فصل 13/5 - 16

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فصل 13/5 - 16

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They took some time choosing their seats at the perilous table. Probably everyone had the same reason but no one said it out loud. For it was really a rather nasty choice. One could hardly bear to sit all night next to those three terrible hairy objects which, if not dead, were certainly not alive in the ordinary sense. On the other hand, to sit at the far end, so that you would see them less and less as the night grew darker, and wouldn’t know if they were moving, and perhaps wouldn’t see them at all by about two o’clock—no, it was not to be thought of. So they sauntered round and round the table saying, “What about here?” and “Or perhaps a bit further on,” or, “Why not on this side?” till at last they settled down somewhere about the middle but nearer to the sleepers than to the other end. It was about ten by now and almost dark. Those strange new constellations burned in the east. Lucy would have liked it better if they had been the Leopard and the Ship and other old friends of the Narnian sky.

They wrapped themselves in their sea cloaks and sat still and waited. At first there was some attempt at talk but it didn’t come to much. And they sat and sat. And all the time they heard the waves breaking on the beach.

After hours that seemed like ages there came a moment when they all knew they had been dozing a moment before but were all suddenly wide awake. The stars were all in quite different positions from those they had last noticed. The sky was very black except for the faintest possible grayness in the east. They were cold, though thirsty, and stiff. And none of them spoke because now at last something was happening.

Before them, beyond the pillars, there was the slope of a low hill. And now a door opened in the hillside, and light appeared in the doorway, and a figure came out, and the door shut behind it. The figure carried a light, and this light was really all that they could see distinctly. It came slowly nearer and nearer till at last it stood right at the table opposite to them. Now they could see that it was a tall girl, dressed in a single long garment of clear blue which left her arms bare. She was bareheaded and her yellow hair hung down her back. And when they looked at her they thought they had never before known what beauty meant.

The light which she had been carrying was a tall candle in a silver candlestick which she now set upon the table. If there had been any wind off the sea earlier in the night it must have died down by now, for the flame of the candle burned as straight and still as if it were in a room with the windows shut and the curtains drawn. Gold and silver on the table shone in its light.

Lucy now noticed something lying lengthwise on the table which had escaped her attention before. It was a knife of stone, sharp as steel, a cruel-looking, ancient-looking thing.

No one had yet spoken a word. Then—Reepicheep first, and Caspian next—they all rose to their feet, because they felt that she was a great lady.

“Travelers who have come from far to Aslan’s table,” said the girl. “Why do you not eat and drink?”

“Madam,” said Caspian, “we feared the food because we thought it had cast our friends into an enchanted sleep.”

“They have never tasted it,” she said.

“Please,” said Lucy, “what happened to them?”

“Seven years ago,” said the girl, “they came here in a ship whose sails were rags and her timbers ready to fall apart. There were a few others with them, sailors, and when they came to this table one said, ‘Here is the good place. Let us set sail and reef sail and row no longer but sit down and end our days in peace!’ And the second said, ‘No, let us re-embark and sail for Narnia and the west; it may be that Miraz is dead.’ But the third, who was a very masterful man, leaped up and said, ‘No, by heaven. We are men and Telmarines, not brutes. What should we do but seek adventure after adventure? We have not long to live in any event. Let us spend what is left in seeking the unpeopled world behind the sunrise.’ And as they quarreled he caught up the Knife of Stone which lies there on the table and would have fought with his comrades. But it is a thing not right for him to touch. And as his fingers closed upon the hilt, deep sleep fell upon all the three. And till the enchantment is undone they will never wake.” “What is this Knife of Stone?” asked Eustace.

“Do none of you know it?” said the girl.

“I—I think,” said Lucy, “I’ve seen something like it before. It was a knife like it that the White Witch used when she killed Aslan at the Stone Table long ago.”

“It was the same,” said the girl, “and it was brought here to be kept in honor while the world lasts.”

Edmund, who had been looking more and more uncomfortable for the last few minutes, now spoke.

“Look here,” he said, “I hope I’m not a coward—about eating this food, I mean—and I’m sure I don’t mean to be rude. But we have had a lot of queer adventures on this voyage of ours and things aren’t always what they seem. When I look in your face I can’t help believing all you say: but then that’s just what might happen with a witch too. How are we to know you’re a friend?” “You can’t know,” said the girl. “You can only believe—or not.”

After a moment’s pause Reepicheep’s small voice was heard.

“Sire,” he said to Caspian, “of your courtesy fill my cup with wine from that flagon: it is too big for me to lift. I will drink to the lady.”

Caspian obeyed and the Mouse, standing on the table, held up a golden cup between its tiny paws and said, “Lady, I pledge you.” Then it fell to on cold peacock, and in a short while everyone else followed his example. All were very hungry and the meal, if not quite what you wanted for a very early breakfast, was excellent as a very late supper.

“Why is it called Aslan’s table?” asked Lucy presently.

“It is set here by his bidding,” said the girl, “for those who come so far. Some call this island the World’s End, for though you can sail further, this is the beginning of the end.”

“But how does the food keep?” asked the practical Eustace.

“It is eaten, and renewed every day,” said the girl. “This you will see.”

“And what are we to do about the Sleepers?” asked Caspian. “In the world from which my friends come” (here he nodded at Eustace and the Pevensies) “they have a story of a prince or a king coming to a castle where all the people lay in an enchanted sleep. In that story he could not dissolve the enchantment until he had kissed the Princess.” “But here,” said the girl, “it is different. Here he cannot kiss the Princess till he has dissolved the enchantment.”

“Then,” said Caspian, “in the name of Aslan, show me how to set about that work at once.”

“My father will teach you that,” said the girl.

“Your father!” said everyone. “Who is he? And where?”

“Look,” said the girl, turning round and pointing at the door in the hillside. They could see it more easily now, for while they had been talking the stars had grown fainter and great gaps of white light were appearing in the grayness of the eastern sky.

