Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography is the fictional autobiography of Lemony Snicket, a pseudonym of Daniel Handler. The book was first published in May 2002, between the releases of The Hostile Hospital and The Carnivorous Carnival. Even though it is labeled "Unauthorized" for mysterious reasons, the book is in fact official.
All of the pictures within the book are in black and white, which may suggest the events in the series took place in the past. It contains extra information on V.F.D., including the Snicket siblings and many other characters, that were not covered in the main series. It also contains crucial information on earlier books, such as the backstory behind Uncle Monty and his assistant Gustav Sebald and a secret concerning the stacks of paper in Paltryville that were destroyed soon after the Baudelaires departed. It explains the story behind the V.F.D. insignia and all the hidden messages inside the books. It also contains information about animals used by the V.F.D, particularly the Incredibly Deadly Viper and Mamba du Mal, from Uncle Monty's reptile room. It explains how the Mamba du Mal can send warnings to its master, such as, "summer is", meaning "enemies are nearby", "over and gone, over and gone", meaning "probably in disguise", and "dying", meaning, "beware of arson".
Many of the illustrations are ambiguous, but could be used to portray V.F.D characters and headquarters. The book contains the letters written by Lemony Snicket to his siblings Kit Snicket and Jaques Snicket and many of his associates, including the Duchess of Winnipeg.
Throughout the book, many V.F.D. codes are explained, such as:
- "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion", used by a particular waiter at The Anxious Clown and also by Quigley Quagmire in the Slippery Slope, the correct response is "The world is quiet here".
- "Are you who I think you are?", used by Hotel Denouement managers Frank and Ernest in The Penultimate Peril.
- "Well young lady, have you been good to your mother?", used by an elderly man in a flowery shirt, striped tie, tweed coat, and plaid slacks with sharp creases and shined shoes. The correct response to the question would be "The question is, has she been good to me?"
- Mozart's 14th symphony, when whistled, is said to be a code.
The Pony Party!
Exclusive to the hard back version is a reversible book jacket to disguise the autobiography as a cheerful story called The Pony Party! which is book #1 of the fictional series The Luckiest Kids in the World! written by a woman named Loney M. Setnick and illustrated by Beth Quiltrest. The story is obviously a spoof intended to create a sharp contrast to the dismal events in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The name Loney M. Setnick is an anagram of Lemony Snicket and the name Beth Quiltrest is an anagram of Brett Helquist.
- The book starts up with a dangerous yet weary legal text:
- No part of this book may be used, reproduced, destroyed,
- tampered with, or eaten without written permission except
- in the case of brief, possibly coded quotations embodied in
- critical articles, reviews and subpoenas. Allegedly printed
- in the United States of America. For information address
- Harper Collins Children's Books, a division of HarperCollins
- Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY
- 10019, although the people at this publishing house have no
- idea where the documents enclosed in this book came from.
- If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs of
- illustrations in this book you may find yourself in Very Frightening
- Danger and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing you
- can do about it. Please note that the author has been called
- a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character,
- an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled
- gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for dinner
- by an odd number of dubious authorities. Send help at once.
- All rights reserved. Wouldn't you rather read about ponies?
Table of Contents
Each chapter in the book included a question. In the book however, Lemony Snicket changed the chapter's titles, saying they were not the "proper questions" for the Baudelaires' case, and wrote in new titles after crossing out the previous names. Regardless, some of the former questions are answered within the chapter itself (such as Chapter 10) or other chapters.
