فصل 01 - 04

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فصل 01 - 04

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ONE

BY CALDRON POOL

IN THE LAST DAYS OF NARNIA, FAR UP to the west beyond Lantern Waste and close beside the great waterfall, there lived an Ape. He was so old that no one could remember when he had first come to live in those parts, and he was the cleverest, ugliest, most wrinkled Ape you can imagine. He had a little house, built of wood and thatched with leaves, up in the fork of a great tree, and his name was Shift. There were very few Talking Beasts or Men or Dwarfs, or people of any sort, in that part of the wood, but Shift had one friend and neighbor who was a donkey called Puzzle. At least they both said they were friends, but from the way things went on you might have thought Puzzle was more like Shift’s servant than his friend. He did all the work. When they went together to the river, Shift filled the big skin bottles with water but it was Puzzle who carried them back. When they wanted anything from the towns further down the river it was Puzzle who went down with empty panniers on his back and came back with the panniers full and heavy. And all the nicest things that Puzzle brought back were eaten by Shift; for as Shift said, “You see, Puzzle, I can’t eat grass and thistles like you, so it’s only fair I should make it up in other ways.” And Puzzle always said, “Of course, Shift, of course. I see that.” Puzzle never complained, because he knew that Shift was far cleverer than himself and he thought it was very kind of Shift to be friends with him at all. And if ever Puzzle did try to argue about anything, Shift would always say, “Now, Puzzle, I understand what needs to be done better than you. You know you’re not clever, Puzzle.” And Puzzle always said, “No, Shift. It’s quite true. I’m not clever.” Then he would sigh and do whatever Shift had said.

One morning early in the year the pair of them were out walking along the shore of Caldron Pool. Caldron Pool is the big pool right under the cliffs at the western end of Narnia. The great waterfall pours down into it with a noise like everlasting thunder, and the River of Narnia flows out on the other side. The waterfall keeps the Pool always dancing and bubbling and churning round and round as if it were on the boil, and that of course is how it got its name of Caldron Pool. It is liveliest in the early spring when the waterfall is swollen with all the snow that has melted off the mountains from up beyond Narnia in the Western Wild from which the river comes. And as they looked at Caldron Pool Shift suddenly pointed with his dark, skinny finger and said, “Look! What’s that?”

“What’s what?” said Puzzle.

“That yellow thing that’s just come down the waterfall. Look! There it is again, it’s floating. We must find out what it is.”

“Must we?” said Puzzle.

“Of course we must,” said Shift. “It may be something useful. Just hop into the Pool like a good fellow and fish it out. Then we can have a proper look at it.” “Hop into the Pool?” said Puzzle, twitching his long ears.

“Well how are we to get it if you don’t?” said the Ape.

“But—but,” said Puzzle, “wouldn’t it be better if you went in? Because, you see, it’s you who wants to know what it is, and I don’t much. And you’ve got hands, you see. You’re as good as a Man or a Dwarf when it comes to catching hold of things. I’ve only got hoofs.” “Really, Puzzle,” said Shift, “I didn’t think you’d ever say a thing like that. I didn’t think it of you, really.”

“Why, what have I said wrong?” said the Ass, speaking in rather a humble voice, for he saw that Shift was very deeply offended. “All I meant was—” “Wanting me to go into the water,” said the Ape. “As if you didn’t know perfectly well what weak chests Apes always have and how easily they catch cold! Very well. I will go in. I’m feeling cold enough already in this cruel wind. But I’ll go in. I shall probably die. Then you’ll be sorry.” And Shift’s voice sounded as if he was just going to burst into tears.

“Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t,” said Puzzle, half braying, and half talking. “I never meant anything of the sort, Shift, really I didn’t. You know how stupid I am and how I can’t think of more than one thing at a time. I’d forgotten about your weak chest. Of course I’ll go in. You mustn’t think of doing it yourself. Promise me you won’t, Shift.” So Shift promised, and Puzzle went cloppety-clop on his four hoofs round the rocky edge of the Pool to find a place where he could get in. Quite apart from the cold it was no joke getting into that quivering and foaming water, and Puzzle had to stand and shiver for a whole minute before he made up his mind to do it. But then Shift called out from behind him and said: “Perhaps I’d better do it after all, Puzzle.” And when Puzzle heard that he said, “No, no. You promised. I’m in now,” and in he went.

A great mass of foam got him in the face and filled his mouth with water and blinded him. Then he went under altogether for a few seconds, and when he came up again he was in quite another part of the Pool. Then the swirl caught him and carried him round and round and faster and faster till it took him right under the waterfall itself, and the force of the water plunged him down, deep down, so that he thought he would never be able to hold his breath till he came up again. And when he had come up and when at last he got somewhere near the thing he was trying to catch, it sailed away from him till it too got under the fall and was forced down to the bottom. When it came up again it was further from him than ever. But at last, when he was almost tired to death, and bruised all over and numb with cold, he succeeded in gripping the thing with his teeth. And out he came carrying it in front of him and getting his front hoofs tangled up in it, for it was as big as a large hearthrug, and it was very heavy and cold and slimy.

He flung it down in front of Shift and stood dripping and shivering and trying to get his breath back. But the Ape never looked at him or asked him how he felt. The Ape was too busy going round and round the Thing and spreading it out and patting it and smelling it. Then a wicked gleam came into his eye and he said: “It is a lion’s skin.”

“Ee—auh—auh—oh, is it?” gasped Puzzle.

“Now I wonder … I wonder … I wonder,” said Shift to himself, for he was thinking very hard.

“I wonder who killed the poor lion,” said Puzzle presently. “It ought to be buried. We must have a funeral.”

