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  • Home > C.S.Lewis > Chronicles of Narnia > The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Page 13)     
    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader(Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S.Lewis
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    As nothing happened she began looking at the pictures. And all at once she saw the very last thing she expected - a picture of a third-class carriage in a train, with two schoolgirls sitting in it. She knew them at once. They were Marjorie Preston and Anne Featherstone. Only now it was much more than a picture. It was alive. She could see the telegraph posts flicking past outside the window. Then gradually (like when the radio is "coming on") she could hear what they were saying.

    "Shall I see anything of you this term?" said Anne, "or are you still going to be all taken up with Lucy Pevensie. "

    "Don't know what you mean by taken up," said Marjorie.

    "Oh yes, you do," said Anne. "You were crazy about her last term."

    "No, I wasn't," said Marjorie. "I've got more sense than that. Not a bad little kid in her way. But I was getting pretty tired of her before the end of term."

    "Well, you jolly well won't have the chance any other term!" shouted Lucy. "Two-faced little beast." But the sound of her own voice at once reminded her that she was talking to a picture and that the real Marjorie was far away in another world.

    "Well," said Lucy to herself, "I did think better of her than that. And I did all sorts of things for her last term, and I stuck to her when not many other girls would. And she knows it too. And to Anne Featherstone of all people! I wonder are all my friends the same? There are lots of other pictures. No. I won't look at any more. I won't, I won't' and with a great effort she turned over the page, but not before a large, angry tear had splashed on it.

    On the next page she came to a spell "for the refreshment of the spirit'. The pictures were fewer here but very beautiful. And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got to the third page and come to the end, she said, "That is the loveliest story I've ever read or ever shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I'll read it over again."

    But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn't turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left-hand pages could not.

    "Oh, what a shame!" said Lucy. "I did so want to read it again. Well, at least I must remember it. Let's see . . . it was about . . . about . . . oh dear, it's all fading away again.

    And even this last page is going blank. This is a very queer book. How can I have forgotten? It was about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill, I know that much. But I can't remember and what shall I do?"

    And she never could remember; and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician's Book.

    She turned on and found to her surprise a page with no pictures at all; but the first words were A Spell to make hidden things visible. She read it through to make sure of all the hard words and then said it out loud. And she knew at once that it was working because as she spoke the colours came into the capital letters at the top of the page and the pictures began appearing in the margins. It was like when you hold to the fire something written in Invisible Ink and the writing gradually shows up; only instead of the dingy colour of lemon juice (which is the easiest Invisible Ink) this was all gold and blue and scarlet. They were odd pictures and contained many figures that Lucy did not much like the look of. And then she thought, "I suppose I've made everything visible, and not only the Thumpers. There might be lots of other invisible things hanging about a place like this. I'm not sure that I want to see them all."

    At that moment she heard soft, heavy footfalls coming along the corridor behind her; and of course she remembered what she had been told about the Magician walking in his bare feet and making no more noise than a cat. It is always better to turn round than to have anything creeping up behind your back. Lucy did so.

    Then her face lit up till, for a moment (but of course she didn't know it), she looked almost as beautiful as that other Lucy in the picture, and she ran forward with a little cry of delight and with her arms stretched out. For what stood in the doorway was Aslan himself, The Lion, the highest of all High Kings. And he was solid and real and warm and he let her kiss him and bury herself in his shining mane. And from the low, earthquake-like sound that came from inside him, Lucy even dared to think that he was purring.

    "Oh, Aslan," said she, "it was kind of you to come."

    "I have been here all the time," said he, "but you have just made me visible."

    "Aslan!" said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. "Don't make fun of me. As if anything 1 could do would make you visible!"

    "It did," said Aslan. "Do you think I wouldn't obey my own rules?"

    After a little pause he spoke again.

    "Child," he said, "I think you have been eavesdropping."

    "Eavesdropping?"

    "You listened to what your two schoolfellows were saying about you."

    "Oh that? I never thought that was eavesdropping, Aslan. Wasn't it magic?"

    "Spying on people by magic is the same as spying on them in any other way. And you have misjudged your friend. She is weak, but she loves you. She was afraid of the older girl and said what she does not mean."

    "I don't think I'd ever be able to forget what I heard her say."

    "No, you won't."

    "Oh dear," said Lucy. "Have I spoiled everything? Do you mean we would have gone on being friends if it hadn't been for this - and been really great friends - all our lives perhaps - and now we never shall."

    "Child," said Aslan, "did I not explain to you once before that no one is ever told what would have happened?"

    "Yes, Aslan, you did," said Lucy. "I'm sorry. But please - "

    "Speak on, dear heart."

    "Shall I ever be able to, read that story again; the one I couldn't remember? Will you tell it to me, Aslan? Oh do, do, do."

    "Indeed, yes, I will tell it to you for years and years. But now, come. We must meet the master of this house."

    CHAPTER ELEVEN

    THE DUFFLEPUDS MADE HAPPY

    Lucy followed the great Lion out into the passage and at once she saw coming towards them an old man, barefoot, dressed in a red robe. His white hair was crowned with a chaplet of oak leaves, his beard fell to his girdle, and he supported himself with a curiously carved staff. When he saw Aslan he bowed low and said,

    "Welcome, Sir, to the least of your houses."

    "Do you grow weary, Coriakin, of ruling such foolish subjects as I have given you here?"

    "No," said the Magician, "they are very stupid but there is no real harm in them. I begin to grow rather fond of the creatures. Sometimes, perhaps, I am a little impatient, waiting for the day when they can be governed by wisdom instead of this rough magic."

