بخش 04

مجموعه: مجموعه بدبیاری ها / کتاب: شروع ناگوار / فصل 4

بخش 04

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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“My theater troupe will be coming for dinner before tonight’s performance. Have dinner ready for all ten of them by the time they arrive at seven o’clock. Buy the food, prepare it, set the table, serve dinner, clean up afterwards, and stay out of our way.” Below that there was the usual eye, and underneath the note was a small sum of money for the groceries.

Violet and Klaus read the note as they ate their breakfast, which was a gray and lumpy oatmeal Count Olaf left for them each morning in a large pot on the stove. Then they looked at each other in dismay.

“None of us knows how to cook.”

“That’s true. I knew how to repair those windows, and how to clean the chimney, because those sorts of things interest me. But I don’t know how to cook anything except toast.”

“And sometimes you burn the toast.” They smiled, remembering a time when the two of them got up early to make a special breakfast for their parents. Violet had burned the toast, and their parents, smelling smoke, had run downstairs to see what the matter was. When they saw Violet and Klaus, looking forlornly at pieces of pitch-black toast, they laughed and laughed, and then made pancakes for the whole family.

“I wish they were here. They would never let us stay in this dreadful place.”

“If they were here, we would not be with Count Olaf in the first place. I hate it here, Violet! I hate this house! I hate our room! I hate having to do all these chores, and I hate Count Olaf!”

“I hate it too.” Klaus looked at his older sister with relief. Sometimes, just saying that you hate something, and having someone agree with you, can make you feel better about a terrible situation. “I hate everything about our lives right now, Klaus but we have to keep our chin up.” This was an expression the children’s father had used, and it meant “try to stay cheerful.”

“You’re right. But it is very difficult to keep one’s chin up when Count Olaf keeps shoving it down.”

“Jook!” Sunny bang on the table with her oatmeal spoon. Violet and Klaus were jerked out of their conversation and looked once again at Count Olaf’s note.

“Perhaps we could find a cookbook, and read about how to cook. It shouldn’t be that difficult to make a simple meal.”

Violet and Klaus spent several minutes opening and shutting Count Olaf’s kitchen cupboards, but there weren’t any cookbooks to be found.

“I can’t say I’m surprised. We haven’t found any books in this house at all.”

“I know. I miss reading very much. We must go out and look for a library sometime soon.”

“But not today. Today we have to cook for ten people.”

At that moment there was a knock on the front door. Violet and Klaus looked at one another nervously.

“Who in the world would want to visit Count Olaf?”

“Maybe somebody wants to visit us.” In the time since the Baudelaire parents’ death, most of the Baudelaire orphans’ friends had fallen by the wayside, an expression which here means “they stopped calling, writing, and stopping by to see any of the Baudelaires, making them very lonely.” You and I, of course, would never do this to any of our grieving acquaintances, but it is a sad truth in life that when someone has lost a loved one, friends sometimes avoid the person, just when the presence of friends is most needed.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny walked slowly to the front door and peered through the peephole, which was in the shape of an eye. They were delighted to see Justice Strauss peering back at them, and opened the door.

“Justice Strauss! How lovely to see you.” She was about to add, “Do come in,” but then she realized that Justice Strauss would probably not want to venture into the dim and dirty room.

“Please forgive me for not stopping by sooner. I wanted to see how you children were settling in, but I had a very difficult case in the High Court and it was taking up much of my time.”

“What sort of case was it?” Having been deprived of reading, he was hungry for new information.

“I can’t really discuss it, because it’s official business. But I can tell you it concerns a poisonous plant and illegal use of someone’s credit card.”

“Yeeka!” This appeared to mean “How interesting!” although of course there is no way that Sunny could understand what was being said.

“Yeeka indeed,” Justice Strauss reached down to pat the child on the head. Sunny took Justice Strauss’s hand and bit it, gently.

“That means she likes you.”

“She bites very, very hard if she doesn’t like you, or if you want to give her a bath.”

“I see. Now then, how are you children getting on? Is there anything you desire?”

The children looked at one another, thinking of all the things they desired. Another bed, for example. A proper crib for Sunny. Curtains for the window in their room. A closet instead of a cardboard box. But what they desired most of all, of course, was not to be associated with Count Olaf in any way whatsoever. What they desired most was to be with their parents again, in their true home, but that, of course, was impossible. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny all looked down at the floor unhappily as they considered the question. Finally, Klaus spoke.

“Could we perhaps borrow a cookbook? Count Olaf has instructed us to make dinner for his theater troupe tonight, and we can’t find a cookbook in the house.”

“Goodness. Cooking dinner for an entire theater troupe seems like a lot to ask of children.”

“Count Olaf gives us a lot of responsibility.” Violet wanted to say was, “Count Olaf is an evil man,” but she was well mannered.

“Well, why don’t you come next door to my house and find a cookbook that pleases you?”

The youngsters agreed, and followed Justice Strauss out the door and over to her well-kept house. She led them through an elegant hallway smelling of flowers into an enormous room, and when they saw what was inside, they nearly fainted from delight, Klaus especially.

The room was a library. Not a public library, but a private library; that is, a large collection of books belonging to Justice Strauss. There were shelves and shelves of them, on every wall from the floor to the ceiling, and separate shelves and shelves of them in the middle of the room. The only place there weren’t books was in one corner, where there were some large, comfortable-looking chairs and a wooden table with lamps hanging over them, perfect for reading. Although it was not as big as their parents’ library, it was as cozy, and the Baudelaire children were thrilled.

“My word! This is a wonderful library!”

“Thank you very much. I’ve been collecting books for years, and I’m very proud of my collection. As long as you keep them in good condition, you are welcome to use any of my books, at any time. Now, the cookbooks are over here on the eastern wall. Shall we have a look at them?”

“Yes, and then, if you don’t mind, I should love to look at any of your books concerning mechanical engineering. Inventing things is a great interest of mine.”

“And I would like to look at books on wolves. Recently I have been fascinated by the subject of wild animals of North America.”

“Book!” Which meant “Please don’t forget to pick out a picture book for me.”

“It is a pleasure to see young people interested in books. But first I think we’d better find a good recipe, don’t you?”

The children agreed, and for thirty minutes or so they perused several cookbooks that Justice Strauss recommended. To tell you the truth, the three orphans were so excited to be out of Count Olaf’s house, and in this pleasant library, that they were a little distracted and unable to concentrate on cooking. But finally Klaus found a dish that sounded delicious, and easy to make.

“Listen to this. ‘Puttanesca.’ It’s an Italian sauce for pasta. All we need to do is sauté olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, chopped parsley, and tomatoes together in a pot, and prepare spaghetti to go with it.”

“That sounds easy.” The Baudelaire orphans looked at one another. Perhaps, with the kind Justice Strauss and her library right next door, the children could prepare pleasant lives for themselves as easily as making puttanesca sauce for Count Olaf.

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