CHAPTER THREE: THE LONE ISLANDS
“LAND in sight,” shouted the man in the bows.
Lucy, who had been talking to Rhince on the poop, came pattering down the ladder and raced forward. As she went she was joined by Edmund, and they found Caspian, Drinian and Reepicheep already on the forecastle. It was a coldish morning, the sky very pale and the sea very dark blue with little white caps of foam, and there, a little way off on the starboard bow, was the nearest of the Lone Islands, Felimath, like a low green hill in the sea, and behind it, further off, the grey slopes of its sister Doorn.
“Same old Felimath! Same old Doorn,” said Lucy, clapping her hands. “Oh – Edmund, how long it is since you and I saw them last!”
“I’ve never understood why they belong to Narnia,” said Caspian. “Did Peter the High King conquer them?”
“Oh no,” said Edmund. “They were Narnian before our time – in the days of the White Witch.”
(By the way, I have never yet heard how these remote islands became attached to the crown of Narnia; if I ever do, and if the story is at all interesting, I may put it in some other book.)
“Are we to put in here, Sire?” asked Drinian.
“1 shouldn’t think it would be much good landing on Felimath,” said Edmund. “It was almost uninhabited in our days and it looks as if it was the same still. The people lived mostly on Doorn and a little on Avra – that’s the third one; you can’t see it yet. They only kept sheep on Felimath.”
“Then we’ll have to double that cape, I suppose,” said Drinian, “and land on Doorn. That’ll mean rowing.”
“I’m sorry we’re not landing on Felimath,” said Lucy. “I’d like to walk there again. It was so lonely – a nice kind of loneliness, and all grass and clover and soft sea air.”
“I’d love to stretch my legs now too,” said Caspian. “I tell you what. Why shouldn’t we go ashore in the boat and send it back, and then we could walk across Felimath and let the Dawn Treader pick us up on the other side?”
If Caspian had been as experienced then as he became later on in this voyage he would not have made this suggestion; but at the moment it seemed an excellent one. “Oh do let’s,” said Lucy.
“You’ll come, will you?” said Caspian to Eustace, who had come on deck with his hand bandaged.
“Anything to get off this blasted boat,” said Eustace.
“Blasted?” said Drinian. “How do you mean?”
“In a civilized country like where I come from,” said Eustace, “the ships are so big that when you’re inside you wouldn’t know you were at sea at all.”
“In that case you might just as well stay ashore,” said Caspian. “Will you tell them to lower the boat, Drinian.”
The King, the Mouse, the two Pevensies, and Eustace all got into the boat and were pulled to the beach of Felimath. When the boat had left them and was being rowed back they all turned and looked round. They were surprised at how small the Dawn Treader looked.
Lucy was of course barefoot, having kicked off her shoes while swimming, but that is no hardship if one is going to walk on downy turf. It was delightful to be ashore again and to smell the earth and grass, even if at first the ground seemed to be pitching up and down like a ship, as it usually does for a while if one has been at sea. It was much warmer here than it had been on board and Lucy found the sand pleasant to her feet as they crossed it. There was a lark singing.
They struck inland and up a fairly steep, though low, hill. At the top of course they looked back, and there was the Dawn Treader shining like a great bright insect and crawling slowly north-westward with her oars. Then they went over the ridge and could see her no longer.
Doom now lay before them, divided from Felimath by a channel about a mile wide; behind it and to the left lay Avra. The little white town of Narrowhaven on Doorn was easily seen.
“Hullo! What’s this?” said Edmund suddenly.
In the green valley to which they were descending six or seven rough-looking men, all armed, were sitting by a tree.
“Don’t tell them who we are,” said Caspian.
“And pray, your Majesty, why not?” said Reepicheep who had consented to ride on Lucy’s shoulder.
“It just occurred to me,” replied Caspian, “that no one here can have heard from Narnia for a long time. It’s just possible they may not still acknowledge our over-lordship. In which case it might not be quite safe to be known as the King.”
“We have our swords, Sire,” said Reepicheep.
“Yes, Reep, I know we have,” said Caspian. “But if it is a question of re-conquering the three islands, I’d prefer to come back with a rather larger army.”
By this time they were quite close to the strangers, one of whom – a big black-haired fellow – shouted out, “A good morning to you.”
“And a good morning to you,” said Caspian. “Is there still a Governor of the Lone Islands?”
“To be sure there is,” said the man, “Governor Gumpas. His Sufficiency is at Narrowhaven. But you’ll stay and drink with us.”
