فصل 14 - 17
- زمان مطالعه 65 دقیقه
- سطح ساده
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متن انگلیسی فصل
THE TRIUMPH OF THE WITCH
AS SOON AS THE WITCH HAD GONE ASLAN said, “We must move from this place at once, it will be wanted for other purposes. We shall encamp tonight at the Fords of Beruna.”
Of course everyone was dying to ask him how he had arranged matters with the witch; but his face was stern and everyone’s ears were still ringing with the sound of his roar and so nobody dared.
After a meal, which was taken in the open air on the hill-top (for the sun had got strong by now and dried the grass), they were busy for a while taking the pavilion down and packing things up. Before two o’clock they were on the march and set off in a northeasterly direction, walking at an easy pace for they had not far to go.
During the first part of the journey Aslan explained to Peter his plan of campaign. “As soon as she has finished her business in these parts,” he said, “the Witch and her crew will almost certainly fall back to her House and prepare for a siege. You may or may not be able to cut her off and prevent her from reaching it.” He then went on to outline two plans of battle—one for fighting the Witch and her people in the wood and another for assaulting her castle. And all the time he was advising Peter how to conduct the operations, saying things like, “You must put your Centaurs in such and such a place” or “You must post scouts to see that she doesn’t do so-and-so,” till at last Peter said, “But you will be there yourself, Aslan.”
“I can give you no promise of that,” answered the Lion. And he continued giving Peter his instructions.
For the last part of the journey it was Susan and Lucy who saw most of him. He did not talk very much and seemed to them to be sad.
It was still afternoon when they came down to a place where the river valley had widened out and the river was broad and shallow. This was the Fords of Beruna and Aslan gave orders to halt on this side of the water. But Peter said, “Wouldn’t it be better to camp on the far side—for fear she should try a night attack or anything?”
Aslan, who seemed to have been thinking about something else, roused himself with a shake of his magnificent mane and said, “Eh? What’s that?” Peter said it all over again.
“No,” said Aslan in a dull voice, as if it didn’t matter. “No. She will not make an attack tonight.” And then he sighed deeply. But presently he added, “All the same it was well thought of. That is how a soldier ought to think. But it doesn’t really matter.” So they proceeded to pitch their camp.
Aslan’s mood affected everyone that evening. Peter was feeling uncomfortable too at the idea of fighting the battle on his own; the news that Aslan might not be there had come as a great shock to him. Supper that evening was a quiet meal. Everyone felt how different it had been last night or even that morning. It was as if the good times, having just begun, were already drawing to their end.
This feeling affected Susan so much that she couldn’t get to sleep when she went to bed. And after she had lain counting sheep and turning over and over she heard Lucy give a long sigh and turn over just beside her in the darkness.
“Can’t you get to sleep either?” said Susan:
“No,” said Lucy. “I thought you were asleep. I say, Susan!”
“I’ve a most horrible feeling—as if something were hanging over us.”
“Have you? Because, as a matter of fact, so have I.”
“Something about Aslan,” said Lucy. “Either some dreadful thing is going to happen to him, or something dreadful that he’s going to do.”
“There’s been something wrong with him all afternoon,” said Susan. “Lucy! What was that he said about not being with us at the battle? You don’t think he could be stealing away and leaving us tonight, do you?”
“Where is he now?” said Lucy. “Is he here in the pavilion?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Susan! let’s go outside and have a look round. We might see him.”
“All right. Let’s,” said Susan; “we might just as well be doing that as lying awake here.”
Very quietly the two girls groped their way among the other sleepers and crept out of the tent. The moonlight was bright and everything was quite still except for the noise of the river chattering over the stones. Then Susan suddenly caught Lucy’s arm and said, “Look!” On the far side of the camping ground, just where the trees began, they saw the Lion slowly walking away from them into the wood. Without a word they both followed him.
