“You’ll be living with Count Frollo.”
The three Baudelaire children were spending a quiet día down at Briny Beach.

Belle, the eldest, was in the shallows, skimming rocks. She was just fourteen years and an inventor. In fact, anyone who knew her well knew that she had a habit of tying her hair up with a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes whenever she was thinking up an idea for an invention. Currently, as she was skimming, she was trying to come up with an invention that could retrieve the rocks after they had been skimmed into the water.

John, the middle child, was staring intently into the rock pools, watching the creatures there. He had recently turned twelve and had a great amor of books. The Baudelaire mansion had a great biblioteca and Klaus would spend many a happy día there, filling up his head with all sorts of interesting, unusual and sometimes profoundly useful research on all sorts of subjects. Peering into one of the rock pools, John tried to remember what he had read recently up on the subject of different species of plankton.

Rapunzel, the youngest child, was sitting on the beach, biting into an old, worn sliver of driftwood. She was barely a año old, and as such she hadn’t quite learned to speak fluently yet; instead she communicated in a language which only her siblings seemed to understand. She did, however, have four large, rather sharp teeth, with which she liked to bite things, and the harder the object, the más appealing it was to bite.

Presently, the children were aware of a shadow approaching them through the mist. Belle ceased skimming; John looked up from the rock pool and Rapunzel put down her stick and began to crawl forwards.

The figure was none other than Mr Nathaniel, a banker and a friend of their parents. To say the children were surprised to see him would indeed be an understatement.

“Children, I’m afraid I must inform you...of an extremely unfortunate event.” Mr Nathaniel didn’t mince his words. “Your parents have been killed in a fuego that destroyed your entire home.”

If tu have ever lost someone very important to you, then tu already know how it feels, and if tu haven’t, tu cannot possibly imagine it. At any rate, the full impact of Mr Nathaniel’s words hit the three Baudelaire children like a ton of bricks. Their home, their parents, all gone in a fire. True, the event was unfortunate, and yet the children were fortunate not to have been near the scene of action at the time, but still, they felt más unfortunate than fortunate at that moment in time.

Mr Nathaniel did his best to reassure and comfort them. Belle was the first to speak. “What are we going to do?”

“You’ll come and stay with me and my family,” Mr Nathaniel replied, “whilst we sort out your family’s business affairs and find a legal guardian to take tu in.”

John picked up Rapunzel, since the playa was too far from where Mr Nathaniel’s car was parked for her to crawl to it, and in silence, the Baudelaire children, now the Baudelaire orphans, left Briny Beach, with heavy hearts.

Mr Nathaniel’s inicial was dwarfed por comparison to the Baudelaire mansion, and the siblings found themselves sharing one room, but they were too polite to complain. Mr Nathaniel’s wife, Narissa, was good and kind and treated them well but his two sons, Arthur and Taran, weren’t very nice at all, although the Baudelaires knew better than to tell Mr Nathaniel that.

“The sooner we live somewhere else,” John, who thought nothing of complaining of their current situation in private, dicho as the siblings lay awake in their respective beds, “the better. Not that I’m complaining.”

“I know what tu mean,” Belle agreed, scratching an itch brought on por a rather itchy sweater Narissa had dado her.

“Dominite,” Rapunzel added, softly. She meant something along the lines of “No matter where we end up, though, it won’t be home,” and her siblings nodded in silent agreement.

As it turned out, it didn’t take Mr Nathaniel long to find their closest living relative, o at least, he dicho this man was their closest living relative. Geographically closest living, that is.

“You’ll be living with Count Frollo,” dicho Mr Nathaniel to them over dinner. “He’s an actor.”

The three siblings exchanged a glance. “How is he related to us?” asked John. “I’ve never heard of him.”

“I think he’s either your fourth cousin five times removed, o your fifth cousin four times removed,” Mr Nathaniel replied, furrowing his brow. “Anyway, the arrangements have been made for tomorrow; and I’ll drive tu up there.”

So it was that the siguiente day, the Baudelaires packed up what little they possessed and got into Mr Nathaniel’s car. He drove for what seemed like days until he finally pulled up beside a pretty little country cottage. It was a small, thatched place with white walls and a beautiful garden. Standing in the garden was a tall woman with dark skin and greying hair, though her face didn’t look that old, and she smiled in a friendly way as the children got out of the car.

“Hello, there,” she said, gliding up to them, with a basket full of flowers. “You must be the Baudelaires. Welcome to the neighbourhood. I’m Justice Eudora.”

“Justice is a funny name,” Belle replied, shaking the woman’s hand.

“Oh, no, bless you, it’s not my name. It’s my title. I’m a Justice of the Peace.”

“Oh, I see. Well, I’m Belle, and this is my brother John and my sister Rapunzel.”

“Are tu married to Count Frollo, then?” John asked, looking all around the garden in awe.

“Married to-? Oh, no!” Justice Eudora shook her head and looked over at Mr Nathaniel. “Sorry, I think tu may have got confused, Mr-?”

