THE ISLAND OF THE VOICES
AND now the winds which had so long been from the north-west began to blow from the west itself and every morning when the sun rose out of the sea the curved prow of the Dawn Treader stood up right across the middle of the sun. Some thought that the sun looked larger than it looked from Narnia, but others disagreed. And they sailed and sailed before a gentle yet steady breeze and saw neither fish nor gull – nor ship nor shore. And stores began to get low again, and it crept into their hearts that perhaps they might have come to a sea which went on for ever. But when the very last day on which they thought they could risk continuing their eastward voyage dawned, it showed, right ahead between them and the sunrise, a low land lying like a cloud.
They made harbour in a wide bay about the middle of the afternoon and landed. It was a very different country from any they had yet seen. For when they had crossed the sandy beach they found all silent and empty as if it were an uninhabited land, but before them there were level lawns in which the grass was as smooth and short as it used to be in the grounds of a great English house where ten gardeners were kept. The trees, of which there were many, all stood well apart from one another, and there were no broken branches and no leaves lying on the ground. Pigeons sometimes cooed but there was no other noise.
Presently they came to a long, straight, sanded path with not a weed growing on it and trees on either hand. Far off at the other end of this avenue they now caught sight of a house – very long and grey and quiet-looking in the afternoon sun.
Almost as soon as they entered this path Lucy noticed that she had a little stone in her shoe. In that unknown place it might have been wiser for her to ask the others to wait while she took it out. But she didn’t; she just dropped quietly behind and sat down to take off her shoe. Her lace had got into a knot.
Before she had undone the knot the others were a fair distance ahead. By the time she had got the stone out and was putting the shoe on again she could no longer hear them. But almost at once she heard something else. It was not coming from the direction of the house.
What she heard was a thumping. It sounded as if dozens of strong workmen were hitting the ground as hard as they could with great wooden mallets. And it was very quickly coming nearer. She was already sitting with her back to a tree, and as the tree was not one she could climb, there was really nothing to do but to sit dead still and press herself against the tree and hope she wouldn’t be seen.
Thump, thump, thump . . . and whatever it was must be very close now for she could feel the ground shaking. But she could see nothing. She thought the thing – or things must be just behind her. But then there came a thump on the path right in front of her. She knew it was on the path not only by the sound but because she saw the sand scatter as if it had been struck a heavy blow. But she could see nothing that had struck it. Then all the thumping noises drew together about twenty feet away from her and suddenly ceased. Then came the Voice.
It was really very dreadful because she could still see nobody at all. The whole of that park-like country still looked as quiet and empty as it had looked when they first landed. Nevertheless, only a few feet away from her, a voice spoke. And what it said was:
“Mates, now’s our chance.”
Instantly a whole chorus of other voices replied, “Hear him. Hear him. `Now ‘s our chance’, he said. Well done, Chief. You never said a truer word.”
“What I say,” continued the first voice, “is, get down to the shore between them and their boat, and let every mother’s son look to his weapons. Catch ’em when they try to put to sea.”
“Eh, that’s the way,” shouted all the other voices. “You never made a better plan, Chief. Keep it up, Chief. You couldn’t have a better plan than that.”
“Lively, then, mates, lively,” said the first voice. “Off we go.
“Right again, Chief,” said the others. “Couldn’t have a better order. Just what we were going to say ourselves. Off we go.”
Immediately the thumping began again – very loud at first but soon fainter and fainter, till it died out in the direction of the sea.
Lucy knew there was no time to sit puzzling as to what these invisible creatures might be. As soon as the thumping noise had died away she got up and ran along the path after the others as quickly as her legs would carry her. They must at all costs be warned.
While this had been happening the others had reached the house. It was a low building – only two stories high made of a beautiful mellow stone, many-windowed, and partially covered with ivy. Everything was so still that Eustace said, “I think it’s empty,” but Caspian silently pointed to the column of smoke which rose from one chimney.
They found a wide gateway open and passed through it into a paved courtyard. And it was here that they had their first indication that there was something odd about this island. In the middle of the courtyard stood a pump, and beneath the pump a bucket. There was nothing odd about that. But the pump handle was moving up and down, though there seemed to be no one moving it.
