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SHASTA IN NARNIA
“WAS IT ALL A DREAM?” WONDERED Shasta. But it couldn’t have been a dream for there in the grass before him he saw the deep, large print of the Lion’s front right paw. It took one’s breath away to think of the weight that could make a footprint like that. But there was something more remarkable than the size about it. As he looked at it, water had already filled the bottom of it. Soon it was full to the brim, and then overflowing, and a little stream was running downhill, past him, over the grass.
Shasta stooped and drank—a very long drink—and then dipped his face in and splashed his head. It was extremely cold, and clear as glass, and refreshed him very much. After that he stood up, shaking the water out of his ears and flinging the wet hair back from his forehead, and began to take stock of his surroundings.
Apparently it was still very early morning. The sun had only just risen, and it had risen out of the forests which he saw low down and far away on his right. The country which he was looking at was absolutely new to him. It was a green valleyland dotted with trees through which he caught the gleam of a river that wound away roughly to the Northwest. On the far side of the valley there were high and even rocky hills, but they were lower than the mountains he had seen yesterday. Then he began to guess where he was. He turned and looked behind him and saw that the slope on which he was standing belonged to a range of far higher mountains.
“I see,” said Shasta to himself. “Those are the big mountains between Archenland and Narnia. I was on the other side of them yesterday. I must have come through the pass in the night. What luck that I hit it!—at least it wasn’t luck at all really, it was Him. And now I’m in Narnia.” He turned and unsaddled his horse and took off its bridle—“Though you are a perfectly horrid horse,” he said. It took no notice of this remark and immediately began eating grass. That horse had a very low opinion of Shasta.
“I wish I could eat grass!” thought Shasta. “It’s no good going back to Anvard, it’ll all be besieged. I’d better get lower down into the valley and see if I can get anything to eat.”
So he went on downhill (the thick dew was cruelly cold to his bare feet) till he came into a wood. There was a kind of track running through it and he had not followed this for many minutes when he heard a thick and rather wheezy voice saying to him: “Good morning, neighbor.”
Shasta looked round eagerly to find the speaker and presently saw a small, prickly person with a dark face who had just come out from among the trees. At least, it was small for a person but very big indeed for a hedgehog, which was what it was.
“Good morning,” said Shasta. “But I’m not a neighbor. In fact I’m a stranger in these parts.” “Ah?” said the Hedgehog inquiringly. “I’ve come over the mountains—from Archenland, you know.”
“Ah, Archenland,” said the Hedgehog. “That’s a terrible long way. Never been there myself.”
“And I think, perhaps,” said Shasta, “someone ought to be told that there’s an army of savage Calormenes attacking Anvard at this very moment.”
“You don’t say so!” answered the Hedgehog. “Well, think of that. And they do say that Calormen is hundreds and thousands of miles away, right at the world’s end, across a great sea of sand.”
“It’s not nearly as far as you think,” said Shasta. “And oughtn’t something to be done about this attack on Anvard? Oughtn’t your High King to be told?”
“Certain sure, something ought to be done about it,” said the Hedgehog. “But you see I’m just on my way to bed for a good day’s sleep. Hullo, neighbor!”
The last words were addressed to an immense biscuit-colored rabbit whose head had just popped up from somewhere beside the path. The Hedgehog immediately told the Rabbit what it had just learned from Shasta. The Rabbit agreed that this was very remarkable news and that somebody ought to tell someone about it with a view to doing something.
And so it went on. Every few minutes they were joined by other creatures, some from the branches overhead and some from little under ground houses at their feet, till the party consisted of five rabbits, a squirrel, two magpies, a goat-foot faun, and a mouse, who all talked at the same time and all agreed with the Hedgehog. For the truth was that in that golden age when the Witch and the Winter had gone and Peter the High King ruled at Cair Paravel, the smaller woodland people of Narnia were so safe and happy that they were getting a little careless.
Presently, however, two more practical people arrived in the little wood. One was a Red Dwarf whose name appeared to be Duffle. The other was a stag, a beautiful lordly creature with wide liquid eyes, dappled flanks and legs so thin and graceful that they looked as if you could break them with two fingers.
“Lion alive!” roared the Dwarf as soon as he had heard the news. “And if that’s so, why are we all standing still, chattering? Enemies at Anvard! News must be sent to Cair Paravel at once. The army must be called out. Narnia must go to the aid of King Lune.” “Ah!” said the Hedgehog. “But you won’t find the High King at the Cair. He’s away to the North trouncing those giants. And talking of giants, neighbors, that puts me in mind—”
“Who’ll take our message?” interrupted the Dwarf. “Anyone here got more speed than me?”
“I’ve got speed,” said the Stag. “What’s my message? How many Calormenes?”
“Two hundred: under Prince Rabadash. And—” But the Stag was already away—all four legs off the ground at once, and in a moment its white stern had disappeared among the remoter trees.
“Wonder where he’s going,” said a Rabbit. “He won’t find the High King at Cair Paravel, you know.”
“He’ll find Queen Lucy,” said Duffle. “And then—hullo! What’s wrong with the Human? It looks pretty green. Why, I do believe it’s quite faint. Perhaps it’s mortal hungry. When did you last have a meal, youngster?” “Yesterday morning,” said Shasta weakly.
“Come on, then, come on,” said the Dwarf, at once throwing his thick little arms round Shasta’s waist to support him. “Why, neighbors, we ought all to be ashamed of ourselves! You come with me, lad. Breakfast! Better than talking.” With a great deal of bustle, muttering reproaches to itself, the Dwarf half led and half supported Shasta at a great speed further into the wood and a little downhill. It was a longer walk than Shasta wanted at that moment and his legs had begun to feel very shaky before they came out from the trees onto bare hillside. There they found a little house with a smoking chimney and an open door, and as they came to the doorway Duffle called out: “Hey, brothers! A visitor for breakfast.”
And immediately, mixed with a sizzling sound, there came to Shasta a simply delightful smell. It was one he had never smelled in his life before, but I hope you have. It was, in fact, the smell of bacon and eggs and mushrooms all frying in a pan.
“Mind your head, lad,” said Duffle a moment too late, for Shasta had already bashed his forehead against the low lintel of the door. “Now,” continued the Dwarf, “sit you down. The table’s a bit low for you, but then the stool’s low too. That’s right. And here’s porridge—and here’s a jug of cream—and here’s a spoon.” By the time Shasta had finished his porridge, the Dwarf’s two brothers (whose names were Rogin and Bricklethumb) were putting the dish of bacon and eggs and mushrooms, and the coffeepot and the hot milk, and the toast, on the table.