“Oh, it wasn’t a Talking Lion,” said Shift. “You needn’t bother about that There are no Talking Beasts up beyond the Falls, up in the Western Wild. This skin must have belonged to a dumb, wild lion.” This, by the way, was true. A Hunter, a Man, had killed and skinned this lion somewhere up in the Western Wild several months before. But that doesn’t come into this story.

“All the same, Shift,” said Puzzle, “even if the skin only belonged to a dumb, wild lion, oughtn’t we to give it a decent burial? I mean, aren’t all lions rather—well, rather solemn? Because of you know Who. Don’t you see?” “Don’t you start getting ideas into your head, Puzzle,” said Shift. “Because, you know, thinking isn’t your strong point. We’ll make this skin into a fine warm winter coat for you.” “Oh, I don’t think I’d like that,” said the Donkey. ““It would look—I mean, the other Beasts might think—that is to say, I shouldn’t feel—” “What are you talking about?” said Shift, scratching himself the wrong way up as Apes do.

“I don’t think it would be respectful to the Great Lion, to Aslan himself, if an ass like me went about dressed up in a lion-skin,” said Puzzle.

“Now don’t stand arguing, please,” said Shift. “What does an ass like you know about things of that sort? You know you’re no good at thinking, Puzzle, so why don’t you let me do your thinking for you? Why don’t you treat me as I treat you? I don’t think I can do everything. I know you’re better at some things than I am. That’s why I let you go into the Pool; I knew you’d do it better than me. But why can’t I have my turn when it comes to something I can do and you can’t? Am I never to be allowed to do anything? Do be fair. Turn and turn about.” “Oh, well, of course, if you put it that way,” said Puzzle.

“I tell you what,” said Shift. “You’d better take a good brisk trot down river as far as Chippingford and see if they have any oranges or bananas.” “But I’m so tired, Shift,” pleaded Puzzle.

“Yes, but you are very cold and wet,” said the Ape. “You want something to warm you up. A brisk trot would be just the thing. Besides, it’s market day at Chippingford today.” And then of course Puzzle said he would go.

As soon as he was alone Shift went shambling along, sometimes on two paws and sometimes on four, till he reached his own tree. Then he swung himself up from branch to branch, chattering and grinning all the time, and went into his little house. He found needle and thread and a big pair of scissors there; for he was a clever Ape and the Dwarfs had taught him how to sew. He put the ball of thread (it was very thick stuff, more like cord than thread) into his mouth so that his cheek bulged out as if he were sucking a big bit of toffee. He held the needle between his lips and took the scissors in his left paw. Then he came down the tree and shambled across to the lion-skin. He squatted down and got to work.

He saw at once that the body of the lion-skin would be too long for Puzzle and its neck too short. So he cut a good piece out of the body and used it to make a long collar for Puzzle’s long neck. Then he cut off the head and sewed the collar in between the head and the shoulders. He put threads on both sides of the skin so that it would tie up under Puzzle’s chest and stomach. Every now and then a bird would pass overhead and Shift would stop his work, looking anxiously up. He did not want anyone to see what he was doing. But none of the birds he saw were Talking Birds, so it didn’t matter.

Late in the afternoon Puzzle came back. He was not trotting but only plodding patiently along, the way donkeys do.

“There weren’t any oranges,” he said, “and there weren’t any bananas. And I’m very tired.” He lay down.

“Come and try on your beautiful new lion-skin coat,” said Shift.

“Oh bother that old skin,” said Puzzle. “I’ll try it on in the morning. I’m too tired tonight.”

“You are unkind, Puzzle,” said Shift. “If you’re tired what do you think I am? All day long, while you’ve been having a lovely refreshing walk down the valley, I’ve been working hard to make you a coat. My paws are so tired I can hardly hold these scissors. And now you won’t say thank you—and you won’t even look at the coat—and you don’t care—and—and—” “My dear Shift,” said Puzzle getting up at once, “I am so sorry. I’ve been horrid. Of course I’d love to try it on. And it looks simply splendid. Do try it on me at once. Please do.” “Well, stand still then,” said the Ape. The skin was very heavy for him to lift, but in the end, with a lot of pulling and pushing and puffing and blowing, he got it onto the donkey. He tied it under-neath Puzzle’s body and he tied the legs to Puzzle’s legs and the tail to Puzzle’s tail. A good deal of Puzzle’s gray nose and face could be seen through the open mouth of the lion’s head. No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment. But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion, if he didn’t come too close, and if the light was not too good, and if Puzzle didn’t let out a bray and didn’t make any noise with his hoofs.

“You look wonderful, wonderful,” said the Ape. “If anyone saw you now, they’d think you were Aslan, the Great Lion, himself.” “That would be dreadful,” said Puzzle.

“No it wouldn’t,” said Shift. “Everyone would do whatever you told them.”

“But I don’t want to tell them anything.”

“But you think of the good we could do!” said Shift. “You’d have me to advise you, you know. I’d think of sensible orders for you to give. And everyone would have to obey us, even the King himself. We would set everything right in Narnia.” “But isn’t everything right already?” said Puzzle.

“What?” cried Shift. “Everything right?—when there are no oranges or bananas?”

“Well, you know,” said Puzzle, “there aren’t many people—in fact, I don’t think there’s anyone but yourself—who wants those sort of things.” “There’s sugar too,” said Shift.

“H’m yes,” said the Ass. “It would be nice if there was more sugar.”

“Well then, that’s settled,” said the Ape. “You will pretend to be Aslan, and I’ll tell you what to say.”

