is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she'll be better than that awful Aslan!" At least, that was the
excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn't a very good excuse, however, for
deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.
The first thing he realised when he got outside and found the snow falling all round him, was that he
had left his coat behind in the Beavers' house. And of course there was no chance of going back to
get it now. The next thing he realised was that the daylight was almost gone, for it had been nearly
three o'clock when they sat down to dinner and the winter days were short. He hadn't reckoned on
this; but he had to make the best of it. So he turned up his collar and shuffled across the top of the
dam (luckily it wasn't so slippery since the snow had fallen) to the far side of the river.
It was pretty bad when he reached the far side. It was growing darker every minute and what with
that and the snowflakes swirling all round him he could hardly see three feet ahead. And then too
there was no road. He kept slipping into deep drifts of snow, and skidding on frozen puddles, and
tripping over fallen tree-trunks, and sliding down steep banks, and barking his shins against rocks, till
he was wet and cold and bruised all over. The silence and the loneliness were dreadful. In fact I really
think he might have given up the whole plan and gone back and owned up and made friends with the
others, if he hadn't happened to say to himself, "When I'm King of Narnia the first thing I shall do
will be to make some decent roads." And of course that set him off thinking about being a King and
all the other things he would do and this cheered him up a good deal. He had just settled in his mind
what sort of palace he would have and how many cars and all about his private cinema and where the
principal railways would run and what laws he would make against beavers and dams and was
putting the finishing touches to some schemes for keeping Peter in his place, when the weather
changed. First the snow stopped. Then a wind sprang up and it became freezing cold. Finally, the
clouds rolled away and the moon came out. It was a full moon and, shining on all that snow, it made
everything almost as bright as day - only the shadows were rather confusing.
He would never have found his way if the moon hadn't come out by the time he got to the other
river you remember he had seen (when they first arrived at the Beavers') a smaller river flowing into
the great one lower down. He now reached this and turned to follow it up. But the little valley down
which it came was much steeper and rockier than the one he had just left and much overgrown with
bushes, so that he could not have managed it at all in the dark. Even as it was, he got wet through for
he had to stoop under branches and great loads of snow came sliding off on to his back. And every
time this happened he thought more and more how he hated Peter - just as if all this had been Peter's
But at last he came to a part where it was more level and the valley opened out. And there, on the
other side of the river, quite close to him, in the middle of a little plain between two hills, he saw
what must be the White Witch's House. And the moon was shining brighter than ever. The House
was really a small castle. It seemed to be all towers; little towers with long pointed spires on them,
sharp as needles. They looked like huge dunce's caps or sorcerer's caps. And they shone in the
moonlight and their long shadows looked strange on the snow. Edmund began to be afraid of the
But it was too late to think of turning back now.
He crossed the river on the ice and walked up to the House. There was nothing stirring; not the
slightest sound anywhere. Even his own feet made no noise on the deep newly fallen snow. He
walked on and on, past corner after corner of the House, and past turret after turret to find the door.
He had to go right round to the far side before he found it. It was a huge arch but the great iron gates
stood wide open.
Edmund crept up to the arch and looked inside into the courtyard, and there he saw a sight that
nearly made his heart stop beating. Just inside the gate, with the moonlight shining on it, stood an
enormous lion crouched as if it was ready to spring. And Edmund stood in the shadow of the arch,
afraid to go on and afraid to go back, with his knees knocking together. He stood there so long that
his teeth would have been chattering with cold even if they had not been chattering with fear. How
long this really lasted I don't know, but it seemed to Edmund to last for hours.
