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CHAPTER 15 (continued)
He did not finish, for two powerful hands grasped him by the neck and the same two horrible voices growled threateningly: "Now we have you!"
The Marionette, seeing death dancing before him, trembled so hard that the joints of his legs rattled and the coins tinkled under his tongue.
"Well," the Assassins asked, "will you open your mouth now or not? Ah! You do not answer? Very well, this time you shall open it."
Taking out two long, sharp knives, they struck two heavy blows on the Marionette's back.
Happily for him, Pinocchio was made of very hard wood and the knives broke into a thousand pieces. The Assassins looked at each other in dismay, holding the handles of the knives in their hands.
"I understand," said one of them to the other, "there is nothing left to do now but to hang him."
"To hang him," repeated the other.
They tied Pinocchio's hands behind his shoulders and slipped the noose around his neck. Throwing the rope over the high limb of a giant oak tree, they pulled till the poor Marionette hung far up in space.
Satisfied with their work, they sat on the grass waiting for Pinocchio to give his last gasp. But after three hours the Marionette's eyes were still open, his mouth still shut and his legs kicked harder than ever.
Tired of waiting, the Assassins called to him mockingly: "Good-by till tomorrow. When we return in the morning, we hope you'll be polite enough to let us find you dead and gone and with your mouth wide open." With these words they went.
A few minutes went by and then a wild wind started to blow. As it shrieked and moaned, the poor little sufferer was blown to and fro like the hammer of a bell. The rocking made him seasick and the noose, becoming tighter and tighter, choked him. Little by little a film covered his eyes.
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