Fourteen

THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE WORLD

SLOWLY THE DOOR OPENED AGAIN AND out there came a figure as tall and straight as the girl’s but not so slender. It carried no light but light seemed to come from it. As it came nearer, Lucy saw that it was like an old man. His silver beard came down to his bare feet in front and his silver hair hung down to his heels behind and his robe appeared to be made from the fleece of silver sheep. He looked so mild and grave that once more all the travelers rose to their feet and stood in silence.

But the old man came on without speaking to the travelers and stood on the other side of the table opposite to his daughter. Then both of them held up their arms before them and turned to face the east. In that position they began to sing. I wish I could write down the song, but no one who was present could remember it. Lucy said afterward that it was high, almost shrill, but very beautiful, “A cold kind of song, an early morning kind of song.” And as they sang, the gray clouds lifted from the eastern sky and the white patches grew bigger and bigger till it was all white, and the sea began to shine like silver. And long afterward (but those two sang all the time) the east began to turn red and at last, unclouded, the sun came up out of the sea and its long level ray shot down the length of the table on the gold and silver and on the Stone Knife.

Once or twice before, the Narnians had wondered whether the sun at its rising did not look bigger in these seas than it had looked at home. This time they were certain. There was no mistaking it. And the brightness of its ray on the dew and on the table was far beyond any morning brightness they had ever seen. And as Edmund said afterward, “Though lots of things happened on that trip which sound more exciting, that moment was really the most exciting.” For now they knew that they had truly come to the beginning of the End of the World.

Then something seemed to be flying at them out of the very center of the rising sun: but of course one couldn’t look steadily in that direction to make sure. But presently the air became full of voices—voices which took up the same song that the Lady and her Father were singing, but in far wilder tones and in a language which no one knew. And soon after that the owners of these voices could be seen. They were birds, large and white, and they came by hundreds and thousands and alighted on everything; on the grass, and the pavement, on the table, on your shoulders, your hands, and your head, till it looked as if heavy snow had fallen. For, like snow, they not only made everything white but blurred and blunted all shapes. But Lucy, looking out from between the wings of the birds that covered her, saw one bird fly to the Old Man with something in its beak that looked like a little fruit, unless it was a little live coal, which it might have been, for it was too bright to look at. And the bird laid it in the Old Man’s mouth.

Then the birds stopped their singing and appeared to be very busy about the table. When they rose from it again everything on the table that could be eaten or drunk had disappeared. These birds rose from their meal in their thousands and hundreds and carried away all the things that could not be eaten or drunk, such as bones, rinds, and shells, and took their flight back to the rising sun. But now, because they were not singing, the whir of their wings seemed to set the whole air atremble. And there was the table pecked clean and empty, and the three old Lords of Narnia still fast asleep.

Now at last the Old Man turned to the travelers and bade them welcome.

“Sir,” said Caspian, “will you tell us how to undo the enchantment which holds these three Narnian Lords asleep.”

“I will gladly tell you that, my son,” said the Old Man. “To break this enchantment you must sail to the World’s End, or as near as you can come to it, and you must come back having left at least one of your company behind.” “And what must happen to that one?” asked Reepicheep.

“He must go on into the utter east and never return into the world.”

“That is my heart’s desire,” said Reepicheep.

“And are we near the World’s End now, Sir?” asked Caspian. “Have you any knowledge of the seas and lands further east than this?”

“I saw them long ago,” said the Old Man, “but it was from a great height. I cannot tell you such things as sailors need to know.”

“Do you mean you were flying in the air?” Eustace blurted out.

“I was a long way above the air, my son,” replied the Old Man. “I am Ramandu. But I see that you stare at one another and have not heard this name. And no wonder, for the days when I was a star had ceased long before any of you knew this world, and all the constellations have changed.” “Golly,” said Edmund under his breath. “He’s a retired star.”

“Aren’t you a star any longer?” asked Lucy.

“I am a star at rest, my daughter,” answered Ramandu. “When I set for the last time, decrepit and old beyond all that you can reckon, I was carried to this island. I am not so old now as I was then. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age. And when I have become as young as the child that was born yesterday, then I shall take my rising again (for we are at earth’s eastern rim) and once more tread the great dance.” “In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of. And in this world you have already met a star: for I think you have been with Coriakin.”

“Is he a retired star, too?” said Lucy.

“Well, not quite the same,” said Ramandu. “It was not quite as a rest that he was set to govern the Duffers. You might call it a punishment. He might have shone for thousands of years more in the southern winter sky if all had gone well.” “What did he do, Sir?” asked Caspian.

“My son,” said Ramandu, “it is not for you, a son of Adam, to know what faults a star can commit. But come, we waste time in such talk. Are you yet resolved? Will you sail further east and come again, leaving one to return no more, and so break the enchantment? Or will you sail westward?” “Surely, Sire,” said Reepicheep, “there is no question about that? It is very plainly part of our quest to rescue these three lords from enchantment.”

“I think the same, Reepicheep,” replied Caspian. “And even if it were not so, it would break my heart not to go as near the World’s End as the Dawn Treader will take us. But I am thinking of the crew. They signed on to seek the seven lords, not to reach the rim of the Earth. If we sail east from here we sail to find the edge, the utter east. And no one knows how far it is. They’re brave fellows, but I see signs that some of them are weary of the voyage and long to have our prow pointing to Narnia again. I don’t think I should take them further without their knowledge and consent. And then there’s the poor Lord Rhoop. He’s a broken man.” “My son,” said the star, “it would be no use, even though you wished it, to sail for the World’s End with men unwilling or men deceived. That is not how great unenchantments are achieved. They must know where they go and why. But who is this broken man you speak of?” Caspian told Ramandu the story of Rhoop.

“I can give him what he needs most,” said Ramandu. “In this island there is sleep without stint or measure, and sleep in which no faintest footfall of a dream was ever heard. Let him sit beside these other three and drink oblivion till your return.” “Oh, do let’s do that, Caspian,” said Lucy. “I’m sure it’s just what he would love.”