He led them up the steep slope out of the river valley and then slightly to the right—apparently by the very same route which they had used that afternoon in coming from the Hill of the Stone Table. On and on he led them, into dark shadows and out into pale moonlight, getting their feet wet with the heavy dew. He looked somehow different from the Aslan they knew. His tail and his head hung low and he walked slowly as if he were very, very tired. Then, when they were crossing a wide open place where there were no shadows for them to hide in, he stopped and looked round. It was no good trying to run away so they came toward him. When they were closer he said, “Oh, children, children, why are you following me?”
“We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy—and then felt sure that she need say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.
“Please, may we come with you—wherever you’re going?” asked Susan.
“Well—” said Aslan, and seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “I should be glad of company tonight. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go on alone.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you. And we will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
“Aslan! Dear Aslan!” said Lucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?”
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but what they had longed to do ever since they first saw him—buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fur and stroked it and, so doing, walked with him. And presently they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the Stone Table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when they got to the last tree (it was one that had some bushes about it) Aslan stopped and said, “Oh, children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen. Farewell.”
And both the girls cried bitterly (though they hardly knew why) and clung to the Lion and kissed his mane and his nose and his paws and his great, sad eyes. Then he turned from them and walked out on to the top of the hill. And Lucy and Susan, crouching in the bushes, looked after him and this is what they saw.
A great crowd of people were standing all round the Stone Table and though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monstrous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures whom I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let you read this book—Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the Witch’s side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the Table, was the Witch herself.
A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing toward them, and for a moment even the Witch herself seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild, fierce laugh.
“The fool!” she cried. “The fool has come. Bind him fast.”
Lucy and Susan held their breaths waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four Hags, grinning and leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The Hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others—evil dwarfs and apes—rushed in to help them, and between them they rolled the huge Lion over on his back and tied all his four paws together, shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him toward the Stone Table.
“Stop!” said the Witch. “Let him first be shaved.”
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children, watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without its mane. The enemies also saw the difference.
“Why, he’s only a great cat after all!” cried one.
“Is that what we were afraid of?” said another.
And they surged round Aslan, jeering at him, saying things like “Puss, Puss! Poor Pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat?” and “Would you like a saucer of milk, Pussums?”
“Oh, how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him—so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him onto the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. “Are they still afraid of him, even now?”
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. Then she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone, not of steel, and it was of a strange and evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice, “And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.” The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
DEEPER MAGIC FROM BEFORE THE DAWN OF TIME
WHILE THE TWO GIRLS STILL CROUCHED in the bushes with their hands over their faces, they heard the voice of the Witch calling out,
“Now! Follow me all and we will set about what remains of this war! It will not take us long to crush the human vermin and the traitors now that the great Fool, the great Cat, lies dead.”
At this moment the children were for a few seconds in very great danger. For with wild cries and a noise of skirling pipes and shrill horns blowing, the whole of that vile rabble came sweeping off the hilltop and down the slope right past their hiding-place. They felt the Specters go by them like a cold wind and they felt the ground shake beneath them under the galloping feet of the Minotaurs; and overhead there went a flurry of foul wings and a blackness of vultures and giant bats. At any other time they would have trembled with fear; but now the sadness and shame and horror of Aslan’s death so filled their minds that they hardly thought of it.
As soon as the wood was silent again Susan and Lucy crept out onto the open hilltop. The moon was getting low and thin clouds were passing across her, but still they could see the shape of the Lion lying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt in the wet grass and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fur—what was left of it—and cried till they could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each, other’s hands for mere loneliness and cried again; and then again were silent. At last Lucy said, “I can’t bear to look at that horrible muzzle. I wonder could we take it off?”
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and the foam as well as they could. And it was all more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.
“I wonder could we untie him as well?” said Susan presently. But the enemies, out of pure spitefulness, had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been—if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you—you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead calm, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things. One was that the sky on the east side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet. At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter? Nothing mattered now! But at last she saw that whatever-it-was had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan’s body. She peered closer. They were little gray things.
