Authors: Lemony Snicket
BOOK the Third
THE WIDE WINDOW
by LEMONY SNICKET
For Beatrice I would much prefer it if you were alive and well. THE WIDE WINDOW
If you didn't know much about the Baudelaire orphans, and you saw them sitting on their suitcases at Damocles Dock, you might think that they were bound for an exciting adventure. After all, the three children had just disembarked from the Fickle Ferry, which had driven them across Lake Lachrymose to live with their Aunt Josephine, and in most cases such a situation would lead to thrillingly good times. But of course you would be dead wrong. For although Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were about to experience events that would be both exciting and memorable, they would not be exciting and memorable like having your fortune told or going to a rodeo. Their adventure would be exciting and memorable like being chased by a werewolf through a field of thorny bushes at midnight with nobody around to help you. If you are interested in reading a story filled with thrillingly good times, I am sorry to inform you that you are most certainly reading the wrong book, because the Baudelaires experience very few good times over the course of their gloomy and miserable lives. It is a terrible thing, their misfortune, so terrible that I can scarcely bring myself to write about it. So if you do not want to read a story of tragedy and sadness, this is your very last chance to put this book down, because the misery of the Baudelaire orphans begins in the very next paragraph. "Look what I have for you," Mr. Poe said, grinning from ear to ear and holding out a small paper bag. "Peppermints!" Mr. Poe was a banker who had been placed in charge of handling the affairs of the Baudelaire orphans after their parents died. Mr. Poe was kindhearted, but it is not enough in this world to be kindhearted, particularly if you are responsible for keeping children out of danger. Mr. Poe had known the three children since they were born, and could never remember that they were allergic to peppermints. "Thank you, Mr. Poe," Violet said, and took the paper bag and peered inside. Like most fourteen-year-olds, Violet was too well mannered to mention that if she ate a peppermint she would break out in hives, a phrase which here means "be covered in red, itchy rashes for a few hours." Besides, she was too occupied with inventing thoughts to pay much attention to Mr. Poe. Anyone who knew Violet would know that when her hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes, the way it was now, her thoughts were filled with wheels, gears, levers, and other necessary things for inventions. At this particular moment she was thinking of how she could improve the engine of the Fickle Ferry so it wouldn't belch smoke into the gray sky. "That's very kind of you," said Klaus, the middle Baudelaire child, smiling at Mr. Poe and thinking that if he had even one lick of a peppermint, his tongue would swell up and he would scarcely be able to speak. Klaus took his glasses off and wished that Mr. Poe had bought him a book or a newspaper instead. Klaus was a voracious reader, and when he had learned about his allergy at a birthday party when he was eight, he had immediately read all his parents' books about allergies. Even four years later he could recite the chemical formulas that caused his tongue to swell up. "Toi!" Sunny shrieked. The youngest Baudelaire was only an infant, and like many infants, she spoke mostly in words that were tricky to understand. By "Toi!" she probably meant "I have never eaten a peppermint because I suspect that I, like my siblings, am allergic to them," but it was hard to tell. She may also have meant "I wish I could bite a peppermint, because I like to bite things with my four sharp teeth, but I don't want to risk an allergic reaction." "You can eat them on your cab ride to Mrs. Anwhistle's house," Mr. Poe said, coughing into his white handkerchief. Mr. Poe always seemed to have a cold and the Baudelaire orphans were accustomed to receiving information from him between bouts of hacking and wheezing. "She apologizes for not meeting you at the dock, but she says she's frightened of it." "Why would she be frightened of a dock?" Klaus asked, looking around at the wooden piers and sailboats. "She's frightened of anything to do with Lake Lachrymose," Mr. Poe said, "but she didn't say why. Perhaps it has to do with her husband's death. Your Aunt Josephine-she's not really your aunt, of course; she's your second cousin's sister-in-law, but asked that you call her Aunt Josephine-your Aunt Josephine lost her husband recently, and it may be possible that he drowned or died in a boat accident. It didn't seem polite to ask how she became a dowager. Well, let's put you in a taxi." "What does that word mean?" Violet asked. Mr. Poe looked at Violet and raised his eyebrows. "I'm surprised at you, Violet," he said. "A girl of your age should know that a taxi is a car which will drive you someplace for a fee. Now, let's gather your luggage and walk to the curb." "'Dowager,'" Klaus whispered to Violet, "is a fancy word for 'widow.'" "Thank you," she whispered back, picking up her suitcase in one hand and Sunny in the other. Mr. Poe was waving his handkerchief in the air to signal a taxi to stop, and in no time at all the cabdriver piled all of the Baudelaire suitcases into the trunk and Mr. Poe piled the Baudelaire children into the back seat. "I will say good-bye to you here," Mr. Poe said. "The banking day has already begun, and I'm afraid if I go with you out to Aunt