فصل 02

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فصل 02

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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It is much, much worse to receive bad news through the written word than by somebody simply telling you, and I’m sure you understand why. When somebody simply tells you bad news, you hear it once, and that’s the end of it. But when bad news is written down, whether in a letter or a newspaper or on your arm in felt tip pen, each time you read it, you feel as if you are receiving the news again and again. For instance, I once loved a woman, who for various reasons could not marry me. If she had simply told me in person, I would have been very sad, of course, but eventually it might have passed. However, she chose instead to write a two-hundred-page book, explaining every single detail of the bad news at great length, and instead my sadness has been of impossible depth. When the book was first brought to me, by a flock of carrier pigeons, I stayed up all night reading it, and I read it still, over and over, and it is as if my darling Beatrice is bringing me bad news every day and every night of my life.

The Baudelaire orphans knocked again and again on the wooden gate, taking care not to hit the chewed-up gum letters with their knuckles, but nobody answered, and at last they tried the gate themselves and found that it was unlocked. Behind the gate was a large courtyard with a dirt floor, and on the dirt floor was an envelope with the word “Baudelaires” typed on the front. Klaus picked up the envelope and opened it, and inside was a note that read as follows:


To:The Baudelaire Orphans

From:Lucky Smells Lumbermill

Subject: Your Arrival

Enclosed you will find a map of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, including the dormitory where the three of you will be staying, free of charge. Please report to work the following morning along with the other employees. The owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill expects you to be both assiduous and diligent.

“What do those words mean, ‘assiduous’ and ‘diligent’?” Violet asked, peering over Klaus’s shoulder.

“‘Assiduous’ and ‘diligent’ both mean the same thing,” said Klaus, who knew lots of impressive words from all the books he had read. “‘Hardworking.’”

“But Mr. Poe didn’t say anything about working in the the lumbermill,” Violet said. “I thought we were just going to live here.”

Klaus frowned at the hand-drawn map that was attached to the note with another wad of gum. “This map looks pretty easy to read,” he said. “The dormitory is straight ahead, between the storage shed and the lumbermill itself.”

Violet looked straight ahead and saw a gray windowless building on the other side of the courtyard. “I don’t want to live,” she said, “between the storage shed and the lumbermill itself.”

“It doesn’t sound like much fun,” Klaus admitted, “but you never know. The mill might have complicated machines, and you would find it interesting to study them.”

“That’s true,” Violet said. “You never know. It might have some hard wood, and Sunny would find it interesting to bite it.”

“Snevi!” Sunny shrieked.

“And there might be some interesting lumbermill manuals for me to read,” Klaus said. “You never know.”

“That’s right,” Violet said. “You never know. This might be a wonderful place to live.”

The three siblings looked at one another, and felt a little better. It is true, of course, that you never know. A new experience can be extremely pleasurable, or extremely irritating, or somewhere in between, and you never know until you try it out. And as the children began walking toward the gray, windowless building, they felt ready to try out their new home at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, because you never know. But—and my heart aches as I tell you this—I always know. I know because I have been to the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, and learned of all the atrocious things that befell these poor orphans during the brief time they lived there. I know because I have talked to some of the people who were there at the time, and heard with my own ears the troublesome story of the children’s stay in Paltryville. And I know because I have written down all the details in order to convey to you, the reader, just how miserable their experience was. I know, and this knowledge sits in my heart, heavy as a paperweight. I wish I could have been at the lumbermill when the Baudelaires were there, because they didn’t know. I wish I could tell them what I know, as they walked across the courtyard, raising small clouds of dust with every step. They didn’t know, but I know and I wish they knew, if you know what I mean.

When the Baudelaires reached the door of the gray building, Klaus took another look at the map, nodded his head, and knocked. After a long pause, the door creaked open and revealed a confused-looking man whose clothes were covered in sawdust. He stared at them for quite some time before speaking.

“No one has knocked on this door,” he said finally, “for fourteen years.”

Sometimes, when somebody says something so strange that you don’t know what to say in return, it is best to just politely say “How do you do?”

“How do you do?” Violet said politely. “I am Violet Baudelaire, and these are my siblings, Klaus and Sunny.”

The confused-looking man looked even more confused, and put his hands on his hips, brushing some of the sawdust off his shirt. “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” he asked.

“I think so,” Klaus said. “This is the dormitory at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” the man said, “but we’re not allowed to have visitors.”

“We’re not visitors,” Violet replied. “We’re going to live here.”

The man scratched his head, and the Baudelaires watched as sawdust fell out of his messy gray hair. “You’re going to live here, at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill?”