“Ugh!” said Susan from the other side of the Table. “How beastly! There are horrid little mice crawling over him. Go away, you little beasts.” And she raised her hand to frighten them away.
“Wait!” said Lucy, who had been looking at them more closely still. “Can you see what they’re doing?”
Both girls bent down and stared.
“I do believe—” said Susan. “But how queer! They’re nibbling away at the cords!”
“That’s what I thought,” said Lucy. “I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things—they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.”
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds, of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the east was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter—all except one very big one low down on the eastern horizon. They felt colder than they had been all night. The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of the gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead face looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.
In the wood behind them a bird gave a chuckling sound. It had been so still for hours and hours that it startled them. Then another bird answered it. Soon there were birds singing all over the place.
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night.
“I’m so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I,” said Susan. “Let’s walk about a bit.”
They walked to the eastern edge of the hill and looked down. The one big star had almost disappeared. The country all looked dark gray, but beyond, at the very end of the world, the sea showed pale. The sky began to turn red. They walked to and fro more times than they could count between the dead Aslan and the eastern ridge, trying to keep warm; and oh, how tired their legs felt. Then at last, as they stood for a moment looking out toward the sea and Cair Paravel (which they could now just make out) the red turned to gold along the line where the sea and the sky met and very slowly up came the edge of the sun. At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise—a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant’s plate.
“What’s that?” said Lucy, clutching Susan’s arm.
“I—I feel afraid to turn round,” said Susan; “something awful is happening.”
“They’re doing something worse to Him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned, pulling Susan round with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything look so different—all colors and shadows were changed—that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the two girls, rushing back to the Table.
“Oh, it’s too bad,” sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You’re not—not a—?” asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost. Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward. And now—” “Oh yes. Now?” said Lucy, jumping up and clapping her hands.
“Oh, children,” said the Lion, “I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!” He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind. And the funny thing was that when all three finally lay together panting in the sun the girls no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty.
“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business. I feel I am going to roar. You had better put your fingers in your ears.”
And they did. And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind. Then he said.
“We have a long journey to go. You must ride on me.” And he crouched down and the children climbed onto his warm, golden back, and Susan sat first, holding on tightly to his mane and Lucy sat behind holding on tightly to Susan. And with a great heave he rose underneath them and then shot off, faster than any horse could go, down hill and into the thick of the forest.
That ride was perhaps the most wonderful thing that happened to them in Narnia. Have you ever had a gallop on a horse? Think of that; and then take away the heavy noise of the hoofs and the jingle of the bits and imagine instead the almost noiseless padding of the great paws. Then imagine instead of the black or gray or chestnut back of the horse the soft roughness of golden fur, and the mane flying back in the wind. And then imagine you are going about twice as fast as the fastest racehorse. But this is a mount that doesn’t need to be guided and never grows tired. He rushes on and on, never missing his footing, never hesitating, threading his way with perfect skill between tree trunks, jumping over bush and briar and the smaller streams, wading the larger, swimming the largest of all. And you are riding not on a road nor in a park nor even on the downs, but right across Narnia, in spring, down solemn avenues of beech and across sunny glades of oak, through wild orchards of snow-white cherry trees, past roaring waterfalls and mossy rocks and echoing caverns, up windy slopes alight with gorse bushes, and across the shoulders of heathery mountains and along giddy ridges and down, down, down again into wild valleys and out into acres of blue flowers.
It was nearly midday when they found themselves looking down a steep hillside at a castle—a little toy castle it looked from where they stood—which seemed to be all pointed towers. But the Lion was rushing down at such a speed that it grew larger every moment and before they had time even to ask themselves what it was they were already on a level with it. And now it no longer looked like a toy castle but rose frowning in front of them. No face looked over the battlements and the gates were fast shut. And Aslan, not at all slacking his pace, rushed straight as a bullet toward it.
“The Witch’s home!” he cried. “Now, children, hold tight.”
