The Assassins chase Pinocchio, catch him,and hang him to the branch of a giant oak treeAs he ran, the Marionette felt more and more certain thathe would have to give himself up into the hands of hispursuers. Suddenly he saw a little cottage gleaming whiteas the snow among the trees of the forest.
"If I have enough breath left with which to reach thatlittle house, I may be saved," he said to himself.
Not waiting another moment, he darted swiftly throughthe woods, the Assassins still after him.
After a hard race of almost an hour, tired and out ofbreath, Pinocchio finally reached the door of the cottageand knocked. No one answered.
He knocked again, harder than before, for behind himhe heard the steps and the labored breathing of hispersecutors. The same silence followed.
As knocking was of no use, Pinocchio, in despair,began to kick and bang against the door, as if he wantedto break it. At the noise, a window opened and a lovelymaiden looked out. She had azure hair and a face whiteas wax. Her eyes were closed and her hands crossed onher breast. With a voice so weak that it hardly could beheard, she whispered:
"No one lives in this house. Everyone is dead.""Won't you, at least, open the door for me?"cried Pinocchio in a beseeching voice.
"I also am dead.""Dead? What are you doing at the window, then?""I am waiting for the coffin to take me away."After these words, the little girl disappeared and thewindow closed without a sound.
"Oh, Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair," criedPinocchio, "open, I beg of you. Take pity on a poor boy whois being chased by two Assass--"He did not finish, for two powerful hands grasped himby the neck and the same two horrible voices growledthreateningly: "Now we have you!"The Marionette, seeing death dancing before him,trembled so hard that the joints of his legs rattled andthe coins tinkled under his tongue.
"Well," the Assassins asked, "will you open yourmouth now or not? Ah! You do not answer? Very well,this time you shall open it."Taking out two long, sharp knives, they struck twoheavy blows on the Marionette's back.
Happily for him, Pinocchio was made of very hardwood and the knives broke into a thousand pieces. TheAssassins looked at each other in dismay, holding thehandles of the knives in their hands.
"I understand," said one of them to the other, "thereis nothing left to do now but to hang him.""To hang him," repeated the other.
They tied Pinocchio's hands behind his shoulders andslipped the noose around his neck. Throwing the rope the poor Marionette hung far up in space.
Satisfied with their work, they sat on the grass waitingfor Pinocchio to give his last gasp. But after three hoursthe Marionette's eyes were still open, his mouth still shutand his legs kicked harder than ever.