9 The Great Finale

They got into the elevator once again. Without Tara and Bea breathing was easier. Wonka invited the three remaining ladies to choose a room which they wished to see.

"I'm interested in these Snowy Sweetkies," said Cheryl, pointing at one of the buttons. Wonka suddenly looked embarrassed. "Perhaps some other time, if you don't mind," he smiled nervously and sank his eyes.

"Enough of cold," muttered Dawn.

"Have you got truffles here?" asked Celia, examining the button panel. "I love truffles above all, except apple pies, of course."

"Of course we have truffles," Wonka looked at her with a far-away expression and pressed the relevant button. The elevator flew as a flash and they were in place in no time.

They found themselves in a lovely countryside that resembled the Chocolate Room a bit. There was no river though, only a slightly undulating ground wooded with large trees. At a distance they saw some kind of a farm building with stables.

"Is this the room?" the ladies wondered.

"Oh yes," said Wonka. "Here we grow the most delicious truffles of the finest quality."

"I do beg your pardon?" Celia thought she misunderstood. "Did you say you grow truffles?"

"Yes, you heard right. Everybody knows that truffles grow under the ground, preferably under oak trees. All these trees you can see are the best oak trees from France; that's where truffles come from."

"I think you don't quite understand me," said Celia. "I mean chocolate truffles, not the mushrooms."

"I also mean chocolate truffles, lady," said Wonka, injured by the remark. He apparently couldn't understand that somebody can be so thick-headed. "Oh look – we came just in season," he beamed and pointed towards the house from which some Oompa-Loompas went, carrying some sort of leading-reins. "You are lucky; we reap truffles just once a week."

"What are the harnesses for?" asked Dawn. Wonka gave a giggle.

"For the pigs, naturally!" The ladies goggled at him. "Yes, pigs. Wild boars have the best nose for finding truffles; they can smell them out. Watch!" he cried excitedly and pointed to the farmhouse. Some Oompa-Loompas were harnessing a large wild boar. One of the Oompa-Loompas mounted it afterwards. Another gave the pig a truffle from last harvest to take a sniff of and then he spanked the pig over the rump. It darted through open gates and began to run about among the trees. The Oompa-Loompas sent two more pigs and went to get ready the digging machine.

The first pig joyfully squealed at a nearby tree and the Oompa-Loompas brought the digging machine closer. They dug out a big piece of land and dropped it into a sieve which began to shake and sieve the soil. The dirt fell back to the pit and the Oompa-Loompas threw the found truffles into a vat to wash them from the dirt. The ladies noticed that before the sieving the Oompa-Loompas put very small new seedlings of truffles in the pit. The soil was watered then, fertilized and covered by lawn again.

Wonka came nearer and becked the ladies to follow.

The Oompa-Loompas waved to greet them. Wonka took a truffle out of the vat, sniffed, nodded contently and handed it to Celia.

"Is it safe to eat?" she worried because she saw the end of their two other colleagues.

"Don't worry, try it," said Wonka and to prove its harmlessness he took one himself. Celia then tried one too and lit up. "It's impossible," she enthused. "How did you manage? They are excellent!" Wonka smiled.

"Thank you. Would you like to try to find some yourself?" Dawn laughed because she understood it in some other way but Wonka took no notice of her. He called an Oompa-Loompa with a pig and handed the leading-reins to Celia. "It will find its way, you just follow, 'kay? Everything you find is yours, I promise." He seemed to be happy that Celia appreciated his work at last.

"But I can't do that," said Celia embarrassedly.

"Of course you can," Wonka assured her. "Please, just hold it firmly and don't let it go. These pigs are very difficult to catch, that's why I always want Oompa-Loompas to ride them. You can see how large this field is." He was right, the field stretched to horizon.

The pig was impatient and ran to and fro. As soon as Celia took hold of the leading-reins, it started off and headed for the opposite side of the field. Celia didn't expect that it will be like walking the dog, but neither expected what followed. She couldn't keep up with it because of her high heels and tight skirt. The pig felt resistance it wasn't used to and gave a tug. Once, twice – and Celia realized she was being towed after it. She gave a shriek but curiously enough she didn't let go of the leading-reins. The pig headed at full speed towards a pit the Oompa-Loompas dug a while before. Right in front of the pit the pig made a sharp turn; the leading-reins snapped in half and Celia disappeared in the pit. Before the others ran to her, she was covered with dirt from the sieve above her. The pig had run away and was nowhere to be seen.

"I told you not to let it go," cried Wonka crossly to the pit. Celia mumbled something and spat out the dirt; at the moment she received a shower of water and fertilizer.

