فصل 05 - 08

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فصل 05 - 08

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FIVE

HOW HELP CAME TO THE KING

BUT HIS MISERY DID NOT LAST LONG. Almost at once there came a bump, and then a second bump, and two children were standing before him. The wood in front of him had been quite empty a second before and he knew they had not come from behind his tree, for he would have heard them. They had in fact simply appeared from nowhere. He saw at a glance that they were wearing the same queer, dingy sort of clothes as the people in his dream; and he saw, at a second glance, that they were the youngest boy and girl out of that party of seven.

“Gosh!” said the boy, “that took one’s breath away! I thought—”

“Hurry up and get him untied,” said the girl. “We can talk, afterward.” Then she added, turning to Tirian, “I’m sorry we’ve been so long. We came the moment we could.”

While she was speaking the Boy produced a knife from his pocket and was quickly cutting the King’s bonds: too quickly, in fact, for the King was so stiff and numb that when the last cord was cut he fell forward on his hands and knees. He couldn’t get up again till he had brought some life back into his legs by a good rubbing.

“I say,” said the girl. “It was you, wasn’t it, who appeared to us that night when we were all at supper? Nearly a week ago.”

“A week, fair maid?” said Tirian. “My dream led me into your world scarce ten minutes since.”

“It’s the usual muddle about times, Pole,” said the Boy.

“I remember now,” said Tirian. “That too comes in all the old tales. The time of your strange land is different from ours. But if we speak of Time, ‘tis time to be gone from here: for my enemies are close at hand. Will you come with me?” “Of course,” said the girl. “It’s you we’ve come to help.”

Tirian got to his feet and led them rapidly down hill, Southward and away from the stable. He knew where he meant to go but his first aim was to get to rocky places where they would leave no trail, and his second to cross some water so that they would leave no scent. This took them about an hour’s scrambling and wading and while that was going on nobody had any breath to talk. But even so, Tirian kept on stealing glances at his companions. The wonder of walking beside the creatures from another world made him feel a little dizzy: but it also made all the old stories seem far more real than they had ever seemed before … anything might happen now.

“Now,” said Tirian as they came to the head of a little valley which ran down before them among young birch trees, “we are out of danger of those villains for a space and may walk more easily.” The sun had risen, dew-drops were twinkling on every branch, and birds were singing.

“What about some grub?—I mean for you, Sir, we two have had our breakfast,” said the Boy.

Tirian wondered very much what he meant by “grub,” but when the Boy opened a bulgy satchel which he was carrying and pulled out a rather greasy and squashy packet, he understood. He was ravenously hungry, though he hadn’t thought about it till that moment. There were two hard-boiled egg sandwiches, and two cheese sandwiches, and two with some kind of paste in them. If he hadn’t been so hungry he wouldn’t have thought much of the paste, for that is a sort of food nobody eats in Narnia. By the time he had eaten all six sandwiches they had come to the bottom of the valley and there they found a mossy cliff with a little fountain bubbling out of it. All three stopped and drank and splashed their hot faces.

“And now,” said the girl as she tossed her wet hair back from her forehead, “aren’t you going to tell us who you are and why you were tied up and what it’s all about?”

“With a good will, damsel,” said Tirian. “But we must keep on the march.” So while they went on walking he told them who he was and all the things that had happened to him. “And now,” he said at the end, “I am going to a certain tower, one of three that were built in my grandsire’s time to guard Lantern Waste against certain perilous outlaws who dwelled there in his day. By Asian’s good will I was not robbed of my keys. In that tower we shall find stores of weapons and mail and some victuals also, though no better than dry biscuit. There also we can lie safe while we make our plans. And now, prithee, tell me who you two are and all your story.” “I’m Eustace Scrubb and this is Jill Pole,” said the Boy. “And we were here once before, ages and ages ago, more than a year ago by our time, and there was a chap called Prince Rilian, and they were keeping this chap underground, and Puddleglum put his foot in—” “Ha!” cried Tirian, “are you then that Eustace and that Jill who rescued King Rilian from his long enchantment?”

“Yes, that’s us,” said Jill. “So he’s King Rilian now, is he? Oh of course he would be. I forgot—”

“Nay,” said Tirian. “I am the seventh in descent from him. He has been dead over two hundred years.”

Jill made a face. “Ugh!” she said. “That’s the horrid part about coming back to Narnia.” But Eustace went on.

“Well now you know who we are, Sire,” he said. “And it was like this. The Professor and Aunt Polly had got all us friends of Narnia together—”

“I know not these names, Eustace,” said Tirian.

“They’re the two who came into Narnia at the very beginning, the day all the animals learned to talk.”

“By the Lion’s Mane,” cried Tirian. “Those two! The Lord Digory and the Lady Polly! From the dawn of the world! And still alive in your place? The wonder and the glory of it! But tell me, tell me.”

“She isn’t really our aunt, you know,” said Eustace. “She’s Miss Plummer, but we call her Aunt Polly. Well those two got us all together partly just for fun, so that we could all have a good jaw about Narnia (for of course there’s no one else we can ever talk to about things like that) but partly because the Professor had a feeling that we were somehow wanted over here. Well then you came in like a ghost or goodness-knows-what and nearly frightened the lives out of us and vanished without saying a word. After that, we knew for certain there was something up. The next question was how to get here. You can’t go just by wanting to. So we talked and talked and at last the Professor said the only way would be by the Magic Rings. It was by those Rings that he and Aunt Polly got here long, long ago when they were only kids, years before we younger ones were born. But the Rings had all been buried in the garden of a house in London (that’s our big town, Sire) and the house had been sold. So then the problem was how to get at them. You’ll never guess what we did in the end! Peter and Edmund—that’s the High King Peter, the one who spoke to you—went up to London to get into the garden from the back, early in the morning before people were up. They were dressed like workmen so that if anyone did see them it would look as if they’d come to do something about the drains. I wish I’d been with them: it must have been glorious fun. And they must have succeeded for next day Peter sent us a wire—that’s a sort of message, Sire, I’ll explain about it some other time—to say he’d got the Rings. And the day after that was the day Pole and I had to go back to school—we’re the only two who are still at school and we’re at the same one. So Peter and Edmund were to meet us at a place on the way down to school and hand over the Rings. It had to be us two who were to go to Narnia, you see, because the older ones couldn’t come again. So we got into the train—that’s a kind of thing people travel in in our world: a lot of wagons chained together—and the Professor and Aunt Polly and Lucy came with us. We wanted to keep together as long as we could. Well there we were in the train. And we were just getting to the station where the others were to meet us, and I was looking out of the window to see if I could see them when suddenly there came a most frightful jerk and a noise: and there we were in Narnia and there was your Majesty tied up to the tree.” “So you never used the Rings?” said Tirian.