|Chapters||Former Title||New Title|
|1||Why was Mr.Snicket's death published in the newspaper?||Who took this? [picture of infant child]|
|2||Why has Mr. Snicket dedicated his life to the Baudelaire case?||Is this letter authentic? ["R"]|
|3||Why does Count Olaf have a tattoo of an eye on his ankle?||Why has this building been abandoned?|
|4||Where are the Quagmire Triplets now?||Who is the tallest person in this photograph?|
|5||Who is Beatrice?||Why was this actress replaced after only three performances?|
|6||What is V.F.D.?||Why did this ship leave three hours ahead of schedule?|
|7||Why is there a secret passageway between the Baudelaire mansion and 667 Dark Avenue?||What has stained this man's jacket?|
|8||Why isn't Mr. Poe as helpful as he ought to be?||Why do these children have nothing better to do than sit outside and stare glumly at the camera?|
|9||Why is Lemony Snicket on the run?||What has happened to the reptiles in Dr. Montgomery's collection?|
|10||How many associates does Count Olaf have?||What can be hidden in a book?|
|11||Are the Baudelaire parents really dead?||Why do so many things end in fire?|
|12||Is there anything a concerned citizen can do if he or she wants to help the Baudelaires?||If there's nothing's out there, what was that noise?|
|13||Who is Lemony Snicket?||
Chapter one . . .
(Lemony Snicket apparently scratched out the second title, and the rest of the writing is illegible)
An introduction is provided by Lemony Snicket's official representative, who explains the cryptic way he received the biography. He assures the audience that the book does not appear to be a forgery, appears to come from Lemony Snicket, and was divided into thirteen sections. The representative is confirmed to be Daniel Handler by the index under "H": "Handler, Daniel, vii-xix,".
Why was Mr. Snicket's death published in the newspaper? / Who Took This?
An obituary of Lemony Snicket, published after he began writing A Series of Unfortunate Events, is published in The Daily Punctilio. He was reported dead by anonymous and possibly unreliable sources; some doubtful facts of his life are described, and it is also mentioned that Snicket had to go on the run following the release of information involving his involvement in V.F.D.
Snicket himself writes a NOTE TO FILE, while waiting for the Prospero to appear. He rants about the unreliability of The Daily Punctilio, as it gets its information only from people who call them, and then describes how odd it was to attend his own burial. He also reiterates his mission to make sure that the Baudelaires' story is truthfully told.
Included next is a letter from Lemony Snicket to Charley Patton from several years before, during his engagement to Beatrice, complaining about the inaccuracies in The Little Snicket Lad, a popular folk ballad. He mentions his family's friendship with the cheesemakers at Valorous Farms Dairy, and claims that the song is wrong about him being kidnapped in diapers, though he doesn't seem to have any evidence of this claim.
Why has Mr. Snicket dedicated his life to the Baudelaire case / Is this letter authentic?
R, the Duchess of Winnipeg, sends Snicket a letter, relieved to find he is alive, after he had been captured at her masked ball several years before. However, her letter is very scattered and full of errors.
Snicket's NOTE TO FILE concerning the letter, which reached him at Veblen Hall, concerned him, and he believes it may be a forgery, or that R. was trying to send a message. He fears the worst.
Why does Count Olaf have a tattoo of an eye on his ankle? / Why has this building been abandoned?
Included is part one of a transcript of the meeting of V.F.D members: J, L, M, R, R, M, L, K, D, S, and I. (I being a pronoun instead of an initial). J is the secretary who transcribed the minutes. One of the Rs is a Vice Chancellor.
M announces firstly that they will meet for a 7:30 p.m showing of Werewolves in the Rain by Dr. Sebald, in order to receive a secret message, and the next morning at 9:00 a.m will be monthly examination for neophytes R, L, K, B, J, E and G, which will move their mapmaking session.
M then announces that they will have to again move headquarters, as Geraldine Julienne is publishing their address in her "Secret Organizations You Should Know About" column. R is concerned that this disruption will affect their younger members, and proceeds to explain their recruitment process:
|“||We are entering people's homes, taking young children who show exceptional observational and/or notetaking skills, and isolating them, for long periods at least, from people they know. We assign them to strangers and scatter them across the globe, performing errands that are perplexing to them, until their ankles have healed, until we know they can be trusted, and until we know that no one is searching for them any longer. Then, finally, we bring them to headquarters so they can learn the skills they need before they are introduced back into society, in order to make sure the world remains, as we say, quiet.||”|
She adds that disrupting the training process will confuse the neophytes even more, as they will lose sleep moving headquarters, which(as they know from S's report on Prufrock Preparatory School)will make their work suffer, and they could forget important information. M argues that the risk of them being discovered is too great.