“Cigam!” Sunny shrieked, which meant “Look at this note!”

Klaus gave the note to the man, who was careful not to touch the gum as he read it over. Then he looked down at the orphans with his tired, sawdust-sprinkled eyes. “You’re going to work here, too? Children, working in a lumber-mill is a very difficult job. Trees have to be stripped of their bark and sawed into narrow strips to make boards. The boards have to be tied together into stacks and loaded onto trucks. I must tell you that the majority of people who work in the lumber business are grown-ups. But if the owner says you’re working here, I guess you’re working here. You’d better come inside.”

The man opened the door further, and the Baudelaires stepped inside the dormitory. “My name’s Phil, by the way,” Phil said. “You can join us for dinner in a few minutes, but in the meantime I’ll give you a tour of the dormitory.” Phil led the youngsters into a large, dimly lit room filled with bunk beds, standing in rows and rows on a cement floor. Sitting or lying down on the bunks were an assortment of people, men and women, all of whom looked tired and all of whom were covered in sawdust. They were sitting together in groups of four or five, playing cards, chatting quietly, or simply staring into space, and a few of them looked up with mild interest as the three siblings walked into the room. The whole place had a damp smell, a smell rooms get when the windows have not been opened for quite some time. Of course, in this case the windows had never been opened, because there weren’t any windows, although the children could see that somebody had taken a ballpoint pen and drawn a few windows on the gray cement walls. The window drawings somehow made the room even more pathetic, a word which here means “depressing and containing no windows,” and the Baudelaire orphans felt a lump in their throats just looking at it.

“This here is the room where we sleep,” Phil said. “There’s a bunk over there in the far corner that you three can have. You can store your bag underneath the bed. Through that door is the bathroom and down that hallway over there is the kitchen. That’s pretty much the grand tour. Everyone, this is Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. They’re going to work here.”

“But they’re children,” one of the women said.

“I know,” Phil said. “But the owner says they’re going to work here, so they’re going to work here.”

“By the way,” Klaus said, “what is the owner’s name? Nobody has told us.”

“I don’t know,” Phil said, stroking his dusty chin. “He hasn’t visited the dormitory for six years or so. Does anybody remember the owner’s name?”

“I think it’s Mister something,” one of the men said.

“You mean you never talk to him?” Violet asked.

“We never even see him,” Phil said. “The owner lives in a house across from the storage shed, and only comes to the lumbermill for special occasions. We see the foreman all the time, but never the owner.”

“Teruca?” Sunny asked, which probably meant “What’s a foreman?”

“A foreman,” Klaus explained, “is somebody who supervises workers. Is he nice, Phil?”

“He’s awful!” one of the other men said, and some of the others took up the cry.

“He’s terrible!”

“He’s disgusting!”

“He’s revolting!”

“He’s the worst foreman the world has ever seen!”

“He is pretty bad,” Phil said to the Baudelaires. “The guy we used to have, Foreman Firstein, was O.K. But last week he stopped showing up. It was very odd. The man who replaced him, Foreman Flacutono, is very mean. You’ll stay on his good side if you know what’s good for you.”

“He doesn’t have a good side,” a woman said.

“Now, now,” Phil said. “Everything and everybody has a good side. Come on, let’s have our supper.”

The Baudelaire orphans smiled at Phil, and followed the other employees of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill into the kitchen, but they still had lumps in their throats as big as the lumps in the beef casserole that they ate for supper. The children could tell, from Phil’s statement about everything and everybody having a good side, that he was an optimist. “Optimist” is a word which here refers to a person, such as Phil, who thinks hopeful and pleasant thoughts about nearly everything. For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something more along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”

The Baudelaire orphans ate their damp casserole, and they tried to be optimists like Phil, but try as they might, none of their thoughts turned out pleasant or hopeful. They thought of the bunk bed they would share, in the smelly room with windows drawn on the walls. They thought of doing hard work in the lumbermill, getting sawdust all over them and being bossed around by Foreman Flacutono. They thought of the eye-shaped building outside the wooden gate. And most of all, they thought of their parents, their poor parents whom they missed so much and whom they would never see again. They thought all through supper, and they thought while changing into their pajamas, and they thought as Violet tossed and turned in the top bunk and Klaus and Sunny tossed and turned below her. They thought, as they did in the courtyard, that you never know, and that their new home could still be a wonderful one. But they could guess. And as the Lucky Smells employees snored around them, the children thought about all their unhappy circumstances, and began guessing. They tossed and turned, and guessed and guessed, and by the time they fell asleep there wasn’t a single optimist in the Baudelaire bunk.

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