"I didn't let it go, the reins snapped in half," she said infuriately when she managed to stand up in the pit and wipe some of the mud off her face. Dawn laughed like a mad. "Look at me!" fumed Celia. "My best suit! I hope you will at least pay me for the drycleaner!" she shouted at Wonka and tried to climb out of the pit.

"More than that, dear lady," said Wonka and offered her his hand courteously so she could climb out. He turned to an Oompa-Loompa, saying, "You will take Mrs Clark to the drycleaner, 'kay?"

"Drycleaner? Now?" said Celia.

"You can't continue like that, now can you?" wondered Wonka. Celia viewed the situation and realized her chances were dropping rapidly. Although, she wasn't going to give up easily.

"I will," she said stubbornly and wiped some of the mud with grass.

"You can't," Wonka shook his head, "you would spread the mud all over the factory. This Oompa-Loompa will accompany you. Make yourself comfortable in the drycleaner." He waved to Celia as the Oompa-Loompa grabbed her by the skirt and pulled her away. The tiny man was apparently unable to stand the terrible look and with his other hand he held his nose.

"And we will move on, okay?" smiled Wonka at his two last companions and went out of the room. "Where is it now?" he asked when they were back in the elevator. Both women thought carefully of an unharmful place but it was just like guessing in a lottery.

At last Cheryl said: "What would you recommend to us?"

"Oh, plenty of rooms," Wonka began to point, "let's say Fudge mountain or Caramel lake, Top milk waterfall, Fruit press..."

Dawn envisioned herself being pressed in a fruit press, so she quickly said, "What about the Top milk waterfall?" She assumed they had seen one waterfall already and survived. Wonka told her it was an excellent choice and the elevator began moving. Not having Bea around, Dawn didn't try to hold the balance (considering her stiletto heels it wasn't an easy thing to do) and kept on falling on Wonka, giggling stupidly. Cheryl eyed her with utmost disgust. Wonka was getting into it and jerked less and less when Dawn happened to touch him. Anyway, he was happy when they got out.

The Top milk waterfall belonged to the most splendid rooms in the factory, as they were told. It was true: out of everything they saw that day this room was the most romantic place of all. Dawn was delighted because it was her idea to come here.

They admired a beautiful white waterfall which was coming from several metres height, falling across rocks and forming a huge lake beneath out of which another river flew. Below they could see rolling hills of green grass with many-coloured flowers. The rock next to the waterfall was overgrown with bushes carrying red and yellow berries.

"Is everything here also eatable?" asked Cheryl.

"Not everything," smiled Wonka, "but quite a lot of things. For instance those bushes, the grass down there – well, everything except the rock."

They stood on an arched bridge leading from one side of the room to the other approximately in the middle of the waterfall. "Long time ago it came to me that I could make use of gravity. Every drop of this waterfall is top milk and by its falling butter is made."

He showed them the lake. They could see a few rafts with Oompa-Loompas in violet overalls.

"What are they doing there?" asked Cheryl.

"Are they fishing?" said Dawn, seeing something like fishing-nets.

Wonka gave a short laugh. "Oh no. Not for fish at least, but for pats of butter that are produced by the waterfall. Then the pats are washed on the shore, made into bigger lumps and taken away for further processing. Out of this butter the finest fillings and creams are made," he said dreamily. Dawn noticed he licked his lips.

"Everything is so amazing," Cheryl breathed out.

"It is," said Dawn quickly. "Tell me, how did you do it all?" she waggled her hips and went nearer to him.

"Many years of hard work," said Wonka and looked for an escape way. "You wouldn't believe how difficult is to make such a shrub," he pointed at the growth at the rock.

"What are the berries made of?" said Cheryl, mainly to distract Dawn. Dawn seemed to stop to sense the surroundings; she was apparently overwhelmed by the romantic atmosphere of the place. As Wonka stepped back from the bridge, she proceeded to him slowly and unstoppably like a wild beast sure of its prey. Cheryl made a few steps to them but halted.

"These berries," grinned Wonka, "are filled with the most delicious butter cream made from this waterfall. That's why they are right here," he said when he reached the rocky hedge.

"You are fond of them, aren't you?" said Dawn in a seductive voice. She didn't wait for answer, reached out and picked a berry. She faced Wonka who couldn't go any further and held the berry in front of his mouth. "Eat it," she smiled at him. He did so then. He ate another and thought frantically how to get out of this mess. Cheryl stood on the bridge and watched in disbelief how far some women are willing to go. Something told her not to intervene, so she only observed the situation.

