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To Lucy Barfield
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis
LUCY LOOKS INTO A WARDROBE
ONCE THERE WERE FOUR CHILDREN whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the heart of the country, ten miles from the nearest railway station and two miles from the nearest post office. He had no wife and he lived in a very large house with a housekeeper called Mrs. Macready and three servants. (Their names were Ivy, Margaret and Betty, but they do not come into the story much.) He himself was a very old man with shaggy white hair which grew over most of his face as well as on his head, and they liked him almost at once; but on the first evening when he came out to meet them at the front door he was so odd-looking that Lucy (who was the youngest) was a little afraid of him, and Edmund (who was the next youngest) wanted to laugh and had to keep on pretending he was blowing his nose to hide it.
As soon as they had said good night to the Professor and gone upstairs on the first night, the boys came into the girls’ room and they all talked it over.
“We’ve fallen on our feet and no mistake,” said Peter. “This is going to be perfectly splendid. That old chap will let us do anything we like.”
“I think he’s an old dear,” said Susan.
“Oh, come off it!” said Edmund, who was tired and pretending not to be tired, which always made him bad-tempered. “Don’t go on talking like that.”
“Like what?” said Susan; “and anyway, it’s time you were in bed.”
“Trying to talk like Mother,” said Edmund. “And who are you to say when I’m to go to bed? Go to bed yourself.”
“Hadn’t we all better go to bed?” said Lucy. “There’s sure to be a row if we’re heard talking here.”
“No, there won’t,” said Peter. “I tell you this is the sort of house where no one’s going to mind what we do. Anyway, they won’t hear us. It’s about ten minutes’ walk from here down to that dining room, and any amount of stairs and passages in between.” “What’s that noise?” said Lucy suddenly. It was a far larger house than she had ever been in before and the thought of all those long passages and rows of doors leading into empty rooms was beginning to make her feel a little creepy.
“It’s only a bird, silly,” said Edmund.
“It’s an owl,” said Peter. “This is going to be a wonderful place for birds. I shall go to bed now. I say, let’s go and explore tomorrow. You might find anything in a place like this. Did you see those mountains as we came along? And the woods? There might be eagles. There might be stags. There’ll be hawks.” “Badgers!” said Lucy.
“Foxes!” said Edmund.
“Rabbits!” said Susan.
But when next morning came there was a steady rain falling, so thick that when you looked out of the window you could see neither the mountains nor the woods nor even the stream in the garden.
“Of course it would be raining!” said Edmund. They had just finished their breakfast with the Professor and were upstairs in the room he had set apart for them—a long, low room with two windows looking out in one direction and two in another.
“Do stop grumbling, Ed,” said Susan. “Ten to one it’ll clear up in an hour or so. And in the meantime we’re pretty well off. There’s a wireless and lots of books.”
“Not for me,” said Peter; “I’m going to explore in the house.”
Everyone agreed to this and that was how the adventures began. It was the sort of house that you never seem to come to the end of, and it was full of unexpected places. The first few doors they tried led only into spare bedrooms, as everyone had expected that they would; but soon they came to a very long room full of pictures and there they found a suit of armor; and after that was a room all hung with green, with a harp in one corner; and then came three steps down and five steps up, and then a kind of little upstairs hall and a door that led out onto a balcony, and then a whole series of rooms that led into each other and were lined with books—most of them very old books and some bigger than a Bible in a church. And shortly after that they looked into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking-glass in the door. There was nothing else in the room at all except a dead bluebottle on the window-sill.
“Nothing there!” said Peter, and they all trooped out again—all except Lucy. She stayed behind because she thought it would be worth while trying the door of the wardrobe, even though she felt almost sure that it would be locked. To her surprise it opened quite easily, and two moth-balls dropped out.
Looking into the inside, she saw several coats hanging up—mostly long fur coats. There was nothing Lucy liked so much as the smell and feel of fur. She immediately stepped into the wardrobe and got in among the coats and rubbed her face against them, leaving the door open, of course, because she knew that it is very foolish to shut oneself into any wardrobe. Soon she went further in and found that there was a second row of coats hanging up behind the first one. It was almost quite dark in there and she kept her arms stretched out in front of her so as not to bump her face into the back of the wardrobe. She took a step further in—then two or three steps—always expecting to feel woodwork against the tips of her fingers. But she could not feel it.
“This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. “I wonder is that more moth-balls?” she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold. “This is very queer,” she said, and went on a step or two further.
Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly. “Why, it is just like branches of trees!” exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.
Lucy felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well. She looked back over her shoulder and there, between the dark tree-trunks, she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe and even catch a glimpse of the empty room from which she had set out. (She had, of course, left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe.) It seemed to be still daylight there. “I can always get back if anything goes wrong,” thought Lucy. She began to walk forward, crunch-crunch over the snow and through the wood toward the other light. In about ten minutes she reached it and found it was a lamp-post. As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her. And soon after that a very strange person stepped out from among the trees into the light of the lamp-post.
