CHAPTER TWO: ON BOARD THE DAWN TREADER
“AH, there you are, Lucy,” said Caspian. “We were just waiting for you. This is my captain, the Lord Drinian.”
A dark-haired man went down on one knee and kissed her hand. The only others present were Reepicheep and Edmund.
“Where is Eustace?” asked Lucy.
“In bed,” said Edmund, “and I don’t think we can do anything for him. It only makes him worse if you try to be nice to him.”
“Meanwhile,” said Caspian, “we want to talk.”
“By Jove, we do,” said Edmund. “And first, about time. It’s a year ago by our time since we left you just before your coronation. How long has it been in Narnia?”
“Exactly three years,” said Caspian.
“All going well?” asked Edmund.
“You don’t suppose I’d have left my kingdom and put to sea unless all was well,” answered the King. “It couldn’t be better. There’s no trouble at all now between Telmarines, Dwarfs, Talking Beasts, Fauns and the rest. And we gave those troublesome giants on the frontier such a good beating last summer that they pay us tribute now. And I had an excellent person to leave as Regent while I’m away Trumpkin, the Dwarf. You remember him?”
“Dear Trumpkin,” said Lucy, “of course I do. You couldn’t have made a better choice.”
“Loyal as a badger, Ma’am, and valiant as – as a Mouse,” said Drinian. He had been going to say “as a lion” but had noticed Reepicheep’s eyes fixed on him.
“And where are we heading for?” asked Edmund.
“Well,” said Caspian, “that’s rather a long story. Perhaps you remember that when I was a child my usurping uncle Miraz got rid of seven friends of my father’s (who might have taken my part) by sending them off to explore the unknown , Eastern Seas beyond the Lone Islands.”
“Yes,” said Lucy, “and none of them ever came back.”
“Right. Well, on, my coronation day, with Aslan’s approval, I swore an oath that, if once I established peace in Narnia, I would sail east myself for a year and a day to find my father’s friends or to learn of their deaths and avenge them if I could. These were their names – the Lord Revilian, the Lord Bern, the Lord Argoz, the Lord Mavramorn, the Lord Octesian, the Lord Restimar, and – oh, that other one who’s so hard to remember.”
“The Lord Rhoop, Sire,” said Drinian.
“Rhoop, Rhoop, of course,” said Caspian. “That is my main intention. But Reepicheep here has an even higher hope.” Everyone’s eyes turned to the Mouse.
“As high as my spirit,” it said. “Though perhaps as small as my stature. Why should we not come to the very eastern end of the world? And what might we find there? I expect to find Aslan’s own country. It is always from the east, across the sea, that the great Lion comes to us.”
“I say, that is an idea,” said Edmund in an awed voice.
“But do you think,” said Lucy, “Aslan’s country would be that sort of country – I mean, the sort you could ever sail to?”
“I do not know, Madam,” said Reepicheep. “But there is this. When I was in my cradle, a wood woman, a Dryad, spoke this verse over me:
“Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet, Doubt not, Reepicheep, To find all you seek, There is the utter East.
“I do not know what it means. But the spell of it has been on me all my life.”
After a short silence Lucy asked, “And where are we now, Caspian?”
“The Captain can tell you better than I,” said Caspian, so Drinian got out his chart and spread it on the table.
“That’s our position,” he said, laying his finger on it. “Or was at noon today. We had a fair wind from Cair Paravel and stood a little north for Galma, which we made on the next day. We were in port for a week, for the Duke of Galma made a great tournament for His Majesty and there he unhorsed many knights-“
“And got a few nasty falls myself, Drinian. Some of the bruises are there still,” put in Caspian.
“- And unhorsed many knights,” repeated Drinian with a grin. “We thought the Duke would have been pleased if the King’s Majesty would have married his daughter, but nothing came of that-“
“Squints, and has freckles,” said Caspian.
“Oh, poor girl,” said Lucy.
“And we sailed from Galma,” continued Drinian, “and ran into a calm for the best part of two days and had to row, and then had wind again and did not make Terebinthia till the fourth day from Galma. And there their King sent out a warning not to land for there was sickness in Terebinthia, but we doubled the cape and put in at a little creek far from the city and watered. Then we had to lie off for three days before we got a south-east wind and stood out for Seven Isles. The third day out a pirate (Terebinthian by her rig) overhauled us, but when she saw us well armed she stood off after some shooting of arrows on either part -“
“And we ought to have given her chase and boarded her and hanged every mother’s son of them,” said Reepicheep.