“There’s some magic at work here,” said Caspian.
“Machinery!” said Eustace. “I do believe we’ve come to a civilized country at last.”
At that moment Lucy, hot and breathless, rushed into the courtyard behind them. In a low voice she tried to make them understand what she had overheard. And when they had partly understood it even the bravest of them did not look very happy.
“Invisible enemies,” muttered Caspian. “And cutting us off from the boat. This is an ugly furrow to plough.”
“You’ve no idea what sort of creatures they are, Lu?” asked Edmund.
“How can I, Ed, when I couldn’t see them?”
“Did they sound like humans from their footsteps?”
“I didn’t hear any noise of feet – only voices and this frightful thudding and thumping – like a mallet.”
“I wonder,” said Reepicheep, “do they become visible when you drive a sword into them?”
“It looks as if we shall find out,” said Caspian. “But let’s get out of this gateway. There’s one of these gentry at that pump listening to all we say.”
They came out and went back on to the path where the trees might possibly make them less conspicuous. “Not that it’s any good really,” said Eustace, “trying to hide from people you can’t see. They may be all round us.”
“Now, Drinian,” said Caspian. “How would it be if we gave up the boat for lost, went down to another part of the bay, and signalled to the Dawn Treader to stand in and take us aboard?”
“Not depth for her, Sire,” said Drinian.
“We could swim,” said Lucy.
“Your Majesties all,” said Reepicheep, “hear me. It is folly to think of avoiding an invisible enemy by any amount of creeping and skulking. If these creatures mean to bring us to battle, be sure they will succeed. And whatever comes of it I’d sooner meet them face to face than be caught by the tail.”
“I really think Reep is in the right this time,” said Edmund.
“Surely,” said Lucy, “if Rhince and the others on the Dawn Treader see us fighting on the shore they’ll be able to do something.”
“But they won’t see us fighting if they can’t see any enemy,” said Eustace miserably. “They’ll think we’re just swinging our swords in the air for fun.”
There was an uncomfortable pause.
“Well,” said Caspian at last, “let’s get on with it. We must go and face them. Shake hands all round – arrow on the string, Lucy – swords out, everyone else – and now for it. Perhaps they’ll parley.”
It was strange to see the lawns and the great trees looking so peaceful as they marched back to the beach. And when they arrived there, and saw the boat lying where they had left her, and the smooth sand with no one to be seen on it, more than one doubted whether Lucy had not merely imagined all she had told them. But before they reached the sand, a voice spoke out of the air.
“No further, masters, no further now,” it said. “We’ve got to talk with you first. There’s fifty of us and more here with weapons in our fists.”
“Hear him, hear him,” came the chorus. “That’s our Chief. You can depend on what he says. He’s telling you the truth, he is.”
“I do not see these fifty warriors,” observed Reepicheep.
“That’s right, that’s right,” said the Chief Voice. “You don’t see us. And why not? Because we’re invisible.”
“Keep it up, Chief, keep it up,” said the Other Voices. “You’re talking like a book. They couldn’t ask for a better answer than that.”
“Be quiet, Reep,” said Caspian, and then added in a louder voice, “You invisible people, what do you want with us? And what have we done to earn your enmity?”
“We want something that little girl can do for us,” said the Chief Voice. (The others explained that this was just what they would have said themselves.)
“Little girl!” said Reepicheep. “The lady is a queen.”
“We don’t know about queens,” said the Chief Voice.
(“No more we do, no more we do,” chimed in the others.) “But we want something she can do.”
“What is it?” said Lucy.
“And if it is anything against her Majesty’s honour or safety,” added Reepicheep, “you will wonder to see how many we can kill before we die.”
“Well,” said the Chief Voice. “It’s a long story. Suppose we all sit down?” ,
The proposal was warmly approved by the other voices but the Narnians remained standing.