He was only a little taller than Lucy herself and he carried over his head an umbrella, white with snow. From the waist upward he was like a man, but his legs were shaped like a goat’s (the hair on them was glossy black) and instead of feet he had goat’s hoofs. He also had a tail, but Lucy did not notice this at first because it was neatly caught up over the arm that held the umbrella so as to keep it from trailing in the snow. He had a red woollen muffler round his neck and his skin was rather reddish too. He had a strange, but pleasant little face, with a short pointed beard and curly hair, and out of the hair there stuck two horns, one on each side of his forehead. One of his hands, as I have said, held the umbrella: in the other arm he carried several brown-paper parcels. What with the parcels and the snow it looked just as if he had been doing his Christmas shopping. He was a Faun. And when he saw Lucy he gave such a start of surprise that he dropped all his parcels.
“Goodness gracious me!” exclaimed the Faun.
WHAT LUCY FOUND THERE
“GOOD EVENING,” SAID LUCY. BUT THE Faun was so busy picking up its parcels that at first it did not reply. When it had finished it made her a little bow.
“Good evening, good evening,” said the Faun. “Excuse me—I don’t want to be inquisitive—but should I be right in thinking that you are a Daughter of Eve?”
“My name’s Lucy,” said she, not quite understanding him.
“But you are—forgive me—you are what they call a girl?” asked the Faun.
“Of course I’m a girl,” said Lucy.
“You are in fact Human?”
“Of course I’m human,” said Lucy, still a little puzzled.
“To be sure, to be sure,” said the Faun. “How stupid of me! But I’ve never seen a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve before. I am delighted. That is to say—” and then it stopped as if it had been going to say something it had not intended but had remembered in time. “Delighted, delighted,” it went on. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tumnus.” “I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy.
“And may I ask, O Lucy Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus, “how you have come into Narnia?”
“Narnia? What’s that?” said Lucy.
“This is the land of Narnia,” said the Faun, “where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea. And you—you have come from the wild woods of the west?” “I—I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room,” said Lucy.
“Ah!” said Mr. Tumnus in a rather melancholy voice, “if only I had worked harder at geography when I was a little Faun, I should no doubt know all about those strange countries. It is too late now.” “But they aren’t countries at all,” said Lucy, almost laughing. “It’s only just back there—at least—I’m not sure. It is summer there.”
“Meanwhile,” said Mr. Tumnus, “it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” “Thank you very much, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But I was wondering whether I ought to be getting back.”
“It’s only just round the corner,” said the Faun, “and there’ll be a roaring fire—and toast—and sardines—and cake.”
“Well, it’s very kind of you,” said Lucy. “But I shan’t be able to stay long.”
“If you will take my arm, Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus “I shall be able to hold the umbrella over both of us. That’s the way. Now—off we go.”
And so Lucy found herself walking through the wood arm in arm with this strange creature as if they had known one another all their lives.
They had not gone far before they came to a place where the ground became rough and there were rocks all about and little hills up and little hills down. At the bottom of one small valley Mr. Tumnus turned suddenly aside as if he were going to walk straight into an unusually large rock, but at the last moment Lucy found he was leading her into the entrance of a cave. As soon as they were inside she found herself blinking in the light of a wood fire. Then Mr. Tumnus stooped and took a flaming piece of wood out of the fire with a neat little pair of tongs, and lit a lamp. “Now we shan’t be long,” he said, and immediately put a kettle on.
Lucy thought she had never been in a nicer place. It was a little, dry, clean cave of reddish stone with a carpet on the floor and two little chairs (“one for me and one for a friend,” said Mr. Tumnus) and a table and a dresser and a mantelpiece over the fire and above that a picture of an old Faun with a gray beard. In one corner there was a door which Lucy thought must lead to Mr. Tumnus’s bedroom, and on one wall was a shelf full of books. Lucy looked at these while he was setting out the tea things. They had titles like The Life and Letters of Silenus or Nymphs and Their Ways or Men, Monks, and Gamekeepers; a Study in Popular Legend or Is Man a Myth?
“Now, Daughter of Eve!” said the Faun.
And really it was a wonderful tea. There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake. And when Lucy was tired of eating, the Faun began to talk. He had wonderful tales to tell of life in the forest. He told about the midnight dances and how the Nymphs who lived in the wells and the Dryads who lived in the trees came out to dance with the Fauns; about long hunting parties after the milk-white stag who could give you wishes if you caught him; about feasting and treasure-seeking with the wild Red Dwarfs in deep mines and caverns far beneath the forest floor; and then about summer when the woods were green and old Silenus on his fat donkey would come to visit them, and sometimes Bacchus himself, and then the streams would run with wine instead of water and the whole forest would give itself up to jollification for weeks on end. “Not that it isn’t always winter now,” he added gloomily. Then to cheer himself up he took out from its case on the dresser a strange little flute that looked as if it were made of straw and began to play. And the tune he played made Lucy want to cry and laugh and dance and go to sleep all at the same time. It must have been hours later when she shook herself and said:
“Oh, Mr. Tumnus—I’m so sorry to stop you, and I do love that tune—but really, I must go home. I only meant to stay for a few minutes.”
“It’s no good now, you know,” said the Faun, laying down its flute and shaking its head at her very sorrowfully.
