Charlie and the chocolat.., p.3
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       Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, p.3

         Part #1 of Charlie Bucket series by Roald Dahl
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  The chance had to be there.

  This particular bar of chocolate had as much chance as any other of having a Golden Ticket.

  And that was why all the grandparents and parents in the room were actually just as tense and excited as Charlie was, although they were pretending to be very calm.

  'You'd better go ahead and open it up, or you'll be late for school,' Grandpa Joe said.

  'You might as well get it over with,' Grandpa George said.

  'Open it, my dear,' Grandma Georgina said. 'Please open it. You're making me jumpy.'

  Very slowly, Charlie's fingers began to tear open one small corner of the wrapping paper.

  The old people in the bed all leaned forward, craning their scraggy necks.

  Then suddenly, as though he couldn't bear the suspense any longer, Charlie tore the wrapper right down the middle... and on to his lap, there fell... a light-brown creamy-coloured bar of chocolate.

  There was no sign of a Golden Ticket anywhere.

  'Well - that's that!' said Grandpa Joe brightly. 'It's just what we expected.'

  Charlie looked up. Four kind old faces were watching him intently from the bed. He smiled at them, a small sad smile, and then he shrugged his shoulders and picked up the chocolate bar and held it out to his mother, and said, 'Here, Mother, have a bit. We'll share it. I want everybody to taste it.'

  'Certainly not!' his mother said.

  And the others all cried, 'No, no! We wouldn't dream of it! It's all yours!'

  'Please,' begged Charlie, turning round and offering it to Grandpa Joe.

  But neither he nor anyone else would take even a tiny bit.

  'It's time to go to school, my darling,' Mrs Bucket said, putting an arm around Charlie's skinny shoulders. 'Come on, or you'll be late.'

  8

  Two More Golden Tickets Found

  That evening, Mr Bucket's newspaper announced the finding of not only the third Golden Ticket, but the fourth as well. TWO GOLDEN TICKETS FOUND TODAY, screamed the headlines. ONLY ONE MORE LEFT.

  'All right,' said Grandpa Joe, when the whole family was gathered in the old people's room after supper, 'let's hear who found them.'

  'The third ticket,' read Mr Bucket, holding the newspaper up close to his face because his eyes were bad and he couldn't afford glasses, 'the third ticket was found by a Miss Violet Beauregarde. There was great excitement in the Beauregarde household when our reporter arrived to interview the lucky young lady - cameras were clicking and flashbulbs were flashing and people were pushing and jostling and trying to get a bit closer to the famous girl. And the famous girl was standing on a chair in the living room waving the Golden Ticket madly at arm's length as though she were flagging a taxi. She was talking very fast and very loudly to everyone, but it was not easy to hear all that she said because she was chewing so ferociously upon a piece of gum at the same time.

  ' "I'm a gum chewer, normally," she shouted, "but when I heard about these ticket things of Mr Wonka's, I gave up gum and started on chocolate bars in the hope of striking lucky. Now, of course, I'm back on gum. I just adore gum. I can't do without it. I munch it all day long except for a few minutes at mealtimes when I take it out and stick it behind my ear for safekeeping. To tell you the truth, I simply wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't have that little wedge of gum to chew on every moment of the day, I really wouldn't. My mother says it's not ladylike and it looks ugly to see a girl's jaws going up and down like mine do all the time, but I don't agree. And who's she to criticize, anyway, because if you ask me, I'd say that her jaws are going up and down almost as much as mine are just from yelling at me every minute of the day."

  ' "Now, Violet," Mrs Beauregarde said from a far corner of the room where she was standing on the piano to avoid being trampled by the mob.

