Книга Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Содержание - 24 Veruca in the Nut Room
Shrieks of laughter and snatches of singing could be heard coming through the closed door.
'They're drunk as lords,' said Mr Wonka. 'They're drinking butterscotch and soda. They like that best of all. Buttergin and tonic is also very popular. Follow me, please! We really mustn't keep stopping like this.' He turned left. He turned right. They came to a long flight of stairs. Mr Wonka slid down the banisters. The three children did the same. Mrs Salt and Mrs Teavee, the only women now left in the party, were getting very out of breath. Mrs Salt was a great fat creature with short legs, and she was blowing like a rhinoceros. 'This way!' cried Mr Wonka, turning left at the bottom of the stairs.
'Go slower!' panted Mrs Salt.
'Impossible,' said Mr Wonka. 'We should never get there in time if I did.'
'Get where?' asked Veruca Salt.
'Never you mind,' said Mr Wonka. 'You just wait and see.'
Veruca in the Nut Room
Mr Wonka rushed on down the corridor. THE NUT ROOM, it said on the next door they came to.
'All right,' said Mr Wonka, 'stop here for a moment and catch your breath, and take a peek through the glass panel of this door. But don't go in! Whatever you do, don't go into THE NUT ROOM! If you go in, you'll disturb the squirrels!'
Everyone crowded around the door. 'Oh look, Grandpa, look!' cried Charlie. 'Squirrels!' shouted Veruca Salt. 'Crikey!' said Mike Teavee.
It was an amazing sight. One hundred squirrels were seated upon high stools around a large table. On the table, there were mounds and mounds of walnuts, and the squirrels were all working away like mad, shelling the walnuts at a tremendous speed.
'These squirrels are specially trained for getting the nuts out of walnuts,' Mr Wonka explained.
'Why use squirrels?' Mike Teavee asked. 'Why not use Oompa-Loompas?'
'Because,' said Mr Wonka, 'Oompa-Loompas can't get walnuts out of walnut shells in one piece. They always break them in two. Nobody except squirrels can get walnuts whole out of walnut shells every time. It is extremely difficult. But in my factory, I insist upon only whole walnuts. Therefore I have to have squirrels to do the job. Aren't they wonderful, the way they get those nuts out! And see how they first tap each walnut with their knuckles to be sure it's not a bad one! If it's bad, it makes a hollow sound, and they don't bother to open it. They just throw it down the rubbish chute. There! Look! Watch that squirrel nearest to us! I think he's got a bad one now!'
They watched the little squirrel as he tapped the walnut shell with his knuckles. He cocked his head to one side, listening intently, then suddenly he threw the nut over his shoulder into a large hole in the floor.
'Hey, Mummy!' shouted Veruca Salt suddenly, 'I've decided I want a squirrel! Get me one of those squirrels!'
'Don't be silly, sweetheart,' said Mrs Salt. 'These all belong to Mr Wonka.'
'I don't care about that!' shouted Veruca. 'I want one. All I've got at home is two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits and two parakeets and three canaries and a green parrot and a turtle and a bowl of goldfish and a cage of white mice and a silly old hamster! I want a squirrel!'
'All right, my pet,' Mrs Salt said soothingly. 'Mummy'll get you a squirrel just as soon as she possibly can.'
'But I don't want any old squirrel!' Veruca shouted. 'I want a trained squirrel!'
At this point, Mr Salt, Veruca's father, stepped forward. 'Very well, Wonka,' he said importantly, taking out a wallet full of money, 'how much d'you want for one of these squirrels? Name your price.'
'They're not for sale,' Mr Wonka answered. 'She can't have one.'
'Who says I can't!' shouted Veruca. 'I'm going in to get myself one this very minute!'
'Don't!' said Mr Wonka quickly, but he was too late. The girl had already thrown open the door and rushed in.
The moment she entered the room, one hundred squirrels stopped what they were doing and turned their heads and stared at her with small black beady eyes.
Veruca Salt stopped also, and stared back at them. Then her gaze fell upon a pretty little squirrel sitting nearest to her at the end of the table. The squirrel was holding a walnut in its paws.
'All right,' Veruca said, 'I'll have you!'
She reached out her hands to grab the squirrel … but as she did so … in that first split second when her hands started to go forward, there was a sudden flash of movement in the room, like a flash of brown lightning, and every single squirrel around the table took a flying leap towards her and landed on her body.
Twenty-five of them caught hold of her right arm, and pinned it down. Twenty-five more caught hold of her left arm, and pinned that down. Twenty-five caught hold of her right leg and anchored it to the ground.
Twenty-four caught hold of her left leg.
And the one remaining squirrel (obviously the leader of them all) climbed up on to her shoulder and started tap-tap-tapping the wretched girl's head with its knuckles.
'Save her!' screamed Mrs Salt. 'Veruca! Come back! What are they doing to her?' 'They're testing her to see if she's a bad nut,' said Mr Wonka. 'You watch.'
Veruca struggled furiously, but the squirrels held her tight and she couldn't move. The squirrel on her shoulder went tap-tap-tapping the side of her head with his knuckles.
Then all at once, the squirrels pulled Veruca to the ground and started carrying her across the floor.
'My goodness, she is a bad nut after all,' said Mr Wonka. 'Her head must have sounded quite hollow.'
Veruca kicked and screamed, but it was no use. The tiny strong paws held her tightly and she couldn't escape.
'Where are they taking her?' shrieked Mrs Salt.
'She's going where all the other bad nuts go,' said Mr Willy Wonka. 'Down the rubbish chute.'
'By golly, she is going down the chute!' said Mr Salt, staring through the glass door at his daughter.
'Then save her!' cried Mrs Salt.
'Too late,' said Mr Wonka. 'She's gone!'
And indeed she had.
'But where?' shrieked Mrs Salt, flapping her arms. 'What happens to the bad nuts? Where does the chute go to?'
'That particular chute,' Mr Wonka told her, 'runs directly into the great big main rubbish pipe which carries away all the rubbish from every part of the factory – all the floor sweepings and potato peelings and rotten cabbages and fish heads and stuff like that.'
'Who eats fish and cabbage and potatoes in this factory, I'd like to know?' said Mike Teavee.
'I do, of course,' answered Mr Wonka. 'You don't think I live on cacao beans, do you?'
'But … but … but …' shrieked Mrs Salt, 'where does the great big pipe go to in the end?' 'Why, to the furnace, of course,' Mr Wonka said calmly. 'To the incinerator.' Mrs Salt opened her huge red mouth and started to scream.
'Don't worry,' said Mr Wonka, 'there's always a chance that they've decided not to light it today.'
'A chance!' yelled Mrs Salt. 'My darling Veruca! She'll … she'll … she'll be sizzled like a sausage!'
'Quite right, my dear,' said Mr Salt. 'Now see here, Wonka,' he added, 'I think you've gone just a shade too far this time, I do indeed. My daughter may be a bit of a frump – I don't mind admitting it – but that doesn't mean you can roast her to a crisp. I'll have you know I'm extremely cross about this, I really am.'
'Oh, don't be cross, my dear sir!' said Mr Wonka. 'I expect she'll turn up again sooner or later. She may not even have gone down at all. She may be stuck in the chute just below the entrance hole, and if that's the case, all you'll have to do is go in and pull her up again.'
Hearing this, both Mr and Mrs Salt dashed into the Nut Room and ran over to the hole in the floor and peered in.