At that moment they were interrupted by the sound of many feet and voices: Drinian and the rest of the ship’s company were approaching. They halted in surprise when they saw Ramandu and his daughter; and then, because these were obviously great people, every man uncovered his head. Some sailors eyed the empty dishes and flagons on the table with eyes filled with regret.

“My lord,” said the King to Drinian, “pray send two men back to the Dawn Treader with a message to the Lord Rhoop. Tell him that the last of his old shipmates are here asleep—a sleep without dreams—and that he can share it.” When this had been done, Caspian told the rest to sit down and laid the whole situation before them. When he had finished there was a long silence and some whispering until presently the Master Bowman got to his feet, and said: “What some of us have been wanting to ask for a long time, your Majesty, is how we’re ever to get home when we do turn, whether we turn here or somewhere else. It’s been west and northwest winds all the way, barring an occasional calm. And if that doesn’t change, I’d like to know what hopes we have of seeing Narnia again. There’s not much chance of supplies lasting while we row all that way.” “That’s landsman’s talk,” said Drinian. “There’s always a prevailing west wind in these seas all through the late summer, and it always changes after the New Year. We’ll have plenty of wind for sailing westward; more than we shall like from all accounts.” “That’s true, Master,” said an old sailor who was a Galmian by birth. “You get some ugly weather rolling up from the east in January and February. And by your leave, Sire, if I was in command of this ship, I’d say to winter here and begin the voyage home in March.” “What’d you eat while you were wintering here?” asked Eustace.

“This table,” said Ramandu, “will be filled with a king’s feast every day at sunset.”

“Now you’re talking!” said several sailors.

“Your Majesties and gentlemen and ladies all,” said Rynelf, “there’s just one thing I want to say. There’s not one of us chaps as was pressed on this journey. We’re volunteers. And there’s some here that are looking very hard at that table and thinking about king’s feasts who were talking very loud about adventures on the day we sailed from Cair Paravel, and swearing they wouldn’t come home till we’d found the end of the world. And there were some standing on the quay who would have given all they had to come with us. It was thought a finer thing then to have a cabin-boy’s berth on the Dawn Treader than to wear a knight’s belt. I don’t know if you get the hang of what I’m saying. But what I mean is that I think chaps who set out like us will look as silly as—as those Dufflepuds—if we come home and say we got to the beginning of the world’s end and hadn’t the heart to go further.” Some of the sailors cheered at this but some said that that was all very well.

“This isn’t going to be much fun,” whispered Edmund to Caspian. “What are we to do if half those fellows hang back?”

“Wait,” Caspian whispered back. “I’ve still a card to play.”

“Aren’t you going to say anything, Reep?” whispered Lucy.

“No. Why should your Majesty expect it?” answered Reepicheep in a voice that most people heard. “My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia.” “Hear, hear,” said a sailor. “I’ll say the same, barring the bit about the coracle, which wouldn’t bear me.” He added in a lower voice, “I’m not going to be outdone by a mouse.”

At this point Caspian jumped to his feet. “Friends,” he said, “I think you have not quite understood our purpose. You talk as if we had come to you with our hat in our hand, begging for shipmates. It isn’t like that at all. We and our royal brother and sister and their kinsman and Sir Reepicheep, the good knight, and the Lord Drinian have an errand to the world’s edge. It is our pleasure to choose from among such of you as are willing those whom we deem worthy of so high an enterprise. We have not said that any can come for the asking. That is why we shall now command the Lord Drinian and Master Rhince to consider carefully what men among you are the hardest in battle, the most skilled seamen, the purest in blood, the most loyal to our person, and the cleanest of life and manners; and to give their names to us in a schedule.” He paused and went on in a quicker voice, “Aslan’s mane!” he exclaimed. “Do you think that the privilege of seeing the last things is to be bought for a song? Why, every man that comes with us shall bequeath the title of Dawn Treader to all his descendants, and when we land at Cair Paravel on the homeward voyage he shall have either gold or land enough to make him rich all his life. Now—scatter over the island, all of you. In half an hour’s time I shall receive the names that Lord Drinian brings me.” There was rather a sheepish silence and then the crew made their bows and moved away, one in this direction and one in that, but mostly in little knots or bunches, talking.

“And now for the Lord Rhoop,” said Caspian.

But turning to the head of the table he saw that Rhoop was already there. He had arrived, silent and unnoticed, while the discussion was going on, and was seated beside the Lord Argoz. The daughter of Ramandu stood beside him as if she had just helped him into his chair; Ramandu stood behind him and laid both his hands on Rhoop’s gray head. Even in daylight a faint silver light came from the hands of the star. There was a smile on Rhoop’s haggard face. He held out one of his hands to Lucy and the other to Caspian. For a moment it looked as if he were going to say something. Then his smile brightened as if he were feeling some delicious sensation, a long sigh of contentment came from his lips, his head fell forward, and he slept.

“Poor Rhoop,” said Lucy. “I am glad. He must have had terrible times.”

“Don’t let’s even think of it,” said Eustace.

Meanwhile Caspian’s speech, helped perhaps by some magic of the island, was having just the effect he intended. A good many who had been anxious enough to get out of the voyage felt quite differently about being left out of it. And of course whenever any one sailor announced that he had made up his mind to ask for permission to sail, the ones who hadn’t said this felt that they were getting fewer and more uncomfortable. So that before the half-hour was nearly over several people were positively “sucking up” to Drinian and Rhince (at least that was what they called it at my school) to get a good report. And soon there were only three left who didn’t want to go, and those three were trying very hard to persuade others to stay with them. And very shortly after that there was only one left. And in the end he began to be afraid of being left behind all on his own and changed his mind.

