HOW THE ADVENTURE ENDED
“LOOK at what?” said Edmund.
“Look at the device on the gold,” said Caspian.
“A little hammer with a diamond above it like a star,” said Drinian. “Why, I’ve seen that before.”
“Seen it!” said Caspian. “Why, of course you have. It is the sign of a great Narnian house. This is the Lord Octesian’s arm-ring.”
“Villain,” said Reepicheep to the dragon, “have you devoured a Narnian lord?” But the dragon shook his head violently.
“Or perhaps,” said Lucy, “this is the Lord Octesian, turned into a dragon – under an enchantment, you know.”
“It needn’t be either,” said Edmund. “All dragons collect gold. But I think it’s a safe guess that Octesian got no further than this island.”
“Are you the Lord Octesian?” said Lucy to the dragon, and then, when it sadly shook its head, “Are you someone enchanted – someone human, I mean?”
It nodded violently.
And then someone said – people disputed afterwards whether Lucy or Edmund said it first – “You’re not – not Eustace by any chance?”
And Eustace nodded his terrible dragon head and thumped his tail in the sea and everyone skipped back (some of the sailors with ejaculations I will not put down in writing) to avoid the enormous and boiling tears which flowed from his eyes.
Lucy tried hard to console him and even screwed up her courage to kiss the scaly face, and nearly everyone said “Hard luck” and several assured Eustace that they would all stand by him and many said there was sure to be some way of disenchanting him and they’d have him as right as rain in a day or two. And of course they were all very anxious to hear his story, but he couldn’t speak. More than once in the days that followed he attempted to write it for them on the sand. But, this never succeeded. In the first place Eustace (never having read the right books) had no idea how to tell a story straight. And for another thing, the muscles and nerves of the dragon-claws that he had to use had never learned to write and were not built for writing anyway. As a result he never got nearly to the end before the tide came in and washed away all the writing except the bits he had already trodden on or accidentaly swished out with his tail. And all that anyone had seen would be something like this – the dots are for the bits he had smudged
out I WNET TO SL EE . . . RGOS AGRONS I MEAN DRANGONS
CAVE CAUSE IT-WAS DEAD AND AWING SO HAR . . . WOKE UP AND COU . . . GET OFFF MI ARM OH BOTHER . . .
It was, however, clear to everyone that Eustace’s character had been rather improved by becoming a dragon. He was anxious to help. He flew over the whole island and found it was all mountainous and inhabited only by wild goats and droves of wild swine. Of these he brought back many carcasses as provisions for the ship. He was a very humane killer too, for he could dispatch a beast with one blow of his tail so that it didn’t know (and presumably still doesn’t know) it had been killed. He ate a few himself, of course, but always alone, for now that he was a dragon he liked his food raw but he could never bear to let others see him at his messy meals. And one day, flying slowly and wearily but in great triumph, he bore back to camp a great tall pine tree which he had torn up by the roots in a distant valley and which could be made into a capital mast. And in the evening if it turned chilly, as it sometimes did after the heavy rains, he was a comfort to everyone, for the whole party would come and sit with their backs against his hot sides and get well warmed and dried; and one puff of his fiery breath would light the most obstinate fire. Sometimes he would take a select party for a fly on his back, so that they could see wheeling below them the green slopes, the rocky heights, the narrow pit-like valleys and far out over the sea to the eastward a spot of darker blue on the blue horizon which might be land.
The pleasure (quite new to him) of being liked and, still more, of liking other people, was what kept Eustace from despair. For it was very dreary being a dragon. He shuddered whenever he caught sight of his own reflection as he flew over a mountain lake. He hated the huge batlike wings, the saw-edged ridge on his back, and the cruel, curved claws. He was almost afraid to be alone with himself and yet he was ashamed to be with the others. On the evenings when he was not being used as a hot-water bottle he would slink away from the camp and lie curled up like a snake between the wood and the water. On such occasions, greatly to his surprise, Reepicheep was his most constant comforter. The noble Mouse would creep away from the merry circle at the camp fire and sit down by the dragon’s head, well to the windward to be out of the way of his smoky breath. There he would explain that what had happened to Eustace was a striking illustration of the turn of Fortune’s wheel, and that if he had Eustace at his own house in Narnia (it was really a hole not a house and the dragon’s head, let alone his body, would not have fitted in) he could show him more than a hundred examples of emperors, kings, dukes, knights, poets, lovers, astronomers, philosophers, and magicians, who had fallen from prosperity into the most distressing circumstances, and of whom many had recovered and lived happily ever afterwards. It did not, perhaps, seem so very comforting at the time, but it was kindly meant and Eustace never forgot it.
