C. S. LEWIS
THIS is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden
Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him.
In those days, far south in Calormen on a little creek of the sea, there lived a poor fisherman called Arsheesh,
And with him there lived a boy who called him Father. The boy’s name was Shasta. On most days Arsheesh
Went out in his boat to fish in the morning, and in the afternoon he harnessed his donkey to a cart and loaded
The cart with fish and went a mile or so southward to the village to sell it. If it had sold well he would come home
In a moderately good temper and say nothing to Shasta, but if it had sold badly he would find fault with him and
Perhaps beat him. There was always something to find fault with for Shasta had plenty of work to do, mending
And washing the nets, cooking the supper, and cleaning the cottage in which they both lived.
Shasta was not at all interested in anything that lay south of his home because he had once or twice been to
The village with Arsheesh and he knew that there was nothing very interesting there. In the village he only met
Other men who were just like his father – men with long, dirty robes, and wooden shoes turned up at the toe, and
Turbans on their heads, and beards, talking to one another very slowly about things that sounded dull. But he was
Very interested in everything that lay to the North because no one ever went that way and he was never allowed
To go there himself. When he was sitting out of doors mending the nets, and all alone, he would often look
Eagerly to the North. One could see nothing but a grassy slope running up to a level ridge and beyond that the
Sky with perhaps a few birds in it.
Sometimes if Arsheesh was there
Shasta would say, “O my Father, what is there beyond that hill?” And then if
The fisherman was in a bad temper he would box Shasta’s ears and tell him to attend to his work. Or if he was in
A peaceable mood he would say, “O my son, do not allow your mind to be distracted by idle questions. For one
Of the poets has said, `Application to business is the root of prosperity, but those who ask questions that do not
Concern them are steering the ship of folly towards the rock of indigence’.”
Shasta thought that beyond the hill there must be some delightful secret which his father wished to hide from
Him. In reality, however, the fisherman talked like this because he didn’t know what lay to the North. Neither did
He care. He had a very practical mind.
One day there came from the South a stranger who was unlike any man that Shasta had seen before. He rode
Upon a strong dappled horse with flowing mane and tail and his stirrups and bridle were inlaid with silver. The
Spike of a helmet projected from the middle of his silken turban and he wore a shirt of chain mail. By his side
Hung a curving scimitar, a round shield studded with bosses of brass hung at his back, and his right hand
Grasped a lance. His face was dark, but this did not surprise Shasta because all the people of Calormen are
Like that; what did surprise him was the man’s beard which was dyed crimson, and curled and gleaming with
Scented oil. But Arsheesh knew by the gold on the stranger’s bare arm that he was a Tarkaan or great lord, and
He bowed kneeling before him till his beard touched the earth and made signs to Shasta to kneel also.