Chapter 2

On hearing this piece of news, the Baudelaires began to get that sinking feeling. I do not mean that they were in an elevator going down (although they had plenty of experience at that from their time at the home of Esmé Squalor, a former guardian who was now the girlfriend of Count Olaf and aiding him in his evil schemes) but rather that they were starting to feel very uncomfortable at the prospect of visiting a wizard bank in which they had no savings.

"But Hagrid," Klaus pointed out, "we've only got Muggle money, we never knew we'd be going to a school for wizards."

To the great surprise of all three children, Hagrid laughed. "Only Muggle money? Yer parents used ter have somethin' put inter Gringotts for yeh every month. It was their wish that if somethin' happened ter them yeh should go ter Hogwarts, but the Muggles yeh've bin stayin' with thought it best for yeh to be looked after by some distant relative."
The Baudelaires looked at each other.

"Count Olaf." said Violet and Klaus in unison.

"Owa!" Sunny joined in.

Hagrid looked puzzled. "Count Olaf? Who's he?"

The Baudelaires explained, and Hagrid frowned. "Bin after yer money? Yer can rest assured he won't get it at Gringotts - or you at Hogwarts. He's a Muggle, isn't he?"

"We think so," said Violet, "but -"

"But nothin'. Yeh're goin' ter school ter learn some magic, an' he don't know any."

The thought of this meant that the children were visibly brightening as they went into Gringotts. It was nothing like Violet had ever invented, nothing like Klaus had ever read about, and certainly nothing like Sunny had ever tried to bite. Gringotts consisted of a huge marble hall, with doors leading in and out of it and hundreds of unsavoury -looking creatures behind desks. This seemed very unnerving to the Baudelaires, but Hagrid strolled casually up to one and said "Hello, we'd like ter make a withdrawal from the Baudelaire vault." He rummaged in one of the pockets of his vast coat and eventually pulled something out, which he placed on the desk. "Remembered the key for once."

The unsavoury - looking creature behind the desk looked over the top of its glasses at the Baudelaires, then got down and said "Follow me, please."

"Hagrid," Violet whispered as they trailed behind it, "what are those things?"

"They're goblins."

"But goblins don't exist!" said Klaus, forgetting to lower his voice.

"Maybe not in the Muggle world." Hagrid agreed, "but they do in ours."

There followed an extremely unpleasant incident in which all four were whisked underground in an extremely fast cart by the Gringotts goblin. The Baudelaires were all dizzy and staggering about by the time they had to get out of this cart, but were eager to see inside the vault. They weren't disappointed. Inside was full of gleaming piles of bronze, silver and gold coins.

"So not only have we got a fortune in the bank for when I'm eighteen, we've also got one here in Gringotts." said Violet.
Hagrid smiled. "Tha's right. Yeh won't do too badly for money while yeh're at Hogwarts."

"If Count Olaf finds out about this-" Klaus said.

"He'll be after it like a shot. How do we know he's not here somewhere in disguise? Or that his assistants aren't surrounding the place?" asked Violet.

Olaf was not only a menacing count, he was also an actor and the boss of a theatre company which assisted his schemes. His henchmen included not only Esmé Squalor but also a bald man with a long nose, a man with hooks instead of hands, two women whose faces were always powdered white and a very blank-looking androgynous person - 'androgynous' being another word for 'difficult to tell whether it is male or female'. They were a hideously ugly bunch and always available at the click of Olaf's fingers.


Hagrid, however, sighed impatiently. "There's nobody here 'cept us. If this Count Olaf's a Muggle, he won't be able ter find the way in ter Diagon Alley. If yeh were wizards I'd have taken yeh through the Leaky Cauldron, but yeh're not so we had ter go the other way."

"Count Olaf might know the 'other way'." Klaus pointed out.

"There's nothin' ter worry about while yeh're at Hogwarts." Hagrid said firmly. "Unless it's gettin' yer exam results."

"Mowa!" said Sunny, which probably meant something like "I sure hope you're right."

After leaving Gringotts, the Baudelaires went to be measured for their uniform at Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions, onto Flourish and Blott's for their schoolbooks and so on until nearly everything mentioned in the Hogwarts letter had been purchased. Violet took out the list again.
"We've got everything except our wands." she said.
Hagrid pointed across the streets. "Ollivander's. Ain't nowhere better."

Ollivander's was possibly the oldest and most decrepit building in Diagon Alley, and the ageing wizard behind the counter was possibly the oldest and most decrepit person.
"Good afternoon." he said as the Baudelaires entered the store.

"Um- hello." said Violet, feeling awkward. "I'm Violet Baudelaire, my brother is Klaus and my sister is Sunny."

Mr. Ollivander nodded. "The first Muggle children ever to go to Hogwarts, I've heard all about you. Might be a bit harder to find you a wand than most. The wand chooses the wizard, remember, and you're not real wizards- but it's possible to learn at any age, depends on how much you put in. Right -" he handed Violet a wand from the shelf. "Try this one."

Violet stared at it blankly.

"Go on," put in Hagrid, "give it a wave!"

She waved it, feeling somewhat self - conscious. At least half the boxes on the shelves opposite fell off and came crashing to the floor.

"No, certainly not." Mr. Ollivander hastily took it away from her. "Try this one."

After going through at least a dozen other wands, Violet picked up one described as "ten and a half inches, holly and unicorn hair, nice and swishy" (although it looked just like any other to her) and again tried to wave it about. Instead of blowing things up or making them crash to the floor, pink bubbles cascaded out of the end.

"Wonderful." said Mr. Ollivander. "Miss Baudelaire, I think we have found your wand. Now, how about this one for you." - a remark directed at Klaus - "twelve inches, ash and dragon heartstring, quite rigid."

Klaus went through even more wands than Violet in his search, until he came to one which produced a jet of sparkling water.

"Cwapo!" shrieked Sunny, which probably meant "Finally!"

Nobody even noticed that she had picked up a wand until Hagrid was paying for Violet's and Klaus's, when there was a loud explosion and fireworks came out of the end of a spare one in Sunny's hands.

"Well, what do yeh know!" said Hagrid proudly. "I think we'll be payin' for another one!"

And as they left Ollivanders, the Baudelaires felt more contented than they had in a long time. It looked as if their luck was finally changing for the better - although you and I know, of course, that it won't be long before another unfortunate event occurs to make Violet, Klaus and Sunny unhappy once again.