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The play continued for a few minutes, and then suddenly, without any warning, Harlequin stopped talking. Turning toward the audience, he pointed to the rear of the orchestra, yelling wildly at the same time: “Look, look! Am I asleep or awake? Or do I really see Pinocchio there?” 

“Yes, yes! It is Pinocchio!” screamed Pulcinella. 

“It is! It is!” shrieked Signora Rosaura, peeking in from the side ofthe stage. 

“It is Pinocchio! It is Pinocchio!” yelled all the Marionettes, pouring out of the wings. “It is Pinocchio. It is our brother pinocchio! Hurrah for Pinocchio!” 

“Pinocchio, come up to me!” shouted Harlequin. “Come to the arms of your wooden brothers!” 

At such a loving invitation, Pinocchio, with one leap from the back of the orchestra, found himself in the front rows. With another leap, he was on the orchestra leader’s head. With a third, he landed on the stage. 

It is impossible to describe the shrieks of joy, the warm embraces, the knocks, and the friendly greetings with which that strange company of dramatic actors and actresses received Pinocchio. 

It was a heart-rending spectacle, but the audience, seeing that the play had stopped, became angry and began to yell: “The play, the play, we want the play!” 

The yelling was of no use, for the Marionettes, instead of going on with their act, made twice as much racket as before, and, lifting up Pinocchio on their shoulders, carried him around the stage in triumph.

 

 

A group of men and women was gathered on the pavement ahead. One of them turned in Pine’s direction and— Is that— It can’t be. Daisy?

Pine sped up, her pace taking James by surprise. “Pine? Pine!”

She took off at a jog toward the imposing theatre at the end of the block, a regal gray-stone façade with roundly suggestive cornices. The large gilt name over the door proclaimed it The Red Dove.

James hurried after her, catching up just as she reached the small group milling around outside.

“Pine, what are you doing?”

She ignored him and the annoyance in his voice.

It was Daisy, just not quite as Pine remembered her. Her hair was still a startling shade of platinum silver, her eyes the same rich blue and white of a sunny day, but one side of her face was covered by a lacy half-mask and she wore an expensive-looking brocade mini-dress in a rich, jewel-colored diamond pattern. She’d bent at the waist to hug Pine, her movements oddly puppet-like.

“Pine?” James stood right behind her, casting a shadow over her shoulder.

Does he have to get involved in everything? Well, let’s see how he feels being surrounded by synadroids. “James, this is Daisy. She was in my sector of the algae farm.” She lifted her chin in challenge. If he was rude to her old friend…

Daisy put her hand to her cheek and flashed James a coquettish look. “It’s Harlequin now,” she said, extending her hand to him. Inclining her head toward Pine, she whispered, “It’s more suitable for the customers.”