'Do you think all three of those bratty orphans got out of the hospital alive?' the bald man asked.
'Those children seem to have all the luck in the world,' Count Olaf said, 'so they're all probably alive and well, but it would sure make things easier if one or two of them burned to a crisp. We only need one of them alive to get the fortune.'
'I hope it's Sunny,' the hook-handed man said. 'It was fun putting her in a cage, and I look forward to doing it again.'
'I myself hope it's Violet,' Olaf said. 'She's the prettiest.'
'I don't care who it is,' Esmé said. 'I just want to know where they are.'
'Well, Madame Lulu will know,' Olaf said. 'With her crystal ball, she'll be able to tell us where the orphans are, where the file is, and anything else we want to know.'
'I never believed in things like crystal balls,' remarked a white-faced woman, 'but when this Madame Lulu started telling you how to find the Baudelaires every time they escaped, I learned that fortune-telling is real.'
'Stick with me,' Olaf said, 'and you'll learn lots of new things. Oh, here's the turn for Rarely Ridden Road. We're almost there.'
The car lurched to the left, and the Baudelaires lurched with it, rolling to the left-hand side of the trunk, along with the many items Olaf kept in his car to help with his dastardly plots. Violet tried not to cough as one of his fake beards tickled her throat. Klaus held his hand up to his face so that a sliding toolbox wouldn't break his glasses. And Sunny shut her mouth tightly so she wouldn't get one of Olaf's dirty undershirts tangled in her sharp teeth. Rarely Ridden Road was even bumpier than the highway they had been traveling on, and the car made so much noise that the children could not hear any more of the conversation until Olaf pulled the automobile to a creaky stop.
'Are we there yet?' the hook-handed man asked.
'Of course we're here, you fool,' Olaf said. 'Look, there's the sign -- Caligari Carnival.'
'Where is Madame Lulu?' asked the bald man.
'Where do you think?' Esmé asked, and everyone laughed. The doors of the automobile opened with a scraping sound, and the car lurched again as everyone piled out.
'Should I get the wine out of the trunk, boss?' the bald man asked.
The Baudelaires froze.
'No,' Count Olaf replied. 'Madame Lulu will have plenty of refreshments for us.'
The three children lay very still and listened as Olaf and his troupe trudged away from the car. Their footsteps grew fainter and fainter until the siblings could hear nothing but the evening breeze as it whistled through the bullet holes, and at last it seemed safe for the Baudelaire orphans to speak to one another.
'What are we going to do?' Violet whispered, pushing the beard away from her.
'Merrill,' Sunny said. Like many people her age, the youngest Baudelaire sometimes used language that was difficult for some people to understand, but her siblings knew at once that she meant something like, 'We'd better get out of this trunk.'
'As soon as possible,' Klaus agreed.
'We don't know how soon Olaf and his troupe will return. Violet, do you think you can invent something to get us out of here?'
'It shouldn't be too hard,' Violet said, 'with all this stuff in the trunk.' She reached out her hand and felt around until she found the mechanism that was keeping the trunk closed. 'I've studied this kind of latch before,' she said. 'All I need to move it is a loop of strong twine. Feel around and see if we can find something.'
Text copyright 2002 by Lemony Snicket. Illustrations copyright 2002 by Brett Helquist. All rights reserved. Not to be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever without written permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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