'Prince Pondicherry wrote a letter to Mr Willy Wonka,' said Grandpa Joe, 'and asked him to come all the way out to India and build him a colossal palace entirely out of chocolate.'
'Did Mr Wonka do it, Grandpa?'
'He did, indeed. And what a palace it was! It had one hundred rooms, and everything was made of either dark or light chocolate! The bricks were chocolate, and the cement holding them together was chocolate, and the windows were chocolate, and all the walls and ceilings were made of chocolate, so were the carpets and the pictures and the furniture and the beds; and when you turned on the taps in the bathroom, hot chocolate came pouring out.
'When it was all finished, Mr Wonka said to Prince Pondicherry, "I warn you, though, it won't last very long, so you'd better start eating it right away."
'"Nonsense!" shouted the Prince. "I'm not going to eat my palace! I'm not even going to nibble the staircase or lick the walls! I'm going to live in it!"
'But Mr Wonka was right, of course, because soon after this, there came a very hot day with a boiling sun, and the whole palace began to melt, and then it sank slowly to the ground, and the crazy prince, who was dozing in the living room at the time, woke up to find himself swimming around in a huge brown sticky lake of chocolate.'
Little Charlie sat very still on the edge of the bed, staring at his grandfather. Charlie's face was bright, and his eyes were stretched so wide you could see the whites all around. 'Is all this really true?' he asked. 'Or are you pulling my leg?'
'It's true!' cried all four of the old people at once. 'Of course it's true! Ask anyone you like!'
'And I'll tell you something else that's true,' said Grandpa Joe, and now he leaned closer to Charlie, and lowered his voice to a soft, secret whisper. 'Nobody . . . ever . . . comes . . . out!'
'All factories,' said Grandpa Joe, 'have workers streaming in and out of the gates in the mornings and evenings — except Wonka's! Have you ever seen a single person going into that place — or coming out?'
Little Charlie looked slowly around at each of the four old faces, one after the other, and they all looked back at him. They were friendly smiling faces, but they were also quite serious. There was no sign of joking or leg-pulling on any of them.
'Well? Have you?' asked Grandpa Joe.
'I . . . I really don't know, Grandpa,' Charlie stammered. 'Whenever I walk past the factory, the gates seem to be closed.'
'Exactly!' said Grandpa Joe.
'But there must be people working there . . .'
'Not people, Charlie. Not ordinary people, anyway.'
'Then who?' cried Charlie.
'Ah-ha . . . That's it, you see . . . That's another of Mr Willy Wonka's clevernesses.'
'Charlie, dear,' Mrs Bucket called out from where she was standing by the door, 'it's time for bed. That's enough for tonight.'
'But, Mother, I must hear . . .'
'Tomorrow, my darling . . .'
'That's right,' said Grandpa Joe, 'I'll tell you the rest of it tomorrow evening.'
The Secret Workers
The next evening, Grandpa Joe went on with his story.
'You see, Charlie,' he said, 'not so very long ago there used to be thousands of people working in Mr Willy Wonka's factory. Then one day, all of a sudden, Mr Wonka had to ask every single one of them to leave, to go home, never to come back.'
'But why?' asked Charlie.
'Because of spies.'
'Yes. All the other chocolate makers, you see, had begun to grow jealous of the wonderful sweets that Mr Wonka was making, and they started sending in spies to steal his secret recipes. The spies took jobs in the Wonka factory, pretending that they were ordinary workers, and while they were there, each one of them found out exactly how a certain special thing was made.'
'And did they go back to their own factories and tell?' asked Charlie.
'They must have,' answered Grandpa Joe, 'because soon after that, Fickelgruber's factory started making an ice cream that would never melt, even in the hottest sun. Then Mr Prodnose's factory came out with a chewing-gum that never lost its flavour however much you chewed it. And then Mr Slugworth's factory began making sugar balloons that you could blow up to huge sizes before you popped them with a pin and gobbled them up. And so on, and so on. And Mr Willy Wonka tore his beard and shouted, "This is terrible! I shall be ruined! There are spies everywhere! I shall have to close the factory!"'
'But he didn't do that!' Charlie said.
'Oh, yes he did. He told all the workers that he was sorry, but they would have to go home. Then, he shut the main gates and fastened them with a chain. And suddenly, Wonka's giant chocolate factory became silent and deserted. The chimneys stopped smoking, the machines stopped whirring, and from then on, not a single chocolate or sweet was made. Not a soul went in or out, and even Mr Willy Wonka himself disappeared completely.
'Months and months went by,' Grandpa Joe went on, 'but still the factory remained closed. And everybody said, "Poor Mr Wonka. He was so nice. And he made such marvellous things. But he's finished now. It's all over."
