Monday, 23 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Penultimate Peril, Chapter 5

I’d originally intended to post this chapter on Friday afternoon but then we had that ‘Not a Chapter’ so I decided to scoot it back to today. Gives me more time to read it. ;-)

In the last chapter we stuck with Violet as she went up to the rooftop tanning salon, encountered Esme and Carmelita (who thankfully did not recognise her) before being sent off in search of a harpoon gun. In this chapter we’ll be hanging out with Klaus as he mixes his concierge work with being a flaneur. Let’s see how that works out for him.

What Happens?

Klaus finds he’s been called to take Sir and Charles to the sauna. While there he’s able to listen in to their conversation about J.S. and the party he is throwing on Thursday. Unfortunately before he can learn any more Frank/Ernest interrupts and Klaus is given a job involving dangling birdpaper out the window. As he finishes the Hotel Denouement clock starts to chime three o’clock…

Thoughts as I read:

We’ve got quite a large picture on this page. Most of it is taken up with the image of a door but curling out from underneath it and up the side of the page are some flames. They kind of take the shape of Count Olaf’s profile, though I’m not sure if that was intentional or if I’m just reading too much into this. I’m sure that Olaf is to blame for any fires that are being started so perhaps it’s a subliminal message.

Klaus has headed up to the sixth floor which is described thus:

The hallway was lined with numbered doors, odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other, and large ornamental vases, too large to hold flowers and too small to hold spies.

What a brilliant description!

Klaus is getting a feeling of deja vu right now. It’s the feeling of having a problem to solve. I suppose that’s better than the feeling of impending doom (which is of course the sign of an impending heart attack). He can’t help but remember all of the other times he’s been faced with difficult problems which he’s needed to solve (hint: a lot in the last ten books). He’s still hoping that someone will be able to answer all their questions, though I’m sure that if that person exists, they’ll only leave the trio with more questions.

Once at Room 674 Klaus discovers lots of smoke coming out from under the door. I’m betting it’s Sir in there. The person inside asks if he’s a ‘concertina’, hehe.

We get a brief (read: page long) analysis of the phrase ‘It’s a small world’ which Snicket doesn’t agree with because the world is, in fact, quite large. Sure enough the person within the mysterious cloud of smoke is Sir, who everyone calls Sir because his real name is unpronounceable. Obviously Sir doesn’t recognise Klaus but he’s still just as rude and self-important as he’s always been.

Klaus calls Sir ‘Sir’ (as a polite term of address for a person of the male gender) which makes Sir suspicious because how could a lowly concierge know his name? Luckily Charles, that other guy from Lucky Smell Lumbermill, is on hand to point out how Klaus knew to call him Sir. Basically Klaus has been summoned to show the pair to the sauna, so it’s lucky that Frank/Ernest mentioned which room that is in otherwise it would’ve been like the blind leading the blind.

Then this exchange follows:

“Don’t you want to change into a bathing suit?” Charles asked. “If you’re fully clothes, you won’t get the health benefits of the steam.”
“I don’t care about the health benefits of the steam!” Sir shouted. “I’m not an idiot! I just love the smell of hot wood!”

Might not be an idiot, but he’s definitely a bit strange!

This of course leads to an explanation of a ‘busman’s holiday’ while Klaus tries to probe the pair for more information about the reason for their visit. Sir is understandably suspicious but they soon arrive at the sauna and Klaus is ordered to stay outside, despite Charles’s protests that they’ll be able to find their own way back to their room. And why does Sir need Klaus to stay? Why to hold his cigar of course! It would be ridiculous to take a cigar into a steam room after all.

Klaus however has some smarts, and he sticks his foot in the door so it doesn’t close properly, enabling him to get in some quality eavesdropping time. And it’s just as well he did because Sir and Charles are talking about J.S., not only that, they’re apparently looking for the Baudelaires!

Sir’s not actually that keen to find the children because he insists that it was their fault that Olaf showed up and caused problems. Sir is also of the opinion that the Baudelaires have been running around killing people, though Charles is sceptical. J.S. has also let slip that the children might be coming by submarine. Well, they kind of did, they just had to take a taxi the rest of the way.

J.S. has also invited Sir to the cocktail party on Thursday. J.S. is actually hosting it; I wonder if Esme knocks that. Sir’s all about the business opportunity that this presents to him, though he’s still refusing to pay his employees with more than coupons and gum. Charles is about to mention something about the Baudelaires and their parents when Frank/Ernest comes into the sauna.

He’s come to evict them because they need the room for something else. This prompts complains from Sir because he wants to smell the hot wood, so Frank/Ernest directs him to the ‘organic chemistry’ room because they have a lot of smelly things in there. Klaus volunteers to take them there but Frank/Ernest needs him at the steam room.

Once Sir and Charles are out of the way Frank/Ernest hands Klaus a rolled up object which is apparently sticky when unrolled. It’s flypaper and Klaus is to attach it to the window and then hang it over the pond. And it’s not flypaper, it’s birdpaper. For catching eagles. Frank/Ernest is obviously sounding out Klaus in the same sort of way that he (or his twin brother) did with Violet; he wants to know what Klaus has heard about children being carried off by eagles. Klaus isn’t giving anything away about his involvement with the Snow Scout abduction.

All the same, Frank/Ernest asks Klaus ‘are you who I think you are?’. Klaus’s answer is basically the same as his sister’s; he’s a concierge. As before, Frank/Ernest thanks him for his help in this ‘scheme’ without giving anything away about exactly what the scheme is that he’s helping with. It’s so annoying. I just want to know what’s going on!

Left alone, Klaus gets on with dangling the paper out the window, just as the clock starts chiming. Technically it’s not chiming again because it’s the same chime that Violet heard at the end of the last chapter. Once again its chime sounds like ‘Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!’ and Klaus is having doubts about his participation in this scheme.

But we’ll not find out whether it’s wrong or right for a while yet, because the next chapter is going to go back to Sunny to find out how she gets on.

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