Chapter 8: HOW THEY LEFT THE ISLAND
“AND so,” said Trumpkin (for, as you have realized, it was he who had been telling all this story to the four children, sitting on the grass in the ruined hall of Cair Paravel) – “and so I put a crust or two in my pocket, left behind all weapons but my dagger, and took to the woods in the grey of the morning. I’d been plugging away for many hours when there came a sound that I’d never heard the like of in my born days. Eh, I won’t forget that. The whole air was full of it, loud as thunder but far longer, cool and sweet as music over water, but strong enough to shake the woods. And I said to myself, `If that’s not the Horn, call me a rabbit.’ And a moment later I wondered why he hadn’t blown it sooner-”
“What time was it?” asked Edmund.
“Between nine and ten of the clock,” said Trumpkin.
“Just when we were at the railway station!” said all the children, and looked at one another with shining eyes.
“Please go on,” said Lucy to the Dwarf.
“Well, as I was saying, I wondered, but I went on as hard as I could pelt. I kept on all night – and then, when it was half light this morning, as if I’d no more sense than a Giant, I risked a short cut across open country to cut off a big loop of the river, and was caught. Not by the army, but by a pompous old fool who has charge of a little castle which is Miraz’s last stronghold towards the coast. I needn’t tell you they got no true tale out of me, but I was a Dwarf and that was enough. But, lobsters and lollipops! it is a good thing the seneschal was a pompous fool. Anyone else would have run me through there and then. But nothing would do for him short of a grand execution: sending me down `to the ghosts in the full ceremonial way. And then this young lady”, (he nodded at Susan) “does her bit of archery and it was pretty shooting, let me tell you – and here we are. And without my armour, for of course they took that.” He knocked out and refilled his pipe.
“Great Scott!” said Peter. “So it was the horn – your own horn, Su – that dragged us all off that seat on the platform yesterday morning! I can hardly believe it; yet it all fits in.”
“I don’t know why you shouldn’t believe it,” said Lucy, “if you believe in magic at all. Aren’t there lots of stories about magic forcing people out of one place – out of one world – into another? I mean, when a magician in The Arabian Nights calls up a Jinn, it has to come. We had to come, just like that.”
“Yes,” said Peter, “I suppose what makes it feel so queer is that in the stories it’s always someone in our world who does the calling. One doesn’t really think about where the Jinn’s coming from.”
“And now we know what it feels like for the Jinn,” said Edmund with a chuckle. “Golly! It’s a bit uncomfortable to know that we can be whistled for like that. It’s worse than what Father says about living at the mercy of the telephone.”
“But we want to be here, don’t we,” said Lucy, “if Aslan wants us?”
“Meanwhile,” said the Dwarf, “what are we to do? I suppose I’d better go back to King Caspian and tell him no help has come.”
“No help?” said Susan. “But it has worked. And here we are.”
“Um – um – yes, to be sure. I see that,” said the Dwarf, whose pipe seemed to be blocked (at any rate he made himself very busy cleaning it). “But- well – I mean -”
“But don’t you yet see who we are?” shouted Lucy. “You are stupid.”
“I suppose you are the four children out of the old stories,” said Trumpkin. “And I’m very glad to meet you of course. And it’s very interesting, no doubt. But – no offence?’- and he hesitated again.
“Do get on and say whatever you’re going to say,” said Edmund.
“Well, then – no offence,” said Trumpkin. “But, you know, the King and Trufflehunter and Doctor Cornelius were expecting – well, if you see what I mean, help. To put it in another way, I think they’d been imagining you as great warriors. As it is – we’re awfully fond of children and all that, but just at the moment, in the middle of a war but I’m sure you understand.”
“You mean you think we’re no good,” said Edmund, getting red in the face.
“Now pray don’t be offended,” interrupted the Dwarf. “I assure you, my dear little friends-”
“Little from you is really a bit too much,” said Edmund, jumping up. “I suppose you don’t believe we won the Battle of Beruna? Well, you can say what you like about me because I know -”
“There’s no good losing our tempers,” said Peter. “Let’s fit him out with fresh armour and fit ourselves out from the treasure chamber, and have a talk after that.”
“I don’t quite see the point -” began Edmund, but Lucy whispered in his ear, “Hadn’t we better do what Peter says? He is the High King, you know. And I think he has an idea.” So Edmund agreed and by the aid of his torch they all, including Trumpkin, went down the steps again into the dark coldness and dusty splendour of the treasure house.
The Dwarf’s eyes glistened as he saw the wealth that lay on the shelves (though he had to stand on tiptoes to do so) and he muttered to himself, “It would never do to let Nikabrik see this; never.” They found easily enough a mail shirt for him, a sword, a helmet, a shield, a bow and quiverful of arrows, all of dwarfish size. The helmet was of copper, set with rubies, and there was gold on the hilt of the sword: Trumpkin had never seen, much less carried, so much wealth in all his life. The children also put on mail shirts and helmets; a sword and shield were found for Edmund and a bow for Lucy – Peter and Susan were of course already carrying their gifts. As they came back up the stairway, jingling in their mail, and already looking and feeling more like Narnians and less like schoolchildren, the two boys were behind, apparently making some plan. Lucy heard Edmund say, “No, let me do it. It will be more of a sucks for him if I win, and less of a let-down for us all if I fail.”