Then at last he began to wonder why the lion was standing so still - for it hadn't moved one inch
since he first set eyes on it. Edmund now ventured a little nearer, still keeping in the shadow of the
arch as much as he could. He now saw from the way the lion was standing that it couldn't have been
looking at him at all. ("But supposing it turns its head?" thought Edmund.) In fact it was staring at
something else namely a little: dwarf who stood with his back to it about four feet away. "Aha!"
thought Edmund. "When it springs at the dwarf then will be my chance to escape." But still the lion
never moved, nor did the dwarf. And now at last Edmund remembered what the others had said about
the White Witch turning people into stone. Perhaps this was only a stone lion. And as soon as he had
thought of that he noticed that the lion's back and the top of its head were covered with snow. Of
course it must be only a statue! No living animal would have let itself get covered with snow. Then
very slowly and with his heart beating as if it would burst, Edmund ventured to go up to the lion.
Even now he hardly dared to touch it, but at last he put out his hand, very quickly, and did. It was
cold stone. He had been frightened of a mere statue!
The relief which Edmund felt was so great that in spite of the cold he suddenly got warm all over
right down to his toes, and at the same time there came into his head what seemed a perfectly lovely
idea. "Probably," he thought, "this is the great Lion Aslan that they were all talking about. She's
caught him already and turned him into stone. So that's the end of all their fine ideas about him!
Pooh! Who's afraid of Aslan?"
And he stood there gloating over the stone lion, and presently he did something very silly and
childish. He took a stump of lead pencil out of his pocket and scribbled a moustache on the lion's
upper lip and then a pair of spectacles on its eyes. Then he said, "Yah! Silly old Aslan! How do you
like being a stone? You thought yourself mighty fine, didn't you?" But in spite of the scribbles on it
the face of the great stone beast still looked so terrible, and sad, and noble, staring up in the
moonlight, that Edmund didn't really get any fun out of jeering at it. He turned away and began to
cross the courtyard.
As he got into the middle of it he saw that there were dozens of statues all about - standing here and
there rather as the pieces stand on a chess-board when it is half-way through the game. There were
stone satyrs, and stone wolves, and bears and foxes and cat-amountains of stone. There were lovely
stone shapes that looked like women but who were really the spirits of trees. There was the great
shape of a centaur and a winged horse and a long lithe creature that Edmund took to be a dragon.
They all looked so strange standing there perfectly life-like and also perfectly still, in the bright cold
moonlight, that it was eerie work crossing the courtyard. Right in the very middle stood a huge shape
like a man, but as tall as a tree, with a fierce face and a shaggy beard and a great club in its right
hand. Even though he knew that it was only a stone giant and not a live one, Edmund did not like
going past it.
He now saw that there was a dim light showing from a doorway on the far side of the courtyard. He
went to it; there was a flight of stone steps going up to an open door. Edmund went up them. Across
the threshold lay a great wolf.
"It's all right, it's all right," he kept saying to himself; "it's only a stone wolf. It can't hurt me", and he
raised his leg to step over it. Instantly the huge creature rose, with all the hair bristling along its back,
opened a great, red mouth and said in a growling voice:
"Who's there? Who's there? Stand still, stranger, and tell me who you are."
"If you please, sir," said Edmund, trembling so that he could hardly speak, "my name is Edmund,
and I'm the Son of Adam that Her Majesty met in the wood the other day and I've come to bring her
the news that my brother and sisters are now in Narnia - quite close, in the Beavers' house. She - she
wanted to see them."
"I will tell Her Majesty," said the Wolf. "Meanwhile, stand still on the threshold, as you value your
life." Then it vanished into the house.
Edmund stood and waited, his fingers aching with cold and his heart pounding in his chest, and
presently the grey wolf, Maugrim, the Chief of the Witch's Secret Police, came bounding back and
said, "Come in! Come in! Fortunate favourite of the Queen - or else not so fortunate."
And Edmund went in, taking great care not to tread on the Wolf's paws.
He found himself in a long gloomy hall with many pillars, full, as the courtyard had been, of statues.
The one nearest the door was a little faun with a very sad expression on its face, and Edmund couldn't
help wondering if this might be Lucy's friend. The only light came from a single lamp and close
beside this sat the White Witch.
"I'm come, your Majesty," said Edmund, rushing eagerly forward.
"How dare you come alone?" said the Witch in a terrible voice. "Did I not tell you to bring the
others with you?"
