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|The Voyage of the Dawn Treader(Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S.Lewis|
What Eustace thought had best be told in his own words, for when they all got their clothes back, dried, next morning, he at once got out a little black notebook and a pencil and started to keep a diary. He always had this notebook with him and kept a record of his marks in it, for though he didn't care much about any subject for its own sake, he cared a great deal about marks and would even go to people and say, "I got so much. What did you get?" But as he didn't seem likely to get many marks on the Dawn Treader he now started a diary. This was the first entry.
"7 August. Have now been twenty-four hours on this ghastly boat if it isn't a dream. All the time a frightful storm has been raging (it's a good thing I'm not seasick). Huge waves keep coming in over the front and I have seen the boat nearly go under any number of times. All the others pretend to take no notice of this, either from swank or because Harold says one of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to Facts. It's madness to come out into the sea in a rotten little thing like this. Not much bigger than a lifeboat. And, of course, absolutely primitive indoors. No proper saloon, no radio, no bathrooms, no deck-chairs. I was dragged all over it yesterday evening and it would make anyone sick to hear Caspian showing off his funny little toy boat as if it was the Queen Mary. I tried to tell him what real ships are like, but he's too dense. E. and L., o f course, didn't back me up. I suppose a kid like L. doesn't realize the danger and E. is buttering up C. as everyone does here. They call him a King. I said I was a Republican but he had to ask me what that meant! He doesn't seem to know anything at all. Needless to say I've been put in the worst cabin of the boat, a perfect dungeon, and Lucy has been given a whole room on deck to herself, almost a nice room compared with the rest of this place. C. says that's because she's a girl. I tried to make him see what Alberta says, that all that sort of thing is really lowering girls but he was too dense. Still, he might see that I shall be ill if I'm kept in that hole any longer. E. says we mustn't grumble because C. is sharing it with us himself to make room for L. As if that didn't make it more crowded and far worse. Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too."
The trouble between Eustace and Reepicheep arrived even sooner than might have been expected. Before dinner next day, when the others were sitting round the table , waiting (being at sea gives one a magnificent appetite), Eustace came rushing in, wringing his hand and shouting out:
"That little brute has half killed me. I insist on it being kept under control. I could bring an action against you, Caspian. i could order you to have it destroyed."
At the same moment Reepicheep appeared. His sword was drawn and his whiskers looked very fierce but he was as polite as ever.
"I ask your pardons all," he said, "and especially her Majesty's. If I had known that he would take refuge here I would have awaited a more reasonable time for his correction."
"What on earth's up?" asked Edmund.
What had really happened was this. Reepicheep, who never felt that the ship was getting on fast enough, loved to sit on the bulwarks far forward just beside the dragon's head, gazing out at the eastern horizon and singing softly in his little chirruping voice the song the Dryad had made for him. He never held on to anything, however the ship pitched, and kept his balance with perfect ease; perhaps his long tail, hanging down to the deck inside the bulwarks, made this easier. Everyone on board was familiar with this habit, and the sailors liked it because when one was on look-out duty it gave one somebody to talk to. Why exactly Eustace had slipped and reeled and stumbled all the way forward to the forecastle (he had not yet got his sea-legs) I never heard. Perhaps he hoped he would see land, or perhaps he wanted to hang about the galley and scrounge something. Anyway, as soon as he saw that long tail hanging down - and perhaps it was rather tempting - he thought it would be delightful to catch hold of it, swing Reepicheep round by it once or twice upside-down, then run away and laugh, At first the plan seemed to work beautifully. The Mouse was not much heavier than a very large cat. Eustace had him off the rail in a trice and very silly he looked (thought Eustace) with his little limbs all splayed out and his mouth open. But unfortunately Reepicheep, who had fought for his life many a time, never lost his head even for a moment. Nor his skill. It is not very easy to draw one's sword when one is swinging round in the air by one's tail, but he did. And the next thing Eustace knew was two agonizing jabs in his hand which made him let go of the tail; and the next thing after that was that the Mouse had picked itself up again as if it were a ball bouncing off the deck, and there it was facing him, and a horrid long, bright, sharp thing like a skewer was waving to and fro within an inch of his stomach. (This doesn't count as below the belt for mice in Narnia because they can hardly be expected to reach higher.)
