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  • Home > C.S.Lewis > Chronicles of Narnia > Prince Caspian (Page 9)     
    Prince Caspian(Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S.Lewis
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    "But, lad," said Trumpkin, "these swords are sharp."

    "I know," said Edmund. "But I'll never get anywhere near you and you'll be quite clever enough to disarm me without doing me any damage."

    "It's a dangerous game," said Trumpkin. "But since you make such a point of it, I'll try a pass or two."

    Both swords were out in a moment and the three others jumped off the dais and stood watching. It was well worth it. It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad swords on the stage. It was not even like the rapier fighting which you sometimes see rather better done. This was real broad-sword fighting. The great thing is to slash at your enemy's legs and feet because they are the part that have no armour. And when he slashes at yours you jump with both feet off the ground so that his blow goes under them. This gave the Dwarf an advantage because Edmund, being much taller, had to be always stooping. I don't think Edmund would have had a chance if he had fought Trumpkin twenty-four hours earlier. But the air of Narnia had been working upon him ever since they arrived on the island, and all his old battles came back to him, and his arms and fingers remembered their old skill. He was King Edmund once more. Round and round the two combatants circled, stroke after stroke they gave, and Susan (who never could learn to like this sort of thing) shouted out, "Oh, do be careful." And then, so quickly that no one (unless they knew, as Peter did) could quite see how it happened, Edmund flashed his sword round with a peculiar twist, the Dwarf's sword flew out of his grip, and Trumpkin was wringing his empty hand as you do after a "sting" from a cricket-bat.

    "Not hurt, I hope, my dear little friend?" said Edmund, panting a little and returning his own sword to its sheath.

    "I see the point," said Trumpkin drily. "You know a trick I never learned."

    "That's quite true," put in Peter. "The best swordsman in the world may be disarmed by a trick that's new to him. I think it's only fair to give Trumpkin a chance at something else. Will you have a shooting match with my sister? There are no tricks in archery, you know."

    "Ah, you're jokers, you are," said the Dwarf. "I begin to see. As if I didn't know how she can shoot, after what happened this morning. All the same, I'll have a try." He spoke gruffly, but his eyes brightened, for he was a famous bowman among his own people.

    All five of them came out into the courtyard.

    "What's to be the target?" asked Peter.

    "I think that apple hanging over the wall on the branch there would do," said Susan.

    "That'll do nicely, lass," said Trumpkin. "You mean the yellow one near the middle of the arch?"

    "No, not that," said Susan. "The red one up above - over the battlement."

    The Dwarf's face fell. "Looks more like a cherry than an apple," he muttered, but he said nothing out loud.

    They tossed up for first shot (greatly to the interest of Trumpkin, who had never seen a coin tossed before) and Susan lost. They were to shoot from the top of the steps that led from the hall into the courtyard. Everyone could see from the way the Dwarf took his position and handled his bow that he knew what he was about.

    Twang went the string. It was an excellent shot. The tiny apple shook as the arrow passed, and a leaf came fluttering down. Then Susan went to the top of the steps and strung her bow. She was not enjoying her match half so much as Edmund had enjoyed his; not because she had any doubt about hitting the apple but because Susan was so tenderhearted that she almost hated to beat someone who had been beaten already. The Dwarf watched her keenly as she drew the shaft to her ear. A moment later, with a little soft thump which they could all hear in that quiet place, the apple fell to the grass with Susan's arrow in it.

    "Oh, well done, Su, " shouted the other children.

    "It wasn't really any better than yours," said Susan to the Dwarf. "I think there was a tiny breath of wind as you shot."

    "No, there wasn't," said Trumpkin. "Don't tell me. I know when I am fairly beaten. I won't even say that the scar of my last wound catches me a bit when I get my arm well back - "

    "Oh, are you wounded?" asked Lucy. "Do let me look."