'Then something astonishing happened. One day, early in the morning, thin columns of white smoke were seen to be coming out of the tops of the tall chimneys of the factory! People in the town stopped and stared. "What's going on?" they cried. "Someone's lit the furnaces! Mr Wonka must be opening up again!" They ran to the gates, expecting to see them wide open and Mr Wonka standing there to welcome his workers back.
'But no! The great iron gates were still locked and chained as securely as ever, and Mr Wonka was nowhere to be seen.
'"But the factory is working!" the people shouted. "Listen! You can hear the machines! They're all whirring again! And you can smell the smell of melting chocolate in the air!"'
Grandpa Joe leaned forward and laid a long bony finger on Charlie's knee, and he said softly, 'But most mysterious of all, Charlie, were the shadows in the windows of the factory. The people standing on the street outside could see small dark shadows moving about behind the frosted glass windows.'
'Shadows of whom?' said Charlie quickly.
'That's exactly what everybody else wanted to know.
'"The place is full of workers!" the people shouted. "But nobody's gone in! The gates are locked! It's crazy! Nobody ever comes out, either!"
'But there was no question at all,' said Grandpa Joe, 'that the factory was running. And it's gone on running ever since, for these last ten years. What's more, the chocolates and sweets it's been turning out have become more fantastic and delicious all the time. And of course now when Mr Wonka invents some new and wonderful sweet, neither Mr Fickelgruber nor Mr Prodnose nor Mr Slugworth nor anybody else is able to copy it. No spies can go into the factory to find out how it is made.'
'But Grandpa, who,' cried Charlie, 'who is Mr Wonka using to do all the work in the factory?'
'Nobody sees him any more. He never comes out. The only things that come out of that place are chocolates and sweets. They come out through a special trap door in the wall, all packed and addressed, and they are picked up every day by Post Office trucks.'
'But Grandpa, what sort of people are they that work in there?'
'My dear boy,' said Grandpa Joe, 'that is one of the great mysteries of the chocolate-making world. We know only one thing about them. They are very small. The faint shadows that sometimes appear behind the windows, especially late at night when the lights are on, are those of tiny people, people no taller than my knee . . .'
'There aren't any such people,' Charlie said.
Just then, Mr Bucket, Charlie's father, came into the room. He was home from the toothpaste factory, and he was waving an evening newspaper rather excitedly. 'Have you heard the news?' he cried. He held up the paper so that they could see the huge headline. The headline said:
WONKA FACTORY TO BE OPENED AT LAST TO LUCKY FEW
The Golden Tickets
'You mean people are actually going to be allowed to go inside the factory?' cried Grandpa Joe. 'Read us what it says — quickly!'
'All right,' said Mr Bucket, smoothing out the newspaper. 'Listen.'
Mr Willy Wonka, the confectionery genius whom nobody has seen for the last ten years, sent out the following notice today:
I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children — just five, mind you, and no more — to visit my factory this year. These lucky five will be shown around personally by me, and they will be allowed to see all the secrets and the magic of my factory. Then, at the end of the tour, as a special present, all of them will be given enough chocolates and sweets to last them for the rest of their lives! So watch out for the Golden Tickets! Five Golden Tickets have been printed on golden paper, and these five Golden Tickets have been hidden underneath the ordinary wrapping paper of five ordinary bars of chocolate. These five chocolate bars may be anywhere — in any shop in any street in any town in any country in the world — upon any counter where Wonka's Sweets are sold. And the five lucky finders of these five Golden Tickets are the only ones who will be allowed to visit my factory and see what it's like now inside! Good luck to you all, and happy hunting! (Signed Willy Wonka.)
'The man's dotty!' muttered Grandma Josephine.
'He's brilliant!' cried Grandpa Joe. 'He's a magician! Just imagine what will happen now! The whole world will be searching for those Golden Tickets! Everyone will be buying Wonka's chocolate bars in the hope of finding one! He'll sell more than ever before! Oh, how exciting it would be to find one!'
'And all the chocolate and sweets that you could eat for the rest of your life — free!' said Grandpa George. 'Just imagine that!'
'They'd have to deliver them in a truck!' said Grandma Georgina.
'It makes me quite ill to think of it,' said Grandma Josephine.
'Nonsense!' cried Grandpa Joe. 'Wouldn't it be something, Charlie, to open a bar of chocolate and see a Golden Ticket glistening inside!'
'It certainly would, Grandpa. But there isn't a hope,' Charlie said sadly. 'I only get one bar a year.'
'You never know, darling,' said Grandma Georgina. 'It's your birthday next week. You have as much chance as anybody else.'
'I'm afraid that simply isn't true,' said Grandpa George. 'The kids who are going to find the Golden Tickets are the ones who can afford to buy bars of chocolate every day. Our Charlie gets only one a year. There isn't a hope.'