James And The Giant Peach

written by Sona

James' parents died and he was adopted by his gruesome aunts. How does he escape?

Last Updated






Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter 22
In a few minutes everything was ready.
It was very quiet now on the top of the peach. There was nobody in sight – nobody except the Earthworm.
One half of the Earthworm, looking like a great, thick, juicy, pink sausage, lay innocently in the sun for all the seagulls to see.
The other half of him was dangling down the tunnel.
James was crouching close beside the Earthworm in the tunnel entrance, just below the surface, waiting for the first seagull. He had a loop of silk string in his hands.
The Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Ladybird were further down the tunnel, holding on to the Earthworm’s tail, ready to pull him quickly in out of danger as soon as James gave the word.
And far below, in the great stone of the peach, the Glow-worm was lighting up the room so that the two spinners, the Silkworm and Miss Spider, could see what they were doing. The Centipede was down there too, exhorting them both frantically to greater efforts, and every now and again James could hear his voice coming up faintly from the depths, shouting, ‘Spin, Silkworm, spin, you great fat lazy brute! Faster, faster, or we’ll throw you to the sharks!’
‘Here comes the first seagull!’ whispered James. ‘Keep still now, Earthworm. Keep still. The rest of you get ready to pull.’
‘Please don’t let it spike me,’ begged the Earthworm.
‘I won‘t, I won‘t. Ssshh…’
Out of the corner of one eye, James watched the seagull as it came swooping down towards the Earthworm. And then suddenly it was so close that he could see its small black eyes and its curved beak, and the beak was open, ready to grab a nice piece of flesh out of the Earthworm’s back.
‘Pull!’ shouted James.’
The Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Ladybird gave the Earthworm’s tail an enormous tug, and like magic the Earthworm disappeared into the tunnel. At the same time, up went James’s hand and the seagull flew right into the loop of silk that he was holding out. The loop, which had been cleverly made, tightened just the right amount (but not too much) around its neck, and the seagull was captured.
‘Hooray!’ shouted the Old-Green-Grasshopper, peering out of the tunnel. ‘Well done, James!’
Up flew the seagull with James paying out the silk string as it went. He gave it about fifty yards and then tied the string to the stem of the peach.

‘Next one!’ he shouted, jumping back into the tunnel. ‘Up you get again, Earthworm! Bring up some more silk, Centipede!’
‘Oh, I don’t like this at all,’ wailed the Earthworm. ‘It only just missed me! I even felt the wind on my back as it went swishing past!’
‘Ssshh!’ whispered James. ‘Keep still! Here comes another one!’
So they did it again.
And again, and again, and again.
And the seagulls kept coming, and James caught them one after the other and tethered them to the peach stem.
‘One hundred seagulls!’ he shouted, wiping the sweat from his face.
‘Keep going!’ they cried. ‘Keep going, James!’
‘Two hundred seagulls!’
‘Three hundred seagulls!’
‘Four hundred seagulls!’
The sharks, as though sensing that they were in danger of losing their prey, were hurling themselves at the peach more furiously than ever, and the peach was sinking lower and lower still in the water.
‘Five hundred seagulls!’ James shouted.
‘Silkworm says she’s running out of silk!’ yelled the Centipede from below. ‘She says she can’t keep it up much longer. Nor can Miss Spider!’
‘Tell them they‘ve got to!’ James answered. ‘They can’t stop now!’
‘We’re lifting!’ somebody shouted.
‘No, we’re not!’
‘I felt it!’
‘Put on another seagull, quick!’
‘Quiet, everybody! Quiet! Here’s one coming now!’
This was the five hundred and first seagull, and the moment that James caught it and tethered it to the stem with all the others, the whole enormous peach suddenly started rising up slowly out of the water.
‘Look out! Here we go! Hold on, boys!’
But then it stopped.
And there it hung.
It hovered and swayed, but it went no higher.
The bottom of it was just touching the water. It was like a delicately balanced scale that needed only the tiniest push to tip it one way or the other.
‘One more will do it!’ shouted the Old-Green-Grasshopper, looking out of the tunnel. ‘We’re almost there!’
And now came the big moment. Quickly, the five hundred and second seagull was caught and harnessed to the peach-stem…
And then suddenly…
But slowly…
Like some fabulous golden balloon…
With all the seagulls straining at the strings above…
The giant peach rose up dripping out of the water and began climbing towards the heavens.
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