At the end of the half-hour they all came trooping back to Aslan’s Table and stood at one end while Drinian and Rhince went and sat down with Caspian and made their report; and Caspian accepted all the men but that one who had changed his mind at the last moment. His name was Pittencream and he stayed on the Island of the Star all the time the others were away looking for the World’s End, and he very much wished he had gone with them. He wasn’t the sort of man who could enjoy talking to Ramandu and Ramandu’s daughter (nor they to him), and it rained a good deal, and though there was a wonderful feast on the Table every night, he didn’t very much enjoy it. He said it gave him the creeps sitting there alone (and in the rain as likely as not) with those four Lords asleep at the end of the Table. And when the others returned he felt so out of things that he deserted on the voyage home at the Lone Islands, and went and lived in Calormen, where he told wonderful stories about his adventures at the End of the World, until at last he came to believe them himself. So you may say, in a sense, that he lived happily ever after. But he could never bear mice.

That night they all ate and drank together at the great Table between the pillars where the feast was magically renewed: and next morning the Dawn Treader set sail once more just when the great birds had come and gone again.

“Lady,” said Caspian, “I hope to speak with you again when I have broken the enchantments.’ And Ramandu’s daughter looked at him and smiled.

Fifteen

THE WONDERS OF THE LAST SEA

VERY SOON AFTER THEY HAD LEFT Ramandu’s country they began to feel that they had already sailed beyond the world. All was different. For one thing they all found that they were needing less sleep. One did not want to go to bed nor to eat much, nor even to talk except in low voices. Another thing was the light. There was too much of it. The sun when it came up each morning looked twice, if not three times, its usual size. And every morning (which gave Lucy the strangest feeling of all) the huge white birds, singing their song with human voices in a language no one knew, streamed overhead and vanished astern on their way to their breakfast at Aslan’s Table. A little later they came flying back and vanished into the east.

“How beautifully clear the water is!” said Lucy to herself, as she leaned over the port side early in the afternoon of the second day.

And it was. The first thing that she noticed was a little black object, about the size of a shoe, traveling along at the same speed as the ship. For a moment she thought it was something floating on the surface. But then there came floating past a bit of stale bread which the cook had just thrown out of the galley. And the bit of bread looked as if it were going to collide with the black thing, but it didn’t. It passed above it, and Lucy now saw that the black thing could not be on the surface. Then the black thing suddenly got very much bigger and flicked back to normal size a moment later.

Now Lucy knew she had seen something just like that happen somewhere else—if only she could remember where. She held her hand to her head and screwed up her face and put out her tongue in the effort to remember. At last she did. Of course! It was like what you saw from a train on a bright sunny day. You saw the black shadow of your own coach running along the fields at the same pace as the train. Then you went into a cutting; and immediately the same shadow flicked close up to you and got big, racing along the grass of the cutting-bank. Then you came out of the cutting and—flick!—once more the black shadow had gone back to its normal size and was running along the fields.

“It’s our shadow!—the shadow of the Dawn Treader,” said Lucy. “Our shadow running along on the bottom of the sea. That time when it got bigger it went over a hill. But in that case the water must be clearer than I thought! Good gracious, I must be seeing the bottom of the sea; fathoms and fathoms down.” As soon as she had said this she realized that the great silvery expanse which she had been seeing (without noticing) for some time was really the sand on the sea-bed and that all sorts of darker or brighter patches were not lights and shadows on the surface but real things on the bottom. At present, for instance, they were passing over a mass of soft purply green with a broad, winding strip of pale gray in the middle of it. But now that she knew it was on the bottom she saw it much better. She could see that bits of the dark stuff were much higher than other bits and were waving gently. “Just like trees in a wind,” said Lucy. “And I do believe that’s what they are. It’s a submarine forest.” They passed on above it and presently the pale streak was joined by another pale streak. “If I was down there,” thought Lucy, “that streak would be just like a road through the wood. And that place where it joins the other would be a crossroads. Oh, I do wish I was. Hallo! the forest is coming to an end. And I do believe the streak really was a road! I can still see it going on across the open sand. It’s a different color. And it’s marked out with something at the edges—dotted lines. Perhaps they are stones. And now it’s getting wider.” But it was not really getting wider, it was getting nearer. She realized this because of the way in which the shadow of the ship came rushing up toward her. And the road—she felt sure it was a road now—began to go in zigzags. Obviously it was climbing up a steep hill. And when she held her head sideways and looked back, what she saw was very like what you see when you look down a winding road from the top of a hill. She could even see the shafts of sunlight falling through the deep water onto the wooded valley—and, in the extreme distance, everything melting away into a dim greenness. But some places—the sunny ones, she thought—were ultramarine blue.

She could not, however, spend much time looking back; what was coming into view in the forward direction was too exciting. The road had apparently now reached the top of the hill and ran straight forward. Little specks were moving to and fro on it. And now something most wonderful, fortunately in full sunlight—or as full as it can be when it falls through fathoms of water—flashed into sight. It was knobbly and jagged and of a pearly, or perhaps an ivory, color. She was so nearly straight above it that at first she could hardly make out what it was. But everything became plain when she noticed its shadow. The sunlight was falling across Lucy’s shoulders, so the shadow of the thing lay stretched out on the sand behind it. And by its shape she saw clearly that it was a shadow of towers and pinnacles, minarets and domes.

“Why!—it’s a city or a huge castle,” said Lucy to herself. “But I wonder why they’ve built it on top of a high mountain?”

Long afterward when she was back in England and talked all these adventures over with Edmund, they thought of a reason and I am pretty sure it is the true one. In the sea, the deeper you go, the darker and colder it gets, and it is down there, in the dark and cold, that dangerous things live—the squid and the Sea Serpent and the Kraken. The valleys are the wild, unfriendly places. The sea-people feel about their valleys as we do about mountains, and feel about their mountains as we feel about valleys. It is on the heights (or, as we would say, “in the shallows”) that there is warmth and peace. The reckless hunters and brave knights of the sea go down into the depths on quests and adventures, but return home to the heights for rest and peace, courtesy and council, the sports, the dances and the songs.