    "All in good time, Coriakin," said Aslan.

    "Yes, all in very good time, Sir," was the answer. "Do you intend to show yourself to them?"

    "Nay," said the Lion, with a little half-growl that meant (Lucy thought) the same as a laugh. "I should frighten them out of their senses. Many stars will grow old and come to take their rest in islands before your people are ripe for that. And today before sunset I must visit Trumpkin the Dwarf where he sits in the castle of Cair Paravel counting the days till his master Caspian comes home. I will tell him all your story, Lucy. Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again."

    "Please, Aslan," said Lucy, "what do you call soon?"

    "I call all times soon," said Aslan; and instantly he was vanished away and Lucy was alone with the Magician.

    "Gone!" said he, "and you and I quite crestfallen. It's always like that, you can't keep him; it's not as if he were a tame lion. And how did you enjoy my book?"

    "Parts of it very much indeed," said Lucy. "Did you know I was there all the time?"

    "Well, of course I knew when I let the Duffers make themselves invisible that you would be coming along presently to take the spell off. I wasn't quite sure of the exact day. And I wasn't especially on the watch this morning. You see they had made me invisible too and being invisible always makes me so sleepy. Heigh-ho - there I'm yawning again. Are you hungry?"

    "Well, perhaps I am a little," said Lucy. "I've no idea what the time is."

    "Come," said the Magician. "All times may be soon to Aslan; but in my home all hungry times are one o'clock."

    He led her a little way down the passage and opened a door. Passing in, Lucy found herself in a pleasant room full of sunlight and flowers. The table was bare when they entered, but it was of course a magic table, and at a word from the old man the tablecloth, silver, plates, glasses and food appeared.

    "I hope that is-what you would like," said he. "I have tried to give you food more like the food of your own land than perhaps you have had lately."

    "It's lovely," said Lucy, and so it was; an omelette, piping hot, cold lamb and green peas, a strawberry ice, lemonsquash to drink with the meal and a cup of chocolate to follow. But the magician himself drank only wine and ate only bread. There was nothing alarming about him, and Lucy and he were soon chatting away like old friends.

    "When will the spell work?" asked Lucy. "Will the Duffers be visible again at once?"

    "Oh yes, they're visible now. But they're probably all asleep still; they always take a rest in the middle of the day."

    "And now that they're visible, are you going to let them off being ugly? Will you make them as they were before?"

    "Well, that's rather a delicate question," said the Magician. "You see, it's only they who think they were so nice to look at before. They say they've been uglified, but that isn't what I called it. Many people might say the change was for the better."

    "Are they awfully conceited?"

    "They are. Or at least the Chief Duffer is, and he's taught all the rest to be. They always believe every word he says."

    "We'd noticed that," said Lucy.

    "Yes - we'd get on better without him, in a way. Of course I could turn him into something else, or even put a spell on him which would make them not believe a word he said. But I don't like to do that. It's better for them to admire him than to admire nobody."

    "Don't they admire you?" asked Lucy.

    "Oh, not me," said the Magician. "They wouldn't admire me."

    "What was it you uglified them for - I mean, what they call uglified?"

    "Well, they wouldn't do what they were told. Their work is to mind the garden and raise food - not for me, as they imagine, but for themselves. They wouldn't do it at all if I didn't make them. And of course for a garden you want water. There is a beautiful spring about half a mile away up the hill. And from that spring there flows a stream which comes right past the garden. All I asked them to do was to take their water from the stream instead of trudging up to the spring with their buckets two or three times a day and tiring themselves out besides spilling half of it on the way back. But they wouldn't see it. In the end they refused point blank."

    "Are they as stupid as all that?" asked Lucy.

    The Magician sighed. "You wouldn't believe the troubles I've had with them. A few months ago they were all for washing up the plates and knives before dinner: they said it saved time afterwards. I've caught them planting boiled potatoes to save cooking them when they were dug up. One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat. But I see you've finished. Let's go and look at the Duffers now they can be looked at."

    They went into another room which was full of polished instruments hard to understand - such as Astrolabes, Orreries, Chronoscopes, Poesimeters, Choriambuses and Theodolinds - and here, when they had come to the window, the Magician said, "There. There are your Duffers."

    "I don't see anybody," said Lucy. "And what are those mushroom things?"

    The things she pointed at were dotted all over the level grass. They were certainly very like mushrooms, but far too big - the stalks about three feet high and the umbrellas about the same length from edge to edge. When she looked carefully she noticed too that the stalks joined the umbrellas not in the middle but at one side which gave an unbalanced look to them. And there was something - a sort of little bundle - lying on the grass at the foot of each stalk. In fact the longer she gazed at them the less like mushrooms they appeared. The umbrella part was not really round as she had thought at first. It was longer than it was broad, and it widened at one end. There were a great many of them, fifty or more.

    The clock struck three.

    Instantly a most extraordinary thing happened. Each of the "mushrooms" suddenly turned upside-down. The little bundles which had lain at the bottom of the stalks were heads and bodies. The stalks themselves were legs. But not two legs to each body. Each body had a single thick leg right under it (not to one side like the leg of a one-legged man) and at the end of it, a single enormous foot-a broadtoed foot with the toes curling up a little so that it looked rather like a small canoe. She saw in a moment why they had looked like mushrooms. They had been lying flat on their backs each with its single leg straight up in the air and its enormous foot spread out above it. She learned afterwards that this was their ordinary way of resting; for the foot kept off both rain and sun and for a Monopod to lie under its own foot is almost as good as being in a tent.

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