فصل 11

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فصل 11

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER Eleven

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Violet was upstairs, surveying her bedroom with a critical eye. She took a deep breath, and then tied her hair in a ribbon, to keep it out of her eyes. As you and I and everyone who is familiar with Violet know, when she ties her hair back like that, it is because she needs to think up an invention. And right now she needed to think of one quickly.

Violet had realized, when her brother had talked about Stephano ordering them to carry his suitcase into the house, that the evidence she had been looking for was undoubtedly in that very suitcase. And now, while her siblings were distracting the adults in the Reptile Room, would be her only opportunity to open the suitcase and retrieve proof of Stephano’s evil plot. But her aching shoulder was a reminder that she couldn’t simply open the suitcase—it was locked, with a lock as shiny as Stephano’s scheming eyes. I confess that if I were in Violet’s place, with only a few minutes to open a locked suitcase, instead of on the deck of my friend Bela’s yacht, writing this down, I probably would have given up hope. I would have sunk to the floor of the bedroom and pounded my fists against the carpet wondering why in the world life was so unfair and filled with inconveniences.

Luckily for the Baudelaires, however, Violet was made of sterner stuff, and she took a good look around her bedroom for anything that might help her. There wasn’t much in the way of inventing materials. Violet longed for a good room in which to invent things, filled with wires and gears and all of the necessary equipment to invent really top-notch devices. Uncle Monty was in fact in possession of many of these supplies, but, to Violet’s frustration as she thought of this, they were located in the Reptile Room. She looked at the pieces of butcher paper tacked to the wall, where she had hoped to sketch out inventions as she lived in Uncle Monty’s house. The trouble had begun so quickly that Violet had only a few scribblings on one of the sheets, which she had written by the light of a floorlamp on her first night here. Violet’s eyes traveled to the floorlamp as she remembered that evening, and when she reached the electric socket she had an idea.

We all know, of course, that we should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever fiddle around in any way with electric devices. Never: There are two reasons for this. One is that you can get electrocuted, which is not only deadly but very unpleasant, and the other is that you are not Violet Baudelaire, one of the few people in the world who know how to handle such things. And even Violet was very careful and nervous as she unplugged the lamp and took a long look at the plug itself. It might work.

Hoping that Klaus and Sunny were continuing to stall the adults successfully, Violet wiggled the two prongs of the plug this way and that until at last they came loose from their plastic casing. She now had two small metal strips. Violet then took one of the thumbtacks out of the butcher paper, letting the paper curl down the wall as if it were lazy. With the sharp end of the tack she poked and prodded the two pieces of metal until one was hooked around the other, and then forced the thumbtack between the two pieces so the sharp end stuck straight out. The result looked like a piece of metal you might not notice if it lay in the street, but in fact what Violet had made was a crude—the word “crude” here means “roughly made at the last minute” rather than “rude or ill-mannered”—lockpick. Lockpicks, as you probably know, are devices that work as if they were proper keys, usually used by bad guys to rob houses or escape from jail, but this was one of the rare times when a lockpick was being used by a good guy: Violet Baudelaire.

Violet walked quietly back down the stairs, holding her lockpick in one hand and crossing her fingers with the other. She tiptoed past the enormous door of the Reptile Room and hoped that her absence would not be noticed as she slipped outside. Deliberately averting her eyes from Dr. Lucafont’s car to avoid catching even a glimpse of Uncle Monty’s body, the eldest Baudelaire walked toward the pile of suitcases. She looked first at the old ones belonging to the Baudelaires. Those suitcases contained, she remembered, lots of ugly, itchy clothing that Mrs. Poe had bought for them soon after their parents died. For a few seconds, Violet found herself staring at the suitcases, remembering how effortless her life had been before all this trouble had set upon them, and how surprising it was to find herself in such miserable circumstances now. This may not be surprising to us, because we know how disastrous the lives of the Baudelaire orphans are, but Violet’s misfortune was constantly surprising to her and it took her a minute to push thoughts of their situation out of her head and to concentrate on what she had to do.

She knelt down to get closer to Stephano’s suitcase, held the shiny silver padlock in one hand, took a deep breath, and stuck the lockpick into the keyhole. It went inside, but when she tried to turn it around, it scarcely budged, only scraped a little at the inside of the keyhole. It needed to move more smoothly or it would never work. Violet took her lockpick out and wet it with her mouth, grimacing at the stale taste of the metal. Then she stuck the lockpick into the keyhole again and tried to move it. It wiggled slightly and then lay still.

