THE STORM AND WHAT CAME OF IT
IT was nearly three weeks after their landing that the Dawn Treader was towed out of Narrowhaven harbour. Very solemn farewells had been spoken and a great crowd had assembled to see her departure. There had been cheers, and tears too, when Caspian made his last speech to the Lone Islanders and parted from the Duke and his family, but as the ship, her purple sail still flapping idly, drew further from the shore, and the sound of Caspian’s trumpet from the poop came fainter across the water, everyone became silent. Then she came into the wind. The sail swelled out, the tug cast off and began rowing back, the first real wave ran up under the Dawn Treader’s prow, and she was a live ship again. The men off duty went below, Drinian took the first watch on the poop, and she turned her head eastward round the south of Avra.
The next few days were delightful. Lucy thought she was the most fortunate girl in the world; as she woke each morning to see the reflections of the sunlit water dancing on the ceiling of her cabin and looked round on all the nice new things she had got in the Lone Islands – seaboots and buskins and cloaks and jerkins and scarves. And then she would go on deck and take a look from the forecastle at a sea which was a brighter blue each morning and drink in an air that was a little warmer day by day. After that came breakfast and such an appetite as one only has at sea.
She spent a good deal of time sitting on the little bench in the stern playing chess with Reepicheep. It was amusing to see him lifting the pieces, which were far too big for him, with both paws and standing on tiptoes if he made a move near the centre of the board. He was a good player and when he remembered what he was doing he usually won. But every now and then Lucy won because the Mouse did something quite ridiculous like sending a knight into the danger of a queen and castle combined. This happened because he had momentarily forgotten it was a game of chess and was thinking of a real battle and making the knight do what he would certainly have done in its place. For his mind was full of forlorn hopes, death-or-glory charges, and last stands.
But this pleasant time did not last. There came an evening when Lucy, gazing idly astern at the long furrow or wake they were leaving behind them, saw a great rack of clouds building itself up in the west with amazing speed.
Then a gap was torn in it and a yellow sunset poured through the gap. All the waves behind them seemed to take on unusual shapes and the sea was a drab or yellowish colour like dirty canvas. The air grew cold. The ship seemed to move uneasily as if she felt danger behind he The sail would be flat and limp one minute and wildly the next. While she was noting these things and wondering at a sinister change which had come over the very noise the wind, Drinian cried, “All hands on deck.” In a moment everyone became frantically busy. The hatches wet battened down, the galley fire was put out, men went aloft to reef the sail. Before they had finished the storm struck them. It seemed to Lucy that a great valley in the sea opened just before their bows, and they rushed down in it, deeper down than she would have believed possible. A great grey hill of water, far higher than the mast, rushed to meet them; it looked certain death but they were tossed to the top of it. Then the ship seemed to spin round. A cataract of water poured over the deck; the poop and forecastle were like two islands with a fierce sea between them. aloft the sailors were lying out along the yard desperate trying to get control of the sail. A broken rope stood out sideways in the wind as straight and stiff as if it was poker.
“Get below, Ma’am,” bawled Drinian. And Lucy knowing that landsmen – and landswomen – are a nuisance to the crew, began to obey. It was not easy. The Dawn Treader was listing terribly to starboard and the deck sloped like the roof of a house. She had to clamber round to the top of the ladder, holding on to the rail, and the stand by while two men climbed up it, and then get down as best she could. It was well she was already holding tight for at the foot of the ladder another wave roar across the deck, up to her shoulders. She was already almost wet through with spray and rain but this was colder. Then she made a dash for the cabin door and got in and shut out for a moment the appalling sight of the speed with which they were rushing into the dark, but not of course the horrible confusion of creakings, groanings, snappings, clatterings, roarings and boomings which only sounded more alarming below than they had done on the poop.
And all next day and all the next it went on. It went on till one could hardly even remember a time before it had begun. And there always had to be three men at the tiller and it was as much as three could do to keep any kind of a course. And there always had to be men at the pump. And there was hardly any rest for anyone, and nothing could be cooked and nothing could be dried, and one man was lost overboard, and they never saw the sun.
When it was over Eustace made the following entry in his diary.