    "It's not a sight for little girls," began Trumpkin, but then he suddenly checked himself. "There I go talking like a fool again," he said "I suppose you're as likely to be a great surgeon as your brother was to be a great swordsman or your sister to be a great archer." He sat down on the steps and took off his hauberk and slipped down his little shirt, showing an arm hairy and muscular (in proportion) as a sailor's though not much bigger than a child's. There was a clumsy bandage on the shoulder which Lucy proceeded to unroll. Underneath, the cut looked very nasty and there was a good deal of swelling. "Oh, poor Trumpkin," said Lucy. "How horrid." Then she carefully dripped on to it one single drop of the cordial from her flask.

    "Hullo. Eh? What have you done?" said Trumpkin. But however he turned his head and squinted and whisked his beard to and fro, he couldn't quite see his own shoulder. Then he felt it as well as he could, getting his arms and fingers into very difficult positions as you do when you're trying to scratch a place that is just out of reach. Then he swung his arm and raised it and tried the muscles, and finally jumped to his feet crying, "Giants and junipers! It's cured! It's as good as new." After that he burst into a great laugh and said, "Well, I've made as big a fool of myself as ever a Dwarf did. No offence, I hope? My humble duty to your Majesties all - humble duty. And thanks for my life, my cure, my breakfast - and my lesson."

    The children all said it was quite all right and not to mention it.

    "And now," said Peter, "if you've really decided to believe in us - "

    "I have," said the Dwarf.

    "It's quite clear what we have to do. We must join King Caspian at once."

    "The sooner the better," said Trumpkin. "My being such a fool has already wasted about an hour."

    "It's about two days' journey, the way you came," said Peter. "For us, I mean. We can't walk all day and night like you Dwarfs." Then he turned to the others. "What Trumpkin calls Aslan's How is obviously the Stone Table itself. You remember it was about half a day's march, or a little less, from there down to the Fords of Beruna - "

    "Beruna's Bridge, we call it," said Trumpkin.

    "There was no bridge in our time," said Peter. "And then from Beruna down to here was another day and a bit. We used to get home about teatime on the second day, going easily. Going hard, we could do the whole thing in a day and a half perhaps."

    "But remember it's all woods now," said Trumpkin, "and there are enemies to dodge."

    "Look here," said Edmund, "need we go by the same way that Our Dear Little Friend came?"

    "No more of that, your Majesty, if you love me," said the Dwarf.

    "Very well," said Edmund. "May I say our D.L.F.?"

    "Oh, Edmund," said Susan. "Don't keep on at him like that."

    "That's all right, lass - I mean your Majesty," said Trumpkin with a chuckle. "A jibe won't raise a blister." (And after that they often called him the D.L.F. till they'd almost forgotten what it meant.)

    "As I was saying," continued Edmund, "we needn't go that way. Why shouldn't we row a little south till we come to Glasswater Creek and row up it? That brings us up behind the Hill of the Stone Table, and we'll be safe while we're at sea. If we start at once, we can be at the head of Glasswater before dark, get a few hours' sleep, and be with Caspian pretty early tomorrow."

    "What a thing it is to know the coast," said Trumpkin. "None of us know anything about Glasswater."

    "What about food?" asked Susan.

    "Oh, we'll have to do with apples," said Lucy. "Do let's get on. We've done nothing yet, and we've been here nearly two days."

    "And anyway, no one's going to have my hat for a fishbasket again," said Edmund.

    They used one of the raincoats as a kind of bag and put a good many apples in it. Then they all had a good long drink at the well (for they would meet no more fresh water till they landed at the head of the Creek) and went down to the boat. The children were sorry to leave Cair Paravel, which, even in ruins, had begun to feel like home again.

    "The D.L.F. had better steer," said Peter, "and Ed and I will take an oar each. Half a moment, though. We'd better take off our mail: we're going to be pretty warm before we're done. The girls had better be in the bows and shout directions to the D.L.F. because he doesn't know the way. You'd better get us a fair way out to sea till we've passed the island."

    And soon the green, wooded coast of the island was falling away behind them, and its little bays and headlands were beginning to look flatter, and the boat was rising and falling in the gentle swell. The sea began to grow bigger around them and, in the distance, bluer, but close round the boat it was green and bubbly. Everything smelled salt and there was no noise except the swishing of water and the clop-clop of water against the sides and the splash of the oars and the jolting noise of the rowlocks. The sun grew hot.