Next moment the whole world seemed to turn upside down, and the children felt as if they had left their insides behind them; for the Lion had gathered himself together for a greater leap than any he had yet made and jumped—or you may call it flying rather than jumping—right over the castle wall. The two girls, breathless but unhurt, found themselves tumbling off his back in the middle of a wide stone courtyard full of statues.
WHAT HAPPENED ABOUT THE STATUES
“WHAT AN EXTRAORDINARY PLACE!” cried Lucy. “All those stone animals—and people too! It’s—it’s like a museum.”
“Hush,” said Susan, “Aslan’s doing something.”
He was indeed. He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him. Then without waiting a moment he whisked round—almost as if he had been a cat chasing its tail—and breathed also on the stone dwarf, which (as you remember) was standing a few feet from the lion with his back to it. Then he pounced on a tall stone dryad which stood beyond the dwarf, turned rapidly aside to deal with a stone rabbit on his right, and rushed on to two centaurs. But at that moment Lucy said, “Oh, Susan! Look! Look at the lion.”
I expect you’ve seen someone put a lighted match to a bit of newspaper which is propped up in a grate against an unlit fire. And for a second nothing seems to have happened; and then you notice a tiny streak of flame creeping along the edge of the newspaper. It was like that now. For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back—then it spread—then the color seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper—then, while his hindquarters were still obviously stone, the lion shook his mane and all the heavy, stone folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living, and gave a prodigious yawn. And now his hind legs had come to life. He lifted one of them and scratched himself. Then, having caught sight of Aslan, he went bounding after him and frisking round him whimpering with delight and jumping up to lick his face.
Of course the children’s eyes turned to follow the lion; but the sight they saw was so wonderful that they soon forgot about him. Everywhere the statues were coming to life. The courtyard looked no longer like a museum; it looked more like a zoo. Creatures were running after Aslan and dancing round him till he was almost hidden in the crowd. Instead of all that deadly white the courtyard was now a blaze of colors; glossy chestnut sides of centaurs, indigo horns of unicorns, dazzling plumage of birds, reddy-brown of foxes, dogs and satyrs, yellow stockings and crimson hoods of dwarfs; and the birch-girls in silver, and the beech-girls in fresh, transparent green, and the larch-girls in green so bright that it was almost yellow. And instead of the deadly silence the whole place rang with the sound of happy roarings, brayings, yelpings, barkings, squealings, cooings, neighings, stampings, shouts, hurrahs, songs and laughter.
“Oh!” said Susan in a different tone. “Look! I wonder—I mean, is it safe?”
Lucy looked and saw that Aslan had just breathed on the feet of the stone giant.
“It’s all right!” shouted Aslan joyously. “Once the feet are put right, all the rest of him will follow.”
“That wasn’t exactly what I meant,” whispered Susan to Lucy. But it was too late to do anything about it now even if Aslan would have listened to her. The change was already creeping up the Giant’s legs. Now he was moving his feet. A moment later he lifted the club off his shoulder, rubbed his eyes and said, “Bless me! I must have been asleep. Now! Where’s that dratted little Witch that was running about on the ground. Somewhere just by my feet it was.” But when everyone had shouted up to him to explain what had really happened, and when the Giant had put his hand to his ear and got them to repeat it all again so that at last he understood, then he bowed down till his head was no further off than the top of a haystack and touched his cap repeatedly to Aslan, beaming all over his honest ugly face. (Giants of any sort are now so rare in England and so few giants are good-tempered that ten to one you have never seen a giant when his face is beaming. It’s a sight well worth looking at.)
“Now for the inside of this house!” said Aslan. “Look alive, everyone. Up stairs and down stairs and in my lady’s chamber! Leave no corner unsearched. You never know where some poor prisoner may be concealed.”
And into the interior they all rushed and for several minutes the whole of that dark, horrible, fusty old castle echoed with the opening of windows and with everyone’s voices crying out at once, “Don’t forget the dungeons—Give us a hand with this door!—Here’s another little winding stair—Oh! I say. Here’s a poor kangaroo. Call Aslan—Phew! How it smells in here—Look out for trap-doors—Up here! There are a whole lot more on the landing!” But the best of all was when Lucy came rushing upstairs shouting out, “Aslan! Aslan! I’ve found Mr. Tumnus. Oh, do come quick.”
