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.”
Then the four human prisoners were roped together, not cruelly but securely, and made to march down to the shore. Reepicheep was carried. He had stopped biting on a threat of having his mouth tied up, but he had a great deal to say, and Lucy really wondered how any man could bear to have the things said to him which were said to the slave dealer by the Mouse. But the slave dealer, far from objecting, only said “Go on” whenever Reepicheep paused for breath, occasionally adding, “It’s as good as a play,” or, “Blimey, you can’t help almost thinking it knows what it’s saying!” or “Was it one of you what trained it?” This so infuriated Reepicheep that in the end the number of things he thought of saying all at once nearly suffocated him and he became silent.
When they got down to the shore that looked towards Doorn they found a little village and a long-boat on the beach and, lying a little further out, a dirty bedraggled looking ship.
“Now, youngsters,” said the slave dealer, “let’s have no fuss and then you’ll have nothing to cry about. All aboard.”
At that moment a fine-looking bearded man came out of one of the houses (an inn, I think) and said:
“Well, Pug. More of your usual wares?”
The slaver, whose name seemed to be Pug, bowed very low, and said in a wheedling kind of voice, “Yes, please your Lordship.”
“How much do you want for that boy?” asked the other, pointing to Caspian.
“Ah,” said Pug, “I knew your Lordship would pick on the best. No deceiving your Lordship with anything second rate. That boy, now, I’ve taken a fancy to him myself. Got kind of fond of him, I have. I’m that tender-hearted I didn’t ever ought to have taken up this job. Still, to a customer like your Lordship – “
“Tell me your price, carrion,” said the Lord sternly. “Do you think I want to listen to the rigmarole of your filthy trade?”
“Three hundred crescents, my Lord to your honourable Lordship, but to anyone else – “
“I’ll give you a hundred and fifty.”
“Oh please, please,” broke in Lucy. “Don’t separate us, whatever you do. You don’t know – ” But then she stopped for she saw that Caspian didn’t even now want to be known.
“A hundred and fifty, then,” said the Lord. “As for you, little maiden, I am sorry I cannot buy you all. Unrope my boy, Pug. And look – treat these others well while they are in your hands or it’ll be the worse for you.”
“Well!” said Pug. “Now who ever heard of a gentleman in my way of business who treated his stock better than what I do? Well? Why, I treat ’em like my own childen.”
“That’s likely enough to be true,” said the other grimly.
The dreadful moment had now come. Caspian was untied and his new master said, “This way, lad,” and Lucy burst into tears and Edmund looked very blank. But Caspian looked over his shoulder and said, “Cheer up. I’m sure it will come all right in the end. So long.”
“Now, missie,” said Pug. “Don’t you start taking on and spoiling your looks for the market tomorrow. You be a good girl and then you won’t have nothing to cry about, see?”
Then they were rowed out to the slave-ship and taken below into a long, rather dark place, none too clean, where they found many other unfortunate prisoners; for Pug was of course a pirate and had just returned from cruising among the islands and capturing what he could. The children didn’t meet anyone whom they knew; the prisoners were mostly Galmians and Terebinthians. And there they sat in the straw and wondered what was happening to Caspian and tried to stop Eustace talking as if everyone except himself was to blame.
Meanwhile Caspian was having a much more interesting time. The man who had bought him led him down a little lane between two of the village houses and so out into an open place behind the village. Then he turned and faced him.
“You needn’t be afraid of me, boy,” he said. “I’ll treat you well. I bought you for your face. You reminded me of someone.”
“May I ask of whom, my Lord?” said Caspian.
“You remind me of my master, King Caspian of Narnia.”
Then Caspian decided to risk everything on one stroke.
“My Lord,” he said, “I am your master. I am Caspian King of Narnia.”
“You make very free,” said the other. “How shall I know this is true?”
“Firstly by my face,” said Caspian. “Secondly because I know within six guesses who you are. You are one of those seven lords of Narnia whom my Uncle Miraz sent to sea and whom I have come out to look for – Argoz, Bern, Octesian, Restimar, Mavramorn, or – or – I have forgotten the others. And finally, if your Lordship will give me a sword I will prove on any man’s body in clean battle that I am Caspian the son of Caspian, lawful King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands.”
“By heaven,” exclaimed the man, “it is his father’s very voice and trick of speech. My liege – your Majesty – ” And there in the field he knelt and kissed the King’s hand.