J suspects that an enemy has infiltrated their ranks and is leaking information to The Daily Punctilio, to which K disagrees. J describes that he has been to seven headquarters already, and they may have lost information inbetween transfers. He believes someone has betrayed them.
At that moment, E and O enter from behind the puppet theater, threatening them with something from a box (presumably a match). O begins to issue a list of demands.
The transcript ends, and the second half is to be hidden in between pages 302 and 303 of Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer, which is hidden under someone's bed, presumably Josephine Anwhistle's.
Several photographs follow, and then a letter addressed to J, enclosing photos secretly taken of a potential neophyte at the playground. The "subject" is described as physically adept and showing a desire to protect himself against fire. The sender promises to soon provide more information concerning possible recruitment ("taking").
Where are the Quagmire Triplets now? / Who is the tallest person in this photograph?
In a letter to be delivered to the cheesemakers, Snicket explains that he is waiting to meet Dr. Sebald, and he is worryingly late- nineteen hours late, to be exact. He includes a sample of one of Sebald's scripts, including the Sebald code, and as he believes Sebald will not arrive, he sends the pages instead to the cheesemakers. He also mentions his conviction that Dr. Montgomery never learned the Sebald Code. He also includes several possible titles for a book about his own life.
Pages 98-102 of Zombies in the Snow are included, which contain a hidden sebald code that reads:
|“||Attention hidden in the snowman is a survivor of the fire, meet us in the town where this film takes place, bring the three children. Your new assistant is not one of us! Beware!||”|
The survivor is probably Quigley Quagmire. Next is a letter from Sally Sebald to Snicket, relieved that Snicket is alive and Dr. Orwell is dead. She is handling Gustav's affairs for him following his death. At Snicket's request, she sends him all the photographs from Zombies in the Snow, and she confirms that Gustav was trying to send a message concerning a survivor, though she knew no more about it.
The photos included are:
- Three actors from Zombies in the Snow posing in front of the snowman built specifically for the scene. Sally says that the actor in the center played Young Rölf, whose name might be Omar.
- A photograph from the forest scene. Ceramic deer had to be used instead of real ones, due to budget.
- The sled chase scene.
- The scene where the townspeople "try to stab the zombies with icicles growing on the fishing cannery."
- Another photograph of the snowman, which stood for several days until Gustav realized his message had not been received.
- Three children- Sally is confused as to the photo's inclusion, as the kids were not in the film. This photo is heavily implied to be of Quigley, Isadora and Duncan Quagmire.
- Gustav beginning work on the snowman.
Who is Beatrice? / Why was this actress replaced after only three performances?
NOTE TO FILE: The following papers were found blowing together in the Financial District of the city.
A letter, addressed to the cheesemakers, and written by Kit Snicket, tells them that the archives of The Daily Punctilio were destroyed, and she is wandering around the city to see if she can find any surviving papers. She sends them several newspapers from "that long and terrible week."
First is an article by Lemony Snicket himself, as a dramatic critic. He explains that while last week he gave a good review of The World is Quiet Here, it has been replaced by Al Funcoot's play One Last Warning to Those Who Try to Stand in My Way. He gives a scathing review to the new musical, which made several changes, including replacing his fiance, the lead actress, with Esmé and ending the play with the number "Place All Your Valuables on the stage or Something Dreadful Might Happen to You." He describes the play as a dastardly plot, and tells the general public to escape. Included is an advertisement for the Veritable French Diner at 141 Dark Avenue.
Next is an announcement from Eleanora Poe. She explains that Snicket has been fired for his criticism of the play, and that she herself loved the performance. In order to apologize to Esmé, they will write nothing but nice things about her from now on, and Snicket's column will be replaced with "Secret Organizations You Should Know About."
Snicket tries to send one more message in his column. He claims he was dismissed for another reason, and begins to say something about Eleanora Poe, but the rest of the article is smudged.
Eleanora apologizes for Snicket trying to place one more column in the paper, and announces that they will now be keeping the doors to the printing press locked tight when they are not in use.