“All right, Ed,” said Peter.
When they came out into the daylight Edmund turned to the Dwarf very politely and said, “I’ve got something to ask you. Kids like us don’t often have the chance of meeting a great warrior like you. Would you have a little fencing match with me? It would be frightfully decent.”
“But, lad,” said Trumpkin, “these swords are sharp.”
“I know,” said Edmund. “But I’ll never get anywhere near you and you’ll be quite clever enough to disarm me without doing me any damage.”
“It’s a dangerous game,” said Trumpkin. “But since you make such a point of it, I’ll try a pass or two.”
Both swords were out in a moment and the three others jumped off the dais and stood watching. It was well worth it. It was not like the silly fighting you see with broad swords on the stage. It was not even like the rapier fighting which you sometimes see rather better done. This was real broad-sword fighting. The great thing is to slash at your enemy’s legs and feet because they are the part that have no armour. And when he slashes at yours you jump with both feet off the ground so that his blow goes under them. This gave the Dwarf an advantage because Edmund, being much taller, had to be always stooping. I don’t think Edmund would have had a chance if he had fought Trumpkin twenty-four hours earlier. But the air of Narnia had been working upon him ever since they arrived on the island, and all his old battles came back to him, and his arms and fingers remembered their old skill. He was King Edmund once more. Round and round the two combatants circled, stroke after stroke they gave, and Susan (who never could learn to like this sort of thing) shouted out, “Oh, do be careful.” And then, so quickly that no one (unless they knew, as Peter did) could quite see how it happened, Edmund flashed his sword round with a peculiar twist, the Dwarf’s sword flew out of his grip, and Trumpkin was wringing his empty hand as you do after a “sting” from a cricket-bat.
“Not hurt, I hope, my dear little friend?” said Edmund, panting a little and returning his own sword to its sheath.
“I see the point,” said Trumpkin drily. “You know a trick I never learned.”
“That’s quite true,” put in Peter. “The best swordsman in the world may be disarmed by a trick that’s new to him. I think it’s only fair to give Trumpkin a chance at something else. Will you have a shooting match with my sister? There are no tricks in archery, you know.”
“Ah, you’re jokers, you are,” said the Dwarf. “I begin to see. As if I didn’t know how she can shoot, after what happened this morning. All the same, I’ll have a try.” He spoke gruffly, but his eyes brightened, for he was a famous bowman among his own people.
All five of them came out into the courtyard.
“What’s to be the target?” asked Peter.
“I think that apple hanging over the wall on the branch there would do,” said Susan.
“That’ll do nicely, lass,” said Trumpkin. “You mean the yellow one near the middle of the arch?”
“No, not that,” said Susan. “The red one up above – over the battlement.”
The Dwarf’s face fell. “Looks more like a cherry than an apple,” he muttered, but he said nothing out loud.
They tossed up for first shot (greatly to the interest of Trumpkin, who had never seen a coin tossed before) and Susan lost. They were to shoot from the top of the steps that led from the hall into the courtyard. Everyone could see from the way the Dwarf took his position and handled his bow that he knew what he was about.
Twang went the string. It was an excellent shot. The tiny apple shook as the arrow passed, and a leaf came fluttering down. Then Susan went to the top of the steps and strung her bow. She was not enjoying her match half so much as Edmund had enjoyed his; not because she had any doubt about hitting the apple but because Susan was so tenderhearted that she almost hated to beat someone who had been beaten already. The Dwarf watched her keenly as she drew the shaft to her ear. A moment later, with a little soft thump which they could all hear in that quiet place, the apple fell to the grass with Susan’s arrow in it.
“Oh, well done, Su, ” shouted the other children.
“It wasn’t really any better than yours,” said Susan to the Dwarf. “I think there was a tiny breath of wind as you shot.”
“No, there wasn’t,” said Trumpkin. “Don’t tell me. I know when I am fairly beaten. I won’t even say that the scar of my last wound catches me a bit when I get my arm well back -”
“Oh, are you wounded?” asked Lucy. “Do let me look.”
“It’s not a sight for little girls,” began Trumpkin, but then he suddenly checked himself. “There I go talking like a fool again,” he said “I suppose you’re as likely to be a great surgeon as your brother was to be a great swordsman or your sister to be a great archer.” He sat down on the steps and took off his hauberk and slipped down his little shirt, showing an arm hairy and muscular (in proportion) as a sailor’s though not much bigger than a child’s. There was a clumsy bandage on the shoulder which Lucy proceeded to unroll. Underneath, the cut looked very nasty and there was a good deal of swelling. “Oh, poor Trumpkin,” said Lucy. “How horrid.” Then she carefully dripped on to it one single drop of the cordial from her flask.