“No,” said Eustace. “Never even saw them. Aslan did it all for us in his own way without any Rings.”

“But the High King Peter has them,” said Tirian.

“Yes,” said Jill. “But we don’t think he can use them. When the two other Pevensies—King Edmund and Queen Lucy—were last here, Aslan said they would never come to Narnia again. And he said something of the same sort to the High King, only longer ago. You may be sure he’ll come like a shot if he’s allowed.” “Gosh!” said Eustace. “It’s getting hot in this sun. Are we nearly there, Sire?”

“Look,” said Tirian and pointed. Not many yards away gray battlements rose above the tree-tops, and after a minute’s more walking they came out in an open grassy space. A stream ran across it and on the far side of the stream stood a squat, square tower with very few and narrow windows and one heavy-looking door in the wall that faced them.

Tirian looked sharply this way and that to make sure that no enemies were in sight. Then he walked up to the tower and stood still for a moment fishing up his bunch of keys which he wore inside his hunting-dress on a narrow silver chain that went round his neck. It was a nice bunch of keys that he brought out, for two were golden and many were richly ornamented: you could see at once that they were keys made for opening solemn and secret rooms in palaces, or chests and caskets of sweet-smelling wood that contained royal treasures. But the key which he now put into the lock of the door was big and plain and more rudely made. The lock was stiff and for a moment Tirian began to be afraid that he would not be able to turn it: but at last he did and the door swung open with a sullen creak.

“Welcome friends,” said Tirian. “I fear this is the best palace that the King of Narnia can now offer to his guests.”

Tirian was pleased to see that the two strangers had been well brought up. They both said not to mention it and that they were sure it would be very nice.

As a matter of fact it was not particularly nice. It was rather dark and smelled very damp. There was only one room in it and this room went right up to the stone roof: a wooden staircase in one corner led up to a trap door by which you could get out on the battlements. There were a few rude bunks to sleep in, and a great many lockers and bundles. There was also a hearth which looked as if nobody had lit a fire in it for a great many years.

“We’d better go out and gather some firewood first thing, hadn’t we?” said Jill.

“Not yet, comrade,” said Tirian. He was determined that they should not be caught unarmed, and began searching the lockers, thankfully remembering that he had always been careful to have these garrison towers inspected once a year to make sure that they were stocked with all things needful. The bow strings were there in their coverings of oiled silk, the swords and spears were greased against rust, and the armor was kept bright in its wrappings. But there was something even better. “Look!” said Tirian as he drew out a long mail shirt of a curious pattern and flashed it before the children’s eyes.

“That’s funny-looking mail, Sire,” said Eustace.

“Aye, lad,” said Tirian. “No Narnian Dwarf smithied that. ‘Tis mail of Calormen, outlandish gear. I have ever kept a few suits of it in readiness, for I never knew when I or my friends might have reason to walk unseen in The Tisroc’s land. And look on this stone bottle. In this there is a juice which, when we have rubbed it on our hands and faces, will make us brown as Calormenes.”

“Oh hurrah!” said Jill. “Disguise! I love disguises.”

Tirian showed them how to pour out a little of the juice into the palms of their hands and then rub it well over their faces and necks, right down to the shoulders, and then on their hands, right up to the elbows. He did the same himself.

“After this has hardened on us,” he said, “we may wash in water and it will not change. Nothing but oil and ashes will make us white Narnians again. And now, sweet Jill, let us go see how this mail shirt becomes you. ‘Tis something too long, yet not so much as I feared. Doubtless it belonged to a page in the train of one of their Tarkaans.” After the mail shirts they put on Calormene helmets, which are little round ones fitting tight to the head and having a spike on top. Then Tirian took long rolls of some white stuff out of the locker and wound them over the helmets till they became turbans: but the little steel spike still stuck up in the middle. He and Eustace took curved Calormene swords and little round shields. There was no sword light enough for Jill, but he gave her a long, straight hunting knife which might do for a sword at a pinch.

“Hast any skill with the bow, maiden?” said Tirian.

“Nothing worth talking of,” said Jill, blushing. “Scrubb’s not bad.”

“Don’t you believe her, Sire,” said Eustace. “We’ve both been practicing archery ever since we got back from Narnia last time, and she’s about as good as me now. Not that either of us is much.”

Then Tirian gave Jill a bow and a quiver full of arrows. The next business was to light a fire, for inside that tower it still felt more like a cave than like anything indoors and set one shivering. But they got warm gathering the wood—the sun was now at its highest—and when once the blaze was roaring up the chimney the place began to look cheerful. Dinner was, however, a dull meal, for the best they could do was to pound up some of the hard biscuit which they found in a locker and pour it into boiling water, with salt, so as to make a kind of porridge. And of course there was nothing to drink but water.

“I wish we’d brought a packet of tea,” said Jill.

“Or a tin of cocoa,” said Eustace.

“A firkin or so of good wine in each of these towers would not have been amiss,” said Tirian.

SIX

A GOOD NIGHT’S WORK

ABOUT FOUR HOURS LATER TIRIAN flung himself into one of the bunks to snatch a little sleep. The two children were already snoring: he had made them go to bed before he did because they would have to be up most of the night and he knew that at their age they couldn’t do without sleep. Also, he had tired them out. First, he had given Jill some practice in archery and found that, though not up to Narnian standards, she was really not too bad. Indeed she had succeeded in shooting a rabbit (not a Talking rabbit, of course: there are lots of the ordinary kind about in Western Narnia) and it was already skinned, cleaned, and hanging up. He had found that both the children knew all about this chilly and smelly job; they had learned that kind of thing on their great journey through Giant-Land in the days of Prince Rilian. Then he had tried to teach Eustace how to use his sword and shield. Eustace had learned quite a lot about sword fighting on his earlier adventures but that had been all with a straight Narnian sword. He had never handled a curved Calormene scimitar and that made it hard, for many of the strokes are quite different and some of the habits he had learned with the long sword had now to be unlearned again. But Tirian found that he had a good eye and was very quick on his feet. He was surprised at the strength of both children: in fact they both seemed to be already much stronger and bigger and more grown-up than they had been when he first met them a few hours ago. It is one of the effects which Narnian air often has on visitors from our world.