Josephine's I will never get anything done. Please give her my best wishes, and tell her that I will keep in touch regularly." Mr. Poe paused for a moment to cough into his handkerchief before continuing. "Now, your Aunt Josephine is a bit nervous about having three children in her house, but I assured her that you three were very well behaved. Make sure you mind your manners, and, as always, you can call or fax me at the bank if there's any sort of problem. Although I don't imagine anything will go wrong this time." When Mr. Poe said "this time," he looked at the children meaningfully as if it were their fault that poor Uncle Monty was dead. But the Baudelaires were too nervous about meeting their new caretaker to say anything more to Mr. Poe except "So long." "So long," Violet said, putting the bag of peppermints in her pocket. "So long," Klaus said, taking one last look at Damocles Dock. "Frul!" Sunny shrieked, chewing on her seat belt buckle. "So long," Mr. Poe replied, "and good luck to you. I will think of the Baudelaires as often as I can." Mr. Poe gave some money to the taxi driver and waved good-bye to the three children as the cab pulled away from the dock and onto a gray, cobblestoned street. There was a small grocery store with barrels of limes and beets out front. There was a clothing store called Look! It Fits!, which appeared to be undergoing renovations. There was a terrible-looking restaurant called the Anxious Clown, with neon lights and balloons in the window. But mostly, there were many stores and shops that were all closed up, with boards or metal gratings over the windows and doors. "The town doesn't seem very crowded," Klaus remarked. "I was hoping we might make some new friends here." "It's the off-season," the cabdriver said. He was a skinny man with a skinny cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and as he talked to the children he looked at them through the rear-view mirror. "The town of Lake Lachrymose is a resort, and when the nice weather comes it's as crowded as can be. But around now, things here are as dead as the cat I ran over this morning. To make new friends, you'll have to wait until the weather gets a little better. Speaking of which, Hurricane Herman is expected to arrive in town in a week or so. You better make sure you have enough food up there in the house." "A hurricane on a lake?" Klaus asked. "I thought hurricanes only occurred near the ocean." "A body of water as big as Lake Lachrymose," the driver said, "can have anything occur on it. To tell you the truth, I'd be a little nervous about living on top of this hill. Once the storm hits, it'll be very difficult to drive all the way down into town." Violet, Klaus, and Sunny looked out the window and saw what the driver meant by "all the way down." The taxi had turned one last corner and arrived at the scraggly top of a tall, tall hill, and the children could see the town far, far below them, the cobblestone road curling around the buildings like a tiny gray snake, and the small square of Damocles Dock with specks of people bustling around it. And out beyond the dock was the inky blob of Lake Lachrymose, huge and dark as if a monster were standing over the three orphans, casting a giant shadow below them. For a few moments the children stared into the lake as if hypnotized by this enormous stain on the landscape. "The lake is so enormous," Klaus said, "and it looks so deep. I can almost understand why Aunt Josephine is afraid of it." "The lady who lives up here," the cabdriver asked, "is afraid of the lake?" "That's what we've been told," Violet said. The cabdriver shook his head and brought the cab to a halt. "I don't know how she can stand it, then." "What do you mean?" Violet asked. "You mean you've never been to this house?" he asked. "No, never," Klaus replied. "We've never even met our Aunt Josephine before." "Well, if your Aunt Josephine is afraid of the water," the cabdriver said, "I can't believe she lives here in this house." "What are you talking about?" Klaus asked. "Well, take a look," the driver answered, and got out of the cab. The Baudelaires took a look. At first, the three youngsters saw only a small boxy square with a peeling white door, and it looked as if the house was scarcely bigger than the taxi which had taken them to it. But as they piled out of the car and drew closer, they saw that this small square was the only part of the house that was on top of the hill. The rest of it-a large pile of boxy squares, all stuck together like ice cubes-hung over the side, attached to the hill by long metal stilts that looked like spider legs. As the three orphans peered down at their new home, it seemed as if the entire house were holding on to the hill for dear life. The taxi driver took their suitcases out of the trunk, set them in front of the peeling white door, and drove down the hill with a toot! of his horn for a good-bye. There was a soft squeak as the peeling white door opened, and from behind the door appeared a pale woman with her white hair piled high on top of her head in a bun. "Hello," she said, smiling thinly. "I'm your Aunt Josephine." "Hello," Violet said, cautiously, and stepped forward to meet her new guardian. Klaus stepped forward behind her, and Sunny crawled forward behind him, but all three Baudelaires were walking carefully, as if their weight would send the house toppling down from its perch. The orphans couldn't help wondering how a woman who was so afraid of Lake Lachrymose could live in a house that felt like it was about to fall into its depths.