“Well,” said the Chief Voice. “It’s like this. This island has been the property of a great magician time out of mind. And we all are – or perhaps in a manner of speaking, I might say, we were – his servants. Well, to cut a long story short, this magician that I was speaking about, he told us to do something we didn’t like. And why not? Because we didn’t want to. Well, then, this same magician he fell into a great rage; for I ought to tell you he owned the island and he wasn’t used to being crossed. He was terribly downright, you know. But let me see, where am I? Oh yes, this magician then, he goes upstairs (for you must know he kept all his magic things up there and we all lived down below), I say he goes upstairs and puts a spell on us. An uglifying spell. If you saw us now, which in my opinion you may thank your stars you can’t, you wouldn’t believe what we looked like before we were uglified. You wouldn’t really. So there we all were so ugly we couldn’t bear to look at one another. So then what did we do? Well, I’ll tell you what we did. We waited till we thought this same magician would be asleep in the afternoon and we creep upstairs and go to his magic book, as bold as brass, to see if we can do anything about this uglification. But we were all of a sweat and a tremble, so I won’t deceive you. But, believe me or believe me not, I do assure you that we couldn’t find any thing in the way of a spell for taking off the ugliness. And what with time getting on and being afraid that the old gentleman might wake up any minute – I was all of a muck sweat, so I won’t deceive you – well, to cut a long story short, whether we did right or whether we did wrong, in the end we see a spell for making people invisible. And we thought we’d rather be invisible than go on being as ugly as all that. And why? Because we’d like it better. So my little girl, who’s just about your little girl’s age, and a sweet child she was before she was uglified, though now – but least said soonest mended – I say, my little girl she says the spell, for it’s got to be a little girl or else the magician himself, if you see my meaning, for otherwise it won’t work. And why not? Because nothing happens. So my Clipsie says the spell, for I ought to have told you she reads beautifully, and there we all were as invisible as you could wish to see. And I do assure you it was a relief not to see one another’s faces. At first, anyway. But the long and the short of it is we’re mortal tired of being invisible. And there’s another thing. We never reckoned on this magician (the one I was telling you about before) going invisible too. But we haven’t ever seen him since. So we don’t know if he’s dead, or gone .away, or whether he’s just sitting upstairs being invisible, and perhaps coming down and being invisible there. And, believe me, it’s no manner of use listening because he always did go about with his bare feet on, making no more noise than a great big cat. And I’ll tell all you gentlemen straight, it’s getting more than what our nerves can stand.”
Such was the Chief Voice’s story, but very much shortened, because I have left out what the Other Voices said. Actually he never got out more than six or seven words without being interrupted by their agreements and encouragements, which drove the Narnians nearly out of their minds with impatience. When it was over there was a very long silence.
“But,” said Lucy at last, “what’s all this got to do with us? I don’t understand.”
“Why, bless me, if I haven’t gone and left out the whole point,” said the Chief Voice.
“That you have, that you have,” roared the Other Voices with great enthusiasm. “No one couldn’t have left it out cleaner and better. Keep it up, Chief, keep it up.”
“Well, I needn’t go over the whole story again,” began the Chief Voice.
“No. Certainly not,” said Caspian and Edmund.
“Well, then, to put it in a nutshell,” said the Chief Voice, “we’ve been waiting for ever so long for a nice little girl from foreign parts, like it might be you, Missie – that would go upstairs and go to the magic book and find the spell that takes off the invisibleness, and say it. And we all swore that the first strangers as landed on this island (having a nice little girl with them, I mean, for if they hadn’t it’d be another matter) we wouldn’t let them go away alive unless they’d done the needful for us. And that’s why, gentlemen, if your little girl doesn’t come up to scratch, it will be our painful duty to cut all your throats. Merely in the way of business, as you might say, and no offence, I hope.”
“I don’t see all your weapons,” said Reepicheep. “Are they invisible too?” The words were scarcely out of his mouth before they heard a whizzing sound and next moment a spear had stuck, quivering, in one of the trees behind them.
“That’s a spear, that is,” said the Chief Voice.
“That it is, Chief, that it is,” said the others. “You couldn’t have put it better.”