“3 September. The first day for ages when I have been able to write. We had been driven before a hurricane for thirteen days and nights. I know that because I kept a careful count, though the others all say it was only twelve. Pleasant to be embarked on a dangerous voyage with people who can’t even count right! I have had a ghastly time, up and down enormous waves hour after hour, usually wet to the skin, and not even an attempt at giving us proper meals. Needless to say there’s no wireless or even a rocket, so no chance of signalling anyone for help. It all proves what I keep on telling them, the madness of setting out in a rotten little tub like this. It would be bad enough even if one was with decent people instead of fiends in human form. Caspian and Edmund are simply brutal to me. The night we lost our mast (there’s only a stump left now), though I was not at all well, they forced me to come on deck and work like a slave. Lucy shoved her oar in by saying that Reepicheep was longing to go only he was too small. I wonder she doesn’t see that everything that little beast does is all for the sake of showing off. Even at her age she ought to have that amount of sense. Today the beastly boat is level at last and the sun’s out and we have all been jawing about what to do. We have food enough, pretty beastly stuff most of it, to last for sixteen days. (The poultry were all washed overboard. Even if they hadn’t been, the storm would have stopped them laying.) The real trouble is water. Two casks seem to have got a leak knocked in them and are empty. (Narnian efficiency again.) On short rations, half a pint a day each, we’ve got enough for twelve days. (There’s still lots of rum and wine but even they realize that would only make them thirstier.)
“If we could, of course, the sensible thing would be to turn west at once and make for the Lone Islands. But it took us eighteen days to get where we are, running like mad with a gale behind us. Even if we got an east wind it might take us far longer to get back. And at present there’s no sign of an east wind – in fact there’s no wind at all. As for rowing back, it would take far too long and Caspian says the men couldn’t row on half a pint of water a day. I’m pretty sure this is wrong. I tried to explain that perspiration really cools people down, so the men would need less water if they were working. He didn’t take any notice of this, which is always his way when he can’t think of an answer. The others all voted for going on in the hope of finding land. I felt it my duty to point out that we didn’t know there was any land ahead and tried to get them to see the dangers of wishful thinking. Instead of producing a better plan they had the cheek to ask me what I proposed. So I just explained coolly and quietly that I had been kidnapped and brought away on this idiotic voyage without my consent, and it was hardly my business to get them out of their scrape.
“4 September. Still becalmed. Very short rations for dinner and I got less than anyone. Caspian is very clever at helping and thinks I don’t see! Lucy for some reason tried to make up to me by offering me some of hers but that interfering prig Edmund wouldn’t let her. Pretty hot sun. Terribly thirsty all evening.
“5 September. Still becalmed and very hot. Feeling rotten all day and am sure I’ve got a temperature. Of course they haven’t the sense to keep a thermometer on board.
“6 September. A horrible day. Woke up in the night knowing I was feverish and must have a drink of water. Any doctor would have said so. Heaven knows I’m the last person to try to get any unfair advantage but I never dreamed that this water-rationing would be meant to apply to a sick man. In fact I would have woken the others up and asked for some only I thought it would be selfish to wake them. So I got up and took my cup and tiptoed out of the Black Hole we slept in, taking great care not to disturb Caspian and Edmund, for they’ve been sleeping badly since the heat and the short water began. I always try to consider others whether they are nice to me or not. I got out all right into the big room, if you can call it a room, where the rowing benches and the luggage are. The thing of water is at this end. All was going beautifully, but before I’d drawn a cupful who should catch me but that little spy Reep. I tried to explain that I was going on deck for a breath of air (the business about the water had nothing to do with him) and he asked me why I had a cup. He made such a noise that the whole ship was roused. They treated me scandalously. I asked, as I think anyone would have, why Reepicheep was sneaking about the water cask in the middle of the night. He said that as he was too small to be any use on deck, he did sentry over the water every night so that one more man could go to sleep. Now comes their rotten unfairness: they all believed him. Can you beat it?
“I had to apologize or the dangerous little brute would have been at me with his sword. And then Caspian showed up in his true colours as a brutal tyrant and said out loud for everyone to hear that anyone found “stealing” water in future would “get two dozen”. I didn’t know what this meant till Edmund explained to me. It comes in the sort of books those Pevensie kids read.
“After this cowardly threat Caspian changed his tune and started being patronizing. Said he was sorry for me and that everyone felt just as feverish as I did and we must all make the best of it, etc., etc. Odious stuck-up prig. Stayed in bed all day today.