“- And in five days more we were insight of Muil, which, as you know, is the westernmost of the Seven Isles. Then we rowed through the straits and came about sundown into Redhaven on the isle of Brenn, where we were very lovingly feasted and had victuals and water at will. We left Redhaven six days ago and have made marvellously good speed, so that I hope to see the Lone Islands the day after tomorrow. The sum is, we are now nearly thirty days at sea and have sailed more than four hundred leagues from Narnia.”
“And after the Lone Islands?” said Lucy.
“No one knows, your Majesty,” answered Drinian. “Unless the Lone Islanders themselves can tell us.”
“They couldn’t in our days,” said Edmund.
“Then,” said Reepicheep, “it is after the Lone Islands that the adventure really begins.”
Caspian now suggested that they might like to be shown over the ship before supper, but Lucy’s conscience smote her and she said, “I think I really must go and see Eustace. Seasickness is horrid, you know. If I had my old cordial with me I could cure him.”
“But you have,” said Caspian. “I’d quite forgotten about it. As you left it behind I thought it might be regarded as one of the royal treasures and so I brought it – if you think it ought to be wasted on a thing like seasickness.”
“It’ll only take a drop,” said Lucy.
Caspian opened one of the lockers beneath the bench and brought out the beautiful little diamond flask which Lucy remembered so well. “Take back your own, Queen,” he said. They then left the cabin and went out into the sunshine.
In the deck there were two large, long hatches, fore and aft of the mast, and both open, as they always were in fair weather, to let light and air into the belly of the ship. Caspian led them down a ladder into the after hatch. Here they found themselves in a place where benches for rowing ran from side to side and the light came in through the oarholes and danced on the roof. Of course Caspian’s ship was not that horrible thing, a galley rowed by slaves. Oars were used only when wind failed or for getting in and out of harbour and everyone (except Reepicheep whose legs were too short) had often taken a turn. At each side of the ship the space under the benches was left clear for the rowers’ feet, but all down the centre there was a kind of pit which went down to the very keel and this was filled with all kinds of things – sacks of flour, casks of water and beer, barrels of pork, jars of honey, skin bottles of wine, apples, nuts, cheeses, biscuits, turnips, sides of bacon. From the roof – that is, from the under side of the deck – hung hams and strings of onions, and also the men of the watch offduty in their hammocks. Caspian led them aft, stepping from bench to bench; at least, it was stepping for him, and something between a step and a jump for Lucy, and a real long jump for Reepicheep. In this way they came to a partition with a door in it. Caspian opened the door and led them into a cabin which filled the stern underneath the deck cabins in the poop. It was of course not so nice. It was very low and the sides sloped together as they went down so that there was hardly any floor; and though it had windows of thick glass, they were not made to open because they were under water. In fact at this very moment, as the ship pitched they were alternately golden with sunlight and dim green with the sea.
“You and I must lodge here, Edmund,” said Caspian. “We’ll leave your kinsman the bunk and sling hammocks for ourselves.”
“I beseech your Majesty-” said Drinian.
“No, no shipmate,” said Caspian, “we have argued all that out already. You and Rhince” (Rhince was the mate) “are sailing the ship and will have cares and labours many a night when we are singing catches or telling stories, so you and he must have the port cabin above. King Edmund and I can lie very snug here below. But how is the stranger?”
Eustace, very green in the face, scowled and asked whether there was any sign of the storm getting less. But Caspian said, “What storm?” and Drinian burst out laughing.
“Storm, young master!” he roared. “This is as fair weather as a man could ask for.”
“Who’s that?” said Eustace irritably. “Send him away. His voice goes through my head.”
“I’ve brought you something that will make you feel better, Eustace,” said Lucy.
