Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree, because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch, or you might simply get covered in sap, and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors, where it is harder to get a splinter.
Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear. Some people say that a sunrise is a miracle, because it is somewhat mysterious and often very beautiful, but other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. Some people say that a telephone is a miracle, because it sometimes seems wondrous that you can talk with somebody who is thousands of miles away, and other people say it is merely a manufactured device fashioned out of metal parts, electronic circuitry, and wires that are very easily cut. And some people say that sneaking out of a hotel is a miracle, particularly if the lobby is swarming with policemen, and other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. So you might think that there are so many miracles in the world that you can scarcely count them, or that there are so few that they are scarcely worth mentioning, depending on whether you spend your mornings gazing at a beautiful sunset or lowering yourself into a back alley with a rope made of matching towels.
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It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.
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Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.
It is always tedious when someone tells you that if you don't stop crying, they will give you something to cry about, because if you are crying then you already have something to cry about, and so there is no reason for them to give you anything additional to cry about, thank you very much.
The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding-which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together-blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author...
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A man of my acquaintance once wrote a poem called "The Road Less Traveled", describing a journey he took through the woods along a path most travelers never used. The poet found that the road less traveled was peaceful but quite lonely, and he was probably a bit nervous as he went along, because if anything happened on the road less traveled, the other travelers would be on the road more frequently traveled and so couldn't hear him as he cried for help. Sure enough, that poet is dead.
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My silence knot is tied up in my hair; as if to keep my love out of my eyes. I cannot speak to one for whom i care. A hatpin serves as part of my disguise. In the play, my role is baticeer; a word which here means "person who trains bats." The audience may feel a prick of fear, as if sharp pins are hidden in thier hats. My co-star lives on what we call a brae. His solitude might not be just an act. A piece of mail fails to arrive one day. This poignant melodrama's based on fact. The curtain falls just as the knot unties; the silence is broken by the one who dies.
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The Baudelaire orphans hung on to one another, and wept and wept while the adults argued endlessly behind them. Finally-as, I'm sorry to say, Count Olaf forced the Quagmires into puppy costumes so he could sneak them onto the airplane without anyone noticing-the Baudelaires cried themselves out and just sat on the lawn together in weary silence.
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I am alone this evening, and I am alone because of a cruel twist of fate, a phrase which here means that nothing has happened the way I thought it would. Once I was a content man, with a comfortable home, a successful career, a person I loved very much, and an extremely reliable typewriter, but all of those things have been taken away from me, and now the only trace I have of those happy days is the tattoo on my left ankle. As I sit in this very tiny room, printing these words with a very large pencil, I feel as if my whole life has been nothing but a dismal play, presented just for someone else's amusement, and that the playwright who invented my cruel twist of fate is somewhere far above me, laughing and laughing at his creation.
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Yes, I know, " Isadora said, and then read her poem, leaning forward so Carmelita Spats would not overhear: "I would rather eat a bowl of vampire bats than spend an hour with Carmelita Spats." The Baudelaires giggled and then covered their mouths so nobody would know they were laughing at Carmelita. "That was great, " Klaus said. "I like the part about the bowl of bats.
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But the law is an odd thing. For instance, one country in Europe has a law that requires all its bakers to sell bread at the exact same price. A certain island has a law that forbids anyone from removing its fruit. And a town not too far from where you live has a law that bars me from coming within five miles of its borders.
Of course I'm trying to trick you!" Olaf cried. "That's the way of the world, Baudelaires. Everybody runs around with their secrets and their schemes, trying to outwit everyone else. Ishmael outwitted me, and put me in this cage. But I know how to outwit him and all his islander friends. If you let me out. I can be king of Olaf-land, and you three can be my new henchfolk." "We don't want to be your henchfolk, " Klaus said. "We just want to be safe." "Nowhere in the world is safe, " Count Olaf said.
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A letter may be coded, and a word may be coded. A theatrical performance may be coded, and a sonnet may be coded, and there are times when it seems the entire world is in code. Some believe that the world can be decoded by performing research in a library. Others believe that the world can be decoded by reading a newspaper.
The library turned out to be a very pleasant place, but it was not the comfortable chairs, the huge wooden bookshelves, or the hush of people reading that made the three siblings feel so good as they walked into the room. It is useless for me to tell you all about the brass lamps in the shapes of different fish, or the bright blue curtains that rippled like water as a breeze came in from the window, because although these were wonderful things they were no what made the three children smile. The Quagmire triplets were smiling, too, and although I have not researched the Quagmires nearly as much as I have the Baudelaires, I can say with reasonable accuracy that they were smiling for the same reason.
