinocchio!"
"Precisely; and you?"
"I am the Tunny, your prison companion in the body of the Dog-Fish."
"And how did you manage to escape?"
"I followed your example. You showed me the road, and I escaped after you."
"Tunny, you have arrived at the right moment! I implore you to help us or we are lost."
"Willingly and with all my heart. You must, both of you, take hold of my tail and leave it to me to guide you. I will take you on shore in four minutes."
Geppetto and Pinocchio, as I need not tell you, accepted the offer at once; but, instead of holding on by his tail, they thought it would be more comfortable to get on the Tunny's back.
Having reached the shore, Pinocchio sprang first on land that he might help his father to do the same. He then turned to the Tunny and said to him in a voice full of emotion:
"My friend, you have saved my papa's life. I can find no words with which to thank you properly. Permit me at least to give you a kiss as a sign of my eternal gratitude!"
The Tunny put his head out of the water and Pinocchio, kneeling on the ground, kissed him tenderly on the mouth. At this spontaneous proof of warm affection, the poor Tunny, who was not accustomed to it, felt extremely touched, and, ashamed to let himself be seen crying like a child, he plunged under the water and disappeared.
By this time the day had dawned. Pinocchio, then offering his arm to Geppetto, who had scarcely breath to stand, said to him:
"Lean on my arm, dear papa, and let us go. We will walk very slowly, like the ants, and when we are tired we can rest by the wayside."
"And where shall we go?" asked Geppetto.
"In search of some house or cottage, where they will give us for charity a mouthful of bread, and a little straw to serve as a bed."
They had not gone a hundred yards when they saw by the roadside two villainous-looking individuals begging.
They were the Cat and the Fox, but they were scarcely recognizable. Fancy! the Cat had so long feigned blindness that she had become blind in reality; and the Fox, old, mangy, and with one side paralyzed, had not even his tail left. That sneaking thief, having fallen into the most squalid misery, one fine day had found himself obliged to sell his beautiful tail to a traveling peddler, who bought it to drive away flies.
"Oh, Pinocchio!" cried the Fox, "give a little in charity to two poor, infirm people."
"Infirm people," repeated the Cat.
"Begone, impostors!" answered the puppet. "You took me in once, but you will never catch me again."
"Believe me, Pinocchio, we are now poor and unfortunate indeed!"
"If you are poor, you deserve it. Recollect the proverb: 'Stolen money never fructifies.' Begone, impostors!"
And, thus saying, Pinocchio and Geppetto went their way in peace. When they had gone another hundred yards they saw, at the end of a path in the middle of the fields, a nice little straw hut with a roof of tiles and bricks.
"That hut must be inhabited by some one," said Pinocchio. "Let us go and knock at the door."
They went and knocked.
"We are a poor father and son without bread and without a roof," answered the puppet.
"Turn the key and the door will open," said the same little voice.
Pinocchio turned the key and the door opened. They went in and looked here, there, and everywhere, but could see no one.
"Oh! where is the master of the house?" said Pinocchio, much surprised.
"Here I am, up here!"
The father and son looked immediately up to the ceiling, and there on a beam they saw the Talking-Cricket.
"Oh, my dear little Cricket!" said Pinocchio, bowing politely to him.
"Ah! now you call me 'Your dear little Cricket.' But do you remember the time when you threw the handle of a hammer at me, to drive me from your house?"
"You are right, Cricket! Drive me away also! Throw the handle of a hammer at me, but have pity on my poor papa."
"I will have pity on both father and son, but I wished to remind you of the ill treatment I received from you, to teach you that in this world, when it is possible, we should show courtesy to everybody, if we wish it to be extended to us in our hour of need."
"You are right. Cricket, you are right, and I will bear in mind the lesson you have given me. But tell me how you managed to buy this beautiful hut."
"This hut was given to me yesterday by a goat whose wool was of a beautiful blue color."
"And where has the goat gone?" asked Pinocchio, with lively curiosity.
"I do not know."
"And when will it come back?"
