by Clive Staples Lewis (1953)
“Many fall down, and few return to the sunlit lands”
“Very well. We’ll have to manage without it. But there’s one thing more I want to know. If this owls’ parliment, as you call it, is all fair and above board and means no mischief, why does it have to be so jolly secret — meeting in a ruin in dead of night, and all that?”
“Tu-whoo! Tu-whoo!” hooted several owls. “Where should we meet? When would anyone meet except at night?”
“You see,” explained Glimfeather, “most of the creatures in Narnia have such unnatural habits. They do things by day, in broad blazing sunlight (ugh!) when everyone ought to be asleep. And, as a result, at night they’re so blind and stupid that you can’t get a word out of them. So we owls have got into the habit of meting at sensible hours, on our own, when we want to talk about things.”
A Parliment of Owls
“And how shall we start?” said Scrubb.
“Well,” said the Marsh-Wiggle very slowly, “all the others who ever went looking for Prince Rilian started fro the same fountain where Lord Drinian saw the lady. They went north, mostly. And as none of them ever came back, we can’t exactly say how they got on.”
“We’ve got to start by finding a ruined city of giants,” said Jill. “Aslan said so.”
“Got to start by finding it, have we?” answered Puddleglum. “Not allowed to start by looking for it, I suppose?”
“That’s what I meant, of course,” said Jill.
“Don’t you lose heart, pole,” said Puddleglum. “I’m coming, sure and certain. I’m not going to lose an opportunity like this. It will do me good. They all say — I mean, the other wiggles all say — that I’m too flighty; don’t take life seriously enough. If they’ve said it once, they’ve said it a thousand times. ‘Puddleglum,’ they’ve said, ‘you’re altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You’ve got to learn that life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie. You want something to sober you down a bit. We’re only saying it for your own good, Puddleglum.’ That’s what they say. Now a job like this — a journey up north just as winter’s beginning, looking for a Prince that probably isn’t there, by way of a ruined city that no one has ever seen — will be just the thing. If that doesn’t steady a chap, I don’t know what will.”
It tool them some time to reach the foot of the slope and, when they did, they looked down from the top of the cliffs at a river running below them from west to east. It was walled in by precipices on the far side as well as on their own, and it was green and sunless, full of rapids and waterfalls. The roar of it shook the earth even where they stood.
“The bright side of it is,” said Puddleglum, “that if we break our necks getting down the cliffs, then we’re safe from being drowned in the river.”
The Wild Waste Lands of the North
“O-ho!” said the Porter. “That’s quite a different story. Come in, little people, come in. You’d best come into the lodge while I’m sending word to his Majesty.” He looked at the children with curiosity. “Blue faces,” he said. “I didn’t know they were that color. Don’t care about it myself. But I dare say you look quite nice to one another. Beetles fancy other beetles, they do say.”
“Our faces are only blue with cold,” said Jill. “We’re not this color really.”
The Hill of the Strange Trenches
“So it’s no good, Pole. I know what you were thinking because I was thinking the same. You were thinking how nice it would have been if Aslan hadn’t put the instructions on the stones of the ruined city till after we’d passed it. And then it would have been his fault, not ours. So likely, isn’t it? No. We must just own up. We’ve only four signs to go by, and we’ve muffed the first three.”
The House of Harfang
Suddenly Puddleglum turned to them, and his face had gone so pale that you could see the paleness under the natural muddiness of his complexion. He said:
“Don’t eat another bite.”
“What’s wrong?” asked the other tow in a whisper.
“Didn’t you hear what those giants were saying? ‘That’s a nice tender haunch of venison,’ said one of them. ‘Then that stag was a liar.’ said another. ‘Why?’ said the first one. ‘Oh,’ said the other. ‘They say that when he was caught he said, Don’t kill me, I’m tough. You won’t like me.’” For a moment Jill did not realize the full meaning of this. But she did when Scrubb’s eyes opened wide with horror and he said:
“So we’ve been eating a Talking stag.”
This discovery didn’t have exactly the same effect on all of them. Jill, who was new to that world, was sorry for the poor stag and thought it rotten of the giants to have killed him. Scrubb, who had been in that world before and had at least one Talking beast as his dear friend, felt horrified; as you might feel about a murder. But Puddleglum, who was Narnian born, was sick and faint, and felt as you would feel if you found you had eaten a baby.
“We’ve brought the anger of Aslan on us,” he said. “That’s what comes of not attending to the signs. We’re under a curse, I expect. If it was allowed, it would be the best thing we could do, to take these knives and drive them into our own hearts.”
And gradually even Jill came to see it from his point of view. At any rate, none of them wanted any more lunch As soon as they thought it safe they crept quietly out of the hall.
Something Worth Knowing
“One thing I’d like to know,” said Puddleglum, “is whether anyone form our world–from up-a-top, I mean–has ever done this trip before?”
“Many have taken ship at the pale beaches,” replied the Warden, “and–”
“Yes, I know,” interrupted Puddleglum. “And few return to the sunlit lands. You needn’t say it again. You are a chap of one idea, aren’t you?”
Travels Without the Sun
“What is a lion?” asked the Witch.
“Oh, hang it all!” said Scrubb. “Don’t you know? How can we describe it to her? Have you ever seen a cat?”
“Surely,” said the Queen. “I love cats.”
“Well, a lion is a little bit–only a little bit, mind you–like a huge cat–with a mane. At least, it’s not like a horse’s mane. you know, it’s more like a judge’s wig. And it’s yellow. And terrifically strong.”
The Witch shook her head. “I see,” she said, “that we should do no better with your lion, as you call it, than we did with your sun. Well, ‘tis a pretty make-believe, though, to say truth, it would suit you all better if you were younger. And look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without coping it from the real world, this world of mine, which is the only world. But even you children are too old for such play. As for you, my lord Prince, that art a man full grown, fie upon you! Are you not ashamed of such toys? Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But, first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.”
The Queen of the Underland
“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
The Queen of the Underland
“Do you know the way to those new diggings, by which the sorceress meant to lead out an army against Overland?”
“Ee-ee-ee!” squeaked Golg. “Yes, I know that terrible road. I will show you where it begins. But it is no manner of use your Honor asking me to go with you on it. I’ll die rather.”
“Why?” asked Eustace anxiously. “What’s so dreadful about it?”
“Too near the top, the outside,” said Golg, shuddering. “That was the worst thing the Witch did to us. We were going to be led out into the open–into the outside of the world. They say there’s no roof at all there; only a horrible, great emptiness called the sky. And the diggings have gone so far that a few strokes of the pick would bring you out to it. I wouldn’t dare to go near them.”
“Hurrah!” Now you’re talking!” cried Eustace, and Jill said, “But it’s not horrid at all up there. We like it. We live there.”
“I know you Overlanders live there,” said Golg. “But I thought it was because you couldn’t find your way down inside. You can’t really like it–crawling about like flies on top of the world!”
The Bottom of the World
“Down there,” said Golg, “I could show you real gold, real silver, real diamonds.”
“Bosh!” said Jill rudely. “As if we didn’t know that we’re below the deepest mines even here.”
“Yes,” said Golg. “I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Topdwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze out a cupful of diamond juice. You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones in Bism.” The Bottom of the World
…After that, the Head’s friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn’t much good even at that, they got her into Parliment where she lived happily ever after.
The Healing of Harms