They had passed the city and the sea-bed was still rising. It was only a few hundred feet below the ship now. The road had disappeared. They were sailing above an open park-like country, dotted with little groves of brightly-colored vegetation. And then—Lucy nearly squealed aloud with excitement—she had seen People.

There were between fifteen and twenty of them, and all mounted on sea-horses—not the tiny little sea-horses which you may have seen in museums but horses rather bigger than themselves. They must be noble and lordly people, Lucy thought, for she could catch the gleam of gold on some of their foreheads and streamers of emerald-or orange-colored stuff fluttered from their shoulders in the current. Then: “Oh, bother these fish!” said Lucy, for a whole shoal of small fat fish, swimming quite close to the surface, had come between her and the Sea People. But though this spoiled her view it led to the most interesting thing of all. Suddenly a fierce little fish of a kind she had never seen before came darting up from below, snapped, grabbed, and sank rapidly with one of the fat fish in its mouth. And all the Sea People were sitting on their horses staring up at what had happened. They seemed to be talking and laughing. And before the hunting fish had got back to them with its prey, another of the same kind came up from the Sea People. And Lucy was almost certain that one big Sea Man who sat on his sea-horse in the middle of the party had sent it or released it; as if he had been holding it back till then in his hand or on his wrist.

“Why, I do declare,” said Lucy, “it’s a hunting party. Or more like a hawking party. Yes, that’s it. They ride out with these little fierce fish on their wrists just as we used to ride out with falcons on our wrists when we were Kings and Queens at Cair Paravel long ago. And then they fly them—or I suppose I should say swim them—at the others. How—”

She stopped suddenly because the scene was changing. The Sea People had noticed the Dawn Treader. The shoal of fish had scattered in every direction: the People themselves were coming up to find out the meaning of this big, black thing which had come between them and the sun. And now they were so close to the surface that if they had been in air, instead of water, Lucy could have spoken to them. There were men and women both. All wore coronets of some kind and many had chains of pearls. They wore no other clothes. Their bodies were the color of old ivory, their hair dark purple. The King in the center (no one could mistake him for anything but the King) looked proudly and fiercely into Lucy’s face and shook a spear in his hand. His knights did the same. The faces of the ladies were filled with astonishment. Lucy felt sure they had never seen a ship or a human before—and how should they, in seas beyond the world’s end where no ship ever came?

“What are you staring at, Lu?” said a voice close beside her.

Lucy had been so absorbed in what she was seeing that she started at the sound, and when she turned she found that her arm had gone “dead” from leaning so long on the rail in one position. Drinian and Edmund were beside her.

“Look,” she said.

They both looked, but almost at once Drinian said in a low voice:

“Turn round at once, your Majesties—that’s right, with our backs to the sea. And don’t look as if we were talking about anything important.”

“Why, what’s the matter?” said Lucy as she obeyed.

“It’ll never do for the sailors to see all that,” said Drinian. “We’ll have men falling in love with a sea-woman, or falling in love with the under-sea country itself, and jumping overboard. I’ve heard of that kind of thing happening before in strange seas. It’s always unlucky to see these people.” “But we used to know them,” said Lucy. “In the old days at Cair Paravel when my brother Peter was High King. They came to the surface and sang at our coronation.”

“I think that must have been a different kind, Lu,” said Edmund. “They could live in the air as well as under water. I rather think these can’t. By the look of them they’d have surfaced and started attacking us long ago if they could. They seem very fierce.” “At any rate,” began Drinian, but at that moment two sounds were heard. One was a plop. The other was a voice from the fighting-top shouting, “Man overboard!” Then everyone was busy. Some of the sailors hurried aloft to take in the sail; others hurried below to get to the oars; and Rhince, who was on duty on the poop, began to put the helm hard over so as to come round and back to the man who had gone overboard. But by now everyone knew that it wasn’t strictly a man. It was Reepicheep.

“Drat that mouse!” said Drinian. “It’s more trouble than all the rest of the ship’s company put together. If there is any scrape to be got into, in it will get! It ought to be put in irons—keel-hauled—marooned—have its whiskers cut off. Can anyone see the little blighter?” All this didn’t mean that Drinian really disliked Reepicheep. On the contrary he liked him very much and was therefore frightened about him, and being frightened put him in a bad temper—just as your mother is much angrier with you for running out into the road in front of a car than a stranger would be. No one, of course, was afraid of Reepicheep’s drowning, for he was an excellent swimmer; but the three who knew what was going on below the water were afraid of those long, cruel spears in the hands of the Sea People.

In a few minutes the Dawn Treader had come round and everyone could see the black blob in the water which was Reepicheep. He was chattering with the greatest excitement but as his mouth kept on getting filled with water nobody could understand what he was saying.

“He’ll blurt the whole thing out if we don’t shut him up,” cried Drinian. To prevent this he rushed to the side and lowered a rope himself, shouting to the sailors, “All right, all right. Back to your places. I hope I can heave a mouse up without help.” And as Reepicheep began climbing up the rope—not very nimbly because his wet fur made him heavy—Drinian leaned over and whispered to him.

“Don’t tell. Not a word.”

But when the dripping Mouse had reached the deck it turned out not to be at all interested in the Sea People.

“Sweet!” he cheeped. “Sweet, sweet!”

“What are you talking about?” asked Drinian crossly. “And you needn’t shake yourself all over me, either.”

“I tell you the water’s sweet,” said the Mouse. “Sweet, fresh. It isn’t salt.”

For a moment no one quite took in the importance of this. But then Reepicheep once more repeated the old prophecy:

“Where the waves grow sweet,

Doubt not, Reepicheep,

There is the utter East.”

Then at last everyone understood.

“Let me have a bucket, Rynelf,” said Drinian.

It was handed him and he lowered it and up it came again. The water shone in it like glass.

“Perhaps your Majesty would like to taste it first,” said Drinian to Caspian.

The King took the bucket in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head. His face was changed. Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet. That’s real water, that. I’m not sure that it isn’t going to kill me. But it is the death I would have chosen—if I’d known about it till now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Edmund.