“No, no, no,” said Puzzle. “Don’t say such dreadful things. It would be wrong, Shift. I may be not very clever but I know that much. What would become of us if the real Aslan turned up?” “I expect he’d be very pleased,” said Shift. “Probably he sent us the lion-skin on purpose, so that we could set things to right. Anyway, he never does turn up, you know. Not nowadays.” At that moment there came a great thunderclap right overhead and the ground trembled with a small earthquake. Both the animals lost their balance and were flung on their faces.

“There!” gasped Puzzle, as soon as he had breath to speak. “It’s a sign, a warning. I knew we were doing something dreadfully wicked. Take this wretched skin off me at once.” “No, no,” said the Ape (whose mind worked very quickly). “It’s a sign the other way. I was just going to say that if the real Aslan, as you call him, meant us to go on with this, he would send us a thunderclap and an earth-tremor. It was just on the tip of my tongue, only the sign itself came before I could get the words out. You’ve got to do it now, Puzzle. And please don’t let us have any more arguing. You know you don’t understand these things. What could a donkey know about signs?” TWO

THE RASHNESS OF THE KING

ABOUT THREE WEEKS LATER THE LAST of the Kings of Narnia sat under the great oak which grew beside the door of his little hunting lodge, where he often stayed for ten days or so in the pleasant spring weather. It was a low, thatched building not far from the Eastern end of Lantern Waste and some way above the meeting of the two rivers. He loved to live there simply and at ease, away from the state and pomp of Cair Paravel, the royal city. His name was King Tirian, and he was between twenty and twenty-five years old; his shoulders were already broad and strong and his limbs full of hard muscle, but his beard was still scanty. He had blue eyes and a fearless, honest face.

There was no one with him that spring morning except his dearest friend, Jewel the Unicorn. They loved each other like brothers and each had saved the other’s life in the wars. The lordly beast stood close beside the King’s chair, with its neck bent round polishing its blue horn against the creamy whiteness of his flank.

“I cannot set myself to any work or sport today, Jewel,” said the King. “I can think of nothing but this wonderful news. Think you we shall hear more of it today?” “They are the most wonderful tidings ever heard in our days or our fathers’ or our grandfathers’ days, Sire,” said Jewel, “if they are true.” “How can they choose but be true?” said the King. “It is more than a week ago that the first birds came flying over us saying, Aslan is here, Aslan has come to Narnia again. And after that it was the squirrels. They had not seen him, but they said it was certain he was in the woods. Then came the Stag. He said he had seen him with his own eyes, a great way off, by moonlight, in Lantern Waste. Then came that dark Man with the beard, the merchant from Calormen. The Calormenes care nothing for Aslan as we do; but the man spoke of it as a thing beyond doubt. And there was the Badger last night; he too had seen Aslan.” “Indeed, Sire,” answered Jewel, “I believe it all. If I seem not to, it is only that my joy is too great to let my belief settle itself. It is almost too beautiful to believe.” “Yes,” said the King with a great sigh, almost a shiver, of delight. “It is beyond all that I ever hoped for in all my life.”

“Listen!” said Jewel, putting his head on one side and cocking his ears forward.

“What is it?” asked the King.

“Hoofs, Sire,” said Jewel. “A galloping horse. A very heavy horse. It must be one of the Centaurs. And look, there he is.”

A great, golden bearded Centaur, with man’s sweat on his forehead and horse’s sweat on his chestnut flanks, dashed up to the King, stopped, and bowed low. “Hail, King,” it cried in a voice as deep as a bull’s.

“Ho, there!” said the King, looking over his shoulder towards the door of the hunting lodge. “A bowl of wine for the noble Centaur. Welcome, Roonwit. When you have found your breath you shall tell us your errand.” A page came out of the house carrying a great wooden bowl, curiously carved, and handed it to the Centaur. The Centaur raised the bowl and said, “I drink first to Aslan and truth, Sire, and secondly to your Majesty.”

He finished the wine (enough for six strong men) at one draft and handed the empty bowl back to the page.

“Now, Roonwit,” said the King. “Do you bring us more news of Aslan?”

Roonwit looked very grave, frowning a little.

“Sire,” he said. “You know how long I have lived and studied the stars; for we Centaurs live longer than you Men, and even longer than your kind, Unicorn. Never in all my days have I seen such terrible things written in the skies as there have been nightly since this year began. The stars say nothing of the coming of Aslan, nor of peace, nor of joy. I know by my art that there have not been such disastrous conjunctions of the planets for five hundred years. It was already in my mind to come and warn your Majesty that some great evil hangs over Narnia. But last night the rumor reached me that Aslan is abroad in Narnia. Sire, do not believe this tale. It cannot be. The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do. If Aslan were really coming to Narnia the sky would have foretold it. If he were really come, all the most gracious stars would be assembled in his honor. It is all a lie.” “A lie!” said the King fiercely. “What creature in Narnia or all the world would dare to lie on such a matter?” And, without knowing it, he laid his hand on his sword hilt.

“That I know not, Lord King,” said the Centaur. “But I know there are liars on earth; there are none among the stars.”

“I wonder,” said Jewel, “whether Aslan might not come though all the stars foretold otherwise. He is not the slave of the stars but their Maker. Is it not said in all the old stories that He is not a tame lion.” “Well said, well said, Jewel,” cried the King. “Those are the very words: not a tame lion. It comes in many tales.”

Roonwit had just raised his hand and was leaning forward to say something very earnestly to the King when all three of them turned their heads to listen to a wailing sound that was quickly drawing nearer. The wood was so thick to the West of them that they could not see the newcomer yet. But they could soon hear the words.