“No good?” said Lucy, jumping up and feeling rather frightened. “What do you mean? I’ve got to go home at once. The others will be wondering what has happened to me.” But a moment later she asked, “Mr. Tumnus! Whatever is the matter?” for the Faun’s brown eyes had filled with tears and then the tears began trickling down its cheeks, and soon they were running off the end of its nose; and at last it covered its face with its hands and began to howl.
“Mr. Tumnus! Mr. Tumnus!” said Lucy in great distress. “Don’t! Don’t! What is the matter? Aren’t you well? Dear Mr. Tumnus, do tell me what is wrong.” But the Faun continued sobbing as if its heart would break. And even when Lucy went over and put her arms round him and lent him her handkerchief, he did not stop. He merely took the handkerchief and kept on using it, wringing it out with both hands whenever it got too wet to be any more use, so that presently Lucy was standing in a damp patch.
“Mr. Tumnus!” bawled Lucy in his ear, shaking him. “Do stop. Stop it at once! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a great big Faun like you. What on earth are you crying about?” “Oh—oh—oh!” sobbed Mr. Tumnus, “I’m crying because I’m such a bad Faun.”
“I don’t think you’re a bad Faun at all,” said Lucy. “I think you are a very good Faun. You are the nicest Faun I’ve ever met.”
“Oh—oh—you wouldn’t say that if you knew,” replied Mr. Tumnus between his sobs. “No, I’m a bad Faun. I don’t suppose there ever was a worse Faun since the beginning of the world.” “But what have you done?” asked Lucy.
“My old father, now,” said Mr. Tumnus; “that’s his picture over the mantelpiece. He would never have done a thing like this.”
“A thing like what?” said Lucy.
“Like what I’ve done,” said the Faun. “Taken service under the White Witch. That’s what I am. I’m in the pay of the White Witch.”
“The White Witch? Who is she?”
“Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”
“How awful!” said Lucy. “But what does she pay you for?”
“That’s the worst of it,” said Mr. Tumnus with a deep groan. “I’m a kidnapper for her, that’s what I am. Look at me, Daughter of Eve. Would you believe that I’m the sort of Faun to meet a poor innocent child in the wood, one that had never done me any harm, and pretend to be friendly with it, and invite it home to my cave, all for the sake of lulling it asleep and then handing it over to the White Witch?” “No,” said Lucy. “I’m sure you wouldn’t do anything of the sort.”
“But I have,” said the Faun.
“Well,” said Lucy rather slowly (for she wanted to be truthful and yet not be too hard on him), “well, that was pretty bad. But you’re so sorry for it that I’m sure you will never do it again.” “Daughter of Eve, don’t you understand?” said the Faun. “It isn’t something I have done. I’m doing it now, this very moment.”
“What do you mean?” cried Lucy, turning very white.
“You are the child,” said Tumnus. “I had orders from the White Witch that if ever I saw a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve in the wood, I was to catch them and hand them over to her. And you are the first I ever met. And I’ve pretended to be your friend and asked you to tea, and all the time I’ve been meaning to wait till you were asleep and then go and tell Her.” “Oh, but you won’t, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “You won’t, will you? Indeed, indeed you really mustn’t.”
“And if I don’t,” said he, beginning to cry again, “she’s sure to find out. And she’ll have my tail cut off, and my horns sawn off, and my beard plucked out, and she’ll wave her wand over my beautiful cloven hoofs and turn them into horrid solid hoofs like a wretched horse’s. And if she is extra and specially angry she’ll turn me into stone and I shall be only a statue of a Faun in her horrible house until the four thrones at Cair Paravel are filled—and goodness knows when that will happen, or whether it will ever happen at all.” “I’m very sorry, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But please let me go home.”
“Of course I will,” said the Faun. “Of course I’ve got to. I see that now. I hadn’t known what Humans were like before I met you. Of course I can’t give you up to the Witch; not now that I know you. But we must be off at once. I’ll see you back to the lamp-post. I suppose you can find your own way from there back to Spare Oom and War Drobe?” “I’m sure I can,” said Lucy.
“We must go as quietly as we can,” said Mr. Tumnus. “The whole wood is full of her spies. Even some of the trees are on her side.”
They both got up and left the tea things on the table, and Mr. Tumnus once more put up his umbrella and gave Lucy his arm, and they went out into the snow. The journey back was not at all like the journey to the Faun’s cave; they stole along as quickly as they could, without speaking a word, and Mr. Tumnus kept to the darkest places. Lucy was relieved when they reached the lamp-post again.
“Do you know your way from here, Daughter of Eve?” said Tumnus.
Lucy looked very hard between the trees and could just see in the distance a patch of light that looked like daylight. “Yes,” she said, “I can see the wardrobe door.”
“Then be off home as quick as you can,” said the Faun, “and—c-can you ever forgive me for what I meant to do?”
“Why, of course I can,” said Lucy, shaking him heartily by the hand. “And I do hope you won’t get into dreadful trouble on my account.”
“Farewell, Daughter of Eve,” said he. “Perhaps I may keep the handkerchief?”