“It—it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep. “Drinkable light. We must be very near the end of the world now.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket.

“It’s the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,” she said with a kind of gasp. “But oh—it’s strong. We shan’t need to eat anything now.”

And one by one everybody on board drank. And for a long time they were all silent. They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result. As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu—the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining. Now, the light grew no less—if anything, it increased—but they could bear it. They could look straight up at the sun without blinking. They could see more light than they had ever seen before. And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone. And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it.

Hardly a word was spoken on board all that day, till about dinner-time (no one wanted any dinner, the water was enough for them) Drinian said:

“I can’t understand this. There is not a breath of wind. The sail hangs dead. The sea is as flat as a pond. And yet we drive on as fast as if there were a gale behind us.”

“I’ve been thinking that, too,” said Caspian. “We must be caught in some strong current.”

“H’m,” said Edmund. “That’s not so nice if the World really has an edge and we’re getting near it.”

“You mean,” said Caspian, “that we might be just—well, poured over it?”

“Yes, yes,” cried Reepicheep, clapping his paws together. “That’s how I’ve always imagined it—the World like a great round table and the waters of all the oceans endlessly pouring over the edge. The ship will tip up—stand on her head—for one moment we shall see over the edge—and then, down, down, the rush, the speed—” “And what do you think will be waiting for us at the bottom, eh?” said Drinian.

“Aslan’s country, perhaps,” said the Mouse, its eyes shining. “Or perhaps there isn’t any bottom. Perhaps it goes down for ever and ever. But whatever it is, won’t it be worth anything just to have looked for one moment beyond the edge of the world.” “But look here,” said Eustace, “this is all rot. The world’s round—I mean, round like a ball, not like a table.”

“Our world is,” said Edmund. “But is this?”

“Do you mean to say,” asked Caspian, “that you three come from a round world (round like a ball) and you’ve never told me! It’s really too bad of you. Because we have fairy-tales in which there are round worlds and I always loved them. I never believed there were any real ones. But I’ve always wished there were and I’ve always longed to live in one. Oh, I’d give anything—I wonder why you can get into our world and we never get into yours? If only I had the chance! It must be exciting to live on a thing like a ball. Have you ever been to the parts where people walk about upside-down?” Edmund shook his head. “And it isn’t like that,” he added. “There’s nothing particularly exciting about a round world when you’re there.”

Sixteen

THE VERY END OF THE WORLD

REEPICHEEP WAS THE ONLY PERSON ON board besides Drinian and the two Pevensies who had noticed the Sea People. He had dived in at once when he saw the Sea King shaking his spear, for he regarded this as a sort of threat or challenge and wanted to have the matter out there and then. The excitement of discovering that the water was now fresh had distracted his attention, and before he remembered the Sea People again Lucy and Drinian had taken him aside and warned him not to mention what he had seen.

As things turned out they need hardly have bothered, for by this time the Dawn Treader was gliding over a part of the sea which seemed to be uninhabited. No one except Lucy saw anything more of the People, and even she had only one short glimpse. All morning on the following day they sailed in fairly shallow water and the bottom was weedy. Just before midday Lucy saw a large shoal of fishes grazing on the weed. They were all eating steadily and all moving in the same direction. “Just like a flock of sheep,” thought Lucy. Suddenly she saw a little Sea Girl of about her own age in the middle of them—a quiet, lonely-looking girl with a sort of crook in her hand. Lucy felt sure that this girl must be a shepherdess—or perhaps a fish-herdess—and that the shoal was really a flock at pasture. Both the fishes and the girl were quite close to the surface. And just as the girl, gliding in the shallow water, and Lucy, leaning over the bulwark, came opposite to one another, the girl looked up and stared straight into Lucy’s face. Neither could speak to the other and in a moment the Sea Girl dropped astern. But Lucy will never forget her face. It did not look frightened or angry like those of the other Sea People. Lucy had liked that girl and she felt certain the girl had liked her. In that one moment they had somehow become friends. There does not seem to be much chance of their meeting again in that world or any other. But if ever they do they will rush together with their hands held out.

After that for many days, without wind in her shrouds or foam at her bows, across a waveless sea, the Dawn Treader glided smoothly east. Every day and every hour the light became more brilliant and still they could bear it. No one ate or slept and no one wanted to, but they drew buckets of dazzling water from the sea, stronger than wine and somehow wetter, more liquid, than ordinary water, and pledged one another silently in deep drafts of it. And one or two of the sailors who had been oldish men when the voyage began now grew younger every day. Everyone on board was filled with joy and excitement, but not an excitement that made one talk. The further they sailed the less they spoke, and then almost in a whisper. The stillness of that last sea laid hold on them.

“My Lord,” said Caspian to Drinian one day, “what do you see ahead?”

“Sire,” said Drinian, “I see whiteness. All along the horizon from north to south, as far as my eyes can reach.”

“That is what I see too,” said Caspian, “and I cannot imagine what it is.”

“If we were in higher latitudes, your Majesty,” said Drinian, “I would say it was ice. But it can’t be that; not here. All the same, we’d better get men to the oars and hold the ship back against the current. Whatever the stuff is, we don’t want to crash into it at this speed!” They did as Drinian said, and so continued to go slower and slower. The whiteness did not get any less mysterious as they approached it. If it was land it must be a very strange land, for it seemed just as smooth as the water and on the same level with it. When they got very close to it Drinian put the helm hard over and turned the Dawn Treader south so that she was broadside on to the current and rowed a little way southward along the edge of the whiteness. In so doing they accidentally made the important discovery that the current was only about forty feet wide and the rest of the sea as still as a pond. This was good news for the crew, who had already begun to think that the return journey to Ramandu’s land, rowing against stream all the way, would be pretty poor sport. (It also explained why the shepherd girl had dropped so quickly astern. She was not in the current. If she had been she would have been moving east at the same speed as the ship.) And still no one could make out what the white stuff was. Then the boat was lowered and it put off to investigate. Those who remained on the Dawn Treader could see that the boat pushed right in amidst the whiteness. Then they could hear the voices of the party in the boat (clear across the still water) talking in a shrill and surprised way. Then there was a pause while Rynelf in the bows of the boat took a sounding; and when, after that, the boat came rowing back there seemed to be plenty of the white stuff inside her. Everyone crowded to the side to hear the news.

