Lemony snicket the austere academy

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НазваниеLemony snicket the austere academy
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Дата публикации26.03.2014
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deaf as well as cakesniffy?" Carmelita asked. "I said-"

"Yes, yes, Klaus heard you," Isadora said quickly. "He didn't mean that kind of 'What?' We have received the message, Carmelita. Now please go away."
"That's two tips you owe me," Carmelita said, but she flounced off.

"I can't believe it," Violet said. "Not more laps! My legs are almost too sore to walk, let alone run."
"Carmelita didn't say anything about more laps," Duncan pointed out. "Maybe Coach Genghis is putting his real plan into action tonight. In any case, we'll sneak out of the recital again and keep an eye on you."
"In shifts," Isadora added, nodding in agreement. "And I bet we'll have a clear picture of his plan by then. We have the rest of the day to do research." Isadora paused, and flipped open her black notebook to the right page. She read,
''Don't worry Baudelaires, don't feel disgrace -

The Quagmire triplets are on the case."

"Thank you," Klaus said, giving Isadora a tired smile of appreciation. "My sisters and I are thankful for all your help. And we're going to put our minds to the problem, even though we're too exhausted to do research. If we're lucky, all of us working together can defeat Coach Genghis."

There was that phrase again, "if we're lucky," coming out of the mouth of a Baudelaire, and once again it felt about as appropriate as "if we're stalks of celery." The only difference was that the Baudelaire orphans did not wish to be stalks of celery. While it is true that if they were stalks of celery they would not be orphans because celery is a plant and so cannot really be said to have parents, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny did not wish to be the stringy, low-calorie vegetable. Unfortunate things can happen to celery as easily as they can happen to children. Celery can be sliced into small pieces and dipped into clam dip at fancy parties. It can be coated in peanut butter and served as a snack. It can merely sit in a field and rot away, if the nearby celery farmers are lazy or on vacation. All these terrible things can happen to celery, and the orphans knew it, so if you were to ask the Baudelaires if they wanted to be stalks of celery they would say of course not. But they wanted to be lucky. The Baudelaires did not necessarily want to be extremely lucky, like someone who finds a treasure map or someone who wins a lifetime supply of ice cream in a contest, or like the man-and not, alas, me- who was lucky enough to marry my beloved Beatrice, and live with her in happiness over the course of her short life. But the Baudelaires wanted to be lucky enough. They wanted to be lucky enough to figure out how to escape Coach Genghis's clutches, and it seemed that being lucky would be their only chance. Violet was too tired to invent anything, and Klaus was too tired to read anything, and Sunny, still asleep in Violet's lap, was too tired to bite anything or anybody, and it seemed that even with the diligence of the Quagmire triplets-the word "diligence" here means "ability to take good notes in dark green and pitch-black notebooks"-they needed to be lucky if they wanted to stay alive. The Baudelaires huddled together as if the cafeteria were extremely cold, wincing in soreness and worry. It seemed to the Baudelaire orphans that they wanted to be lucky more than they had in their entire lives.

^ CHAPTER NINE
Occasionally, events in one's life become clearer through the prism of experience, a phrase which simply means that things tend to become clearer as time goes on. For instance, when a person is just born, they usually have no idea what curtains are and spend a great deal of their first months wondering why on earth Mommy and Daddy have hung large pieces of cloth over each window in the nursery. But as the person grows older, the idea of curtains becomes clearer through the prism of experience. The person will learn the word "curtains" and notice that they are actually quite handy for keeping a room dark when it is time to sleep, and for decorating an otherwise boring window area. Eventually, they will entirely accept the idea of curtains, and may even purchase some curtains of their own, or Venetian blinds, and it is all due to the prism of experience.

Coach Genghis's S.O.R.E. program, however, was one event that didn't seem to get any clearer at all through the Baudelaire orphans' prism of experience. If anything, it grew even harder and harder to understand, because Violet, Klaus, and Sunny became so utterly exhausted as the days-and, more particularly, the nights- wore on. After the children received their second message from Carmelita Spats, they spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what Coach Genghis would make them do that evening. The Quagmire triplets wondered along with them, so everyone was surprised-the Baudelaires, who met Genghis out on the front lawn after dinner again, and the Quagmires, who tiptoed out of the recital and spied on them, in shifts, from behind the archway again-when Genghis began blowing his whistle and ordered the Baudelaire orphans to begin running. The Baudelaires and Quagmires thought that surely Genghis would do something far more sinister than more laps.
But while a second evening of running laps might have lacked in sinisterity, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were too exhausted to notice. They could scarcely hear the shrieks of Genghis's whistle and his cries of "Keep running!" and "Another lap!" over the sound of their own desperate panting for breath. They grew so sweaty that the orphans thought they would give up the entire Baudelaire fortune for a good long shower. And their legs grew so sore that the children forgot, even with their prism of experience, what it felt like to have legs that didn't ache from thigh to toe.
Lap after lap the Baudelaires ran, hardly taking their eyes off the circle of luminous paint that still glowed brightly on the darkening lawn, and staring at this circle was somehow the worst part of all. As the evening turned to night, the luminous circle was all the Baudelaires could really see, and it imprinted itself into their eyes so they could see it even when they were staring desperately into the darkness. If you've ever had a flash photograph taken, and the blob of the flash has stayed in your view for a few moments afterward, then you are familiar with what was happening to the Baudelaires, except the glowing circle stayed in their minds for so long that it became symbolic. The word "symbolic" here means that the glowing circle felt like it stood for more than merely a track, and what it stood for was zero. The luminous zero glowed in the Baudelaire minds, and it was symbolic of what they knew of their situation. They knew zero about what Genghis was up to. They knew zero about why they were running endless laps. And they had zero energy to think about it.