It was all new and wonderful to Shasta for Calormene food is quite different. He didn’t even know what the slices of brown stuff were, for he had never seen toast before. He didn’t know what the yellow soft thing they smeared on the toast was, because in Calormen you nearly always get oil instead of butter. And the house itself was quite different from the dark, frowsty, fish-smelling hut of Arsheesh and from the pillared and carpeted halls in the palaces of Tashbaan. The roof was very low, and everything was made of wood, and there was a cuckoo-clock and a red-and-white checked tablecloth and a bowl of wild flowers and little curtains on the thick-paned windows. It was also rather troublesome having to use dwarf cups and plates and knives and forks. This meant that helpings were very small, but then there were a great many helpings, so that Shasta’s plate or cup was being filled every moment, and every moment the Dwarfs themselves were saying, “Butter, please,” or “Another cup of coffee,” or “I’d like a few more mushrooms,” or “What about frying another egg or so?” And when at last they had all eaten as much as they possibly could the three Dwarfs drew lots for who would do the washing-up, and Rogin was the unlucky one. Then Duffle and Bricklethumb took Shasta outside to a bench which ran against the cottage wall, and they all stretched out their legs and gave a great sigh of contentment and the two Dwarfs lit their pipes. The dew was off the grass now and the sun was warm; indeed, if there hadn’t been a light breeze, it would have been too hot.
“Now, Stranger,” said Duffle, “I’ll show you the lie of the land. You can see nearly all South Narnia from here, and we’re rather proud of the view. Right away on your left, beyond those near hills, you can just see the Western Mountains. And that round hill away on your right is called the Hill of the Stone Table. Just beyond—” But at that moment he was interrupted by a snore from Shasta who, what with his night’s journey and his excellent breakfast, had gone fast asleep. The kindly Dwarfs, as soon as they noticed this, began making signs to each other not to wake him, and indeed did so much whispering and nodding and getting up and tiptoeing away that they certainly would have waked him if he had been less tired.
He slept pretty well nearly all day but woke up in time for supper. The beds in that house were all too small for him but they made him a fine bed of heather on the floor, and he never stirred or dreamed all night. Next morning they had just finished breakfast when they heard a shrill, exciting sound from outside.
“Trumpets!” said all the Dwarfs, as they and Shasta all came running out.
The trumpets sounded again: a new noise to Shasta, not huge and solemn like the horns of Tashbaan nor gay and merry like King Lune’s hunting horn, but clear and sharp and valiant. The noise was coming from the woods to the East, and soon there was a noise of horse-hoofs mixed with it. A moment later the head of the column came into sight.
First came the Lord Peridan on a bay horse carrying the great banner of Narnia—a red lion on a green ground. Shasta knew him at once. Then came three people riding abreast, two on great chargers and one on a pony. The two on the chargers were King Edmund and a fair-haired lady with a very merry face who wore a helmet and a mail shirt and carried a bow across her shoulder and a quiver full of arrows at her side. (“The Queen Lucy,” whispered Duffle.) But the one on the pony was Corin. After that came the main body of the army: men on ordinary horses, men on Talking Horses (who didn’t mind being ridden on proper occasions, as when Narnia went to war), centaurs, stern, hard-bitten bears, great Talking Dogs, and last of all six giants. For there are good giants in Narnia. But though he knew they were on the right side Shasta at first could hardly bear to look at them; there are some things that take a lot of getting used to.
Just as the King and Queen reached the cottage and the Dwarfs began making low bows to them, King Edmund called out:
“Now, friends! Time for a halt and a morsel!” and at once there was a great bustle of people dismounting and haversacks being opened and conversation beginning when Corin came running up to Shasta and seized both his hands and cried: “What! You here! So you got through all right? I am glad. Now we shall have some sport. And isn’t it luck! We only got into the harbor at Cair Paravel yesterday morning and the very first person who met us was Chervy the Stag with this news of an attack on Anvard. Don’t you think—” “Who is your Highness’s friend?” said King Edmund who had just got off his horse.
“Don’t you see, Sire?” said Corin. “It’s my double: the boy you mistook me for at Tashbaan.”
“Why, so he is your double,” exclaimed Queen Lucy. “As like as two twins. This is a marvelous thing.”
“Please, your Majesty,” said Shasta to King Edmund, “I was no traitor, really I wasn’t. And I couldn’t help hearing your plans. But I’d never have dreamed of telling them to your enemies.”
“I know now that you were no traitor, boy,” said King Edmund, laying his hand on Shasta’s head. “But if you would not be taken for one, another time try not to hear what’s meant for other ears. But all’s well.” After that there was so much bustle and talk and coming and going that Shasta for a few minutes lost sight of Corin and Edmund and Lucy. But Corin was the sort of boy whom one is sure to hear of pretty soon and it wasn’t very long before Shasta heard King Edmund saying in a loud voice: “By the Lion’s Mane, prince, this is too much! Will your Highness never be better? You are more of a heart’s-scald than our whole army together! I’d as lief have a regiment of hornets in my command as you.”
Shasta wormed his way through the crowd and there saw Edmund, looking very angry indeed, Corin looking a little ashamed of himself, and a strange Dwarf sitting on the ground making faces. A couple of fauns had apparently just been helping it out of its armor.
“If I had but my cordial with me,” Queen Lucy was saying, “I could soon mend this. But the High King has so strictly charged me not to carry it commonly to the wars and to keep it only for great extremities!”
What had happened was this. As soon as Corin had spoken to Shasta, Corin’s elbow had been plucked by a Dwarf in the army called Thornbut.
“What is it, Thornbut?” Corin had said.
“Your Royal Highness,” said Thornbut, drawing him aside, “our march today will bring us through the pass and right to your royal father’s castle. We may be in battle before night.”
“I know,” said Corin. “Isn’t it splendid!”
“Splendid or not,” said Thornbut, “I have the strictest orders from King Edmund to see to it that your Highness is not in the fight. You will be allowed to see it, and that’s treat enough for your Highness’s little years.” “Oh what nonsense!” Corin burst out. “Of course I’m going to fight. Why, the Queen Lucy’s going to be with the archers.”
“The Queen’s grace will do as she pleases,” said Thornbut. “But you are in my charge. Either I must have your solemn and princely word that you’ll keep your pony beside mine—not half a neck ahead—till I give your Highness leave to depart: or else—it is his Majesty’s word—we must go with our wrists tied together like two prisoners.” “I’ll knock you down if you try to bind me,” said Corin.
“I’d like to see your Highness do it,” said the Dwarf.
That was quite enough for a boy like Corin and in a second he and the Dwarf were at it hammer and tongs. It would have been an even match for, though Corin had longer arms and more height, the Dwarf was older and tougher. But it was never fought out (that’s the worst of fights on a rough hillside) for by very bad luck Thornbut trod on a loose stone, came flat down on his nose, and found when he tried to get up that he had sprained his ankle: a real excruciating sprain which would keep him from walking or riding for at least a fortnight.
“See what your Highness has done,” said King Edmund. “Deprived us of a proved warrior on the very edge of battle.”
“I’ll take his place, Sire,” said Corin.
“Pshaw,” said Edmund. “No one doubts your courage. But a boy in battle is a danger only to his own side.”
At that moment the King was called away to attend to something else, and Corin, after apologizing handsomely to the Dwarf, rushed up to Shasta and whispered:
“Quick. There’s a spare pony now, and the Dwarf’s armor. Put it on before anyone notices.”
“What for?” said Shasta.
“Why, so that you and I can fight in the battle of course! Don’t you want to?”