Caspian thanked him, though neither he nor the others much liked the look of their new acquaintance, and all of them sat down. But hardly had they raised their cups to their lips when the black-haired man nodded to his companions and, as quick as lightning, all the five visitors found themselves wrapped in strong arms. There was a moment’s struggle but all the advantages were on one side, and soon everyone was disarmed and had their hands tied behind their backs except Reepicheep, writhing in his captor’s grip and biting furiously.
“Careful with that beast, Tacks,” said the Leader. “Don’t damage him. He’ll fetch the best price of the lot, I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Coward! Poltroon!” squeaked Reepicheep. “Give me my sword and free my paws if you dare.”
“Whew!” whistled the slave merchant (for that is what he was). “It can talk! Well I never did. Blowed if I take less than two hundred crescents for him.” The Calormen crescent, which is the chief coin in those parts, is worth about a third of a pound.
“So that’s what you are,” said Caspian. “A kidnapper and slaver. I hope you’re proud of it.”
“Now, now, now, now,” said the slaver. “Don’t you start any jaw. The easier you take it, the pleasanter all round, see? I don’t do this for fun. I’ve got my living to make same as anyone else.”
“Where will you take us?” asked Lucy, getting the words out with some difficulty.
“Over to Narrowhaven,” said the slaver. “For market day tomorrow.”
“Is there a British Consul there?” asked Eustace.
“Is there a which?” said the man.
But long before Eustace was tired of trying to explain, the slaver simply said, “Well, I’ve had enough of this jabber. The Mouse is a fair treat but this one would talk the hind leg off a donkey. Off we go, mates.”
Then the four human prisoners were roped together, not cruelly but securely, and made to march down to the shore. Reepicheep was carried. He had stopped biting on a threat of having his mouth tied up, but he had a great deal to say, and Lucy really wondered how any man could bear to have the things said to him which were said to the slave dealer by the Mouse. But the slave dealer, far from objecting, only said “Go on” whenever Reepicheep paused for breath, occasionally adding, “It’s as good as a play,” or, “Blimey, you can’t help almost thinking it knows what it’s saying!” or “Was it one of you what trained it?” This so infuriated Reepicheep that in the end the number of things he thought of saying all at once nearly suffocated him and he became silent.
When they got down to the shore that looked towards Doorn they found a little village and a long-boat on the beach and, lying a little further out, a dirty bedraggled looking ship.
“Now, youngsters,” said the slave dealer, “let’s have no fuss and then you’ll have nothing to cry about. All aboard.”
At that moment a fine-looking bearded man came out of one of the houses (an inn, I think) and said:
“Well, Pug. More of your usual wares?”
The slaver, whose name seemed to be Pug, bowed very low, and said in a wheedling kind of voice, “Yes, please your Lordship.”
“How much do you want for that boy?” asked the other, pointing to Caspian.
“Ah,” said Pug, “I knew your Lordship would pick on the best. No deceiving your Lordship with anything second rate. That boy, now, I’ve taken a fancy to him myself. Got kind of fond of him, I have. I’m that tender-hearted I didn’t ever ought to have taken up this job. Still, to a customer like your Lordship-“
“Tell me your price, carrion,” said the Lord sternly. “Do you think I want to listen to the rigmarole of your filthy trade?”
“Three hundred crescents, my Lord to your honourable Lordship, but to anyone else -“
“I’ll give you a hundred and fifty.”
“Oh please, please,” broke in Lucy. “Don’t separate us, whatever you do. You don’t know -” But then she stopped for she saw that Caspian didn’t even now want to be known.
“A hundred and fifty, then,” said the Lord. “As for you, little maiden, I am sorry I cannot buy you all. Unrope my boy, Pug. And look – treat these others well while they are in your hands or it’ll be the worse for you.”
“Well!” said Pug. “Now who ever heard of a gentleman in my way of business who treated his stock better than what I do? Well? Why, I treat ’em like my own childen.”
“That’s likely enough to be true,” said the other grimly.
The dreadful moment had now come. Caspian was untied and his new master said, “This way, lad,” and Lucy burst into tears and Edmund looked very blank. But Caspian looked over his shoulder and said, “Cheer up. I’m sure it will come all right in the end. So long.”
“Now, missie,” said Pug. “Don’t you start taking on and spoiling your looks for the market tomorrow. You be a good girl and then you won’t have nothing to cry about, see?”
Then they were rowed out to the slave-ship and taken below into a long, rather dark place, none too clean, where they found many other unfortunate prisoners; for Pug was of course a pirate and had just returned from cruising among the islands and capturing what he could. The children didn’t meet anyone whom they knew; the prisoners were mostly Galmians and Terebinthians. And there they sat in the straw and wondered what was happening to Caspian and tried to stop Eustace talking as if everyone except himself was to blame.