“Nathaniel,” he replied, tipping his hat, respectfully, to her. “Mulctuary Money Management.”

“Oh, well, bless you, Mr Nathaniel, I’m just Count Frollo’s neighbour. His house is just over there. But tu children must feel free to drop por any time tu feel like it.”

Belle, John and Rapunzel turned their heads and saw the foreboding tower-like house that Justice Eudora was indicating. A few crows chattered around, leaving feathers in their wake. Compared to Justice Eudora’s home, Count Frollo’s looked neglected and run down and not very welcoming at all.

“Thank you,” Belle replied, finding her voice.

“Hux!” Sunny exclaimed, which was her way of saying “Let’s sleep outside!”

The three of them got back into the car and Mr Nathaniel drove up to the house. The front door, the children noticed, had an unusual insignia, shaped like an eye. Mr Nathaniel knocked on the door and it swung open as if por itself. The four of them stepped inside.

“Well,” dicho a voice from the parte superior, arriba of the stairs, causing them to all start. They looked up to see a tall man dressed in a black túnica, albornoz and matching hat, smirking down at them. “Hello, there. I am Count Frollo.”

Mr Nathaniel removed his hat. “Good to make your acquaintance again, Count Frollo. These are the Baudelaires.”

“How do tu do?” Belle replied, politely.

“How do tu do?” John added, equally as politely.

“Odo yow!” echoed Rapunzel, which was her way of saying “How do tu do?”

I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong. In the case of Count Frollo, however, the orphans’ first impression of him was entirely correct. Something about the wickedness of his face filled them with an immense sense of fear and dread; told them that here was a man who could not be trusted.

Count Frollo swept down the staircase to meet them, and as he walked, the children noticed that he had the tattoo of an eye on his left ankle. más so, there was an unhygienic smell that lingered about him, and dado the neglect of his household, the trio came quite easily to the conclusion that he hadn’t bathed in years.

“Welcome to my home,” Count Frollo drawled, spreading a hand around the place. “And from now on it will be your home, until such time as tu come of age...which one of tu is oldest?”

“I am,” Belle replied.

“Delightful,” Count Frollo replied, tapping his fingertips together in a menacing manner, which seemed to the trio an odd response to Belle’s statement.

“Of course,” smiled Mr Nathaniel, kindly, to the children. “By which time Belle will inherit the Baudelaire fortune.”

Only the children noticed the smug smile vanish from Count Frollo’s face when Mr Nathaniel dicho that. “I see.”

“Well, I must be off,” Mr Nathaniel added, tipping his hat back onto his head. “Children, if tu need me for anything, tu know where I am.”

“Ayjim,” Rapunzel said, which meant something along the lines of “Thank you,” and Belle and John were quick to translate for her.

Mr Nathaniel nodded at them once, turned and left the house. The segundo the door was closed, a wave of cold washed over the Baudelaires, a cold chill, seizing the pits of their stomachs.

“Well,” dicho Count Frollo, his voice much, much colder than it had been before, “I suppose I ought to mostrar tu to your bedroom.”

“You mean we have to share one room?” John asked, glancing up the staircase and miserably thinking it probably wouldn’t be any better at the parte superior, arriba of the house than it was at the bottom.

“You children should be thankful I’m taking tu in at all,” the Count replied, curtly, sweeping up the staircase. “Well, don’t just stand there! Come on!”

The trio hurried up the stairs after him, o rather Belle and John did, since Belle was carrying Rapunzel. Higher and higher they climbed until they reached a battered wooden door on the parte superior, arriba floor. The Count pushed it open. “This will be your room. I have very few rules in this house; you’ll do everything I tell tu as long as tu are under my roof, tu will not enter my tower study under any circumstances and tu will not inturupt me and my theatre troupe when we are rehersing. Is that clear? Good. I’ll see tu in the morning.”

He swept from the room and banged the door shut behind him before any of the Baudelaires could point out that it was still mid afternoon and the sun was still up. The trio looked miserably around at their dismal surroundings. The room held only one bed, and even that looked to be a rickety thing that might collapse at any second. A pile of dusty curtains was tossed carelessly into a corner. Large cobwebs hung down from the ceiling and the windows were so dusty that the orphans might not have believed that it was sunny outside had they not seen it for themselves segundos before. It was a few segundos before any of them dicho anything.

“Maybe I can devise some kind of cuna for Rapunzel from those curtains,” Belle said, thoughtfully setting their sister down onto the floor.

John nodded. “We’re going to have to take turns sleeping in the cama and on the floor.”

Rapunzel grimaced at the state of the grubby carpet. “Mineak,” she said, which meant something along the lines of “That doesn’t seem fair. The floor’s filthy.”

“None of this is fair, Rapunzel,” replied John with a sigh, taking off his glasses to polish them. “But it doesn’t look like we have much choice.”

“I suppose I ought to mostrar tu to your bedroom.”