  ' "All right, Mother, keep your hair on!" Miss Beauregarde shouted. "And now," she went on, turning to the reporters again, "it may interest you to know that this piece of gum I'm chewing right at this moment is one I've been working on for over three months solid. That's a record, that is. It's beaten the record held by my best friend, Miss Cornelia Prinzmetel. And was she furious! It's my most treasured possession now, this piece of gum is. At night-time, I just stick it on the end of the bedpost, and it's as good as ever in the mornings -a bit hard at first, maybe, but it soon softens up again after I've given it a few good chews. Before I started chewing for the world record, I used to change my piece of gum once a day. I used to do it in our lift on the way home from school. Why the lift? Because I liked sticking the gooey piece that I'd just finished with on to one of the control buttons. Then the next person who came along and pressed the button got my old gum on the end of his or her finger. Ha-ha! And what a racket they kicked up, some of them. You get the best results with women who have expensive gloves on. Oh yes, I'm thrilled to be going to Mr Wonka's factory. And I understand that afterwards he's going to give me enough gum to last me for the rest of my whole life. Whoopee! Hooray!" '

  'Beastly girl,' said Grandma Josephine.

  'Despicable!' said Grandma Georgina. 'She'll come to a sticky end one day, chewing all that gum, you see if she doesn't.'

  'And who got the fourth Golden Ticket?' Charlie asked.

  'Now, let me see,' said Mr Bucket, peering at the newspaper again. 'Ah yes, here we are. The fourth Golden Ticket,' he read, 'was found by a boy called Mike Teavee.'

  'Another bad lot, I'll be bound,' muttered Grandma Josephine.

  'Don't interrupt, Grandma,' said Mrs Bucket.

  'The Teavee household,' said Mr Bucket, going on with his reading, 'was crammed, like all the others, with excited visitors when our reporter arrived, but young Mike Teavee, the lucky winner, seemed extremely annoyed by the whole business. "Can't you fools see I'm watching television?" he said angrily. "I wish you wouldn't interrupt!"

  'The nine-year-old boy was seated before an enormous television set, with his eyes glued to the screen, and he was watching a film in which one bunch of gangsters was shooting up another bunch of gangsters with machine guns. Mike Teavee himself had no less than eighteen toy pistols of various sizes hanging from belts around his body, and every now and again he would leap up into the air and fire off half a dozen rounds from one or another of these weapons.

  ' "Quiet!" he shouted, when someone tried to ask him a question. "Didn't I tell you not to interrupt! This show's an absolute whiz-banger! It's terrific! I watch it every day. I watch all of them every day, even the rotten ones, where there's no shooting. I like the gangsters best. They're terrific, those gangsters! Especially when they start pumping each other full of lead, or flashing the old stilettos, or giving each other the one-two-three with their knuckledusters! Gosh, what wouldn't I give to be doing that myself! It's the life, I tell you! It's terrific!" '

  'That's quite enough!' snapped Grandma Josephine. 'I can't bear to listen to it!'

  'Nor me,' said Grandma Georgina. 'Do all children behave like this nowadays - like these brats we've been hearing about?'

  'Of course not,' said Mr Bucket, smiling at the old lady in the bed. 'Some do, of course. In fact, quite a lot of them do. But not all.'

  'And now there's only one ticket left!' said Grandpa George.

  'Quite so,' sniffed Grandma Georgina. 'And just as sure as I'll be having cabbage soup for supper tomorrow, that ticket'll go to some nasty little beast who doesn't deserve it!'

  9

  Grandpa Joe Takes a Gamble

  The next day, when Charlie came home from school and went in to see his grandparents, he found that only Grandpa Joe was awake. The other three were all snoring loudly.

  'Ssshh!' whispered Grandpa Joe, and he beckoned Charlie to come closer. Charlie tiptoed over and stood beside the bed. The old man gave Charlie a sly grin, and then he started rummaging under his pillow with one hand; and when the hand came out again, there was an ancient leather purse clutched in the fingers. Under cover of the bedclothes, the old man opened the purse and tipped it upside down. Out fell a si
ngle silver sixpence. 'It's my secret hoard,' he whispered. 'The others don't know I've got it. And now, you and I are going to have one more fling at finding that last ticket. How about it, eh? But you'll have to help me.'

  'Are you sure you want to spend your money on that, Grandpa?' Charlie whispered.

  'Of course I'm sure!' spluttered the old man excitedly. 'Don't stand there arguing! I'm as keen as you are to find that ticket! Here - take the money and run down the street to the nearest shop and buy the first Wonka bar you see and bring it straight back to me, and we'll open it together.'