“Woe, woe, woe!” called the voice. “Woe for my brothers and sisters! Woe for the holy trees! The woods are laid waste. The axe is loosed against us. We are being felled. Great trees are falling, falling, falling.” With the last “falling” the speaker came in sight. She was like a woman but so tall that her head was on a level with the Centaur’s yet she was like a tree too. It is hard to explain if you have never seen a Dryad but quite unmistakable once you have—something different in the color, the voice, and the hair. King Tirian and the two Beasts knew at once that she was the nymph of a beech tree.

“Justice, Lord King!” she cried. “Come to our aid. Protect your people. They are felling us in Lantern Waste. Forty great trunks of my brothers and sisters are already on the ground.” “What, Lady! Felling Lantern Waste? Murdering the talking trees?” cried the King, leaping to his feet and drawing his sword. “How dare they? And who dares it? Now by the Mane of Aslan—”

“A-a-a-h,” gasped the Dryad shuddering as if in pain—shuddering time after time as if under repeated blows. Then all at once she fell sideways as suddenly as if both her feet had been cut from under her. For a second they saw her lying dead on the grass and then she vanished. They knew what had happened. Her tree, miles away, had been cut down.

For a moment the King’s grief and anger were so great that he could not speak. Then he said:

“Come, friends. We must go up river and find the villains who have done this, with all the speed we may. I will leave not one of them alive.” “Sire, with a good will,” said Jewel.

But Roonwit said, “Sire, be wary in your just wrath. There are strange doings on foot. If there should be rebels in arms further up the valley, we three are too few to meet them. If it would please you to wait while—” “I will not wait the tenth part of a second,” said the King. “But while Jewel and I go forward, do you gallop as hard as you may to Cair Paravel. Here is my ring for your token. Get me a score of men-at-arms, all well mounted, and a score of Talking Dogs, and ten Dwarfs (let them all be fell archers), and a Leopard or so, and Stonefoot the Giant. Bring all these after us as quickly as can be.” “With a good will, Sire,” said Roonwit. And at once he turned and galloped Eastward down the valley.

The King strode on at a great pace, sometimes muttering to himself and sometimes clenching his fists. Jewel walked beside him, saying nothing; so there was no sound between them but the faint jingle of a rich gold chain that hung round the Unicorn’s neck and the noise of two feet and four hoofs.

They soon reached the River and turned up it where there was a grassy road: they had the water on their left and the forest on their right. Soon after that they came to the place where the ground grew rougher and thick wood came down to the water’s edge. The road, what there was of it, now ran on the Southern bank and they had to ford the River to reach it. It was up to Tirian’s arm-pits, but Jewel (who had four legs and was therefore steadier) kept on his right so as to break the force of the current, and Tirian put his strong arm round the Unicorn’s strong neck and they both got safely over. The King was still so angry that he hardly noticed the cold of the water. But of course he dried his sword very carefully on the shoulder of his cloak, which was the only dry part of him, as soon as they came to shore.

They were now going Westward with the River on their right and Lantern Waste straight ahead of them. They had not gone more than a mile when they both stopped and both spoke at the same moment. The King said “What have we here?” and Jewel said “Look!” “It is a raft,” said King Tirian.

And so it was. Half a dozen splendid tree-trunks, all newly cut and newly lopped of their branches, had been lashed together to make a raft, and were gliding swiftly down the river. On the front of the raft there was a water rat with a pole to steer it.

“Hey! Water-Rat! What are you about?” cried the King.

“Taking logs down to sell to the Calormenes, Sire,” said the Rat, touching his ear as he might have touched his cap if he had had one.

“Calormenes!” thundered Tirian. “What do you mean? Who gave order for these trees to be felled?”

The River flows so swiftly at that time of the year that the raft had already glided past the King and Jewel. But the Water-Rat looked back over its shoulder and shouted out:

“The Lion’s orders, Sire. Aslan himself.” He added something more but they couldn’t hear it.

The King and the Unicorn stared at one another and both looked more frightened than they had ever been in any battle.

“Aslan,” said the King at last, in a very low voice. “Aslan. Could it be true? Could he be felling the holy trees and murdering the Dryads?” “Unless the Dryads have all done something dreadfully wrong—” murmured Jewel.

“But selling them to Calormenes!” said the King. “Is it possible?”

“I don’t know,” said Jewel miserably. “He’s not a tame lion.”

“Well,” said the King at last, “we must go on and take the adventure that comes to us.”

“It is the only thing left for us to do, Sire,” said the Unicorn. He did not see at the moment how foolish it was for two of them to go on alone; nor did the King. They were too angry to think clearly. But much evil came of their rashness in the end.

Suddenly the King leaned hard on his friend’s neck and bowed his head.

“Jewel,” he said, “what lies before us? Horrible thoughts arise in my heart. If we had died before today we should have been happy.” “Yes,” said Jewel. “We have lived too long. The worst thing in the world has come upon us.” They stood like that for a minute or two and then went on.

Before long they could hear the hack-hack-hack of axes falling on timber, though they could see nothing yet because there was a rise of the ground in front of them. When they had reached the top of it they could see right into Lantern Waste itself. And the King’s face turned white when he saw it.

Right through the middle of that ancient forest—that forest where the trees of gold and of silver had once grown and where a child from our world had once planted the Tree of Protection—a broad lane had already been opened. It was a hideous lane like a raw gash in the land, full of muddy ruts where felled trees had been dragged down to the river. There was a great crowd of people at work, and a cracking of whips, and horses tugging and straining as they dragged at the logs. The first thing that struck the King and the Unicorn was that about half the people in the crowd were not Talking Beasts but Men. The next thing was that these men were not the fair-haired men of Narnia: they were dark, bearded men from Calormen, that great and cruel country that lies beyond Archenland across the desert to the south. There was no reason, of course, why one should not meet a Calormene or two in Narnia—a merchant or an ambassador—for there was peace between Narnia and Calormen in those days. But Tirian could not understand why there were so many of them: nor why they were cutting down a Narnian forest. He grasped his sword tighter and rolled his cloak round his left arm. They came quickly down among the men.

