A/N: Please R&R! Many of the people who review are only reading the first chapter! (Sobs) It's not fair! I put a lot of effort into my writing! (Sighs)

Sorry I haven't updated in a long time, but it's because a fic I've read has really put me off my writing. It sort of contradicts everything I write. It's so sad. Klaus Baudelaire, how could you? The story is called 'everyone deserves a second chance', or something like that.

Oh, yeah! And thank you again to Ash-of-Evenstar, for actually reading up to chapter eight. Duncan couldn't help Violet because I feel like being really mean, and you'll see how in this chapter. (Sighs again) No, Duncan's not already going out with someone else. So you can rule out that possibility.

And another thing: (Quite persistent, aren't I?) Since this story is before book 10, Sunny still hasn't spoken her first sentence. The sentence in Ch6 was memorised, as with all things.

Nine

The next morning, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire woke up early: they were too nervous about their meeting with Count Olaf to sleep any more.

"Violet?" called Klaus in a loud whisper. "Are you awake?"

"Yes, I am," she whispered back. "I'm too nervous to sleep."

"What about you, Sunny?"

"Awake!" she whispered.

They all nervously clambered out of their beds, too scared to say a word to each other. Quietly, they got ready, then met together in the centre of the I.D.V. tent.

"Ok," said Violet in businesslike tones. "We have to be strong. We can't let him intimidate us."

The two others nodded, looking more confident than they felt. Exiting the tent, they walked the length of the circus plot until they found the ringleader's tent.

"Well, this is it," said Violet apprehensively. "As our mother used to say, 'brace yourselves'."

The Baudelaires braced themselves, a phrase which, as I'm sure you'll know, has nothing to do with braces, but means, 'got ready for a terrible challenge'. Waggling the tent flap, they looked at one another nervously. How would Uncle Marv react? The tent flap opened slightly, revealing an eye; an eye similar to the eye already printed on the front of the tent. It looked up and down like an x-ray scanner, observing the children thoroughly. It looked skyward for a moment; a sigh was heard, then the flap opened. Standing there was Uncle Marv, already dressed, up and awake.

"Yes, Baudebrats," breathed Uncle Marv. "What useless thing do you want to ask about now?"

"Actually, Marvolo," said Klaus, "or should we say, Count Olaf, we have come to stop you in your tracks."

"You want to stop the circus?" said Marvolo incredulously. "Why would you want to do that? Kids love the circus!"

"Not a word, Olaf," said Violet. "We know about your plans to get our money."

"Money?" Marvolo asked in fake wonder. "What money? I'm practically swimming in funds from the circus. I don't need your dosh!"

"Yet you still want to get it," said Violet testily.

"Now, now, children," said Marv in a would-be kind voice, "I really don't know what on earth you are talking about. It would do everyone a lot of good if you just went and got ready for the rehearsals."

"Pretending!" shouted Sunny, which probably meant, "stop pretending. We know who you are, Olaf."

Uncle Marv snorted. "You and your annoying baby talk. I can never understand what you're saying. Besides. Even if I did want your -" his eyes sparkled menacingly "- big fortune, I wouldn't be able to prove that you are of age, because you're not."

"Papers!" shrieked Sunny again.

"Aargh!" roared Marv in frustration. "Enough baby talk, or I will have you fired! You hear me?"

Sunny looked at the ground, tears of fear in her eyes. Looking up again, she said, "it's not baby talk."

Gaping, Violet and Klaus tried to conceal their amazement at Sunny's first intelligible – a word which here means 'understandable' – sentence.

"There. You see?" Marvolo had his usual menacing grin pasted on his face. "Speaking in full sentences really does help! You should try that more often."

"An-y-way," said Violet slowly, through gritted teeth, "what Sunny meant was, "you have those papers to prove our age."

"Well, even if I did have these so-called papers, I wouldn't be able to get past that obnoxious banker of yours."

"Mr. Poe is not obnoxious!" Klaus cried. "In fact, I think you're the one who's obnoxious!"

"What a rude little boy!" Marv exclaimed with wide eyes. "Now tune your pint-sized brains to the fact that I will not do anything of the sort, and go and do something useful!"