“Oh, go away and leave me alone,” growled Eustace. But he took a drop from her flask, and though he said it was beastly stuff (the smell in the cabin when she opened it was delicious) it is certain that his face came the right colour a few moments after he had swallowed it, and he must have felt better because, instead of wailing about the storm and his head, he began demanding to be put ashore and said that at the first port he would “lodge a disposition” against them all with the British Consul. But when Reepicheep asked what a disposition was and how you lodged it (Reepicheep thought it was some new way of arranging a single combat) Eustace could only reply, “Fancy not knowing that.” In the end they succeeded in convincing Eustace that they were already sailing as fast as they could towards the nearest land they knew, and that they had no more power of sending him back to Cambridge – which was where Uncle Harold lived – than of sending him to the moon. After that he sulkily agreed to put on the fresh clothes which had been put out for him and come on deck.
Caspian now showed them over the ship, though indeed they had seen most it already. They went up on the forecastle and saw the look-out man standing on a little shelf inside the gilded dragon’s neck and peering through its open mouth. Inside the forecastle was the galley (or ship’s kitchen) and quarters for such people as the boatswain, the carpenter, the cook and the master-archer. If you think it odd to have the galley in the bows and imagine the smoke from its chimney streaming back over the ship, that is because you are thinking of steamships where there is always a headwind. On a sailing ship the wind is coming from behind, and anything smelly is put as far forward as possible. They were taken up to the fighting top, and at first it was rather alarming to rock to and fro there and see the deck looking small and far away beneath. You realized that if you fell there was no particular reason why you should fall on board rather than in the sea. Then they were taken to the poop, where Rhince was on duty with another man at the great tiller, and behind that the dragon’s tail rose up, covered with gilding, and round inside it ran a little bench. The name of the ship was Dawn Treader. She was only a little bit of a thing compared with one of our I ships, or even with the cogs, dromonds, carracks and galleons which Narnia had owned when Lucy and Edmund had reigned there under Peter as the High King, for nearly all navigation had died out in the reigns of Caspian’s ancestors. When his uncle, Miraz the usurper, had sent the seven lords to sea, they had had to buy a Galmian ship and man it with hired Galmian sailors. But now Caspian had begun to teach the Narnians to be sea-faring folk once more, and the Dawn Treader was the finest ship he had built yet. She was so small that, forward of the mast, there was hardly any deck room between the central hatch and the ship’s boat on one side and the hen-coop (Lucy fed the hens) on the other. But she was a beauty of her kind, a “lady” as sailors say, her lines perfect, her colours pure, and every spar and rope and pin lovingly made. Eustace of course would be pleased with nothing, and kept on boasting about liners and motor-boats and aeroplanes and submarines (“As if he knew anything about them,” muttered Edmund), but the other two were delighted with the Dawn Treader, and when they returned aft to the cabin and supper, and saw the whole western sky lit up with an immense crimson sunset, and felt the quiver of the ship, and tasted the salt on their lips, and thought of unknown lands on the Eastern rim of the world, Lucy felt that she was almost too happy to speak.
What Eustace thought had best be told in his own words, for when they all got their clothes back, dried, next morning, he at once got out a little black notebook and a pencil and started to keep a diary. He always had this notebook with him and kept a record of his marks in it, for though he didn’t care much about any subject for its own sake, he cared a great deal about marks and would even go to people and say, “I got so much. What did you get?” But as he didn’t seem likely to get many marks on the Dawn Treader he now started a diary. This was the first entry.
“7 August. Have now been twenty-four hours on this ghastly boat if it isn’t a dream. All the time a frightful storm has been raging (it’s a good thing I’m not seasick). Huge waves keep coming in over the front and I have seen the boat nearly go under any number of times. All the others pretend to take no notice of this, either from swank or because Harold says one of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to Facts. It’s madness to come out into the sea in a rotten little thing like this. Not much bigger than a lifeboat. And, of course, absolutely primitive indoors. No proper saloon, no radio, no bathrooms, no deck-chairs. I was dragged all over it yesterday evening and it would make anyone sick to hear Caspian showing off his funny little toy boat as if it was the Queen Mary. I tried to tell him what real ships are like, but he’s too dense. E. and L., o f course, didn’t back me up. I suppose a kid like L. doesn’t realize the danger and E. is buttering up C. as everyone does here. They call him a King. I said I was a Republican but he had to ask me what that meant! He doesn’t seem to know anything at all. Needless to say I’ve been put in the worst cabin of the boat, a perfect dungeon, and Lucy has been given a whole room on deck to herself, almost a nice room compared with the rest of this place. C. says that’s because she’s a girl. I tried to make him see what Alberta says, that all that sort of thing is really lowering girls but he was too dense. Still, he might see that I shall be ill if I’m kept in that hole any longer. E. says we mustn’t grumble because C. is sharing it with us himself to make room for L. As if that didn’t make it more crowded and far worse. Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too.”