A moment later Lucy and the little Faun were holding each other by both hands and dancing round and round for joy. The little chap was none the worse for having been a statue and was of course very interested in all she had to tell him.
But at last the ransacking of the Witch’s fortress was ended. The whole castle stood empty with every door and window open and the light and the sweet spring air flooding in to all the dark and evil places which needed them so badly. The whole crowd of liberated statues surged back into the courtyard. And it was then that someone (Tumnus, I think) first said, “But how are we going to get out?” for Aslan had got in by a jump and the gates were still locked.
“That’ll be all right,” said Aslan; and then, rising on his hind-legs, he bawled up at the Giant. “Hi! You up there,” he roared. “What’s your name?”
“Giant Rumblebuffin, if it please your honor,” said the Giant, once more touching his cap.
“Well then, Giant Rumblebuffin,” said Aslan, “just let us out of this, will you?”
“Certainly, your honor. It will be a pleasure,” said Giant Rumblebuffin. “Stand well away from the gates, all you little “uns.” Then he strode to the gate himself and bang—bang—bang—went his huge club. The gates creaked at the first blow, cracked at the second, and shivered at the third. Then he tackled the towers on each side of them and after a few minutes of crashing and thudding both the towers and a good bit of the wall on each side went thundering down in a mass of hopeless rubble; and when the dust cleared it was odd, standing in that dry, grim, stony yard, to see through the gap all the grass and waving trees and sparkling streams of the forest, and the blue hills beyond that and beyond them the sky.
“Blowed if I ain’t all in a muck sweat,” said the Giant, puffing like the largest railway engine. “Comes of being out of condition. I suppose neither of you young ladies has such a thing as a pocket-handkerchee about you?” “Yes, I have,” said Lucy, standing on tip-toes and holding her handkerchief up as far as she could reach.
“Thank you, Missie,” said Giant Rumblebuffin, stooping down. Next moment Lucy got rather a fright for she found herself caught up in mid-air between the Giant’s finger and thumb. But just as she was getting near his face he suddenly started and then put her gently back on the ground muttering, “Bless me! I’ve picked up the little girl instead. I beg your pardon, Missie, I thought you was the handkerchee!” “No, no,” said Lucy laughing, “here it is!” This time he managed to get it but it was only about the same size to him that a saccharine tablet would be to you, so that when she saw him solemnly rubbing it to and fro across his great red face, she said, “I’m afraid it’s not much use to you, Mr. Rumblebuffin.” “Not at all. Not at all,” said the giant politely. “Never met a nicer handkerchee. So fine, so handy. So—I don’t know how to describe it.”
“What a nice giant he is!” said Lucy to Mr. Tumnus.
“Oh yes,” replied the Faun. “All the Buffins always were. One of the most respected of all the giant families in Narnia. Not very clever, perhaps (I never knew a giant that was), but an old family. With traditions, you know. If he’d been the other sort she’d never have turned him into stone.” At this point Aslan clapped his paws together and called for silence.
“Our day’s work is not yet over,” he said, “and if the Witch is to be finally defeated before bedtime we must find the battle at once.”
“And join in, I hope, sir!” added the largest of the Centaurs.
“Of course,” said Aslan. “And now! Those who can’t keep up—that is, children, dwarfs, and small animals—must ride on the backs of those who can—that is, lions, centaurs, unicorns, horses, giants and eagles. Those who are good with their noses must come in the front with us lions to smell out where the battle is. Look lively and sort yourselves.” And with a great deal of bustle and cheering they did. The most pleased of the lot was the other lion who kept running about everywhere pretending to be very busy but really in order to say to everyone he met, “Did you hear what he said? Us Lions. That means him and me. Us Lions. That’s what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand-offishness. Us Lions. That meant him and me.” At least he went on saying this till Aslan had loaded him up with three dwarfs, one dryad, two rabbits, and a hedgehog. That steadied him a bit.