A letter is sent to K from R, saying that she cannot keep the following two letters any longer, and she cannot continue to write to Snicket. She suggests she send the letters to Ike or the cheesemakers.
A letter is addressed to Snicket from the Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes. The letter is just describing the decorations for his wedding to Beatrice, but a Sebald Code message is hidden inside:
|“||Hello. If You are alive, do not come Here the count will burn you and Beatrice stay away.||”|
Next is a letter from the Vineyard of Fragrant Grapes, describing the wedding venue to Jerome Squalor, for his wedding to Esmé, who requested that there be no sugar bowls. They mention he had recently purchased a penthouse, and gift him a photograph of the grounds, inscribed "Jerome and Esmé: Married After Only One Evening Together."
What is V.F.D.? / Why did this ship leave three hours ahead of schedule?
A newspaper headline from The Daily Punctilio shows that the Prospero left three hours early. Several photos are included, with scarce information: a man on the deck tried to explain the early departure, with only "Phase Two" and "Drat!" being heard, and several passengers were stranded. A photo of the sailors aboard the ship is also included, with a caption listing all of the sailor's names, which are all last names of authors.
A letter from Jacques to Snicket is next: he tells his brother that his review of Funcoot's play "changed everything", and they will arrange for him to be fired; O is more dastardly than they thought. He encloses several documents on the required materials for Disguise Training, and tells Snicket that he has to run away. He explains how to get to the Anxious Clown in order to get a letter containing instructions for leaving the country, before warning him not to write to D, telephone K, or communicate with B at all, though Jacques will try to warn B that The Daily Punctilio is publishing lies about him. He hopes they will be able to reunite someday. In a postscript, he includes a combination to a safe, which is the number identical to their address in Dark Avenue.
Phase One of disguise training is Veiled Facial Disguises, and Phase Two is Various Finery Disguises. Several photos of disguises are also included.
The disguise kit is supposed to contain an Admiral Disguise, a Barbequer Disguise, a Boat Captain Disguise, a Bride Disguise, a Bullfighter Disguise, a Chief of Police Disguise, a Detective Disguise, a Doorman Disguise, a Foreman Disguise, a Gym Teacher Disguise, a Judge Disguise, a Lab Assistant Disguise, a Nudist Disguise, an Operagoer Disguise, an Optometrist Disguise, a Receptionist Disguise, a Taxi Driver Disguise and a Waiter Disguise.
The letter delivered to Snicket at the Anxious Clown is included; enclosed is a blueprint of the Prospero, with two tickets- one ordinary, and done to show to the Captain, which will be the signal to leave early. The Captain also says that he enjoyed Snicket's theatrical reviews. The blueprints are also in the book, as well as the two tickets; the second one contains the last verse of The Little Snicket Lad around the rim.
Why is there a secret passageway between the Baudelaire mansion an 667 Dark Avenue? / What has stained this man's jacket?
The Daily Punctilio reports on a murder at Lucky Smells Lumbermill; Jacques, investigating, reaches the conclusion that Olaf and The Bald Man with the Long Nose were responsible. The rest of the article is blacked out. Next is another article of The Daily Punctilio, claiming the death an accident. The "Detective" - Smith or Jones- claims that the only bad thing about the case was that he spilled coffee on his jacket.
Geraldine Julienne writes a letter to Esmé Squalor, thrilled to have received one from her previously. She informs Esme that she will not be criticized again, and confesses to sometimes making things up for her column. She also answers some questions Esmé had posed to her: the penthouse of 667 Dark Avenue was sold to Jerome Squalor, he is not married, and, per Esmé's request, Geraldine researched where she could find him. Every morning, he had breakfast at the Veritable French Diner between 7:30-8:30 AM, if she wanted to "accidentally" bump into him.
A menu for the Veritable French Diner includes two mentions of a sugar bowl.
Jacques sends a letter to Jerome begging him not to marry Esmé. While he cannot explain many of his reasons, including the reason he begged Jerome to buy the penthouse, he explains that he is a member of an organization and that a villain, O, has infiltrated The Daily Punctilio. He explains that a recent death in Paltryville was no accident, and in a village he is currently hiding, he found a couplet:
- Someone at the newspaper changed the story once again,
- It was not coffee, but black ink, that made the jacket's stain.