“And it came from my hand,” the Chief Voice continued. “They get visible when they leave us.”
“But why do you want me to do this?” asked Lucy.
“Why can’t one of your own people? Haven’t you got any girls?”
“We dursen’t, we dursen’t,” said all the Voices. “We’re not going upstairs again.”
“In other words,” said Caspian, “you are asking this lady to face some danger which you daren’t ask your own sisters and daughters to face!”
“That’s right, that’s right,” said all the Voices cheerfully. “You couldn’t have said it better. Eh, you’ve had some education, you have. Anyone can see that.”
“Well, of all the outrageous – ” began Edmund, but Lucy interrupted.
“Would I have to go upstairs at night, or would it do in daylight?”
“Oh, daylight, daylight, to be sure,” said the Chief Voice. “Not at night. No one’s asking you to do that. Go upstairs in the dark? Ugh.”
“All right, then, I’ll do it,” said Lucy. “No,” she said, turning to the others, “don’t try to stop me. Can’t you see it’s no use? There are dozens of them there. We can’t fight them. And the other way there is a chance.”
“But a magician!” said Caspian.
“I know,” said Lucy. “But he mayn’t be as bad as they make out. Don’t you get the idea that these people are not very brave?”
“They’re certainly not very clever,” said Eustace.
“Look here, Lu,” said Edmund. “We really can’t let you do a thing like this. Ask Reep, I’m sure he’ll say just the same.”
“But it’s to save my own life as well as yours,” said Lucy. “I don’t want to be cut to bits with invisible swords any more than anyone else.”
“Her Majesty is in the right,” said Reepicheep. “If we had any assurance of saving her by battle, our duty would be very-plain. It appears to me that we have none. And the service they ask of her is in no way contrary to her Majesty’s honour, but a noble and heroical act. If the Queen’s heart moves her to risk the magician, I will not speak against it.”
As no one had ever known Reepicheep to be afraid of anything, he could say this without feeling at all awkward. But the boys, who had all been afraid quite often, grew very red. None the less, it was such obvious sense that they had to give in. Loud cheers broke from the invisible people when their decision was announced, and the Chief Voice (warmly supported by all the others) invited the Narnians to come to supper and spend the night. Eustace didn’t want to accept, but Lucy said, “I’m sure they’re not treacherous. They’re not like that at all,” and the others agreed. And so, accompanied by an enormous noise of thumpings (which became louder when they reached the flagged and echoing courtyard) they all went back to the house.
THE MAGICIAN’S BOOK
THE invisible people feasted their guests royally. It was very funny to see the plates and dishes coming to the table and not to see anyone carrying them. It would have been funny even if they had moved along level with the floor, as you would expect things to do in invisible hands. But they didn’t. They progressed up the long dining-hall in a series of bounds or jumps. At the highest point of each jump a dish would be about fifteen feet up in the air; then it would come down and stop quite suddenly about three feet from the floor. When the dish contained anything like soup or stew the result was rather disastrous.
“I’m beginning to feel very inquisitive about these people,” whispered Eustace to Edmund. “Do you think they’re human at all? More like huge grasshoppers or giant frogs, I should say.”
“It does look like it,” said Edmund. “But don’t put the idea of the grasshoppers into Lucy’s head. She’s not too keen on insects; especially big ones.”
The meal would have been pleasanter if it had not been so exceedingly messy, and also if the conversation had not consisted entirely of agreements. The invisible people agreed about everything. Indeed most of their remarks were the sort it would not be easy to disagree with: “What I always say is, when a chap’s hungry, he likes some victuals,” or “Getting dark now; always does at night,” or even “Ah, you’ve come over the water. Powerful wet stuff, ain’t it?” And Lucy could not help looking at the dark yawning entrance to the foot of the staircase – she could see it from where she sat – and wondering what she would find when she went up those stairs next morning. But it was a good meal otherwise, with mushroom soup and boiled chickens and hot boiled ham and gooseberries, redcurrants, curds, cream, milk, and mead. The others liked the mead but Eustace was sorry afterwards that he had drunk any.