When all were ready (it was a big sheepdog who actually helped Aslan most in getting them sorted into their proper order) they set out through the gap in the castle wall. At first the lions and dogs went nosing about in all directions. But then suddenly one great hound picked up the scent and gave a bay. There was no time lost after that. Soon all the dogs and lions and wolves and other hunting animals were going at full speed with their noses to the ground, and all the others, streaked out for about half a mile behind them, were following as fast as they could. The noise was like an English fox-hunt only better because every now and then with the music of the hounds was mixed the roar of the other lion and sometimes the far deeper and more awful roar of Aslan himself. Faster and faster they went as the scent became easier and easier to follow. And then, just as they came to the last curve in a narrow, winding valley, Lucy heard above all these noises another noise—a different one, which gave her a queer feeling inside. It was a noise of shouts and shrieks and of the clashing of metal against metal.
Then they came out of the narrow valley and at once she saw the reason. There stood Peter and Edmund and all the rest of Aslan’s army fighting desperately against the crowd of horrible creatures whom she had seen last night; only now, in the daylight, they looked even stranger and more evil and more deformed. There also seemed to be far more of them. Peter’s army—which had their backs to her—looked terribly few. And there were statues dotted all over the battlefield, so apparently the Witch had been using her wand. But she did not seem to be using it now. She was fighting with her stone knife. It was Peter she was fighting—both of them going at it so hard that Lucy could hardly make out what was happening; she only saw the stone knife and Peter’s sword flashing so quickly that they looked like three knives and three swords. That pair were in the center. On each side the line stretched out. Horrible things were happening wherever she looked.
“Off my back, children,” shouted Aslan. And they both tumbled off. Then with a roar that shook all Narnia from the western lamp-post to the shores of the eastern sea the great beast flung himself upon the White Witch. Lucy saw her face lifted toward him for one second with an expression of terror and amazement. Then Lion and Witch had rolled over together but with the Witch underneath; and at the same moment all war-like creatures whom Aslan had led from the Witch’s house rushed madly on the enemy lines, dwarfs with their battleaxes, dogs with teeth, the Giant with his club (and his feet also crushed dozens of the foe), unicorns with their horns, centaurs with swords and hoofs. And Peter’s tired army cheered, and the newcomers roared, and the enemy squealed and gibbered till the wood re-echoed with the din of that onset.
THE HUNTING OF THE WHITE STAG
THE BATTLE WAS ALL OVER A FEW MINUTES after their arrival. Most of the enemy had been killed in the first charge of Aslan and his companions; and when those who were still living saw that the Witch was dead they either gave themselves up or took to flight. The next thing that Lucy knew was that Peter and Aslan were shaking hands. It was strange to her to see Peter looking as he looked now—his face was so pale and stern and he seemed so much older.
“It was all Edmund’s doing, Aslan,” Peter was saying. “We’d have been beaten if it hadn’t been for him. The Witch was turning our troops into stone right and left. But nothing would stop him. He fought his way through three ogres to where she was just turning one of your leopards into a statue. And when he reached her he had sense to bring his sword smashing down on her wand instead of trying to go for her directly and simply getting made a statue himself for his pains. That was the mistake all the rest were making. Once her wand was broken we began to have some chance—if we hadn’t lost so many already. He was terribly wounded. We must go and see him.” They found Edmund in charge of Mrs. Beaver a little way back from the fighting line. He was covered with blood, his mouth was open, and his face a nasty green color.
“Quick, Lucy,” said Aslan.
And then, almost for the first time, Lucy remembered the precious cordial that had been given her for a Christmas present. Her hands trembled so much that she could hardly undo the stopper, but she managed it in the end and poured a few drops into her brother’s mouth.
“There are other people wounded,” said Aslan while she was still looking eagerly into Edmund’s pale face and wondering if the cordial would have any result.
