Chapter 24 Summary
All the children go together to the address Victor has given them. The house is so big and beautiful that they feel shabby just looking at it. They argue about whether they should ring the bell or just watch and wait. Hornet suggests letting Bo ring because he looks like a little angel, but Prosper will not let his brother take the risk alone. The two of them ring the bell together.
A maid answers the door, and Prosper asks if she knows a boy named Scipio. The children’s shabbiness makes her suspicious until Bo smiles at her and claims that Scipio told them they could come over to play. She lets them in and makes them wait on a bench by a fountain while she calls Scipio down. Bo plays happily as they wait, but Prosper fidgets with worry.
Eventually Scipio appears at the top of the stairs, dressed in rich clothes. When he sees who is waiting for him, he looks scared. As he walks down the stairs, his father appears and shouts at him for being idle and letting his friends block the entrance to the house. Prosper and Bo say nothing. When Dottor Massimo goes back to his office, Scipio admits that he has a mother, too.
Prosper tells Scipio to come outside and explain to the gang that he has lied. Scipio refuses, saying that he will come to the Star-Palace and explain tonight. He says that he wants to do the robbery as planned, but Prosper shouts at him not to be stupid:
I bet you’ve never stolen anything in your whole life.... All the loot was probably taken from this house, wasn’t it?
Prosper says it was stupid for Scipio to accept the Conte’s job when he has never broken into anyplace, not even the Star-Palace, which he undoubtedly enters with a key.
Scipio refuses to explain himself, and he is too afraid to come outside right away. Prosper stalks out and walks away with the other kids running along behind him. He struggles to hold back his tears as he tells them Scipio is a liar who has been using them for a chance to “play street-kid for a while.” Nobody knows what to say. They stand in the street and look glumly back at Scipio’s beautiful house.
Only Bo does not feel badly hurt by Scipio’s lies—although he is worried by the other children’s attitude. “It’s not that bad,” he says, but nobody answers. They head back to the Star-Palace in silence.