But of course what hung over everyone like a cloud was the problem of what to do with their dragon when they were ready to sail. They tried not to talk of it when he was there, but he couldn’t help overhearing things like, “Would he fit all along one side of the deck? And we’d have to shift all the stores to the other side down below so as to balance,” or, “Would towing him be any good?” or “Would he be able to keep up by flying?” and (most often of all), “But how are we to feed him?” And poor Eustace realized more and more that since the first day he came on board he had been an unmitigated nuisance and that he was now a greater nuisance still. And this ate into his mind, just as that bracelet ate into his foreleg. He knew that it only made it worse to tear at it with his great teeth, but he couldn’t help tearing now and then, especially on hot nights.
About six days after they had landed on Dragon Island, Edmund happened to wake up very early one morning. It was just getting grey so that you could see the tree-trunks if they were between you and the bay but not in the other direction. As he woke he thought he heard something moving, so he raised himself on one elbow and looked about him: and presently he thought he saw a dark figure moving on the seaward side of the wood. The idea that at once occurred to his mind was, “Are we so sure there are no natives on this island after all?” Then he thought it was Caspian – it was about the right size – but he knew that Caspian had been sleeping next to him and could see that he hadn’t moved. Edmund made sure that his sword was in its place and then rose to investigate.
He came down softly to the edge of the wood and the dark figure was still there. He saw now that it was too small for Caspian and too big for Lucy. It did not run away. Edmund drew his sword and was about to challenge the stranger when the stranger said in a low voice, “Is that you, Edmund?”
“Yes. Who are you?” said he.
“Don’t you know me?” said the other. “It’s me Eustace.”
“By jove,” said Edmund, “so it is. My dear chap – “
“Hush,” said Eustace and lurched as if he were going to fall.
“Hello!” said Edmund, steadying him. “What’s up? Are you ill?”
Eustace was silent for so long that Edmund thought he was fainting; but at last he said, “It’s been ghastly. You don’t know . . . but it’s all right now. Could we go and talk somewhere? I don’t want to meet the others just yet.”
“Yes, rather, anywhere you like,” said Edmund. “We can go and sit on the rocks over there. I say, I am glad to see you – er – looking yourself again. You must have had a pretty beastly time.”
They went to the rocks and sat down looking out across the bay while the sky got paler and paler and the stars disappeared except for one very bright one low down and near the horizon.
“I won’t tell you how I became a – a dragon till I can tell the others and get it all over,” said Eustace. “By the way, I didn’t even know it was a dragon till I heard you all using the word when I turned up here the other morning. I want to tell you how I stopped being one.”
“Fire ahead,” said Edmund.
“Well, last night I was more miserable than ever. And that beastly arm-ring was hurting like anything – “
“Is that all right now?”
Eustace laughed – a different laugh from any Edmund had heard him give before – and slipped the bracelet easily off his arm. “There it is,” he said, “and anyone who likes can have it as far as I’m concerned. Well, as I say, I was lying awake and wondering what on earth would become of me. And then – but, mind you, it may have been all a dream. I don’t know.”
“Go on,” said Edmund, with considerable patience.
“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it – if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”
“You mean it spoke?”
“I don’t know. Now that you mention it, I don’t think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I’d have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I’d never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden – trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.
“I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells – like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don’t know if he said any words out loud or not.
“I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So 1 scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
“Then the lion said” – but I don’t know if it spoke – “You will have to let me undress you.” I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.
“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – “
“Dressed you. With his paws?”
“Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes – the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”
“No. It wasn’t a dream,” said Edmund.
“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been – well, un-dragoned, for another.”