Two Calormenes were driving a horse which was harnessed to a log. Just as the King reached them, the log got stuck in a bad muddy place.

“Get on, son of sloth! Pull, you lazy pig!” cried the Calormenes, cracking their whips. The horse was already straining himself as hard as he could; his eyes were red and he was covered with foam.

“Work, lazy brute,” shouted one of the Calormenes: and as he spoke he struck the horse savagely with his whip. It was then that the really dreadful thing happened.

Up till now Tirian had taken it for granted that the horses which the Calormenes were driving were their own horses; dumb, witless animals like the horses of our own world. And though he hated to see even a dumb horse overdriven, he was of course thinking more about the murder of the Trees. It had never crossed his mind that anyone would dare to harness one of the free Talking Horses of Narnia, much less to use a whip on it. But as that savage blow fell the horse reared up and said, half screaming: “Fool and tyrant! Do you not see I am doing all I can?”

When Tirian knew that the Horse was one of his own Narnians, there came over him and over Jewel such a rage that they did not know what they were doing. The King’s sword went up, the Unicorn’s horn went down. They rushed forward together. Next moment both the Calormenes lay dead, the one beheaded by Tirian’s sword and the other gored through the heart by Jewel’s horn.

THREE

THE APE IN ITS GLORY

“MASTER HORSE, MASTER HORSE,” SAID Tirian as he hastily cut its traces, “how came these aliens to enslave you? Is Narnia conquered? Has there been a battle?” “No, Sire,” panted the horse, “Aslan is here. It is all by his orders. He has commanded—”

“’Ware danger, King,” said Jewel. Tirian looked up and saw that Calormenes (mixed with a few Talking Beasts) were beginning to run toward them from every direction. The two dead men had died without a cry and so it had taken a moment before the rest of the crowd knew what had happened. But now they did. Most of them had naked scimitars in their hands.

“Quick. On my back,” said Jewel.

The King flung himself astride of his old friend who turned and galloped away. He changed direction twice or thrice as soon as they were out of sight of their enemies, crossed a stream, and shouted without slackening his pace, “Whither away, Sire? To Cair Paravel?”

“Hold hard, friend,” said Tirian. “Let me off.” He slid off the Unicorn’s back and faced him.

“Jewel,” said the King. “We have done a dreadful deed.”

“We were sorely provoked,” said Jewel.

“But to leap on them unawares—without defying them—while they were unarmed—faugh! We are two murderers, Jewel. I am dishonored forever.” Jewel drooped his head. He too was ashamed.

“And then,” said the King, “the Horse said it was by Aslan’s orders. The Rat said the same. They all say Aslan is here. How if it were true?” “But, Sire, how could Aslan be commanding such dreadful things?”

“He is not a tame lion,” said Tirian. “How should we know what he would do? We, who are murderers. Jewel, I will go back. I will give up my sword and put myself in the hands of these Calormenes and ask that they bring me before Aslan. Let him do justice on me.” “You will go to your death, then,” said Jewel.

“Do you think I care if Aslan dooms me to death?” said the King. “That would be nothing, nothing at all. Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun.” “I know,” said Jewel. “Or as if you drank water and it were dry water. You are in the right, Sire. This is the end of all things. Let us go and give ourselves up.” “There is no need for both of us to go.”

“If ever we loved one another, let me go with you now,” said the Unicorn. “If you are dead and if Aslan is not Aslan, what life is left for me?” They turned and walked back together, shedding bitter tears.

As soon as they came to the place where the work was going on the Calormenes raised a cry and came toward them with their weapons in hand. But the King held out his sword with the hilt toward them and said: “I who was King of Narnia and am now a dishonored knight give myself up to the Justice of Aslan. Bring me before him.”

“And I give myself up too,” said Jewel.

Then the dark men came round them in a thick crowd, smelling of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces. They put a rope halter round Jewel’s neck. They took the King’s sword away and tied his hands behind his back. One of the Calormenes, who had a helmet instead of a turban and seemed to be in command, snatched the gold circlet off Tirian’s head and hastily put it away somewhere among his clothes. They led the two prisoners uphill to a place where there was a big clearing. And this was what the prisoners saw.

At the center of the clearing, which was also the highest point of the hill, there was a little hut like a stable, with a thatched roof. Its door was shut. On the grass in front of the door there sat an Ape. Tirian and Jewel, who had been expecting to see Aslan and had heard nothing about an Ape yet, were very bewildered when they saw it. The Ape was of course Shift himself, but he looked ten times uglier than when he lived by Caldron Pool, for he was now dressed up. He was wearing a scarlet jacket which did not fit him very well, having been made for a dwarf. He had jeweled slippers on his hind paws which would not stay on properly because, as you know, the hind paws of an Ape are really like hands. He wore what seemed to be a paper crown on his head. There was a great pile of nuts beside him and he kept cracking nuts with his jaws and spitting out the shells. And he also kept on pulling up the scarlet jacket to scratch himself. A great number of Talking Beasts stood facing him, and nearly every face in that crowd looked miserably worried and bewildered. When they saw who the prisoners were they all groaned and whimpered.

“O Lord Shift, mouthpiece of Aslan,” said the chief Calormene. “We bring you prisoners. By our skill and courage and by the permission of the great god Tash we have taken alive these two desperate murderers.” “Give me that man’s sword,” said the Ape. So they took the King’s sword and handed it, with the sword-belt and all, to the monkey. And he hung it round his own neck: and it made him look sillier than ever.

