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Книга Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Содержание - 6 Invitation to the White House

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'I'll get you a nice warm glass of milk,' said Miss Tibbs.

'I hate the stuff,' said the President. 'Please don't make me drink it!'

'Summon the Chief Interpreter,' said Miss Tibbs.

'Summon the Chief Interpreter!' said the President. 'Where is he?'

'Right here, Mr President,' said the Chief Interpreter.

'What language was that creature spouting up there in the Space Hotel? Be quick! Was it Eskimo?'

'Not Eskimo, Mr President.'

'Ha! Then it was Tagalog! Either Tagalog or Ugro!'

'Not Tagalog, Mr President. Not Ugro, either.'

'Was it Tulu, then? Or Tungus or Tupi?'

'Definitely not Tulu, Mr President. And I'm quite sure it wasn't Tungus or Tupi.'

'Don't stand there telling him what it wasn't, you idiot!' said Miss Tibbs. 'Tell him what it was!'

'Yes, ma'am, Miss Vice-President, ma'am,' said the Chief Interpreter, beginning to shake. 'Believe me, Mr President,' he went on, 'it was not a language I have ever heard before.'

'But I thought you knew every language in the world?' 'I do, Mr President.'

'Don't lie to me, Chief Interpreter. How can you possibly know every language in the world when you don't know this one?'

'It is not a language of this world, Mr President.'

'Nonsense, man!' barked Miss Tibbs. 'I understood some of it myself!'

'These people, Miss Vice-President, ma'am, have obviously tried to learn just a few of our easier words, but the rest of it is a language that has never been heard before on this Earth!'

'Screaming scorpions!' cried the President. 'You mean to tell me they could be coming from … from … from somewhere else?'

'Precisely, Mr President.' 'Like where?' said the President.

'Who knows?' said the Chief Interpreter. 'But did you not notice, Mr President, how they used the words Venus and Mars?'

'Of course I noticed it,' said the President. 'But what's that got to do with it? … Ah-ha! I see what you're driving at! Good gracious me! Men from Mars!'

'And Venus,' said the Chief Interpreter. 'That,' said the President, 'could make for trouble.' 'I'll say it could!' said the Chief Interpreter. 'He wasn't talking to you,' said Miss Tibbs. 'What do we do now, General?' said the President. 'Blow 'em up!' cried the General.

'You're always wanting to blow things up,' said the President crossly. 'Can't you think of something else?'

'I like blowing things up,' said the General. 'It makes such a lovely noise. Woomph-woomph!'

'Don't be a fool!' said Miss Tibbs. 'If you blow these people up, Mars will declare war on us!

So will Venus!'

'Quite right, Nanny,' said the President. 'We'd be troculated like turkeys, every one of us! We'd be mashed like potatoes!'

'I'll take 'em on!' shouted the Chief of the Army.

'Shut up!' snapped Miss Tibbs. 'You're fired!'

'Hooray!' said all the other generals. 'Well done, Miss Vice-President, ma'am!'

Miss Tibbs said, 'We've got to treat these fellows gently. The one who spoke just now sounded extremely cross. We've got to be polite to them, butter them up, make them happy. The last thing we want is to be invaded by men from Mars! You've got to talk to them, Mr President. Tell Houston we want another direct radio link with the Space Hotel. And hurry!'


Invitation to the White House

'The President of the United States will now address you!' announced the loudspeaker voice in the lobby of the Space Hotel.

Grandma Georgina's head peeped cautiously out from under the sheets. Grandma Josephine took her fingers out of her ears and Grandpa George lifted his face out of the pillow.

'You mean he's actually going to speak to us?' whispered Charlie. 'Ssshhh!' said Mr Wonka. 'Listen!'

'Dear friends!' said the well-known Presidential voice over the loudspeaker. 'Dear, dear friends! Welcome to Space Hotel "U.S.A." Greetings to the brave astronauts from Mars and Venus …'

'Mars and Venus!' whispered Charlie. 'You mean he thinks we're from …'

'Ssshh-ssshh-ssshh!' said Mr Wonka. He was doubled up with silent laughter, shaking all over and hopping from one foot to the other.

'You have come a long way,' the President continued, 'so why don't you come just a tiny bit farther and pay us a visit down here on our humble little Earth? I invite all eight of you to stay with me here in Washington as my honoured guests. You could land that wonderful glass air-machine of yours on the lawn in back of the White House. We shall have the red carpet out and ready. I do hope you know enough of our language to understand me. I shall wait most anxiously for your reply …'

There was a click and the President went off the air.

'What a fantastic thing!' whispered Grandpa Joe. 'The White House, Charlie! We're invited to the White House as honoured guests!'

Charlie caught hold of Grandpa Joe's hands and the two of them started dancing round and round the lobby of the hotel. Mr Wonka, still shaking with laughter, went and sat down on the bed and signalled everyone to gather round close so they could whisper without being heard by the hidden microphones.

'They're scared to death,' he whispered. 'They won't bother us any more now. So let's have that feast we were talking about and afterwards we can explore the hotel.'

'Aren't we going to the White House?' whispered Grandma Josephine. 'I want to go to the White House and stay with the President.'

'My dear old dotty dumpling,' said Mr Wonka. 'You look as much like a man from Mars as a bedbug! They'd know at once they'd been fooled. We'd be arrested before we could say how d'you do.'

Mr Wonka was right. There could be no question of accepting the President's invitation and they all knew it.

'But we've got to say something to him,' Charlie whispered. 'He must be sitting down there in the White House this very minute waiting for an answer.'

'Make an excuse,' said Mr Bucket.

'Tell him we're otherwise engaged,' said Mrs Bucket.

'You are right,' whispered Mr Wonka. 'It is rude to ignore an invitation.' He stood up and walked a few paces from the group. For a moment or two he remained quite still, gathering his thoughts. Then once again Charlie saw those tiny twinkling smiling wrinkles around the corners of the eyes, and when he began to speak, his voice this time was like the voice of a giant, deep and devilish, very loud and very slow:

'In the quelchy quaggy sogmire,
In the mashy mideous harshland,
At the witchy hour of gloomness,
All the grobes come oozing home.
You can hear them softly slimeing,
Glissing hissing o'er the slubber,
All those oily boily bodies
Oozing onward in the gloam.
So start to run! Oh, skid and daddle
Through the slubber slush and sossel!
Skip jump hop and try to skaddle!
All the grobes are on the roam!'

In his study two hundred and forty thousand miles below, the President turned white as the White House. 'Jumping jack-rabbits!' he cried. 'I think they're after us!'

'Oh, please let me blow them up!' said the Ex-Chief of the Army. 'Silence!' said Miss Tibbs. 'Go stand in the corner!'

In the lobby of the Space Hotel, Mr Wonka had merely paused in order to think up another verse, and he was just about to start off again when a frightful piercing scream stopped him cold. The screamer was Grandma Josephine. She was sitting up in bed and pointing with a shaking finger at the lifts at the far end of the lobby. She screamed a second time, still pointing, and all eyes turned toward the lifts. The door of the one on the left was sliding slowly open and the watchers could clearly see that there was something … something thick … something brown … something not exactly brown, but greenish-brown … something with slimy skin and large eyes … squatting inside the lift!

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