Chapter 13 Summary
Victor watches Prosper go with two friends into the Basilica. Bo stays behind with the girl and the spiky-haired boy. Victor knows he could run in and grab Bo, but he worries that the crowd might think he is a kidnapper and pounce on him if Bo or his friends screamed. Also, when he thinks it over, he realizes that he cannot bring himself to snatch the little boy away from his brother so cruelly. Prosper clearly cares about Bo, so Victor resolves to handle the situation in a more delicate way—gathering information first and biding his time before capturing the boys.
Victor buys a bag of pigeon feed and lures a flock of pigeons to him. They fly up and land all over his arms and on his head. He hates birds, and he shudders under their wings and beaks. However, as he had hoped, Bo walks over to watch. He asks if the bird’s claws hurt, and Victor claims he likes having the birds on him.
Bo’s Italian is excellent; in some ways, it is better than Victor’s. For a moment Victor wonders whether he has made a mistake in thinking that this little black-haired boy is the child the Hartliebs want to find. However, the child says readily that his name is Bo and that he comes from far away. “But I live here now,” he says simply. Unthinkingly, Victor reveals his real name as well. As they chat, Bo claims he lives in a movie theater with his brother and his friends. Victor wonders if Bo has an overactive imagination. He looks too clean and well fed to be living totally outside the control of adults.
Just then, the girl at the fountain looks around and realizes Bo is not among them. She sees Bo talking to Victor, and she settles down to watch closely. Victor senses that he has little time, and he snaps a picture of Bo. Just then, Prosper comes outside and runs toward them. Victor bids good-bye to Bo and slips away, resolving to follow the boys and gather more information.
As Victor circles around to follow the children, he exchanges his tourist hat and glasses for some fake facial hair. He wonders briefly whether Prosper recognized him, but he decides that would be impossible. He is too good at disguises. No mere child could possibly figure him out. He follows the children into the maze of Venetian alleys, secure in his belief that they cannot know who he is or what he wants.