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CHAPTER 31 (continued)
"No, indeed. I could not permit such a thing. I much prefer riding one of these donkeys," cried Pinocchio.
No sooner said than done. He approached the first donkey and tried to mount it. But the little animal turned suddenly and gave him such a terrible kick in the stomach that Pinocchio was thrown to the ground and fell with his legs in the air.
At this unlooked-for entertainment, the whole company of runaways laughed uproariously.
The little fat man did not laugh. He went up to the rebellious animal, and, still smiling, bent over him lovingly and bit off half of his right ear.
In the meantime, Pinocchio lifted himself up from the ground, and with one leap landed on the donkey's back. The leap was so well taken that all the boys shouted,
"Hurrah for Pinocchio!" and clapped their hands in hearty applause.
Suddenly the little donkey gave a kick with his two hind feet and, at this unexpected move, the poor Marionette found himself once again sprawling right in the middle of the road.
Again the boys shouted with laughter. But the Little Man, instead of laughing, became so loving toward the little animal that, with another kiss, he bit off half of his left ear.
"You can mount now, my boy," he then said to Pinocchio. "Have no fear. That donkey was worried about something, but I have spoken to him and now he seems quiet and reasonable."
Pinocchio mounted and the wagon started on its way. While the donkeys galloped along the stony road, the Marionette fancied he heard a very quiet voice whispering to him:
"Poor silly! You have done as you wished. But you are going to be a sorry boy before very long."
Pinocchio, greatly frightened, looked about him to see whence the words had come, but he saw no one. The donkeys galloped, the wagon rolled on smoothly, the boys slept (Lamp-Wick snored like a dormouse) and the little, fat driver sang sleepily between his teeth.
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