Finally, the sun began to rise, and Coach Genghis dismissed his orphan track team. The Baudelaires stumbled blearily to the Orphans Shack, too tired to even see if Duncan and Isadora were sneaking back to their dormitory after their last shift of spying. Once again, the three siblings were too tired to put on their noisy shoes, so their toes were doubly sore when they awoke, just two hours later, to begin another groggy day. But-and I shudder to tell you this-this was not the last groggy day for the Baudelaire orphans. The dreadful Carmelita Spats delivered them the usual message at lunch, after they spent the morning dozing through classes and secretarial duties, and the Baudelaires put their heads on the cafeteria table in despair at the idea of another night of running. The Quagmires tried to comfort them, promising to double their research efforts, but Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were too tired for conversation, even with their closest friends. Luckily, their closest friends understood completely and didn't find the Baudelaires' silence rude or discouraging.

It seems impossible to believe that the three Baudelaires managed to survive another evening of S.O.R.E., but in times of extreme stress one can often find energy hidden in even the most exhausted areas of the body. I discovered this myself when I was woken up in the middle of the night and chased sixteen miles by an angry mob armed with torches, swords, and vicious dogs, and the Baudelaire orphans discovered it as they ran laps, not only for that night but also for six nights following. This made a grand total of nine S.O.R.E. sessions, although "grand" would seem to be the wrong word for endless evenings of desperate panting, sweaty bodies, and achy legs. For nine nights, the Baudelaire brains were plagued with the symbolic, luminous zero glowing in their minds like a giant donut of despair.

As the Baudelaire orphans suffered, their schoolwork suffered with them. As I'm sure you know, a good night's sleep helps you perform well in school, and so if you are a student you should always get a good night's sleep unless you have come to the good part of your book, and then you should stay up all night and let your schoolwork fall by the wayside, a phrase which means "flunk." In the days that followed, the Baudelaires were much more exhausted than somebody who had stayed up all night reading, and their schoolwork did more than fall by the wayside. It fell off the wayside, a phrase which here has different meanings for each child. For Violet, it meant that she was so drowsy that she did not write down a single word of Mr. Remora's stories. For Klaus, it meant that he was so weary that he didn't measure a single one of Mrs. Bass's objects. And for Sunny, it meant that she was so exhausted that she didn't do anything Vice Principal Nero assigned her to do. The Baudelaire orphans believed that doing well in school was extremely important, even if the school happened to be run by a tyrannical idiot, but they were simply too fatigued from their nightly laps to do their assigned work. Before long, the circle of luminous paint was not the only zero the Baudelaires saw. Violet saw a zero at the top of her paper when she was unable to recall any of Mr. Remora's stories for a test. Klaus saw a zero in Mrs. Bass's gradebook when he was called on to report the exact length of a tube sock he was supposed to be measuring and was discovered to be taking a nap instead. And Sunny saw a zero when she checked the staple drawer and saw that there were zero staples inside.


"This is getting ridiculous," Isadora said when Sunny updated her siblings and friends at the start of another weary lunch. "Look at you, Sunny. It was inappropriate to hire you as an administrative assistant in the first place, and it's simply absurd to have you crawl laps by night and make your own staples by day."
"Don't call my sister absurd or ridiculous!" Klaus cried.

"I'm not calling her ridiculous!" Isadora said.

"I'm calling the situation ridiculous!"

"Ridiculous means you want to laugh at it," said Klaus, who was never too tired to define words, "and I don't want you laughing at us."
"I'm not laughing at you," Isadora said. "I'm trying to help."

Klaus snatched his drinking glass from Isadora's side of the table. "Well, laughing at us doesn't help at all, you cakesniffer."

Isadora snatched her silverware from Klaus's hands. "Calling me names doesn't help either, Klaus."
"Mumdum!" Sunny shrieked.

"Oh, stop it, both of you," Duncan said. "Isadora, can't you see that Klaus is just tired? And Klaus, can't you see that Isadora is just frustrated?"