All three of them agreed that the very first thing they must do was to go back to Stable Hill and try to rescue Jewel the Unicorn. After that, if they succeeded, they would try to get away Eastward and meet the little army which Roonwit the Centaur would be bringing from Cair Paravel.

An experienced warrior and huntsman like Tirian can always wake up at the time he wants. So he gave himself till nine o’clock that night and then put all worries out of his head and fell asleep at once. It seemed only a moment later when he woke but he knew by the light and the very feel of things that he had timed his sleep exactly. He got up, put on his helmet-and-turban (he had slept in his mail shirt), and then shook the other two till they woke up. They looked, to tell the truth, very gray and dismal as they climbed out of their bunks and there was a good deal of yawning.

“Now,” said Tirian, “we go due North from here—by good fortune ‘tis a starry night—and it will be much shorter than our journey this morning, for then we went round-about but now we shall go straight. If we are challenged, then do you two hold your peace and I will do my best to talk like a cursed, cruel, proud lord of Calormen. If I draw my sword then thou, Eustace, must do likewise and let Jill leap behind us and stand with an arrow on the string. But if I cry ‘Home,’ then fly for the Tower both of you. And let none try to fight on—not even one stroke—after I have given the retreat: such false valor has spoiled many notable plans in the wars. And now, friends, in the name of Aslan let us go forward.” Out they went into the cold night. All the great Northern stars were burning above the tree-tops. The North-Star of that world is called the SpearHead: it is brighter than our Pole Star.

For a time they could go straight toward the Spear-Head but presently they came to a dense thicket so that they had to go out of their course to get round it. And after that—for they were still overshadowed by branches—it was hard to pick up their bearings. It was Jill who set them right again: she had been an excellent Guide in England. And of course she knew her Narnian stars perfectly, having traveled so much in the wild Northern Lands, and could work out the direction from other stars even when the Spear-Head was hidden. As soon as Tirian saw that she was the best pathfinder of the three of them he put her in front. And then he was astonished to find how silently and almost invisibly she glided on before them.

“By the Mane!” he whispered to Eustace. “This girl is a wondrous wood-maid. If she had Dryad’s blood in her she could scarce do it better.”

“She’s so small, that’s what helps,” whispered Eustace. But Jill from in front said: “S-s-s-h, less noise.”

All round them the wood was very quiet. Indeed it was far too quiet. On an ordinary Narnian night there ought to have been noises—an occasional cheery “Goodnight” from a Hedgehog, the cry of an Owl overhead, perhaps a flute in the distance to tell of Fauns dancing, or some throbbing, hammering noises from Dwarfs underground. All that was silenced: gloom and fear reigned over Narnia.

After a time they began to go steeply uphill and the trees grew further apart. Tirian could dimly make out the well-known hilltop and the stable. Jill was now going with more and more caution: she kept on making signs to the others with her hand to do the same. Then she stopped dead still and Tirian saw her gradually sink down into the grass and disappear without a sound. A moment later she rose again, put her mouth close to Tirian’s ear, and said in the lowest possible whisper, “Get down. Thee better.” She said thee for see not because she had a lisp but because she knew that the hissing letter S is the part of a whisper most likely to be overheard. Tirian at once lay down, almost as silently as Jill, but not quite, for he was heavier and older. And once they were down, he saw how from that position you could see the edge of the hill sharp against the star-strewn sky. Two black shapes rose against it: one was the stable, and the other, a few feet in front of it, was a Calormene sentry. He was keeping very ill watch: not walking or even standing but sitting with his spear over his shoulder and his chin on his chest. “Well done,” said Tirian to Jill. She had shown him exactly what he needed to know.

They got up and Tirian now took the lead. Very slowly, hardly daring to breathe, they made their way up to a little clump of trees which was not more than forty feet away from the sentinel.

“Wait here till I come again,” he whispered to the other two. “If I miscarry, fly.” Then he sauntered out boldly in full view of the enemy. The man started when he saw him and was just going to jump to his feet: he was afraid Tirian might be one of his own officers and that he would get into trouble for sitting down. But before he could get up Tirian had dropped on one knee beside him, saying: “Art thou a warrior of the Tisroc’s, may he live forever? It cheers my heart to meet thee among all these beasts and devils of Narnians. Give me thy hand, friend.”

Before he well knew what was happening the Calormene sentry found his right hand seized in a mighty grip. Next instant someone was kneeling on his legs and a dagger was pressed against his neck.

“One noise and thou art dead,” said Tirian in his ear. “Tell me where the Unicorn is and thou shalt live.”

“B—behind the stable, O My Master,” stammered the unfortunate man.

“Good. Rise up and lead me to him.”

As the man got up the point of the dagger never left his neck. It only traveled round (cold and rather ticklish) as Tirian got behind him and settled it at a convenient place under his ear. Tremblingly he went round to the back of the stable.

Though it was dark Tirian could see the white shape of Jewel at once.

“Hush!” he said. “No, do not neigh. Yes, Jewel, it is I. How have they tied thee?”

“Hobbled by all four legs and tied with a bridle to a ring in the stable wall,” came Jewel’s voice.

“Stand here, sentry, with your back to the wall. So. Now, Jewel: set the point of your horn against this Calormene’s breast.”

“With a good will, Sire,” said Jewel.

“If he moves, rive him to the heart.” Then in a few seconds Tirian cut the ropes. With the remains of them he bound the sentry hand and foot. Finally he made him open his mouth, stuffed it full of grass and tied him up from scalp to chin so that he could make no noise, lowered the man into a sitting position and set him against the wall.

“I have done thee some discourtesy, soldier,” said Tirian. “But such was my need. If we meet again I may happen to do thee a better turn. Now, Jewel, let us go softly.”