"This is the radiator," Aunt Josephine said, pointing to a radiator with a pale and skinny finger. "Please don't ever touch it. You may find yourself very cold here in my home. I never turn on the radiator, because I am frightened that it might explode, so it often gets chilly in the evenings." Violet and Klaus looked at one another briefly, and Sunny looked at both of them. Aunt Josephine was giving them a tour of their new home and so far appeared to be afraid of everything in it, from the welcome mat-which, Aunt Josephine explained, could cause someone to trip and break their neck-to the sofa in the living room, which she said could fall over at any time and crush them flat. "This is the telephone," Aunt Josephine said, gesturing to the telephone. "It should only be used in emergencies, because there is a danger of electrocution." "Actually," Klaus said, "I've read quite a bit about electricity. I'm pretty sure that the telephone is perfectly safe." Aunt Josephine's hands fluttered to her white hair as if something had jumped onto her head. "You can't believe everything you read," she pointed out. "I've built a telephone from scratch," Violet said. "If you'd like, I could take the telephone apart and show you how it works. That might make you feel better." "I don't think so," Aunt Josephine said, frowning. "Delmo!" Sunny offered, which probably meant something along the lines of "If you wish, I will bite the telephone to show you that it's harmless." "Delmo?" Aunt Josephine asked, bending over to pick up a piece of lint from the faded flowery carpet. "What do you mean by 'delmo'? I consider myself an expert on the English language, and I have no idea what the word 'delmo' means. Is she speaking some other language?" "Sunny doesn't speak fluently yet, I'm afraid," Klaus said, picking his little sister up. "Just baby talk, mostly." "Grun!" Sunny shrieked, which meant something like "I object to your calling it baby talk!" "Well, I will have to teach her proper English," Aunt Josephine said stiffly. "I'm sure you all need some brushing up on your grammar, actually. Grammar is the greatest joy in life, don't you find?" The three siblings looked at one another. Violet was more likely to say that inventing things was the greatest joy in life, Klaus thought reading was, and Sunny of course took no greater pleasure than in biting things. The Baudelaires thought of grammar-all those rules about how to write and speak the English language-the way they thought of banana bread: fine, but nothing to make a fuss about. Still, it seemed rude to contradict Aunt Josephine. "Yes," Violet said finally. "We've always loved grammar." Aunt Josephine nodded, and gave the Baudelaires a small smile. "Well, I'll show you to your room and continue the rest of the tour after dinner. When you open this door, just push on the wood here. Never use the doorknob. I'm always afraid that it will shatter into a million pieces and that one of them will hit my eye." The Baudelaires were beginning to think that they would not be allowed to touch a single object in the whole house, but they smiled at Aunt Josephine, pushed on the wood, and opened the door to reveal a large, well-lit room with blank white walls and a plain blue carpet on the floor. Inside were two good-sized beds and one good-sized crib, obviously for Sunny, each covered in a plain blue bedspread, and at the foot of each bed was a large trunk, for storing things. At the other end of the room was a large closet for everyone's clothes, a small window for looking out, and a medium-sized pile of tin cans for no apparent purpose. "I'm sorry that all three of you have to share a room," Aunt Josephine said, "but this house isn't very big. I tried to provide you with everything you would need, and I do hope you will be comfortable." "I'm sure we will," Violet said, carrying her suitcase into the room. "Thank you very much, Aunt Josephine." "In each of your trunks," Aunt Josephine said, "there is a present." Presents? The Baudelaires had not received presents for a long, long time. Smiling, Aunt Josephine walked to the first trunk and opened it. "For Violet," she said, "there is a lovely new doll with plenty of outfits for it to wear." Aunt Josephine reached inside and pulled out a plastic doll with a tiny mouth and wide, staring eyes. "Isn't she adorable? Her name is Pretty Penny." "Oh, thank you," said Violet, who at fourteen was too old for dolls and had never particularly liked dolls anyway. Forcing a smile on her face, she took Pretty Penny from Aunt Josephine and patted it on its little plastic head. "And for Klaus," Aunt Josephine said, "there is a model train set." She opened the second trunk and pulled out a tiny train car. "You can set up the