Klaus took his glasses off and returned his drinking glass to Isadora. "I'm too tired to see anything," he said. "I'm sorry, Isadora. Being tired makes me crabby. In a few days I'll turn as nasty as Carmelita Spats."
Isadora handed her silverware back to Klaus and patted him on the hand in forgiveness. "You'll never be as nasty as Carmelita Spats," she said.

"Carmelita Spats?" Violet said, lifting her head from her tray. She had dozed through Isadora and Klaus's argument but woken up at the sound of the Special Messenger's name. "She's not coming here again to tell us to do laps, is she?"

"I'm afraid she is," Duncan said ruefully, a word which here means "while pointing at a rude, violent, and filthy little girl."
"Hello, cakesniffers," Carmelita Spats said. "Today I have two messages for you, so I should really get two tips instead of one."

"Oh, Carmelita," Klaus said. "You haven't gotten a tip for the last nine days, and I see no reason to break that tradition."

"That's because you're a stupid orphan," Carmelita Spats said promptly. "In any case, message number one is the usual: meet Coach Genghis on the front lawn right after dinner."

Violet gave an exhausted groan. "And what's the second message?" she asked.

"The second message is that you must report to Vice Principal Nero's office right away."

"Vice Principal Nero's office?" Klaus asked. "Why?"
"I'm sorry," Carmelita Spats said with a nasty smile to indicate that she wasn't sorry one bit. "I don't answer questions from nontipping orphan cakesniffers."

Some children at the neighboring table laughed when they heard that and began banging their silverware on the table.
"Cakesniffing orphans in the Orphans Shack! Cakesniffing orphans in the Orphans Shack!" they chanted as Carmelita Spats giggled and skipped off to finish her lunch. "Cakesniffing orphans in the Orphans Shack! Cakesniffing orphans in the Orphans Shack!" they chanted while the Baudelaires sighed and stood up on their aching legs.

"We'd better go to Nero's," Violet said. "We'll see you later, Duncan and Isadora."

"Nonsense," Duncan said. "We'll walk you. Carmelita Spats has made me lose my appetite, so we'll skip lunch and take you to the administrative building. We won't go inside-otherwise there'll be no silverware between the five of us-but we'll wait outside and you can tell us what's going on."
"I wonder what Nero wants," Klaus said, yawning.
"Maybe he's discovered that Genghis is really Olaf, all by himself," Isadora said, and the Baudelaires smiled back. They didn't dare hope that this was the reason for their summons to Nero's office, but they appreciated their friends' hopefulness. The five children handed their scarcely eaten lunches to the cafeteria workers, who blinked at them silently from behind their metal masks, and walked to the administrative-building. The Quagmire triplets wished the Baudelaires luck, and Violet, Klaus, and Sunny trudged up the steps to Nero's office.
"Thank you for taking the time out of your busy orphan schedule to see me," Vice Principal Nero said, yanking open his door before they could knock. "Hurry up and come inside. Every minute I spend talking to you is a minute I could spend practicing the violin, and when you're a musical genius like me, every minute counts."

The three children walked into the tiny office and began clapping their tired hands together as Nero raised both his arms in the air. "There are two things I wanted to talk to you about," he said when the applause was over. "Do you know what they are?"
"No, sir," Violet replied.

"No, sir," Nero mimicked, although he looked disappointed that the children hadn't given him a longer answer to make fun of. "Well, the first one is that the three of you have missed nine of my violin concerts, and each of you owes me a bag of candy for each one. Nine hags of candy times three equals twenty-nine.

In addition, Carmelita Spats has told me that she has delivered ten messages to you, if you include the two she delivered today, and that you've never given her a tip. That's a disgrace. Now, I think a nice tip is a pair of earrings with precious stones, so you owe her ten pairs of earrings. What do you have to say about that?"

The Baudelaire orphans looked at one another with their sleepy, sleepy eyes. They had nothing to say about that. They had plenty to think about that - that they'd only missed Nero's concerts because Coach Genghis had forced them to, that nine bags of candy times three equals twenty-seven, not twenty-nine, and that tips are always optional and usually consist of money instead of earrings - but Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were too tired to say anything about it at all. This was another disappointment to Vice Principal Nero, who stood there scratching his pigtails and waiting for one of the children to say something that he could repeat in his nasty, mocking voice. But after a moment of silence, the vice principal went on to the second thing.


"The second thing," he said, going on, "is that you three have become the worst students Prufrock Preparatory School has ever seen. Violet, Mr. Remora tells me that you have flunked a test. Klaus, Mrs. Bass reports that you can scarcely tell one end of a metric ruler from another. And Sunny, I've noticed that you haven't made a single staple! Mr. Poe told me you were intelligent and hardworking children, but you're just a bunch of cakesniffers!"
At this, the Baudelaires could keep quiet no longer. "We're flunking school because we're exhausted!" Violet cried.

"And we're exhausted because we're running laps every night!" Klaus cried.

"Galuka!" Sunny shrieked, which meant "So yell at Coach Genghis, not at us!"

Vice Principal Nero gave the children a big smile, delighted that he was able to answer them in his favorite way.
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