"Stop it," spluttered Eustace, "go away. Put that thing away. It's not safe. Stop it, I say. I'll tell Caspian.
I'll have you muzzled and tied up."
"Why do you not draw your own sword, poltroon!" cheeped the Mouse. "Draw and fight or I'll beat you black and blue with the flat."
"I haven't got one," said Eustace. "I'm a pacifist. I don't believe in fighting."
"Do I understand," said Reepicheep, withdrawing his sword for a moment and speaking very sternly, "that you do not intend to give me satisfaction?"
"I don't know what you mean," said Eustace, nursing his hand. "If you don't know how to take a joke I shan't bother my head about you."
"Then take that," said Reepicheep, "and that - to teach you manners - and the respect due to a knight - and a Mouse - and a Mouse's tail - " and at each word he gave Eustace a blow with the side of his rapier, which was thin, fine dwarf-tempered steel and as supple and effective as a birch rod. Eustace (of course) was at a school where they didn't have corporal punishment, so the sensation was quite new to him. That was why, in spite of having no sealegs, it took him less than a minute to get off that forecastle and cover the whole length of the deck and burst in at the cabin door - still hotly pursued by Reepicheep. Indeed it seemed to Eustace that the rapier as well as the pursuit was hot. It might have been red-hot by the feel.
There was not much difficulty in settling the matter once Eustace realized that everyone took the idea of a duel seriously and heard Caspian offering to lend him a sword, and Drinian and Edmund discussing whether he ought to be handicapped in some way to make up for his being so much bigger than Reepicheep. He apologized sulkily and went off with Lucy to have his hand bathed and bandaged and then went to his bunk. He was careful to lie on his side.
THE LONE ISLANDS
"LAND in sight," shouted the man in the bows.
Lucy, who had been talking to Rhince on the poop, came pattering down the ladder and raced forward. As she went she was joined by Edmund, and they found Caspian, Drinian and Reepicheep already on the forecastle. It was a coldish morning, the sky very pale and the sea very dark blue with little white caps of foam, and there, a little way off on the starboard bow, was the nearest of the Lone Islands, Felimath, like a low green hill in the sea, and behind it, further off, the grey slopes of its sister Doorn.
"Same old Felimath! Same old Doorn," said Lucy, clapping her hands. "Oh - Edmund, how long it is since you and I saw them last!"
"I've never understood why they belong to Narnia," said Caspian. "Did Peter the High King conquer them?"
"Oh no," said Edmund. "They were Narnian before our time - in the days of the White Witch."
(By the way, I have never yet heard how these remote islands became attached to the crown of Narnia; if I ever do, and if the story is at all interesting, I may put it in some other book.)
"Are we to put in here, Sire?" asked Drinian.
"1 shouldn't think it would be much good landing on Felimath," said Edmund. "It was almost uninhabited in our days and it looks as if it was the same still. The people lived mostly on Doorn and a little on Avra - that's the third one; you can't see it yet. They only kept sheep on Felimath."
"Then we'll have to double that cape, I suppose," said Drinian, "and land on Doorn. That'll mean rowing."
"I'm sorry we're not landing on Felimath," said Lucy. "I'd like to walk there again. It was so lonely - a nice kind of loneliness, and all grass and clover and soft sea air."
"I'd love to stretch my legs now too," said Caspian. "I tell you what. Why shouldn't we go ashore in the boat and send it back, and then we could walk across Felimath and let the Dawn Treader pick us up on the other side?"
If Caspian had been as experienced then as he became later on in this voyage he would not have made this suggestion; but at the moment it seemed an excellent one. "Oh do let's," said Lucy.
