Chapter 3 Summary
Hornet, Prosper, and Bo check the street to make sure no passers-by are watching, and then they sneak into the Star-Palace through a disused emergency exit. They ring a bell to announce their presence before entering. They are supposed to use a password, too, but nobody can ever remember the fancy passwords the Thief Lord gives them. Inside, the kids find Riccio, who is sometimes called Hedgehog because of his spiky hair, and Mosca, whose dark skin makes it easy for him to hide in the shadows.
Riccio and Mosca brag that they have spent the day staking out the Palazzo Pisani, the latest fancy house Scipio plans to raid. The Thief Lord calls Riccio and Mosca “his eyes” because they bring him information about the comings and goings of the various houses he plans to rob. Hornet does not help them; her job is to keep track of the money. Prosper and Bo, who are the newest additions to the gang, have no regular jobs yet, but they sometimes help shop for supplies. Prosper does not look forward to the day when he will have to become more complicit in Scipio’s thievery, but Bo relishes the idea of a little more adventure.
The children live in the movie theater’s disused auditorium, which is infested with mice and missing most of its chairs. Although the theater is run down, its thick, velvet curtain evidences its former splendor. Scipio visits them only irregularly, but he has said he is coming tonight, so the five other children work to clean the place up.
When they are finished cleaning, the kids gather by their mattresses, which they keep close together at the back of the auditorium. Hornet’s mattress is piled with books she has taken from trashcans and train stations. Riccio’s is covered with comic books and stuffed animals, and Mosca’s has a toolbox and fishing rods beside it. Bo and Prosper share a mattress. They have the fewest possessions: six plastic fans Bo has collected since the boys arrived in Venice.
Nobody knows when the Thief Lord will come, so they settle down on the mattresses, and Hornet reads to them from one of her books. She chooses an exciting story, hoping it will keep everyone awake. There is no electricity in the Star-Palace, so for light they use candles Riccio has stolen from a local church. While Hornet reads, Prosper tries to sew up some holes in Bo’s pants. Bo curls up and falls asleep almost immediately. The rest of the kids fight their fatigue a bit longer, but eventually they drop off to sleep too.