“7 September. A little wind today but still from the west.
Made a few miles eastward with part of the sail, set on what Drinian calls the jury-mast-that means the bowsprit set upright and tied (they call it “lashed”) to the stump of the real mast. Still terribly thirsty.
“8 September. Still sailing east. I stay in my bunk all day now and see no one except Lucy till the two fiends come to bed. Lucy gives me a little of her water ration. She says girls don’t get as thirsty as boys. I had often thought this but it ought to be more generally known at sea.
“9 September. Land in sight; a very high mountain a long way off to the south-east.
“10 September. The mountain is bigger and clearer but still a long way off. Gulls again today for the first time since I don’t know how long.
“11 September. Caught some fish and had them for dinner. Dropped anchor at about 7 p.m. in three fathoms of water in a bay of this mountainous island. That idiot Caspian wouldn’t let us go ashore because it was getting dark and he was afraid of savages and wild beasts. Extra water ration tonight.”
What awaited them on this island was going to concern Eustace more than anyone else, but it cannot be told in his words because after September 11 he forgot about keeping his diary for a long time.
When morning came, with a low, grey sky but very hot, the adventurers found they were in a bay encircled by such cliffs and crags that it was like a Norwegian fjord. In front of them, at the head of the bay, there was some level land heavily overgrown with trees that appeared to be cedars, through which a rapid stream came out. Beyond that was a steep ascent ending in a jagged ridge and behind that a vague darkness of mountains which ran into dull-coloured clouds so that you could not see their tops. The nearer cliffs, at each side of the bay, were streaked here and there with lines of white which everyone knew to be waterfalls, though at that distance they did not show any movement or make any noise. Indeed the whole place was very silent and the water of the bay as smooth as glass. It reflected every detail of the cliffs. The scene would have been pretty in a picture but was rather oppressive in real life. It was not a country that welcomed visitors.
The whole ship’s company went ashore in two boatloads and everyone drank and washed deliciously in the river and had a meal and a rest before Caspian sent four men back to keep the ship, and the day’s work began. There was everything to be done. The casks must be brought ashore and the faulty ones mended if possible and all refilled; a tree – a pine if they could get it – must be felled and made into a new mast; sails must be repaired; a hunting party organized to shoot any game the land might yield; clothes to be washed and mended; and countless small breakages on board to be set right. For the Dawn Treader herself – and this was more obvious now that they saw her at a distance – could hardly be recognized as the same gallant ship which had left Narrowhaven. She looked a crippled, discoloured hulk which anyone might have taken for a wreck. And her officers and crew were no better – lean, pale, red-eyed from lack of sleep, and dressed in rags.
As Eustace lay under a tree and heard all these plans being discussed his heart sank. Was there going to be no rest? It looked as if their first day on the longed-for land was going to be quite as hard work as a day at sea. Then a delightful idea occurred to him. Nobody was looking they were all chattering about their ship as if they actually liked the beastly thing. Why shouldn’t he simply slip away? He would take a stroll inland, find a cool, airy place up in the mountains, have a good long sleep, and not rejoin the others till the day’s work was over. He felt it would do him good. But he would take great care to keep the bay and the ship in sight so as to be sure of his way back. He wouldn’t like to be left behind in this country.
He at once put his plan into action. He rose quietly from his place and walked away among the trees, taking care to go slowly and in an aimless manner so that anyone who saw him would think he was merely stretching his legs. He was surprised to find how quickly the noise of conversation died away behind hiin and how very silent and warm and dark green the wood became. Soon he felt he could venture on a quicker and more determined stride.
This soon brought him out of the wood. The ground began sloping steeply up in front of him. The grass was dry and slippery but manageable if he used his hands as well as his feet, and though he panted and mopped his forehead a good deal, he plugged away steadily. This showed, by the way, that his new life, little as he suspected it, had already done him some good; the old Eustace, Harold and Alberta’s Eustace, would have given up the climb after about ten minutes.
Slowly, and with several rests, he reached the ridge. Here he had expected to have a view into the heart of the island, but the clouds had now come lower and nearer and a sea of fog was rolling to meet him. He sat down and looked back. He was now so high that the bay looked small beneath him and miles of sea were visible. Then the fog from the mountains closed in all round him, thick but not cold, and he lay down and turned this way and that to find the most comfortable position to enjoy himself.
