Friday, 12 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 6

This week I've learnt an important lesson about not putting things off. I didn't write this post on Saturday because I'd written the other three that were posted this week and I figured I could write it the following day. That obviously didn't happen on Sunday... I played The Sims instead.

It was okay, because we knew there was bad weather forecast so we were stopping at my in-laws' (since we've had a bit of a problem in the past with high winds and trees blocking the route off the estate). Then I didn't do the post on Tuesday... I didn't do it on Wednesday... so Thursday morning rolled around, and here I am frantically reading and typing.

Except I nearly wasn't able to because we had a fantastic thunder and lightning storm in the night and it knocked out our internet connection. I thought I was going to have to post it via smoke signals or something!

Anyway, on with the show.

What Happens?

The children fashion a pretend ring of keys which they use to dupe Hal. Once he has left they lock themselves in and get to work searching the files. Each one is a dead end though, until they think to check for a Baudelaire file. And they find something, except most of it has been removed, apart from a single photograph with a note written on it.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with the device that Violet is going to put together in this chapter to fool Hal. It's basically her hair ribbon (we know this because it's tied in a bow the way Violet wears it in her hair) and on it are a bunch of imitation keys. I'm fairly certain that they're unbent paperclips, Sunny probably had a hand in that, she's got the experience with paperclips after all.

The chapter then goes on to explain that this story isn't about the Snickets (except it kind of is in a way). It's kind of funny reading that now because there's a prequel series being published which feature Lemony Snicket as a child or something. So this book isn't about the Snickets, but another one is.

After rambling for about a page, Snicket asks one question about something he did in the past that might have changed the entire course of events recounted in this book; Was it really necessary? Was it absolutely necessary to steal that sugar bowl from Esme Squalor? Okay, so technically that's two questions, but that doesn't change the fact that this is how the entire thing kicked off.

Don't expect to learn anything else about this for a while though.

Back to the children. They're feeling a bit nervous as they spend the day preparing for the trick they are going to play on Hal that day. Violet's ribbon is hiding in her pocket, Klaus is filching paperclips from the bowl and Sunny is taking them from him to bend them into vague key shapes. The thought of this deception is making their stomachs all quivery, putting them in the running for attendance at a Quivery Stomach Festival (Snicket's words not mine).

The children are having doubts about what they are planning to do, but Klaus reminds them that they need to see the file and this is the only way to do it. Sunny adds 'Olaf' meaning 'Before Matthias gets his hands on us'. You know that saying about 'speak of the devil'? so whose voice comes over the intercom? You got it.

They're informed, by Matthias, that the Human Resources Inspections are over for the day and also that anyone in the hospital with any valuables they should take them to Human Resources to be looked after. This is a good ploy. I'm guessing Olaf and crew are running out of money to keep funding their crazy exploits. Hal does debate whether or not his glasses are classed as Violet tells him that he might never see them again - she's speaking both figuratively and literally here I think.

Just to rub in how back the children are feeling about their plan, Hal says that no one will steal anything from him and asks where he left his keys. Feeling somewhat guilty, Violet hands him the ribbon with the paperclips on it that we saw at the beginning of the chapter. There's a moment when it seems as though Hal is doubtful, but then Violet puts them in his pocket and he's happy. He even praises the children for their help recently. Salt. In. The. Wound.

The children hang around to have some fruit from the fruit bowl and Hal leaves them. Violet decides that she will apologise to Hal when they get an opportunity in the future. They'll also explain what was going on to the owner of the Last Chance General Store, and Sunny says 'Twisp' meaning 'But not until we get ahold of the file, solve all these mysteries, and prove out innocence' which spurs them all into action.

They head into the library and lock themselves in. They suspect that Olaf will still be searching the hospital for them, Sunny says 'Vapey' which means 'Then let's hurry.' So they head off to search S for Snicket. We get a quick overview of how alphabetical filing works, I'm sure you all understand that so I won't elaborate here. Suffice to say, they realise that Snicket will fall between 'Snack to Snifter'.

There are files in the cabinet which are about things that interest each of the children (Snell's Law, for Violet; sneaker invention, for Klaus; snicking, for Sunny) but they haven't got time to stop and pursue their interests. There's no sign of any file under the name of Snicket. They decide to head to J for Jacques next.

"Shh," Sunny said.
"No, Sunny," Klaus said gently. "I don't think the H aisle is a good bet. Why would Hal have filed it under H?"

Hehe. But obviously that's not what Sunny is saying, though normally that is what she would mean, this time she's saying 'Be quiet! I think I hear someone walking into the anteroom of the Library of Records'. In Sunny's world 'Shh' is the same as 'weather' and 'whether'. Oh, and she's right, there's someone hanging around outside the Library.

The children consider who it could be; Hal, Matthias or 'Janitor' (that last suggestion is from Sunny). So they hurry off to the J aisle and we repeat the process we went through with the S aisle. When they read 'Jacket to Jack-o'-Lantern' Sunny cries 'Nersai' because the next cabinet is the one they're looking for, containing as it does 'Jackline to Jacutings'.

Once again there are files that interest them (jackline for Violet, jacutinga for Klaus) but no sign of Jacques. Klaus suggests they look under Fire next, so they head off to the F aisle. It now sounds like the person outside is attempting to pick the lock; I'd say that's a pretty big clue that it's not Hal. They hurry off to search the files located between 'Fin de Siecle to Fissle'.

Can you guess what they find? That's right, absolutely nothing. No sign of fire in that filing cabinet.

They stop and think about where else they should look and recap what Hal said the file mentioned. Sunny says 'Prem!' which means 'But we already looked under Snicket, Jacques, and Fire already.' They realise that the file has their name in it, so they decide to head to the B aisle to look up the Baudelaire file.

And believe it or not, there is actually a file titled 'Baudelaire', right in there in between 'Bat Mitzvah to Bavarian Cream'. The children are very excited, but pause to read the note on the front. It says 'All thirteen pages of the Snicket file have been removed from the Library of Records for official investigation.' And there's nothing actually inside the Baudelaire file.

Except that's not quite the case. There's one sheet which has been left behind. But before we can find out exactly what it says on the sheet of paper the door to the Library of Records is forced open:

... the door to the Library of Records was knocked off its hinges, and fell to the floor of the enormous room as if it had fainted.

I love this description!

Unfortunately the children aren't too fussed about this, they're too busy looking at the page from the file. It's a photo of four people standing outside 667 Dark Avenue. The people are Jacques Snicket, a man facing away from the camera so they can't see his face (who do we know who doesn't like to face forwards in photos?) and the Baudelaire parents. And there's a note above the picture:

"Because of the evidence discussed on page nine," read the sentence above the photograph, "experts now suspect that there may in fact be one survivor of the fire, but the survivor's whereabouts are unknown."

And with that thought, the chapter ends.

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