“The moneys your Lordship disbursed for our person will be made good from our own treasury,” said Caspian.
“They’re not in Pug’s purse yet, Sire,” said the Lord Bern, for he it was. “And never will be, I trust. I have moved his Sufficiency the Governor a hundred times to crush this vile traffic in man’s flesh.”
“My Lord Bern,” said Caspian, “we must talk of the state of these Islands. But first what is your Lordship’s own story?”
“Short enough, Sire,” said Bern. “I came thus far with my six fellows, loved a girl of the islands, and felt I had had enough of the sea. And there was no purpose in returning to Narnia while your Majesty’s uncle held the reins. So I married and have lived here ever since.”
“And what is this governor, this Gumpas, like? Does he still acknowledge the King of Narnia for his lord?”
“In words, yes. All is done in the King’s name. But he would not be best pleased to find a real, live King of Narnia coming in upon him. And if your Majesty came before him alone and unarmed – well he would not deny his allegiance, but he would pretend to disbelieve you. Your Grace’s life would be in danger. What following has your Majesty in these waters?”
“There is my ship just rounding the point,” said Caspian. “We are about thirty swords if it came to fighting. Shall we not have my ship in and fall upon Pug and free my friends whom he holds captive?”
“Not by my counsel,” said Bern. “As soon as there was a fight two or three ships would put out from Narrowhaven to rescue Pug. Your Majesty must work by a show of more power than you really have, and by the terror of the King’s name. It must not come to plain battle. Gumpas is a chicken-hearted man and can be over-awed.”
After a little more conversation Caspian and Bern walked down to the coast a little west of the village and there Caspian winded his horn. (This was not the great magic horn of Narnia, Queen Susan’s Horn: he had left that at home for his regent Trumpkin to use if any great need fell upon the land in the King’s absence.) Drinian, who was on the look-out for a signal, recognized the royal horn at once and the Dawn Treader began standing in to shore. Then the boat put off again and in a few moments Caspian and the Lord Bern were on deck explaining the situation to Drinian. He, just like Caspian, wanted to lay the Dawn Treader alongside the slave-ship at once and board her, but Bern made the same objection.
“Steer straight down this channel, captain,” said Bern, “and then round to Avra where my own estates are. But first run up the King’s banner, hang out all the shields, and send as many men to the fighting top as you can. And about five bowshots hence, when you get open sea on your port bow, run up a few signals.”
“Signals? To whom?” said Drinian.
“Why, to all the other ships we haven’t got but which it might be well that Gumpas thinks we have.”
“Oh, I see,” said Drinian rubbing his hands. “And they’ll read our signals. What shall I say? Whole fleet round the South of Avra and assemble at – ?”
“Bernstead,” said the Lord Bern. “That’ll do excellently. Their whole journey – if there were any ships What Caspian did there would be out of sight from Narrowhaven.”
Caspian was sorry for the others languishing in the hold of Pug’s slave-ship, but he could not help finding the rest of that day enjoyable. Late in the afternoon (for they had to do all by oar), having turned to starboard round the northeast end of Doorn and port again round the point of Avra, they entered into a good harbour on Avra’s southern shore where Bern’s pleasant lands sloped down to the water’s edge. Bern’s people, many of whom they saw working in the fields, were all freemen and it was a happy and prosperous fief. Here they all went ashore and were royally feasted in a low, pillared house overlooking the bay. Bern and his gracious wife and merry daughters made them good cheer. But after dark Bern sent a messenger over by boat to Doorn to order some preparations (he did not say exactly what) for the following day.
WHAT CASPIAN DID THERE
Nert morning the Lord Bern called his guests early, and after breakfast he asked Caspian to order every man he had into full armour. “And above all,” he added, “let everything be as trim and scoured as if it were the morning of the first battle in a great war between noble kings with all the world looking on.” This was done; and then in three boatloads Caspian and his people, and Bern with a few of his, put out for Narrowhaven. The king’s flag flew in the stern of his boat and his trumpeter was with him.
When they reached the jetty at Narrowhaven, Caspian found a considerable crowd assembled to meet them. “This is what I sent word about last night,” said Bern. “They are all friends of mine and honest people.” And as soon as Caspian stepped ashore the crowd broke out into hurrahs and shouts of, “Narnia! Narnia! Long live the King.” At the same moment – and this was also due to Bern’s messengers – bells began ringing from many parts of the town. Then Caspian caused his banner to be advanced and his trumpet to be blown and every man drew his sword and set his face into a joyful sternness, and they marched up the street so that the street shook, and their armour shone (for it was a sunny morning) so that one could hardly look at it steadily.