"It will never come back. It went away yesterday in great grief and, bleating, it seemed to say: 'Poor Pinocchio! I shall never see him more, for by this time the Dog-Fish must have devoured him!'"
"Did it really say that? Then it was she! It was my dear little Fairy," exclaimed Pinocchio, crying and sobbing.
When he had cried for some time he dried his eyes and prepared a comfortable bed of straw for Geppetto to lie down upon. Then he asked the Cricket:
"Tell me, little Cricket, where can I find a tumbler of milk for my poor papa?"
"Three fields off from here there lives a gardener called Giangio, who keeps cows. Go to him and you will get the milk you are in want of."
Pinocchio ran all the way to Giangio's house, and the gardener asked him:
"How much milk do you want?"
"I want a tumblerful."
"A tumbler of milk costs five cents. Begin by giving me the five cents."
"I have not even one cent," replied Pinocchio, grieved and mortified.
"That is bad, puppet," answered the gardener. "If you have not even one cent, I have not even a drop of milk."
"I must have patience!" said Pinocchio, and he turned to go.
"Wait a little," said Giangio. "We can come to an arrangement together. Will you undertake to turn the pumping machine?"
"What is the pumping machine?"
"It is a wooden pole which serves to draw up the water from the cistern to water the vegetables."
"You can try me."
"Well, then, if you will draw a hundred buckets of water, I will give you in compensation a tumbler of milk."
"It is a bargain."
Giangio then led Pinocchio to the kitchen garden and taught him how to turn the pumping machine. Pinocchio immediately began to work; but before he had drawn up the hundred buckets of water the perspiration was pouring from his head to his feet. Never before had he undergone such fatigue.
"Up till now," said the gardener, "the labor of turning the pumping machine was performed by my little donkey, but the poor animal is dying."
"Will you take me to see him?" said Pinocchio.
When Pinocchio went into the stable he saw a beautiful little donkey stretched on the straw, worn out from hunger and overwork. After looking at him earnestly, he said to himself, much troubled:
"I am sure I know this little donkey! His face is not new to me."
And, bending over him, he asked him in asinine language:
"Who are you?"
At this question the little donkey opened his dying eyes, and answered in broken words in the same language:
And, having again closed his eyes, he expired.
"Oh, poor Candlewick!" said Pinocchio in a low voice; and, taking a handful of straw, he dried a tear that was rolling down his face.
"Do you grieve for a donkey that cost you nothing?" said the gardener. "What must it be to me, who bought him for ready money?"
"I must tell you—he was my friend!"
"One of my school-fellows!"
"How?" shouted Giangio, laughing loudly. "How? had you donkeys for school-fellows? I can imagine what wonderful studies you must have made!"
The puppet, who felt much mortified at these words, did not answer; but, taking his tumbler of milk, still quite warm, he returned to the hut.
And from that day for more than five months he continued to get up at daybreak every morning to go and turn the pumping machine, to earn the tumbler of milk that was of such benefit to his father in his bad state of health. Nor was he satisfied with this; for, during the time that he had over, he learned to make hampers and baskets of rushes, and with the money he obtained by selling them he was able with great economy to provide for all the daily expenses. Amongst other things he constructed an elegant little wheel-chair, in which he could take his father out on fine days to breathe a mouthful of fresh air.
By his industry, ingenuity and his anxiety to work and to overcome difficulties, he not only succeeded in maintaining his father, who continued infirm, in comfort, but he also contrived to put aside five dollars to buy himself a new coat.
One morning he said to his father:
"I am going to the neighboring market to buy myself a jacket, a cap, and a pair of shoes. When I return," he added, laughing, "I shall be so well dressed that you will take me for a fine gentleman."
And, leaving the house, he began to run merrily and happily along. All at once he heard himself called by name and, turning around, he saw a big Snail crawling out from the hedge.
"Do you not know me?" asked the Snail.
"It seems to me—and yet I am not sure—"
"Do you not remember the Snail who was lady's-maid to the Fairy with blue hair? Do you not remember the time when I came downstairs to let you in, and you were caught by your foot, which you had stuck through the house-door?"