“Hullo. Eh? What have you done?” said Trumpkin. But however he turned his head and squinted and whisked his beard to and fro, he couldn’t quite see his own shoulder. Then he felt it as well as he could, getting his arms and fingers into very difficult positions as you do when you’re trying to scratch a place that is just out of reach. Then he swung his arm and raised it and tried the muscles, and finally jumped to his feet crying, “Giants and junipers! It’s cured! It’s as good as new.” After that he burst into a great laugh and said, “Well, I’ve made as big a fool of myself as ever a Dwarf did. No offence, I hope? My humble duty to your Majesties all -humble duty. And thanks for my life, my cure, my breakfast – and my lesson.”
The children all said it was quite all right and not to mention it.
“And now,” said Peter, “if you’ve really decided to believe in us-”
“I have,” said the Dwarf.
“It’s quite clear what we have to do. We must join King Caspian at once.”
“The sooner the better,” said Trumpkin. “My being such a fool has already wasted about an hour.”
“It’s about two days’ journey, the way you came,” said Peter. “For us, I mean. We can’t walk all day and night like you Dwarfs.” Then he turned to the others. “What Trumpkin calls Aslan’s How is obviously the Stone Table itself. You remember it was about half a day’s march, or a little less, from there down to the Fords of Beruna -”
“Beruna’s Bridge, we call it,” said Trumpkin.
“There was no bridge in our time,” said Peter. “And then from Beruna down to here was another day and a bit. We used to get home about teatime on the second day, going easily. Going hard, we could do the whole thing in a day and a half perhaps.”
“But remember it’s all woods now,” said Trumpkin, “and there are enemies to dodge.”
“Look here,” said Edmund, “need we go by the same way that Our Dear Little Friend came?”
“No more of that, your Majesty, if you love me,” said the Dwarf.
“Very well,” said Edmund. “May I say our D.L.F.?”
“Oh, Edmund,” said Susan. “Don’t keep on at him like that.”
“That’s all right, lass – I mean your Majesty,” said Trumpkin with a chuckle. “A jibe won’t raise a blister.” (And after that they often called him the D.L.F. till they’d almost forgotten what it meant.)
“As I was saying,” continued Edmund, “we needn’t go that way. Why shouldn’t we row a little south till we come to Glasswater Creek and row up it? That brings us up behind the Hill of the Stone Table, and we’ll be safe while we’re at sea. If we start at once, we can be at the head of Glasswater before dark, get a few hours’ sleep, and be with Caspian pretty early tomorrow.”
“What a thing it is to know the coast,” said Trumpkin. “None of us know anything about Glasswater.”
“What about food?” asked Susan.
“Oh, we’ll have to do with apples,” said Lucy. “Do let’s get on. We’ve done nothing yet, and we’ve been here nearly two days.”
“And anyway, no one’s going to have my hat for a fishbasket again,” said Edmund.
They used one of the raincoats as a kind of bag and put a good many apples in it. Then they all had a good long drink at the well (for they would meet no more fresh water till they landed at the head of the Creek) and went down to the boat. The children were sorry to leave Cair Paravel, which, even in ruins, had begun to feel like home again.
“The D.L.F. had better steer,” said Peter, “and Ed and I will take an oar each. Half a moment, though. We’d better take off our mail: we’re going to be pretty warm before we’re done. The girls had better be in the bows and shout directions to the D.L.F. because he doesn’t know the way. You’d better get us a fair way out to sea till we’ve passed the island.”
And soon the green, wooded coast of the island was falling away behind them, and its little bays and headlands were beginning to look flatter, and the boat was rising and falling in the gentle swell. The sea began to grow bigger around them and, in the distance, bluer, but close round the boat it was green and bubbly. Everything smelled salt and there was no noise except the swishing of water and the clop-clop of water against the sides and the splash of the oars and the jolting noise of the rowlocks. The sun grew hot.
It was delightful for Lucy and Susan in the bows, bending over the edge and trying to get their hands in the sea which they could never quite reach. The bottom, mostly pure, pale sand but with occasional patches of purple seaweed, could be seen beneath them.
“It’s like old times,” said Lucy. “Do you remember our voyage to Terebinthia – and Galma – and Seven Isles – and the Lone Islands?”
“Yes,” said Susan, “and our great ship the Splendour Hyaline, with the swan’s head at her prow and the carved swan’s wings coming back almost to her waist?”
“And the silken sails, and the great stern lanterns?”
“And the feasts on the poop and the musicians.”
“Do you remember when we had the musicians up in the rigging playing flutes so that it sounded like music out of the sky?”
Presently Susan took over Edmund’s oar and he came forward to join Lucy. They had passed the island now and stood closer in to the shore – all wooded and deserted. They would have thought it very pretty if they had not remembered the time when it was open and breezy and full of merry friends.
“Phew! This is pretty gruelling work,” said Peter. “Can’t I row for a bit?” said Lucy. “The oars are too big for you,” said Peter shortly, not because he was cross but because he had no strength to spare for talking.