    It was delightful for Lucy and Susan in the bows, bending over the edge and trying to get their hands in the sea which they could never quite reach. The bottom, mostly pure, pale sand but with occasional patches of purple seaweed, could be seen beneath them.

    "It's like old times," said Lucy. "Do you remember our voyage to Terebinthia - and Galma - and Seven Isles - and the Lone Islands?"

    "Yes," said Susan, "and our great ship the Splendour Hyaline, with the swan's head at her prow and the carved swan's wings coming back almost to her waist?"

    "And the silken sails, and the great stern lanterns?"

    "And the feasts on the poop and the musicians."

    "Do you remember when we had the musicians up in the rigging playing flutes so that it sounded like music out of the sky?"

    Presently Susan took over Edmund's oar and he came forward to join Lucy. They had passed the island now and stood closer in to the shore - all wooded and deserted. They would have thought it very pretty if they had not remembered the time when it was open and breezy and full of merry friends.

    "Phew! This is pretty gruelling work," said Peter. "Can't I row for a bit?" said Lucy. "The oars are too big for you," said Peter shortly, not because he was cross but because he had no strength to spare for talking.

    CHAPTER NINE

    WHAT LUCY SAW

    SUSAN and the two boys were bitterly tired with rowing before they rounded the last headland and began the final pull up Glasswater itself, and Lucy's head ached from the long hours of sun and the glare on the water. Even Trumpkin longed for the voyage to be over. The seat on which he sat to steer had been made for men, not Dwarfs, and his feet did not reach the floor-boards; and everyone knows how uncomfortable that is even for ten minutes. And as they all grew more tired, their spirits fell. Up till now the children had only been thinking of how to get to Caspian. Now they wondered what they would do when they found him, and how a handful of Dwarfs and woodland creatures could defeat an army of grown-up Humans.

    Twilight was coming on as they rowed slowly up the windings of Glasswater Creek - a twilight which deepened as the banks drew closer together and the overhanging trees began almost to meet overhead. It was very quiet in here as the sound of the sea died away behind them; they could even hear the trickle of the little streams that poured down from the forest into Glasswater.

    They went ashore at last, far too tired to attempt lighting a fire; and even a supper of apples (though most of them felt that they never wanted to see an apple again) seemed better than trying to catch or shoot anything. After a little silent munching they all huddled down together in the moss and dead leaves between four large beech trees.

    Everyone except Lucy went to sleep at once. Lucy, being far less tired, found it hard to get comfortable. Also, she had forgotten till now that all Dwarfs snore. She knew that one of the best ways of getting to sleep is to stop trying, so she opened her eyes.

    Through a gap in the bracken and branches she could just see a patch of water in the Creek and the sky above it. Then, with a thrill of memory, she saw again, after all those years, the bright Narnian stars. She had once known them better than the stars of our own world, because as a Queen in Narnia she had gone to bed much later than as a child in England. And there they were - at least, three of the summer constellations could be seen from where she lay: the Ship, the Hammer, and the Leopard. "Dear old Leopard," she murmured happily to herself.

    Instead of getting drowsier she was getting more awake - with an odd, night-time, dreamish kind of wakefulness. The Creek was growing brighter. She knew now that then moon was on it, though she couldn't see the moon. And now she began to feel that the whole forest was coming awake like herself. Hardly knowing why she did it, she got up quickly and walked a little distance away from their bivouac.

    "This is lovely," said Lucy to herself. It was cool and fresh, delicious smells were floating everywhere.

    Somewhere close by she heard the twitter of a nightingale beginning to sing, then stopping, then beginning again. It was a little lighter ahead. She went towards the light and came to a place where there were fewer trees, and whole patches or pools of moonlight, but the moonlight and the shadows so mixed that you could hardly be sure where anything was or what it was. At the same moment the nightingale, satisfied at last with his tuning up, burst into full song.

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