|Home > C.S.Lewis > Chronicles of Narnia > The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Page 10)|
|The Voyage of the Dawn Treader(Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S.Lewis|
The others were too exhausted to see what Lucy saw. There, a few yards behind them, the loop of Sea Serpent's body got rapidly smaller and disappeared into a splash. Lucy always said (but of course she was very excited at the moment, and it may have been only imagination) that she saw a look of idiotic satisfaction on the creature's face. What is certain is that it was a very stupid animal, for instead of pursuing the ship it turned its head round and began nosing all along its own body as if it expected to find the wreckage of the Dawn Treader there. But the Dawn Treader was already well away, running before a fresh breeze, and the men lay and sat panting and groaning all about the deck, till presently they were able to talk about it, and then to laugh about it. And when some rum had been served out they even raised a cheer; and everyone praised the valour of Eustace (though it hadn't done any good) and of Reepicheep.
After this they sailed for three days more and saw nothing but sea and sky. On the fourth day the wind changed to the north and the seas began to rise; by the afternoon it had nearly become a gale. But at the same time they sighted land on their port bow.
"By your leave, Sire," said Drinian, "we will try to get under the lee of that country by rowing and lie in harbour, maybe till this is over." Caspian agreed, but a long row against the gale did not bring them to the land before evening. By the last light of that day they steered into a natural harbour and anchored, but no one went ashore that night. In the morning they found themselves in the green bay of a rugged, lonely-looking country which sloped up to a rocky summit. From the windy north beyond that summit clouds came streaming rapidly. They lowered the boat and loaded
her with any of the water casks which were now empty.
"Which stream shall we water at, Drinian?" said Caspian as he took his seat in the stern-sheets of the boat. "There seem to be two coming down into the bay."
"It makes little odds, Sire," said Drinian. "But I think it's a shorter pull to that on the starboard-the eastern one."
"Here comes the rain," said Lucy.
"I should think it does!" said Edmund, for it was already pelting hard. "I say, let's go to the other stream. There are trees there and we'll have some shelter."
"Yes, let's," said Eustace. "No point in getting wetter than we need."
But all the time Drinian was steadily steering to the starboard, like tiresome people in cars who continue at forty miles an hour while you are explaining to them that they are on the wrong road.
"They're right, Drinian," said Caspian. "Why don't you bring her head round and make for the western stream?"
"As your Majesty pleases," said Drinian a little shortly. He had had an anxious day with the weather yesterday, and he didn't like advice from landsmen. But he altered course; and it turned out afterwards that it was a good thing he did.
By the time they had finished watering, the rain was over and Caspian, with Eustace, the Pevensies, and Reepicheep, decided to walk up to the top of the hill and see what could be seen. It was a stiffish climb through coarse grass and heather and they saw neither man nor beast, except seagulls. When they reached the top they saw that it was a very small island, not more than twenty acres; and from this height the sea looked larger and more desolate than it did from the deck, or even the fighting top, of the Dawn Treader.
"Crazy, you know," said Eustace to Lucy in a low voice, looking at the eastern horizon. "Sailing on and on into that with no idea what we may get to." But he only said it out of habit, not really nastily as he would have done at one time.
It was too cold to stay long on the ridge for the wind still blew freshly from the north.
"Don't let's go back the same way," said Lucy as they turned; "let's go along a bit and come down by the other stream, the one Drinian wanted to go to."
Everyone agreed to this and after about fifteen minutes they were at the source of the second river. It was a more interesting place than they had expected; a deep little mountain lake, surrounded by cliffs except for a narrow channel on the seaward side out of which the water flowed. Here at last they were out of the wind, and all sat down in the heather above the cliff for a rest.
All sat down, but one (it was Edmund) jumped up again very quickly.
"They go in for sharp stones on this island," he said, groping about in the heather. "Where is the wretched thing? . . . Ah, now I've got it . . . Hullo! It wasn't a stone at all, it's a sword-hilt. No, by jove, it's a whole sword; what the rust has left of it. It must have lain here for ages."
"Narnian, too, by the look of it," said Caspian, as they all crowded round.
"I'm sitting on something too," said Lucy. "Something hard." It turned out to be the remains of a mail-shirt. By this time everyone was on hands and knees, feeling in the thick heather in every direction. Their search revealed, one by one, a helmet, a dagger, and a few coins; not Calormen crescents but genuine Narnian "Lions" and "Trees" such as you might see any day in the market-place of Beaversdam or Beruna.
"Looks as if this might be all that's left of one of our seven lords," said Edmund.
"Just what I was thinking," said Caspian. "I wonder which it was. There's nothing on the dagger to show. And I wonder how he died."
"And how we are to avenge him," added Reepicheep.
Edmund, the only one of the party who had read several detective stories, had meanwhile been thinking.
"Look here," he said, "there's something very fishy about this. He can't have been killed in a fight."
"Why not?" asked Caspian.
"No bones," said Edmund. "An enemy might take the armour and leave the body. But who ever heard of a chap who'd won a fight carrying away the body and leaving the armour?"
"Perhaps he was killed by a wild animal," Lucy suggested.
"It'd be a clever animal," said Edmund, "that would take a man's mail shirt off."
"Perhaps a dragon?" said Caspian.
"Nothing doing," said Eustace. "A dragon couldn't do it. I ought to know."
"Well, let's get away from the place, anyway," said Lucy. She had not felt like sitting down again since Edmund had raised the question of bones.
"If you like," said Caspian, getting up. "I don't think any of this stuff is worth taking away."
They came down and round to the little opening where the stream came out of the lake, and stood looking at the deep water within the circle of cliffs. If it had been a hot day, no doubt some would have been tempted to bathe and everyone would have had a drink. Indeed, even as it was, Eustace was on the very point of stooping down and scooping up some water in his hands when Reepicheep and Lucy both at the same moment cried, "Look," so he forgot about his drink and looked.