But he didn’t enjoy himself, or not for very long. He began, almost for the first time in his life, to feel lonely. At first this feeling grew very gradually. And then he began to worry about the time. There was not the slightest sound. Suddenly it occurred to him that he might have been lying there for hours. Perhaps the others had gone! Perhaps they had let him wander away on purpose simply in order to leave him behind! He leaped up in a panic and began the descent.
At first he tried to do it too quickly, slipped on the steep grass, and slid for several feet. Then he thought this had carried him too far to the left – and as he came up he had seen precipices on that side. So he clambered up again, as near as he could guess to the place he had started from, and began the descent afresh, bearing to his right. After that things seemed to be going better. He went very cautiously, for he could not see more than a yard ahead, and there was still perfect silence all around him. It is very unpleasant to have to go cautiously when there is a voice inside you saying all the time, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” For every moment the terrible idea of being left behind grew stronger. If he had understood Caspian and the Pevensies at all he would have known, of course, that there was not the least chance of their doing any such thing. But he had persuaded himself that they were all fiends in human form.
“At last!” said Eustace as he came slithering down a slide of loose stones (scree, they call it) and found himself on the level. “And now, where are those trees? There is something dark ahead. Why, I do believe the fog is clearing.”
It was. The light increased every moment and made him blink. The fog lifted. He was in an utterly unknown valley and the sea was nowhere in sight.
THE ADVENTURES OF EUSTACE
AT that very moment the others were washing hands and faces in the river and generally getting ready for dinner and a rest. The three best archers had gone up into the hills north of the bay and returned laden with a pair of wild goats which were now roasting over a fire. Caspian had ordered a cask of wine ashore, strong wine of Archenland which had to be mixed with water before you drank it, so there would be plenty for all. The work had gone well so far and it was a merry meal. Only after the second helping of goat did Edmund say, “Where’s that blighter Eustace?”
Meanwhile Eustace stared round the unknown valley. It was so narrow and deep, and the precipices which surrounded it so sheer, that it was like a huge pit or trench. The floor was grassy though strewn with rocks, and here and there Eustace saw black burnt patches like those you see on the sides of a railway embankment in a dry summer.
About fifteen yards away from him was a pool of clear, smooth water. There was, at first, nothing else at all in the valley; not an animal, not a bird, not an insect. The sun beat down and grim peaks and horns of mountains peered over the valley’s edge.
Eustace realized of course that in the fog he had come down the wrong side of the ridge, so he turned at once to see about getting back. But as soon as he had looked he shuddered. Apparently he had by amazing luck found the only possible way down – a long green spit of land, horribly steep and narrow, with precipices on either side. There was no other possible way of getting back. But could he do it, now that he saw what it was really like? His head swam at the very thought of it.
He turned round again, thinking that at any rate he’d better have a good drink from the pool first. But as soon as he had turned and before he had taken a step forward into the valley he heard a noise behind him. It was only a small noise but it sounded loud in that immense silence. It froze him dead-still where he stood for a second. Then he slewed round his neck and looked.
At the bottom of the cliff a little on his left hand was a low, dark hole – the entrance to a cave perhaps. And out of this two thin wisps of smoke were coming. And the loose stones just beneath the dark hollow were moving (that was the noise he had heard) just as if something were crawling in the dark behind them.
Something was crawling. Worse still, something was coming out. Edmund or Lucy or you would have recognized it at once, but Eustace had read none of the right books. The thing that came out of the cave was something he had never even imagined – along lead-coloured snout, dull red eyes, no feathers or fur, a long lithe body that trailed on the ground, legs whose elbows went up higher than its back like a spider’s cruel claws, bat’s wings that made a rasping noise on the stones, yards of tail. And the lines of smoke were coming from its two nostrils. He never said the word Dragon to himself. Nor would it have made things any better if he had.
But perhaps if he had known something about dragons he would have been a little surprised at this dragon’s behaviour. It did not sit up and clap its wings, nor did it shoot out a stream of flame from its mouth. The smoke from its nostrils was like the smoke of a fire that will not last much longer. Nor did it seem to have noticed Eustace. It moved very slowly towards the pool – slowly and with many pauses. Even in his fear Eustace felt that it was an old, sad creature. He wondered if he dared make a dash for the ascent. But it might look round if he made any noise. It might come more to life. Perhaps it was only shamming. Anyway, what was the use of trying to escape by climbing from a creature that could fly?