“Lilies, your Majesty!” shouted Rynelf, standing up in the bows.

“What did you say?” asked Caspian.

“Blooming lilies, your Majesty,” said Rynelf. “Same as in a pool or in a garden at home.”

“Look!” said Lucy, who was in the stern of the boat. She held up her wet arms full of white petals and broad flat leaves.

“What’s the depth, Rynelf?” asked Drinian.

“That’s the funny thing, Captain,” said Rynelf. “It’s still deep. Three and a half fathoms clear.”

“They can’t be real lilies—not what we call lilies,” said Eustace.

Probably they were not, but they were very like them. And when, after some consultation, the Dawn Treader turned back into the current and began to glide eastward through the Lily Lake or the Silver Sea (they tried both these names but it was the Silver Sea that stuck and is now on Caspian’s map) the strangest part of their travels began. Very soon the open sea which they were leaving was only a thin rim of blue on the western horizon. Whiteness, shot with faintest color of gold, spread round them on every side, except just astern where their passage had thrust the lilies apart and left an open lane of water that shone like dark green glass. To look at, this last sea was very like the Arctic; and if their eyes had not by now grown as strong as eagles’ the sun on all that whiteness—especially at early morning when the sun was hugest—would have been unbearable. And every evening the same whiteness made the daylight last longer. There seemed no end to the lilies. Day after day from all those miles and leagues of flowers there rose a smell which Lucy found it very hard to describe; sweet—yes, but not at all sleepy or overpowering, a fresh, wild, lonely smell that seemed to get into your brain and make you feel that you could go up mountains at a run or wrestle with an elephant. She and Caspian said to one another, “I feel that I can’t stand much more of this, yet I don’t want it to stop.” They took soundings very often but it was only several days later that the water became shallower. After that it went on getting shallower. There came a day when they had to row out of the current and feel their way forward at a snail’s pace, rowing. And soon it was clear that the Dawn Treader could sail no further east. Indeed it was only by very clever handling that they saved her from grounding.

“Lower the boat,” cried Caspian, “and then call the men aft. I must speak to them.”

“What’s he going to do?” whispered Eustace to Edmund. “There’s a queer look in his eyes.”

“I think we probably all look the same,” said Edmund.

They joined Caspian on the poop and soon all the men were crowded together at the foot of the ladder to hear the King’s speech.

“Friends,” said Caspian, “we have now fulfilled the quest on which you embarked. The seven lords are all accounted for and as Sir Reepicheep has sworn never to return, when you reach Ramandu’s Land you will doubtless find the Lords Revilian and Argoz and Mavramorn awake. To you, my Lord Drinian, I entrust this ship, bidding you sail to Narnia with all the speed you may, and above all not to land on the Island of Deathwater. And instruct my regent, the Dwarf Trumpkin, to give to all these, my shipmates, the rewards I promised them. They have been earned well. And if I come not again it is my will that the Regent, and Master Cornelius, and Trufflehunter the Badger, and the Lord Drinian choose a King of Narnia with the consent—” “But, Sire,” interrupted Drinian, “are you abdicating?”

“I am going with Reepicheep to see the World’s End,” said Caspian.

A low murmur of dismay ran through the sailors.

“We will take the boat,” said Caspian. “You will have no need of it in these gentle seas and you must build a new one on Ramandu’s island. And now—”

“Caspian,” said Edmund suddenly and sternly, “you can’t do this.”

“Most certainly,” said Reepicheep, “his Majesty cannot.”

“No indeed,” said Drinian.

“Can’t?” said Caspian sharply, looking for a moment not unlike his uncle Miraz.

“Begging your Majesty’s pardon,” said Rynelf from the deck below, “but if one of us did the same it would be called deserting.”

“You presume too much on your long service, Rynelf,” said Caspian.

“No, Sire! He’s perfectly right,” said Drinian.

“By the Mane of Aslan,” said Caspian, “I had thought you were all my subjects here, not my schoolmasters.”

“I’m not,” said Edmund, “and I say you can not do this.”

“Can’t again,” said Caspian. “What do you mean?”

“If it please your Majesty, we mean shall not,” said Reepicheep with a very low bow. “You are the King of Narnia. You break faith with all your subjects, and especially with Trumpkin, if you do not return. You shall not please yourself with adventures as if you were a private person. And if your Majesty will not hear reason it will be the truest loyalty of every man on board to follow me in disarming and binding you till you come to your senses.” “Quite right,” said Edmund. “Like they did with Ulysses when he wanted to go near the Sirens.”

Caspian’s hand had gone to his sword hilt, when Lucy said, “And you’ve almost promised Ramandu’s daughter to go back.”

Caspian paused. “Well, yes. There is that,” he said. He stood irresolute for a moment and then shouted out to the ship in general.

“Well, have your way. The quest is ended. We all return. Get the boat up again.”

“Sire,” said Reepicheep, “we do not all return. I, as I explained before—”

“Silence!” thundered Caspian. “I’ve been lessoned but I’ll not be baited. Will no one silence that Mouse?”

“Your Majesty promised,” said Reepicheep, “to be good lord to the Talking Beasts of Narnia.”

“Talking beasts, yes,” said Caspian. “I said nothing about beasts that never stop talking.” And he flung down the ladder in a temper and went into the cabin, slamming the door.

But when the others rejoined him a little later they found him changed; he was white and there were tears in his eyes.

