Chapter 11 Summary

In Saint Mark’s Square one afternoon, Victor sits sipping a cappuccino and wondering if he is wasting his time. He stirs some sugar into his little cup and watches the people who pass by. He studies the children in particular, hoping to see Prosper and Bo. Today Victor is not wearing his walrus mustache. He is dressed as a clean-shaven tourist, with glasses, a baseball cap, and a camera. He loves dressing up as a tourist because he fits in with the crowd and because he can take an unlimited number of photographs without looking suspicious.

As he studies the passersby, Victor thinks about how much he likes his work. Detective work is very rewarding—but it can be uncomfortable, too. His nose is getting colder, and he keeps having to blow it. By the time he orders his fourth expensive coffee, he is beginning to wonder if it might not be better to try another method of looking for the boys.

Just then, Victor spots a group of six children. Unlike the typical loiterers and tourists, they seem intent on their goal: the Basilica. Their leader is a flamboyant boy in a bird mask. There are four other boys, too, and a girl. The littlest one is small enough to be Bo, but his hair is dark. Victor picks up a newspaper, but he keeps watching the little gang. A skinny kid with spiky hair catches his eye, and suddenly Victor realizes it is the boy he saw with Prosper.

Victor congratulates himself on paying for his coffees right away so he does not have to waste time waiting for the waiter, and he moves closer to the kids. A tall boy with his back turned seems about the right size to be Prosper, but his hair is the wrong length. Victor lurks patiently. He is careful to avoid moving closer so he will not scare the kids. Finally the tall boy turns his head, and Victor gets a look at his face. It is Prosper. Excited, Victor pulls out his camera and snaps a series of pictures.

Victor is thrilled. He feels it was a brilliant plan to wait in the square every day, patiently, with the expectation that the boys would come along. He is also pleased that he recognized the boys even with their changed haircuts. As the kids slip into the Basilica, Victor snaps a few more pictures and tells himself that he is a truly fantastic detective.