Книга Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Содержание - 4 The President
'My dear boy,' said Mr Wonka. 'You can't swim in this stuff. It isn't water, you know. It's air and very thin air at that. There's nothing to push against. So you have to use jet propulsion. Watch me. First, you take a deep breath, then you make a small round hole with your mouth and you blow as hard as you can. If you blow downward, you jet-propel yourself up. If you blow to the left, you shoot off to the right and so on. You manoeuvre yourself like a spacecraft, but using your mouth as a booster rocket.'
Suddenly everyone began practising this business of flying about, and the whole Elevator was filled with the blowings and snortings of the passengers. Grandma Georgina, in her red flannel nightgown with two skinny bare legs sticking out of the bottom, was trumpeting and spitting like a rhinoceros and flying from one side of the Elevator to the other, shouting 'Out of my way! Out of my way!' and crashing into poor Mr and Mrs Bucket with terrible speed. Grandpa George and Grandma Josephine were doing the same. And well may you wonder what the millions of people down on earth were thinking as they watched these crazy happenings on their television screens. You must realize they couldn't see things very clearly. The Great Glass Elevator was only about the size of a grapefruit on their screens, and the people inside, slightly blurred through the glass, were no bigger than the pips of the grapefruit. Even so, the watchers below could see them buzzing about wildly like insects in a glass box.
'What in the world are they doing?' shouted the President of the United States, staring at the screen.
'Looks like some kind of a war-dance, Mr President,' answered astronaut Showler over the radio.
'You mean they're Red Indians!' said the President.
'I didn't say that, sir.'
'Oh, yes you did, Showler.'
'Oh, no I didn't, Mr President.'
'Silence!' said the President. 'You're muddling me up.'
Back in the Elevator, Mr Wonka was saying, 'Please! Please! Do stop flying about! Keep still everybody so we can get on with the docking!'
'You miserable old mackerel!' said Grandma Georgina, sailing past him. 'Just when we start having a bit of fun, you want to stop it!'
'Look at me, everybody!' shouted Grandma Josephine. 'I'm flying! I'm a golden eagle!'
'I can fly faster than any of you!' cried Grandpa George, whizzing round and round, his nightgown billowing out behind him like the tail of a parrot.
'Grandpa George!' cried Charlie. 'Do please calm down. If we don't hurry, those astronauts will get there before us. Don't you want to see inside the Space Hotel, any of you?'
'Out of my way!' shouted Grandma Georgina, blowing herself back and forth. 'I'm a jumbo jet!'
'You're a balmy old bat!' said Mr Wonka.
In the end, the old people grew tired and out of breath, and everyone settled quietly into a floating position.
'All set, Charlie and Grandpa Joe, sir?' said Mr Wonka.
'All set, Mr Wonka,' Charlie answered, hovering near the ceiling.
'I'll give the orders,' said Mr Wonka. 'I'm the pilot. Don't fire your rockets until I tell you. And don't forget who is who. Charlie, you're port. Grandpa Joe, you're starboard.' Mr Wonka pressed one of his own two buttons and immediately booster rockets began firing underneath the Great Glass Elevator. The Elevator leaped forward, but swerved violently to the right. 'Hard a-port!' yelled Mr Wonka. Charlie pressed his button. His rockets fired. The Elevator swung back into line. 'Steady as you go!' cried Mr Wonka. 'Starboard ten degrees! … Steady! … Steady! … Keep her there! …'
Soon they were hovering directly underneath the tail of the enormous silvery Space Hotel. 'You see that little square door with the bolts on it?' said Mr Wonka. 'That's the docking entrance. It won't be long now … Port a fraction! … Steady! … Starboard a bit! … Good … Good … Easy does it … we're nearly there …'
To Charlie, it felt rather as though he were in a tiny row-boat underneath the stern of the biggest ship in the world. The Space Hotel towered over them. It was enormous. 'I can't wait,' thought Charlie, 'to get inside and see what it's like.'
Half a mile back, Shuckworth, Shanks and Showler were keeping the television camera aimed all the time at the Glass Elevator. And across the world, millions and millions of people were clustered around their TV screens, watching tensely the drama being acted out two hundred and forty miles above the earth. In his study in the White House sat Lancelot R. Gilligrass, President of the United States of America, the most powerful man on Earth. In this moment of crisis, all his most important advisers had been summoned urgently to his presence, and there they all were now, following closely on the giant television screen every move made by this dangerous-looking glass capsule and its eight desperate-looking astronauts. The entire Cabinet was present. The Chief of the Army was there, together with four other generals. There was the Chief of the Navy and the Chief of the Air Force and a sword-swallower from Afghanistan, who was the President's best friend. There was the President's Chief Financial Adviser, who was standing in the middle of the room trying to balance the budget on top of his head, but it kept falling off. Standing nearest of all to the President was the Vice-President, a huge lady of eighty-nine with a whiskery chin. She had been the President's nurse when he was a baby and her name was Miss Tibbs. Miss Tibbs was the power behind the throne. She stood no nonsense from anyone. Some people said she was as strict with the President now as when he was a little boy. She was the terror of the White House and even the Head of the Secret Service broke into a sweat when summoned to her presence. Only the President was allowed to call her Nanny. The President's famous cat, Mrs Taubsypuss, was also in the room.
There was absolute silence now in the Presidential study. All eyes were riveted on the TV screen as the small glass object, with its booster-rockets firing, slid smoothly up behind the giant Space Hotel.
'They're going to link up!' shouted the President. 'They're going on board our Space Hotel!'
'They're going to blow it up!' cried the Chief of the Army. 'Let's blow them up first, crash bang wallop bang-bang-bang-bang.' The Chief of the Army was wearing so many medal-ribbons they covered the entire front of his tunic on both sides and spread down on to his trousers as well. 'Come on, Mr P.,' he said. 'Let's have some really super-duper explosions!'
'Silence, you silly boy!' said Miss Tibbs, and the Chief of the Army slunk into a corner.
'Listen,' said the President. 'The point is this. Who are they? And where do they come from? Where's my Chief Spy?'
'Here, sir, Mr President, sir!' said the Chief Spy.
He had a false moustache, a false beard, false eyelashes, false teeth and a falsetto voice.
'Knock-Knock,' said the President.
'Who's there?' said the Chief Spy.
'Courteney one yet?' said the President.
There was a brief silence. 'The President asked you a question,' said Miss Tibbs in an icy voice. 'Have you Courteney one yet?'
'No, ma'am, not yet,' said the Chief Spy, beginning to twitch. 'Well, here's your chance,' snarled Miss Tibbs.
'Quite right,' said the President. 'Tell me immediately who those people are in that glass capsule!'
'Ah-ha,' said the Chief Spy, twirling his false moustache. 'That is a very difficult question.' 'You mean you don't know?'
'I mean I do know, Mr President. At least I think I know. Listen. We have just launched the finest hotel in the world. Right?'
'And who is so madly jealous of this wonderful hotel of ours that he wants to blow it up?'