“Rather!” said Lucy, and then ran toward the far-off patch of daylight as quickly as her legs would carry her. And presently instead of rough branches brushing past her she felt coats, and instead of crunching snow under her feet she felt wooden boards, and all at once she found herself jumping out of the wardrobe into the same empty room from which the whole adventure had started. She shut the wardrobe door tightly behind her and looked around, panting for breath. It was still raining and she could hear the voices of the others in the passage.
“I’m here,” she shouted. “I’m here. I’ve come back, I’m all right.”
EDMUND AND THE WARDROBE
LUCY RAN OUT OF THE EMPTY ROOM into the passage and found the other three.
“It’s all right,” she repeated, “I’ve come back.”
“What on earth are you talking about, Lucy?” asked Susan.
“Why,” said Lucy in amazement, “haven’t you all been wondering where I was?”
“So you’ve been hiding, have you?” said Peter. “Poor old Lu, hiding and nobody noticed! You’ll have to hide longer than that if you want people to start looking for you.”
“But I’ve been away for hours and hours,” said Lucy.
The others all stared at one another.
“Batty!” said Edmund, tapping his head. “Quite batty.”
“What do you mean, Lu?” asked Peter.
“What I said,” answered Lucy. “It was just after breakfast when I went into the wardrobe, and I’ve been away for hours and hours, and had tea, and all sorts of things have happened.” “Don’t be silly, Lucy,” said Susan. “We’ve only just come out of that room a moment ago, and you were there then.”
“She’s not being silly at all,” said Peter, “she’s just making up a story for fun, aren’t you, Lu? And why shouldn’t she?”
“No, Peter, I’m not,” she said. “It’s—it’s a magic wardrobe. There’s a wood inside it, and it’s snowing, and there’s a Faun and a Witch and it’s called Narnia; come and see.” The others did not know what to think, but Lucy was so excited that they all went back with her into the room. She rushed ahead of them, flung open the door of the wardrobe and cried, “Now! go in and see for yourselves.” “Why, you goose,” said Susan, putting her head inside and pulling the fur coats apart, “it’s just an ordinary wardrobe; look! there’s the back of it.”
Then everyone looked in and pulled the coats apart; and they all saw—Lucy herself saw—a perfectly ordinary wardrobe. There was no wood and no snow, only the back of the wardrobe, with hooks on it. Peter went in and rapped his knuckles on it to make sure that it was solid.
“A jolly good hoax, Lu,” he said as he came out again; “you have really taken us in, I must admit. We half-believed you.”
“But it wasn’t a hoax at all,” said Lucy, “really and truly. It was all different a moment ago. Honestly it was. I promise.”
“Come, Lu,” said Peter, “that’s going a bit far. You’ve had your joke. Hadn’t you better drop it now?”
Lucy grew very red in the face and tried to say something, though she hardly knew what she was trying to say, and burst into tears.
For the next few days she was very miserable. She could have made it up with the others quite easily at any moment if she could have brought herself to say that the whole thing was only a story made up for fun. But Lucy was a very truthful girl and she knew that she was really in the right; and she could not bring herself to say this. The others who thought she was telling a lie, and a silly lie too, made her very unhappy. The two elder ones did this without meaning to do it, but Edmund could be spiteful, and on this occasion he was spiteful. He sneered and jeered at Lucy and kept on asking her if she’d found any other new countries in other cupboards all over the house. What made it worse was that these days ought to have been delightful. The weather was fine and they were out of doors from morning to night, bathing, fishing, climbing trees, and lying in the heather. But Lucy could not properly enjoy any of it. And so things went on until the next wet day.
That day, when it came to the afternoon and there was still no sign of a break in the weather, they decided to play hide-and-seek. Susan was “It” and as soon as the others scattered to hide, Lucy went to the room where the wardrobe was. She did not mean to hide in the wardrobe, because she knew that would only set the others talking again about the whole wretched business. But she did want to have one more look inside it; for by this time she was beginning to wonder herself whether Narnia and the Faun had not been a dream. The house was so large and complicated and full of hiding-places that she thought she would have time to have one look into the wardrobe and then hide somewhere else. But as soon as she reached it she heard steps in the passage outside, and then there was nothing for it but to jump into the wardrobe and hold the door closed behind her. She did not shut it properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one.
Now the steps she had heard were those of Edmund; and he came into the room just in time to see Lucy vanishing into the wardrobe. He at once decided to get into it himself—not because he thought it a particularly good place to hide but because he wanted to go on teasing her about her imaginary country. He opened the door. There were the coats hanging up as usual, and a smell of mothballs, and darkness and silence, and no sign of Lucy. “She thinks I’m Susan come to catch her,” said Edmund to himself, “and so she’s keeping very quiet in at the back.” He jumped in and shut the door, forgetting what a very foolish thing this is to do. Then he began feeling about for Lucy in the dark. He had expected to find her in a few seconds and was very surprised when he did not. He decided to open the door again and let in some light. But he could not find the door either. He didn’t like this at all and began groping wildly in every direction; he even shouted out, “Lucy! Lu! Where are you? I know you’re here.”
