فصل 37

کتاب: جیمز و هلوی غول پیکر / فصل 37

فصل 37

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It was really an amazing sight, and in two or three minutes, as soon as the people below realized that this now couldn’t possibly be a bomb, they came pouring out of the shelters and the subways to gape at the marvel. The streets for half a mile around the building were jammed with men and women, and when the word spread that there were actually living things moving about on the top of the great round ball, then everyone went wild with excitement.

‘It’s a flying saucer!’ they shouted.

‘They are from Outer Space!’

‘They are men from Mars!’

‘Or maybe they came from the Moon!’

And a man who had a pair of binoculars to his eyes said, ‘They look pritt-ty peculiar to me, I’ll tell you that.’ Police cars and fire engines came screaming in from all over the city and pulled up outside the Empire State Building. Two hundred firemen and six hundred policemen swarmed into the building and went up in the elevators as high as they could go. Then they poured out on to the observation roof – which is the place where tourists stand – just at the bottom of the big spike.

All the policemen were holding their guns at the ready, with their fingers on the triggers, and the firemen were clutching their hatchets. But from where they stood, almost directly underneath the peach, they couldn’t actually see the travellers up on top.

‘Ahoy there!’ shouted the Chief of Police. ‘Come out and show yourselves!’ Suddenly, the great brown head of the Centipede appeared over the side of the peach. His black eyes, as large and round as two marbles, glared down at the policemen and the firemen below. Then his monstrous ugly face broke into a wide grin.

The policemen and the firemen all started shouting at once. ‘Look out!’ they cried. ‘It’s a Dragon!’ ‘It’s not a Dragon! It’s a Wampus!’

‘It’s a Gorgon!’

‘It’s a Sea-serpent!’

‘It’s a Prock!’

‘It’s a Manticore!’

Three firemen and five policemen fainted and had to be carried away.

‘It’s a Snozzwanger!’ cried the Chief of Police.

‘It’s a Whangdoodle!’ yelled the Head of the Fire Department.

The Centipede kept on grinning. He seemed to be enjoying enormously the commotion that he was causing.

‘Now see here!’ shouted the Chief of Police, cupping his hands to his mouth. ‘You listen to me! I want you to tell me exactly where you‘ve come from!’ ‘We‘ve come from thousands of miles away!’ the Centipede shouted back, grinning more broadly than ever and showing his brown teeth.

‘There you are!’ called the Chief of Police. ‘I told you they came from Mars!’ ‘I guess you’re right!’ said the Head of the Fire Department.

At this point, the Old-Green-Grasshopper poked his huge green head over the side of the peach, alongside the Centipede’s. Six more big strong men fainted when they saw him.

‘That one’s an Oinck!’ screamed the Head of the Fire Department. ‘I just know it’s an Oinck!’ ‘Or a Cockatrice!’ yelled the Chief of Police. ‘Stand back, men! It may jump down on us any moment!’ ‘What on earth are they talking about?’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said to the Centipede.

‘Search me,’ the Centipede answered. ‘But they seem to be in an awful stew about something.’ Then Miss Spider’s large black murderous-looking head, which to a stranger was probably the most terrifying of all, appeared next to the Grasshopper‘s.

‘Snakes and ladders!’ yelled the Head of the Fire Department. ‘We are finished now! It’s a giant Scorpula!’ ‘It’s worse than that!’ cried the Chief of Police. ‘It’s a vermicious Knid! Oh, just look at its vermicious gruesome face!’ ‘Is that the kind that eats fully-grown men for breakfast?’ the Head of the Fire Department asked, going white as a sheet.

‘I‘m afraid it is,’ the Chief of Police answered.

‘Oh, please why doesn’t someone help us to get down from here?’ Miss Spider called out. ‘It’s making me giddy.’

‘This could be a trick!’ said the Head of the Fire Department. ‘Don’t anyone make a move until I say!’ ‘They‘ve probably got space guns!’ muttered the Chief of Police.

‘But we‘ve got to do something!’ the Head of the Fire Department announced grimly. ‘About five million people are standing down there on the streets watching us.’ ‘Then why don’t you put up a ladder?’ the Chief of Police asked him. ‘I’ll stand at the bottom and hold it steady for you while you go up and see what’s happening.’ ‘Thanks very much!’ snapped the Head of the Fire Department.

