Chapter 27 Summary

The children follow Ida Spavento into her kitchen. Most of them sit down at the table, but Scipio lurks in the doorway; he knows he is unwelcome. Ida makes coffee for herself and pours juice for the children. Then she tells her story.

A long time ago, a rich merchant gave a beautiful merry-go-round to a local orphanage. Shortly afterward, rumors began flying around Venice. People said that the merry-go-round was magical and that strange things happened to the people who rode on the backs of its animals: a unicorn, a seahorse, a winged lion, a merman, and a mermaid. According to these wild stories, the ride could turn children into adults or adults into children. One day the orphans and nuns went out for a field trip, and the merry-go-round was stolen. When they returned, all that was left was one wooden wing that used to belong to the lion.

Like most of the Thief Lord’s gang, Ida is an orphan, and she lived in the orphanage for ten sad years of her childhood. She explains that she found the wing in the orphanage, and the sisters let her keep it because they knew how much she loved the story about the merry-go-round. She muses that the wing is not the sort of thing most people would want to steal—unless someone knows the location of the stolen merry-go-round.

Mosca asks Ida if she will give them the wing so they can sell it to the Conte and get his money. Ida says she will make them a deal: they can sell the wing and take the money but only if they bring her along and follow the Conte to see where he goes. If her hunch is correct and he has the merry-go-round, she wants to see it for herself.

Scipio says he wants to go along with Ida’s plan, but the other children sneer at him. They say he is not part of their gang and he cannot make decisions for them anymore. Scipio surprises them by announcing that he hates his life and plans to run away from home. He says that he will go alone to find that merry-go-round even if nobody else wants to do it. He will ride it, and he will become an adult so “nobody can treat me like a stupid pet animal ever again.”

His speech is greeted with several moments of silence. Finally Hornet says they should all follow the Conte together. She suggests that the gang should call a truce with Scipio for the time being. When nobody argues, Hornet tells Ida that they have a deal.