The words that Uncle Marv had spoken a few seconds before did have some truth, at least. There was no way that Count Olaf could get past Mr. Poe. Unless he killed him… the prospect was unimaginable. But it was not impossible; Count Olaf had killed on several occasions before.

Turning their backs on Marvolo, the Baudelaires walked towards the tent flap in defeat, only to be called back by him one last time.

"Oh, and by the way, orphans," Marv said nastily, "I won't be in very much today. I have to do the circus business I was on about the other day. Now, because I am absolutely desperate, and extremely kind-hearted, I am going to ask you three to be in charge, until I come back. If I am not back for tonight's performance, you, you little bookworm, will take my position."

The Baudelaires turned around.

"But I'm not telekinetic," said Klaus. "How will I do your first performance?"

"Think, cleverclogs. Use your common sense. Not that you would have any…"

"Well, it's not like you do, Olaf," said Violet, and with that, the Baudelaires marched out of the tent.

"Who could be gone for a whole day, just on circus business?" Klaus wondered. "It's five-thirty now, so he'll get to Tedia by six-thirty. Rehearsals start at eight O' clock, so he'll have been gone for two-and-a-half hours. I'd say the most anyone needs on 'circus business' is three hours, minus the train journeys, so he should be back by around ten-thirty."

"Seven!" shrieked Sunny, which appeared to mean, "the performance starts at seven O' clock. Where will Olaf be for the next eight-and-a-half hours?"

"I wish I knew," said Violet forlornly. "It might make our lives easier…"

"We could ask Mr. Poe," Klaus said hopefully, but his balloon of anticipation was burst, suddenly. "But we have no telephone…"

"Follow!" shrieked Sunny, which meant something like, "we could follow him," but her balloon of anticipation was burst, suddenly; she said, "but we have to take care of the rehearsals…"

The three Baudelaires all sighed for the final time in this episode of unfortunate events, for, from this chapter onwards; the Baudelaires will be so confused that there will be no time for sighing.

"Well," said Violet, after an age of staring miserably at the ground, "I guess we have to get back to our tent now." So silently and sullenly, the Baudelaires turned their backs on the rest of the circus plot, and made their way back to the I.D.V. tent.

The rest of this chapter will be very irksome, because as much as we want to know what the Baudelaires get up to in this chapter, which isn't really anything much, my research team and I have found some information on what Count Olaf was also doing at the time. So for the remainder of this chapter, I shall be skipping between describing the Baudelaires' day, and what nasty scheme Count Olaf is executing.

Carniville

The Baudelaires walked back to their tent. Entering it, the tenacious – a word which here means 'determined' - trio did not go back to sleep for the extra two-and-a-half hours, as most would do, but sat in the centre of the grassy floor of their tent, talking amongst themselves in hushed whispers. When eight O' clock came, they would be left with a huge responsibility… running a circus!

Tedia

Meanwhile, Count Olaf was sitting in a steam engine, with his bowler hat pulled low over his one eyebrow, reading a broadsheet edition of The Daily Punctilio, to conceal his identity. Even though there was really no need – news of Olaf had not passed the city since the last year, and the residents moved along fast in terms of gossip.

But one story that had really stuck in the town of Tedia was the so-called murder of Count Omar by the three orphans, Veronica, Klyde, and Susie Baudelaire. The story was extremely popular, and newspaper articles were still being printed about supposed sightings of the siblings, none of which were ever real. So it was really no surprise that Count Olaf was reading an article named, 'They came into my house and stayed in our garden!'

Snorting, Olaf flipped the page. He was sick of reading about the numerous times that people claimed to have seen them, just for a bit of money.

Carniville

It was at last eight O'clock, and, after a good hard talk about what to do for the rehearsals, the Baudelaires rose and exited the tent. Looking around, they saw that the Quagmires weren't waiting outside their tent, as they usually did.

"Maybe they're already at the tent…?" Violet suggested.

"Maybe…" Klaus said. "But they would tell us, wouldn't they?"

"Rush!" shrieked Sunny thoughtfully, which probably meant something like, "maybe they had to rush there, to do something urgent."

