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CHAPTER 22 (continued)
He opened the door, pulled out the Weasels one by one, and, after tying them in a bag, said to them in a happy voice: "You're in my hands at last! I could punish you now, but I'll wait! In the morning you may come with me to the inn and there you'll make a fine dinner for some hungry mortal. It is really too great an honor for you, one you do not deserve; but, as you see, I am really a very kind and generous man and I am going to do this for you!"
Then he went up to Pinocchio and began to pet and caress him.
"How did you ever find them out so quickly? And to think that Melampo, my faithful Melampo, never saw them in all these years!"
The Marionette could have told, then and there, all he knew about the shameful contract between the dog and the Weasels, but thinking of the dead dog, he said to himself: "Melampo is dead. What is the use of accusing him? The dead are gone and they cannot defend themselves. The best thing to do is to leave them in peace!"
"Were you awake or asleep when they came?" continued the Farmer.
"I was asleep," answered Pinocchio, "but they awakened me with their whisperings. One of them even came to the door of the doghouse and said to me, `If you promise not to bark, we will make you a present of one of the chickens for your breakfast.' Did you hear that? They had the audacity to make such a proposition as that to me! For you must know that, though I am a very wicked Marionette full of faults, still I never have been, nor ever shall be, bribed."
"Fine boy!" cried the Farmer, slapping him on the shoulder in a friendly way. "You ought to be proud of yourself. And to show you what I think of you, you are free from this instant!"
And he slipped the dog collar from his neck.
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