There was no answer and Edmund noticed that his own voice had a curious sound—not the sound you expect in a cupboard, but a kind of open-air sound. He also noticed that he was unexpectedly cold; and then he saw a light.
“Thank goodness,” said Edmund, “the door must have swung open of its own accord.” He forgot all about Lucy and went toward the light, which he thought was the open door of the wardrobe. But instead of finding himself stepping out into the spare room he found himself stepping out from the shadow of some thick dark fir trees into an open place in the middle of a wood.
There was crisp, dry snow under his feet and more snow lying on the branches of the trees. Overhead there was a pale blue sky, the sort of sky one sees on a fine winter day in the morning. Straight ahead of him he saw between the tree-trunks the sun, just rising, very red and clear. Everything was perfectly still, as if he were the only living creature in that country. There was not even a robin or a squirrel among the trees, and the wood stretched as far as he could see in every direction. He shivered.
He now remembered that he had been looking for Lucy; and also how unpleasant he had been to her about her “imaginary country” which now turned out not to have been imaginary at all. He thought that she must be somewhere quite close and so he shouted, “Lucy! Lucy! I’m here too—Edmund.” There was no answer.
“She’s angry about all the things I’ve been saying lately,” thought Edmund. And though he did not like to admit that he had been wrong, he also did not much like being alone in this strange, cold, quiet place; so he shouted again.
“I say, Lu! I’m sorry I didn’t believe you. I see now you were right all along. Do come out. Make it Pax.”
Still there was no answer.
“Just like a girl,” said Edmund to himself, “sulking somewhere, and won’t accept an apology.” He looked round him again and decided he did not much like this place, and had almost made up his mind to go home, when he heard, very far off in the wood, a sound of bells. He listened and the sound came nearer and nearer and at last there swept into sight a sledge drawn by two reindeer.
The reindeer were about the size of Shetland ponies and their hair was so white that even the snow hardly looked white compared with them; their branching horns were gilded and shone like something on fire when the sunrise caught them. Their harness was of scarlet leather and covered with bells. On the sledge, driving the reindeer, sat a fat dwarf who would have been about three feet high if he had been standing. He was dressed in polar bear’s fur and on his head he wore a red hood with a long gold tassel hanging down from its point; his huge beard covered his knees and served him instead of a rug. But behind him, on a much higher seat in the middle of the sledge sat a very different person—a great lady, taller than any woman that Edmund had ever seen. She also was covered in white fur up to her throat and held a long straight golden wand in her right hand and wore a golden crown on her head. Her face was white—not merely pale, but white like snow or paper or icing-sugar, except for her very red mouth. It was a beautiful face in other respects, but proud and cold and stern.
The sledge was a fine sight as it came sweeping toward Edmund with the bells jingling and the dwarf cracking his whip and the snow flying up on each side of it.
“Stop!” said the Lady, and the dwarf pulled the reindeer up so sharp that they almost sat down. Then they recovered themselves and stood champing their bits and blowing. In the frosty air the breath coming out of their nostrils looked like smoke.
“And what, pray, are you?” said the Lady, looking hard at Edmund.
“I’m—I’m—my name’s Edmund,” said Edmund rather awkwardly. He did not like the way she looked at him.
The Lady frowned. “Is that how you address a Queen?” she asked, looking sterner than ever.
“I beg your pardon, your Majesty, I didn’t know,” said Edmund.
“Not know the Queen of Narnia?” cried she. “Ha! You shall know us better hereafter. But I repeat—what are you?”
“Please, your Majesty,” said Edmund, “I don’t know what you mean. I’m at school—at least I was—it’s the holidays now.”
“BUT WHAT ARE YOU?” SAID THE QUEEN again. “Are you a great overgrown dwarf that has cut off its beard?”
“No, your Majesty,” said Edmund, “I never had a beard, I’m a boy.”
“A boy!” said she. “Do you mean you are a Son of Adam?”
Edmund stood still, saying nothing. He was too confused by this time to understand what the question meant.
“I see you are an idiot, whatever else you may be,” said the Queen. “Answer me, once and for all, or I shall lose my patience. Are you human?”
“Yes, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
“And how, pray, did you come to enter my dominions?”
“Please, your Majesty, I came in through a wardrobe.”
“A wardrobe? What do you mean?”
“I—I opened a door and just found myself here, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
“Ha!” said the Queen, speaking more to herself than to him. “A door. A door from the world of men! I have heard of such things. This may wreck all. But he is only one, and he is easily dealt with.” As she spoke these words she rose from her seat and looked Edmund full in the face, her eyes flaming; at the same moment she raised her wand. Edmund felt sure that she was going to do something dreadful but he seemed unable to move. Then, just as he gave himself up for lost, she appeared to change her mind.
“My poor child,” she said in quite a different voice, “how cold you look! Come and sit with me here on the sledge and I will put my mantle round you and we will talk.”
Edmund did not like this arrangement at all but he dared not disobey; he stepped onto the sledge and sat at her feet, and she put a fold of her fur mantle round him and tucked it well in.
“Perhaps something hot to drink?” said the Queen. “Should you like that?”
