Carlo Collodi, 1883
Pinocchio sells his A-B-C book to pay his way into the Marionette Theater.
See Pinocchio hurrying off to school with his new A-B-C book under his arm! As he walked along, his brain was busy planning hundreds of wonderful things, building hundreds of castles in the air. Talking to himself, he said:
“In school today, I'll learn to read, tomorrow to write, and the day after tomorrow I'll do arithmetic. Then, clever as I am, I can earn a lot of money. With the very first pennies I make, I'll buy Father a new cloth coat. Cloth, did I say? No, it shall be of gold and silver with diamond buttons. That poor man certainly deserves it; for, after all, isn't he in his shirt sleeves because he was good enough to buy a book for me? On this cold day, too! Fathers are indeed good to their children!”
As he talked to himself, he thought he heard sounds of pipes and drums coming from a distance: pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi, zum, zum, zum, zum. pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi, zum, zum, zum, zum.
He stopped to listen. Those sounds came from a little street that led to a small village along the shore.
“What can that noise be? What a nuisance that I have to go to school! Otherwise—”
There he stopped, very much puzzled. He felt he had to make up his mind for either one thing or another. Should he go to school, or should he follow the pipes?
“Today I'll follow the pipes, and tomorrow I'll go to school. There's always plenty of time to go to school,” decided the little rascal at last, shrugging his shoulders.
No sooner said than done. He started down the street, going like the wind. On he ran, and louder grew the sounds of pipe and drum: pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi, zum, zum, zum, zum.
Suddenly, he found himself in a large square, full of people standing in front of a little wooden building painted in brilliant colors.
“What is that house?” Pinocchio asked a little boy near him.
“Read the sign and you'll know.”
“I'd like to read, but somehow I can't today.”
“Oh, really? Then I'll read it to you. Know, then, that written in letters of fire I see the words: GRAND MARIONETTE THEATER.”
“When did the show start?”
“It is starting now.”
“And how much does one pay to get in?”
Pinocchio, who was wild with curiosity to know what was going on inside, lost all his pride and said to the boy shamelessly:
“Will you give me four pennies until tomorrow?”
“I'd give them to you gladly,” answered the other, poking fun at him, “but just now I can't give them to you.”
“For the price of four pennies, I'll sell you my coat.”
“If it rains, what shall I do with a coat of flowered paper? I could not take it off again.”
“Do you want to buy my shoes?”
“They are only good enough to light a fire with.”
“What about my hat?”
“Fine bargain, indeed! A cap of dough! The mice might come and eat it from my head!”
Pinocchio was almost in tears. He was just about to make one last offer, but he lacked the courage to do so. He hesitated, he wondered, he could not make up his mind. At last he said:
“Will you give me four pennies for the book?”
“I am a boy and I buy nothing from boys,” said the little fellow with far more common sense than the Marionette.
“I'll give you four pennies for your A-B-C book,” said a ragpicker who stood by.
Then and there, the book changed hands. And to think that poor old Geppetto sat at home in his shirt sleeves, shivering with cold, having sold his coat to buy that little book for his son!