The Story of a Puppet/XXV

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XXV

Pinocchio promises the Fairy to be good and
          studious, for he is quite sick of being a
          puppet and wishes to become an exem-
          plary boy.


At first the good little woman maintained that she was not the little Fairy with blue hair; but seeing that she was found out, and not wishing to continue the comedy any longer, she ended by making herself known, and she said to Pinocchio:

'You little rogue! how did you ever discover who I was?'

'It was my great affection for you that told me.'

'Do you remember? You left me a child, and now that you have found me again I am a woman—a woman almost old enough to be your mamma.'

'I am delighted at that, for now, instead of calling you little sister, I will call you mamma. I have wished for such a long time to have a mamma like other boys! . . . But how did you manage to grow so fast?'

'That is a secret.'

'Teach it to me, for I should also like to grow. Don't you see? I always remain no bigger than a ninepin.'

'But you cannot grow,' replied the Fairy.

'Why?'

'Because puppets never grow. They are born puppets, live puppets, and die puppets.'

'Oh, I am sick of being a puppet!' cried Pinocchio, giving himself a slap. 'It is time that I became a man. . . .'

'And you will become one, if you know how to deserve it. . . .'

'Not really? And what can I do to deserve it?'

'A very easy thing: by learning to be a good boy.'

'And you think I am not?'

'You are quite the contrary. Good boys are obedient, and you. . . .'

'And I never obey.'

'Good boys like to learn and to work, and you. . . .'

'And I instead lead an idle vagabond life the year through.'

'Good boys always speak the truth. . . .'

'And I always tell lies.'

'Good boys go willingly to school. . . .'

'And school gives me pain all over my body. But from to-day I will change my life.'

'Do you promise me?'

'I promise you. I will become a good little boy, and I will be the consolation of my papa. . . . Where is my poor papa at this moment?'

'I do not know.'

'Shall I ever have the happiness of seeing him again and kissing him?'

'I think so; indeed I am sure of it.'

At this answer Pinocchio was so delighted that he took the Fairy's hands and began to kiss them with such fervour that he seemed beside himself. Then raising his face and looking at her lovingly he asked:

'Tell me, little mamma: then it was not true that you were dead?'

'It seems not,' said the Fairy, smiling.

'If you only knew the sorrow I felt and the tightening of my throat when I read, "here lies . . ."'

'I know it, and it is on that account that I have forgiven you. I saw from the sincerity of your grief that you had a good heart; and when boys have good hearts, even if they are scamps and have got bad habits, there is always something to hope for: that is, there is always hope that they will turn to better ways. That is why I came to look for you here. I will be your mamma. . . .'

'Oh, how delightful!' shouted Pinocchio, jumping for joy.

'You must obey me and do everything that I bid you.'

'Willingly, willingly, willingly!'

'To-morrow,' rejoined the Fairy, 'you will begin to go to school.'

Pinocchio became at once a little less joyful.

'Then you must choose an art, or a trade, according to your own wishes.'

Pinocchio became very grave.

'What are you muttering between your teeth?' asked the Fairy in an angry voice.

'I was saying,' moaned the puppet in a low voice, 'that it seemed to me too late for me to go to school now. . . .'

'No, sir. Keep it in mind, that it is never too late to learn and to instruct ourselves.'

'But I do not wish to follow either an art or a trade.'

'Why?'

'Because it tires me to work.'

'My boy,' said the Fairy, 'those who talk in that way end almost always either in prison or in the hospital. Let me tell you that every man, whether he is born rich or poor, is obliged to do something in this world—to occupy himself, to work. Woe to those who lead slothful lives. Sloth is a dreadful illness and must be cured at once, in childhood. If not, when we are old it can never be cured.'

Pinocchio was touched by these words, and lifting his head quickly he said to the Fairy:

'I will study, I will work, I will do all that you tell me, for indeed I have become weary of being a puppet, and I wish at any price to become a boy. You promised me that I should, did you not?'

'I did promise you, and it now depends upon yourself.'