At first the only people who cheered were those who had been warned by Bern’s messenger and knew what was happening and wanted it to happen. But then all the children joined in because they liked a procession and had seen very few. And then all the schoolboys joined in because they also liked processions and felt that the more noise and disturbance there was the less likely they would be to have any school that morning. And then all the old women put their heads out of doors and windows and began chattering and cheering because it was a king, and what is a governor compared with that? And all the young women joined in for the same reason and also because Caspian and Drinian and the rest were so handsome. And then all the young men came to see what the young women were looking at, so that by the time Caspian reached the castle gates, nearly the whole town was shouting; and where Gumpas sat in the castle, muddling and messing about with accounts and forms and rules and regulations, he heard the noise.
At the castle gate Caspian’s trumpeter blew a blast and cried, “Open for the King of Narnia, come to visit his trusty and wellbeloved servant the governor of the Lone Islands.” In those days everything in the islands was done in a slovenly, slouching manner. Only the little postern opened, and out came a tousled fellow with a dirty old hat on his head instead of a helmet, and a rusty old pike in his hand. He blinked at the flashing figures before him. “Carn – seez – fishansy,” he mumbled which was his way of saying, – “You can’t see his Sufficiency”. “No interviews without ‘pointments ‘cept ‘tween nine ‘n’ ten p.m. second Saturday every month.”
“Uncover before Narnia, you dog,” thundered the Lord Bern, and dealt him a rap with his gauntleted hand which sent his hat flying from his head.
“‘Ere? Wot’s it all about?” began the doorkeeper, but no one took any notice of him. Two of Caspian’s men stepped through the postern and after some struggling with bars and bolts (for everything was rusty) flung both wings of the gate wide open. Then the King and his followers strode into the courtyard. Here a number of the governor’s guards were lounging about and several more (they were mostly wiping their mouths) came tumbling out of various doorways. Though their armour was in a disgraceful condition, these were fellows who might have fought if they had been led or had known what was happening; so this was the dangerous moment. Caspian gave them no time to think.
“Where is the captain?” he asked.
“I am, more or less, if you know what I mean,” said a languid and rather dandified young person without any j armour at all.
“It is our wish,” said Caspian, “that our royal visitation to our realm of the Lone Islands should, if possible, be an occasion of joy and not of terror to our loyal subjects. If it were not for that, I should have something to say about the state of your men’s armour and weapons. As it is, you are pardoned. Command a cask of wine to be opened that, your men may drink our health. But at noon tomorrow I wish to see them here in this courtyard looking like men-at-arms and not like vagabonds. See to it on pain of our extreme displeasure.”
The captain gaped but Bern immediately cried, “Three. cheers for the King,” and the soldiers, who had understood about the cask of wine even if they understood nothing else, joined in. Caspian then ordered most of his own men to remain in the courtyard. He, with Bern and Drinian and four others, went into the hall.
Behind a table at the far end with various secretaries about him sat his Sufficiency, the Governor of the Lone Islands. Gumpas was a bilious-looking man with hair that had once been red and was now mostly grey. He glanced up as the strangers entered and then looked down at his papers saying automatically, “No interviews without appointments except between nine and ten p.m. on second Saturdays.”
Caspian nodded to Bern and then stood aside. Bern and Drinian took a step forward and each seized one end of the table. They lifted it, and flung it on one side of the hall where it rolled over, scattering a cascade of letters, dossiers, ink-pots, pens, sealing-wax and documents. Then, not roughly but as firmly as if their hands were pincers of steel, they plucked Gumpas out of his chair and deposited him, facing it, about four feet away. Caspian at once sat down in the chair and laid his naked sword across his knees.
“My Lord,” said he, fixing his eyes on Gumpas, “you have not given us quite the welcome we expected. I am the King of Narnia.”
“Nothing about it in the correspondence,” said the governor. “Nothing in the minutes. We have not been notified of any such thing. All irregular. Happy to consider any applications – “
“And we are come to enquire into your Sufficiency’s conduct of your office,” continued Caspian. “There are two points especially on which I require an explanation. Firstly I find no record that the tribute due from these Islands to the crown of Narnia has been received for about a hundred and fifty years.”