It reached the pool and slid its horrible scaly chin down over the gravel to drink: but before it had drunk there came from it a great croaking or clanging cry and after a few twitches and convulsions it rolled round on its side and lay perfectly still with one claw in the air. A little dark blood gushed from its wide-opened mouth. The smoke from its nostrils turned black for a moment and then floated away. No more came. this was the brute’s trick, the way it lured travellers to their doom. But one couldn’t wait for ever. He took a step nearer, then two steps, and halted again. The dragon remained motionless; he noticed too that the red fire had gone out of its eyes. At last he came up to it. He was quite sure now that it was dead. With a shudder he touched it; nothing happened.
The relief was so great that Eustace almost laughed out loud. He began to feel as if he had fought and killed the dragon instead of merely seeing it die. He stepped over it and went to the pool for his drink, for the heat was getting unbearable. He was not surprised when he heard a peal of thunder. Almost immediately afterwards the sun disappeared and before he had finished his drink big drops of rain were falling.
The climate of this island was a very unpleasant one. In less than a minute Eustace was wet to the skin and half blinded with such rain as one never sees in Europe. There was no use trying to climb out of the valley as long as this lasted. He bolted for the only shelter in sight – the dragon’s cave. There he lay down and tried to get his breath.
Most of us know what we should expect to find in a dragon’s lair, but, as I said before, Eustace had read only the wrong books. They had a lot to say about exports and imports and governments and drains, but they were weak on dragons. That is why he was so puzzled at the surface on which he was lying. Parts of it were too prickly to be stones and too hard to be thorns, and there seemed to be a great many round, flat things, and it all clinked when he moved. There was light enough at the cave’s mouth to examine it by. And of course Eustace found it to be what any of us could have told him in advance – treasure. There were crowns (those were the prickly things), coins, rings, bracelets, ingots, cups, plates and gems.
Eustace (unlike most boys) had never thought much of treasure but he saw at once the use it would be in this new world which he had so foolishly stumbled into through the picture in Lucy’s bedroom at home. “They don’t have any tax here,” he said, “And you don’t have to give treasure to the government. With some of this stuff I could have quite a decent time here – perhaps in Calormen. It sounds the least phoney of these countries. I wonder how much I can carry? That bracelet now – those things in it are probably diamonds – I’ll slip that on my own wrist. Too big, but not if I push it right up here above my elbow. Then fill my pockets with diamonds – that’s easier than gold. I wonder when this infernal rain’s going to let up?” He got into a less uncomfortable part of the pile, where it was mostly coins, and settled down to wait. But a bad fright, when once it is over, and especially a bad fright following a mountain walk, leaves you very tired. Eustace fell asleep.
By the time he was sound asleep and snoring the others had finished dinner and became seriously alarmed about him. They shouted, “Eustace! Eustace! Coo-ee!” till they were hoarse and Caspian blew his horn.
“He’s nowhere near or he’d have heard that,” said Lucy with a white face.
“Confound the fellow,” said Edmund. “What on earth did he want to slink away like this for?”
“But we must do something,” said Lucy. “He may have got lost, or fallen into a hole, or been captured by savages.”
“Or killed by wild beasts,” said Drinian.
“And a good riddance if he has, I say,” muttered Rhince.
“Master Rhince,” said Reepicheep, “you never spoke a word that became you less. The creature is no friend of mine but he is of the Queen’s blood, and while he is one of our fellowship it concerns our honour to find him and to avenge him if he is dead.”
“Of course we’ve got to find him (if we can),” said Caspian wearily. “That’s the nuisance of it. It means a search party and endless trouble. Bother Eustace.”
Meanwhile Eustace slept and slept – and slept. What woke him was a pain in his arm. The moon was shining in at the mouth of the cave, and the bed of treasures seemed to have grown much more comfortable: in fact he could hardly feel it at all. He was puzzled by the pain in his arm at first, but presently it occurred to him that the bracelet which he had shoved up above his elbow had become strangely tight. His arm must have swollen while he was asleep (it was his left arm).