“Yes please, your Majesty,” said Edmund, whose teeth were chattering.
The Queen took from somewhere among her wrappings a very small bottle which looked as if it were made of copper. Then, holding out her arm, she let one drop fall from it onto the snow beside the sledge. Edmund saw the drop for a second in mid-air, shining like a diamond. But the moment it touched the snow there was a hissing sound and there stood a jeweled cup full of something that steamed. The dwarf immediately took this and handed it to Edmund with a bow and a smile; not a very nice smile. Edmund felt much better as he began to sip the hot drink. It was something he had never tasted before, very sweet and foamy and creamy, and it warmed him right down to his toes.
“It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen presently. “What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle onto the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.
While he was eating the Queen kept asking him questions. At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one’s mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat, and he never asked himself why the Queen should be so inquisitive. She got him to tell her that he had one brother and two sisters, and that one of his sisters had already been in Narnia and had met a Faun there, and that no one except himself and his brother and his sisters knew anything about Narnia. She seemed especially interested in the fact that there were four of them, and kept on coming back to it. “You are sure there are just four of you?” she asked. “Two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve, neither more nor less?” and Edmund, with his mouth full of Turkish Delight, kept on saying, “Yes, I told you that before,” and forgetting to call her “Your Majesty,” but she didn’t seem to mind now.
At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves. But she did not offer him any more. Instead, she said to him, “Son of Adam, I should so much like to see your brother and your two sisters. Will you bring them to see me?”
“I’ll try,” said Edmund, still looking at the empty box.
“Because, if you did come again—bringing them with you of course—I’d be able to give you some more Turkish Delight. I can’t do it now, the magic will only work once. In my own house it would be another matter.” “Why can’t we go to your house now?” said Edmund. When he had first got onto the sledge he had been afraid that she might drive away with him to some unknown place from which he would not be able to get back; but he had forgotten about that fear now.
“It is a lovely place, my house,” said the Queen. “I am sure you would like it. There are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight, and what’s more, I have no children of my own. I want a nice boy whom I could bring up as a Prince and who would be King of Narnia when I am gone. While he was Prince he would wear a gold crown and eat Turkish Delight all day long; and you are much the cleverest and handsomest young man I’ve ever met. I think I would like to make you the Prince—some day, when you bring the others to visit me.” “Why not now?” said Edmund. His face had become very red and his mouth and fingers were sticky. He did not look either clever or handsome, whatever the Queen might say.
“Oh, but if I took you there now,” said she, “I shouldn’t see your brother and your sisters. I very much want to know your charming relations. You are to be the Prince and—later on—the King; that is understood. But you must have courtiers and nobles. I will make your brother a Duke and your sisters Duchesses.” “There’s nothing special about them,” said Edmund, “and, anyway, I could always bring them some other time.”
“Ah, but once you were in my house,” said the Queen, “you might forget all about them. You would be enjoying yourself so much that you wouldn’t want the bother of going to fetch them. No. You must go back to your own country now and come to me another day, with them, you understand. It is no good coming without them.” “But I don’t even know the way back to my own country,” pleaded Edmund.
“That’s easy,” answered the Queen. “Do you see that lamp?” She pointed with her wand and Edmund turned and saw the same lamp-post under which Lucy had met the Faun. “Straight on, beyond that, is the way to the World of Men. And now look the other way”—here she pointed in the opposite direction—“and tell me if you can see two little hills rising above the trees.” “I think I can,” said Edmund.
“Well, my house is between those two hills. So next time you come you have only to find the lamp-post and look for those two hills and walk through the wood till you reach my house. But remember—you must bring the others with you. I might have to be very angry with you if you came alone.” “I’ll do my best,” said Edmund.
“And, by the way,” said the Queen, “you needn’t tell them about me. It would be fun to keep it a secret between us two, wouldn’t it? Make it a surprise for them. Just bring them along to the two hills—a clever boy like you will easily think of some excuse for doing that—and when you come to my house you could just say ‘Let’s see who lives here’ or something like that. I am sure that would be best. If your sister has met one of the Fauns, she may have heard strange stories about me—nasty stories that might make her afraid to come to me. Fauns will say anything, you know, and now—” “Please, please,” said Edmund suddenly, “please couldn’t I have just one piece of Turkish Delight to eat on the way home?”
“No, no,” said the Queen with a laugh, “you must wait till next time.” While she spoke, she signaled to the dwarf to drive on, but as the sledge swept away out of sight, the Queen waved to Edmund, calling out, “Next time! Next time! Don’t forget. Come soon.” Edmund was still staring after the sledge when he heard someone calling his own name, and looking round he saw Lucy coming toward him from another part of the wood.
“Oh, Edmund!” she cried. “So you’ve got in too! Isn’t it wonderful, and now—”
“All right,” said Edmund, “I see you were right and it is a magic wardrobe after all. I’ll say I’m sorry if you like. But where on earth have you been all this time? I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” “If I’d known you had got in I’d have waited for you,” said Lucy, who was too happy and excited to notice how snappishly Edmund spoke or how flushed and strange his face was. “I’ve been having lunch with dear Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, and he’s very well and the White Witch has done nothing to him for letting me go, so he thinks she can’t have found out and perhaps everything is going to be all right after all.” “The White Witch?” said Edmund; “who’s she?”
