“Well, what have you?” growled the Giant. Gigi presented the tambourine with the few pennies rattling around somewhat lonesomely.
“Humph!” snarled Cecco. “Less than last time. Is that all?”
“A beating you get!” roared the Giant.
Gigi shivered. “No,—not all,” he said. “Here is a silver piece,” and he held out the coin which the kind woman had given him.
“Ah, silver! that is better!” cried Tonio the Hunchback, with his eyes shining greedily. “Give it here”; and he snatched it and thrust it Into his pouch. Tonio was the treasurer of the gypsy band. But the Giant had been eyeing Gigi with an ugly gleam.
“He was keeping it!” he growled. “He did not mean to give it up. He would have stolen it!”
“It was mine!” cried Gigi with spirit. “She gave it to me and told me to keep it for a fiesta. But I gave it up because—because I did not want to be beaten again.”
“You did not give it up soon enough!” roared the Giant, working himself into a terrible rage. “You shall smart for this, you whelp! After supper I will beat you as never a boy was beaten yet. But I must eat first. I must get up my strength. No supper for you, Gigi. Do you watch the donkey here while we go to the inn and spend the silver piece. Then, when we are camped outside the town,—then we will attend to you!”
It was but a step to the inn around the corner. Off went the three gypsies, leaving Gigi with the donkey beside the fountain. The poor animal stood with hanging head and flopping ears. He too was weary and heart-broken by a hard life and many beatings. His back was piled with the heavy roll of carpet and all the poor belongings of the band, including the tent for the night’s lodging. For on these warm spring nights they slept in the open, usually outside the walls of some town. They were never welcome visitors, but vagrants and outcasts.
Gigi sat on the fountain-step with his aching head between his hands. He was very hungry, and his heart ached even more than his head or his empty stomach. He was so tired of their cruelties and their hard ways with him, which had been ever since he could remember. The kind word which the good woman had spoken to him had unnerved him, too. She had advised him to run away. Run away! He had thought of that before. But how could he do it? Tonio the Hunchback was so wicked and sharp! He would know just where to find a runaway. Cecco was so swift and lithe, like a cat! He would run after Gigi and capture him. The Giant was so big and cruel! He would kill Gigi when he was brought back. The boy shuddered at the thought.
Gigi pulled around him the old flapping cloak which he wore while traveling, to conceal his gaudy tumbler’s costume. If he only had that silver piece perhaps he could do something, he thought. Much could be done with a silver piece. It was long since the band had seen one. They would be having a fine lark at the inn, eating and drinking! They would not be back for a long time.