  Charlie took the little silver coin, and slipped quickly out of the room. In five minutes, he was back.

  'Have you got it?' whispered Grandpa Joe, his eyes shining with excitement.

  Charlie nodded and held out the bar of chocolate. WONKA'S NUTTY CRUNCH SURPRISE, it said on the wrapper.

  'Good!' the old man whispered, sitting up in the bed and rubbing his hands. 'Now - come over here and sit close to me and we'll open it together. Are you ready?'

  'Yes,' Charlie said. 'I'm ready.'

  'All right. You tear off the first bit.'

  'No,' Charlie said, 'you paid for it. You do it all.'

  The old man's fingers were trembling most terribly as they fumbled with the wrapper. 'We don't have a hope, really,' he whispered, giggling a bit. 'You do know we don't have a hope, don't you?'

  'Yes,' Charlie said. 'I know that.'

  They looked at each other, and both started giggling nervously.

  'Mind you,' said Grandpa Joe, 'there is just that tiny chance that it might be the one, don't you agree?'

  'Yes,' Charlie said. 'Of course. Why don't you open it, Grandpa?'

  'All in good time, my boy, all in good time. Which end do you think I ought to open first?'

  'That corner. The one furthest from you. Just tear off a tiny bit, but not quite enough for us to see anything.'

  'Like that?' said the old man.

  'Yes. Now a little bit more.'

  'You finish it,' said Grandpa Joe. 'I'm too nervous.'

  'No, Grandpa. You must do it yourself.'

  'Very well, then. Here goes.' He tore off the wrapper.

  They both stared at what lay underneath. It was a bar of chocolate - nothing more.

  All at once, they both saw the funny side of the whole thing, and they burst into peals of laughter.

  'What on earth's going on!' cried Grandma Josephine, waking up suddenly.

  'Nothing,' said Grandpa Joe. 'You go on back to sleep.'

  10

  The Family Begins to Starve

  During the next two weeks, the weather turned very cold. First came the snow. It began very suddenly one morning just as Charlie Bucket was getting dressed for school. Standing by the window, he saw the huge flakes drifting slowly down out of an icy sky that was the colour of steel.

  By evening, it lay four feet deep around the tiny house, and Mr Bucket had to dig a path from the front door to the road.

  After the snow, there came a freezing gale that blew for days and days without stopping. And oh, how bitter cold it was! Everything that Charlie touched seemed to be made of ice, and each time he stepped outside the door, the wind was like a knife on his cheek.

  Inside the house, little jets of freezing air came rushing in through the sides of the windows and under the doors, and there was no place to go to escape them. The four old ones lay silent and huddled in their bed, trying to keep the cold out of their bones. The excitement over the Golden Tickets had long since been forgotten. Nobody in the family gave a thought now to anything except the two vital problems of trying to keep warm and trying to get enough to eat.

  There is something about very cold weather that gives one an enormous appetite. Most of us find ourselves beginning to crave rich steaming stews and hot apple pies and all kinds of delicious warming dishes; and because we are all a great deal luckier than we realize, we usually get what we want - or near enough. But Charlie Bucket never got what he wanted because the family couldn't afford it, and as the cold weather went on and on, he became ravenously and desperately hungry. Both bars of chocolate, the birthday one and the one Grandpa Joe had bought, had long since been nibbled away, and all he got now were those thin, cabbagy meals three times a day.

  Then all at once, the meals became even thinner.

  The reason for this was that the toothpaste factory, the place where Mr Bucket worked, suddenly went bust and had to close down. Quickly, Mr Bucket tried to get another job. But he had no luck. In the end, the only way in which he managed to earn a few pennies was by shovelling snow in the streets. But it wasn't enough to buy even a quarter of the food that seven people needed. The situation became desperate. Breakfast was a single slice of bread for each person now, and lunch was maybe half a boiled potato.

  Slowly but surely, everybody in the house began to starve.

  And every day, little Charlie Bucket, trudging

  through the snow on his way to school, would have to pass Mr Willy Wonka's giant chocolate factory. And every day, as he came near to it, he would lift his small pointed nose high in the air and sniff the wonderful sweet smell of melting chocolate. Sometimes, he would stand motionless outside the gates for several minutes on end, taking deep swallowing breaths as though he were trying to eat the smell itself.