“She is a perfectly terrible person,” said Lucy. “She calls herself the Queen of Narnia though she has no right to be queen at all, and all the Fauns and Dryads and Naiads and Dwarfs and Animals—at least all the good ones—simply hate her. And she can turn people into stone and do all kinds of horrible things. And she has made a magic so that it is always winter in Narnia—always winter, but it never gets to Christmas. And she drives about on a sledge, drawn by reindeer, with her wand in her hand and a crown on her head.” Edmund was already feeling uncomfortable from having eaten too many sweets, and when he heard that the Lady he had made friends with was a dangerous witch he felt even more uncomfortable. But he still wanted to taste that Turkish Delight again more than he wanted anything else.
“Who told you all that stuff about the White Witch?” he asked.
“Mr. Tumnus, the Faun,” said Lucy.
“You can’t always believe what Fauns say,” said Edmund, trying to sound as if he knew far more about them than Lucy.
“Who said so?” asked Lucy.
“Everyone knows it,” said Edmund; “ask anybody you like. But it’s pretty poor sport standing here in the snow. Let’s go home.”
“Yes, let’s,” said Lucy. “Oh, Edmund, I am glad you’ve got in too. The others will have to believe in Narnia now that both of us have been there. What fun it will be!”
But Edmund secretly thought that it would not be as good fun for him as for her. He would have to admit that Lucy had been right, before all the others, and he felt sure the others would all be on the side of the Fauns and the animals; but he was already more than half on the side of the Witch. He did not know what he would say, or how he would keep his secret once they were all talking about Narnia.
By this time they had walked a good way. Then suddenly they felt coats around them instead of branches and next moment they were both standing outside the wardrobe in the empty room.
“I say,” said Lucy, “you do look awful, Edmund. Don’t you feel well?”
“I’m all right,” said Edmund, but this was not true. He was feeling very sick.
“Come on then,” said Lucy, “let’s find the others. What a lot we shall have to tell them! And what wonderful adventures we shall have now that we’re all in it together.”
BACK ON THIS SIDE OF THE DOOR
BECAUSE THE GAME OF HIDE-AND-SEEK was still going on, it took Edmund and Lucy some time to find the others. But when at last they were all together (which happened in the long room, where the suit of armor was), Lucy burst out: “Peter! Susan! It’s all true. Edmund has seen it too. There is a country you can get to through the wardrobe. Edmund and I both got in. We met one another in there, in the wood. Go on, Edmund; tell them all about it.” “What’s all this about, Ed?” said Peter.
And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story. Up to that moment Edmund had been feeling sick, and sulky, and annoyed with Lucy for being right, but he hadn’t made up his mind what to do. When Peter suddenly asked him the question he decided all at once to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he could think of. He decided to let Lucy down.
“Tell us, Ed,” said Susan.
And Edmund gave a very superior look as if he were far older than Lucy (there was really only a year’s difference) and then a little snigger and said, “Oh, yes, Lucy and I have been playing—pretending that all her story about a country in the wardrobe is true. Just for fun, of course. There’s nothing there really.” Poor Lucy gave Edmund one look and rushed out of the room.
Edmund, who was becoming a nastier person every minute, thought that he had scored a great success, and went on at once to say, “There she goes again. What’s the matter with her? That’s the worst of young kids, they always—” “Look here,” said Peter, turning on him savagely, “shut up! You’ve been perfectly beastly to Lu ever since she started this nonsense about the wardrobe, and now you go playing games with her about it and setting her off again. I believe you did it simply out of spite.” “But it’s all nonsense,” said Edmund, very taken aback.
“Of course it’s all nonsense,” said Peter, “that’s just the point. Lu was perfectly all right when we left home, but since we’ve been down here she seems to be either going queer in the head or else turning into a most frightful liar. But whichever it is, what good do you think you’ll do by jeering and nagging at her one day and encouraging her the next?” “I thought—I thought,” said Edmund; but he couldn’t think of anything to say.
“You didn’t think anything at all,” said Peter; “it’s just spite. You’ve always liked being beastly to anyone smaller than yourself; we’ve seen that at school before now.” “Do stop it,” said Susan; “it won’t make things any better having a row between you two. Let’s go and find Lucy.”
It was not surprising that when they found Lucy, a good deal later, everyone could see that she had been crying. Nothing they could say to her made any difference. She stuck to her story and said: “I don’t care what you think, and I don’t care what you say. You can tell the Professor or you can write to Mother or you can do anything you like. I know I’ve met a Faun in there and—I wish I’d stayed there and you are all beasts, beasts.” It was an unpleasant evening. Lucy was miserable and Edmund was beginning to feel that his plan wasn’t working as well as he had expected. The two older ones were really beginning to think that Lucy was out of her mind. They stood in the passage talking about it in whispers long after she had gone to bed.