"Maybe…" said Klaus, "but 'maybes' won't get us anywhere."

"You're right," said Violet. "We'd better go… by the way, Klaus, have you figured out a way to do the telekinesis that Marvolo does?"

"No," admitted Klaus. "But I'm sure it's not real. There has to be something he uses. Did you see anything odd when the spider floats up? A magnetic strip; a string; anything?"

"Well…" Violet considered for a moment. "No, nothing that I can remember. But I'm sure that I can try and whisk something up."

Worried about the Quagmires' whereabouts, the Baudelaires rushed off at top speeds, Violet carrying Sunny, to the main circus tent.

Tedia

Marvolo the ringleader ruffled then closed his newspaper, as the steam engine came to a halt. Tucking the broadsheet under his arm, the doors opened, and out he stepped into the large, and rather dull, town of Tedia.

Olaf had slept late the previous night; too busy planning his evil scheme to get much sleep, so he really couldn't be bothered to walk very much. Dirty as Olaf was, he was also very lazy. He called a taxi, and climbed into it.

"Banking district," he snarled to the driver, who looked at Olaf with wide eyes. "And step on it, I'm in a hurry." Count Olaf opened his newspaper again and started to read.

The driver nodded, but was too taken with this absurdly dressed customer to obey. You really didn't get many people in Tedia dressed like people from the circus.

"Did you hear me?" Olaf half-roared. "I said, step on it!"

"Y-y-yes, s-sir," the driver stammered. Slowly and cautiously, he put the car in gear, and started off at a snail's pace.

Olaf rolled his eyes, and snapped, "do you have a problem with me? You won't like it if you have a problem with me."

The driver shook his head.

"Well, too bad, because I have a problem with YOU!" In a swift move, Olaf opened the driver's door, and pushed him right out!

"That should teach you to obey ringleaders!" Olaf shouted amid the crowds of people now gathering to watch. "What?" Olaf growled. "What are you looking at? Mind your own beeswax!" With that, he moved into the driver's seat, closed the door, and took over the wheel.

Carniville

Back at the Fun Festival, it was chaos. Everybody was unsure of what to do, and there was screaming, yelling, running around, and most of all, angry animals.

"Calm down!" shouted Violet tentatively, a word which here means 'uncertainly', whilst looking for the Quagmires in all the commotion.

"Stop!" shouted Klaus, who was about to be trampled over by a horde of mongooses.

"Aaaaaaaahhhhh!" Sunny screamed, as she was knocked off her feet by a unicorn, only to be caught by one of the trapeze artists, swinging on a trapeze.

Klaus somehow managed to dodge the approaching pack of mongooses, and rushed into the square opening at the back of the tent. Grabbing a whistle, he ran out again into the main ring, and blew it as hard as he could. The effects were immediate: everyone stopped running, the noise ceased, and Sunny was laid down harmlessly on the ground by the trapeze artist.

"Everybody listen!" Klaus shouted, glad that he hadn't shouted more and gotten a sore throat. Once he was sure everyone was listening, he continued, "Marvolo is not here at the moment, but will be back soon. Is everyone present?"

The workers looked around, the heads of each department counting their numbers. Then the head of the animal department spoke up,

"We've got three absent, Klaus."

"Do you know who they are?" asked Klaus.

She nodded her head. "Yes, Klaus. The Quagmires."

Tedia

"Mwahaha!" sneered Olaf as he steered the car recklessly – a word which here means 'wildly' – through the streets of Tedia, dodging whatever he could yet not really caring if he hit something. He was looking for some people - three people, i should say - and of course, they were very important to the plan.

Ignoring a 'no entry' sign on a road, Olaf veered sharply to the left, and nearly hit an elderly woman crossing the road! She screamed and managed to avoid the oncoming car, while Olaf stuck his head out the window and yelled, "watch where you're going, punk!", then carried on down the road. He looked briefly at each building on either side as they flashed by momentarily: large streaks of boring-looking red and grey buildings. Finally he saw the place he was looking for, and braking severely, he stepped outside. As promised, the Quagmires were there, waiting for him.