"Please, your Majesty," said Edmund, "I've done the best I can. I've brought them quite close.
They're in the little house on top of the dam just up the riverwith Mr and Mrs Beaver."
A slow cruel smile came over the Witch's face.
"Is this all your news?" she asked.
"No, your Majesty," said Edmund, and proceeded to tell her all he had heard before leaving the
"What! Aslan?" cried the Queen, "Aslan! Is this true? If I find you have lied to me -"
"Please, I'm only repeating what they said," stammered Edmund.
But the Queen, who was no longer attending to him, clapped her hands. Instantly the same dwarf
whom Edmund had seen with her before appeared.
"Make ready our sledge," ordered the Witch, "and use the harness without bells."
CHAPTER TEN - THE SPELL BEGINS TO BREAK
Now we must go back to Mr and Mrs Beaver and the three other children. As soon as Mr Beaver
said, "There's no time to lose," everyone began bundling themselves into coats, except Mrs Beaver,
who started picking up sacks and laying them on the table and said: "Now, Mr Beaver, just reach
down that ham. And here's a packet of tea, and there's sugar, and some matches. And if someone will
get two or three loaves out of the crock over there in the corner."
"What are you doing, Mrs Beaver?" exclaimed Susan.
"Packing a load for each of us, dearie," said Mrs Beaver very coolly. "You didn't think we'd set out
on a journey with nothing to eat, did you?"
"But we haven't time!" said Susan, buttoning the collar of her coat. "She may be here any minute."
"That's what I say," chimed in Mr Beaver.
"Get along with you all," said his wife. "Think it over, Mr Beaver. She can't be here for quarter of an
hour at least."
"But don't we want as big a start as we can possibly get," said Peter, "if we're to reach the Stone
Table before her?"
"You've got to remember that, Mrs Beaver," said Susan. "As soon as she has looked in here and finds
we're gone she'll be off at top speed."
"That she will," said Mrs Beaver. "But we can't get there before her whatever we do, for she'll be on
a sledge and we'll be walking."
"Then - have we no hope?" said Susan.
"Now don't you get fussing, there's a dear," said Mrs Beaver, "but just get half a dozen clean
handkerchiefs out of the drawer. 'Course we've got a hope. We can't get there before her but we can
keep under cover and go by ways she won't expect and perhaps we'll get through."
"That's true enough, Mrs Beaver," said her husband. "But it's time we were out of this."
"And don't you start fussing either, Mr Beaver," said his wife. "There. That's better. There's five
loads and the smallest for the smallest of us: that's you, my dear," she added, looking at Lucy.
"Oh, do please come on," said Lucy.
"Well, I'm nearly ready now," answered Mrs Beaver at last, allowing her husband to help her into;
her snow-boots. "I suppose the sewing machine's took heavy to bring?"
"Yes. It is," said Mr Beaver. "A great deal too heavy. And you don't think you'll be able to use it
while we're on the run, I suppose?"
"I can't abide the thought of that Witch fiddling with it," said Mrs Beaver, "and breaking it or
stealing it, as likely as not."
"Oh, please, please, please, do hurry!" said the three children. And so at last they all got outside and
Mr Beaver locked the door ("It'll delay her a bit," he said) and they set off, all carrying their loads
over their shoulders.
The snow had stopped and the moon had come out when they began their journey. They went in
single file - first Mr Beaver, then Lucy, then Peter, then Susan, and Mrs Beaver last of all. Mr Beaver
led them across the dam and on to the right bank of the river and then along a very rough sort of path
among the trees right down by the river-bank. The sides of the valley, shining in the moonlight,
towered up far above them on either hand. "Best keep down here as much as possible," he said.
"She'll have to keep to the top, for you couldn't bring a sledge down here."