“Oh—ah, yes, of course,” said Shasta. But he hadn’t been thinking of doing so at all, and began to get a most uncomfortable prickly feeling in his spine.
“That’s right,” said Corin. “Over your head. Now the sword-belt. But we must ride near the tail of the column and keep as quiet as mice. Once the battle begins everyone will be far too busy to notice us.”
THE FIGHT AT ANVARD
BY ABOUT ELEVEN O’CLOCK THE WHOLE company was once more on the march, riding westward with the mountains on their left. Corin and Shasta rode right at the rear with the Giants immediately in front of them. Lucy and Edmund and Peridan were busy with their plans for the battle and though Lucy once said, “But where is his goosecap Highness?” Edmund only replied, “Not in the front, and that’s good news enough. Leave well alone.” Shasta told Corin most of his adventures and explained that he had learned all his riding from a horse and didn’t really know how to use the reins. Corin instructed him in this, besides telling him all about their secret sailing from Tashbaan.
“And where is the Queen Susan?”
“At Cair Paravel,” said Corin. “She’s not like Lucy, you know, who’s as good as a man, or at any rate as good as a boy. Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady. She doesn’t ride to the wars, though she is an excellent archer.” The hillside path which they were following became narrower all the time and the drop on their right hand became steeper. At last they were going in single file along the edge of the precipice and Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it. “But of course,” he thought, “I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time.” Then the path went left and south away from the cliff and there were thick woods on both sides of it and they went steeply up and up into the pass. There would have been a splendid view from the top if it were open ground but among all those trees you could see nothing—only, every now and then, some huge pinnacle of rock above the tree-tops, and an eagle or two wheeling high up in the blue air.
“They smell battle,” said Corin, pointing at the birds. “They know we’re preparing a feed for them.”
Shasta didn’t like this at all.
When they had crossed the neck of the pass and come a good deal lower they reached more open ground and from here Shasta could see all Archenland, blue and hazy, spread out below him and even (he thought) a hint of the desert beyond it. But the sun, which had perhaps two hours or so to go before it set, was in his eyes and he couldn’t make things out distinctly.
Here the army halted and spread out in a line, and there was a great deal of rearranging. A whole detachment of very dangerous-looking Talking Beasts whom Shasta had not noticed before and who were mostly of the cat kind (leopards, panthers, and the like) went padding and growling to take up their positions on the left. The giants were ordered to the right, and before going there they all took off something they had been carrying on their backs and sat down for a moment. Then Shasta saw that what they had been carrying and were now putting on were pairs of boots: horrid, heavy, spiked boots which came up to their knees. Then they sloped their huge clubs over their shoulders and marched to their battle position. The archers, with Queen Lucy, fell to the rear and you could first see them bending their bows and then hear the twang-twang as they tested the strings. And wherever you looked you could see people tightening girths, putting on helmets, drawing swords, and throwing cloaks to the ground. There was hardly any talking now. It was very solemn and very dreadful. “I’m in for it now—I really am in for it now,” thought Shasta. Then there came noises far ahead: the sound of many men shouting and a steady thud-thud-thud.
“Battering ram,” whispered Corin. “They’re battering the gate.”
Even Corin looked quite serious now.
“Why doesn’t King Edmund get on?” he said. “I can’t stand this waiting about. Chilly too.”
Shasta nodded: hoping he didn’t look as frightened as he felt.
The trumpet at last! On the move now—now trotting—the banner streaming out in the wind. They had topped a low ridge now, and below them the whole scene suddenly opened out; a little, many-towered castle with its gate toward them. No moat, unfortunately, but of course the gate shut and the portcullis down. On the walls they could see, like little white dots, the faces of the defenders. Down below, about fifty of the Calormenes, dismounted, were steadily swinging a great tree trunk against the gate. But at once the scene changed. The main bulk of Rabadash’s men had been on foot ready to assault the gate. But now he had seen the Narnians sweeping down the ridge. There is no doubt those Calormenes are wonderfully trained. It seemed to Shasta only a second before a whole line of the enemy were on horseback again, wheeling round to meet them, swinging toward them.
And now a gallop. The ground between the two armies grew less every moment. Faster, faster. All swords out now, all shields up to the nose, all prayers said, all teeth clenched. Shasta was dreadfully frightened. But it suddenly came into his head, “If you funk this, you’ll funk every battle all your life. Now or never.” But when at last the two lines met he had really very little idea of what happened. There was a frightful confusion and an appalling noise. His sword was knocked clean out of his hand pretty soon. And he’d got the reins tangled somehow. Then he found himself slipping. Then a spear came straight at him and as he ducked to avoid it he rolled right off his horse, bashed his left knuckles terribly against someone else’s armor, and then— But it is no use trying to describe the battle from Shasta’s point of view; he understood too little of the fight in general and even of his own part in it. The best way I can tell you what really happened is to take you some miles away to where the Hermit of the Southern March sat gazing into the smooth pool beneath the spreading tree, with Bree and Hwin and Aravis beside him.
For it was in this pool that the Hermit looked when he wanted to know what was going on in the world outside the green walls of his hermitage. There, as in a mirror, he could see, at certain times, what was going on in the streets of cities far farther south than Tashbaan, or what ships were putting into Redhaven in the remote Seven Isles, or what robbers or wild beasts stirred in the great Western forests between Lantern Waste and Telmar. And all this day he had hardly left his pool, even to eat or drink, for he knew that great events were on foot in Archenland. Aravis and the Horses gazed into it too. They could see it was a magic pool: instead of reflecting the tree and the sky it revealed cloudy and colored shapes moving, always moving, in its depths. But they could see nothing clearly. The Hermit could and from time to time he told them what he saw. A little while before Shasta rode into his first battle, the Hermit had begun speaking like this: “I see one—two—three eagles wheeling in the gap by Stormness Head. One is the oldest of all eagles. He would not be out unless battle was at hand. I see him wheel to and fro, peering down sometimes at Anvard and sometimes to the east, behind Stormness. Ah—I see now what Rabadash and his men have been so busy at all day. They have felled and lopped a great tree and they are now coming out of the woods carrying it as a ram. They have learned something from the failure of last night’s assault. He would have been wiser if he had set his men to making ladders: but it takes too long and he is impatient. Fool that he is! He ought to have ridden back to Tashbaan as soon as the first attack failed, for his whole plan depended on speed and surprise. Now they are bringing their ram into position. King Lune’s men are shooting hard from the walls. Five Calormenes have fallen: but not many will. They have their shields above their heads. Rabadash is giving his orders now. With him are his most trusted lords, fierce Tarkaans from the eastern provinces. I can see their faces. There is Corradin of Castle Tormunt, and Azrooh, and Chlamash, and Ilgamuth of the twisted lip, and a tall Tarkaan with a crimson beard—” “By the Mane, my old master Anradin!” said Bree.
“S-s-sh,” said Aravis.