"You'll come, will you?" said Caspian to Eustace, who had come on deck with his hand bandaged.
"Anything to get off this blasted boat," said Eustace.
"Blasted?" said Drinian. "How do you mean?"
"In a civilized country like where I come from," said Eustace, "the ships are so big that when you're inside you wouldn't know you were at sea at all."
"In that case you might just as well stay ashore," said Caspian. "Will you tell them to lower the boat, Drinian."
The King, the Mouse, the two Pevensies, and Eustace all got into the boat and were pulled to the beach of Felimath. When the boat had left them and was being rowed back they all turned and looked round. They were surprised at how small the Dawn Treader looked.
Lucy was of course barefoot, having kicked off her shoes while swimming, but that is no hardship if one is going to walk on downy turf. It was delightful to be ashore again and to smell the earth and grass, even if at first the ground seemed to be pitching up and down like a ship, as it usually does for a while if one has been at sea. It was much warmer here than it had been on board and Lucy found the sand pleasant to her feet as they crossed it. There was a lark singing.
They struck inland and up a fairly steep, though low, hill. At the top of course they looked back, and there was the Dawn Treader shining like a great bright insect and crawling slowly north-westward with her oars. Then they went over the ridge and could see her no longer.
Doom now lay before them, divided from Felimath by a channel about a mile wide; behind it and to the left lay Avra. The little white town of Narrowhaven on Doorn was easily seen.
"Hullo! What's this?" said Edmund suddenly.
In the green valley to which they were descending six or seven rough-looking men, all armed, were sitting by a tree.
"Don't tell them who we are," said Caspian.
"And pray, your Majesty, why not?" said Reepicheep who had consented to ride on Lucy's shoulder.
"It just occurred to me," replied Caspian, "that no one here can have heard from Narnia for a long time. It's just possible they may not still acknowledge our over-lordship. In which case it might not be quite safe to be known as the King."
"We have our swords, Sire," said Reepicheep.
"Yes, Reep, I know we have," said Caspian. "But if it is a question of re-conquering the three islands, I'd prefer to come back with a rather larger army."
By this time they were quite close to the strangers, one of whom - a big black-haired fellow - shouted out, "A good morning to you."
"And a good morning to you," said Caspian. "Is there still a Governor of the Lone Islands?"
"To be sure there is," said the man, "Governor Gumpas. His Sufficiency is at Narrowhaven. But you'll stay and drink with us."
Caspian thanked him, though neither he nor the others much liked the look of their new acquaintance, and all of them sat down. But hardly had they raised their cups to their lips when the black-haired man nodded to his companions and, as quick as lightning, all the five visitors found themselves wrapped in strong arms. There was a moment's struggle but all the advantages were on one side, and soon everyone was disarmed and had their hands tied behind their backs except Reepicheep, writhing in his captor's grip and biting furiously.
"Careful with that beast, Tacks," said the Leader. "Don't damage him. He'll fetch the best price of the lot, I shouldn't wonder."
"Coward! Poltroon!" squeaked Reepicheep. "Give me my sword and free my paws if you dare."
"Whew!" whistled the slave merchant (for that is what he was). "It can talk! Well I never did. Blowed if I take less than two hundred crescents for him." The Calormen crescent, which is the chief coin in those parts, is worth about a third of a pound.
"So that's what you are," said Caspian. "A kidnapper and slaver. I hope you're proud of it."
"Now, now, now, now," said the slaver. "Don't you start any jaw. The easier you take it, the pleasanter all round, see? I don't do this for fun. I've got my living to make same as anyone else."
"Where will you take us?" asked Lucy, getting the words out with some difficulty.
"Over to Narrowhaven," said the slaver. "For market day tomorrow."
"Is there a British Consul there?" asked Eustace.
"Is there a which?" said the man.
But long before Eustace was tired of trying to explain, the slaver simply said, "Well, I've had enough of this jabber. The Mouse is a fair treat but this one would talk the hind leg off a donkey. Off we go, mates."