Meanwhile Caspian was having a much more interesting time. The man who had bought him led him down a little lane between two of the village houses and so out into an open place behind the village. Then he turned and faced him.
“You needn’t be afraid of me, boy,” he said. “I’ll treat you well. I bought you for your face. You reminded me of someone.” ‘
“May I ask of whom, my Lord?” said Caspian.
“You remind me of my master, King Caspian of Narnia.”
Then Caspian decided to risk everything on one stroke.
“My Lord,” he said, “I am your master. I am Caspian King of Narnia.”
“You make very free,” said the other. “How shall I know this is true?”
“Firstly by my face,” said Caspian. “Secondly because I know within six guesses who you are. You are one of those seven lords of Narnia whom my Uncle Miraz sent to sea and whom I have come out to look for – Argoz, Bern, Octesian, Restimar, Mavramorn, or – or – I have forgotten the others. And finally, if your Lordship will give me a sword I will prove on any man’s body in clean battle that I am Caspian the son of Caspian, lawful King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands.”
“By heaven,” exclaimed the man, “it is his father’s very voice and trick of speech. My liege – your Majesty -” And there in the field he knelt and kissed the King’s hand.
“The moneys your Lordship disbursed for our person will be made good from our own treasury,” said Caspian.
“They’re not in Pug’s purse yet, Sire,” said the Lord Bern, for he it was. “And never will be, I trust. I have moved his Sufficiency the Governor a hundred times to crush this vile traffic in man’s flesh.”
“My Lord Bern,” said Caspian, “we must talk of the state of these Islands. But first what is your Lordship’s own story?”
“Short enough, Sire,” said Bern. “I came thus far with my six fellows, loved a girl of the islands, and felt I had had enough of the sea. And there was no purpose in returning to Narnia while your Majesty’s uncle held the reins. So I married and have lived here ever since.”
“And what is this governor, this Gumpas, like? Does he still acknowledge the King of Narnia for his lord?”
“In words, yes. All is done in the King’s name. But he would not be best pleased to find a real, live King of Narnia coming in upon him. And if your Majesty came before him alone and unarmed – well he would not deny his allegiance, but he would pretend to disbelieve you. Your Grace’s life would be in danger. What following has your Majesty in these waters?”
“There is my ship just rounding the point,” said Caspian. “We are about thirty swords if it came to fighting. Shall we not have my ship in and fall upon Pug and free my friends whom he holds captive?”
“Not by my counsel,” said Bern. “As soon as there was a fight two or three ships would put out from Narrowhaven to rescue Pug. Your Majesty must work by a show of more power than you really have, and by the terror of the King’s name. It must not come to plain battle. Gumpas is a chicken-hearted man and can be over-awed.”
After a little more conversation Caspian and Bern walked down to the coast a little west of the village and there Caspian winded his horn. (This was not the great magic horn of Narnia, Queen Susan’s Horn: he had left that at home for his regent Trumpkin to use if any great need fell upon the land in the King’s absence.) Drinian, who was on the look-out for a signal, recognized the royal horn at once and the Dawn Treader began standing in to shore. Then the boat put off again and in a few moments Caspian and the Lord Bern were on deck explaining the situation to Drinian. He, just like Caspian, wanted to lay the Dawn Treader alongside the slave-ship at once and board her, but Bern made the same objection.
“Steer straight down this channel, captain,” said Bern, “and then round to Avra where my own estates are. But first run up the King’s banner, hang out all the shields, and send as many men to the fighting top as you can. And about five bowshots hence, when you get open sea on your port bow, run up a few signals.”
“Signals? To whom?” said Drinian.
“Why, to all the other ships we haven’t got but which it might be well that Gumpas thinks we have.”
“Oh, I see,” said Drinian rubbing his hands. “And
they’ll read our signals. What shall I say? Whole fleet round the South of Avra and assemble at -?”
“Bernstead,” said the Lord Bern. “That’ll do excellently. Their whole journey – if there were any ships What Caspian did there would be out of sight from Narrowhaven.”
Caspian was sorry for the others languishing in the hold of Pug’s slave-ship, but he could not help finding the rest of that day enjoyable. Late in the afternoon (for they had to do all by oar), having turned to starboard round the northeast end of Doorn and port again round the point of Avra, they entered into a good harbour on Avra’s southern shore where Bern’s pleasant lands sloped down to the water’s edge. Bern’s people, many of whom they saw working in the fields, were all freemen and it was a happy and prosperous fief. Here they all went ashore and were royally feasted in a low, pillared house overlooking the bay. Bern and his gracious wife and merry daughters made them good cheer. But after dark Bern sent a messenger over by boat to Doorn to order some preparations (he did not say exactly what) for the following day.