“That would be a question to raise at the Council next month,” said Gumpas. “If anyone moves that a commission of enquiry be set up to report on the financial history of the islands at the first meeting next year, why then . . .”
“I also find it very clearly written in our laws,” Caspian went on, “that if the tribute is not delivered the whole debt has to be paid by the Governor of the Lone Islands out of his private purse.”
At this Gumpas began to pay real attention. “Oh, that’s quite out of the question,” he said. “It is an economic impossibility – er – your Majesty must be joking.”
Inside, he was wondering if there were any way of getting rid of these unwelcome visitors. Had he known that Caspian had only one ship and one ship’s company with him, he would have spoken soft words for the moment, and hoped to have them all surrounded and killed during the night. But he had seen a ship of war sail down the straits yesterday and seen it signalling, as he supposed, to its consorts. He had not then known it was the King’s ship for there was not wind enough to spread the flag out and make the golden lion visible, so he had waited further developments. Now he imagined that Caspian had a whole fleet at Bernstead. It would never have occurred to Gumpas that anyone would walk into Narrowhaven to take the islands with less than fifty men; it was certainly not at all the kind of thing he could imagine doing himself.
“Secondly,” said Caspian, “I want to know why you have permitted this abominable and unnatural traffic in slaves to grow up here, contrary to the ancient custom and usage of our dominions.”
“Necessary, unavoidable,” said his Sufficiency. “An essential part of the economic development of the islands, I assure you. Our present burst of prosperity depends on it.”
“What need have you of slaves?”
“For export, your Majesty. Sell ’em to Calormen mostly; and we have other markets. We are a great centre of the trade.”
“In other words,” said Caspian, “you don’t need them. Tell me what purpose they serve except to put money into the pockets of such as Pug?”
“Your Majesty’s tender years,” said Gumpas, with what was meant to be a fatherly smile, “hardly make it possible that you should understand the economic problem involved. I have statistics, I have graphs, I have – “
“Tender as my years be,” said Caspian, “I believe I understand the slave trade from within quite as well as your Sufficiency. And I do not see that it brings into the islands meat or bread or beer or wine or timber or cabbages or books or instruments of music or horses or armour or anything else worth having. But whether it does or not, it must be stopped.”
“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the governor. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”
“I have seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it `Going Bad’ in Narnia. This trade must stop.”
“I can take no responsibility for any such measure,” said Gumpas.
“Very well, then,” answered Caspian, “we relieve you of your office. My Lord Bern, come here.” And before Gumpas quite realized what was happening, Bern was kneeling with his hands between the King’s hands and taking the oath to govern the Lone Islands in accordance with the old customs, rights, usages and laws of Narnia. And Caspian said, “I think we have had enough of governors,” and made Bern a Duke, the Duke of the Lone Islands.
“As for you, my Lord,” he said to Gumpas, “I forgive you your debt for the tribute. But before noon tomorrow you and yours must be out of the castle, which is now the Duke’s residence.”
“Look here, this is all very well,” said one of Gumpas’s secretaries, “but suppose all you gentlemen stop playacting and we do a little business. The question before us really is – “
“The question is,” said the Duke, “whether you and the rest of the rabble will leave without a flogging or with one. You may choose which you prefer.”
When all this had been pleasantly settled, Caspian ordered horses, of which there were a few in the castle, though very ill-groomed and he, with Bern and Drinian and a few others, rode out into the town and made for the slave market. It was a long low building near the harbour and the scene which they found going on inside was very much like any other auction; that is to say, there was a great crowd and Pug, on a platform, was roaring out in a raucous voice:
“Now, gentlemen, lot twenty-three. Fine Terebinthian agricultural labourer, suitable for the mines or the galleys. Under twenty-five years of age. Not a bad tooth in his head. Good, brawny fellow. Take off his shirt, Tacks, and let the gentlemen see. There’s muscle for you! Look at the chest on him. Ten crescents from the gentleman in the corner. You must be joking, sir. Fifteen! Eighteen! Eighteen is bidden for lot twenty-three. Any advance on eighteen? Twenty-one. Thank you, sir. Twenty-one is bidden – “
But Pug stopped and gaped when he saw the mail-clad figures who had clanked up to the platform.
“On your knees, every man of you, to the King of Narnia,” said the Duke. Everyone heard the horses jingling and stamping outside and many had heard some rumour of the landing and the events at the castle. Most obeyed. Those who did not were pulled down by their neighbours. Some cheered.