He put his left arm round the beast’s neck and bent and kissed his nose and both had great joy. They went back as quietly as possible to the place where he had left the children. It was darker in there under the trees and he nearly ran into Eustace before he saw him.

“All’s well,” whispered Tirian. “A good night’s work. Now for home.”

They turned and had gone a few paces when Eustace said, “Where are you, Pole?” There was no answer. “Is Jill on the other side of you, Sire?” he asked.

“What?” said Tirian. “Is she not on the other side of you?”

It was a terrible moment. They dared not shout but they whispered her name in the loudest whispers they could manage. There was no reply.

“Did she go from you while I was away?” asked Tirian.

“I didn’t see or hear her go,” said Eustace. “But she could have gone without my knowing. She can be as quiet as a cat; you’ve seen for yourself.”

At that moment a far off drumbeat was heard. Jewel moved his ears forward. “Dwarfs,” he said.

“And treacherous Dwarfs, enemies, as likely as not,” muttered Tirian.

“And here comes something on hoofs, much nearer,” said Jewel.

The two humans and the Unicorn stood dead still. There were now so many different things to worry about that they didn’t know what to do. The noise of hoofs came steadily nearer. And then, quite close to them, a voice whispered: “Hallo! Are you all there?”

Thank heaven, it was Jill’s.

“Where the devil have you been to?” said Eustace in a furious whisper, for he had been very frightened.

“In the stable,” gasped Jill, but it was the sort of gasp you give when you’re struggling with suppressed laughter.

“Oh,” growled Eustace, “you think it funny, do you? Well all I can say is—”

“Have you got Jewel, Sire?” asked Jill.

“Yes. Here he is. What is that beast with you?”

“That’s him,” said Jill. “But let’s be off home before anyone wakes up.” And again there came little explosions of laughter.

The others obeyed at once for they had already lingered long enough in that dangerous place and the Dwarf drums seemed to have come a little nearer. It was only after they had been walking Southward for several minutes that Eustace said: “Got him? What do you mean?”

“The false Aslan,” said Jill.

“What?” said Tirian. “Where have you been? What have you done?”

“Well, Sire,” said Jill. “As soon as I saw that you’d got the sentry out of the way I thought hadn’t I better have a look inside the stable and see what really is there? So I crawled along. It was as easy as anything to draw the bolt. Of course it was pitch black inside and smelled like any other stable. Then I struck a light and—would you believe it?—there was nothing at all there but this old donkey with a bundle of lion-skin tied onto his back. So I drew my knife and told him he’d have to come along with me. As a matter of fact I needn’t have threatened him with the knife at all. He was very fed up with the stable and quite ready to come—weren’t you, Puzzle dear?” “Great Scott!” said Eustace. “Well I’m—jiggered. I was jolly angry with you a moment ago, and I still think it was mean of you to sneak off without the rest of us: but I must admit—well, I mean to say—well it was a perfectly gorgeous thing to do. If she was a boy she’d have to be knighted, wouldn’t she, Sire?” “If she was a boy,” said Tirian, “she’d be whipped for disobeying orders.” And in the dark no one could see whether he said this with a frown or a smile. Next minute there was a sound of rasping metal.

“What are you doing, Sire?” asked Jewel sharply.

“Drawing my sword to smite off the head of the accursed Ass,” said Tirian in a terrible voice. “Stand clear, girl.”

“Oh don’t, please don’t,” said Jill. “Really, you mustn’t. It wasn’t his fault. It was all the Ape. He didn’t know any better. And he’s very sorry. He’s a nice Donkey. His name’s Puzzle. And I’ve got my arms round his neck.” “Jill,” said Tirian, “you are the bravest and most wood-wise of all my subjects, but also the most malapert and disobedient. Well: let the Ass live. What have you to say for yourself, Ass?”

“Me, Sire?” came the Donkey’s voice. “I’m sure I’m very sorry if I’ve done wrong. The Ape said Aslan wanted me to dress up like that. And I thought he’d know. I’m not clever like him. I only did what I was told. It wasn’t any fun for me living in that stable. I don’t even know what’s been going on outside. He never let me out except for a minute or two at night. Some days they forgot to give me any water too.” “Sire,” said Jewel. “Those Dwarfs are coming nearer and nearer. Do we want to meet them?”

Tirian thought for a moment and then suddenly gave a great laugh out loud. Then he spoke, not this time in a whisper. “By the Lion,” he said, “I am growing slow witted! Meet them? Certainly we will meet them. We will meet anyone now. We have this Ass to show them. Let them see the thing they have feared and bowed to. We can show them the truth of the Ape’s vile plot. His secret’s out. The tide’s turned. Tomorrow we shall hang that Ape on the highest tree in Narnia. No more whispering and skulking and disguises. Where are these honest Dwarfs? We have good news for them.” When you have been whispering for hours the mere sound of anyone talking out loud has a wonderfully stirring effect. The whole party began talking and laughing: even Puzzle lifted up his head and gave a grand Haw-hee-haw-hee-hee; a thing the Ape hadn’t allowed him to do for days. Then they set off in the direction of the drumming. It grew steadily louder and soon they could see torchlight as well. They came out on one of those rough roads (we should hardly call them roads at all in England) which ran through Lantern Waste. And there, marching sturdily along, were about thirty Dwarfs, all with their little spades and mattocks over their shoulders. Two armed Calormenes led the column and two more brought up the rear.

“Stay!” thundered Tirian as he stepped out on the road. “Stay, soldiers. Whither do you lead these Narnian Dwarfs and by whose orders?”

SEVEN

MAINLY ABOUT DWARFS

THE TWO CALORMENE SOLDIERS AT THE head of the column, seeing what they took for a Tarkaan or great lord with two armed pages, came to a halt and raised their spears in salute.

“O My Master,” said one of them, “we lead these manikins to Calormen to work in the mines of The Tisroc, may-he-live-forever.”

“By the great god Tash, they are very obedient,” said Tirian. Then suddenly he turned to the Dwarfs themselves. About one in six of them carried a torch and by that flickering light he could see their bearded faces all looking at him with grim and dogged expressions. “Has The Tisroc fought a great battle, Dwarfs, and conquered your land?” he asked, “that thus you go patiently to die in the salt-pits of Pugrahan?” The two soldiers glared at him in surprise but the Dwarfs all answered, “Aslan’s orders, Aslan’s orders. He’s sold us. What can we do against him?”

