The next morning Violet woke up at the sound of Aunt Josephine's painful coughing. She got up from the double bed she had shared with her siblings, and walked silently over to the bed on the other side of the room.
They had taken a small room at the inn Violet had recommended; it had one bedroom with a double bed and a one-person bed, a small bathroom, and quite a large kitchen with a dining table in the middle of the room. Mr. Poe had left to head back to town to see to Aunt Josephine's financial matters, and he'd loaned the four of them some money, since Aunt Josephine's cash had sunk into the lake with her house.
Aunt Josephine hadn't been at all happy with the idea of living at the inn. She still feared the radiators - which were warm in their new room -, the doorknobs about which the children now believed her. Their inn room had no door mat, and a relatively small refrigerator, so they didn't have to worry about that. The children were pleased with their new temporary living place, whilst Aunt Josephine was terrified of the small noise coming from the downstairs bar, the burglars that she now had no way of escaping, and everything else possible and even impossible to fear.
Violet squatted down in front of Aunt Josephine's bed, and studied the woman's face. Her skin was paler than usually, and in spite of her great fear of it some of her blonde hair covered her face. Her expression was contorted in pain when she coughed again.
Violet brushed the hair off her Aunt's face, smiling sadly. Aunt Josephine had been so tired the day before that she hadn't even bothered to tighten her bun. She had been terrified of falling ill, yet now she had caught a cold. No wonder, she had been in the cold water and wind of the Lake Lachrymose.
Violet was really sorry to see her Aunt in such a weak condition, but she couldn't think of anything she could invent to help the woman. And then Violet's stomach rumbled, and she was reminded that she hadn't eaten for a long while. There was nothing to eat at the inn room, so Violet quickly decided to go shopping. She wouldn't need to wake the others up. All four of them had had an awful day the day before.
But when Violet stood up and made her way to the door of the bedroom, she heard the creaking sound of the double bed behind her, and realized that someone had woken up.
"Violet?" Klaus asked from the bed sleepily. "Where are you going?"
Violet pursed her lips in annoyance. She had hoped that no one would notice her leaving. In a moment she turned around and returned to the side of her bed. "I'm going shopping, Klaus," she told her brother. "I am hungry, and some breakfast would do good for the lot of us."
Klaus looked at her in disapproval. "You can't go out all by yourself," he argued. "You can never know, maybe Olaf escaped, and is now waiting to capture you."
"That's silly," Violet replied in a quiet tone to not wake the other two sleepers. She squatted down beside the bed. "And I won't be long."
Klaus frowned, not thinking it was a good idea. "Then I'm coming with you," he finally decided.
"No," Violet answered decisively.
"Because you need to stay here with Aunt Josephine and Sunny," Violet explained. "What do you think they will do if they wake up and we're gone?"
"Aunt Josephine is our guardian, she should be looking after us," Klaus justified. He would have preferred it if all four of them had gone together, although then they would have had to eat something cold again.
"Look at her," Violet whispered, gesturing towards the woman in the other bed. "She's not exactly in any condition to look after us."
In spite of his stubborn character, Klaus took a look. He instantly noticed Aunt Josephine's pained expression and pale complexion. Like a confirmation to Violet's words, Aunt Josephine coughed long and hard, sucking in a wavering breath in the end. Klaus's sceptical mind was made up just by the sight of the ill woman.
He sighed and dropped down onto his pillow. "Alright," he surrendered. "I'll stay here and watch over Aunt Josephine and Sunny."
"Thank you, Klaus," Violet said in a hurry, and stood up.
"But be back soon," Klaus told her before his sister left the room.
"I will. Don't worry," Violet replied from the kitchen.
She found an empty basket in one of the cupboards, and took some of the money Mr. Poe had left them. She briefly glanced back into the bedroom, and saw Klaus lying on his side of the double bed, eyes wide open. Violet waved to him, and left the inn room.
She hurried down to the shops, hoping that they were open already. She didn't know what the time was, but the downstairs bar was quiet and empty, so it must have been very early.
Violet returned not half an hour later, carrying a full basket of food and a satisfied smile. She had been able to purchase enough goods for the day, and still had a fine share of the money that she had taken in her pocket. She was determined to cook a hot breakfast for the four of them, with Aunt Josephine's approval or not. The Baudelaires hadn't had anything warm to eat since they had left Uncle Monty's place, and that was way too long for the children.
When Violet reached the door to their room, she heard a familiar quiet, yet demanding voice, which was now full of obvious worry; and Violet hurried inside.
"How could you let your sister go out like that?" Aunt Josephine scolded, worried much more than angry. "Who knows what might happen to her out there!" She stopped to cough, and grimaced in pain. "She could be robbed; or hit by a car! Or-"
"Or she could be back already and all right," Violet offered from her place in the bedroom doorway. She had put the basket of food in the kitchen, and now stood there, amused by her brother's helpless expression.
