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|Prince Caspian(Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S.Lewis|
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
For a time she was so happy that she did not want to speak. But Aslan spoke.
"Lucy," he said, "we must not lie here for long. You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today."
"Yes, wasn't it a shame?" said Lucy. "I saw you all right. They wouldn't believe me. They're all so - "
From somewhere deep inside Aslan's body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.
"I'm sorry," said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. "I didn't mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn't my fault anyway, was it?"
The Lion looked straight into her eyes.
"Oh, Aslan," said Lucy. "You don't mean it was? How could I - I couldn't have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don't look at me like that . . . oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn't have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?"
Aslan said nothing.
"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out all right - somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?"
"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."
"Oh dear," said Lucy.
"But anyone can find out what will happen," said Aslan. "If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me - what will happen? There is only one way of finding out."
"Do you mean that is what you want me to do?" gasped Lucy.
"Yes, little one," said Aslan.
"Will the others see you too?" asked Lucy.
"Certainly not at first," said Aslan. "Later on, it depends."
"But they won't believe me!" said Lucy.
"It doesn't matter," said Aslan.
"Oh dear, oh dear," said Lucy. "And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you'd let me stay. And I thought you'd come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away - like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid."
"It is hard for you, little one," said Aslan. "But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now."
Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up.
"I'm sorry, Aslan," she said. "I'm ready now."
"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed. But come. We have no time to lose."
He got up and walked with stately, noiseless paces back to the belt of dancing trees through which she had just come: and Lucy went with him, laying a rather tremulous hand on his mane. The trees parted to let them through and for one second assumed their human forms completely. Lucy had a glimpse of tall and lovely wood-gods and wood-goddesses all bowing to the Lion; next moment they were trees again, but still bowing, with such graceful sweeps of branch and trunk that their bowing was itself a kind of dance.
"Now, child," said Aslan, when they had left the trees behind them, "I will wait here. Go and wake the others and tell them to follow. If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone."
It is a terrible thing to have to wake four people, all older than yourself and all very tired, for the purpose of telling them something they probably won't believe and making them do something they certainly won't like. "I mustn't think about it, I must just do it," thought Lucy.
She went to Peter first and shook him. "Peter," she whispered in his ear, "wake up. Quick. Aslan is here. He says we've got to follow him at once."
"Certainly, Lu. Whatever you like," said Peter unexpectedly. This was encouraging, but as Peter instantly rolled round and went to sleep again it wasn't much use.
Then she tried Susan. Susan did really wake up, but only to say in her most annoying grown-up voice, "You've been dreaming, Lucy. Go to sleep again."
She tackled Edmund next. It was very difficult to wake him, but when at last she had done it he was really awake and sat up.
"Eh?" he said in a grumpy voice. "What are you talking about?"
She said it all over again. This was one of the worst parts of her job, for each time she said it, it sounded less convincing.
"Aslan!" said Edmund, jumping up. "Hurray! Where?"
Lucy turned back to where she could see the Lion waiting, his patient eyes fixed upon her. "There," she said, pointing.
"Where?" asked Edmund again.
"There. There. Don't you see? Just this side of the trees."
Edmund stared hard for a while and then said, "No. There's nothing there. You've got dazzled and muddled with the moonlight. One does, you know. I thought I saw something for a moment myself. It's only an optical what-do-you-call-it."
"I can see him all the time," said Lucy. "He's looking straight at us."
"Then why can't I see him?"
"He said you mightn't be able to."
"I don't know. That's what he said."
"Oh, bother it all," said Edmund. "I do wish you wouldn't keep on seeing things. But I suppose we'll have to wake the others."
THE LION ROARS
WHEN the whole party was finally awake Lucy had to tell her story for the fourth time. The blank silence which followed it was as discouraging as anything could be.
"I can't see anything," said Peter after he had stared his eyes sore. "Can you, Susan?"
"No, of course I can't," snapped Susan. "Because there isn't anything to see. She's been dreaming. Do lie down and go to sleep, Lucy."
"And I do hope," said Lucy in a tremulous voice, "that you will all come with me. Because - because I'll have to go with him whether anyone else does or not."
"Don't talk nonsense, Lucy," said Susan. "Of course you can't go off on your own. Don't let her, Peter. She's being downright naughty."
"I'll go with her, if she must go," said Edmund. "She's been right before."
"I know she has," said Peter. "And she may have been right this morning. We certainly had no luck going down the gorge. Still - at this hour of the night. And why should Aslan be invisible to us? He never used to be. It's not like him. What does the D.L.F. say?"
"Oh, I say nothing at all," answered the Dwarf. "If you all go, of course, I'll go with you; and if your party splits up, I'll go with the High King. That's my duty to him and King Caspian. But, if you ask my private opinion, I'm a plain dwarf who doesn't think there's much chance of finding a road by night where you couldn't find one by day. And I have no use for magic lions which are talking lions and don't talk, and friendly lions though they don't do us any good, and whopping big lions though nobody can see them. It's all bilge and beanstalks as far as I can see."
"He's beating his paw on the ground for us to hurry," said Lucy. "We must go now. At least I must."
"You've no right to try to force the rest of us like that. It's four to one and you're the youngest," said Susan.
