Friday, 10 October 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Ersatz Elevator, Chapter 9

This is a pretty short chapter which meant that I was able to get it properly written out (sitting in bed on Monday night) and ready to post today. Enjoy.

What Happens?

When the Baudelaires get down to the bottom of the shaft again they discover something unexpected: the Quagmires are gone! Klaus points out that the children are going to be hidden in one of the In Auction items. He heads into the library to look through the auction catalogue while the girls hide the evidence of their night’s work. Back in the library Klaus thinks he’s spotted something which might just be where the Quagmires can be found, after all, it’s proving to be very familiar.

Thoughts as I read:

I wonder if this chapter picture is a clue to how well Violet’s invention work. We can see three fire pokers, all slightly bend out of shape and smoking at the tip. I’m guessing that this is either them after they have successfully liberated the Quagmires, or they don’t work and get all bend out of shape. Best money is on the second option, I think.

One of the greatest myths in the world – and the phrase “greatest myths” is just a fancy way of saying “big fat lies” – is that troublesome things get less and less troublesome if you do them more and more.

Hehe, it’s not a saying I hear a great deal, but I can relate. I’m determined to learn to crochet but everyone I speak to says it gets easier the more you do it, which is probably true, but it’s so hard! And it’s supposed to be one of those relaxing crafts like knitting and I don’t see it myself at all. Which is definitely not the point of this chapter, so I’m going to shut up and move on.

Basically what this opening is saying is that despite the Baudelaires’ long climb down the elevator shaft the task does not get any easier for them. It’s still dark and difficult and this time they’re making the journey one-handed whilst carrying hot tongs.

It does not get any better at the bottom of the shaft either. The cage is still there but sans Quagmires.
Violet’s response to this is to throw down her welding torch in despair, hence the bend and battered looking tongs at the beginning of the chapter. Klaus’s torch follows her as he attempts to comfort his older sister, and Sunny joins in too, saying “Noque, noque” which means “There, there.”

I’m just now realising that while Violet quite often comes up with good inventions, they do occasionally fail. And this is one of those occasions. Well, I suppose the invention may have worked, but we’ll never know. They just got there a little bit too late. Klaus suggests that maybe it is time to use some of his research skills, I bet he’s wishing they’d listened to what Duncan was wanting to tell them about V.F.D. now. Sunny follows up Klaus’s suggestion with “Dwestall” which means “All the research in the world can’t help Duncan and Isadora now.” Way to stay positive Sunny!

But Klaus points out that all is not lost. The Quagmires will be at Veblen Hall for the auction, the big question is which item are they going to be hidden in. And so for the second time that night they’re going to have to climb back up to the penthouse so Klaus can look in the library to work out where they can look for the Quagmires. Sunny says “Meotze” because she’s being a bit of a Negative Nancy this evening, “But the Squalor Library has only those snooty books on what’s in and what’s out.”

Sunny is wrong, of course, there’s a copy of the In Auction catalogue. They celebrate this idea with a little bit of mutual ego stroking about how brilliant they are. Klaus almost says that this is their only hope before Sunny interrupts with “Vinung” meaning “Don’t say it.” It’s like in Labyrinth whenever Sarah says it’s easy, everything goes wrong. It’s just tempting fate!

So as the Baudelaires climb back up to the penthouse they remember all the places they’ve lived recently and then try to think of happier things. The happier things are more like the things they need to help get the Quagmires back and what they might do when they are all reunited. Up at the top of the rope they have to hide all evidence of what they have spent the night doing.

Klaus heads for the library, leaving his sisters getting rid of the rope. Sunny approves of this plan (Reauhop!” which means “And good luck!”) Just like the the rope is pulled up and hidden under Violet’s bed then Sunny suggests “Yallrel” meaning “And let’s shut the sliding elevator doors, so the Squalors don’t see that we’ve been sneaking around an elevator shaft.”

Inside they get a note from Jerome to tell them that they’ll be taken to the In Auction by Esme at 10:30. Apparently the Squalor’s own 612 clocks and one of them shows that it’s already 10am. They’d better get a move on if they’re going to figure out where the Quagmires are hidden before they go to the auction. Violet laments the length of time it’s taken them to climb up and down from the cage, while Sunny says “Wrech” meaning “Not to mention making those welding torches.”

The girls head to join Klaus in the library, which is a little bit unloved:

It made the Baudelaire sisters a little sad to see all those books sitting in the library unread and unnoticed, like stray dogs or lost children that nobody wanted to take home.

And that’s why I find it impossible to pass by a used bookshop. All those poor unloved books.

It’s slow going for Klaus looking through the auction catalogue. There are some obvious ones which it’s unlikely that the Quagmires would be hidden in, like a postage stamp; others are slightly more plausible, there’s a giant globe, an old piano and a large statue of a fish.

But then they spot Lot #50 and they think they’ve found it. Sunny says “Toomsk” which is Sunny-speak for “This must be where the Quagmires will be hidden.” We don’t know exactly what Lot #50 is but it says “V.F.D.” and those initials have come up before.

That’s got to be the one, right?

Well, you’ll have to pop back later today to find out!

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