tracks in that empty corner of the room." "What fun," said Klaus, trying to look excited. Klaus had never liked model trains, as they were a lot of work to put together and when you were done all you had was something that went around and around in endless circles. "And for little Sunny," Aunt Josephine said, reaching into the smallest trunk, which sat at the foot of the crib, "here is a rattle. See, Sunny, it makes a little noise." Sunny smiled at Aunt Josephine, showing all four of her sharp teeth, but her older siblings knew that Sunny despised rattles and the irritating sounds they made when you shook them. Sunny had been given a rattle when she was very small, and it was the only thing she was not sorry to lose in the enormous fire that had destroyed the Baudelaire home. "It is so generous of you," Violet said, "to give us all of these things." She was too polite to add that they weren't things they particularly liked. "Well, I am very happy to have you here," Aunt Josephine said. "I love grammar so much. I'm excited to be able to share my love of grammar with three nice children like yourselves. Well, I'll give you a few minutes to settle in and then we'll have some dinner. See you soon." "Aunt Josephine," Klaus asked, "what are these cans for?" "Those cans? For burglars, naturally," Aunt Josephine said, patting the bun of hair on top of her head. "You must be as frightened of burglars as I am. So every night, simply place these tin cans right by the door, so that when burglars come in, they'll trip over the cans and you'll wake up." "But what will we do then, when we're awake in a room with an angry burglar?" Violet asked. "I would prefer to sleep through a burglary." Aunt Josephine's eyes grew wide with fear. "Angry burglars?" she repeated. "Angry burglars? Why are you talking about angry burglars? Are you trying to make us all even more frightened than we already are?" "Of course not," Violet stuttered, not pointing out that Aunt Josephine was the one who had brought up the subject. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you." "Well, we'll say no more about it," Aunt Josephine said, looking nervously at the tin cans as if a burglar were tripping on them at that very minute. "I'll see you at the dinner table in a few minutes." Their new guardian shut the door, and the Baudelaire orphans listened to her footsteps padding down the hallway before they spoke. "Sunny can have Pretty Penny," Violet said, handing the doll to her sister. "The plastic is hard enough for chewing, I think." "And you can have the model trains, Violet," Klaus said. "Maybe you can take apart the engines and invent something." "But that leaves you with a rattle," Violet said. "That doesn't seem fair." "Schu!" Sunny shrieked, which probably meant something along the lines of "It's been a long time since anything in our lives has felt fair." The Baudelaires looked at one another with bitter smiles. Sunny was right. It wasn't fair that their parents had been taken away from them. It wasn't fair that the evil and revolting Count Olaf was pursuing them wherever they went, caring for nothing but their fortune. It wasn't fair that they moved from relative to relative, with terrible things happening at each of their new homes, as if the Baudelaires were riding on some horrible bus that stopped only at stations of unfairness and misery. And, of course, it certainly wasn't fair that Klaus only had a rattle to play with in his new home. "Aunt Josephine obviously worked very hard to prepare this room for us," Violet said sadly. "She seems to be a good-hearted person. We shouldn't complain, even to ourselves." "You're right," Klaus said, picking up his rattle and giving it a halfhearted little shake. "We shouldn't complain." "Twee!" Sunny shrieked, which probably meant something like "Both of you are right. We shouldn't complain." Klaus walked over to the window and looked out at the darkening landscape. The sun was beginning to set over the inky depths of Lake Lachrymose, and a cold evening wind was beginning to blow. Even from the other side of the glass Klaus could feel a small chill. "I want to complain, anyway," he said. "Soup's on!" Aunt Josephine called from the kitchen. "Please come to dinner!" Violet put her hand on Klaus's shoulder and gave it a little squeeze of comfort, and without another word the three Baudelaires headed back down the hallway and into the dining room. Aunt Josephine had set the table for four, providing a large cushion for Sunny and another pile of tin cans in the corner of the room, just in case burglars tried to steal their dinner. "Normally, of course," Aunt Josephine said, "'soup's on' is an idiomatic expression that has nothing to do with soup. It simply means