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.
“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt – I don’t know what – I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”
“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”
“Well, don’t tell me about it, then,” said Eustace. “But who is Aslan? Do you know him?”
“Well – he knows me,” said Edmund. “He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia. We’ve all seen him. Lucy sees him most often. And it may be Aslan’s country we are sailing to.”
Neither said anything for a while. The last bright star had vanished and though they could not see the sunrise because of the mountains on their right, they knew it was going on because the sky above them and the bay before them turned the colour of roses. Then some bird of the parrot kind screamed in the wood behind them, they heard movements among the trees, and finally a blast on Caspian’s horn. The camp was astir.
Great was the rejoicing when Edmund and the restored Eustace walked into the breakfast circle round the camp fire. And now of course everyone heard the earlier part of his story. People wondered whether the other dragon had killed the Lord Octesian several years ago or whether Octesian himself had been the old dragon. The jewels with which Eustace had crammed his pockets in the cave had disappeared along with the clothes he had then been wearing: but no one, least of all Eustace himself, felt any desire to go back to that valley for more treasure.
In a few days now the Dawn Treader, remasted, re-painted, and well stored, was ready to sail. Before they embarked Caspian caused to be cut on a smooth cliff facing the bay the words:
DISCOVERED BY CASPIAN X,
KING OF NARNIA, ETC.
IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF HIS REIGN.
HERE, AS WE SUPPOSE,
THE LORD OCTESIAN HAD HIS DEATH
It would be nice, and fairly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy”. To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.
The Lord Octesian’s arm ring had a curious fate. Eustace did not want it and offered it to Caspian and Caspian offered it to Lucy. She did not care about having it. “Very well, then, catch as catch can,” said Caspian and flung it up in the air. This was when they were all standing looking at the inscription. Up went the ring, flashing in the sunlight, and caught, and hung, as neatly as a well-thrown quoit, on a little projection on the rock. No one could climb up to get it from below and no one could climb down to get it from above. And there, for all I know, it is hanging still and may hang till that world ends.
TWO NARROW ESCAPES
EVERYONE was cheerful as the Dawn Treader sailed from Dragon Island. They had fair winds as soon as they were out of the bay and came early next morning to the unknown land which some of them had seen when flying over the mountains while Eustace was still a dragon. It was a low green island inhabited by nothing but rabbits and a few goats, but from the ruins of stone huts, and from blackened places where fires had been, they judged that it had been peopled not long before. There were also some bones and broken weapons.
“Pirates’ work,” said Caspian.
“Or the dragon’s,” said Edmund.
The only other thing they found there was a little skin boat, or coracle, on the sands. It was made of hide stretched over a wicker framework. It was a tiny boat, barely four feet long, and the paddle which still lay in it was in proportion. They thought that either it had been made for a child or else that the people of that country had been Dwarfs. Reepicheep decided to keep it, as it was just the right size for him; so it was taken on board. They called that land Burnt Island, and sailed away before noon.
For some five days they ran before a south-south-east wind, out of sight of all lands and seeing neither fish nor gull. Then they had a day when it rained hard till the afternoon. Eustace lost two games of chess to Reepicheep and began to get like his old and disagreeable self again, and Edmund said he wished they could have gone to America with Susan. Then Lucy looked out of the stern windows and said:
“Hello! I do believe it’s stopping. And what’s that?”
They all tumbled up to the poop at this and found that the rain had stopped and that Drinian, who was on watch, was also staring hard at something astern. Or rather, at several things. They looked a little like smooth rounded rocks, a whole line of them with intervals of about forty feet in between.
“But they can’t be rocks,” Drinian was saying, “because they weren’t there five minutes ago.”
“And one’s just disappeared,” said Lucy.
“Yes, and there’s another one coming up,” said Edmund.
“And nearer,” said Eustace.
“Hang it!” said Caspian. “The whole thing is moving this way.”
“And moving a great deal quicker than we can sail, Sire,” said Drinian. “It’ll be up with us in a minute.”
