A Series of Unfortunate Events #11: The Grim GrottoA Series of Unfortunate Events
a great deal of time examining oceans, investigatingrainstorms, and staring very hard at several drinkingfountains, the scientists of the world developed a theoryregarding how water is distributed around our planet, whichthey have named "the water cycle." The water cycle consists ofthree key phenomena - evaporation, precipitation, andcollection - and all of them are equally boring.
Of course, it is boring to read about boring things, but it isbetter to read something that makes you yawn with boredom thansomething that will make you weep uncontrollably, pound yourfists against the floor, and leave tearstains all over yourpillowcase, sheets, and boomerang collection. Like the watercycle, the tale of the Baudelaire children consists of threekey phenomena, but rather than read their sorry tale it wouldbe best if you read something about the water cycle instead.
Violet, the eldest phenomenon, was nearly fifteen years oldand very nearly the best inventor the world had ever seen. Asfar as I can tell she was certainly the best inventor who hadever found herself trapped in the gray waters of the StrickenStream, clinging desperately to a toboggan as she was carriedaway from the Valley of Four Drafts, and if I were you I wouldprefer to focus on the boring phenomenon of evaporation, whichrefers to the process of water turning into vapor andeventually forming clouds, rather than think about the turmoilthat awaited her at the bottom of the Mortmain Mountains.
Klaus was the second eldest of the Baudelaire siblings, but itwould be better for your health if you concentrated on theboring phenomenon of precipitation, which refers to vaporturning back into water and falling as rain, rather thanspending even one moment thinking about the phenomenon ofKlaus's excellent skills as a researcher, and the amount oftrouble and woe these skills would bring him once he and hissiblings met up with Count Olaf, the notorious villain who hadbeen after the children ever since their parents had perishedin a terrible fire.
And even Sunny Baudelaire, who had recently passed out ofbabyhood, is a phenomenon all to herself, not only for hervery sharp teeth, which had helped the Baudelaires in a numberof unpleasant circumstances, but also for her newfound skillsas a cook, which had fed the Baudelaires in a number ofunpleasant circumstances. Although the phenomenon ofcollection, which describes the gathering of fallen rain intoone place so it can evaporate once more and begin the entiretedious process all over again, is probably the most boringphenomenon in the water cycle, it would be far better for youto get up and go right to your nearest library and spendseveral boring days reading every single boring fact you canfind about collection, because the phenomenon of what happensto Sunny Baudelaire over the course of these pages is the mostdreadful phenomenon I can think of, and I can think of a greatmany. The water cycle may be a series of boring phenomena, butthe story of the Baudelaires is something else entirely, andthis is an excellent opportunity to read something boringinstead of learning what became of the Baudelaires as therushing waters of the Stricken Stream carried them away fromthe mountains.
"What will become of us?" Violet asked, raising her voice tobe heard over the rushing water. "I don't think I can inventanything that can stop this toboggan."
"I don't think you should try," Klaus called back to hissister. "The arrival of False Spring has thawed out thestream, but the waters are still very cold. If one of us fellinto the stream, I'm not sure how long we could survive."
"Quigley," Sunny whimpered. The youngest Baudelaire oftentalked in a way that could be difficult to understand, butlately her speech had been developing almost as quickly as hercooking skills, and her siblings knew that Sunny was referringto Quigley Quagmire, with whom the Baudelaires had recentlybecome friends. Quigley had helped Violet and Klaus reach thetop of Mount Fraught in order to find the V.F.D. headquartersand rescue Sunny from Count Olaf's clutches, but anothertributary of the Stricken Stream had carried him off in theopposite direction, and the cartographer - a word which heremeans "someone who is very good with maps, and of whom VioletBaudelaire was particularly fond" - didn't even have atoboggan to keep him out of the chilly water.
"I'm sure Quigley has gotten out of the water," Violet saidquickly, although of course she was sure of no such thing. "Ionly wish we knew where he was going. He told us to meet himsomewhere, but the waterfall interrupted him."
The toboggan bobbed in the water as Klaus reached into hispocket and drew out a dark blue notebook. The notebook hadbeen a gift from Quigley, and Klaus was using it as acommonplace book, a phrase which here means "notebook in whichhe wrote any interesting or useful information." "We decodedthat message telling us about an important V.F.D. gathering onThursday," he said, "and thanks to Sunny, we know that themeeting is at the Hotel Denoue ment. Maybe that's whereQuigley wants to meet us - at the last safe place."
"But we don't know where it is," Violet pointed out. "How canwe meet someone in an unknown location?"
The three Baudelaires sighed, and for a few moments thesiblings sat quietly on the toboggan and listened to thegurgling of the stream. There are some people who like towatch a stream for hours, staring at the glittering water andthinking about the mysteries of the world. But the waters ofthe Stricken Stream were too dirty to glitter, and everymystery the children tried to solve seemed to reveal even moremysteries, and even those mysteries contained mysteries, sowhen they pondered these mysteries they felt more overwhelmedthan thoughtful. They knew that V.F.D. was a secretorganization, but they couldn't seem to find out much aboutwhat the organization did, or why it should concern theBaudelaires. They knew that Count Olaf was very eager to gethis filthy hands on a certain sugar bowl, but they had no ideawhy the sugar bowl was so important, or where in the world itwas. They knew that there were people in the world who couldhelp them, but so many of these people - guardians, friends,bankers - had proven to be of no help at all, or had vanishedfrom their lives just when the Baudelaires needed them most.And they knew there were people in the world who would nothelp them - villainous people, and their number seemed to begrowing as their treachery and wickedness trickled all overthe earth, like a dreadful water cycle of woe and despair. Butright now the biggest mystery seemed to be what to do next,and as the Baudelaires huddled together on the floatingtoboggan they could not think of a thing.