Carniville

"They told me that Quigley was ill," she said, "and said they would be missing today's performance. They told me this morning in a note." she handed over a small piece of paper with the same short message on it.

Violet came over, peering at the note. "They looked pretty much alive and well yesterday," she said. "It seems odd that they would take off like this without much explanation, and so suddenly."

"Poison!" shrieked Sunny, obviously still thrilled by her flight around the ring.

"There's an idea," Klaus murmured to Violet. "Maybe he's poisoned their food or something, to get them away from helping us."

"But then why -" Violet started, but the stare of the crowd on them cut her short. Turning to face the crowd, she said, "sorry for all the fuss. We must get on with the rehearsals and performance without them, or Marvolo will be angry. Let's begin..."

I need not describe how the rehearsals went, for they have most probably been revealed to you elsewhere in this story. The start of show, however, is the time that i will be referring back to Carniville, as this is where some of the most interesting events of the chapter take place. But the cleverest part of Olaf's plan, is carried out in Tedia.

Tedia

Olaf stepped out of the car, with his usual menacing grin and shiny, shiny eyes, and surveyed the sight before him: Delphine Zenk, standing and talking to the Quagmires quietly, as you would to a young child, to comfort them. Duncan was holding a rolled up wad of papers, tied up with an elastic band; obviously the 'papers' that the Baudelaires had heard about in the walkie-talkie conversation.

"Well done, Zenkie," said Olaf heartily as he climbed out. "I see you did manage to get them."

"Well, it was no trouble," said Aunt Zenk smugly. "They came along like little sheep."

"Here are the papers you wanted, Sir," said Duncan in his normal tones; yet his eyes were wide with fear.

"You can keep those for a while, like a good boy," Olaf said teasingly, but Duncan made no remark. "There's been a change of plan. We don't need to walk to the bank: out of the kindness of my heart, I've hired a car! Get in!"

Like silent robots, the Quagmires clambered into the stolen taxi, with Zenk following behind. Olaf sat down in his seat again, closed the door and slammed his foot down on the pedal. The car didn't budge.

"Argh, what the hell is wrong with this car?" Count Olaf roared.

"Umm..." Zenk started, "Olaf, dear, maybe -"

"Not now, Esmé!" Olaf snapped, still pressing the pedal down to the floor, trying to get the car to start.

With a sigh, Esmé - and what a delight it is for me to finally stop using that ridiculous alias - reached over, and released the handbrake. The car shot forwards.

"Zenkie," Olaf roared, supposedly sweetly, against the tooth-bearing speed of the car. "Why didn't you tell me I forgot to release the brake?"

Esmé just rolled her eyes.

After around ten minutes of dangerous driving, the stolen taxi finally screeched to a halt. Looking out of the window, the Quagmires saw the large, and boring, banking district. They all once more got out of the car. "Hand over the papers, brat," Olaf snapped to Duncan. He held them out to the Count, who snatched them away forcefully.

"Right," said Count Olaf. "Your job is done. You may go back to Carniville and rehearse now."

And with that, the Quagmires sighed, turned their backs on Olaf, and Esmé, and wearily walked back the other way, to the Tedia Central Train Station.

Alas, I do not have any information about the Quagmires' train journey back to Carniville. But as far as my sources go, I have reliable evidence of a tragic train crash, in which three people died. After the search, forensic experts did manage to find an elastic band, which is most probably the one which was used to tie up the papers.

"Well, that's those orphans out of the way," Esmé said with relish.

"Now we can execute the clever part of the plan," Olaf said menacingly. "Off to the bank!"

And so Count Olaf and Esmé Squalor set off on their perilous - yet rather boring - journey through the banking district, in search of Mulctuary Money Management.

"You do know what the place is called, don't you?" asked Olaf anxiously.

"Of course," she said. "Mulctuary Money Management. Surely you knew that, Olaf?" asked Esmé suspiciously.

"Yes, indeed, I knew that," Olaf said in a rush. "Now, where to find it..."

"Oh, come on, Olaf, everyone knows that you walk down the street and turn left at the end," Esmé replied as though this was the simplest thing in the world.