“Tisroc indeed!” added one and spat. “I’d like to see him try it!”

“Silence, dogs!” said the chief soldier.

“Look!” said Tirian, pulling Puzzle forward into the light. “It has all been a lie. Aslan has not come to Narnia at all. You have been cheated by the Ape. This is the thing he brought out of the stable to show you. Look at it.” What the Dwarfs saw, now that they could see it close, was certainly enough to make them wonder how they had ever been taken in. The lion-skin had got pretty untidy already during Puzzle’s imprisonment in the stable and it had been knocked crooked during his journey through the dark wood. Most of it was in a big lump on one shoulder. The head, besides being pushed sideways, had somehow got very far back so that anyone could now see his silly, gentle, donkeyish face gazing out of it. Some grass stuck out of one corner of his mouth, for he’d been doing a little quiet nibbling as they brought him along. And he was muttering, “It wasn’t my fault, I’m not clever. I never said I was.” For one second all the Dwarfs were staring at Puzzle with wide open mouths and then one of the soldiers said sharply, “Are you mad, My Master? What are you doing to the slaves?” and the other said, “And who are you?” Neither of their spears were at the salute now—both were down and ready for action.

“Give the password,” said the chief soldier.

“This is my password,” said the King as he drew his sword. “The light is dawning, the lie broken. Now guard thee, miscreant, for I am Tirian of Narnia.”

He flew upon the chief soldier like lightning. Eustace, who had drawn his sword when he saw the King draw his, rushed at the other one: his face was deadly pale, but I wouldn’t blame him for that. And he had the luck that beginners sometimes do have. He forgot all that Tirian had tried to teach him that afternoon, slashed wildly (indeed I’m not sure his eyes weren’t shut) and suddenly found, to his own great surprise, that the Calormene lay dead at his feet. And though that was a great relief, it was, at the moment, rather frightening. The King’s fight lasted a second or two longer: then he too had killed his man and shouted to Eustace, “’Ware the other two.” But the Dwarfs had settled the two remaining Calormenes. There was no enemy left.

“Well struck, Eustace!” cried Tirian, clapping him on the back. “Now, Dwarfs, you are free. Tomorrow I will lead you to free all Narnia. Three cheers for Aslan!”

But the result which followed was simply wretched. There was a feeble attempt from a few dwarfs (about five) which died away all at once: from several others there were sulky growls. Many said nothing at all.

“Don’t they understand?” said Jill impatiently. “What’s wrong with all you Dwarfs? Don’t you hear what the King says? It’s all over. The Ape isn’t going to rule Narnia any longer. Everyone can go back to ordinary life. You can have fun again. Aren’t you glad?” After a pause of nearly a minute a not-very-nice-looking Dwarf with hair and beard as black as soot said: “And who might you be, Missie?”

“I’m Jill,” she said. “The same Jill who rescued King Rilian from the enchantment—and this is Eustace who did it too—and we’ve come back from another world after hundreds of years. Aslan sent us.”

The Dwarfs all looked at one another with grins; sneering grins, not merry ones.

“Well,” said the Black Dwarf (whose name was Griffle), “I don’t know how all you chaps feel, but I feel I’ve heard as much about Aslan as I want to for the rest of my life.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” growled the other Dwarfs. “It’s all a plant, all a blooming plant.”

“What do you mean?” said Tirian. He had not been pale when he was fighting but he was pale now. He had thought this was going to be a beautiful moment, but it was turning out more like a bad dream.

“You must think we’re blooming soft in the head, that you must,” said Griffle. “We’ve been taken in once and now you expect us to be taken in again the next minute. We’ve no more use for stories about Aslan, see! Look at him! An old moke with long ears!” “By heaven, you make me mad,” said Tirian. “Which of us said that was Aslan? That is the Ape’s imitation of the real Aslan. Can’t you understand?”

“And you’ve got a better imitation, I suppose!” said Griffle. “No thanks. We’ve been fooled once and we’re not going to be fooled again.”

“I have not,” said Tirian angrily, “I serve the real Aslan.”

“Where’s he? Who’s he? Show him to us!” said several Dwarfs.

“Do you think I keep him in my wallet, fools?” said Tirian. “Who am I that I could make Aslan appear at my bidding? He’s not a tame lion.”

The moment those words were out of his mouth he realized that he had made a false move. The Dwarfs at once began repeating “not a tame lion, not a tame lion,” in a jeering sing-song. “That’s what the other lot kept on telling us,” said one.

“Do you mean you don’t believe in the real Aslan?” said Jill. “But I’ve seen him. And he has sent us two here out of a different world.”

“Ah,” said Griffle with a broad smile. “So you say. They’ve taught you your stuff all right. Saying your lessons, ain’t you?”

“Churl,” cried Tirian, “will you give a lady the lie to her very face?”

“You keep a civil tongue in your head, Mister,” replied the Dwarf. “I don’t think we want any more Kings—if you are Tirian, which you don’t look like him—no more than we want any Aslans. We’re going to look after ourselves from now on and touch our caps to nobody. See?” “That’s right,” said the other Dwarfs. “We’re on our own now. No more Aslan, no more Kings, no more silly stories about other worlds. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.” And they began to fall into their places and to get ready for marching back to wherever they had come from.

“Little beasts!” said Eustace. “Aren’t you even going to say thank you for being saved from the salt-mines?”

“Oh, we know all about that,” said Griffle over his shoulder. “You wanted to make use of us, that’s why you rescued us. You’re playing some game of your own. Come on you chaps.”

And the Dwarfs struck up the queer little marching song which goes with the drum-beat, and off they tramped into the darkness.

Tirian and his friends stared after them. Then he said the single word “Come,” and they continued their journey.

