Chapter One: Unexpected Surprises
My name is Lisle Pendella, and I was at one point married to Jacques Snicket. Lemony Snicket, due to an unpleasant incident involving a train, was unable to continue his tales of the Baudelaire orphans, so he asked me if I could carry out this task. I at first was not up to such a task, but when a mysterious man wearing a red fez asked me what my favorite type of cheese was, I decided it would be best to do what my brother-in-law requested of me.
If you have ever ridden in a taxicab, then you know that it is not a very pleasant experience. Sometimes, the interior smells of coffee, or in the case of the cabs of Lousy Lane, like horseradish. The most unpleasant thing, though, is the uncomfortable conversations between you and the driver. You do not want to talk, afraid that you might say something that he or she couldn't care less for, and make their experience unpleasant, as well as your own. The driver might say something to you about his children, or his elderly grandmother, and you would reply, "That's nice," or "That's interesting," but none of this would be of any significance to you, but it would be rude to tell he or she so. So, you must sit in the back and travel passively, a phrase which here means, "Listen to a driver talk about something very tedious, and do nothing about it." This is often a very tiresome way to travel, so most people take their own cars. But when you are a young child without any parents, it is difficult to do so. You are forced to take a taxicab and travel passively.
Had this been any other occasion, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire would have been in this situation. But this time, the driver was far too interesting to ignore, and the things she was saying were far too significant to merely let them go in one ear and out the other. This driver had the answers to the questions that had surrounded them since the mysterious fire that destroyed their home and killed their parents. The orphans did not feel like shutting out what she had to say or replying, "That's nice." The driver was someone they wanted to listen to: a woman by the name of Kit Snicket.
"Kit," Violet began. "Are you Jacques Snicket's sister?" Violet had recently turned fifteen, and was already the finest inventor the world had ever known. Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking up and invention when her hair was tied up in a black ribbon.
"I am indeed. As well as the sister of-" Kit said.
"Please Kit," Klaus interrupted, "Tell us everything you know about VFD," the middle Baudelaire said. He was thirteen, but already a most talented and perceptive researcher.
"Tell def," Sunny, the youngest of the children said. Sunny was still developing her vocabulary having just recently become a young girl instead of a baby. 'Tell def' meant, "Yes Kit, please tell us what this means, as well as the other secrets we've managed to learn since our parents died."
Kit smiled. "Everything will be revealed to you in time. You must wait, Baudelaires."
The three children glanced at each other. They did not want to wait. The Baudelaires had been waiting since the day they discovered VFD. They had come close to knowing these answers several times, but, each time, the secrets had been snatched away from their enemy, Count Olaf, like a greedy child snatching away cookies.
Kit started the car and put it in drive. As they drove away from Briny Beach, they could see Mr. Poe, the Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs, waving his arms madly at the car.
"Should I stop for him?" Kit asked the orphans.
"No," Violet said firmly. "He thinks we're responsible for a numerous amount of crimes published in-"
"The Daily Punctilio; I know," Kit finished.
"That newspaper doesn't always tell the truth," Klaus said carefully.
"I know you're innocent, Baudelaires, you needn't worry," Kit reassured them. "Lets have a quiet drive and we can talk when we get to Hotel Denouement," she said.
"The last safe place! Kit, do you belong to VFD?" Violet asked.
"Shh. All will be revealed," she said.
The children sat in silence for a long time when Violet noticed that her brother was staring glumly out the window.
"Klaus, what's wrong?" she whispered.
"I can't believe she betrayed us," he said.
Violet thought for a moment and realized he was talking about Fiona. Klaus and Fiona had been very fond of each other, and at the last minute she sided with Olaf, saying goodbye only with a kiss.
Violet put her arm around her brother. "It's all right, Klaus. She had to be with her family. She has no one. We have each other, but not her. She had no one," Violet whispered.
"She had me," he argued.
"She loved you very much Klaus, but this was something she had to do. I know you'll miss her. It's all right," she comforted her brother.
Violet hugged her brother tightly. Sunny, who had been asleep in his lap, woke up.
"Sorry Sunny," Violet said.
"Okay. You keep talk," she said and fell back asleep. The older Baudelaires looked at their little sister and smiled. It seemed only yesterday that she was a little baby, and now she was a young girl with unusually sharp teeth who had found a recent talent for cooking. Then, suddenly, a new thought dawned on them, and they shuddered as they remembered her near-death experience. She had been poisoned by some very deadly mushrooms, but Sunny discovered an antidote just in the knick of time, a phrase which here means, "Discovered that pouring a hot Japanese spice called wasabi down her throat would cure her just before the mushroom spores growing inside her completely blocked her throat, making it impossible to breathe."
"You miss Quigley, don't you Violet?" Klaus inquired.
Violet nodded. "He was a good friend," she said quietly.
"He is a good friend. He's still alive," Klaus said, even though he knew no such thing. When the Baudelaires went to boarding school, they met a pair of triplets, Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, who mistakenly thought their other brother, Quigley, was dead. Olaf pursued Duncan and Isadora for their fortune as well, but they escaped in a self-sustaining hot air balloon with a man named Hector. The children later met Quigley, but he was rushed away in the icy cold waters of the Stricken Stream. The Baudelaires later on discovered he managed to escape, and he sent them a telegram. That was the last they heard of him.
"You're right Klaus. There's no reason for me to be dismal," Violet said with courage.
"So much for the silence," Kit joked.
The siblings had been so wrapped up in conversation that they had completely forgotten about the person driving the automobile.
For the remainder of the trip, which lasted several more hours, the children slept. It seemed as though they had not a moments rest since that day at the beach, so sleep came easily and much appreciated.
