The Story of a Puppet/XVII
Pinocchio eats the sugar, but will not take
his medicine: when, however, he sees
the grave-diggers, who have arrived to
carry him away, he takes it. He then
tells a lie, and as a punishment his nose
As soon as the three doctors had left the room the Fairy approached Pinocchio, and having touched his forehead she perceived that he was in a high fever that was not to be trifled with.
She therefore dissolved a certain white powder in half a tumbler of water, and offering it to the puppet she said to him lovingly:
'Drink it, and in a few days you will be cured.'
Pinocchio looked at the tumbler, made a wry face, and then asked in a plaintive voice:
'Is it sweet or bitter?'
'It is bitter, but it will do you good.'
'If it is bitter, I will not take it.'
'Listen to me: drink it.'
'I don't like anything bitter.'
'Drink it, and when you have drunk it I will give you a lump of sugar to take away the taste.'
'Where is the lump of sugar?'
'Here it is,' said the Fairy, taking a piece from a gold sugar-basin.
'Give me first the lump of sugar, and then I will drink that bad bitter water. . . .'
'Do you promise me?'
'Yes. . . .'
The Fairy gave him the sugar, and Pinocchio, having crunched it up and swallowed it in a second, said, licking his lips:
'It would be a fine thing if sugar was medicine! . . . I would take it every day.'
'Now keep your promise and drink these few drops of water, which will restore you to health.'
Pinocchio took the tumbler unwillingly in his hand and put the point of his nose to it: he then approached it to his lips: he then again put his nose to it, and at last said:
'It is too bitter! too bitter! I cannot drink it.'
'How can you tell that, when you have not even tasted it?'
'I can imagine it! I know it from the smell. I want first another lump of sugar . . . and then I will drink it! . . .'
The Fairy then, with all the patience of a good mamma, put another lump of sugar in his mouth, and then again presented the tumbler to him.
'I cannot drink it so!' said the puppet, making a thousand grimaces.
'Because that pillow that is down there on my feet bothers me.'
The Fairy removed the pillow.
'It is useless. Even so I cannot drink it. . . .'
'What is the matter now?'
'The door of the room, which is half open, bothers me.'
The Fairy went and closed the door.
'In short,' cried Pinocchio, bursting into tears, 'I will not drink that bitter water—no, no, no! . . .'
'My boy, you will repent it. . . .'
'I don't care. . . .'
'Your illness is serious. . . .'
'I don't care. . . .'
'The fever in a few hours will carry you into the other world. . . .'
'I don't care. . . .'
'Are you not afraid of death?'
'I am not in the least afraid! . . . I would rather die than drink that bitter medicine.'
At that moment the door of the room flew open, and four rabbits as black as ink entered carrying on their shoulders a little bier.
'What do you want with me?' cried Pinocchio, sitting up in bed in a great fright.
'We are come to take you,' said the biggest rabbit.
'To take me? ... But I am not yet dead! . . .'
'No, not yet: but you have only a few minutes to live, as you have refused the medicine that would have cured you of the fever.'
'Oh, Fairy, Fairy!' the puppet then began to scream, 'give me the tumbler at once . . . be quick, for pity's sake, for I will not die—no ... I will not die. . . .'
And taking the tumbler in both hands he emptied it at a draught.
'We must have patience!' said the rabbits; 'this time we have made our journey in vain.' And taking the little bier again on their shoulders they left the room, grumbling and murmuring between their teeth.
In fact, a few minutes afterwards Pinocchio jumped down from the bed quite well: because you must know that wooden puppets have the privilege of being seldom ill and of being cured very quickly.
The Fairy, seeing him running and rushing about the room as gay and as lively as a young cock, said to him:
'Then my medicine has really done you good?'
'Good, I should think so! It has restored me to life! . . .'
'Then why on earth did you require so much persuasion to take it?'
'Because you see that we boys are all like that! We are more afraid of medicine than of the illness.'
'Disgraceful! Boys ought to know that a good remedy taken in time may save them from a serious illness, and perhaps even from death. . . .'
'Oh! but another time I shall not require so much persuasion. I shall remember those black rabbits with the bier on their shoulders . . . and then I shall immediately take the tumbler in my hand, and down it will go! . . .'
'Now come here to me, and tell me how it came about that you fell into the hands of those assassins.'
'It came about that the showman Fire-eater gave me some gold pieces and said to me: "Go, and take them to your father!" and instead I met on the road a Fox and a Cat, two very respectable persons, who said to me: "Would you like those pieces of gold to become a thousand or two? Come with us and we will take you to the Field of miracles," and I said: "Let us go." And they said: "Let us stop at the inn of the Red Craw-fish" and after midnight they left. And when I awoke I found that they were no longer there, because they had gone away. Then I began to travel by night, for you cannot imagine how dark it was; and on that account I met on the road two assassins in charcoal sacks who said to me: "Out with your money," and I said to them: "I have got none," because I had hidden the four gold pieces in my mouth, and one of the assassins tried to put his hand in my mouth, and I bit his hand off and spat it out, but instead of a hand I spat out a cat's paw. And the assassins ran after me, and I ran, and ran, until at last they caught me, and tied me by the neck to a tree in this wood, and said to me: "To-morrow we shall return here, and then you will be dead with your mouth open, and we shall be able to carry off the pieces of gold that you have hidden under your tongue."'
'And the four pieces—where have you put them?' asked the Fairy.
'I have lost them!' said Pinocchio; but he was telling a lie, for he had them in his pocket.
He had scarcely told the lie when his nose, which was already long, grew at once two fingers longer.
'And where did you lose them?
'In the wood near here.'
At this second lie his nose went on growing.
'If you have lost them in the wood near here,' said the Fairy, 'we will look for them, and we shall find them: because everything that is lost in that wood is always found.'
'Ah! now I remember all about it,' replied the puppet, getting quite confused; 'I didn't lose the four gold pieces, I swallowed them inadvertently whilst I was drinking your medicine.'
At this third lie his nose grew to such an extraordinary length that poor Pinocchio could not move in any direction. If he turned to one side he struck his nose against the bed or the window-panes, if he turned to the other he struck it against the walls or the door, if he raised his head a little he ran the risk of sticking it into one of the Fairy's eyes.
And the Fairy looked at him and laughed.
'What are you laughing at?' asked the puppet, very confused and anxious at finding his nose growing so prodigiously.
'I am laughing at the lie you have told.'
'And how can you possibly know that I have told a lie?'
'Lies, my dear boy, are found out immediately, because they are of two sorts. There are lies that have short legs, and lies that have long noses. Your lie, as it happens, is one of those that have a long nose.'
Pinocchio, not knowing where to hide himself for shame, tried to run out of the room; but he did not succeed, for his nose had increased so much that it could no longer pass through the door.