When Lucy woke up next morning it was like waking up on the day of an examination or a day when you are going to the dentist. It was a lovely morning with bees buzzing in and out of her open window and the lawn outside looking very like somewhere in England. She got up and dressed and tried to talk and eat ordinarily at breakfast. Then, after being instructed by the Chief Voice about what she was to do upstairs, she bid goodbye to the others, said nothing, walked to the bottom of the stairs, and began going up them without once looking back.
It was quite light, that was one good thing. There was, indeed, a window straight ahead of her at the top of the first flight. As long as she was 9n that flight she could hear the tick-tock-tick-tock of a grandfather clock in the hall below. Then she came to the landing and had to turn to her left up the next flight; after that she couldn’t hear the clock any more.
Now she had come to the top of the stairs. Lucy looked and saw a long, wide passage with a large window at the far end. Apparently the passage ran the whole length of the house. It was carved and panelled and carpeted and very many doors opened off it on each side. She stood still and couldn’t hear the squeak of a mouse, or the buzzing of a fly, or the swaying of a curtain, or anything – except the beating of her own heart.
“The last doorway on the left,” she said to herself. It did seem a bit hard that it should be the last. To reach it she would have to walk past room after room. And in any room there might be the magician – asleep, or awake, or invisible, or even dead. But it wouldn’t do to think about that. She set out on her journey. The carpet was so thick that her feet made no noise.
“There’s nothing whatever to be afraid of yet,” Lucy told herself. And certainly it was a quiet, sunlit passage; perhaps a bit too quiet. It would have been nicer if there had not been strange signs painted in scarlet on the doors twisty, complicated things which obviously had a meaning and it mightn’t be a very nice meaning either. It would have been nicer still if there weren’t those masks hanging on the wall. Not that they were exactly ugly – or not so very ugly – but the empty eye-holes did look queer, and if you let yourself you would soon start imagining that the masks were doing things as soon as your back was turned to them.
After about the sixth door she got her first real fright. For one second she felt almost certain that a wicked little bearded face had popped out of the wall and made a grimace at her. She forced herself to stop and look at it. And it was not a face at all. It was a little mirror just the size and shape of her own face, with hair on the top of it and a beard hanging down from it, so that when you looked in the mirror your own face fitted into the hair and beard and it looked as if they belonged to you. “I just caught my own reflection with the tail of my eye as I went past,” said Lucy to herself. “That was all it was. It’s quite harmless.” But she didn’t like the look of her own face with that hair and beard, and went on. (I don’t know what the Bearded Glass was for because I am not a magician.)
Before she reached the last door on the left, Lucy was beginning to wonder whether the corridor had grown longer since she began her journey and whether this was part of the magic of the house. But she got to it at last. And the door was open.
It was a large room with three big windows and it was lined from floor to ceiling with books; more books than Lucy had ever seen before, tiny little books, fat and dumpy books, and books bigger than any church Bible you have ever seen, all bound in leather and smelling old and learned and magical. But she knew from her instructions that she need not bother about any of these. For the Book, the Magic Book, was lying on a reading-desk in the very middle of the room. She saw she would have to read it standing (and anyway there were no chairs) and also that she would have to stand with her back to the door while she read it. So at once she turned to shut the door.
It wouldn’t shut.
Some people may disagree with Lucy about this, but I think she was quite right. She said she wouldn’t have minded if she could have shut the door, but that it was unpleasant to have to stand in a place like that with an open doorway right behind your back. I should have felt just the same. But there was nothing else to be done.
One thing that worried her a good deal was the size of the Book. The Chief Voice had not been able to give her any idea whereabouts in the Book the spell for making things visible came. He even seemed rather surprised at her asking. He expected her to begin at the beginning and go on till she came to it; obviously he had never thought that there was any other way of finding a place in a book. “But it might take me days and weeks!” said Lucy, looking at the huge volume, “and I feel already as if I’d been in this place for hours.”
She went up to the desk and laid her hand on the book; her fingers tingled when she touched it as if it were full of electricity. She tried to open it but couldn’t at first; this, however, was only because it was fastened by two leaden clasps, and when she had undone these it opened easily enough. And what a book it was!