The result was the next morning they decided that they really would go and tell the whole thing to the Professor. “He’ll write to Father if he thinks there is really something wrong with Lu,” said Peter; “it’s getting beyond us.” So they went and knocked at the study door, and the Professor said “Come in,” and got up and found chairs for them and said he was quite at their disposal. Then he sat listening to them with the tips of his fingers pressed together and never interrupting, till they had finished the whole story. After that he said nothing for quite a long time. Then he cleared his throat and said the last thing either of them expected: “How do you know,” he asked, “that your sister’s story is not true?”
“Oh, but—” began Susan, and then stopped. Anyone could see from the old man’s face that he was perfectly serious. Then Susan pulled herself together and said, “But Edmund said they had only been pretending.” “That is a point,” said the Professor, “which certainly deserves consideration; very careful consideration. For instance—if you will excuse me for asking the question—does your experience lead you to regard your brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean, which is the more truthful?” “That’s just the funny thing about it, sir,” said Peter. “Up till now, I’d have said Lucy every time.”
“And what do you think, my dear?” said the Professor, turning to Susan.
“Well,” said Susan, “in general, I’d say the same as Peter, but this couldn’t be true—all this about the wood and the Faun.”
“That is more than I know,” said the Professor, “and a charge of lying against someone whom you have always found truthful is a very serious thing; a very serious thing indeed.” “We were afraid it mightn’t even be lying,” said Susan; “we thought there might be something wrong with Lucy.”
“Madness, you mean?” said the Professor quite coolly. “Oh, you can make your minds easy about that. One has only to look at her and talk to her to see that she is not mad.”
“But then,” said Susan, and stopped. She had never dreamed that a grown-up would talk like the Professor and didn’t know what to think.
“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.” Susan looked at him very hard and was quite sure from the expression on his face that he was not making fun of them.
“But how could it be true, sir?” said Peter.
“Why do you say that?” asked the Professor.
“Well, for one thing,” said Peter, “if it was real why doesn’t everyone find this country every time they go to the wardrobe? I mean, there was nothing there when we looked; even Lucy didn’t pretend there was.” “What has that to do with it?” said the Professor.
“Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time.”
“Are they?” said the Professor; and Peter did not know quite what to say.
“But there was no time,” said Susan. “Lucy had had no time to have gone anywhere, even if there was such a place. She came running after us the very moment we were out of the room. It was less than a minute, and she pretended to have been away for hours.” “That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true,” said the Professor. “If there really is a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it)—if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at all surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time. On the other hand, I don’t think many girls of her age would invent that idea for themselves. If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story.”
“But do you really mean, sir,” said Peter, “that there could be other worlds—all over the place, just round the corner—like that?”
“Nothing is more probable,” said the Professor, taking off his spectacles and beginning to polish them, while he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.” “But what are we to do?” said Susan. She felt that the conversation was beginning to get off the point.
“My dear young lady,” said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, “there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.” “What’s that?” said Susan.
“We might all try minding our own business,” said he. And that was the end of that conversation.
After this things were a good deal better for Lucy. Peter saw to it that Edmund stopped jeering at her, and neither she nor anyone else felt inclined to talk about the wardrobe at all. It had become a rather alarming subject. And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be.
This house of the Professor’s—which even he knew so little about—was so old and famous that people from all over England used to come and ask permission to see over it. It was the sort of house that is mentioned in guide books and even in histories; and well it might be, for all manner of stories were told about it, some of them even stranger than the one I am telling you now. And when parties of sightseers arrived and asked to see the house, the Professor always gave them permission, and Mrs. Macready, the housekeeper, showed them round, telling them about the pictures and the armor, and the rare books in the library. Mrs. Macready was not fond of children, and did not like to be interrupted when she was telling visitors all the things she knew. She had said to Susan and Peter almost on the first morning (along with a good many other instructions), “And please remember you’re to keep out of the way whenever I’m taking a party over the house.”
“Just as if any of us would want to waste half the morning trailing round with a crowd of strange grown-ups!” said Edmund, and the other three thought the same. That was how the adventures began for the second time.
A few mornings later Peter and Edmund were looking at the suit of armor and wondering if they could take it to bits when the two girls rushed into the room and said, “Look out! Here comes the Macready and a whole gang with her.” “Sharp’s the word,” said Peter, and all four made off through the door at the far end of the room. But when they had got out into the Green Room and beyond it, into the Library, they suddenly heard voices ahead of them, and realized that Mrs. Macready must be bringing her party of sightseers up the back stairs—instead of up the front stairs as they had expected. And after that—whether it was that they lost their heads, or that Mrs. Macready was trying to catch them, or that some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia—they seemed to find themselves being followed everywhere, until at last Susan said, “Oh bother those trippers! Here—let’s get into the Wardrobe Room till they’ve passed. No one will follow us in there.” But the moment they were inside they heard voices in the passage—and then someone fumbling at the door—and then they saw the handle turning.
“Quick!” said Peter, “there’s nowhere else,” and flung open the wardrobe. All four of them bundled inside it and sat there, panting, in the dark. Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, of course, he remembered, as every sensible person does, that you should never never shut yourself up in a wardrobe.
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