'At last you have fallen into my hands! I might punish you, but I am not so cruel. I will content myself instead by carrying you in the morning to the innkeeper of the neighbouring village, who will skin and cook you as hares with a sweet and sour sauce. It is an honour that you don't deserve, but generous people like me don't consider such trifles! . . .'
He then approached Pinocchio and began to caress him, and amongst other things he asked him:
'How did you manage to discover the four thieves? To think that Melampo, my faithful Melampo, never found out anything! . . .'
The puppet might then have told him the whole story; he might have informed him of the disgraceful conditions that had been made between the dog and the polecats; but he remembered that the dog was dead, and he thought to himself:
'What is the good of accusing the dead? . . . The dead are dead, and the best thing to be done is to leave them in peace! . . .'
'When the thieves got into the yard were you asleep or awake?' the peasant went on to ask him.
'I was asleep,' answered Pinocchio, 'but the polecats woke me with their chatter, and one of them came to the kennel and said to me: "If you promise not to bark, and not to wake the master, we will make