“Yes, I know,” said Lucy crossly. “Wait a minute.”
“Daughter of Eve,” said Aslan in a graver voice, “others also are at the point of death. Must more people die for Edmund?”
“I’m sorry, Aslan,” said Lucy, getting up and going with him. And for the next half-hour they were busy—she attending to the wounded while he restored those who had been turned into stone. When at last she was free to come back to Edmund she found him standing on his feet and not only healed of his wounds but looking better than she had seen him look—oh, for ages; in fact ever since his first term at that horrid school which was where he had begun to go wrong. He had become his real old self again and could look you in the face. And there on the field of battle Aslan made him a knight.
“Does he know,” whispered Lucy to Susan, “what Aslan did for him? Does he know what the arrangement with the Witch really was?”
“Hush! No. Of course not,” said Susan.
“Oughtn’t he to be told?” said Lucy.
“Oh, surely not,” said Susan. “It would be too awful for him. Think how you’d feel if you were he.”
“All the same I think he ought to know,” said Lucy. But at that moment they were interrupted.
That night they slept where they were. How Aslan provided food for them all I don’t know; but somehow or other they found themselves all sitting down on the grass to a fine high tea at about eight o’clock. Next day they began marching eastward down the side of the great river. And the next day after that, at about teatime, they actually reached the mouth. The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered up above them; before them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you heard it? Can you remember?
That evening after tea the four children all managed to get down to the beach again and get their shoes and stockings off and feel the sand between their toes. But next day was more solemn. For then, in the Great Hall of Cair Paravel—that wonderful hall with the ivory roof and the west wall hung with peacock’s feathers and the eastern door which looks towards the sea, in the presence of all their friends and to the sound of trumpets, Aslan solemnly crowned them and led them to the four thrones amid deafening shouts of, “Long Live King Peter! Long Live Queen Susan! Long Live King Edmund! Long Live Queen Lucy!” “Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!” said Aslan.
And through the eastern door, which was wide open, came the voices of the mermen and the mermaids swimming close to the shore and singing in honor of their new Kings and Queens.
So the children sat on their thrones and scepters were put into their hands and they gave rewards and honors to all their friends, to Tumnus the Faun, and to the Beavers, and Giant Rumblebuffin, to the leopards, and the good centaurs, and the good dwarfs, and to the lion. And that night there was a great feast in Cair Paravel, and revelry and dancing, and gold flashed and wine flowed, and answering to the music inside, but stranger, sweeter, and more piercing, came the music of the sea people.
But amid all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn’t there they said nothing about it. For Mr. Beaver had warned them, “He’ll be coming and going,” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down—and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” And now, as you see, this story is nearly (but not quite) at an end. These two Kings and two Queens governed Narnia well, and long and happy was their reign. At first much of their time was spent in seeking out the remnants of the White Witch’s army and destroying them, and indeed for a long time there would be news of evil things lurking in the wilder parts of the forest—a haunting here and a killing there, a glimpse of a werewolf one month and a rumor of a hag the next. But in the end all that foul brood was stamped out. And they made good laws and kept the peace and saved good trees from being unnecessarily cut down, and liberated young dwarfs and young satyrs from being sent to school, and generally stopped busybodies and interferers and encouraged ordinary people who wanted to live and let live. And they drove back the fierce giants (quite a different sort from Giant Rumblebuffin) on the north of Narnia when these ventured across the frontier. And they entered into friendship and alliance with countries beyond the sea and paid them visits of state and received visits of state from them. And they themselves grew and changed as the years passed over them. And Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior, and he was called King Peter the Magnificent. And Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet and the kings of the countries beyond the sea began to send ambassadors asking for her hand in marriage. And she was called Susan the Gentle. Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment. He was called King Edmund the Just. But as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden-haired, and all princes in those parts desired her to be their Queen, and her own people called her Queen Lucy the Valiant.