that dinner is ready. In this case, however, I've actually made soup." "Oh good," Violet said. "There's nothing like hot soup on a chilly evening." "Actually, it's not hot soup," Aunt Josephine said. "I never cook anything hot because I'm afraid of turning the stove on. It might burst into flames. I've made chilled cucumber soup for dinner." The Baudelaires looked at one another and tried to hide their dismay. As you probably know, chilled cucumber soup is a delicacy that is best enjoyed on a very hot day. I myself once enjoyed it in Egypt while visiting a friend of mine who works as a snake charmer. When it is well prepared, chilled cucumber soup has a delicious, minty taste, cool and refreshing as if you are drinking something as well as eating it. But on a cold day, in a drafty room, chilled cucumber soup is about as welcome as a swarm of wasps at a bat mitzvah. In dead silence, the three children sat down at the table with their Aunt Josephine and did their best to force down the cold, slimy concoction. The only sound was of Sunny's four teeth chattering on her soup spoon as she ate her frigid dinner. As I'm sure you know, when no one is speaking at the dinner table, the meal seems to take hours, so it felt like much, much later when Aunt Josephine broke the silence. "My dear husband and I never had children," she said, "because we were afraid to. But I do want you to know that I'm very happy that you're here. I am often very lonely up on this hill by myself, and when Mr. Poe wrote to me about your troubles I didn't want you to be as lonely as I was when I lost my dear Ike." "Was Ike your husband?" Violet asked. Aunt Josephine smiled, but she didn't look at Violet, as if she were talking more to herself than to the Baudelaires. "Yes," she said, in a faraway voice, "he was my husband, but he was much more than that. He was my best friend, my partner in grammar, and the only person I knew who could whistle with crackers in his mouth." "Our mother could do that," Klaus said, smiling. "Her specialty was Mozart's fourteenth symphony." "Ike's was Beethoven's fourth quartet," Aunt Josephine replied. "Apparently it's a family characteristic." "I'm sorry we never got to meet him," Violet said. "He sounds wonderful." "He was wonderful," Aunt Josephine said, stirring her soup and blowing on it even though it was ice cold. "I was so sad when he died. I felt like I'd lost the two most special things in my life." "Two?" Violet asked. "What do you mean?" "I lost Ike," Aunt Josephine said, "and I lost Lake Lachrymose. I mean, I didn't really lose it, of course. It's still down in the valley. But I grew up on its shores. I used to swim in it every day. I knew which beaches were sandy and which were rocky. I knew all the islands in the middle of its waters and all the caves alongside its shore. Lake Lachrymose felt like a friend to me. But when it took poor Ike away from me I was too afraid to go near it anymore. I stopped swimming in it. I never went to the beach again. I even put away all my books about it. The only way I can bear to look at it is from the Wide Window in the library." "Library?" Klaus asked, brightening. "You have a library?" "Of course," Aunt Josephine said. "Where else could I keep all my books on grammar? If you've all finished with your soup, I'll show you the library." "I couldn't eat another bite," Violet said truthfully. "Irm!" Sunny shrieked in agreement. "No, no, Sunny," Aunt Josephine said. "'Irm' is not grammatically correct. You mean to say, 'I have also finished my supper.'" "Irm," Sunny insisted. "My goodness, you do need grammar lessons," Aunt Josephine said. "All the more reason to go to the library. Come, children." Leaving behind their half-full soup bowls, the Baudelaires followed Aunt Josephine down the hallway, taking care not to touch any of the doorknobs they passed. At the end of the hallway, Aunt Josephine stopped and opened an ordinary-looking door, but when the children stepped through the door they arrived in a room that was anything but ordinary. The library was neither square nor rectangular, like most rooms, but curved in the shape of an oval. One wall of the oval was devoted to books-rows and rows and rows of them, and every single one of them was about grammar. There was an encyclopedia of nouns placed in a series of simple wooden bookshelves, curved to fit the wall. There were very thick books on the history of verbs, lined up in metal bookshelves that were polished to a bright shine. And there were cabinets made of glass, with adjective manuals placed inside them as if they were for sale in a store instead of in someone's house. In the middle of the room were some comfortable-looking chairs, each with its own footstool so one could