WHAT HAPPENED AFTER DINNER
“AND now,” said Lucy, “do please tell us what’s happened to Mr Tumnus.”
“Ah, that’s bad,” said Mr Beaver, shaking his head. “That’s a very, very bad business. There’s no doubt he was taken off by the police. I got that from a bird who saw it done.”
“But where’s he been taken to?” asked Lucy.
“Well, they were heading northwards when they were last seen and we all know what that means.”
“No, we don’t,” said Susan. Mr Beaver shook his head in a very gloomy fashion.
“I’m afraid it means they were taking him to her House,” he said.
“But what’ll they do to him, Mr Beaver?” gasped Lucy.
“Well,” said Mr Beaver, “you can’t exactly say for sure. But there’s not many taken in there that ever comes out again. Statues. All full of statues they say it is – in the courtyard and up the stairs and in the hall. People she’s turned” – (he paused and shuddered) “turned into stone.”
“But, Mr Beaver,” said Lucy, “can’t we – I mean we must do something to save him. It’s too dreadful and it’s all on my account.”
“I don’t doubt you’d save him if you could, dearie,” said Mrs Beaver, “but you’ve no chance of getting into that House against her will and ever coming out alive.”
“Couldn’t we have some stratagem?” said Peter. “I mean couldn’t we dress up as something, or pretend to be – oh, pedlars or anything – or watch till she was gone out – or – oh, hang it all, there must be some way. This Faun saved my sister at his own risk, Mr Beaver. We can’t just leave him to be – to be – to have that done to him.”
“It’s no good, Son of Adam,” said Mr Beaver, “no good your trying, of all people. But now that Aslan is on the move-“
“Oh, yes! Tell us about Aslan!” said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling – like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Mr Tumnus.”
“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.
“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
You’ll understand when you see him.”
“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.
“Why, Daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr Beaver.
“Is-is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?