Jerome next sends a letter to Jacques, and it is revealed that he never received the previous note, presumably due to it being intercepted by the doorman. He says that Esmé can't wait for Jacques to come visit and "get what he deserves." He asks if Jacques thinks it's a good idea to adopt children.
Why isn't Mr. Poe as helpful as he ought to be? / Why do these children have nothing better to do than sit outside and stare glumly at the camera?
Vice Principal Nero sends a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Spats, thanking them for sending him an article from The Daily Punctilio about books that are dangerous for children to read. All of those books were on the reading list of their new English teacher, Ms. K. When she was informed that she was to be fired, Ms. K immediately kidnapped two orphans, holding them by their ankles as she ran across the front lawn.
Nero notes that the children's faces were very serious, "as if they were embarking on an important mission of some kind." He adds that since Mr. Remora retired from choking on a banana, Coach Genghis left and Mrs. Bass is always taking a day off to visit the bank, the children have nothing better to do than sit outside and stare glumly at a camera, though it leaves Nero plenty of time to practice the violin. One of the children on the photograph might be Carmelita Spats.
He includes a list of the books Ms. K was having her children read:
- Cleary, Beverly, Ramona Quimby, Age 8
- Dahl, Roald, Matilda
- Doyle, Vincent Francis, Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer
- Grimm, the Brothers, Grimm's Fairy Tales
- Hudson, W.H., Green Mansions
- Poe, Edgar Allan, The Coded Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
- Pukalie, Lena, I Lost Something at the Movies
- Salinger, J.D., Nine Stories
- Sir (?), The History of Lucky Smells Lumbermill
- Snicket, Lemony, A Series of Unfortunate Events
- White, E.B., Charlotte's Web
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls, Little House in the Big Woods
Next is a letter to Al Funcoot, who sent someone an article about the danger of allowing telephone poles to remain upright, sometime after The Vile Village. The receiver chops down all the telephone poles along the street where he lives, attaching some photos of said poles.
Someone finds an audio tape wedged between pages 302 and 303 of Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer. It has a recording of a conversation between Arthur Poe and his sister Eleanora, having lunch at The Anxious Clown. The waiter keeps trying to signal them with "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion", though they do not pick up on this. Poe tries to question his sister about her coverage of the Baudelaire case, but she stops him to question the waiter as to why he is holding a microphone near their table.
Poe sends a letter to his sister, thanking her for sending him an article about the danger of telegrams. He has instructed everyone in the bank to ignore telegrams that arrive, and then asks if she's heard from you-know-who. He attaches two telegrams he has ignored, the first of which is the one from the Baudelaires in The Hostile Hospital, the second of which is from Eleanora herself as she has been locked in the basement by Geraldine Julienne, on instructions of Esmé. She is beginning to worry that some of the stories she's published are not true, and asks him to send help.
Included last in this section is a school photo. One girl's face is circled, and noted with Will I ever see her again?
Why is Lemony Snicket on the run? / What has happened to the reptiles in Dr. Montgomery's collection?
Snicket sends a letter to Duchess R, claiming he cannot attend her masked ball. However, he includes a Sebald Code, which reads:
|“||Attending your Masked Ball is dangerous. but I'll be there. Lemony||”|
Next is a letter addressed to "Genius"; someone is gathering information on Dr. Montgomery's reptile collection. He adopted Veiled Facial Disguises and went to a V.F.D Library, where he found a librarian who, unknowingly to him, tried to give him a message. He then read The Reptile Room, which included a list of Monty's reptiles.
He then disguised himself as a cow, including a map of the area he investigated, and first investigated the Cathedral of the Alleged Virgin to see if it looked like the toad. He listened to a gravelly voice to see if it was the Dissonant Toad, but decided it wasn't when the voice muttered about how inconvenient it was to drown someone, because they got all wet. He then sniffed wildflowers, and then observed a black snake attempting to communicate with crickets that he suspects is the Mamba du Mal. He spotted a yellow-striped lizard, and overheard a child claim to see a fat toad with two wings. He approached a couple who owned the Prospero to ask if any reptiles had boarded the ship, but alarmed by a talking cow, they did not reply. He also notes that he was nearby a dairy at the time, which he did not approach due to fear of being milked.