They were a silent party. Puzzle felt himself to be still in disgrace, and also he didn’t really quite understand what had happened. Jill, besides being disgusted with the Dwarfs, was very impressed with Eustace’s victory over the Calormene and felt almost shy. As for Eustace, his heart was still beating rather quickly. Tirian and Jewel walked sadly together in the rear. The King had his arm on the Unicorn’s shoulder and sometimes the Unicorn nuzzled the King’s cheek with his soft nose. They did not try to comfort one another with words. It wasn’t very easy to think of anything to say that would be comforting. Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

“Somebody’s coming after us, I think,” said Puzzle suddenly.

They stopped and listened. Sure enough, there was a thump-thump of small feet behind them.

“Who goes there!” shouted the King.

“Only me, Sire,” came a voice. “Me, Poggin the Dwarf. I’ve only just managed to get away from the others. I’m on your side, Sire: and on Aslan’s. If you can put a Dwarfish sword in my fist, I’d gladly strike a blow on the right side before all’s done.”

Everyone crowded round him and welcomed him and praised him and slapped him on the back. Of course one single Dwarf could not make a very great difference, but it was somehow very cheering to have even one. The whole party brightened up. But Jill and Eustace didn’t stay bright for very long, for they were now yawning their heads off and too tired to think about anything but bed.

It was at the coldest hour of the night, just before dawn, that they got back to the Tower. If there had been a meal ready for them they would have been glad enough to eat, but the bother and delay of getting one was not to be thought of. They drank from a stream, splashed their faces with water, and tumbled into their bunks, except for Puzzle and Jewel who said they’d be more comfortable outside. This perhaps was just as well, for a Unicorn and a fat, full-grown Donkey indoors always make a room feel rather crowded.

Narnian Dwarfs, though less than four feet high, are for their size about the toughest and strongest creatures there are, so that Poggin, in spite of a heavy day and a late night, woke fully refreshed before any of the others. He at once took Jill’s bow, went out and shot a couple of wood pigeons. Then he sat plucking them on the doorstep and chatting to Jewel and Puzzle. Puzzle looked and felt a good deal better this morning. Jewel, being a Unicorn and therefore one of the noblest and most delicate of beasts, had been very kind to him, talking to him about things of the sort they could both understand like grass and sugar and the care of one’s hoofs. When Jill and Eustace came out of the Tower yawning and rubbing their eyes at almost half past ten, the Dwarf showed them where they could gather plenty of a Narnian weed called Wild Fresney, which looks rather like our wood-sorrel but tastes a good deal nicer when cooked. (It needs a little butter and pepper to make it perfect, but they hadn’t these.) So that what with one thing and another, they had the makings of a capital stew for their breakfast or dinner, whichever you choose to call it. Tirian went a little further off into the wood with an axe and brought back some branches for fuel. While the meal was cooking—which seemed a very long time, especially as it smelled nicer and nicer the nearer it came to being done—the King found a complete Dwarfish outfit for Poggin: mail shirt, helmet, shield, sword, belt, and dagger. Then he inspected Eustace’s sword and found that Eustace had put it back in the sheath all messy from killing the Calormene. He was scolded for that and made to clean and polish it.

All this while Jill went to and fro, sometimes stirring the pot and sometimes looking out enviously at the Donkey and the Unicorn who were contentedly grazing. How many times that morning she wished she could eat grass!

But when the meal came everyone felt it had been worth waiting for, and there were second helpings all round. When everyone had eaten as much as he could, the three humans and the Dwarf came and sat on the doorstep, the four-footed ones lay down facing them, the Dwarf (with permission both from Jill and from Tirian) lit his pipe, and the King said: “Now, friend Poggin, you have more news of the enemy, belike, than we. Tell us all you know. And first, what tale do they tell of my escape?”

“As cunning a tale, Sire, as ever was devised,” said Poggin. “It was the Cat, Ginger, who told it, and most likely made it up too. This Ginger, Sire—oh, he’s a slyboots if ever a cat was—said he was walking past the tree to which those villains bound your Majesty. And he said (saving your reverence) that you were howling and swearing and cursing Aslan: language I wouldn’t like to repeat’ were the words he used, looking ever so prim and proper—you know the way a Cat can when it pleases. And then, says Ginger, Aslan himself suddenly appeared in a flash of lightning and swallowed your Majesty up at one mouthful. All the Beasts trembled at this story and some fainted right away. And of course the Ape followed it up. There, he says, see what Aslan does to those who don’t respect him. Let that be a warning to you all. And the poor creatures wailed and whined and said, it will, it will. So that in the upshot your Majesty’s escape has not set them thinking whether you still have loyal friends to aid you, but only made them more afraid and more obedient to the Ape.” “What devilish policy!” said Tirian. “This Ginger, then, is close in the Ape’s counsels.”

“It’s more a question by now, Sire, if the Ape is in his counsels,” replied the Dwarf. “The Ape has taken to drinking, you see. My belief is that the plot is now mostly carried on by Ginger or Rishda—that’s the Calormene captain. And I think some words that Ginger has scattered among the Dwarfs are chiefly to blame for the scurvy return they made you. And I’ll tell you why. One of those dreadful midnight meetings had just broken up the night before last and I’d gone a bit of the way home when I found I’d left my pipe behind. It was a real good ‘un, an old favorite, so I went back to look for it. But before I got to the place where I’d been sitting (it was black as pitch there) I heard a cat’s voice say Mew and a Calormene voice say ‘here … speak softly,’ so I just stood as still as if I was frozen. And these two were Ginger and Rishda Tarkaan as they call him. ‘Noble Tarkaan,’ said the Cat in that silky voice of his, ‘I just wanted to know exactly what we both meant today about Aslan meaning no more than Tash.’ ‘Doubtless, most sagacious of cats,’ says the other, ‘you have perceived my meaning.’ ‘You mean,’ says Ginger, ‘that there’s no such person as either.’ ‘All who are enlightened know that,’ said the Tarkaan. ‘Then we can understand one another,’ purrs the Cat. ‘Do you, like me, grow a little weary of the Ape?’ ‘A stupid, greedy brute,’ says the other, ‘but we must use him for the present. Thou and I must provide for all things in secret and make the Ape do our will.’ ‘And it would be better, wouldn’t it,’ said Ginger, ‘to let some of the more enlightened Narnians into our counsels: one by one as we find them apt. For the Beasts who really believe in Aslan may turn at any moment: and will, if the Ape’s folly betrays his secret. But those who care neither for Tash nor Aslan but have only an eye to their own profit and such reward as The Tisroc may give them when Narnia is a Calormene province, will be firm.’ ‘Excellent Cat,’ said the Captain. ‘But choose which ones carefully.’” While the Dwarf had been speaking the day seemed to have changed. It had been sunny when they sat down. Now Puzzle shivered. Jewel shifted his head uneasily. Jill looked up.