Soon there were no less than seven large fantastic faces peering down over the side of the peach – the Centipede‘s, the Old-Green-Grasshopper‘s, Miss Spider‘s, the Earthworm‘s, the Ladybird‘s, the Silkworm‘s, and the Glow-worm‘s. And a sort of panic was beginning to break out among the firemen and the policemen on the rooftop.

Then, all at once, the panic stopped and a great gasp of astonishment went up all round. For now, a small boy was seen to be standing up there beside the other creatures. His hair was blowing in the wind, and he was laughing and waving and calling out, ‘Hello, everybody! Hello!’ For a few moments, the men below just stood and stared and gaped. They simply couldn’t believe their eyes.

‘Bless my soul!’ cried the Head of the Fire Department, going red in the face. ‘It really is a little boy, isn’t it?’ ‘Don’t be frightened of us, please!’ James called out. ‘We are so glad to be here!’ ‘What about those others beside you?’ shouted the Chief of Police. ‘Are any of them dangerous?’ ‘Of course they’re not dangerous!’ James answered. ‘They’re the nicest creatures in the world! Allow me to introduce them to you one by one and then I‘m sure you will believe me.’

‘My friends, this is the Centipede, and let me make it known

He is so sweet and gentle that (although he’s overgrown)

The Queen of Spain, again and again, has summoned him by phone

To baby-sit and sing and knit and be a chaperone

When nurse is off and all the royal children are alone.’

(‘Small wonder,’ said a Fireman, ‘they’re no longer on the throne.’)

‘The Earthworm, on the other hand,’

Said James, beginning to expand,

‘Is great for digging up the land

And making old soils newer.

Moreover, you should understand

He would be absolutely grand

For digging subway tunnels and

For making you a sewer.’

(The Earthworm blushed and beamed with pride.

Miss Spider clapped and cheered and cried,

‘Could any words be truer?’)

‘And the Grasshopper, ladies and gents, is a boon

In millions and millions of ways.

You have only to ask him to give you a tune

And he plays and he plays and he plays.

As a toy for your children he’s perfectly sweet;

There’s nothing so good in the shops –

You‘ve only to tickle the soles of his feet

And he hops and he hops and he hops.’

(‘He can’t be very fierce!’ exclaimed

The Head of all the Cops.)

‘And now without excuse

I’d like to introduce

This charming Glow-worm, lover of simplicity.

She is easy to install

On jour ceiling or your wall,

And although this smacks a bit of eccentricity,

It’s really rather clever

For there after you will never


Have the slightest need for using electricity.’

(At which, no less than fifty-two

Policemen cried, ‘If this is true

That creature’ll get some fabulous publicity!’)

‘And here we have Miss Spider

With a mile of thread inside her

Who has personally requested me to say

That she‘s NEVER met Miss Muffet

On her charming little tuffet –

If she had she‘d NOT have frightened her away.

Should her looks sometimes alarm you

Then I don’t think it would harm you

To repeat at least a hundred times a day:

“I must NEVER kill a spider

I must only help and guide her

And invite her in the nursery to play.” ’

(The Police all nodded slightly,

And the Firemen smiled politely,

And about a dozen people cried, ‘Hooray!’)

‘And here’s my darling Ladybird, so beautjul, so kind,

My greatest comfort since this trip began.

She has four hundred children and she’s left them all behind, But they’re coming on the next peach of the can.’

(The Cops cried, ‘She’s entrancing!’

All the Firemen started dancing,

And the crowds all started cheering to a man!)

‘And now, the Silkworm,’ James went on, ‘Whose silk will bear comparison With all the greatest silks there are In Rome and Philadelphia.

If you would search the whole world through From Paraguay to Timbuctoo

I don’t think you would find one bit Of silk that could compare with it.

Even the shops in Singapore

Don’t have the stuff. And what is more, This Silkworm had, I’ll have you know, The honour, not so long ago,

To spin and weave and sew and press The Queen of England’s wedding dress.

And she’s already made and sent A waistcoat for your President.’ (‘Well, good for her!’ the Cops cried out, And all at once a mighty shout Went up around the Empire State, Let’s get them down at once! Why WAIT?’)

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