They all held their breath, for it is not at all nice to be pursued by an unknown something either on land or sea. But what it turned out to be was far worse than anyone had suspected. Suddenly, only about the length of a cricket pitch from their port side, an appalling head reared itself out of the sea. It was all greens and vermilions with purple blotches – except where shell fish clung to it – and shaped rather like a horse’s, though without ears. It had enormous eyes, eyes made for staring through the dark depths of the ocean, and a gaping mouth filled with double rows of sharp fish-like teeth. It came up on what they first took to be a huge neck, but as more and more of it emerged everyone knew that this was not its neck but its body and that at last they were seeing what so many people have foolishly wanted to see – the great Sea Serpent. The folds of its gigantic tail could be seen far away, rising at intervals from the surface. And now its head was towering up higher than the mast.
Every man rushed to his weapon, but there was nothing to be done, the monster was out of reach. “Shoot! Shoot!” cried the Master Bowman, and several obeyed, but the arrows glanced off the Sea Serpent’s hide as if it was ironplated. Then, for a dreadful minute, everyone was still, staring up at its eyes and mouth and wondering where it would pounce.
But it didn’t pounce. It shot its head forward across the ship on a level with the yard of the mast. Now its head was just beside the fighting top. Still it stretched and stretched till its head was over the starboard bulwark. Then down it began to come – not on to the crowded deck but into the water, so that the whole ship was under an arch of serpent. And almost at once that arch began to get smaller: indeed on the starboard the Sea Serpent was now almost touching the Dawn Treader’s side.
Eustace (who had really been trying very hard to behave well, till the rain and the chess put him back) now did the first brave thing he had ever done. He was wearing a sword that Caspian had lent him. As soon as the serpent’s body was near enough on the starboard side he jumped on to the bulwark and began hacking at it with all his might. It is true that he accomplished nothing beyond breaking Caspian’s second-best sword into bits, but it was a fine thing for a beginner to have done.
Others would have joined him if at that moment Reepicheep had not called out, “Don’t fight! Push!” It was so unusual for the Mouse to advise anyone not to fight that, even in that terrible moment, every eye turned to him. And when he jumped up on to the bulwark, forward of the snake, and set his little furry back against its huge scaly, slimy back, and began pushing as hard as he could, quite a number of people saw what he meant and rushed to both sides of the ship to do the same. And when, a moment later, the Sea Serpent’s head appeared again, this time on the port side, and this time with its back to them, then everyone understood.
The brute had made a loop of itself round the Dawn Treader and was beginning to draw the loop tight. When it got quite tight – snap! – there would be floating matchwood where the ship had been and it could pick them out of the water one by one. Their only chance was to push the loop backward till it slid over the stern; or else (to put the same thing another way) to push the ship forward out of the loop.
Reepicheep alone had, of course, no more chance of doing this than of lifting up a cathedral, but he had nearly killed himself with trying before others shoved him aside. Very soon the whole ship’s company except Lucy and the Mouse (which was fainting) was in two long lines along the two bulwarks, each man’s chest to the back of the man in front, so that the weight of the whole line was in the last man, pushing for their lives. For a few sickening seconds (which seemed like hours) nothing appeared to happen. Joints cracked, sweat dropped, breath came in grunts and gasps. Then they felt that the ship was moving. They saw that the snake-loop was further from the mast than it had been. But they also saw that it was smaller. And now the real danger was at hand. Could they get it over the poop, or was it already too tight? Yes. It would just fit. It was resting on the poop rails. A dozen or more sprang up on the poop. This was far better. The Sea Serpent’s body was so low now that they could make a line across the poop and push side by side. Hope rose high till everyone remembered the high carved stern, the dragon tail, of the Dawn Treader. It would be quite impossible to get the brute over that.
“An axe,” cried Caspian hoarsely, “and still shove.” Lucy, who knew where everything was, heard him where she was standing on the main deck staring up at the poop. In a few seconds she had been below, got the axe, and was rushing up the ladder to the poop. But just as she reached the top there came a great crashing noise like a tree coming down and the ship rocked and darted forward. For at that very moment, whether because the Sea Serpent was being pushed so hard, or because it foolishly decided to draw the noose tight, the whole of the carved stern broke off and the ship was free.
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.”