“Now the ram has started. If I could hear as well as see, what a noise that would make! Stroke after stroke: and no gate can stand it forever. But wait! Something up by Stormness has scared the birds. They’re coming out in masses. And wait again … I can’t see yet … ah! Now I can. The whole ridge, up on the east, is black with horsemen. If only the wind would catch that standard and spread it out. They’re over the ridge now, whoever they are. Aha! I’ve seen the banner now. Narnia, Narnia! It’s the red lion. They’re in full career down the hill now. I can see King Edmund. There’s a woman behind among the archers. Oh!—” “What is it?” asked Hwin breathlessly.
“All his Cats are dashing out from the left of the line.”
“Cats?” said Aravis.
“Great cats, leopards and such,” said the Hermit impatiently. “I see, I see. The Cats are coming round in a circle to get at the horses of the dismounted men. A good stroke. The Calormene horses are mad with terror already. Now the Cats are in among them. But Rabadash has re-formed his line and has a hundred men in the saddle. They’re riding to meet the Narnians. There’s only a hundred yards between the two lines now. Only fifty. I can see King Edmund, I can see the Lord Peridan. There are two mere children in the Narnian line. What can the King be about to let them into the battle? Only ten yards—the lines have met. The Giants on the Narnian right are doing wonders … but one’s down … shot through the eye, I suppose. The center’s all a muddle. I can see more on the left. There are the two boys again. Lion alive! one is Prince Corin. The other, like him as two peas. It’s your little Shasta. Corin is fighting like a man. He’s killed a Calormene. I can see a bit of the center now. Rabadash and Edmund al most met then, but the press has separated them—” “What about Shasta?” said Aravis.
“Oh the fool!” groaned the Hermit. “Poor, brave little fool. He knows nothing about this work. He’s making no use at all of his shield. His whole side’s exposed. He hasn’t the faintest idea what to do with his sword. Oh, he’s remembered it now. He’s waving it wildly about … nearly cut his own pony’s head off, and he will in a moment if he’s not careful. It’s been knocked out of his hand now. It’s mere murder sending a child into the battle; he can’t live five minutes. Duck, you fool—oh, he’s down.” “Killed?” asked three voices breathlessly.
“How can I tell?” said the Hermit. “The Cats have done their work. All the riderless horses are dead or escaped now: no retreat for the Calormenes on them. Now the Cats are turning back into the main battle. They’re leaping on the rams-men. The ram is down. Oh, good! good! The gates are opening from the inside: there’s going to be a sortie. The first three are out. It’s King Lune in the middle: the brothers Dar and Darrin on each side of him. Behind them are Tran and Shar and Cole with his brother Colin. There are ten—twenty—nearly thirty of them out by now. The Calormen line is being forced back upon them. King Edmund is dealing marvelous strokes. He’s just slashed Corradin’s head off. Lots of Calormenes have thrown down their arms and are running for the woods. Those that remain are hard pressed. The Giants are closing in on the right—Cats on the left—King Lune from their rear. The Calormenes are a little knot now, fighting back to back. Your Tarkaan’s down, Bree. Lune and Azrooh are fighting hand to hand; the King looks like winning—the King is keeping it up well—the King has won. Azrooh’s down. King Edmund’s down—no, he’s up again: he’s at it with Rabadash. They’re fighting in the very gate of the castle. Several Calormenes have surrendered. Darrin has killed Ilgamuth. I can’t see what’s happened to Rabadash. I think he’s dead, leaning against the castle wall, but I don’t know. Chlamash and King Edmund are still fighting but the battle is over everywhere else. Chlamash has surrendered. The battle is over. The Calormenes are utterly defeated.” When Shasta fell off his horse he gave himself up for lost. But horses, even in battle, tread on human beings very much less than you would suppose. After a very horrible ten minutes or so Shasta realized suddenly that there were no longer any horses stamping about in the immediate neighborhood and that the noise (for there were still a good many noises going on) was no longer that of a battle. He sat up and stared about him. Even he, little as he knew of battles, could soon see that the Archenlanders and Narnians had won. The only living Calormenes he could see were prisoners, the castle gates were wide open, and King Lune and King Edmund were shaking hands across the battering ram. From the circle of lords and warriors around them there arose a sound of breathless and excited, but obviously cheerful conversation. And then, suddenly, it all united and swelled into a great roar of laughter.
Shasta picked himself up, feeling uncommonly stiff, and ran toward the sound to see what the joke was. A very curious sight met his eyes. The unfortunate Rabadash appeared to be suspended from the castle walls. His feet, which were about two feet from the ground, were kicking wildly. His chain-shirt was somehow hitched up so that it was horribly tight under the arms and came halfway over his face. In fact he looked just as a man looks if you catch him in the very act of getting into a stiff shirt that is a little too small for him. As far as could be made out afterward (and you may be sure the story was well talked over for many a day) what had happened was something like this. Early in the battle one of the Giants had made an unsuccessful stamp at Rabadash with his spiked boot: unsuccessful because it didn’t crush Rabadash, which was what the Giant had intended, but not quite useless because one of the spikes tore the chain mail, just as you or I might tear an ordinary shirt. So Rabadash, by the time he encountered Edmund at the gate, had a hole in the back of his hauberk. And when Edmund pressed him back nearer and nearer to the wall, he jumped up on a mounting block and stood there raining down blows on Edmund from above. But then, finding that this position, by raising him above the heads of everyone else, made him a mark for every arrow from the Narnian bows, he decided to jump down again. And he meant to look and sound—no doubt for a moment he did look and sound—very grand and very dreadful as he jumped, crying, “The bolt of Tash falls from above.” But he had to jump sideways because the crowd in front of him left him no landing place in that direction. And then, in the neatest way you could wish, the tear in the back of his hauberk caught on a hook in the wall. (Ages ago this hook had had a ring in it for tying horses to.) And there he found himself, like a piece of washing hung up to dry, with everyone laughing at him.
“Let me down, Edmund,” howled Rabadash. “Let me down and fight me like a king and a man; or if you are too great a coward to do that, kill me at once.”
“Certainly,” began King Edmund, but King Lune interrupted.
“By your Majesty’s good leave,” said King Lune to Edmund. “Not so.” Then turning to Rabadash he said, “Your royal Highness, if you had given that challenge a week ago, I’ll answer for it there was no one in King Edmund’s dominion, from the High King down to the smallest Talking Mouse, who would have refused it. But by attacking our castle of Anvard in time of peace without defiance sent, you have proved yourself no knight, but a traitor, and one rather to be whipped by the hangman than to be suffered to cross swords with any person of honor. Take him down, bind him, and carry him within till our pleasure is further known.” Strong hands wrenched Rabadash’s sword from him and he was carried away into the castle, shouting, threatening, cursing, and even crying. For though he could have faced torture he couldn’t bear being made ridiculous. In Tashbaan everyone had always taken him seriously.
At that moment Corin ran up to Shasta, seized his hand and started dragging him toward King Lune. “Here he is, Father, here he is,” cried Corin.
“Aye, and here thou art, at last,” said the King in a very gruff voice. “And hast been in the battle, clean contrary to your obedience. A boy to break a father’s heart! At your age a rod to your breech were fitter than a sword in your fist, ha!” But everyone, including Corin, could see that the King was very proud of him.