NOTE TO FILE: Snicket describes the library at Prufrock Preparatory School, and explains that once one sings/whistles/hums the coded song, the Librarian is to salute them as if they were a soldier and say "Well, young lady, have you been good to your mother?" The proper response is "The question is, has she been good to me?" This exchange is truly saying "I have a message for you" and "I am ready to receive the message."
While visiting the school, Snicket received a note from the librarian from a couple, saying that one of O's henchmen, disguised as a cow, asked them about Monty's reptiles. They did not mention anything concerning their assistance with the Incredibly Deadly Viper, but were concerned that he might use his disguise to cause trouble at Valorous Farms Dairy.
Snicket sends a letter to the cheesemakers, where he explains he is tearing pages from his green commonplace book to send to them, in hopes of keeping the passages safe. He notes, though, that "portions of this chapter have been changed or made up entirely, including this sentence."
The scraps include:
- A segment of The Bad Beginning, with a description of Olaf's henchpeople underlined.
- A segment from Chapter Six of Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer, which explains that the boring book was written specifically to hide crucial documents inside.
- A segment from Ramona Quimby, Age 8, where she meets the V.F.D Librarian.
- Photo highlights from the In Auction, with the Esmé Squalor fanclub displaying the dead Mambu du Mal.
- A segment from I Lost Something at the Movies, which includes the sentence, "Zombies in the Snow is such a strange film, with such awkward dialogue, that one wonders if it is meant to be a piece of entertainment at all, but instead some sort of coded message."
- The passage from The Reptile Room in which Klaus reads about the Mamba du Mal.
- A passage about the Mamba du Mal written by Monty, from The Mamba du Mal: A Snake That Will Never Kill Me, mentioning that certain specimens of the snake have been trained to recite codes. He notes that the only other animal trained to do such is the common grass cricket.
- A page from "The Three Languages" from Grimm's Fairy Tales, telling the story of a Count's dimwitted son who learned the language of the dogs, the birds, and the crickets.
- Note: while the excerpt contained in this segment says that the boy has learned the language of the crickets, the original fairy tale has him learn the language of the frogs. This could presumably be a signal, similar to Verse Fluctuation Declaration, to draw attention to crickets, which are known to send V.F.D codes.
- A segment from Little House in the Big Woods where Laura hears howls of wolves at night, coming closer to the house, and a bit from For Esmé, with Love and Squalor, reading, "It happens to be a wedding I'd give a lot to be able to get to and when the invitation firs arrived, I thought it might just be possible for me to make the trip..."
- The excerpt from Little House in the Big Woods is also given the notation: "Found Tangled in the branches of Nevermore Tree."
- A rhyme about bells from Edgar Allen Poe's The Bells, and a bit from The History of Lucky Smells Lumbermill describing how Sir used to use special "emerald lumber" to construct V.F.D headquarters and for a few homes, including mansions constructed by the Snicket, Quagmire and Baudelaire families.
- A segment from Carmelita Spats's book, Me: The Completely Authorized Autobiography of the Prettiest, Smartest, Most Darling Girl in the Whole Wide World, where she goes to the library. The V.F.D librarian tries to give her a message, to which she responds, "Go away, creep."
- Part of Charlotte's Web, describing how the crickets sang of summer's ending. (Note: Monty mentioned that "Summer is" was a code to be sent by the crickets/Mamba du Mal to communicate that enemies were nearby.)
- A passage from Green Mansions describing a darkened chamber, and a second passage from The Bells.
- A passage from The Littlest Elf by Monty Kensicle, about how the little elf loves the sound of bells.
- A list of Olaf's potential associates, deciding that there are at least 25 and possibly more than 41. This list includes:
- The Bald Man with a Long Nose
- White-Faced Women
- Hook-Handed Man
- Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender
- "Assortment of people the children could not see." (7?)