So they lived in great joy and if ever they remembered their life in this world it was only as one remembers a dream. And one year it fell out that Tumnus (who was a middle-aged Faun by now and beginning to be stout) came down river and brought them news that the White Stag had once more appeared in his parts—the White Stag who would give you wishes if you caught him. So these two Kings and two Queens with the principal members of their court, rode a-hunting with horns and hounds in the Western Woods to follow the White Stag. And they had not hunted long before they had a sight of him. And he led them a great pace over rough and smooth and through thick and thin, till the horses of all the courtiers were tired out and only these four were still following. And they saw the stag enter into a thicket where their horses could not follow. Then said King Peter (for they talked in quite a different style now, having been Kings and Queens for so long), “Fair Consorts, let us now alight from our horses and follow this beast into the thicket; for in all my days I never hunted a nobler quarry.” “Sir,” said the others, “even so let us do.”
So they alighted and tied their horses to trees and went on into the thick wood on foot. And as soon as they had entered it Queen Susan said,
“Fair friends, here is a great marvel for I seem to see a tree of iron.”
“Madam,” said King Edmund, “if you look well upon it you shall see it is a pillar of iron with a lantern set on the top thereof.”
“By the Lion’s Mane, a strange device,” said King Peter, “to set a lantern here where the trees cluster so thick about it and so high above it that if it were lit it should give light to no man!”
“Sir,” said Queen Lucy. “By likelihood when this post and this lamp were set here there were smaller trees in the place, or fewer, or none. For this is a young wood and the iron post is old.” And they stood looking upon it. Then said King Edmund, “I know not how it is, but this lamp on the post worketh upon me strangely. It runs in my mind that I have seen the like before; as it were in a dream, or in the dream of a dream.”
“Sir,” answered they all, “it is even so with us also.”
“And more,” said Queen Lucy, “for it will not go out of my mind that if we pass this post and lantern either we shall find strange adventures or else some great change of our fortunes.”
“Madam,” said King Edmund, “the like foreboding stirreth in my heart also.”
“And in mine, fair brother,” said King Peter.
“And in mine too,” said Queen Susan. “Wherefore by my counsel we shall lightly return to our horses and follow this White Stag no further.”
“Madam,” said King Peter, “therein I pray thee to have me excused. For never since we four were Kings and Queens in Narnia have we set our hands to any high matter, as battles, quests, feats of arms, acts of justice, and the like, and then given over; but always what we have taken in hand, the same we have achieved.” “Sister,” said Queen Lucy, “my royal brother speaks rightly. And it seems to me we should be shamed if for any fearing or foreboding we turned back from following so noble a beast as now we have in chase.”
“And so say I,” said King Edmund. “And I have such desire to find the signification of this thing that I would not by my good will turn back for the richest jewel in all Narnia and all the islands.”
“Then in the name of Aslan,” said Queen Susan, “if ye will all have it so, let us go on and take the adventure that shall fall to us.”
So these Kings and Queens entered the thicket, and before they had gone a score of paces they all remembered that the thing they had seen was called a lamp-post, and before they had gone twenty more they noticed that they were making their way not through branches but through coats. And next moment they all came tumbling out of a wardrobe door into the empty room, and they were no longer Kings and Queens in their hunting array but just Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy in their old clothes. It was the same day and the same hour of the day on which they had all gone into the wardrobe to hide. Mrs. Macready and the visitors were still talking in the passage; but luckily they never came into the empty room and so the children weren’t caught.
And that would have been the very end of the story if it hadn’t been that they felt they really must explain to the Professor why four of the coats out of his wardrobe were missing. And the Professor, who was a very remarkable man, didn’t tell them not to be silly or not to tell lies, but believed the whole story. “No,” he said, “I don’t think it will be any good trying to go back through the wardrobe door to get the coats. You won’t get into Narnia again by that route. Nor would the coats be much use by now if you did! Eh? What’s that? Yes, of course you’ll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Odd things they say—even their looks—will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?” And that is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But if the Professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia.
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