"Oh, OK," Olaf said distractedly. "But in case you haven't noticed, I don't work here every day, like some people do. And why -" Olaf half-roared out of frustration "- are you bumping into me all the time? Can't you see where you're going?"

"Sorry, Olaf, dear," said Esmé, without really meaning it. "But it's these coloured contact lenses. They're in at the moment, so I just have to wear them."

"But you don't need contacts," Olaf said incredulously. "You don't even need glasses!"

Esmé sighed. "Haven't I already told you, Olaf? It's the in thing at the moment, so I just have to be seen wearing them." She waved poshly to some random passers-by, grinning widely.

"Well, I don't like it."

"Put up with it," Esmé said crisply. "After all, I am the city's sixth most important financial advisor, and you can't do this operation without me."

Olaf grumbled in defeat. "Fine, fine... Is this the bank?"

They had finally reached Mulctuary Money Management: a tall, prestigious building, constructed of fine white marble, that had definitely seen better years and now turning a depressing grey colour. They entered, with their minds full of twisting, scheming plots, and, of course, money.

"You have the announcement ready, I presume?" asked Esmé.

"Mmm."

"Good. Now. You will talk to the manager, while I go and sign in. And -" she added sharply "- try not to use violence."

"Oh, but -"

"No buts. You do what I say, or you're in this alone. Besides," she said sweetly, "this is a team effort."

Olaf grumbled again.

As planned, Esmé went to sign in at the reception, and Olaf went to see the manger. I will describe only Olaf's meeting with the manger, as it is much more interesting than Esmé putting on a special badge to say where she works.

Olaf went over to a member of staff. "Excuse me," he said in his most polite voice, "Could I speak to the manger?" Then he added, with a shudder, "Please?"

"Certainly, Sir," he replied. "Right this way."

But before he started to lead Olaf to the manger's office, he couldn't help but stare at Olaf's ridiculous costume.

Olaf grew angry. "What on earth do you think - I mean, what are you looking at, that is so odd, that would distract you from leading me to the manger?"

"Oh. Umm... Sorry, Sir," the cashier said hesitantly. "Err, right this way." And with that, the cashier turned and led the way to the manager's office.

On arriving, the assistant knocked on the manager's door. It opened, and out stepped -

No one.

The assistant looked down. "A customer to see you, Sir," he said.

Count Olaf looked down too, and almost suddenly, burst out laughing.

"Why," he said, in a mockingly high tone, "it's a wee little lep-ro-corn!"

"Silence!" screeched the manger. "I am a dwarf, not a 'lep-ro-corn'. At least I'm not a clown."

"Grrr, it's 'ringleader', you -" Olaf started, but his greed took over, "Why, I mean, I am Count Olaf. Surely you remember me?"

"Oh! Yes, ye - no. Who?"

"A - err - friend of Esmé, the city's sixth most important financial advisor."

"Oh! Now I remember. You're that actor with all the strange assistants, aren't you?"

Olaf feigned a smile. "Yes," he said through the strange smile, "that would be me, wouldn't it..."

"Well, we're not going to stand here all day, are we, Omar? Come in!"

"Olaf."

"Yes, whatever. I do always like a visit from an old friend. Now, make yourself comfortable!"

Olaf sat down on the nearest available chair and glanced around the room. There was an assortment of multicoloured balloons strewn about, as though they were the remnants of a birthday party.

"Celebrating something?" Olaf asked as a particularly lurid - a word which here means 'brightly coloured' - balloon threatened to engulf him entirely.

"What?" the manger asked as though he hadn't heard a word. "Oh - the balloons? Ah, no! I just love to collect balloons, 'tis all!"

"Even though they're all nearly four feet taller than you?" Olaf asked sarcastically. It was true - the dwarf had to look up for what seemed like miles to take a good look at the coloured enormities floating overhead.

"Yes!" the manger cried. "Of course! In fact, the taller, the better! The bigger the better! In fact there was this one certain balloon I got from Peru..."

Olaf growled a sigh. He had no time for this!

"Mr - erm -" Olaf interrupted loudly.