"Violet!" Aunt Josephine exclaimed in relief when she saw the girl. She hurried to the child, her long and tight dress slowing her down, and her long arms stretched out in front of her. Aunt Josephine embraced the eldest Baudelaire tightly.
Violet, stunned by her Aunt's sudden release of emotions, patted the woman's back awkwardly until Aunt Josephine let go of her.
"Oh Violet, you must never do anything like that again," Aunt Josephine said. Violet was sure she saw tears in the older woman's eyes when she spoke. "You gave us such a fright. To think what could have happened to you..."
When Aunt Josephine was interrupted by another cough, Violet took the moment to say, "But it didn't. I'm fine, Aunt Josephine. And I'm going to make breakfast for us." She turned and headed into the kitchen.
"Make breakfast?" Aunt Josephine asked, following the girl. "I am your guardian; I should be the one cooking for you."
"You're too ill at the moment," replied Violet when Aunt Josephine coughed again. "You really should be at bed."
"...in...bed..." corrected Aunt Josephine between coughs.
Violet sent her brother a look. Aunt Josephine was certainly not too ill if she could still notice grammar mistakes. "Klaus, bring me a blanket from the bedroom," she told her brother. "Let's wrap up Aunt Josephine."
"No-no!" protested Aunt Josephine. "I'm scared of being wrapped up in blankets. I might not get out of them."
Violet rolled her eyes. Klaus was already back with a blanket from Aunt Josephine's bed. "Now, you just sit here, Aunt Josephine," ordered Violet, guiding her Aunt to a chair at the table. "And wait until breakfast is ready. Okay?" She took the blanket from her brother and put it around Aunt Josephine. "There. Now you won't be cold."
"I am not cold," Aunt Josephine assured her, but her small hands pulled the blanket tighter around herself.
"I'm going back to bed," announced Klaus, standing in the bedroom doorway. "Wake me and Sunny up when breakfast is ready."
"All right," agreed Violet, and Klaus left. The eldest Baudelaire went to the kitchen cupboard on which she had put her basket of food. When she put the kettle on, she heard Aunt Josephine's voice.
"Violet! What are you doing by the stove?" Aunt Josephine asked in an anxious tone.
"I'm cooking," replied Violet, and ignoring Aunt Josephine's worried exclamations and remarks she prepared a breakfast of porridge and tea. When she had finished, Violet went to wake her siblings. When she returned to the kitchen, Aunt Josephine was still sitting at the same spot she had took her to half an hour before.
"There," Violet said, putting the plate of porridge on the table before Aunt Josephine. "Bon appetit!"
Aunt Josephine eyed the steaming plate suspiciously. "Isn't it hot?" she asked cautiously. "Won't I burn myself?"
"It's warm," answered Violet, taking a seat herself. "But not too warm." But seeing as Aunt Josephine was not convinced, Violet took a mouthful of her own porridge and gave the woman an encouraging smile.
Aunt Josephine was still suspicious, but Violet's brave move gave her the courage she needed to pick up her spoon and raise a spoonful of porridge up to her mouth. To Violet she seemed so hesitant as if she was worried there would be poison in the food. Aunt Josephine had clearly not eaten anything warm for ages, because as soon a she she swallowed her first mouthful, a blissful smile graced her thin lips.
"Well?" asked Violet eagerly. "Do you like it?"
Aunt Josephine looked at the girl with admiration in her eyes. "I didn't know you cooked so well," she said, smiling. "You'll have to teach me. Just as long as it doesn't involve anything dangerous."
Watching her Aunt take another mouthful, Violet thought this would be a difficult challenge. Considering Aunt Josephine's fears it would be almost impossible to teach her anything in the kitchen. And besides, Violet was not a great cook either, porridge was just something so simple to make that she had pulled it off perfectly.
The knock on the door startled all of the Baudelaires and especially Aunt Josephine, who dropped her spoon and in her very own peculiar way covered her face with her hands. "Don't open it," she asked in a desperate whisper, but since she couldn't see from behind her hands, Violet still stood up from her chair.
Klaus, who had just entered the kitchen with Sunny, picked up his little sister and returned to the bedroom cautiously. Violet walked over to the door, dread filling her heart at the idea of Count Olaf standing behind it. What would they do then? Count Olaf had escaped before, it would not surprise Violet too much if he had managed to outsmart the detective this time.
The eldest Baudelaire looked through the peep-hole in the door and sighed in relief when she saw Mr. Poe's familiar face. She opened the door and smiled up at the banker. "Good morning, Mr. Poe," she greeted the man, only then noticing the grim and worried expression on the man's face.
"Yes, and good morning to you, too," Mr. Poe replied not overly nicely. "I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you, children. And Miss Anwhistle."
"Mrs. Anwhistle," corrected aunt Josephine seriously, taking her hands away from her face.
"I apologize," said Mr. Poe, and turned to Violet again. "I'm very sorry to tell you that Count Olaf has escaped... again." His tone was sincerely sorry.
Aunt Josephine gasped in fright. "Here we go again!" thought Violet in equal annoyance and fear.
To be continued... Possibly...