It was written, not printed; written in a clear, even hand, with thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, very large, easier than print, and so beautiful that Lucy stared at it for a whole minute and forgot about reading it. The paper was crisp and smooth and a nice smell came from it; and in the margins, and round the big coloured capital letters at the beginning of each spell, there were pictures.
There was no title page or title; the spells began straight away, and at first there was nothing very important in them. They were cures for warts (by washing your hands in moonlight in a silver basin) and toothache and cramp, and a spell for taking a swarm of bees. The picture of the man with toothache was so lifelike that it would have set your own teeth aching if you looked at it too long, and the golden bees which were dotted all round the fourth spell looked for a moment as if they were really flying.
Lucy could hardly tear herself away from that first page, but when she turned over, the next was just as interesting. “But I must get on,” she told herself. And on she went for about thirty pages which, if she could have remembered them, would have taught her how to find buried treasure, how to remember things forgotten, how to forget things you wanted to forget, how to tell whether anyone was speaking the truth, how to call up (or prevent) wind, fog, snow, sleet or rain, how to produce enchanted sleeps and how to give a man an ass’s head (as they did to poor Bottom). And the longer she read the more wonderful and more real the pictures became.
Then she came to a page which was such a blaze of pictures that one hardly noticed the writing. Hardly – but she did notice the first words. They were, An infallible spell to make beautiful her that uttereth it beyond the lot of mortals. Lucy peered at the pictures with her face close to the page, and though they had seemed crowded and muddlesome before, she found she could now see them quite clearly. The first was a picture of a girl standing at a reading-desk reading in a huge book. And the girl was dressed exactly like Lucy. In the next picture Lucy (for the girl in the picture was Lucy herself) was standing up with her mouth open and a rather terrible expression on her face, chanting or reciting something. In the third picture the beauty beyond the lot of mortals had come to her. It was strange, considering how small the pictures had looked at first, that the Lucy in the picture now seemed quite as big as the real Lucy; and they looked into each other’s eyes and the real Lucy looked away after a few minutes because she was dazzled by the beauty of the other Lucy; though she could still see a sort of likeness to herself in that beautiful face. And now the pictures came crowding on her thick and fast. She saw herself throned on high at a great tournament in Calormen and all the Kings of the world fought because of her beauty. After that it turned from tournaments to real wars, and all Narnia and Archenland, Telmar and Calormen, Galma and Terebinthia, were laid waste with the fury of the kings and dukes and great lords who fought for her favour. Then it changed and Lucy, still beautiful beyond the lot of mortals, was back in England. And Susan (who had always been the beauty of the family) came home from America. The Susan in the picture looked exactly like the real Susan only plainer and with a nasty expression. And Susan was jealous of the dazzling beauty of Lucy, but that didn’t matter a bit because no one cared anything about Susan now.
“I will say the spell,” said Lucy. “I don’t care. I will.”
She said I don’t care because she had a strong feeling that she mustn’t.
But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming towards her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterwards that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.
A little later she came to a spell which would let you know what your friends thought about you. Now Lucy had wanted very badly to try the other spell, the one that made you beautiful beyond the lot of mortals. So she felt that to make up for not having said it, she really would say this one. And all in a hurry, for fear her mind would change, she said the words (nothing will induce me to tell you what they were). Then she waited for something to happen.
As nothing happened she began looking at the pictures. And all at once she saw the very last thing she expected – a picture of a third-class carriage in a train, with two schoolgirls sitting in it. She knew them at once. They were Marjorie Preston and Anne Featherstone. Only now it was much more than a picture. It was alive. She could see the telegraph posts flicking past outside the window. Then gradually (like when the radio is “coming on”) she could hear what they were saying.
“Shall I see anything of you this term?” said Anne, “or are you still going to be all taken up with Lucy Pevensie. “
“Don’t know what you mean by taken up,” said Marjorie.
“Oh yes, you do,” said Anne. “You were crazy about her last term.”
