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13

How Wonka-Vite Was Invented

'I haven't been out of this bed in twenty years and I'm not getting out now for anybody!' said Grandma Josephine firmly.

'Nor me,' said Grandma Georgina.

'You were out of it just now, every one of you,' said Mr Wonka.

'That was floating,' said Grandpa George. 'We couldn't help it.'

'We never put our feet on the floor,' said Grandma Josephine.

'Try it,' said Mr Wonka. 'You might surprise yourself

'Go on, Josie,' said Grandpa Joe. 'Give it a try. I did. It was easy.'

'We're perfectly comfortable where we are, thank you very much,' said Grandma Josephine.

Mr Wonka sighed and shook his head very slowly and very sadly. 'Oh well,' he said, 'so that's that.' He laid his head on one side and gazed thoughtfully at the three old people in the bed, and Charlie, watching him closely, saw those bright little eyes of his beginning to spark and twinkle once again.

Ha-ha, thought Charlie. What's coming now?

'I suppose,' said Mr Wonka, placing the tip of one finger on the point of his nose and pressing gently, 'I suppose … because this is a very special case … I suppose I could spare you just a tiny little bit of …' He stopped and shook his head.

'A tiny little bit of what?' said Grandma Josephine sharply.

'No,' said Mr Wonka. 'It's pointless. You seem to have decided to stay in that bed whatever happens. And anyway, the stuff is much too precious to waste. I'm sorry I mentioned it.' He started to walk away.

'Hey!' shouted Grandma Georgina. 'You can't begin something and not go on with it! What is too precious to waste?'

Mr Wonka stopped. Slowly he turned around. He looked long and hard at the three old people in the bed. They looked back at him, waiting. He kept silent a little longer, allowing their curiosity to grow. The Oompa-Loompas stood absolutely still behind him, watching.

'What is this thing you're talking about?' said Grandma Georgina. 'Get on with it, for heaven's sake!' said Grandma Josephine.

'Very well,' Mr Wonka said at last. 'I'll tell you. And listen carefully because this could change your whole lives. It could even change you.'

'I don't want to be changed!' shouted Grandma Georgina.

'May I go on, madam? Thank you. Not long ago, I was fooling about in my Inventing Room, stirring stuff around and mixing things up the way I do every afternoon at four o'clock, when suddenly I found I had made something that seemed very unusual. This thing I had made kept changing colour as I looked at it, and now and again it gave a little jump, it actually jumped up in the air, as though it were alive. "What have we here?" I cried, and I rushed it quickly to the Testing Room and gave some to the Oompa-Loompa who was on duty there at the time. The result was immediate! It was flabbergasting! It was unbelievable! It was also rather unfortunate.'

'What happened?' said Grandma Georgina, sitting up.

'What indeed,' said Mr Wonka.

'Answer her question,' said Grandma Josephine. 'What happened to the Oompa-Loompa?'

'Ah,' said Mr Wonka, 'yes … well … there's no point in crying over spilled milk, is there? I realized, you see, that I had stumbled upon a new and tremendously powerful vitamin, and I also knew that if only I could make it safe, if only I could stop it doing to others what it did to that Oompa-Loompa …'

'What did it do to that Oompa-Loompa?' said Grandma Georgina sternly.

'The older I get, the deafer I become,' said Mr Wonka. 'Do please raise your voice a trifle next time. Thank you so much. Now then. I simply had to find a way of making this stuff safe, so that people could take it without … er …'

'Without what?' snapped Grandma Georgina.

'Without a leg to stand on,' said Mr Wonka. 'So I rolled up my sleeves and set to work once more in the Inventing Room. I mixed and I mixed. I must have tried just about every mixture under the moon. By the way, there is a little hole in one wall of the Inventing Room which connects directly with the Testing Room next door, so I was able all the time to keep passing stuff through for testing to whichever brave volunteer happened to be on duty. Well, the first few weeks were pretty depressing and we won't talk about them. Let me tell you instead what happened on the one hundred and thirty-second day of my labours. That morning, I had changed the mixture drastically, and this time the little pill I produced at the end of it all was not nearly so active or alive as the others had been. It kept changing colour, yes, but only from lemon-yellow to blue, then back to yellow again. And when I placed it on the palm of my hand, it didn't jump about like a grasshopper. It only quivered, and then ever so slightly.

'I ran to the hole in the wall that led to the Testing Room. A very old Oompa-Loompa was on duty there that morning. He was a bald, wrinkled, toothless old fellow. He was in a wheel-chair. He had been in the wheel-chair for at least fifteen years.

'"This is test number one hundred and thirty-two!" I said, chalking it up on the board.

'I handed him the pill. He looked at it nervously. I couldn't blame him for being a bit jittery after what had happened to the other one hundred and thirty-one volunteers.'

'What had happened to them?' shouted Grandma Georgina. 'Why don't you answer the question instead of skidding around it on two wheels?'