Violet took the lockpick out and thought very, very hard, retying her hair in the ribbon. As she cleared the hair from her eyes, though, she felt a sudden prickle on her skin. It was unpleasant and familiar. It was the feeling of being watched. She looked quickly behind her, but saw only the snake-shaped hedges on the lawn. She looked to the side and saw only the driveway leading down to Lousy Lane. But then she looked straight ahead, through the glass walls of the Reptile Room.

It had never occurred to her that people could see in through the Reptile Room’s walls as clearly as they could see out, but when she looked up Violet could see, through the cages of reptiles, the figure of Mr. Poe leaping up and down excitedly. You and I know, of course, that Mr. Poe was panicking over Sunny and the Incredibly Deadly Viper, but all Violet knew was that whatever ruse her siblings had devised was still working. The prickle on her skin was not explained, however, until she looked a little closer, just to the right of Mr. Poe, and saw that Stephano was looking right back at her.

Her mouth fell open in surprise and panic. She knew that any second now, Stephano would invent an excuse to leave the Reptile Room and come find her, and she hadn’t even opened the suitcase. Quickly, quickly, quickly, she had to find some way to make her lockpick work. She looked down at the damp gravel of the driveway, and up at the dim, yellowish afternoon sun. She looked at her own hands, smudged with dust from picking apart the electric plug, and that’s when she thought of something.

Jumping to her feet, Violet sprinted back into the house as if Stephano were already after her and pushed her way through the door into the kitchen. Shoving a chair to the floor in her haste, she grabbed a bar of soap from the dripping sink. She rubbed the slippery substance carefully over her lockpick until the entire invention had a thin, slick coating. Her heart pounding in her chest, she ran back outside, taking a hurried look through the walls of the Reptile Room. Stephano was saying something to Mr. Poe—he was bragging about his expertise of snakes, but Violet had no way of knowing that—and Violet took this moment to kneel down and stick the lockpick back into the keyhole of the padlock. It spun quickly all the way around and then snapped in two, right in her hands. There was a faint sputter of sound as one half fell to the grass, the other one sticking in the keyhole like a jagged tooth. Her lockpick was destroyed.

Violet closed her eyes for a moment in despair, and then pulled herself to her feet, using the suitcase to gain her balance. When she put her hand on the suitcase, however, the padlock swung open, and the case tipped open and spilled everything all over the ground. Violet fell back down in surprise. Somehow, as the lock-pick turned, it must have unstuck the lock. Sometimes even in the most unfortunate of lives there will occur a moment or two of good fortune.

It is very difficult, experts have told us, to find a needle in a haystack, which is why “needle in a haystack” has become a rather hackneyed phrase meaning “something that is difficult to find.” The reason it is difficult to find a needle in a haystack, of course, is that out of all the things in a haystack, the needle is only one of them. If, however, you were looking for anything in a haystack, that wouldn’t be difficult at all, because once you started sifting through the haystack you would most certainly find something: hay, of course, but also dirt, bugs, a few farming tools, and maybe even a man who had escaped from prison and was hiding there. When Violet searched through the contents of Stephano’s suitcase, it was more like looking for anything in a haystack, because she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to find. Therefore it was actually fairly easy to find useful items of evidence: a glass vial with a sealed rubber cap, as one might find in a scientific laboratory; a syringe with a sharp needle, like the one your doctor uses to give you shots; a small bunch of folded papers; a card laminated in plastic; a powder puff and small hand mirror.

Even though she knew she had only a few more moments, Violet separated these items from the smelly clothes and the bottle of wine that were also in the suitcase, and looked at all her evidence very carefully, concentrating on each item as if they were small parts out of which she was going to make a machine. And in a way, they were. Violet Baudelaire needed to arrange these pieces of evidence to defeat Stephano’s evil plan and bring justice and peace into the lives of the Baudelaire orphans for the first time since their parents perished in the terrible fire. Violet gazed at each piece of evidence, thinking very hard, and before too long, her face lit up the way it always did when all the pieces of something were fit together properly and the machine worked just the way it should.

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