“We’ll see about those two later,” said the Ape, spitting out a shell in the direction of the two prisoners. “I got some other business first. They can wait. Now listen to me, everyone. The first thing I want to say is about nuts. Where’s that Head Squirrel got to?” “Here, Sir,” said a red squirrel, coming forward and making a nervous little bow.

“Oh you are, are you?” said the Ape with a nasty look. “Now attend to me. I want—I mean, Aslan wants—some more nuts. These you’ve brought aren’t anything like enough. You must bring some more, do you hear? Twice as many. And they’ve got to be here by sunset tomorrow, and there mustn’t be any bad ones or any small ones among them.” A murmur of dismay ran through the other squirrels, and the Head Squirrel plucked up courage to say:

“Please, would Aslan himself speak to us about it? If we might be allowed to see him—”

“Well you won’t,” said the Ape. “He may be very kind (though it’s a lot more than most of you deserve) and come out for a few minutes tonight. Then you can all have a look at him. But he will not have you all crowding round him and pestering him with questions. Anything you want to say to him will be passed on through me: if I think it’s worth bothering him about. In the meantime all you squirrels had better go and see about the nuts. And make sure they are here by tomorrow evening or, my word! you’ll catch it.” The poor squirrels all scampered away as if a dog were after them. This new order was terrible news for them. The nuts they had carefully hoarded for the winter had nearly all been eaten by now; and of the few that were left they had already given the Ape far more than they could spare.

Then a deep voice—it belonged to a great tusked and shaggy Boar—spoke from another part of the crowd.

“But why can’t we see Aslan properly and talk to him?” it said. “When he used to appear in Narnia in the old days everyone could talk to him face to face.”

“Don’t you believe it,” said the Ape. “And even if it was true, times have changed. Aslan says he’s been far too soft with you before, do you see? Well, he isn’t going to be soft any more. He’s going to lick you into shape this time. He’ll teach you to think he’s a tame lion!” A low moaning and whimpering was heard among the Beasts; and, after that, a dead silence which was more miserable still.

“And now there’s another thing you got to learn,” said the Ape. “I hear some of you are saying I’m an Ape. Well, I’m not. I’m a Man. If I look like an Ape, that’s because I’m so very old: hundreds and hundreds of years old. And it’s because I’m so old that I’m so wise. And it’s because I’m so wise that I’m the only one Aslan is ever going to speak to. He can’t be bothered talking to a lot of stupid animals. He’ll tell me what you’ve got to do, and I’ll tell the rest of you. And take my advice, and see you do it in double quick time, for he doesn’t mean to stand any nonsense.” There was dead silence except for the noise of a very young badger crying and its mother trying to make it keep quiet.

“And now here’s another thing,” the Ape went on, fitting a fresh nut into its cheek, “I hear some of the horses are saying, Let’s hurry up and get this job of carting timber over as quickly as we can, and then we’ll be free again. Well, you can get that idea out of your heads at once. And not only the Horses either. Everybody who can work is going to be made to work in future. Aslan has it all settled with the King of Calormen—The Tisroc, as our dark faced friends the Calormenes call him. All you Horses and Bulls and Donkeys are to be sent down into Calormen to work for your living—pulling and carrying the way horses and such-like do in other countries. And all you digging animals like Moles and Rabbits and Dwarfs are going down to work in The Tisroc’s mines. And—” “No, no, no,” howled the Beasts. “It can’t be true. Aslan would never sell us into slavery to the King of Calormen.”

“None of that! Hold your noise!” said the Ape with a snarl. “Who said anything about slavery? You won’t be slaves. You’ll be paid—very good wages too. That is to say, your pay will be paid into Aslan’s treasury and he will use it all for everybody’s good.” Then he glanced, and almost winked, at the chief Calormene. The Calormene bowed and replied, in the pompous Calormene way: “Most sapient Mouthpiece of Aslan, The Tisroc (may-he-live-forever) is wholly of one mind with your lordship in this judicious plan.” “There! You see!” said the Ape. “It’s all arranged. And all for your own good. We’ll be able, with the money you earn, to make Narnia a country worth living in. There’ll be oranges and bananas pouring in—and roads and big cities and schools and offices and whips and muzzles and saddles and cages and kennels and prisons—Oh, everything.” “But we don’t want all those things,” said an old Bear. “We want to be free. And we want to hear Aslan speak himself.”

“Now don’t you start arguing,” said the Ape, “for it’s a thing I won’t stand. I’m a Man: you’re only a fat, stupid old Bear. What do you know about freedom? You think freedom means doing what you like. Well, you’re wrong. That isn’t true freedom. True freedom means doing what I tell you.” “H-n-n-h,” grunted the Bear and scratched its head; it found this sort of thing hard to understand.

“Please, please,” said the high voice of a woolly lamb, who was so young that everyone was surprised he dared to speak at all.

“What is it now?” said the Ape. “Be quick.”

“Please,” said the Lamb, “I can’t understand. What have we to do with the Calormenes? We belong to Aslan. They belong to Tash. They have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture. They kill Men on his altar. I don’t believe there’s any such person as Tash. But if there was, how could Aslan be friends with him?” All the animals cocked their heads sideways and all their bright eyes flashed toward the Ape. They knew it was the best question anyone had asked yet.

The Ape jumped up and spat at the Lamb.

Up till now the King and Jewel had said nothing: they were waiting until the Ape should bid them speak, for they thought it was no use interrupting. But now, as Tirian looked round on the miserable faces of the Narnians, and saw how they would all believe that Aslan and Tash were one and the same, he could bear it no longer.

“Ape,” he cried with a great voice, “you lie damnably.

You lie like a Calormene. You lie like an Ape.”

