Chapter 36 Summary
Riccio, Mosca, and Victor carry all of the gang’s possessions to Ida Spavento’s house. After what he has heard about Ida from the children, Victor thinks she is crazy and expects to dislike her. However, his first impression of her is positive. She dresses oddly, but she gives off the impression that she is a kind person.
When Ida sees Riccio and Mosca, she asks what is going on. They give her a tumbling summary of their problems, including the capture of Hornet and Bo, the loss of their hideout, and the counterfeit payment from the Conte. After this last bit, Victor shouts at Ida for involving the children in her “harebrained adventure” looking for the magical merry-go-round.
Ida does not bother defending herself; she is more interested in figuring out how to help the children. She says that she should have made them all stay with her when she first found them trying to rob her. However, she thought they seemed to be doing okay on their own. “What nonsense! I just like to believe in fairy tales,” she says. She tells Riccio and Mosca that they should take their things to her attic, where they can sleep tonight as well.
Next they discuss the more difficult matter of Prosper and Bo. Victor says he does not think they can get Bo away from his aunt, who has legitimate custody of him. However, Prosper is another matter. He is so upset that he might hurt himself or do some other rash thing. Riccio offers to find Prosper and bring him back to Ida’s house.
Ida tells Mosca that he needs to call Scipio and tell him what happened. She points out that even if they have quarreled, Scipio cares about the gang. Mosca clearly does not like this job, but he agrees to do it. He asks if he also has to tell Scipio about the counterfeit money, and Ida says he does.
Victor has already used his connections as a detective to find out that Hornet has been taken to the home of the Merciful Sisters—the same orphanage where Ida lived as a child. Ida suggests that she and Victor go and get her. When he hesitates, she tells him he can stay behind if he wishes, but she adds that “two adults tend to look a bit more impressive” in situations such as this one. Victor admits that the Merciful Sisters do not like him. Once when he was tracking a man dressed up as a nun, he captured a real nun by mistake. Ida laughs at this and suggests that they go in disguise. She owns several old suits, and she has a collection of fake beards. This is all it takes to persuade Victor, who sets about dressing up with his usual enthusiasm. As he does so, he cannot help but feel pleased that he has met a woman who owns fake beards.