"...See there, that one - wh - huh? Oh! Yes! My name! Ah, I am Mr. Rodna. At your service! What can I do for you? Oh, wait, let me guess! You've come to open an account! Oh, no that's not it... Ah! You want to be a banker! We -"

"Actually," Count Olaf said irritably, "I've come to ask for a favour. You see, my friend Esmé and I, we were wondering...

"Yes?" Mr. Rodna leaned closer, suddenly interested. Anything for a bit of the green stuff.

"We were wondering if, since we've come back, you could - sort of - fix things to how they were before? You know, put Esmé in charge of the Baudelaire fortune? Come on, it'll be fun. Just like old times."

"The Baudelaire fortune?" Mr. Rodna asked. "Isn't that... Err... Mr. Pot in charge of that?"

"Poe," Olaf said without thinking.

"Oh yes, that's the one. But wouldn't that mean a job cut? I don't usually replace my employees. And Mr. Pan is a new recruit! He's only been here five years. And you were saying you were in charge of the Baudelaire account before him?"

"That's right," said Olaf smugly and produced some sheets from the roll of papers, now not held together by an elastic band. "See here, I have some papers for my proof of work. It need only be for a day, I just want to get into the... Feel... Of banking again. You see I am applying for a job around Tedia, and I thought this might do of a bit of good."

None of these statements were true, of course, but with the identification papers, they all look the same to experienced managers, so they were most likely to pass. Handing over the fake certificates, Olaf reviewed the situation in his mind. He had been lucky so far; he had managed to steal a car, kidnap three orphans, leave a circus on its own, and forced himself to be seen with that ridiculous girl of his, with her hideous 'in' styles. He had been through a lot today. The worst the manger could do now was refuse...

"Yes, these look alright to me," he said, smiling. "Now, about that offer of yours - most peculiar, I must say. But, considering all the legal aspects, I have just one thing to say: why not?"

Internally, Count Olaf sighed with relief. Mr. Rodna had agreed. The plan was going to take action...

"So when do we start work?" Olaf asked eagerly.

"Well, right now, if you wish! I'm pleased that you're so eager!"

Right at that moment, Esmé marched into the office, with the promised badge that gleamed on her 'stylish' tweed jacket.

"And here she is, the main woman herself!" Mr. Rodna cried with joy.

"Everything's sorted, pumpkin," said Olaf in a would-be sweet voice. "We can start work now, if we wish."

"That would be perfect," she replied with a sly grin. "Come on, Olaf."

Count Olaf got up and they both walked out of the room. The manger smiled. 'Nice people', he thought, 'but what would they do with an account?'

He picked up the announcer.

Olaf and Esmé were walking through the bank, towards the account offices, just as an announcement rang out over the building.

"Will staff and customers please take note," the voice of Mr. Rodna said, "there has been a slight change in the normal procedures today. Mr. Poe, congratulations! You've just earned yourself the day off! We now have two lovely people to take your place - only for the day, no worries. And after that, we'll have a party to celebrate! And I'll bring some of my balloons over, too! Yes! It'll..."

All the members of staff groaned outwardly at the last few comments. How many parties did they have each week? And those darned balloons! Monstrous oddities that floated about the place. They could all do without those things cascading - a posh word meaning 'falling' - down on them.

"How long has that jolly manger been working here?" Esmé asked Olaf icily.

"I dunno," Olaf snapped, but asked one of the nearby employees.

"Mr. Rodna has worked here for over a year now. Much better than that Poe guy, I think. He's now in charge of the Baudelaire account."

"Not anymore," Count Olaf said with a grin.

"Now, now, Olaf," Esmé said sweetly, "don't make it seem too sinister! We are here for a good cause, after all!" She laughed a laugh that was evidently meant to be casual and jolly, but it came out as an evil cackle. Slightly alarmed, the employee turned away, back to his work.

Looking around them, Count Olaf and Esmé could only see row upon row of desks and workers.

"Where do we go now?" Olaf hissed.

In his office, Mr. Poe shifted uncomfortably. He had just lost his job for the day. By who? What had he done, to make Mr. Rodna think differently about him? And it was only for the day. If anything said 'suspicious' to him, it would have to be that. Who could be behind this? Little did Mr. Poe know that the answer was waiting just outside the door.