He meant to go on and ask how the terrible god Tash who fed on the blood of his people could possibly be the same as the good Lion by whose blood all Narnia was saved. If he had been allowed to speak, the rule of the Ape might have ended that day; the Beasts might have seen the truth and thrown the Ape down. But before he could say another word two Calormenes struck him in the mouth with all their force, and a third, from behind, kicked his feet from under him. And as he fell, the Ape squealed in rage and terror.

“Take him away. Take him away. Take him where he cannot hear us, nor we hear him. There tie him to a tree. I will—I mean, Aslan will—do justice on him later.”

FOUR

WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT

THE KING WAS SO DIZZY FROM BEING knocked down that he hardly knew what was happening until the Calormenes untied his wrists and put his arms straight down by his sides and set him with his back against an ash tree. Then they bound ropes round his ankles and his knees and his waist and his chest and left him there. What worried him worst at the moment—for it is often little things that are hardest to stand—was that his lip was bleeding where they had hit him and he couldn’t wipe the little trickle of blood away although it tickled him.

From where he was he could still see the little stable on the top of the hill and the Ape sitting in front of it. He could just hear the Ape’s voice still going on and, every now and then, some answer from the crowd, but he could not make out the words.

“I wonder what they’ve done to Jewel,” thought the King.

Presently the crowd of beasts broke up and began going away in different directions. Some passed close to Tirian. They looked at him as if they were both frightened and sorry to see him tied up but none of them spoke. Soon they had all gone and there was silence in the wood. Then hours and hours went past and Tirian became first very thirsty and then very hungry; and as the afternoon dragged on and turned into evening, he became cold too. His back was very sore. The sun went down and it began to be twilight.

When it was almost dark Tirian heard a light pitter-patter of feet and saw some small creatures coming toward him. The three on the left were Mice, and there was a Rabbit in the middle: on the right were two Moles. Both these were carrying little bags on their backs which gave them a curious look in the dark so that at first he wondered what kind of beasts they were. Then, in a moment, they were all standing up on their hind legs, laying their cool paws on his knees and giving his knees snuffly animal kisses. (They could reach his knees because Narnian Talking Beasts of that sort are bigger than the dumb beasts of the same kind in England.) “Lord King! dear Lord King,” said their shrill voices, “we are so sorry for you. We daren’t untie you because Aslan might be angry with us. But we’ve brought you your supper.”

At once the first Mouse climbed nimbly up till he was perched on the rope that bound Tirian’s chest and was wrinkling his blunt nose in front of Tirian’s face. Then the second Mouse climbed up and hung on just below the first Mouse. The other beasts stood on the ground and began handing things up.

“Drink, Sire, and then you’ll find you are able to eat,” said the topmost Mouse, and Tirian found that a little wooden cup was being held to his lips. It was only the size of an egg cup so that he had hardly tasted the wine in it before it was empty. But then the Mouse passed it down and the others refilled it and it was passed up again and Tirian emptied it a second time. In this way they went on till he had quite a good drink, which was all the better for coming in little doses, for that is more thirst-quenching than one long draft.

“Here is cheese, Sire,” said the first Mouse, “but not very much, for fear it would make you too thirsty.” And after the cheese they fed him with oat-cakes and fresh butter, and then with some more wine.

“Now hand up the water,” said the first Mouse, “and I’ll wash the King’s face. There is blood on it.”

Then Tirian felt something like a tiny sponge dabbing his face, and it was most refreshing.

“Little friends,” said Tirian, “how can I thank you for all this?”

“You needn’t, you needn’t,” said the little voices. “What else could we do? We don’t want any other King. We’re your people. If it was only the Ape and the Calormenes who were against you we would have fought till we were cut into pieces before we’d have let them tie you up. We would, we would indeed. But we can’t go against Aslan.” “Do you think it really is Aslan?” asked the King.

“Oh yes, yes,” said the Rabbit. “He came out of the stable last night. We all saw him.”

“What was he like?” said the King.

“Like a terrible, great Lion, to be sure,” said one of the Mice.

“And you think it is really Aslan who is killing the Wood-Nymphs and making you all slaves to the King of Calormen?”

“Ah, that’s bad, isn’t it?” said the second Mouse. “It would have been better if we’d died before all this began. But there’s no doubt about it. Everyone says it is Aslan’s orders. And we’ve seen him. We didn’t think Aslan would be like that. Why, we—we wanted him to come back to Narnia.” “He seems to have come back very angry this time,” said the first Mouse. “We must all have done something dreadfully wrong without knowing it. He must be punishing us for something. But I do think we might be told what it was!” “I suppose what we’re doing now may be wrong,” said the Rabbit.

“I don’t care if it is,” said one of the Moles. “I’d do it again.”

But the others said, “Oh hush,” and “Do be careful,” and then they all said, “We’re sorry, dear King, but we must go back now. It would never do for us to be caught here.” “Leave me at once, dear Beasts,” said Tirian. “I would not for all Narnia bring any of you into danger.”

“Goodnight, goodnight,” said the Beasts, rubbing their noses against his knees. “We will come back—if we can.” Then they all pattered away and the wood seemed darker and colder and lonelier than it had been before they came.

The stars came out and time went slowly on—imagine how slowly—while the last King of Narnia stood stiff and sore and upright against the tree in his bonds. But at last something happened.