“Chide him no more, Sire, if it please you,” said Lord Darrin. “His Highness would not be your son if he did not inherit your conditions. It would grieve your Majesty more if he had to be reproved for the opposite fault.” “Well, well,” grumbled the King. “We’ll pass it over for this time. And now—”
What came next surprised Shasta as much as anything that had ever happened to him in his life. He found himself suddenly embraced in a bear-like hug by King Lune and kissed on both cheeks. Then the King set him down again and said, “Stand here together, boys, and let all the court see you. Hold up your heads. Now, gentlemen, look on them both. Has any man any doubts?” And still Shasta could not understand why everyone stared at him and at Corin nor what all the cheering was about.
HOW BREE BECAME A WISER HORSE
WE MUST NOW RETURN TO ARAVIS AND the Horses. The Hermit, watching his pool, was able to tell them that Shasta was not killed or even seriously wounded, for he saw him get up and saw how affectionately he was greeted by King Lune. But as he could only see, not hear, he did not know what anyone was saying and, once the fighting had stopped and the talking had begun, it was not worthwhile looking in the pool any longer.
Next morning, while the Hermit was indoors, the three of them discussed what they should do next.
“I’ve had enough of this,” said Hwin. “The Hermit has been very good to us and I’m very much obliged to him I’m sure. But I’m getting as fat as a pet pony, eating all day and getting no exercise. Let’s go on to Narnia.” “Oh not today, Ma’am,” said Bree. “I wouldn’t hurry things. Some other day, don’t you think?”
“We must see Shasta first and say good-bye to him—and—and apologize,” said Aravis.
“Exactly!” said Bree with great enthusiasm. “Just what I was going to say.”
“Oh, of course,” said Hwin. “I expect he is in Anvard. Naturally we’d look in on him and say good-bye. But that’s on our way. And why shouldn’t we start at once? After all, I thought it was Narnia we all wanted to get to?” “I suppose so,” said Aravis. She was beginning to wonder what exactly she would do when she got there and was feeling a little lonely.
“Of course, of course,” said Bree hastily. “But there’s no need to rush things, if you know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t know what you mean,” said Hwin. “Why don’t you want to go?”
“M-m-m, broo-hoo,” muttered Bree. “Well, don’t you see, Ma’am—it’s an important occasion—returning to one’s own country—entering society—the best society—it is so essential to make a good impression—not perhaps looking quite ourselves, yet, eh?” Hwin broke out into a horse-laugh. “It’s your tail, Bree! I see it all now. You want to wait till your tail’s grown again! And we don’t even know if tails are worn long in Narnia. Really, Bree, you’re as vain as that Tarkheena in Tashbaan!” “You are silly, Bree,” said Aravis.
“By the Lion’s Mane, Tarkheena, I’m nothing of the sort,” said Bree indignantly. “I have a proper respect for myself and for my fellow horses, that’s all.”
“Bree,” said Aravis, who was not very interested in the cut of his tail, “I’ve been wanting to ask you something for a long time. Why do you keep swearing By the Lion and By the Lion’s Mane? I thought you hated lions.” “So I do,” answered Bree. “But when I speak of the Lion of course I mean Aslan, the great deliverer of Narnia who drove away the Witch and the Winter. All Narnians swear by him.”
“But is he a lion?”
“No, no, of course not,” said Bree in a rather shocked voice.
“All the stories about him in Tashbaan say he is,” replied Aravis. “And if he isn’t a lion why do you call him a lion?”
“Well, you’d hardly understand that at your age,” said Bree. “And I was only a little foal when I left so I don’t quite fully understand it myself.”
(Bree was standing with his back to the green wall while he said this, and the other two were facing him. He was talking in rather a superior tone with his eyes half shut; that was why he didn’t see the changed expression in the faces of Hwin and Aravis. They had good reason to have open mouths and staring eyes; because while Bree spoke they saw an enormous lion leap up from outside and balance itself on top of the green wall; only it was a brighter yellow and it was bigger and more beautiful and more alarming than any lion they had ever seen. And at once it jumped down inside the wall and began approaching Bree from behind. It made no noise at all. And Hwin and Aravis couldn’t make any noise themselves, no more than if they were frozen.) “No doubt,” continued Bree, “when they speak of him as a Lion they only mean he’s as strong as a lion or (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he is a real lion. Indeed it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he’d have to be a Beast just like the rest of us. Why!” (and here Bree began to laugh) “If he was a lion he’d have four paws, and a tail, and Whiskers! … Aie, ooh, hoo-hoo! Help!” For just as he said the word Whiskers, one of Aslan’s had actually tickled his ear. Bree shot away like an arrow to the other side of the enclosure and there turned; the wall was too high for him to jump and he could fly no farther. Aravis and Hwin both started back. There was about a second of intense silence.
Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the Lion.
“Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.”
Then he lifted his head and spoke in a louder voice.
“Now, Bree,” he said, “you poor, proud, frightened Horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.” “Aslan,” said Bree in a shaken voice, “I’m afraid I must be rather a fool.”
“Happy the Horse who knows that while he is still young. Or the Human either. Draw near, Aravis my daughter. See! My paws are velveted. You will not be torn this time.”
“This time, sir?” said Aravis.
“It was I who wounded you,” said Aslan. “I am the only lion you met in all your journeyings. Do you know why I tore you?”
“The scratches on your back, tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood, were equal to the stripes laid on the back of your stepmother’s slave because of the drugged sleep you cast upon her.
You needed to know what it felt like.”
“Yes, sir. Please—”
“Ask on, my dear,” said Aslan.
“Will any more harm come to her by what I did?”
“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.” Then he shook his head and spoke in a lighter voice.
“Be merry, little ones,” he said. “We shall meet soon again. But before that you will have another visitor.” Then in one bound he reached the top of the wall and vanished from their sight.
Strange to say, they felt no inclination to talk to one another about him after he had gone. They all moved slowly away to different parts of the quiet grass and there paced to and fro, each alone, thinking.
About half an hour later the two Horses were summoned to the back of the house to eat something nice that the Hermit had got ready for them and Aravis, still walking and thinking, was startled by the harsh sound of a trumpet outside the gate.
“Who is there?” said Aravis.
“His Royal Highness Prince Cor of Archenland,” said a voice from outside.
Aravis undid the door and opened it, drawing back a little way to let the strangers in.
Two soldiers with halberds came first and took their stand at either side of the entry. Then followed a herald, and the trumpeter.
“His Royal Highness Prince Cor of Archenland desires an audience of the Lady Aravis,” said the Herald. Then he and the trumpeter drew aside and bowed and the soldiers saluted and the Prince himself came in. All his attendants withdrew and closed the gate behind them.
The Prince bowed, and a very clumsy bow for a Prince it was. Aravis curtsied in the Calormene style (which is not at all like ours) and did it very well because, of course, she had been taught how. Then she looked up and saw what sort of person this Prince was.
She saw a mere boy. He was bare-headed and his fair hair was encircled with a very thin band of gold, hardly thicker than a wire. His upper tunic was of white cambric, as fine as a handkerchief, so that the bright red tunic beneath it showed through. His left hand, which rested on his enameled sword hilt, was bandaged.