'Who knows the way out of a rose?' said Mr Wonka. 'So this brave old Oompa-Loompa took the pill and, with the help of a little water, he gulped it down. And then, suddenly, the most amazing thing happened. Before my very eyes, queer little changes began taking place in the way he looked. A moment earlier, he had been practically bald, with just a fringe of snowy white hair around the sides and the back of his head. But now the fringe of white hair was turning gold and all over the top of his head new gold hair was beginning to sprout, like grass. In less than half a minute, he had grown a splendid new crop of long golden hair. At the same time, many of the wrinkles started disappearing from his face, not all of them, but about half, enough to make him look a good deal younger, and all of this must have given him a nice tickly feeling because he started grinning at me, then laughing, and as soon as he opened his mouth, I saw the strangest sight of all. Teeth were growing up out from those old toothless gums, good white teeth, and they were coming up so fast I could actually see them getting bigger and bigger.

'I was too flabbergasted to speak. I just stood there with my head poking through the hole in the wall, staring at the little Oompa-Loompa. I saw him slowly lifting himself out of his wheel-chair. He tested his legs on the ground. He stood up. He walked a few paces. Then he looked up at me and his face was bright. His eyes were huge and bright as two stars.

'"Look at me," he said softly. "I'm walking! It's a miracle!"

'"It's Wonka-Vite!" I said. "The great rejuvenator. It makes you young again. How old do you feel now?"

'He thought carefully about this question, then he said, "I feel almost exactly how I felt when I was fifty years old."

'"How old were you just now, before you took the Wonka-Vite?" I asked him.

'"Seventy last birthday," he answered.

"That means," I said, "it has made you twenty years younger."

'"It has, it has!" he cried, delighted. "I feel as frisky as a froghopper!"

'"Not frisky enough," I told him. "Fifty is still pretty old. Let us see if I can't help you a bit more. Stay right where you are. I'll be back in a twink."

'I ran to my work-bench and began to make one more pill of Wonka-Vite, using exactly the same mixture as before.

'"Swallow this," I said, passing the second pill through the hatch. There was no hesitating this time. Eagerly, he popped it into his mouth and chased it down with a drink of water. And behold, within half a minute, another twenty years had fallen away from his face and body and he was now a slim and sprightly young Oompa-Loompa of thirty. He gave a whoop of joy and started dancing around the room, leaping high in the air and coming down on his toes. "Are you happy?" I asked him.

'"I'm ecstatic!" he cried, jumping up and down. "I'm happy as a horse in a hay-field!" He ran out of the Testing Room to show himself off to his family and friends.

'Thus was Wonka-Vite invented!' said Mr Wonka. 'And thus was it made safe for all to use!'

'Why don't you use it yourself, then?' said Grandma Georgina. 'You told Charlie you were getting too old to run the factory, so why don't you just take a couple of pills and get forty years younger? Tell me that?'

'Anyone can ask questions,' said Mr Wonka. 'It's the answers that count. Now then, if the three of you in the bed would care to try a dose …'

'Just one minute!' said Grandma Josephine, sitting up straight. 'First I'd like to take a look at this seventy-year-old Oompa-Loompa who is now back to thirty!'

Mr Wonka flicked his fingers. A tiny Oompa-Loompa, looking young and perky, ran forward out of the crowd and did a marvellous little dance in front of the three old people in the big bed. 'Two weeks ago, he was seventy years old and in a wheel-chair!' Mr Wonka said proudly. 'And look at him now!'

'The drums, Charlie!' said Grandpa Joe. 'Listen! They're starting up again!'

Far away down on the bank of the chocolate river, Charlie could see the Oompa-Loompa band striking up once more. There were twenty Oompa-Loompas in the band, each with an enormous drum twice as tall as himself, and they were beating a slow mysterious rhythm that soon had all the other hundreds of Oompa-Loompas swinging and swaying from side to side in a kind of trance. They then began to chant:

'If you are old and have the shakes,

If all your bones are full of aches,

If you can hardly walk at all,

If living drives you up the wall,

If you're a grump and full of spite,

If you're a human parasite,

THEN WHAT YOU NEED IS WONKA-VITE!

Your eyes will shine, your hair will grow,

Your face and skin will start to glow,

Your rotten teeth will all drop out

And in their place new teeth will sprout.

Those rolls of fat around your hips

Will vanish, and your wrinkled lips

Will get so soft and rosy-pink

That all the boys will smile and wink

And whisper secretly that this

Is just the girl they want to kiss!

But wait! For that is not the most

Important thing of which to boast.

Good looks you'll have, we've told you so,

But looks aren't everything, you know.

Each pill, as well, to you will give

AN EXTRA TWENTY YEARS TO LIVE!

So come, old friends, and do what's right!

Let's make your lives as bright as bright!

Let's take a dose of this delight!

This heavenly magic dynamite!

You can't go wrong, you must go right!

IT'S WILLY WONKA'S WONKA-VITE!'


12 Back to the Chocolate Factory | Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator | 14 Recipe for Wonka-Vite







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