Far away there appeared a red light. Then it disappeared for a moment and came back again, bigger and stronger. Then he could see dark shapes going to and fro on this side of the light and carrying bundles and throwing them down. He knew now what he was looking at. It was a bonfire, newly lit, and people were throwing bundles of brushwood onto it. Presently it blazed up and Tirian could see that it was on the very top of the hill. He could see quite clearly the stable behind it, all lit up in the red glow, and a great crowd of Beasts and Men between the fire and himself. A small figure, hunched up beside the fire, must be the Ape. It was saying something to the crowd, but he could not hear what. Then it went and bowed three times to the ground in front of the door of the stable. Then he got up and opened the door. And something on four legs—something that walked rather stiffly—came out of the stable and stood facing the crowd.

A great wailing or howling went up, so loud that Tirian could hear some of the words.

“Aslan! Aslan! Aslan!” cried the Beasts. “Speak to us.

Comfort us. Be angry with. us no more.”

From where Tirian was he could not make out very clearly what the thing was; but he could see that it was yellow and hairy. He had never seen the Great Lion. He had never seen a common lion. He couldn’t be sure that what he saw was not the real Aslan. He had not expected Aslan to look like that stiff thing which stood and said nothing. But how could one be sure? For a moment horrible thoughts went through his mind: then he remembered the nonsense about Tash and Aslan being the same and knew that the whole thing must be a cheat.

The Ape put his head close up to the yellow thing’s head as if he were listening to something it was whispering to him. Then he turned and spoke to the crowd, and the crowd wailed again. Then the yellow thing turned clumsily round and walked—you might almost say, waddled—back into the stable and the Ape shut the door behind it. After that the fire must have been put out for the light vanished quite suddenly, and Tirian was once more alone with the cold and the darkness.

He thought of other Kings who had lived and died in Narnia in old times and it seemed to him that none of them had ever been so unlucky as himself. He thought of his great grandfather’s great-grandfather King Rilian who had been stolen away by a Witch when he was only a young prince and kept hidden for years in the dark caves beneath the land of the Northern Giants. But then it had all come right in the end, for two mysterious children had suddenly appeared from the land beyond the world’s end and had rescued him so that he came home to Narnia and had a long and prosperous reign. “It’s not like that with me,” said Tirian to himself.

Then he went further back and thought about Rilian’s father, Caspian the Seafarer, whose wicked uncle King Miraz had tried to murder him and how Caspian fled away into the woods and lived among the Dwarfs. But that story too had all come right in the end: for Caspian also had been helped by children—only there were four of them that time—who came from somewhere beyond the world and fought a great battle and set him on his father’s throne. “But it was all long ago,” said Tirian to himself. “That sort of thing doesn’t happen now.” And then he remembered (for he had always been good at history when he was a boy) how those same four children who had helped Caspian had been in Narnia over a thousand years before; and it was then that they had done the most remarkable thing of all. For then they had defeated the terrible White Witch and ended the Hundred Years of Winter, and after that they had reigned (all four of them together) at Cair Paravel, till they were no longer children but great Kings and lovely Queens, and their reign had been the golden age of Narnia. And Aslan had come into that story a lot. He had come into all the other storiestoo, as Tirian now remembered. “Aslan—and children from another world,” thought Tirian. “They have always come in when things were at their worst. Oh, if only they could now.”

And he called out “Aslan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now.”

But the darkness and the cold and the quietness went on just the same.

“Let me be killed,” cried the King. “I ask nothing for my self. But come and save all Narnia.”

And still there was no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger. “Oh Aslan, Aslan,” he whispered. “If you will not come yourself, at least send me the helpers from beyond the world. Or let me call them. Let my voice carry beyond the world.” Then, hardly knowing that he was doing it, he suddenly cried out in a great voice:

“Children! Children! Friends of Narnia! Quick. Come to me. Across the worlds I call you; I Tirian, King of Narnia,

Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands!”

And immediately he was plunged into a dream (if it was a dream) more vivid than any he had had in his life.

He seemed to be standing in a lighted room where seven people sat round a table. It looked as if they had just finished their meal. Two of those people were very old, an old man with a white beard and an old woman with wise, merry, twinkling eyes. He who sat at the right hand of the old manwas hardly full grown, certainly younger than Tirian himself, but his face had already the look of a king and a warrior.

And you could almost say the same of the other youth who sat at the right hand of the old woman. Facing Tirian across the table sat a fair-haired girl younger than either of these, and on either side of her a boy and girl who were younger still. They were all dressed in what seemed to Tirian the oddest kind of clothes.

But he had no time to think about details like that, for instantly the youngest boy and both the girls started to their feet, and one of them gave a little scream. The old woman started and drew in her breath sharply. The old man must have made some sudden movement too for the wine glass which stood at his right hand was swept off the table: Tirian could hear the tinkling noise as it broke on the floor.

Then Tirian realized that these people could see him; they were staring at him as if they saw a ghost. But he noticed that the king-like one who sat at the old man’s right never moved (though he turned pale) except that he clenched his hand very tight. Then he said:

“Speak, if you’re not a phantom or a dream. You have a Narnian look about you and we are the seven friends of Narnia.”

Tirian was longing to speak, and he tried to cry out aloud that he was Tirian of Narnia, in great need of help. But he found (as I have sometimes found in dreams too) that his voice made no noise at all.

The one who had already spoken to him rose to his feet.

“Shadow or spirit or whatever you are,” he said, fixing his eyes full upon Tirian. “If you are from Narnia, I charge you in the name of Aslan, speak to me. I am Peter the High King.”

The room began to swim before Tirian’s eyes. He heard the voices of those seven people all speaking at once, and all getting fainter every second, and they were saying things like, “Look! It’s fading.” “It’s melting away.” “It’s vanishing.” Next moment he was wide awake, still tied to the tree, colder and stiffer than ever. The wood was full of the pale, dreary light that comes before sunrise, and he was soaking wet with dew; it was nearly morning.

That waking was about the worst moment he had ever had in his life.

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