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I'm afraid it's not nonsense, " Genghis said, shaking his turbaned head and continuing his story. "As I was saying before the little girl interrupted me, the baby didn't dash off with the other orphans. She just sat there like a sack of flour. So I walked over to her and gave her a kick to get her moving." "Excellent idea!" Nero said. "What a wonderful story this is! And then what happened?" "Well, at first it seemed like I'd kicked a big hole in the baby, " Genghis said, his eyes shining, "which seemed lucky, because Sunny was a terrible athlete and it would have been a blessing to put her out of her misery." Nero clapped his hands. "I know just what you mean, Genghis, " he said. "She's a terrible secretary as well." "But she did all that stapling, " Mr. Remora protested. "Shut up and let the coach finish his story, " Nero said. "But when I looked down, " Genghis continued, "I saw that I hadn't kicked a hole in a baby. I'd kicked a hole in a bag of flour! I'd been tricked!" "That's terrible!" Nero cried.
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If you have walked into a museum recently - whether you did so to attend an art exhibition or to escape from the police - you may have noticed a type of painting known as a triptych. A triptych has three panels, with something different painted on each of the panels. For instance, my friend Professor Reed made a triptych for me, and he painted fire on one panel, a typewriter on another, and the face of a beautiful, intelligent woman on the third. The triptych is entitled What Happened to Beatrice and I cannot look upon it without weeping. I am a writer, and not a painter, but if I were to try and paint a triptych entitled The Baudelaire Orphans' Miserable Experiences at Prufrock Prep, I would paint Mr. Remora on one panel, Mrs. Brass on another, and a box of staples on the third, and the results would make me so sad that between the Beatrice triptych and the Baudelaire triptych I would scarcely stop weeping all da
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Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking hard, because her long hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a real knack for inventing and building strange devices, so her brain was often filled with images of pulleys, levers, and gears, and she never wanted to be distracted by something as trivial as her hair.
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As I'm sure you know, there are two types of "What?" in the world. The first type simply means "Excuse me, I didn't hear you. Could you please repeat yourself?" The second type is a little trickier. It means something more along the lines of "Excuse me, I did hear you, but I can't believe that's really what you meant.
I was in my favorite seat in the library, but it wasn't helping me like the book any better. It was a book people kept putting in my hands and telling me I was going to love, the way the doctor tells you the needle won't hurt a bit. The book began the way it always began before I gave up on it: with a man carrying around a drawing or a snake that had just eaten, and asking people what they thought of it. I thought it was no way to start up a conversation.
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A long time ago, there was no such thing as school, and children spent their days learning a trade, a phrase which here means "standing around doing tedious tasks under the instruction of a bossy adult." In time, however, people realized that the children could be allowed to sit, and the first school was invented.
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There's no way to tell what will make someone break down in tears. There are some who will cry at the merest melancholy word, and there are some who need the longest, cruelest speech to even dampen one eyelash. There are those who will cry at any sad song but no sad book, and there are those who are immune to the most saddening newspaper articles but will weep for days over a terrible meal. People cry at silence or at violence, in a graveyard or a schoolyard.
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Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too.
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There are some who say that you should forgive everyone, even the people who have disappointed you immeasurably. There are others who say you should not forgive anyone, and should stomp off in a huff no matter how many times they apologize. Of these two philosophies, the second one is of course much more fun, but it can also grow exhausting to stomp off in a huff every time someone has disappointed you, as everyone disappoints everyone eventually, and one can't stomp off in a huff every minute of the day.
Thinking about something is like picking up a stone when taking a walk, either while skipping rocks on the beach, for example, or looking for a way to shatter the glass doors of a museum. When you think about something, it adds a bit of weight to your walk, and as you think about more and more things you are liable to feel heavier and heavier, until you are so burdened you cannot take any further steps, and can only sit and stare at the gentle movements of the ocean waves or security guards, thinking too hard bout too many things to do anything else.
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As she worked, she remembered something her parents had said to her when Klaus was born, and against when they brought Sunny home from the hospital. 'you are the eldest Baudelaire child, ' they had said, kindly but firmly. 'And as the eldest, it will always be your responsibility to look after your younger siblings. Promise us that you will always watch out for them and make sure they don't get into trouble.
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But we can also ask for something we are much more likely to get, and that is to find a person or two, somewhere in our travels, who will tell us that we are noble enough, whether it is true or not. We can ask for someone who will say, 'You are noble enough, ' and remind us of our good qualities when we have forgotten them, or cast them into doubt.