Excerpt from The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Grim Grotto

by Lemony Snicket

The Grim Grotto
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    Sep 2004, 352 pages

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"Selphawa!" Sunny cried, which meant "We can’t think about Quigley now—we have to think about ourselves," and the youngest Baudelaire was right. With a great whoosh! the stream turned another square corner, and within moments the waters of the stream were churning so violently that it felt as if the Baudelaires were riding a wild horse rather than a broken toboggan.

"Can you steer the toboggan toward the shore?" Klaus yelled over the sound of the stream.

"No!" Violet cried. "The steering mechanism broke when we rode down the waterfall, and the stream is too wide to paddle there!" Violet found a ribbon in her pocket and paused to tie up her hair in order to think better. She gazed down at the toboggan and tried to think of various mechanical blueprints she had read in her childhood, when her parents were alive and supportive of her interests in mechanical engineering. "The runners of the toboggan," she said, and then repeated it in a shout to be heard over the water. "The runners! They help the toboggan maneuver on the snow, but maybe they can help us steer on the water!"

"Where are the runners?" Klaus asked, looking around.

"On the bottom of the toboggan!" Violet cried.

"Imposiyakto?" Sunny asked, which meant something like, "How can we get to the bottom of the toboggan?"

"I don’t know," Violet said, and frantically checked her pockets for any inventing materials. She had been carrying a long bread knife, but now it was gone—probably carried away by the stream, along with Quigley, when she had used it last. She looked straight ahead, at the frothy rush of water threatening to engulf them. She gazed at the distant shores of the stream, which grew more and more distant as the stream continued to widen. And she looked at her siblings, who were waiting for her inventing skills to save them. Her siblings looked back, and all three Baudelaires looked at one another for a moment, blinking dark water out of their eyes, as they tried to think of something to do.

Just at that moment, however, one more eye arrived, also blinking dark water as it rose out of the stream, right in front of the Baudelaires. At first it seemed to be the eye of some terrible sea creature, found only in books of mythology and in the swimming pools of certain resorts. But as the toboggan took them closer, the children could see that the eye was made of metal, perched on top of a long metal pole that curved at the top so the eye could get a better look at them. It is very unusual to see a metal eye rising up out of the rushing waters of a stream, and yet this eye was something the Baudelaires had seen many times, since their first encounter with an eye tattoo on Count Olaf’s left ankle. The eye was an insignia, and when you looked at it in a certain way it also looked like three mysterious letters.

"V.F.D.!" Sunny cried, as the toboggan drew even closer.

"What is it?" Klaus asked.

"It’s a periscope!" Violet said. "Submarines use them to look at things above the water!"

"Does that mean," Klaus cried, "that there’s a submarine beneath us?"

Violet did not have to answer, because the eye rose further out of the water, and the orphans could see that the pole was attached to a large, flat piece of metal, most of which was under the water. The toboggan drew closer until the periscope was in reach, and then stopped, the way a raft will stop when it hits a large rock.

"Look!" Violet cried as the stream rushed around them. She pointed to a hatch just at the bottom of the periscope. "Let’s knock—maybe they can hear us!"

"But we have no idea who’s inside," Klaus said.

"Taykashans!" Sunny shrieked, which meant "It’s our only chance to travel safely through these waters," and she leaned down to the hatch and scraped at it with her teeth. Her siblings joined her, preferring to use their fists to pound on the metal hatch.

From The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket. Text copyright © 2004 by Lemony Snicket. Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Brett Helquest. All rights reserved.

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