stretch out one's legs while reading. But it was the other wall of the oval, at the far end of the room, that drew the children's attention. From floor to ceiling, the wall was a window, just one enormous curved pane of glass, and beyond the glass was a spectacular view of Lake Lachrymose. When the children stepped forward to take a closer look, they felt as if they were flying high above the dark lake instead of merely looking out on it. "This is the only way I can stand to look at the lake," Aunt Josephine said in a quiet voice. "From far away. If I get much closer I remember my last picnic on the beach with my darling Ike. I warned him to wait an hour after eating before he went into the lake, but he only waited
forty-five minutes. He thought that was enough." "Did he get cramps?" Klaus asked. "That's what's supposed to happen if you don't wait an hour before you swim." "That's one reason," Aunt Josephine said, "but in Lake Lachrymose, there's another one. If you don't wait an hour after eating, the Lachrymose Leeches will smell food on you, and attack." "Leeches?" Violet asked. "Leeches," Klaus explained, "are a bit like worms. They are blind and live in bodies of water, and in order to feed, they attach themselves to you and suck your blood." Violet shuddered. "How horrible." "Swoh!" Sunny shrieked, which probably meant something along the lines of "Why in the world would you go swimming in a lake full of leeches?" "The Lachrymose Leeches," Aunt Josephine said, "are quite different from regular leeches. They each have six rows of very sharp teeth, and one very sharp nose-they can smell even the smallest bit of food from far, far away. The Lachrymose Leeches are usually quite harmless, preying only on small fish. But if they smell food on a human they will swarm around him and-and ..." Tears came to Aunt Josephine's eyes, and she took out a pale pink handkerchief and dabbed them away. "I apologize, children. It is not grammatically correct to end a sentence with the word 'and', but I get so upset when I think about Ike that I cannot talk about his death." "We're sorry we brought it up," Klaus said quickly. "We didn't mean to upset you." "That's all right," Aunt Josephine said, blowing her nose. "It's just that I prefer to think of Ike in other ways. Ike always loved the sunshine, and I like to imagine that wherever he is now, it's as sunny as can be. Of course, nobody knows what happens to you after you die, but it's nice to think of my husband someplace very, very hot, don't you think?" "Yes I do," Violet said. "It is very nice." She swallowed. She wanted to say something else to Aunt Josephine, but when you have only known someone for a few hours it is difficult to know what they would like to hear. "Aunt Josephine," she said timidly, "have you thought of moving someplace else? Perhaps if you lived somewhere far from Lake Lachrymose, you might feel better." "We'd go with you," Klaus piped up. "Oh, I could never sell this house," Aunt Josephine said. "I'm terrified of realtors." The three Baudelaire youngsters looked at one another surreptitiously, a word which here means "while Aunt Josephine wasn't looking." None of them had ever heard of a person who was frightened of realtors. There are two kinds of fears: rational and irrational-or, in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't. For instance, the Baudelaire orphans have a fear of Count Olaf, which makes perfect sense, because he is an evil man who wants to destroy them. But if they were afraid of lemon meringue pie, this would be an irrational fear, because lemon meringue pie is delicious and has never hurt a soul. Being afraid of a monster under the bed is perfectly rational, because there may in fact be a monster under your bed at any time, ready to eat you all up, but a fear of realtors is an irrational fear. Realtors, as I'm sure you know, are people who assist in the buying and selling of houses. Besides occasionally wearing an ugly yellow coat, the worst a realtor can do to you is show you a house that you find ugly, and so it is completely irrational to be terrified of them. As Violet, Klaus, and Sunny looked down at the dark lake and thought about their new lives with Aunt Josephine, they experienced a fear themselves, and even a worldwide expert on fear would have difficulty saying whether this was a rational fear or an irrational fear. The Baudelaires' fear was that misfortune would soon befall them. On one hand, this was an irrational fear, because Aunt Josephine seemed like a good person, and Count Olaf was nowhere to be seen. But on the other hand, the Baudelaires had experienced so many terrible things that it seemed rational to think that another catastrophe was just around the corner.