When the Baudelaire sisters finally woke up, they saw two kind faces looking at them. They sat up groggily and wondered where they were. Vague memories of being led into a hotel came to mind.
"Welcome, Baudelaires," said a man with a long beard.
"Where are we?" Violet asked. "Are we at the hotel yet?"
"Yes," replied a woman with a red dress. "Don't you remember? Probably not, it was late last night," she said half to herself.
"Kapisha?" asked Sunny, which meant, "Where has Kit Snicket gone?" She looked around, but she was nowhere in sight. "Kapisho?" she asked, which meant, "Where is our brother? Is he all right?"
Violet translated as best she could after just waking up.
"Kit left. Her mission was to take you here, and she did just that. Klaus is in the other room. Would you like to see him?" the man asked.
The girls nodded and followed the man down several long and cold corridors with ugly carpets until they came to room 667. The man knocked, and a familiar voice that didn't belong to Klaus called out.
"Yes?" the voice said.
"The world is quiet here," said the man with the beard. Violet immediately recognized this as the password for VFD she had heard many times throughout various places.
The door opened to reveal a short chubby man with a red nose and a mustache that turned up at the ends. Violet thought for a moment that she had seen him before, put ignored the thought. "Hello!" he boomed. "Come on in! Don't stand there in the cold! These halls get drafty! Come on!" he said ushering the girls in.
Sunny walked over to her brother, who had just woken up and was sitting on the bed. She hugged his legs; after all, she wasn't tall enough to reach up higher. It seemed like a long time since they had seen him.
"Hello Sunny," he said and picked her up.
"Hello there, Baudelaires! I haven't seen you in a long time! Wait! Yes, I have! Two days ago! Aye!" the familiar man said.
All the Baudelaires turned in the direction of this voice, and found in amazement that one of these men was a recent comrade of theirs.
"Widdershins?" Sunny asked in amazement.
"Captain Widdershins!" Violet exclaimed. Captain Widdershins was Fiona's stepfather. Violet knew it was he from the extra 'aye' he added into his statement. The captain used this word a lot, being on the sea; it was a word used by pirates. He used it just as my brother used it as a code when he found the sugar bowl. "How-? When-" Violet began, but she was too shocked.
Suddenly, Klaus recognized the man standing in front of him. "You," Klaus said angrily. His sisters looked at him quizzically. "You," he said again.
"What's wrong with you boy? Cat got your tongue? Aye! He who hesitates is lost! Or she! Say it boy! Aye!" the captain said nervously, stating his personal philosophy. He began to twiddle his thumbs, sensing that something was wrong.
Klaus put Sunny down and moved towards the man. "You abandoned Fiona," he said quietly. "You left her alone. She joined Olaf because of you! She's gone because of you!" He cried. He staggered backward and sat down on the bed, hands covering his face, shaking with sobs. Normally, it is very rude to speak to people in such a manner, but Klaus did not care about his manners. He only cared about Fiona, for the moment, although very soon, he would end up not caring about her at all.
"Klaus!" Violet scolded.
For once in his life, the Captain was silent. "I didn't mean her harm," he said finally. The captain headed for the door and gestured for the bearded man to follow as well. The Baudelaires were alone.
I cannot describe to you the misery that the middle Baudelaire felt at this moment. Nor can I describe to you how sad his sisters felt for him.
"If Captain Widdershins hadn't left, she could be here right now. With me," he said miserably between the sobs.
"Oh, Klaus," Violet said, her eyes becoming misty as she sat down next to her brother and hugged him tightly. She knew how horrible that felt; to lose someone very dear to you. She lost Quigley. In fact, they all knew. They had lost their parents. All three Baudelaires huddled together, crying for all the people and things they had lost. As they wept, it seemed as though their series of unfortunate events would never end.
The littlest Baudelaire stiffened resolutely. "No more cry. We here now. Find answers. Defeat Olaf. Kapish?" Sunny said. 'kapish' was Sunny's way of saying 'understand', and they Baudelaires did kapish. They knew what they had to do.
"Sunny's right, Violet," Klaus said firmly. "We have been trying to get here ever since Sunny overheard the location of the last safe place. And now, we're here." He grinned. "Let's get going."
The Baudelaires got going. They dressed and made their way back to Violet's room, where the lady in the red dress was patiently waiting.
"Baudelaires?" She looked surprised, as if she hadn't expected them to come. She recovered herself and motioned for them to follow. They winded down the drafty corridors for a long time. As they passed the laundry room, Violet saw two things most people wouldn't have noticed, although extremely important. This wasn't the last time the Baudelaires would see these two things, particularly Klaus, but it wouldn't be for a long time. The whole trip, she racked her brain, thinking very hard. Her siblings noticed, but decided to leave her alone. They finally reached a door marked 'BALLROOM'. And just as they were slipping in, Violet whispered to her siblings.
"Fiona is here. And she has the sugar bowl."
"Fiona?" Klaus asked, his eyes wide.
"I'll tell you soon. Now is not the time. Trust me."
They walked into the room to see about twenty chairs, and there were three empty chairs. In the middle chair was a woman with dark black hair, darker than a pitch-black panther eating black liquorice at midnight in the very deepest part of the Black Sea. Her eyes were a magnificent green, her skin was light. She rose as the Baudelaires entered the room, and they could see she was at least six feet tall.
"Baudelaires," she said with a voice that sounded like bells ringing. "My name is Beatrice, and I know where your mother is." The children gasped as each mystery slowly started unraveling around them, and for once, it seemed like their series of unfortunate events had come to an end.