Aravis looked twice at his face before she gasped and said, “Why! It’s Shasta!”
Shasta all at once turned very red and began speaking very quickly. “Look here, Aravis,” he said, “I do hope you won’t think I’m got up like this (and the trumpeter and all) to try to impress you or make out that I’m different or any rot of that sort. Because I’d far rather have come in my old clothes, but they’re burnt now, and my father said—” “Your father?” said Aravis.
“Apparently King Lune is my father,” said Shasta. “I might really have guessed it. Corin being so like me. We were twins, you see. Oh, and my name isn’t Shasta, it’s Cor.”
“Cor is a nicer name than Shasta,” said Aravis.
“Brothers’ names run like that in Archenland,” said Shasta (or Prince Cor as we must now call him). “Like Dar and Darrin, Cole and Colin and so on.”
“Shasta—I mean Cor,” said Aravis. “No, shut up. There’s something I’ve got to say at once. I’m sorry I’ve been such a pig. But I did change before I knew you were a Prince, honestly I did: when you went back, and faced the Lion.” “It wasn’t really going to kill you at all, that Lion,” said Cor.
“I know,” said Aravis, nodding. Both were still and solemn for a moment as each saw that the other knew about Aslan.
Suddenly Aravis remembered Cor’s bandaged hand. “I say!” she cried, “I forgot! You’ve been in a battle. Is that a wound?”
“A mere scratch,” said Cor, using for the first time a rather lordly tone. But a moment later he burst out laughing and said, “If you want to know the truth, it isn’t a proper wound at all. I only took the skin off my knuckles just as any clumsy fool might do without going near a battle.” “Still you were in the battle,” said Aravis. “It must have been wonderful.”
“It wasn’t at all like what I thought,” said Cor.
“But Sha—Cor, I mean—you haven’t told me anything yet about King Lune and how he found out who you were.”
“Well, let’s sit down,” said Cor. “For it’s rather a long story. And by the way, Father’s an absolute brick. I’d be just as pleased—or very nearly—at finding he’s my father even if he wasn’t a king. Even though Education and all sorts of horrible things are going to happen to me. But you want the story. Well, Corin and I were twins. And about a week after we were both born, apparently, they took us to a wise old Centaur in Narnia to be blessed or something. Now this Centaur was a prophet as a good many Centaurs are. Perhaps you haven’t seen any Centaurs yet? There were some in the battle yesterday. Most remarkable people, but I can’t say I feel quite at home with them yet. I say, Aravis, there are going to be a lot of things to get used to in these Northern countries.” “Yes, there are,” said Aravis. “But get on with the story.”
“Well, as soon as he saw Corin and me, it seems this Centaur looked at me and said, A day will come when that boy will save Archenland from the deadliest danger in which ever she lay. So of course my Father and Mother were very pleased. But there was someone present who wasn’t. This was a chap called Lord Bar who had been Father’s Lord Chancellor. And apparently he’d done something wrong—bezzling or some word like that—I didn’t understand that part very well—and Father had had to dismiss him. But nothing else was done to him and he was allowed to go on living in Archenland. But he must have been as bad as he could be, for it came out afterward he had been in the pay of the Tisroc and had sent a lot of secret information to Tashbaan. So as soon as he heard I was going to save Archenland from a great danger he decided I must be put out of the way. Well, he succeeded in kidnapping me (I don’t exactly know how) and rode away down the Winding Arrow to the coast. He’d had everything prepared and there was a ship manned with his own followers lying ready for him and he put out to sea with me on board. But Father got wind of it, though not quite in time, and was after him as quickly as he could. The Lord Bar was already at sea when Father reached the coast, but not out of sight. And Father was embarked in one of his own warships within twenty minutes.
“It must have been a wonderful chase. They were six days following Bar’s galleon and brought her to battle on the seventh. It was a great sea-fight (I heard a lot about it yesterday evening) from ten o’clock in the morning till sunset. Our people took the ship in the end. But I wasn’t there. The Lord Bar himself had been killed in the battle. But one of his men said that, early that morning, as soon as he saw he was certain to be overhauled, Bar had given me to one of his knights and sent us both away in the ship’s boat. And that boat was never seen again. But of course that was the same boat that Aslan (he seems to be at the back of all the stories) pushed ashore at the right place for Arsheesh to pick me up. I wish I knew that knight’s name, for he must have kept me alive and starved himself to do it.” “I suppose Aslan would say that was part of someone else’s story,” said Aravis.
“I was forgetting that,” said Cor.
“And I wonder how the prophecy will work out,” said Aravis, “and what the great danger is that you’re to save Archenland from.”
“Well,” said Cor rather awkwardly, “they seem to think I’ve done it already.”
Aravis clapped her hands. “Why, of course!” she said. “How stupid I am. And how wonderful! Archenland can never be in much greater danger than it was when Rabadash had crossed the Arrow with his two hundred horse and you hadn’t yet got through with your message. Don’t you feel proud?” “I think I feel a bit scared,” said Cor.
“And you’ll be living in Anvard now,” said Aravis rather wistfully.
“Oh!” said Cor. “I’d nearly forgotten what I came about. Father wants you to come and live with us. He says there’s been no lady in the court (they call it the court, I don’t know why) since Mother died. Do, Aravis. You’ll like Father—and Corin. They’re not like me; they’ve been properly brought up. You needn’t be afraid that—” “Oh stop it,” said Aravis, “or we’ll have a real fight. Of course I’ll come.”
“Now let’s go and see the Horses,” said Cor.
There was a great and joyous meeting between Bree and Cor, and Bree, who was still in a rather subdued frame of mind, agreed to set out for Anvard at once: he and Hwin would cross into Narnia on the following day. All four bade an affectionate farewell to the Hermit and promised that they would soon visit him again. By about the middle of the morning they were on their way. The Horses had expected that Aravis and Cor would ride, but Cor explained that except in war, where everyone must do what he can do best, no one in Narnia or Archenland ever dreamed of mounting a Talking Horse.
This reminded poor Bree again of how little he knew about Narnian customs and what dreadful mistakes he might make. So while Hwin strolled along in a happy dream, Bree got more nervous and more self-conscious with every step he took.
“Buck up, Bree,” said Cor. “It’s far worse for me than for you. You aren’t going to be educated. I shall be learning reading and writing and heraldry and dancing and history and music while you’ll be galloping and rolling on the hills of Narnia to your heart’s content.” “But that’s just the point,” groaned Bree. “Do Talking Horses roll? Supposing they don’t? I can’t bear to give it up. What do you think, Hwin?”
“I’m going to roll anyway,” said Hwin. “I don’t suppose any of them will care two lumps of sugar whether you roll or not.”
“Are we near that castle?” said Bree to Cor.
“Round the next bend,” said the Prince.
“Well,” said Bree, “I’m going to have a good one now: it may be the last. Wait for me a minute.”
It was five minutes before he rose again, blowing hard and covered with bits of bracken.