He moved his right arm in order to feel his left, but stopped before he had moved it an inch and bit his lip in terror. For just in front of him, and a little on his right, where the moonlight fell clear on the floor of the cave, he saw a hideous shape moving. He knew that shape: it was a dragon’s claw. It had moved as he moved his hand and became still when he stopped moving his hand.
“Oh, what a fool I’ve been,” thought Eustace. “Of course, the brute had a mate and it’s lying beside me.”
For several minutes he did not dare to move a muscle. He saw two thin columns of smoke going up before his eyes, black against the moonlight; just as there had been smoke coming from the other dragon’s nose before it died. This was so alarming that he held his breath. The two columns of smoke vanished. When he could hold his breath no longer he let it out stealthily; instantly two jets of smoke appeared again. But even yet he had no idea of the truth.
Presently he decided that he would edge very cautiously to his left and try to creep out of the cave. Perhaps the creature was asleep – and anyway it was his only chance. But of course before he edged to the left he looked to the left. Oh horror! there was a dragon’s claw on that side too.
No one will blame Eustace if at this moment he shed tears. He was surprised at the size of his own tears as he saw them splashing on to the treasure in front of him. They also seemed strangely hot; steam went up from them.
But there was no good crying. He must try to crawl out from between the two dragons. He began extending his right arm. The dragon’s fore-leg and claw on his right went through exactly the same motion. Then he thought he would try his left. The dragon limb on that side moved too.
Two dragons, one on each side, mimicking whatever he did! His nerve broke and he simply made a bolt for it.
There was such a clatter and rasping, and clinking of gold, and grinding of stones, as he rushed out of the cave that he thought they were both following him. He daren’t look back. He rushed to the pool. The twisted shape of the dead dragon lying in the moonlight would have been enough to frighten anyone but now he hardly noticed it. His idea was to get into the water.
But just as he reached the edge of the pool two things happened. First of all it came over him like a thunder-clap that he had been running on all fours – and why on earth had he been doing that? And secondly, as he bent towards the water, he thought for a second that yet another dragon was staring up at him out of the pool. But in an instant he realized the truth. The dragon face in the pool was his own reflection. There was no doubt of it. It moved as he moved: it opened and shut its mouth as he opened and shut his.
He had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.
That explained everything. There had been no two dragons beside him in the cave. The claws to right and left had been his own right and left claw. The two columns of smoke had been coming from his own nostrils. As for the pain in his left arm (or what had been his left arm) he could now see what had happened by squinting with his left eye. The bracelet which had fitted very nicely on the upper arm of a boy was far too small for the thick, stumpy foreleg of a dragon. It had sunk deeply into his scaly flesh and there was a throbbing bulge on each side of it. He tore at the place with his dragon’s teeth but could not get it off.
In spite of the pain, his first feeling was one of relief. There was nothing to be afraid of any more. He was a terror himself and nothing in the world but a knight (and not all of those) would dare to attack him. He could get even with Caspian and Edmund now But the moment he thought this he realized that he didn’t want to. He wanted to be friends. He wanted to get back among humans and talk and laugh and share things. He realized that he was a monster cut off from the whole human race. An appalling loneliness came over him. He began to see that the others had not really been fiends at all. He began to wonder if he himself had been such a nice person as he had always supposed. He longed for their voices. He would have been grateful for a kind word even from Reepicheep.
When he thought of this the poor dragon that had been Eustace lifted up its voice and wept. A powerful dragon crying its eyes out under the moon in a deserted valley is a sight and a sound hardly to be imagined.
At last he decided he would try to find his way back to the shore. He realized now that Caspian would never have sailed away and left him. And he felt sure that somehow or other he would be able to make people understand who he was.
He took a long drink and then (I know this sounds shocking, but it isn’t if you think it over) he ate nearly all the dead dragon. He was half-way through it before he realized what he was doing; for, you see, though his mind was the mind of Eustace, his tastes and his digestion were dragonish. And there is nothing a dragon likes so well as fresh dragon. That is why you so seldom find more than one dragon in the same county.
Then he turned to climb out of the valley. He began the climb with a jump and as soon as he jumped he found that he was flying. He had quite forgotten about his wings and it was a great surprise to him – the first pleasant surprise he had had for a long time. He rose high into the air and saw innumerable mountain-tops spread out beneath him in the moonlight. He could see the bay like a silver slab and the Dawn Treader lying at anchor and camp fires twinkling in the woods beside the beach. From a great height he launched himself down towards them in a single glide.
