Chapter 50 Summary

In the morning, Victor buys a newspaper. A picture of Scipio, as a child, is on the front page with an appeal for people to help find the boy and return him to his home. Ida asks the children, but they do not know where Scipio is. She talks to Victor, who agrees that they need to get some message to Scipio’s family. Ida writes a note saying that Scipio is unhurt, that he has a place to sleep, and that he is safe. She explains that he does not want to come home and that she is not able to say more.

Barbarossa demands to see Prosper and Bo’s aunt so he “can have a look at her.” Everyone cringes at the way he orders them around, but Ida decides to call Esther Hartlieb anyway. Victor demands to know why Ida is doing what Barbarossa wants, and she explains that she does not want the nuns at the orphanage to have to put up with the little man’s unpleasantness.

Everyone is curious about what will happen when Ida makes the call to Esther. The children gather at Ida’s feet, and Barbarossa perches in a huge chair. Everyone listens quietly and takes care not to giggle as Ida lies and says she is a nun from the Merciful Sisters orphanage. She claims that Prosper and Bo have been brought to the orphanage and that Esther, as their legal guardian, must sign some papers to give the orphanage formal custody of the boys. Esther argues that she does not have time, but Ida insists that it is necessary and must be done in person. She gives Esther her home address and names an appointment time the following day. When Ida hangs up and says that Esther is coming, everyone is incredulous.

Ida informs Barbarossa that he must do his part to charm Esther if he wants to live with her. He says confidently that he can manage that. He says he will get revenge if Esther is not as rich as the children claim or if she is stingy with her money. He also insists that he is not going to go to school to “sit among a bunch of screaming, snotty-nosed brats who can’t tell A from B.” He seems genuinely worried about this, but nobody else cares. They say that if Barbarossa does not like Esther, he can always go to the orphanage instead.