“It’s clouding over,” she said.

“And it’s so cold,” said Puzzle.

“Cold enough, by the Lion!” said Tirian, blowing on his hands. “And faugh! What foul smell is this?”

“Phew!” gasped Eustace. “It’s like something dead. Is there a dead bird somewhere about? And why didn’t we notice it before?”

With a great upheaval Jewel scrambled to his feet and pointed with his horn.

“Look!” he cried. “Look at it! Look, look!”

Then all six of them saw; and over all their faces there came an expression of uttermost dismay.

EIGHT

WHAT NEWS THE EAGLE BROUGHT

IN THE SHADOW OF THE TREES ON THE far side of the clearing something was moving. It was gliding very slowly Northward. At first glance you might have mistaken it for smoke, for it was gray and you could see things through it. But the deathly smell was not the smell of smoke. Also, this thing kept its shape instead of billowing and curling as smoke would have done. It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak. It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip; and its fingers—all twenty of them—were curved like its beak and had long, pointed, bird-like claws instead of nails. It floated on the grass instead of walking, and the grass seemed to wither beneath it.

After one look at it Puzzle gave a screaming bray and darted into the Tower. And Jill (who was no coward, as you know) hid her face in her hands to shut out the sight of it. The others watched it for perhaps a minute, until it streamed away into the thicker trees on their right and disappeared. Then the sun came out again, and the birds once more began to sing.

Everyone started breathing properly again and moved. They had all been still as statues while it was in sight.

“What was it?” said Eustace in a whisper.

“I have seen it once before,” said Tirian. “But that time it was carved in stone and overlaid with gold and had solid diamonds for eyes. It was when I was no older than thou, and had gone as a guest to The Tisroc’s court in Tashbaan. He took me into the great temple of Tash. There I saw it, carved above the altar.”

“Then that—that thing—was Tash?” said Eustace.

But instead of answering him Tirian slipped his arm behind Jill’s shoulders and said, “How is it with you, Lady?”

“A-all right,” said Jill, taking her hands away from her pale face and trying to smile. “I’m all right. It only made me feel a little sick for a moment.”

“It seems, then,” said the Unicorn, “that there is a real Tash, after all.”

“Yes,” said the Dwarf. “And this fool of an Ape, who didn’t believe in Tash, will get more than he bargained for! He called for Tash: Tash has come.”

“Where has it—he—the Thing—gone to?” said Jill.

“North into the heart of Narnia,” said Tirian. “It has come to dwell among us. They have called it and it has come.”

“Ho, ho, ho!” chuckled the Dwarf, rubbing his hairy hands together. “It will be a surprise for the Ape. People shouldn’t call for demons unless they really mean what they say.”

“Who knows if Tash will be visible to the Ape?” said Jewel.

“Where has Puzzle got to?” said Eustace.

They all shouted out Puzzle’s name and Jill went round to the other side of the Tower to see if he had gone there.

They were quite tired of looking for him when at last his large gray head peered cautiously out of the doorway and he said, “Has it gone away?” And when at last they got him to come out, he was shivering the way a dog shivers before a thunderstorm.

“I see now,” said Puzzle, “that I really have been a very bad donkey. I ought never to have listened to Shift. I never thought things like this would begin to happen.”

“If you’d spent less time saying you weren’t clever and more time trying to be as clever as you could—” began Eustace but Jill interrupted him.

“Oh leave poor old Puzzle alone,” she said. “It was all a mistake; wasn’t it, Puzzle dear?” And she kissed him on the nose.

Though rather shaken by what they had seen, the whole party now sat down again and went on with their talk.

Jewel had little to tell them. While he was a prisoner he had spent nearly all his time tied up at the back of the stable, and had of course heard none of the enemies’ plans. He had been kicked (he’d done some kicking back too) and beaten and threatened with death unless he would say that he believed it was Aslan who was brought out and shown to them by firelight every night. In fact he was going to be executed this very morning if he had not been rescued. He didn’t know what had happened to the Lamb.

The question they had to decide was whether they would go to Stable Hill again that night, show Puzzle to the Narnians and try to make them see how they had been tricked, or whether they should steal away Eastward to meet the help which Roonwit the Centaur was bringing up from Cair Paravel and return against the Ape and his Calormenes in force. Tirian would very much like to have followed the first plan: he hated the idea of leaving the Ape to bully his people one moment longer than need be. On the other hand, the way the Dwarfs had behaved last night was a warning. Apparently one couldn’t be sure how people would take it even if he showed them Puzzle. And there were the Calormene soldiers to be reckoned with. Poggin thought there were about thirty of them. Tirian felt sure that if the Narnians all rallied to his side, he and Jewel and the children and Poggin (Puzzle didn’t count for much) would have a good chance of beating them. But what if half the Narnians—including all the Dwarfs—just sat and looked on? or even fought against him? The risk was too great. And there was, too, the cloudy shape of Tash. What might it do?

And then, as Poggin pointed out, there was no harm in leaving the Ape to deal with his own difficulties for a day or two. He would have no Puzzle to bring out and show now. It wasn’t easy to see what story he—or Ginger—could make up to explain that. If the Beasts asked night after night to see Aslan, and no Aslan was brought out, surely even the simplest of them would get suspicious.

In the end they all agreed that the best thing was to go off and try to meet Roonwit.

As soon as they had decided this, it was wonderful how much more cheerful everyone became. I don’t honestly think that this was because any of them was afraid of a fight (except perhaps Jill and Eustace). But I daresay that each of them, deep down inside, was very glad not to go any nearer—or not yet—to that horrible bird-headed thing which, visible or invisible, was now probably haunting Stable Hill. Anyway, one always feels better when one has made up one’s mind.