  'That child,' said Grandpa Joe, poking his head up from under the blanket one icy morning, 'that child has got to have more food. It doesn't matter about us. We're too old to bother with. But a growing boy! He can't go on like this! He's beginning to look like a skeleton!'

  'What can one do?' murmured Grandma Josephine miserably. 'He refuses to take any of ours. I hear his mother tried to slip her own piece of bread on to his plate at breakfast this morning, but he wouldn't touch it. He made her take it back.'

  'He's a fine little fellow,' said Grandpa George. 'He deserves better than this.'

  The cruel weather went on and on.

  And every day, Charlie Bucket grew thinner and thinner. His face became frighteningly white and pinched. The skin was drawn so tightly over the cheeks that you could see the shapes of the bones underneath. It seemed doubtful whether he could go on much longer like this without becoming dangerously ill.

  And now, very calmly, with that curious wisdom that seems to come so often to small children in times of hardship, he began to make little changes here and there in some of the things that he did, so as to save his strength. In the mornings, he left the house ten minutes earlier so that he could walk slowly to school, without ever having to run. He sat quietly in the classroom during break, resting himself, while the others rushed outdoors and threw snowballs and wrestled in the snow. Everything he did now, he did slowly and carefully, to prevent exhaustion.

  Then one afternoon, walking back home with the icy wind in his face (and incidentally feeling hungrier than he had ever felt before), his eye was caught suddenly by something silvery lying in the gutter, in the snow. Charlie stepped off the kerb and bent down to examine it. Part of it was buried under the snow, but he saw at once what it was.

  It was a fifty-pence piece!

  Quickly he looked around him.

  Had somebody just dropped it?

  No - that was impossible because of the way part of it was buried.

  Several people went hurrying past him on the pavement, their chins sunk deep in the collars of their coats, their feet crunching in the snow. None of them was searching for any money; none of them was taking the slightest notice of the small boy crouching in the gutter.

  Then was it his, this fifty pence?

  Could he have it?

  Carefully, Charlie pulled it out from under the snow. It was damp and dirty, but otherwise perfect.

  A WHOLE fifty pence!

  He held it tightly between his shivering fingers, gazing down at it. It meant one thing to him at that moment, only one thing. It meant FOOD.

  Automatically, Charlie turned and began moving towards the nearest shop. It was only ten
paces away... it was a newspaper and stationery shop, the kind that sells almost everything, including sweets and cigars... and what he would do, he whispered quickly to himself... he would buy one luscious bar of chocolate and eat it all up, every bit of it, right then and there... and the rest of the money he would take straight back home and give to his mother.

  11

  The Miracle

  Charlie entered the shop and laid the damp fifty pence on the counter.

  'One Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight,' he said, remembering how much he had loved the one he had on his birthday.

  The man behind the counter looked fat and well-fed. He had big lips and fat cheeks and a very fat neck. The fat around his neck bulged out all around the top of his collar like a rubber ring. He turned and reached behind him for the chocolate bar, then he turned back again and handed it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and quickly tore off the wrapper and took an enormous bite. Then he took another... and another... and oh, the joy of being able to cram large pieces of something sweet and solid into one's mouth! The sheer blissful joy of being able to fill one's mouth with rich solid food!

  'You look like you wanted that one, sonny,' the shopkeeper said pleasantly.

  Charlie nodded, his mouth bulging with chocolate.

  The shopkeeper put Charlie's change on the counter. 'Take it easy,' he said. 'It'll give you a tummy-ache if you swallow it like that without chewing.'

  Charlie went on wolfing the chocolate. He couldn't stop. And in less than half a minute, the whole thing had disappeared down his throat. He was quite out of breath, but he felt marvellously, extraordinarily happy. He reached out a hand to take the change. Then he paused. His eyes were just above the level of the counter. They were staring at the silver coins lying there. The coins were all five-penny pieces. There were nine of them altogether. Surely it wouldn't matter if he spent just one more...

 
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