Chapter 23 Summary
When Prosper, Riccio, and Hornet arrive home at the Star-Palace, they find Victor with his hands untied, laughing and helping to fix Mosca’s radio. Mosca says that Victor has promised not to run away. Bo insists that Victor is now their friend. Riccio protests, but nobody is willing to help him tie Victor back up.
When Hornet tells the others that Scipio did not meet them as planned, Victor acts thoughtful and asks how much they know about the Thief Lord. Mosca says they do not talk about the past very often. However, Scipio once told the gang that he was an orphan. Supposedly he lived for a while with an old thief who taught him how to steal and how to survive. Victor does not tell the children that this story is a lie, but he presses them to explain how they live.
The older children try not to reveal any information about the Thief Lord, but Riccio is too proud of Scipio not to brag. He says how much Barbarossa paid for the loot from Scipio’s last job. Victor is surprised that the children know Barbarossa, and he laughs when they claim Scipio was the thief who recently made the newspapers after a grand heist. Riccio cannot stand to see the detective show disrespect for their friend, and he hits Victor. Prosper stops him before he can hurt the man too badly.
Scipio met the gang when he caught Riccio trying to pick his pocket. At the time, Riccio, Mosca, and Hornet were living in the damp basement of an abandoned house, trying to make a living by stealing handbags and wallets. They never had enough to eat, and they were always sick. Scipio made Riccio take him to their hideout, and he was appalled. “You can’t live in a rat hole like this,” he told them. He took the gang to the Star-Palace, where the children have lived ever since. When Prosper and Bo came, Scipio simply provided for them as he did for the others.
After hearing all this, Victor seems thoughtful, and he appears to decide not to reveal Scipio’s real identity. However, he changes his mind when Bo slips and mentions the burglary they are planning. Victor gets angry and says that it is extremely dangerous to break into someone’s house. When the children argue that Scipio knows what he is doing, Victor says this is not the case. He gives them an address and tells them to go watch the house and find out the truth.