- Ivan Lachrymose
- Esmé Squalor Fan Club (14) (+who took the photo?)
- "Enemies are nearby" (6?)
- Old Count
- An only son
- Professors (3)
- Lena Pukalie
- "a man's life" (1?)
Next is a letter from Babs to Hal, saying that the enclosed papers are to be filed under Baudelaire even though they are marked Snicket; the contest appear to be "various attempts to compose an opening sentence for a rather ruesome-sounding children's book."
Are the Baudelaire parents really dead? / Why do so many things end in fire?
Brett Helquist sends a letter to Snicket, apologizing for arriving too late to the scene of the fire to make any sketches that could clear his name. While he managed to draw some of the objects in the rubble- a glass bottle, portions of a grand piano, a few charred pieces of green wood and the remains of a tea set- he had to leave quickly due to the smoke. He fears how inaccurately The Daily Punctilio will report the tragedy, and mentions to Snicket that he did not believe their lies about him, "in relation to the Quagmire case or any other." He looks forward to using his illustrations to help Snicket bring truth to the public, and agrees to meet him at the Dairy. It is also revealed in the letter that Snicket believes there might be survivors of a fire. Due to the original name of the chapter, he may refer to the Baudelaire parents.
An article reveals that Valorous Farm Dairy burnt own during a thunderstorm. Detective Smith refutes rumors that a suspicious cow was seen around the area, describes the fire as an accident, and provides a sketch that was found in the rubble, presumably of the fire itself. Snicket provides a photograph of the Dairy taken during the thunderstorm by Meredith Heuer.
Is there anything a concerned citizen can do if he or she wants to help the Baudelaires? / If there's nothing out there, what was that noise?
The section opens with "Infrequently Asked Questions about V.F.D".
- How Do I Volunteer for Your Organization? While it's become difficult for members to contact potential volunteers since the schism, there is a possibility that they have unknowingly received messages. Interested recruits should keep a commonplace book and make notes on events they believe are suspicious, unfortunate, or very dull, and should keep their book in a safe place, such as underneath the bed or at a dairy.
- How does my Volunteering Begin? The recruit will hear a noise outside their home, such as the howl of a wolf, the cawing of a crow, the hissing of a snake, the chirping of a cricket, the engine of an automobile, the keys of a typewriter, the striking of a match, or the turning of a page. The recruit is to ask their parents what the noise was, an if they reply "nothing", they are to reply, "If there's nothing out there, what was that noise?" That is considered the cue that it is safe for recruitment to begin. NOTE: If the recruit has no parents, they will be contacted in a more direct manner.
- Do I have to get a tattoo? Since the schism, V.F.D has halted tattooing, as "it is not wise to permanently mark oneself with a symbol when the meaning of the symbol may change at any moment."
- How long will it be before I see my parents again? No information provided.
Snicket then writes a letter to his sister, saying that their situation is desperate enough that people have been reading about the Baudelaires. He cannot imagine who would be brave enough to help them.
Who is Lemony Snicket? / ???
A family tree is provided next, though the key is cut off, and only reads:
- A. whereabouts unknown
- B. whereabouts uninteresting
- C. Chas. Snicket.
- V. volunteer-
Several photographs follow (captions indicated with italics), including:
- A man walking alone in the woods.
- A school bus with a car beside it.
- A large bridge. Great(?) Britain
- A crowd.
- A figure in a field. I arrived too late--they'd already removed it.
- Someone near the water.
- Large buildings in a city. It turned out there was a floor above the penthouse.
- A mansion, with a car driving away.
- Someone sitting on some steps. ...did not stop weeping for nine days.
- An overgrown building. ...could not possibly have been at the same time.
- A car driving at a building. Very fast delivery.
- A blurry photograph of someone on a street.
- Some buildings on a mountain. ...could not possibly have been at the same time.
- The remains of a wall.
- A building After the schism,
- A blurry person in front of a tree
- A street I thought one of the cars was behaving strangely.
- A man standing in a field with a briefcase.
- The same man from previous photographs. If there's nothing out there,
- The final photo is too burnt to identify.