A Series of Unfortunate Events: read an excerpt from the first volume
A Series of Unfortunate Events is one of the most recognizable series for young people – also thanks to the series screening, which can be watched on Netflix. The cycle about the world’s most unlucky siblings has thirteen volumes.
On May 31, HaeperCollins Polska plans to premiere the next – 5th and 6th – volumes in our country Series of Unfortunate Events fri Academy of antipathy and Ghost elevator. On this occasion, if you don’t know the series yet Lemony Snicketwe remind you of a fragment of the first volume entitled A sad start.
The Bad Beginning – excerpt from the novel
If you’re looking for a story with a happy ending, you’d better read something else. Not only does this book not have a happy ending, it doesn’t even start happily, and it’s not very happy inside either. That’s because not many happy things happened in the lives of the three young Baudelaires. Violet, Klaus and Sunny were intelligent children, endowed with charm, imagination and pleasant features, but they had terrible luck and everything that happened to them was tainted with misfortune, sadness and despair. I am sorry to tell you this, but it is the truth.
Their bad luck began one day in Salt Beach. The three young Baudelaires lived with their parents in a large house in the middle of a dirty, busy city. Occasionally, their parents would allow them to take a trip on their own in a dilapidated trolleybus – the word “dilapidated”, as you probably know, means “not in working order” or “threatened to fail” – to the seaside, where the children could spend a sort of one-day vacation, provided they will come home for dinner. This particular morning was gray and overcast, which didn’t bother the young Baudelaires at all. On hot and sunny days, Salt Beach was swarming with tourists, so there was nowhere to spread a blanket. But on gray and cloudy days, the Baudelaires had the entire beach to themselves and could do whatever they liked.
Violet Baudelaire, the eldest of her siblings, liked to play ducks. Like most fourteen-year-olds, she was right-handed, so the stones jumped farther in the gray water when Violet threw them with her right hand than when she threw them with her left. While releasing the ducks, Violet stared at the horizon and thought about the invention she was going to construct. Anyone who knew Violet would know that she was thinking very hard, because her long hair was tied up with a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a great talent for inventing and constructing strange devices, so her imagination was often filled with images of gears, levers and gears – and she didn’t like being interrupted by something as trivial as her hair. This morning she had been thinking about the construction of a device that would return the duck-stone from the sea to the land.
Klaus Baudelaire, the middle of his siblings and the only boy, liked to watch the creatures in the puddles. Klaus was twelve years old and wore glasses that made him look intelligent. Klaus was smart. Baudelaire’s parents had a huge library at home – a room filled with thousands of books on virtually every subject. At only twelve, Klaus hadn’t read all the books in the Baudelaire library, of course, but he had read a great many and remembered quite a lot from what he read.
He knew how to tell an alligator from a crocodile. He knew who killed Julius Caesar. He also knew a great deal about the tiny, slimy creatures that inhabited Salt Beach, which he was watching at the moment.
Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest of three, liked to bite. Sunny was still a baby, a girl, and very small for her age – not much bigger than a wellington. What it lacked in height it made up for in the size and sharpness of its four teeth. Sunny was still at the age when a man spoke mainly in series of unintelligible squeaks. Unless it used one of the few real words it knew—bottle, mama, or bite—most people had trouble understanding what Sunny was saying. For example, this morning it was saying “Gak!” over and over again, which probably meant “Look at that mysterious figure emerging from the mist!”
Indeed, in the distant, misty perspective of Salt Beach, a tall figure could be seen striding toward the young Baudelaires. Sunny watched the figure for a long time and squeaked shrilly before Klaus looked up from the thorny crab he was examining and also noticed someone coming. He reached out and touched Violet’s arm, jolting her from her inventive inspiration.
“Look over there,” he said, pointing. The figure was getting closer and the children could make out
some details. She was about the height of an adult, only her head was unusually oblong
“What do you think it is?” asked Violet.
“I don’t know,” Klaus replied, straining his eyes, “but I think it’s coming to us.”
“There’s no one else on the beach,” Violet noted with a little concern. “He’s definitely coming to us.”
She clutched a flat, smooth stone in her left hand and was about to launch the duck as far as it could go. Suddenly, she thought of throwing a rock at this disturbing figure.
“It just looks so dangerous,” Klaus said, as if reading his sister’s mind. “Through this thick fog.
He was right. When the figure got to them, the children were relieved to find that it was not a monster, but someone they knew – Mr. Poe. Mr. Poe was friendly with the Baudelaires and the children often saw him at home parties. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny liked their parents best because when guests came to the house, the children did not have to go to play, but were allowed to sit with the adults at the table and participate in the conversation, as long as they helped clear the table after the party . Mr. Poe was remembered mainly because he always had a cold and kept apologizing to get up from the table and cough in the next room.
Mr. Poe took off his top hat, which made his head look so big and angular in the mist, and then said nothing for a moment, just coughed loudly into a white handkerchief. Violet and Klaus came over to shake his hand and greet him politely.
“Good morning, sir,” said Violet.
“Good morning, sir,” Klaus said.
– Bye bye! Sunshine said.
“Good morning,” Mr. Poe said, but he looked very sad. For a few seconds, no one spoke. The children wondered what Mr. Poe was doing at Salt Beach when he should be at his bank in town. His outfit was by no means beachwear.
“Nice day,” Violet said finally, trying to make conversation. Sunny squealed like an angry bird, and Klaus picked him up and hugged him.
“Yes, quite nice,” Mr. Poe admitted with a strange absent-mindedness, staring out across the empty beach. “I’m afraid, dear children, that I have very sad news for you.”
The three young Baudelaires looked at him intently. Violet, a little embarrassed, clutched the stone in her left fist and was glad she hadn’t thrown it at Mr. Poe.
“Your parents,” Mr. Poe said, “died in a terrible fire.
The children were silent.
“They died,” continued Mr. Poe, “in a fire that consumed the whole house.” I am very, very sorry to have to tell you this, my dears.
Violet looked away from Mr. Poe and looked far out to sea. Mr. Poe had never said to the young Baudelaires, “my dears.” Violet understood all his words, yet she was sure that Mr. Poe was joking, that he only wanted to play a cruel prank on her, brother and sister.
“They died,” added Mr. Poe. “That means they’re dead.”
“We know what ‘dead’ means,” Klaus said angrily, though he still hadn’t fully grasped what he had just heard. He had the impression that Mr. Poe had slipped the tongue.
“The fire department came, of course,” Mr. Poe went on, “but too late. The whole house was already on fire. It burned to the ground.
Klaus imagined the flames consuming all the books in the library. So he will never read them again. Mr. Poe coughed a couple of times into his handkerchief, then went on:
“I was sent to find you here and take you to my place, where you will stay for a while until we come up with a solution. I am the executor of your parents’ inheritance. This means that it is up to me to manage their vast fortune and find you a home. As soon as Violet reaches puberty, the estate will pass into your hands, but until then it will remain at the disposal of the bank.
Mr. Poe had introduced himself as the executor of the inheritance, but Violet felt like he was at a real execution where Mr. Poe was the executioner. He came to the beach as if nothing had happened, said a few words to the children – and changed their lives forever.
– Let’s go. Mr. Poe extended his hand.
In order to shake his hand, Violet had to drop the stone she was holding in her fist. Klaus took Violet’s other hand, Sunny clung to Klaus’s free arm, and thus the three Baudelaire children – henceforth the three Baudelaire orphans – were led off the beach and out of their lives.