Chapter 46 Summary
Scipio and Prosper arrive back in Venice in the early afternoon. Less than a full day has passed, but Prosper feels as if he is returning home from a long and harrowing journey. Scipio has locked Barbarossa in the cabin of the boat. As they dock, he whines that he wants to come out. They ignore him and look back to watch for Renzo, who is sailing behind them in Barbarossa’s boat. He ties up to the dock and says offhand that he likes Barbarossa’s boat and plans to keep it for a while. Barbarossa is outraged at this idea, but he can do nothing to stop it.
Barbarossa is wearing Scipio’s old clothes, which are smaller than his adult clothes but still much too big for him. He stalks through the streets of Venice trying to look dignified, but the harder he tries, the more people laugh at him. Scipio draws the attention of passersby, too. Renzo has given him an old-fashioned cape, and he looks like he has “just stepped out of an oil painting.” Prosper walks beside Scipio; he feels uncomfortable with his friend’s new grown-up appearance. Scipio tries to reassure him, but Prosper cannot get used to the change.
When they arrive at Barbarossa’s shop, Scipio and Prosper giggle as the tiny Barbarossa swaggers around with his accustomed confidence. Barbarossa begs to keep some of the money from his safe, but Renzo takes it all and still complains that it is not nearly enough. He looks around at the treasures Barbarossa has for sale, trying to find something else to make up the value he needs. Scipio suggests the sugar tongs, which Barbarossa was planning to sell for ten times the amount he paid Prosper. Over Barbarossa’s protests, Renzo pockets the tongs and leaves. On his way out, Renzo says that Prosper and Scipio are welcome to visit the Isola Segreta any time but that Barbarossa will be attacked if he ever sets foot there again.
Scipio says he is going to rent a hotel room and spend a night with a mirror getting used to the way he now looks. He offers to walk Prosper back to Ida’s first. They begin to leave the shop, but Barbarossa begs them to stay. When they refuse, he asks to come along. Like Scipio, he is uncomfortable in his new body, and the shop seems large and scary to him. Scipio and Prosper find this rather funny, but they let Barbarossa tag along.
A few days later, the police find Dottor Massimo’s boat abandoned where Scipio left it. They return it to the doctor, but they find no trace of the doctor’s lost son.