"Oh, come on," growled Edmund. "We've got to go. There'll be no peace till we do." He fully intended to back Lucy up, but he was annoyed at losing his night's sleep and was making up for it by doing everything as sulkily as possible.
"On the march, then," said Peter, wearily fitting his arm into his shield-strap and putting his helmet on. At any other time he would have said something nice to Lucy, who was his favourite sister, for he knew how wretched she must be feeling, and he knew that, whatever had happened, it was not her fault. But he couldn't help being a little annoyed with her all the same.
Susan was the worst. "Supposing I started behaving like Lucy," she said. "I might threaten to stay here whether the rest of you went on or not. I jolly well think I shall."
"Obey the High King, your Majesty," said Trumpkin, "and let's be off. If I'm not to be allowed to sleep, I'd as soon march as stand here talking."
And so at last they got on the move. Lucy went first, biting her lip and trying not to say all the things she thought of saying to Susan. But she forgot them when she fixed her eyes on Aslan. He turned and walked at a slow pace about thirty yards ahead of them. The others had only Lucy's directions to guide them, for Aslan was not only invisible to them but silent as well. His big cat-like paws made no noise on the grass.
He led them to the right of the dancing trees - whether they were still dancing nobody knew, for Lucy had her eyes on the Lion and the rest had their eyes on Lucy - and nearer the edge of the gorge. "Cobbles and kettledrums!" thought Trumpkin. "I hope this madness isn't going to end in a moonlight climb and broken necks."
For a long way Aslan went along the top of the precipices. Then they came to a place where some little trees grew right on the edge. He turned and disappeared among them. Lucy held her breath, for it looked as if he had plunged over the cliff; but she was too busy keeping him in sight to stop and think about this. She quickened her pace and was soon among the trees herself. Looking down, she could see a steep and narrow path going slantwise down into the gorge between rocks, and Aslan descending it. He turned and looked at her with his happy eyes. Lucy clapped her hands and began to scramble down after him. From behind her she heard the voices of the others shouting, "Hi! Lucy! Look out, for goodness' sake. You're right on the edge of the gorge. Come back - "and then, a moment later, Edmund's voice saying, "No, she's right. There is a way down."
Half-way down the path Edmund caught up with her.
"Look!" he said in great excitement. "Look! What's that shadow crawling down in front of us?"
"It's his shadow," said Lucy.
"I do believe you're right, Lu," said Edmund. "I can't think how I didn't see it before. But where is he?"
"With his shadow, of course. Can't you see him?"
"Well, I almost thought I did - for a moment. It's such a rum light."
"Get on, King Edmund, get on," came Trumpkin's voice from behind and above: and then, farther behind and still nearly at the top, Peter's voice saying, "Oh, buck up, Susan. Give me your hand. Why, a baby could get down here. And do stop grousing."
In a few minutes they were at the bottom and the roaring of water filled their ears. Treading delicately, like a cat, Aslan stepped from stone to stone across the stream. In the middle he stopped, bent down to drink, and as he raised his shaggy head, dripping from the water, he turned to face them again. This time Edmund saw him. "Oh, Aslan!" he cried, darting forward. But the Lion whisked round and began padding up the slope on the far side of the Rush.
"Peter, Peter," cried Edmund. "Did you see?"
"I saw something," said Peter. "But it's so tricky in this moonlight. On we go, though, and three cheers for Lucy. I don't feel half so tired now, either."
Aslan without hesitation led them to their left, farther up the gorge. The whole journey was odd and dream-like the roaring stream, the wet grey grass, the glimmering cliffs which they were approaching, and always the glorious, silently pacing Beast ahead. Everyone except Susan and the Dwarf could see him now.
Presently they came to another steep path, up the face of the farther precipices. These were far higher than the ones they had just descended, and the journey up them was a long and tedious zig-zag. Fortunately the Moon shone right above the gorge so that neither side was in shadow.
Lucy was nearly blown when the tail and hind legs of Aslan disappeared over the top: but with one last effort she scrambled after him and came out, rather shaky-legged and breathless, on the hill they had been trying to reach ever since they left Glasswater. The long gentle slope (heather and grass and a few very big rocks that shone white in the moonlight) stretched up to where it vanished in a glimmer of trees about half a mile away. She knew it. It was the hill of the Stone Table:
With a jingling of mail the others climbed up behind her. Aslan glided on before them and they walked after him.
"Lucy," said Susan in a very small voice.
"Yes?" said Lucy.
"I see him now. I'm sorry."
"That's all right."
"But I've been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him - he, I mean - yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I'd let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the woods and - and - oh, I don't know. And what ever am I to say to him?"
"Perhaps you won't need to say much," suggested Lucy.
Soon they reached the trees and through them the children could see the Great Mound, Aslan's How, which had been raised over the Table since their days.
"Our side don't keep very good watch," muttered Trumpkin. "We ought to have been challenged before now - "
"Hush!" said the other four, for now Aslan had stopped and turned and stood facing them, looking so majestic that they felt as glad as anyone can who feels afraid, and as afraid as anyone can who feels glad. The boys strode forward: Lucy made way for them: Susan and the Dwarf shrank back.
"Oh, Aslan," said King Peter, dropping on one knee and raising the Lion's heavy paw to his face, "I'm so glad. And I'm so sorry. I've been leading them wrong ever since we started and especially yesterday morning."