The trouble between Eustace and Reepicheep arrived even sooner than might have been expected. Before dinner next day, when the others were sitting round the table , waiting (being at sea gives one a magnificent appetite), Eustace came rushing in, wringing his hand and shouting out:
“That little brute has half killed me. I insist on it being kept under control. I could bring an action against you, Caspian. i could order you to have it destroyed.”
At the same moment Reepicheep appeared. His sword was drawn and his whiskers looked very fierce but he was as polite as ever.
“I ask your pardons all,” he said, “and especially her Majesty’s. If I had known that he would take refuge here I would have awaited a more reasonable time for his correction.”
“What on earth’s up?” asked Edmund.
What had really happened was this. Reepicheep, who never felt that the ship was getting on fast enough, loved to sit on the bulwarks far forward just beside the dragon’s head, gazing out at the eastern horizon and singing softly in his little chirruping voice the song the Dryad had made for him. He never held on to anything, however the ship pitched, and kept his balance with perfect ease; perhaps his long tail, hanging down to the deck inside the bulwarks, made this easier. Everyone on board was familiar with this habit, and the sailors liked it because when one was on look-out duty it gave one somebody to talk to. Why exactly Eustace had slipped and reeled and stumbled all the way forward to the forecastle (he had not yet got his sea-legs) I never heard. Perhaps he hoped he would see land, or perhaps he wanted to hang about the galley and scrounge something. Anyway, as soon as he saw that long tail hanging down – and perhaps it was rather tempting – he thought it would be delightful to catch hold of it, swing Reepicheep round by it once or twice upside-down, then run away and laugh, At first the plan seemed to work beautifully. The Mouse was not much heavier than a very large cat. Eustace had him off the rail in a trice and very silly he looked (thought Eustace) with his little limbs all splayed out and his mouth open. But unfortunately Reepicheep, who had fought for his life many a time, never lost his head even for a moment. Nor his skill. It is not very easy to draw one’s sword when one is swinging round in the air by one’s tail, but he did. And the next thing Eustace knew was two agonizing jabs in his hand which made him let go of the tail; and the next thing after that was that the Mouse had picked itself up again as if it were a ball bouncing off the deck, and there it was facing him, and a horrid long, bright, sharp thing like a skewer was waving to and fro within an inch of his stomach. (This doesn’t count as below the belt for mice in Narnia because they can hardly be expected to reach higher.)
“Stop it,” spluttered Eustace, “go away. Put that thing away. It’s not safe. Stop it, I say. I’ll tell Caspian.
I’ll have you muzzled and tied up.”
“Why do you not draw your own sword, poltroon!” cheeped the Mouse. “Draw and fight or I’ll beat you black and blue with the flat.”
“I haven’t got one,” said Eustace. “I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in fighting.”
“Do I understand,” said Reepicheep, withdrawing his sword for a moment and speaking very sternly, “that you do not intend to give me satisfaction?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said Eustace, nursing his hand. “If you don’t know how to take a joke I shan’t bother my head about you.”
“Then take that,” said Reepicheep, “and that – to teach you manners – and the respect due to a knight – and a Mouse – and a Mouse’s tail -” and at each word he gave Eustace a blow with the side of his rapier, which was thin, fine dwarf-tempered steel and as supple and effective as a birch rod. Eustace (of course) was at a school where they didn’t have corporal punishment, so the sensation was quite new to him. That was why, in spite of having no sealegs, it took him less than a minute to get off that forecastle and cover the whole length of the deck and burst in at the cabin door – still hotly pursued by Reepicheep. Indeed it seemed to Eustace that the rapier as well as the pursuit was hot. It might have been red-hot by the feel.
There was not much difficulty in settling the matter once Eustace realized that everyone took the idea of a duel seriously and heard Caspian offering to lend him a sword, and Drinian and Edmund discussing whether he ought to be handicapped in some way to make up for his being so much bigger than Reepicheep. He apologized sulkily and went off with Lucy to have his hand bathed and bandaged and then went to his bunk. He was careful to lie on his side.