“Your life is forfeit, Pug, for laying hands on our royal person yesterday,” said Caspian. “But your ignorance is pardoned. The slave trade was forbidden in all our dominions quarter of an hour ago. I declare every slave in this market free.”
He held up his hand to check the cheering of the slaves and went on, “Where are my friends?”
“That dear little gel and the nice young gentleman?” said Pug with an ingratiating smile. “Why, they were snapped up at once – “
“We’re here, we’re here, Caspian,” cried Lucy and Edmund together and, “At your service, Sire,” piped Reepicheep from another corner. They had all been sold but the men who had bought them were staying to bid for other slaves and so they had not yet been taken away. The crowd parted to let the three of them out and there was great handclasping and greeting between them and Caspian. Two merchants of Calormen at once approached. The Calormen have dark faces and long beards. They wear flowing robes and orange-coloured turbans, and they are a wise, wealthy, courteous, cruel and ancient people. They bowed most politely to Caspian and paid him long compliments, all about the fountains of prosperity irrigating the gardens of prudence and virtue – and things like that – but of course what they wanted was the money they had paid.
“That is only fair, sirs,” said Caspian. “Every man who has bought a slave today must have his money back. Pug, bring out your takings to the last minim.” (A minim is the fortieth part of a crescent.)
“Does your good Majesty mean to beggar me?” whined Pug.
“You have lived on broken hearts all your life,” said Caspian, “and if you are beggared, it is better to be a beggar than a slave. But where is my other friend?”
“Oh him?” said Pug. “Oh take him and welcome. Glad to have him off my hands. I’ve never seen such a drug in the market in all my born days. Priced him at five crescents in the end and even so nobody’d have him. Threw him in free with other lots and still no one would have him. Wouldn’t touch him. Wouldn’t look at him. ‘Packs, bring out Sulky.”
Thus Eustace was produced, and sulky he certainly looked; for though no one would want to be sold as a slave, it is perhaps even more galling to be a sort of utility slave whom no one will buy. He walked up to Caspian and said, “I see. As usual. Been enjoying yourself somewhere while the rest of us were prisoners. I suppose you haven’t even found out about the British Consul. Of course not.”
That night they had a great feast in the castle of Narrowhaven and then, “Tomorrow for the beginning of our real adventures!” said Reepicheep when he had made his bows to everyone and went to bed. But it could not really be tomorrow or anything like it. For now they were preparing to leave all known lands and seas behind them and the fullest preparations had to be made. The Dawn Treader was emptied and drawn on land by eight horses over rollers and every bit of her was gone over by the most skilled shipwrights. Then she was launched again and victualled and watered as full as she could hold – that is to say for twenty-eight days. Even this, as Edmund noticed with disappointment, only gave them a fortnight’s eastward sailing before they had to abandon their quest.
While all this was being done Caspian missed no chance of questioning all the oldest sea captains whom he could find in Narrowhaven to learn if they had any knowledge or even any rumours of land further to the east. He poured out many a flagon of the castle ale to weather-beaten men with short grey beards and clear blue eyes, and many a tall yarn he heard in return. But those who seemed the most truthful could tell of no lands beyond the Lone Islands, and many thought that if you sailed too far east you would come into the surges of a sea without lands that swirled perpetually round the rim of the world – “And that, I reckon, is where your Majesty’s friends went to the bottom.” The rest had only wild stories of islands inhabited by headless men, floating islands, waterspouts, and a fire that burned along the water. Only one, to Reepicheep’s delight, said, “And beyond that, Aslan country. But that’s beyond the end of the world and you can’t get there.” But when they questioned – him he could only say that he’d heard it from his father.
Bern could only tell them that he had seen his six companions sail away eastward and that nothing had, ever been heard of them again. He said this when he and Caspian were standing on the highest point of Avra looking down on the eastern ocean. “I’ve often been up here of a morning,” said the Duke, “ands seen the sun come up out of the sea, and sometimes it looked as if it were only a couple of miles away. And I’ve wondered about my friends and wondered what there really is behind that horizon. Nothing, most likely, yet I am always half ashamed that I stayed behind. But I wish your Majesty wouldn’t go. We may need your help here. This closing the slave market might make a new world; war with Calormen is what I foresee. My liege, think again.”
“I have an oath, my lord Duke,” said Caspian. “And anyway, what could I say to Reepicheep?”