Dawn looked round to reach for a third berry. "We'll eat this one together, shall we?" she whispered, her face a few inches from his. Wonka pressed his lips tightly and shook his head resolutely. Cheryl cleared her throat. Dawn looked round again. Oh, she's still here. You are out of luck, girl, he'll be mine, she thought. She ate the berry herself. It was really good.

"I... I prefer the yellow ones," said Wonka with a constrained grin. Yellow-berried bushes grew a bit farther and there was a chance she might let him go.

"All right, a yellow one then," she agreed, "but this time together, okay?" insisted Dawn and didn't budge an inch from him until he nodded. Dawn gave a high jingly laugh and cast Cheryl a winning glance. The other girl was still at the edge of the bridge, not knowing what to think. Dawn reached for a yellow berry but instead of watching her steps, she eyed Cheryl with a sneer. No wonder she slipped on the grass. Dawn gave a yelp and balanced for a moment. Had she had casual shoes, she might have managed the situation but the stiletto heels betrayed her. In a second she fell with a terrible cry down the waterfall and splashed into the lake. Wonka and Cheryl ran up the bridge and tried to catch a glimpse of her.

"Help me!" they heard her call.

"Oh, she's alive," Cheryl was relieved. "The rock looks dangerous."

Wonka suddenly began to laugh madly. It must have been due to overstress he had just experienced. Cheryl watched the Oompa-Loompas pulling Dawn out of the milky lake with a net. She looked up at them. Cheryl couldn't forbear waving at her. She noticed Wonka is waving too and burst into laughter as well.

"You are the last here?" he noticed suddenly with astonishment.

"Well, yes," she smiled nervously and felt everything is going right. Wonka beamed. "You are the winner then! Oh, I'm so delighted! I thought it would be you, from the very beginning!" All of a sudden he startled and didn't know how to continue.

"Er -" There was a short silence. Wonka reached into his pocket, took out some cards and shuffled through them.

"I feel you are the only one who understood the spirit of my factory. I would be extremely happy if you wished to become my wife," he read and looked at her. Cheryl was cracking up, covering her mouth with her hand.

"I'd love to marry you," she said sincerely. Wonka grinned too and offered her his arm.

"Yet you haven't chosen a room where you want to look," he told her when they were walking to the elevator together.

"Oh yes, I have, just remember," said Cheryl. "Snowy Sweetkies."

"You're still interested in that?" Wonka got nervous.

"Increasingly," laughed Cheryl.

"OK then." Wonka pressed the button and stared at her with bright eyes all the way.

In the room Cheryl was curious about was not cold at all, rather the opposite. Heat was coming from ovens where the Sweetkies were baked, but in spite of that snow was falling from the ceiling and made snowdrifts. Cheryl found out it is powdered sugar. Oompa-Loompas shovelled it to a large vat where a great mixer made the Snowy Sweetkies mixture. A step further some Oompa-Loompas formed it into the candy and made snowmen.

"This is the only snow they don't mind," explained Wonka. "I'd never say they enjoy playing in snow so much."

"None of your rooms is ordinary," said Cheryl with admiration. "Each one of them is a work of art. I bet here you make the best Sweetkies in the world."

"You are completely right," beamed Wonka. "I just wanted to say so."

"I wonder if I could have one."

"Of course you could," said Wonka; he paused for a second, then bent to her and kissed her tenderly on the lips. They embraced each other round the waist. When the Oompa-Loompas noticed them, they began to exult, jump and cheer. Wonka straightened again, turned to them and said,

"Let me introduce you my wife-to-be, Cheryl. Be nice to her, obey her and treat her with respect just like she will treat you." The Oompa-Loompas began to clap their hands again. "I will tour her over the entire factory step by step, so all of you will get to know her." Cheryl waved to them and felt like Princess Diana standing next to Charles on the palace balcony on their wedding day. Now she remembered – for the first time since the beginning of the tour – that there is still another world out there, but it was as distant as from a different galaxy. Her world and home was here now.

So Cheryl Rosebay became Mrs Wonka. Everything had been set beforehand, so they could marry the very same day in the afternoon. By doing so, Cheryl outran even Amy. Things settled between Amy and Rick and they married the following week. Four unsuccessful women returned home with a load of sweets, as they were promised, and didn't speak much of the way how they made their mark in the factory. Cheryl gave up the job in the library, but she didn't have to resign to her work. Willy Wonka fixed her a private library with a database which was opened twice a week. Cheryl lent books to the Oompa-Loompas and this way she enhanced their culture. The Oompa-Loompas became friends to her and later also to her children. And in Willy Wonka Cheryl found the best husband she could ever wish for.