You know, for a story with an elevator in the title, there sure isn’t a lot action involving it.
Ok, so, the Baudelaires found the Quagmires and even though Lemony Snicket tells us they will fall down that shaft later, they don’t just yet. Sure, there’s a close call when their hot air balloon thingee bursts, but they manage to get back to the penthouse and find Jerome Squalor…unconscious. Yes, Esme did something to him, but as Gunther/Olaf seems to be out, they eventually opt to trust Esme with the truth.
And it turns out Count Olaf was Esme’s old acting teacher and she was in league with him the entire time, causing her to push the Baudelaires down the elevator shaft. Fortunately, they land in a net, seeing as it was a trap, and double fortunately, Sunny chews their way to freedom, namely a long tunnel from under Squalor’s building to…well, the remains of their old house, still burned to the ground. The Baudelaires just miss Jacques Snickett and the librarian because Jacques has an identical ankle tattoo as Olaf, and they opt to hide, but they do flag down Mr. and Mrs. Poe to go to an auction where the Baudelaires are sure Count Olaf is auctioning off the Quagmires.
You know, Mrs. Poe seems to think everything she sees is an interesting story to print in her newspaper. Someone needs to explain to her that three sooty orphans standing on the side of the road isn’t interesting.
As it is, the Baudelaires suspect that the Quagmires in are in a large box marked “V.F.D.,” a set of initials that keeps coming up. Bidding goes off between Mr. Poe, Olaf’s dumber henchmen, a now-conscious Jerome, Jacques Snicket, and others until Sunny bids a thousand…dollars? Something? She earned that money, whatever the denomination. But then Count Olaf uses a blade in his cane to show the box was full of very fine doilies, and even though the blade reveals his ankle tattoo, Esme declares she’s smitten with Olaf and will go with him, and a newspaper says the auction house isn’t “in” anymore so everyone rushes out. In the rush, Count Olaf and his crew escape with a previously-auctioned “red herring” statue that really does hold the Quagmires. Jerome is too timid to help and gives up the guardianship, a smart move considering what happened to so many other guardians thus far, and the Baudelaires are off to be raised in a village.
A village known by the initials V.F.D…