“Now I’m ready,” he said in a voice of profound gloom. “Lead on, Prince Cor, Narnia and the North.”
But he looked more like a horse going to a funeral than a long-lost captive returning to home and freedom.
RABADASH THE RIDICULOUS
THE NEXT TURN OF THE ROAD BROUGHT them out from among the trees and there, across green lawns, sheltered from the north wind by the high wooded ridge at its back, they saw the castle of Anvard. It was very old and built of a warm, reddish-brown stone.
Before they had reached the gate King Lune came out to meet them, not looking at all like Aravis’s idea of a king and wearing the oldest of old clothes; for he had just come from making a round of the kennels with his Huntsman and had only stopped for a moment to wash his doggy hands. But the bow with which he greeted Aravis as he took her hand would have been stately enough for an Emperor.
“Little lady,” he said, “we bid you very heartily welcome. If my dear wife were still alive we could make you better cheer but could not do it with a better will. And I am sorry that you have had misfortunes and been driven from your father’s house, which cannot but be a grief to you. My son Cor has told me about your adventures together and all your valor.” “It was he who did all that, Sir,” said Aravis. “Why, he rushed at a lion to save me.”
“Eh, what’s that?” said King Lune, his face brightening. “I haven’t heard that part of the story.”
Then Aravis told it. And Cor, who had very much wanted the story to be known, though he felt he couldn’t tell it himself, didn’t enjoy it so much as he had expected, and indeed felt rather foolish. But his father enjoyed it very much indeed and in the course of the next few weeks told it to so many people that Cor wished it had never happened.
Then the King turned to Hwin and Bree and was just as polite to them as to Aravis, and asked them a lot of questions about their families and where they had lived in Narnia before they had been captured. The Horses were rather tongue-tied for they weren’t yet used to being talked to as equals by Humans—grown-up Humans, that is. They didn’t mind Aravis and Cor.
Presently Queen Lucy came out from the castle and joined them and King Lune said to Aravis, “My dear, here is a loving friend of our house, and she has been seeing that your apartments are put to rights for you better than I could have done it.” “You’d like to come and see them, wouldn’t you?” said Lucy, kissing Aravis. They liked each other at once and soon went away together to talk about Aravis’s bedroom and Aravis’s boudoir and about getting clothes for her, and all the sort of things girls do talk about on such an occasion.
After lunch, which they had on the terrace (it was cold birds and cold game pie and wine and bread and cheese), King Lune ruffled up his brow and heaved a sigh and said, “Heigh-ho! We have still that sorry creature Rabadash on our hands, my friends, and must needs resolve what to do with him.” Lucy was sitting on the King’s right and Aravis on his left. King Edmund sat at one end of the table and the Lord Darrin faced him at the other. Dar and Peridan and Cor and Corin were on the same side as the King.
“Your Majesty would have a perfect right to strike off his head,” said Peridan. “Such an assault as he made puts him on a level with assassins.”
“It is very true,” said Edmund. “But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.” And he looked very thoughtful.
“To kill this Rabadash would go near to raising war with the Tisroc,” said Darrin.
“A fig for the Tisroc,” said King Lune. “His strength is in numbers and numbers will never cross the desert. But I have no stomach for killing men (even traitors) in cold blood. To have cut his throat in battle would have eased my heart mightily: but this is a different thing.” “By my counsel,” said Lucy, “your Majesty shall give him another trial. Let him go free on strait promise of fair dealing in the future. It may be that he will keep his word.”
“Maybe Apes will grow honest, Sister,” said Edmund. “But, by the Lion, if he breaks it again, may it be in such time and place that any of us could swap off his head in clean battle.”
“It shall be tried,” said the King: and then to one of the attendants, “Send for the prisoner, friend.”
Rabadash was brought before them in chains. To look at him anyone would have supposed that he had passed the night in a noisome dungeon without food or water; but in reality he had been shut up in quite a comfortable room and provided with an excellent supper. But as he was sulking far too furiously to touch the supper and had spent the whole night stamping and roaring and cursing, he naturally did not now look his best.
“Your royal Highness needs not to be told,” said King Lune, “that by the law of nations as well as by all reasons of prudent policy, we have as good right to your head as ever one mortal man had against another. Nevertheless, in consideration of your youth and the ill nurture, devoid of all gentilesse and courtesy, which you have doubtless had in the land of slaves and tyrants, we are disposed to set you free, unharmed, on these conditions: first, that—” “Curse you for a barbarian dog!” spluttered Rabadash. “Do you think I will even hear your conditions? Faugh! You talk very largely of nurture and I know not what. It’s easy, to a man in chains, ha! Take off these vile bonds, give me a sword, and let any of you who dares then debate with me.” Nearly all the lords sprang to their feet, and Corin shouted:
“Father! Can I box him? Please.” “Peace! Your Majesties! My Lords!” said King Lune. “Have we no more gravity among us than to be so chafed by the taunt of a pajock? Sit down, Corin, or shalt leave the table. I ask your Highness again, to hear our conditions.” “I hear no conditions from barbarians and sorcerers,” said Rabadash. “Not one of you dare touch a hair of my head. Every insult you have heaped on me shall be paid with oceans of Narnian and Archenlandish blood. Terrible shall the vengeance of the Tisroc be: even now. But kill me, and the burnings and torturings in these northern lands shall become a tale to frighten the world a thousand years hence. Beware! Beware! Beware! The bolt of Tash falls from above!” “Does it ever get caught on a hook halfway?” asked Corin.
“Shame, Corin,” said the King. “Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you: then, as you please.”
“Oh you foolish Rabadash,” sighed Lucy.
Next moment Cor wondered why everyone at the table had risen and was standing perfectly still. Of course he did the same himself. And then he saw the reason. Aslan was among them though no one had seen him coming. Rabadash started as the immense shape of the Lion paced softly in between him and his accusers.
“Rabadash,” said Aslan. “Take heed. Your doom is very near, but you may still avoid it. Forget your pride (what have you to be proud of?) and your anger (who has done you wrong?) and accept the mercy of these good kings.” Then Rabadash rolled his eyes and spread out his mouth into a horrible, long mirthless grin like a shark, and wagged his ears up and down (anyone can learn how to do this if they take the trouble). He had always found this very effective in Calormen. The bravest had trembled when he made these faces, and ordinary people had fallen to the floor, and sensitive people had often fainted. But what Rabadash hadn’t realized is that it is very easy to frighten people who know you can have them boiled alive the moment you give the word. The grimaces didn’t look at all alarming in Archenland; indeed Lucy only thought Rabadash was going to be sick.
“Demon! Demon! Demon!” shrieked the Prince. “I know you. You are the foul fiend of Narnia. You are the enemy of the gods. Learn who I am, horrible phantasm. I am descended from Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible. The curse of Tash is upon you. Lightning in the shape of scorpions shall be rained on you. The mountains of Narnia shall be ground into dust. The—” “Have a care, Rabadash,” said Aslan quietly. “The doom is nearer now: it is at the door; it has lifted the latch.”