“No, I wasn’t,” said Marjorie. “I’ve got more sense than that. Not a bad little kid in her way. But I was getting pretty tired of her before the end of term.”
“Well, you jolly well won’t have the chance any other term!” shouted Lucy. “Two-faced little beast.” But the sound of her own voice at once reminded her that she was talking to a picture and that the real Marjorie was far away in another world.
“Well,” said Lucy to herself, “I did think better of her than that. And I did all sorts of things for her last term, and I stuck to her when not many other girls would. And she knows it too. And to Anne Featherstone of all people! I wonder are all my friends the same? There are lots of other pictures. No. I won’t look at any more. I won’t, I won’t’ and with a great effort she turned over the page, but not before a large, angry tear had splashed on it.
On the next page she came to a spell “for the refreshment of the spirit’. The pictures were fewer here but very beautiful. And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got to the third page and come to the end, she said, “That is the loveliest story I’ve ever read or ever shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I’ll read it over again.”
But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn’t turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left-hand pages could not.
“Oh, what a shame!” said Lucy. “I did so want to read it again. Well, at least I must remember it. Let’s see . . . it was about . . . about . . . oh dear, it’s all fading away again.
And even this last page is going blank. This is a very queer book. How can I have forgotten? It was about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill, I know that much. But I can’t remember and what shall I do?”
And she never could remember; and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician’s Book.
She turned on and found to her surprise a page with no pictures at all; but the first words were A Spell to make hidden things visible. She read it through to make sure of all the hard words and then said it out loud. And she knew at once that it was working because as she spoke the colours came into the capital letters at the top of the page and the pictures began appearing in the margins. It was like when you hold to the fire something written in Invisible Ink and the writing gradually shows up; only instead of the dingy colour of lemon juice (which is the easiest Invisible Ink) this was all gold and blue and scarlet. They were odd pictures and contained many figures that Lucy did not much like the look of. And then she thought, “I suppose I’ve made everything visible, and not only the Thumpers. There might be lots of other invisible things hanging about a place like this. I’m not sure that I want to see them all.”
At that moment she heard soft, heavy footfalls coming along the corridor behind her; and of course she remembered what she had been told about the Magician walking in his bare feet and making no more noise than a cat. It is always better to turn round than to have anything creeping up behind your back. Lucy did so.
Then her face lit up till, for a moment (but of course she didn’t know it), she looked almost as beautiful as that other Lucy in the picture, and she ran forward with a little cry of delight and with her arms stretched out. For what stood in the doorway was Aslan himself, The Lion, the highest of all High Kings. And he was solid and real and warm and he let her kiss him and bury herself in his shining mane. And from the low, earthquake-like sound that came from inside him, Lucy even dared to think that he was purring.
“Oh, Aslan,” said she, “it was kind of you to come.”
“I have been here all the time,” said he, “but you have just made me visible.”
“Aslan!” said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. “Don’t make fun of me. As if anything 1 could do would make you visible!”
“It did,” said Aslan. “Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?”
After a little pause he spoke again.
“Child,” he said, “I think you have been eavesdropping.”
“You listened to what your two schoolfellows were saying about you.”
“Oh that? I never thought that was eavesdropping, Aslan. Wasn’t it magic?”
“Spying on people by magic is the same as spying on them in any other way. And you have misjudged your friend. She is weak, but she loves you. She was afraid of the older girl and said what she does not mean.”
“I don’t think I’d ever be able to forget what I heard her say.”
“No, you won’t.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy. “Have I spoiled everything? Do you mean we would have gone on being friends if it hadn’t been for this – and been really great friends – all our lives perhaps – and now we never shall.”
“Child,” said Aslan, “did I not explain to you once before that no one is ever told what would have happened?”
“Yes, Aslan, you did,” said Lucy. “I’m sorry. But please – “
“Speak on, dear heart.”
“Shall I ever be able to, read that story again; the one I couldn’t remember? Will you tell it to me, Aslan? Oh do, do, do.”
“Indeed, yes, I will tell it to you for years and years. But now, come. We must meet the master of this house.”