The island in question was unquestionably ominous, because it looked like a gift. The Baudelaires had learned a number of things in their long and depressing migration through, past, with, and dangerously close to a vast variety of depressing places and people. They had learned how to make puttanesca, and the fact that everyone dies eventually. They had learned a truly astonishing amount of herpetology and the best method of changing a baby's diaper on a boat. Mostly, however, they'd learned that the majority of attractive gifts, when opened, contained not a set of watercolors or a pony but a toothbrush or a bear trap.
They were half right.
"Yeah, I mean, he built this island for that whole ... effect," said Mr. Incredible, as he served them drinks in little coconuts, "and sure, Mirage gets up to some shenanigans every once in a while, but now it's mostly our vacation home."
"Jack thinks vacation is all about building character," Elastigirl said. "You know, like it'll do the kids good if they accidentally step on a land mine--"
"Honey? I thought we agreed we weren't going to have this argument in company--"
Klaus Baudelaire's eyes always looked huge behind his glasses, but they hadn't shrunk once since Dash had sprinted their boat ashore. Klaus had always preferred academic works, but Mr. Incredible's adventures had been broadcast every night over the enormous radio in their living room at home, and Klaus had often closed his eyes and imagined that he was fighting crime with Mr. Incredible, possibly in a spandex uniform decked out in primary colors. Listening to Mr. Incredible have fights with his wife, however, had not factored into the fantasy, and it was engendering in Klaus a deep conviction that the birthday present in this metaphor, while not exactly containing a rabid bear as it usually did, at least only contained a disappointing pair of socks.
At the opposite end of the table sat the Other Violet, as Klaus was calling her in his head; upon seeing him she'd smiled, shyly, and tucked some of her curtain of hair behind her ear, but she didn't seem particularly interested in starting a conversation. Klaus, who was also by nature both shy and retiring, would not have forced the situation had he not seen her reading material.
"Have you read Gerolamo Cardano's work about that?" he said. "I thought it was good."
"No," said the Other Violet, turning pink, and tilted her book down. "Say, are you good at math?"
"Um," said Klaus, a phrase which here means, 'In fact, I am spectacularly bad, but don't want to jeopardize the conversation.'"
"Because I don't really understand the probabilities here," Other Violet continued, pushing the book across the table. "I don't know, maybe it's just a vocabulary thing. What's a null space?"
"We have to go," Klaus said, standing hurriedly. "I have to bail the boat. And check on the supplies."
"I just don't think letting their talents go to waste is the best use of our time!" Mr. Incredible was insisting. "As responsible parents--"
"We all have to go," Violet agreed, standing up even faster. "Thank you for the coconut milk."
Sunny gave him a very sisterly pat on the back later, but mostly she was engrossed with the book Dash had passed along to her, illustrated heavily with small, sharp-toothed monsters in a night kitchen. Violet was more sympathetic. "It was the island's fault," she said. "Next time, let's go somewhere arctic."