Tirian said they had better remove their disguises, as they didn’t want to be mistaken for Calormenes and perhaps attacked by any loyal Narnians they might meet. The Dwarf made up a horrid-looking mess of ashes from the hearth and grease out of the jar of grease which was kept for rubbing on swords and spear-heads. Then they took off their Calormene armor and went down to the stream. The nasty mixture made a lather just like soft soap: it was a pleasant, homely sight to see Tirian and the two children kneeling beside the water and scrubbing the backs of their necks or puffing and blowing as they splashed the lather off. Then they went back to the Tower with red, shiny faces, looking like people who have been given an extra good wash before a party. They rearmed themselves in true Narnian style, with straight swords and three-cornered shields. “Body of me,” said Tirian. “That is better. I feel a true man again.” Puzzle begged very hard to have the lion-skin taken off him. He said it was too hot and the way it was rucked up on his back was uncomfortable: also, it made him look so silly. But they told him he would have to wear it a bit longer, for they still wanted to show him in that get-up to the other Beasts, even though they were now going to meet Roonwit first.

What was left of the pigeon-meat and rabbit-meat was not worth bringing away but they took some biscuits. Then Tirian locked the door of the Tower and that was the end of their stay there.

It was a little after two in the afternoon when they set out, and it was the first really warm day of that spring. The young leaves seemed to be much further out than yesterday: the snow-drops were over, but they saw several primroses. The sunlight slanted through the trees, birds sang, and always (though usually out of sight) there was the noise of running water. It was hard to think of horrible things like Tash. The children felt, “This is really Narnia at last.” Even Tirian’s heart grew lighter as he walked ahead of them, humming an old Narnian marching song which had the refrain: Ho, rumble, rumble, rumble,

Rumble drum belabored.

After the King came Eustace and Poggin the Dwarf Poggin was telling Eustace the names of all the Narnian trees, birds, and plants which he didn’t know already. Sometimes Eustace would tell him about English ones.

After them came Puzzle, and after him Jill and Jewel walking very close together. Jill had, as you might say, quite fallen in love with the Unicorn. She thought—and she wasn’t far wrong—that he was the shiningest, delicatest, most graceful animal she had ever met: and he was so gentle and soft of speech that, if you hadn’t known, you would hardly have believed how fierce and terrible he could be in battle.

“Oh, this is nice!” said Jill. “Just walking along like this. I wish there could be more of this sort of adventure. It’s a pity there’s always so much happening in Narnia.”

But the Unicorn explained to her that she was quite mistaken. He said that the Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve were brought out of their own strange world into Narnia only at times when Narnia was stirred and upset, but she mustn’t think it was always like that. In between their visits there were hundreds and thousands of years when peaceful King followed peaceful King till you could hardly remember their names or count their numbers, and there was really hardly anything to put into the History Books. And he went on to talk of old Queens and heroes whom she had never heard of. He spoke of Swanwhite the Queen who had lived before the days of the White Witch and the Great Winter, who was so beautiful that when she looked into any forest pool the reflection of her face shone out of the water like a star by night for a year and a day afterward. He spoke of Moonwood the Hare who had such ears that he could sit by Caldron Pool under the thunder of the great waterfall and hear what men spoke in whispers at Cair Paravel. He told how King Gale, who was ninth in descent from Frank the first of all Kings, had sailed far away into the Eastern seas and delivered the Lone Islanders from a dragon and how, in return, they had given him the Lone Islands to be part of the royal lands of Narnia forever. He talked of whole centuries in which all Narnia was so happy that notable dances and feasts, or at most tournaments, were the only things that could be remembered, and every day and week had been better than the last. And as he went on, the picture of all those happy years, all the thousands of them, piled up in Jill’s mind till it was rather like looking down from a high hill onto a rich, lovely plain full of woods and waters and cornfields, which spread away and away till it got thin and misty from distance. And she said: “Oh, I do hope we can soon settle the Ape and get back to those good, ordinary times. And then I hope they’ll go on forever and ever and ever. Our world is going to have an end some day. Perhaps this one won’t. Oh Jewel—wouldn’t it be lovely if Narnia just went on and on—like what you said it has been?” “Nay, sister,” answered Jewel, “all worlds draw to an end, except Aslan’s own country.”

“Well, at least,” said Jill, “I hope the end of this one is millions of millions of millions of years away—hallo! what are we stopping for?”

The King and Eustace and the Dwarf were all staring up at the sky. Jill shuddered, remembering what horrors they had seen already. But it was nothing of that sort this time. It was small, and looked black against the blue.

“I dare swear,” said the Unicorn, “from its flight, that it is a Talking bird.”

“So think I,” said the King. “But is it a friend, or a spy of the Ape’s?”

“To me, Sire,” said the Dwarf, “it has a look of Farsight the Eagle.”

“Ought we to hide under the trees?” said Eustace.

“Nay,” said Tirian, “best stand still as rocks. He would see us for certain if we moved.”

“Look! He wheels, he has seen us already,” said Jewel. “He is coming down in wide circles.”

“Arrow on string, Lady,” said Tirian to Jill. “But by no means shoot till I bid you. He may be a friend.”

If one had known what was going to happen next it would have been a treat to watch the grace and ease with which the huge bird glided down. He alighted on a rocky crag a few feet from Tirian, bowed his crested head, and said in his strange eagle’s-voice, “Hail, King.” “Hail, Farsight,” said Tirian. “And since you call me King, I may well believe you are not a follower of the Ape and his false Asian. I am glad of your coming.”

“Sire,” said the Eagle, “when you have heard my news you will be sorrier at my coming than of the greatest woe that ever befell you.”

Tirian’s heart seemed to stop beating at these words, but he set his teeth and said, “Tell on.”

“Two sights have I seen,” said Farsight. “One was Cair Paravel filled with dead Narnians and living Calormenes: The Tisroc’s banner advanced upon your royal battlements: and your subjects flying from the city—this way and that, into the woods. Cair Paravel was taken from the sea. Twenty great ships of Calormen put in there in the dark of the night before last night.”

No one could speak.

“And the other sight, five leagues nearer than Cair Paravel, was Roonwit the Centaur lying dead with a Calormene arrow in his side. I was with him in his last hour and he gave me this message to your Majesty: to remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.” “So,” said the King, after a long silence, “Narnia is no more.”

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