Mr Wonka Goes Too Far
The last time we saw Charlie, he was riding high above his home town in the Great Glass Lift. Only a short while before, Mr Wonka had told him that the whole gigantic fabulous Chocolate Factory was his, and now our small friend was returning in triumph with his entire family to take over. The passengers in the Lift (just to remind you) were:
Charlie Bucket, our hero.
Mr Willy Wonka, chocolate-maker extraordinary.
Mr and Mrs Bucket, Charlie's father and mother.
Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, Mr Bucket's father and mother.
Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina, Mrs Bucket's father and mother.
Grandma Josephine, Grandma Georgina and Grandpa George were still in bed, the bed having been pushed on board just before take-off. Grandpa Joe, as you remember, had got out of bed to go around the Chocolate Factory with Charlie.
The Great Glass Lift was a thousand feet up and cruising nicely. The sky was brilliant blue. Everybody on board was wildly excited at the thought of going to live in the famous Chocolate Factory.
Grandpa Joe was singing. Charlie was jumping up and down. Mr and Mrs Bucket were smiling for the first time in years, and the three old ones in the bed were grinning at one another with pink toothless gums.
'What in the world keeps this crazy thing up in the air?' croaked Grandma Josephine.
'Madam,' said Mr Wonka, 'it is not a lift any longer. Lifts only go up and down inside buildings. But now that it has taken us up into the sky, it has become an ELEVATOR. It is THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR.'
'And what keeps it up?' said Grandma Josephine. 'Skyhooks,' said Mr Wonka.
'You amaze me,' said Grandma Josephine.
'Dear lady,' said Mr Wonka, 'you are new to the scene. When you have been with us a little longer, nothing will amaze you.'
'These skyhooks,' said Grandma Josephine. 'I assume one end is hooked on to this contraption we're riding in. Right?'
'Right,' said Mr Wonka.
'What's the other end hooked on to?' said Grandma Josephine.
'Every day,' said Mr Wonka, 'I get deafer and deafer. Remind me, please, to call up my ear doctor the moment we get back.'
'Charlie,' said Grandma Josephine. 'I don't think I trust this gentleman very much.' 'Nor do I,' said Grandma Georgina. 'He footles around.'
Charlie leaned over the bed and whispered to the two old women. 'Please,' he said, 'don't spoil everything. Mr Wonka is a fantastic man. He's my friend. I love him.'
'Charlie's right,' whispered Grandpa Joe, joining the group. 'Now you be quiet, Josie, and don't make trouble.'
'We must hurry!' said Mr Wonka. 'We have so much time and so little to do! No! Wait! Cross that out! Reverse it! Thank you! Now back to the factory!' he cried, clapping his hands once and springing two feet in the air with two feet. 'Back we fly to the factory! But we must go up before we can come down. We must go higher and higher!'
'What did I tell you,' said Grandma Josephine. 'The man's cracked!'
'Be quiet, Josie,' said Grandpa Joe. 'Mr Wonka knows exactly what he's doing.'
'He's cracked as a crab!' said Grandma Georgina.
'We must go higher!' said Mr Wonka. 'We must go tremendously high! Hold on to your stomach!' He pressed a brown button. The Elevator shuddered, and then with a fearful whooshing noise it shot vertically upward like a rocket. Everybody clutched hold of everybody else and as the great machine gathered speed, the rushing whooshing sound of the wind outside grew louder and louder and shriller and shriller until it became a piercing shriek and you had to yell to make yourself heard.
'Stop!' yelled Grandma Josephine. 'Joe, you make him stop! I want to get off!' 'Save us!' yelled Grandma Georgina.
'Go down!' yelled Grandpa George.
'No, no!' Mr Wonka yelled back. 'We've got to go up!'
'But why?' they all shouted at once. 'Why up and not down?'
'Because the higher we are when we start coming down, the faster we'll all be going when we hit,' said Mr Wonka. 'We've got to be going at an absolutely sizzling speed when we hit.'
'When we hit what?' they cried.
'The factory, of course,' answered Mr Wonka.
'You must be whackers,' said Grandma Josephine. 'We'll all be pulpified!'
'We'll be scrambled like eggs!' said Grandma Georgina.
'That,' said Mr Wonka, 'is a chance we shall have to take.'
'You're joking,' said Grandma Josephine. 'Tell us you're joking.'
'Madam,' said Mr Wonka, 'I never joke.'
'Oh, my dears!' cried Grandma Georgina. 'We'll be lixivated, every one of us!'
'More than likely,' said Mr Wonka.
Grandma Josephine screamed and disappeared under the bedclothes, Grandma Georgina clutched Grandpa George so tight he changed shape. Mr and Mrs Bucket stood hugging each other, speechless with fright. Only Charlie and Grandpa Joe kept moderately cool. They had travelled a long way with Mr Wonka and had grown accustomed to surprises. But as the Great Elevator continued to streak upward further and further away from the earth, even Charlie began to feel a trifle nervous. 'Mr Wonka!' he yelled above the noise, 'what I don't understand is why we've got to come down at such a terrific speed.'
'My dear boy,' Mr Wonka answered, 'if we don't come down at a terrific speed, we'll never burst our way back in through the roof of the factory. It's not easy to punch a hole in a roof as strong as that.'
'But there's a hole in it already,' said Charlie. 'We made it when we came out.'
'Then we shall make another,' said Mr Wonka. 'Two holes are better than one. Any mouse will tell you that.'
Higher and higher rushed the Great Glass Elevator until soon they could see the countries and oceans of the Earth spread out below them like a map. It was all very beautiful, but when you are standing on a glass floor looking down, it gives you a nasty feeling. Even Charlie was beginning to feel frightened now. He hung on tightly to Grandpa Joe's hand and looked up anxiously into the old man's face. 'I'm scared, Grandpa,' he said.
Grandpa Joe put an arm around Charlie's shoulders and held him close. 'So am I, Charlie,' he said.
'Mr Wonka!' Charlie shouted. 'Don't you think this is about high enough?'
'Very nearly,' Mr Wonka answered. 'But not quite. Don't talk to me now, please. Don't disturb me. I must watch things very carefully at this stage. Split-second timing, my boy, that's what it's got to be. You see this green button. I must press it at exactly the right instant. If I'm just half a second late, then we'll go too high!'
'What happens if we go too high?' asked Grandpa Joe.
'Do please stop talking and let me concentrate!' Mr Wonka said.
At that precise moment, Grandma Josephine poked her head out from under the sheets and peered over the edge of the bed. Through the glass floor she saw the entire continent of North America nearly two hundred miles below and looking no bigger than a bar of chocolate. 'Someone's got to stop this maniac!' she screeched and she shot out a wrinkled old hand and grabbed Mr Wonka by the coat-tails and yanked him backwards on to the bed.
'No, no!' cried Mr Wonka, struggling to free himself. 'Let me go! I have things to see to! Don't disturb the pilot!'
'You madman!' shrieked Grandma Josephine, shaking Mr Wonka so fast his head became a blur. 'You get us back home this instant!'
'Let me go!' cried Mr Wonka, 'I've got to press that button or we'll go too high! Let me go! Let me go!' But Grandma Josephine hung on. 'Charlie!' shouted Mr Wonka. 'Press the button! The green one! Quick, quick, quick!'
Charlie leaped across the Elevator and banged his thumb down on the green button. But as he did so, the Elevator gave a mighty groan and rolled over on to its side and the rushing whooshing noise stopped altogether. There was an eerie silence.
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