The bottom of the pool was made of large greyish-blue stones and the water was perfectly clear, and on the bottom lay a life-size figure of a man, made apparently of gold. It lay face downwards with its arms stretched out above its head. And it so happened that as they looked at it, the clouds parted and the sun shone out. The golden shape was lit up from end to end. Lucy thought it was the most beautiful statue she had ever seen.
"Well!" whistled Caspian. "That was worth coming to see! I wonder, can we get it out?"
"We can dive for it, Sire," said Reepicheep.
"No good at all," said Edmund. "At least, if it's really gold - solid gold - it'll be far too heavy to bring up. And that pool's twelve or fifteen feet deep if it's an inch. Half a moment, though. It's a good thing I've brought a hunting spear with me. Let's see what the depth is like. Hold on to my hand, Caspian, while I lean out over the water a bit." Caspian took his hand and Edmund, leaning forward, began to lower his spear into the water.
Before it was half-way in Lucy said, "I don't believe the statue is gold at all. It's only the light. Your spear looks just the same colour."
"What's wrong?" asked several voices at once; for Edmund had suddenly let go of the spear.
"I couldn't hold it," gasped Edmund, "it seemed so heavy."
"And there it is on the bottom now," said Caspian, "and Lucy is right. It looks just the same colour as the statue."
But Edmund, who appeared to be having some trouble with his boots - at least he was bending down and looking at them - straightened himself all at once and shouted out in the sharp voice which people hardly ever disobey:
"Get back! Back from the water. All of you. At once!!"
They all did and stared at him.
"Look," said Edmund, "look at the toes of my boots."
"They look a bit yellow," began Eustace.
"They're gold, solid gold," interrupted Edmund. "Look at them. Feel them. The leather's pulled away from it already. And they're as heavy as lead."
"By Aslan!" said Caspian. "You don't mean to say-?"
"Yes, I do," said Edmund. "That water turns things into gold. It turned the spear into gold, that's why it got so heavy. And it was just lapping against my feet (it's a good thing I wasn't barefoot) and it turned the toe-caps into gold. And that poor fellow on the bottom - well, you see."
"So it isn't a statue at all," said Lucy in a low voice.
"No. The whole thing is plain now. He was here on a hot day. He undressed on top of the cliff - where we were sitting. The clothes have rotted away or been taken by birds to line nests with; the armour's still there. Then he dived and - "
"Don't," said Lucy. "What a horrible thing."
"And what a narrow shave we've had," said Edmund.
"Narrow indeed," said Reepicheep. "Anyone's finger, anyone's foot, anyone's whisker, or anyone's tail, might have slipped into the water at any moment."
"All the same," said Caspian, "we may as well test it." He stooped down and wrenched up a spray of heather. Then, very cautiously, he knelt beside the pool and dipped it in. It was heather that he dipped; what he drew out was a perfect model of heather made of the purest gold, heavy and soft as lead.
"The King who owned this island," said Caspian slowly, and his face flushed as he spoke, "would soon be the richest of all the Kings of the world. I claim this land for ever as a Narnian possession. It shall be called Goldwater Island. And I bind all of you to secrecy. No one must know of this. Not even Drinian - on pain of death, do you hear?"
"Who are you talking to?" said Edmund. "I'm no subject of yours. If anything it's the other way round. I am one of the four ancient sovereigns of Narnia and you are under allegiance to the High King my brother."
"So it has come to that, King Edmund, has it?" said Caspian, laying his hand on his sword-hilt.
"Oh, stop it, both of you," said Lucy. "That's the worst of doing anything with boys. You're all such swaggering, bullying idiots - oooh! - " Her voice died away into a gasp. And everyone else saw what she had seen.
Across the grey hillside above them - grey, for the heather was not yet in bloom - without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen. In describing the scene Lucy said afterwards, "He was the size of an elephant," though at another time she only said, "The size of a cart-horse." But it was not the size that mattered. Nobody dared to ask what it was. They knew it was Aslan.
And nobody ever saw how or where he went. They looked at one another like people waking from sleep.
"What were we talking about?" said Caspian. "Have I been making rather an ass of myself?"
"Sire," said Reepicheep, "this is a place with a curse on it. Let us get back on board at once. And if I might have the honour of naming this island, I should call it Deathwater."
"That strikes me as a very good name, Reep," said Caspian, "though now that I come to think of it, I don't know why. But the weather seems to be settling and I dare say Drinian would like to be off. What a lot we shall have to tell him."
But in fact they had not much to tell for the memory of the last hour had all become confused.
"Their Majesties all seemed a bit bewitched when they came aboard," said Drinian to Rhince some hours later when the Dawn Treader was once more under sail and Deathwater Island already below the horizon. "Something happened to them in that place. The only thing I could get clear was that they think they've found the body of one of these lords we're looking for."
"You don't say so, Captain," answered Rhince. "Well, that's three. Only four more. At this rate we might be home soon after the New Year. And a good thing too. My baccy's running a bit low. Good night, Sir."
THE ISLAND OF THE VOICES
AND now the winds which had so long been from the north-west began to blow from the west itself and every morning when the sun rose out of the sea the curved prow of the Dawn Treader stood up right across the middle of the sun. Some thought that the sun looked larger than it looked from Narnia, but others disagreed. And they sailed and sailed before a gentle yet steady breeze and saw neither fish nor gull - nor ship nor shore. And stores began to get low again, and it crept into their hearts that perhaps they might have come to a sea which went on for ever. But when the very last day on which they thought they could risk continuing their eastward voyage dawned, it showed, right ahead between them and the sunrise, a low land lying like a cloud.