It would have been a pretty enough scene to look at it through a window from a comfortable
armchair; and even as things were, Lucy enjoyed it at first. But as they went on walking and walking
- and walking and as the sack she was carrying felt heavier and heavier, she began to wonder how she
was going to keep up at all. And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river
with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and
the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad
through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and
the snow began to fall once more. And at last Lucy was so tired that she was almost asleep and
walking at the same time when suddenly she found that Mr Beaver had turned away from the river-
bank to the right and was leading them steeply uphill into the very thickest bushes. And then as she
came fully awake she found that Mr Beaver was just vanishing into a little hole in the bank which had
been almost hidden under the bushes until you were quite on top of it. In fact, by the time she realised
what was happening, only his short flat tail was showing.
Lucy immediately stooped down and crawled in after him. Then she heard noises of scrambling and
puffing and panting behind her and in a moment all five of them were inside.
"Wherever is this?" said Peter's voice, sounding tired and pale in the darkness. (I hope you know
what I mean by a voice sounding pale.)
"It's an old hiding-place for beavers in bad times," said Mr Beaver, "and a great secret. It's not much
of a place but we must get a few hours' sleep."
"If you hadn't all been in such a plaguey fuss when we were starting, I'd have brought some pillows,"
said Mrs Beaver.
It wasn't nearly such a nice cave as Mr Tumnus's, Lucy thought - just a hole in the ground but dry
and earthy. It was very small so that when they all lay down they were all a bundle of clothes
together, and what with that and being warmed up by their long walk they were really rather snug. If
only the floor of the cave had been a little smoother! Then Mrs Beaver handed round in the dark a
little flask out of which everyone drank something - it made one cough and splutter a little and stung
the throat, but it also made you feel deliciously warm after you'd swallowed it and everyone went
straight to sleep.
It seemed to Lucy only the next minute (though really it was hours and hours later) when she woke
up feeling a little cold and dreadfully stiff and thinking how she would like a hot bath. Then she felt a
set of long whiskers tickling her cheek and saw the cold daylight coming in through the mouth of the
cave. But immediately after that she was very wide awake indeed, and so was everyone else. In fact
they were all sitting up with their mouths and eyes wide open listening to a sound which was the very
sound they'd all been thinking of (and sometimes imagining they heard) during their walk last night.
It was a sound of jingling bells.
Mr Beaver was out of the cave like a flash the moment he heard it. Perhaps you think, as Lucy
thought for a moment, that this was a very silly thing to do? But it was really a very sensible one. He
knew he could scramble to the top of the bank among bushes and brambles without being seen; and
he wanted above all things to see which way the Witch's sledge went. The others all sat in the cave
waiting and wondering. They waited nearly five minutes. Then they heard something that frightened
them very much. They heard voices. "Oh," thought Lucy, "he's been seen. She's caught him!"
Great was their surprise when a little later, they heard Mr Beaver's voice calling to them from just
outside the cave.
"It's all right," he was shouting. "Come out, Mrs Beaver. Come out, Sons and Daughters of Adam.
It's all right! It isn't Her!" This was bad grammar of course, but that is how beavers talk when they are
excited; I mean, in Narnia - in our world they usually don't talk at all.
So Mrs Beaver and the children came bundling out of the cave, all blinking in the daylight, and with
earth all over them, and looking very frowsty and unbrushed and uncombed and with the sleep in
"Come on!" cried Mr Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight. "Come and see! This is a nasty
knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling."
"What do you mean, Mr Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep bank of the valley
"Didn't I tell you," answered Mr Beaver, "that she'd made it always winter and never Christmas?
Didn't I tell you? Well, just come and see!"
And then they were all at the top and did see.
It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the
Witch's reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone
knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man. in a bright red robe (bright as
hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard, that fell like a foamy waterfall
over his chest.
Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of
them and hear them talked about even in our world - the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But
when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in
our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at
him they didn't find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became
quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.
"I've come at last," said he. "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is
on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening."
And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being
solemn and still.
"And now," said Father Christmas, "for your presents. There is a new and better sewing machine for
you, Mrs Beaver. I will drop it in your house as, I pass."
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