“Let the skies fall,” shrieked Rabadash. “Let the earth gape! Let blood and fire obliterate the world! But be sure I will never desist till I have dragged to my palace by her hair the barbarian queen, the daughter of dogs, the—” “The hour has struck,” said Aslan: and Rabadash saw, to his supreme horror, that everyone had begun to laugh.
They couldn’t help it. Rabadash had been wagging his ears all the time and as soon as Aslan said, “The hour has struck!” the ears began to change. They grew longer and more pointed and soon were covered with gray hair. And while everyone was wondering where they had seen ears like that before, Rabadash’s face began to change too. It grew longer, and thicker at the top and larger eyed, and the nose sank back into the face (or else the face swelled out and became all nose) and there was hair all over it. And his arms grew longer and came down in front of him till his hands were resting on the ground: only they weren’t hands, now, they were hoofs. And he was standing on all fours, and his clothes disappeared, and everyone laughed louder and louder (because they couldn’t help it) for now what had been Rabadash was, simply and unmistakably, a donkey. The terrible thing was that his human speech lasted just a moment longer than his human shape, so that when he realized the change that was coming over him, he screamed out:
“Oh, not a Donkey! Mercy! If it were even a horse—e’en—a—hor—eeh—auh, eeh-auh.” And so the words died away into a donkey’s bray.
“Now hear me, Rabadash,” said Aslan. “Justice shall be mixed with mercy. You shall not always be an Ass.”
At this of course the Donkey twitched its ears forward—and that also was so funny that everybody laughed all the more. They tried not to, but they tried in vain.
“You have appealed to Tash,” said Aslan. “And in the temple of Tash you shall be healed. You must stand before the altar of Tash in Tashbaan at the great Autumn Feast this year and there, in the sight of all Tashbaan, your ass’s shape will fall from you and all men will know you for Prince Rabadash. But as long as you live, if ever you go more than ten miles away from the great temple in Tashbaan you shall instantly become again as you now are. And from that second change there will be no return.” There was a short silence and then they all stirred and looked at one another as if they were waking from sleep. Aslan was gone. But there was a brightness in the air and on the grass, and a joy in their hearts, which assured them that he had been no dream: and anyway, there was the donkey in front of them.
King Lune was the kindest-hearted of men and on seeing his enemy in this regrettable condition he forgot all his anger.
“Your royal Highness,” he said, “I am most truly sorry that things have come to this extremity. Your Highness will bear witness that it was none of our doing. And of course we shall be delighted to provide your Highness with shipping back to Tashbaan for the—er—treatment which Aslan has prescribed. You shall have every comfort which your Highness’s situation allows: the best of the cattle-boats—the freshest carrots and thistles—” But a deafening bray from the Donkey and a well-aimed kick at one of the guards made it clear that these kindly offers were ungratefully received.
And here, to get him out of the way, I’d better finish off the story of Rabadash. He (or it) was duly sent back by boat to Tashbaan and brought into the temple of Tash at the great Autumn Festival, and then he became a man again. But of course four or five thousand people had seen the transformation and the affair could not possibly be hushed up. And after the old Tisroc’s death when Rabadash became Tisroc in his place he turned out the most peaceable Tisroc Calormen had ever known. This was because, not daring to go more than ten miles from Tashbaan, he could never go on a war himself: and he didn’t want his Tarkaans to win fame in the wars at his expense, for that is the way Tisrocs get overthrown. But though his reasons were selfish, it made things much more comfortable for all the smaller countries round Calormen. His own people never forgot that he had been a donkey. During his reign, and to his face, he was called Rabadash the Peacemaker, but after his death and behind his back he was called Rabadash the Ridiculous, and if you look him up in a good History of Calormen (try the local library) you will find him under that name. And to this day in Calormene schools, if you do anything unusually stupid, you are very likely to be called “a second Rabadash.” Meanwhile at Anvard everyone was very glad that he had been disposed of before the real fun began, which was a grand feast held that evening on the lawn before the castle, with dozens of lanterns to help the moonlight. And the wine flowed and tales were told and jokes were cracked, and then silence was made and the King’s poet with two fiddlers stepped out into the middle of the circle. Aravis and Cor prepared themselves to be bored, for the only poetry they knew was the Calormene kind, and you know now what that was like. But at the very first scrape of the fiddles a rocket seemed to go up inside their heads, and the poet sang the great old lay of Fair Olvin and how he fought the Giant Pire and turned him into stone (and that is the origin of Mount Pire—it was a two-headed Giant) and won the Lady Liln for his bride; and when it was over they wished it was going to begin again. And though Bree couldn’t sing he told the story of the fight of Zalindreh. And Lucy told again (they had all, except Aravis and Cor, heard it many times but they all wanted it again) the tale of the Wardrobe and how she and King Edmund and Queen Susan and Peter the High King had first come into Narnia.
And presently, as was certain to happen sooner or later, King Lune said it was time for young people to be in bed. “And tomorrow, Cor,” he added, “shalt come over all the castle with me and see the estres and mark all its strength and weakness: for it will be thine to guard when I’m gone.” “But Corin will be the King then, Father,” said Cor.
“Nay, lad,” said King Lune, “thou art my heir. The crown comes to thee.”
“But I don’t want it,” said Cor. “I’d far rather—”
“‘Tis no question what thou wantest, Cor, nor I either.’ Tis in the course of law.”
“But if we’re twins we must be the same age.”
“Nay,” said the King with a laugh. “One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by full twenty minutes. And his better too, let’s hope, though that’s no great mastery.” And he looked at Corin with a twinkle in his eyes.
“But, Father, couldn’t you make whichever you like to be the next King?”
“No. The king’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king. Hast no more power to start away from thy crown than any sentry from his post.”
“Oh dear,” said Cor. “I don’t want to at all. And Corin—I am most dreadfully sorry. I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom.”
“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be King. I shan’t have to be King. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”
“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” When the two boys were going upstairs to bed Cor again asked Corin if nothing could be done about it. And Corin said:
“If you say another word about it, I’ll—I’ll knock you down.”
It would be nice to end the story by saying that after that the two brothers never disagreed about anything again, but I am afraid it would not be true. In reality they quarreled and fought just about as often as any other two boys would, and all their fights ended (if they didn’t begin) with Cor getting knocked down. For though, when they had both grown up and become swordsmen, Cor was the more dangerous man in battle, neither he nor anyone else in the North Countries could ever equal Corin as a boxer. That was how he got his name of Corin Thunder-Fist; and how he performed his great exploit against the Lapsed Bear of Stormness, which was really a Talking Bear but had gone back to Wild Bear habits. Corin climbed up to its lair on the Narnian side of Stormness one winter day when the snow was on the hills and boxed it without a time-keeper for thirty-three rounds. And at the end it couldn’t see out of its eyes and became a reformed character.
Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently. And after King Lune’s death they made a good King and Queen of Archenland and Ram the Great, the most famous of all the kings of Archenland, was their son. Bree and Hwin lived happily to a great age in Narnia and both got married but not to one another. And there weren’t many months in which one or both of them didn’t come trotting over the pass to visit their friends at Anvard.
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