Chapter 40 Summary
Prosper and Scipio get lost twice on the way to the Isola Segreta. When they finally find it, Scipio steers the boat around back. A huge wall surrounds the entire island. They know two huge mastiffs guard the front entrance gate, but they hope to climb the wall and sneak onto the island from the back without alerting anyone.
The boys manage to get over the wall, but they do not find the merry-go-round. They search through a maze of paths. When they come to a set of their own footprints in the snow, they realize they are walking in circles. They do not even know which direction they need to go to get back to Dottor Massimo’s boat.
Before the boys can decide what to do next, Prosper hears a growling sound behind him. He turns to find himself face to face with the two mastiffs, and he tells Scipio not to run away. The mastiffs approach, but a little girl calls them off. She shines a flashlight in the boys’ faces and demands to know what they are doing on the Isola Segreta.
Scipio demands to see the Conte. He tells the girl that the Conte cheated them in a deal and owes them payment. He lays out his terms, saying he wants either money or a ride on the magical merry-go-round. The girl seems surprised at the mention of the merry-go-round, and she does not admit to knowing what Scipio means. She threatens the boys with her dogs and forces them to go into a barn full of rats. She tells them they will spend the night in there, and they might or might not see the Conte in the morning. Scipio tries to insist on speaking with the Conte, but the girl refuses to let him intimidate her. She locks them inside the barn and cheerfully promises to leave the mastiffs outside the doors to attack them if they escape.
The darkness inside the barn is intense, and the rats are plentiful. Rather than sleep on the ground, Scipio and Prosper climb on top of two wooden barrels. Scipio is afraid of the rats, but he says confidently that the Conte will have to honor their deal when he sees them. Prosper, who has seen more trouble in his life than Scipio has in his, thinks privately that the Conte has all the power and can do whatever he likes. He thinks of Bo and wonders if he is lost to his brother forever.