Having escaped Count Olaf's clutches for now, the three Baudelaire siblings, Violent, Klaus and Sunny, arrive on the shores of Lake Lachrymose to stay with their latest guardian, Aunt Josephine. Sadly, though kind and well-meaning, Aunt Josephine is terrified of absolutely everything: she will not heat her radiators, use the telephone or cook food, just in case those ordinary tasks prove fatal. Worse still, she gives Violet a doll called Pretty Penny and obsessively corrects the children's grammar. It is not long before local sailor Captain Sham, a thinly-disguised Count Olaf, gulls Aunt Josephine with the idea of a surprise for the children. Aunt Josephine suddenly goes missing that night, leaving a highly ungrammatical note, and the Baudelaire's must once again fight their way out of Count Olaf's wicked schemes. Finally, after sailing across the Lachrymose Lake in Hurricane Herman, a nasty moment in the Curdled Cave and an unpleasant encounter with the Lachrymose Leeches for Aunt Josephine, they unmask Captain Sham as Count Olaf. Olaf slips through their grasp once more but evilly promises to find them again, as he will in The Miserable Mill.