"And we had won such fine reputations in Italy!" said Beni, regretfully.
"Perhaps Uncle Walter wanted to reform you," suggested Martha.
"Are there, then, no bandits in Chicago?" asked Victor.
"Well," replied the girl, blushing in her turn, "we do not call them bandits."
"Then what shall we do for a living?" inquired Beni, despairingly.
"A great deal can be done in a big American city," said the child. "My father is a lawyer" (the bandits shuddered), "and my mother's cousin is a police inspector."
"Ah," said Victor, "that is a good employment. The police need to be inspected, especially in Italy."
"Everywhere!" added Beni.
"Then you could do other things," continued Martha, encouragingly. "You could be motor men on trolley cars, or clerks in a department store. Some people even become aldermen to earn a living."
The bandits shook their heads sadly.
"We are not fitted for such work," said Victor. "Our business is to rob."
Martha tried to think.
"It is rather hard to get positions in the gas office," she said, "but you might become politicians."
"No!" cried Beni, with sudden fierceness; "we must not abandon our high calling. Bandits we have always been, and bandits we must remain!"
"'Tis so!" agreed the fat man.
"Even in Chicago there must be people to rob," remarked Victor, with cheerfulness.
Martha was distressed.
"I think they have all been robbed," she objected.
"Then we can rob the robbers, for we have experience and talent beyond the ordinary," said Beni.
"Oh, dear; oh, dear!" moaned the girl; "why did Uncle Walter ever send you here in this chest?"
The bandits became interested.
"That is what we should like to know," declared Victor, eagerly.
"But no one will ever know, for Uncle Walter was lost while hunting elephants in Africa," she continued, with conviction.
"Then we must accept our fate and rob to the best of our ability," said Victor. "So long as we are faithful to our beloved profession we need not be ashamed."
"'Tis so!" cried the fat man.
"Brothers! we will begin now. Let us rob the house we are in."
"Good!" shouted the others and sprang to their feet.
Beni turned threateningly upon the child.
"Remain here!" he commanded. "If you stir one step your blood will be on your own head!" Then he added, in a gentler voice: "Don't be afraid; that's the way all bandits talk to their captives. But of course we wouldn't hurt a young lady under any circumstances."
"Of course not," said Victor.
The fat man drew a big knife from his belt and flourished it about his head.
"S'blood!" he ejaculated, fiercely.
"S'bananas!" cried Beni, in a terrible voice.
"Confusion to our foes!" hissed Victor.
And then the three bent themselves nearly double and crept stealthily down the stairway with cocked pistols in their hands and glittering knives between their teeth, leaving Martha trembling with fear and too horrified to even cry for help.
How long she remained alone in the attic she never knew, but finally she heard the catlike tread of the returning bandits and saw them coming up the stairs in single file.
All bore heavy loads of plunder in their arms, and Lugui was balancing a mince pie on the top of a pile of her mother's best evening dresses. Victor came next with an armful of bric-a-brac, a brass candelabra and the parlor clock. Beni had the family Bible, the basket of silverware from the sideboard, a copper kettle and papa's fur overcoat.
"Oh, joy!" said Victor, putting down his load; "it is pleasant to rob once more."
"Oh, ecstacy!" said Beni; but he let the kettle drop on his toe and immediately began dancing around in anguish, while he muttered queer words in the Italian language.
"We have much wealth," continued Victor, holding the mince pie while Lugui added his spoils to the heap; "and all from one house! This America must be a rich place."
With a dagger he then cut himself a piece of the pie and handed the remainder to his comrades. Whereupon all three sat upon the floor and consumed the pie while Martha looked on sadly.