Chapter 21 Summary
In the morning, Prosper buys bread but the children are all too worried to eat. They sip coffee and talk about what to do with the detective. Riccio wants to drop him in a canal so he cannot report them for living in the Stella. Some of the others want to hold him hostage for a few days until they can finish the Conte’s job, after which they will be able to afford a home on one of the small islands in the lagoon that surrounds Venice.
Mosca offers to take a cup of coffee to Victor, and Riccio complains that the others should not be so nice to their captive. “This is our...home. The best home we’ve ever had. And he spoiled it all,” Riccio complains. He begins to cry, and the others realize that the Star-Palace has meant a great deal to them, too. The auditorium is cold and scary at night, but the gang has felt safe and happy nonetheless.
Prosper says that he and Bo need to leave Venice now that their aunt knows where they are. Victor has said that he wants to take Prosper and Bo to their aunt but that he will not report the others to the authorities. Prosper suggests that the others give him and Bo a chance to get away and then simply free the detective. Bo protests against leaving the city, and the rest of the gang rejects the suggestion of splitting up. Hornet says the children belong together, like a family. Mosca agrees and adds, “Your problems are our problems.”
In Scipio’s absence, Hornet is the leader among the children. She tells the others to stop talking nonsense, and she insists that they will be able to solve the problem of a home as long as they stand by each other. She hates boats, but she is willing to move to an island if that is the only way for the gang to stay together. As far as she is concerned, everything will work out fine as long as they do the Conte’s job and earn the five million lire.
Prosper and Bo explain to the others that if they are going to keep Victor captive, they have to go to Victor’s house and feed the tortoise he left there. Everyone is surprised at this, and Riccio protests that proper kidnappers do not go around feeding their victims’ pets. Hornet, however, says that she is not about to “let innocent tortoises starve.” She sends Mosca to take Victor his coffee, and then she sits down to plan the day.