"I remember it all" shouted Pinocchio. "Tell me quickly, my beautiful little Snail, where have you left my good Fairy? What is she doing? Has she forgiven me? Does she still remember me? Does she still wish me well? Is she far from here? Can I go and see her?"
To all these rapid, breathless questions the Snail replied in her usual phlegmatic manner:
"My dear Pinocchio, the poor Fairy is lying in bed at the hospital!"
"At the hospital?"
"It is only too true. Overtaken by a thousand misfortunes, she has fallen seriously ill, and she has not even enough to buy herself a mouthful of bread."
"Is it really so? Oh, what sorrow you have given me! Oh, poor Fairy! Poor Fairy! Poor Fairy! If I had a million I would run and carry it to her, but I have only five dollars. Here they are—I was going to buy a new coat. Take them, Snail, and carry them at once to my good Fairy."
"And your new coat?"
"What matters my new coat? I would sell even these rags that I have on to be able to help her. Go, Snail, and be quick; and in two days return to this place, for I hope I shall then be able to give you some more money. Up to this time I have worked to maintain my papa; from today I will work five hours more that I may also maintain my good mamma. Good-bye, Snail, I shall expect you in two days."
The Snail, contrary to her usual habits, began to run like a lizard in a hot August sun.
That evening Pinocchio, instead of going to bed at ten o'clock, sat up till midnight had struck; and instead of making eight baskets of rushes he made sixteen.
Then he went to bed and fell asleep. And whilst he slept he thought that he saw the Fairy, smiling and beautiful, who, after having kissed him, said to him:
"Well done, Pinocchio! To reward you for your good heart I will forgive you for all that is past. Boys who minister tenderly to their parents and assist them in their misery and infirmities, are deserving of great praise and affection, even if they cannot be cited as examples of obedience and good behavior. Try and do better in the future and you will be happy."
At this moment his dream ended and Pinocchio opened his eyes and awoke.
But imagine his astonishment when upon awakening he discovered that he was no longer a wooden puppet, but that he had become instead a boy, like all other boys. He gave a glance round and saw that the straw walls of the hut had disappeared, and that he was in a pretty little room furnished and arranged with a simplicity that was almost elegance. Jumping out of bed he found a new suit of clothes ready for him, a new cap, and a pair of new boots, that fitted him beautifully.
He was hardly dressed when he naturally put his hands in his pockets and pulled out a little ivory purse on which these words were written: "The Fairy with blue hair returns the five dollars to her dear Pinocchio, and thanks him for his good heart." He opened the purse and instead of five dollars he saw fifty shining gold pieces fresh from the mint.
He then went and looked at himself in the glass, and he thought he was some one else. For he no longer saw the usual reflection of a wooden puppet; he was greeted instead by the image of a bright, intelligent boy with chestnut hair, blue eyes, and looking as happy and joyful as if it were the Easter holidays.
In the midst of all these wonders succeeding each other, Pinocchio felt quite bewildered, and he could not tell if he was really awake or if he was dreaming with his eyes open.
"Where can my papa be?" he exclaimed suddenly, and, going into the next room, he found old Geppetto quite well, lively, and in good humor, just as he had been formerly. He had already resumed his trade of wood-carving, and he was designing a rich and beautiful frame of leaves, flowers and the heads of animals.
"Satisfy my curiosity, dear papa," said Pinocchio, throwing his arms around his neck and covering him with kisses; "how can this sudden change be accounted for?"
"This sudden change in our home is all your doing," answered Geppetto.
"How my doing?"
"Because when boys who have behaved badly turn over a new leaf and become good, they have the power of bringing contentment and happiness to their families."
"And where has the old wooden Pinocchio hidden himself?"
"There he is," answered Geppetto, and he pointed to a big puppet leaning against a chair, with its head on one side, its arms dangling, and its legs so crossed and bent that it was really a miracle that it remained standing.
Pinocchio turned and looked at it; and, after he had looked at it for a short time, he said to himself with great complacency:
"How ridiculous I was when I was a puppet! And how glad I am that I have become a well-behaved little boy!"