“It’s no good,” he said. “I might as well have behaved decently for all the good I did with my temper and swagger. Aslan has spoken to me. No—I don’t mean he was actually here. He wouldn’t fit into the cabin, for one thing. But that gold lion’s head on the wall came to life and spoke to me. It was terrible—his eyes. Not that he was at all rough with me—only a bit stern at first. But it was terrible all the same. And he said—he said—oh, I can’t bear it. The worst thing he could have said. You’re to go on—Reep and Edmund, and Lucy, and Eustace; and I’m to go back. Alone. And at once. And what is the good of anything?” “Caspian, dear,” said Lucy. “You knew we’d have to go back to our own world sooner or later.”

“Yes,” said Caspian with a sob, “but this is sooner.”

“You’ll feel better when you get back to Ramandu’s Island,” said Lucy.

He cheered up a little later on, but it was a grievous parting on both sides and I will not dwell on it. About two o’clock in the afternoon, well victualed and watered (though they thought they would need neither food nor drink) and with Reepicheep’s coracle on board, the boat pulled away from the Dawn Treader to row through the endless carpet of lilies. The Dawn Treader flew all her flags and hung out her shields to honor their departure. Tall and big and homelike she looked from their low position with the lilies all round them. And even before she was out of sight they saw her turn and begin rowing slowly westward. Yet though Lucy shed a few tears, she could not feel it as much as you might have expected. The light, the silence, the tingling smell of the Silver Sea, even (in some odd way) the loneliness itself, were too exciting.

There was no need to row, for the current drifted them steadily to the east. None of them slept or ate. All that night and all next day they glided eastward, and when the third day dawned—with a brightness you or I could not bear even if we had dark glasses on—they saw a wonder ahead. It was as if a wall stood up between them and the sky, a greenish-gray, trembling, shimmering wall. Then up came the sun, and at its first rising they saw it through the wall and it turned into wonderful rainbow colors. Then they knew that the wall was really a long, tall wave—a wave endlessly fixed in one place as you may often see at the edge of a waterfall. It seemed to be about thirty feet high, and the current was gliding them swiftly toward it. You might have supposed they would have thought of their danger. They didn’t. I don’t think anyone could have in their position. For now they saw something not only behind the wave but behind the sun. They could not have seen even the sun if their eyes had not been strengthened by the water of the Last Sea. But now they could look at the rising sun and see it clearly and see things beyond it. What they saw—eastward, beyond the sun—was a range of mountains. It was so high that either they never saw the top of it or they forgot it. None of them remembers seeing any sky in that direction. And the mountains must really have been outside the world. For any mountains even a quarter of a twentieth of that height ought to have had ice and snow on them. But these were warm and green and full of forests and waterfalls however high you looked. And suddenly there came a breeze from the east, tossing the top of the wave into foamy shapes and ruffling the smooth water all round them. It lasted only a second or so but what it brought them in that second none of those three children will ever forget. It brought both a smell and a sound, a musical sound Edmund and Eustace would never talk about it afterward. Lucy could only say, “It would break your heart.” “Why,” said I, “was it so sad?” “Sad!! No,” said Lucy.

No one in that boat doubted that they were seeing beyond the End of the World into Aslan’s country.

At that moment, with a crunch, the boat ran aground. The water was too shallow now for it. “This,” said Reepicheep, “is where I go on alone.”

They did not even try to stop him, for everything now felt as if it had been fated or had happened before. They helped him to lower his little coracle. Then he took off his sword (“I shall need it no more,” he said) and flung it far away across the lilied sea. Where it fell it stood upright with the hilt above the surface. Then he bade them good-bye, trying to be sad for their sakes; but he was quivering with happiness. Lucy, for the first and last time, did what she had always wanted to do, taking him in her arms and caressing him. Then hastily he got into his coracle and took his paddle, and the current caught it and away he went, very black against the lilies. But no lilies grew on the wave; it was a smooth green slope. The coracle went more and more quickly, and beautifully it rushed up the wave’s side. For one split second they saw its shape and Reepicheep’s on the very top. Then it vanished, and since that moment no one can truly claim to have seen Reepicheep the Mouse. But my belief is that he came safe to Aslan’s country and is alive there to this day.

As the sun rose the sight of those mountains outside the world faded away. The wave remained but there was only blue sky behind it.

The children got out of the boat and waded—not toward the wave but southward with the wall of water on their left. They could not have told you why they did this; it was their fate. And though they had felt—and been—very grown-up on the Dawn Treader, they now felt just the opposite and held hands as they waded through the lilies. They never felt tired. The water was warm and all the time it got shallower. At last they were on dry sand, and then on grass—a huge plain of very fine short grass, almost level with the Silver Sea and spreading in every direction without so much as a molehill.

And of course, as it always does in a perfectly flat place without trees, it looked as if the sky came down to meet the grass in front of them. But as they went on they got the strangest impression that here at last the sky did really come down and join the earth—a blue wall, very bright, but real and solid: more like glass than anything else. And soon they were quite sure of it. It was very near now.

But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles’ eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.

“Come and have breakfast,” said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.

Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?”

“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.”

“What!” said Edmund. “Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?”

“There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder. And now come; I will open the door in the sky and send you to your own land.” “Please, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.”

“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”

“Oh, Aslan!!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.

“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are—are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

“And is Eustace never to come back here either?” said Lucy.

“Child,” said Aslan, “do you really need to know that? Come, I am opening the door in the sky.” Then all in one moment there was a rending of the blue wall (like a curtain being torn) and a terrible white light from beyond the sky, and the feel of Aslan’s mane and a Lion’s kiss on their foreheads and then—the back bedroom in Aunt Alberta’s home at Cambridge.

Only two more things need to be told. One is that Caspian and his men all came safely back to Ramandu’s Island. And the three lords woke from their sleep. Caspian married Ramandu’s daughter and they all reached Narnia in the end, and she became a great queen and the mother and grandmother of great kings. The other is that back in our own world everyone soon started saying how Eustace had improved, and how “You’d never know him for the same boy”: everyone except Aunt Alberta, who said he had become very commonplace and tiresome and it must have been the influence of those Pevensie children.

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