Lucy was sleeping very soundly for she had sat up till the return of the search party in hope of good news about Eustace. It had been led by Caspian and had come back late and weary. Their news was disquieting. They had found no trace of Eustace but had seen a dead dragon in a valley. They tried to make the best of it and everyone assured everyone else that there were not likely to he more dragons about, and that one which was dead at about three o’clock that afternoon (which was when they had seen it) would hardly have been killing people a very few hours before.
“Unless it ate the little brat and died of him: he’d poison anything,” said Rhince. But he said this under his breath and no one heard it.
But later in the night Lucy was wakened, very softly, and found the whole company gathered close together and talking in whispers.
“What is it?” said Lucy.
“We must all show great constancy,” Caspian was saying. “A dragon has just flown over the tree-tops and lighted on the beach. Yes, I am afraid it is between us and the ship. And arrows are no use against dragons. And they’re not at all afraid of fire.”
“With your Majesty’s leave – ” began Reepicheep.
“No, Reepicheep,” said the King very firmly, “you are not to attempt a single combat with it. And unless you promise to obey me in this matter I’ll have you tied up. We must just keep close watch and, as soon as it is light, go down to the beach and give it battle. I will lead. King Edmund will be on my right and the Lord Drinian on my left. There are no other arrangements to be made. It will be light in a couple of hours. In an hour’s time let a meal be served out and what is left of the wine. And let everything be done silently.”
“Perhaps it will go away,” said Lucy.
“It’ll be worse if it does,” said Edmund, “because then we shan’t know where it is. If there’s a wasp in the room I like to be able to see it.”
The rest of the night wa dreadful, and when the meal came, though they knew they ought to eat, many found that they had very poor appetites. And endless hours seemed to pass before the darkness thinned and birds began chirping here and there and the world got colder and wetter than it had been all night and Caspian said, “Now for it, friends.”
They got up, all with swords drawn, and formed themselves into a solid mass with Lucy in the middle and Reepicheep on her shoulder. It was nicer than the waiting about and everyone felt fonder of everyone else than at ordinary times. A moment later they were marching. It grew lighter as they came to the edge of the wood. And there on the sand, like a giant lizard, or a flexible crocodile, or a serpent with legs, huge and horrible and humpy, lay the dragon.
But when it saw them, instead of rising up and blowing fire and smoke, the dragon retreated – you could almost say it waddled – back into the shallows of the bay.
“What’s it wagging its head like that for?” said Edmund.
“And now it’s nodding,” said Caspian.
“And there’s something coming from its eyes,” said Drinian.
“Oh, can’t you see,” said Lucy. “It’s crying. Those are tears.”
“I shouldn’t trust to that, Ma’am,” said Drinian. “That’s what crocodiles do, to put you off your guard.”
“It wagged its head when you said that,” remarked Edmund. “Just as if it meant No. Look, there it goes again.”
“Do you think it understands what we’re saying?” asked Lucy.
The dragon nodded its head violently.
Reepicheep slipped off Lucy’s shoulder and stepped to the front.
“Dragon,” came his shrill voice, “can you understand speech?”
The dragon nodded.
“Can you speak?”
It shook its head.
“Then,” said Reepicheep, “it is idle to ask you your business. But if you will swear friendship with us raise your left foreleg above your head.”
It did so, but clumsily because that leg was sore and swollen with the golden bracelet
“Oh look,” said Lucy, “there’s something wrong with its leg. The poor thing – that’s probably what it was crying about. Perhaps it came to us to be cured like in Androcles and the lion.”
“Be careful, Lucy,” said Caspian. “It’s a very clever dragon but it may be a liar.”
Lucy had, however, already run forward, followed by Reepicheep, as fast as his short legs could carry him, and then of course the boys and Drinian came, too.
“Show me your poor paw,” said Lucy, “I might be able to cure it.”
The dragon-that-had-been-Eustace held out its sore leg gladly enough, remembering how Lucy’s cordial had cured him of sea-sickness before he became a dragon. But he was disappointed. The magic fluid reduced the swelling and eased the pain a little but it could not dissolve the gold.
Everyone had now crowded round to watch the treatment, and Caspian suddenly exclaimed, “Look!” He was staring at the bracelet.