Pagina principale The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set (Books 1 to 7)

The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set (Books 1 to 7)

The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection with Bonus Book: Boxen by C. S. Lewis has descriptive copy which is not yet available from the Publisher.
Volume:
1-7
Anno:
2013
Edizione:
ebook
Editore:
HarperCollins
Lingua:
english
Pagine:
2300
ISBN 10:
0062245767
ISBN 13:
9780062245762
Series:
The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) 1–7; The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronological Order) 1–7
File:
EPUB, 38.06 MB
Download (epub, 38.06 MB)

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Contents

Introduction



The Magician’s Nephew

Dedication

Chapter One: The Wrong Door

Chapter Two: Digory and His Uncle

Chapter Three: The Wood Between the Worlds

Chapter Four: The Bell and the Hammer

Chapter Five: The Deplorable Word

Chapter Six: The Beginning of Uncle Andrew’s Troubles

Chapter Seven: What Happened at the Front Door

Chapter Eight: The Fight at the Lamp-post

Chapter Nine: The Founding of Narnia

Chapter Ten: The First Joke and Other Matters

Chapter Eleven: Digory and His Uncle Are Both in Trouble

Chapter Twelve: Strawberry’s Adventure

Chapter Thirteen: An Unexpected Meeting

Chapter Fourteen: The Planting of the Tree

Chapter Fifteen: The End of This Story and the Beginning of All the Others



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Dedication

Chapter One: Lucy Looks into a Wardrobe

Chapter Two: What Lucy Found There

Chapter Three: Edmund and the Wardrobe

Chapter Four: Turkish Delight

Chapter Five: Back on This Side of the Door

Chapter Six: Into the Forest

Chapter Seven: A Day with the Beavers

Chapter Eight: What Happened after Dinner

Chapter Nine: In the Witch’s House

Chapter Ten: The Spell Begins to Break

Chapter Eleven: Aslan Is Nearer

Chapter Twelve: Peter’s First Battle

Chapter Thirteen: Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time

Chapter Fourteen: The Triumph of the Witch

Chapter Fifteen: Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time

Chapter Sixteen: What Happened about the Statues

Chapter Seventeen: The Hunting of the White Stag



The Horse and His Boy

Dedication

Chapter One: How Shasta Set Out on His Travels

Chapter Two: A Wayside Adventure

Chapter Three: At the Gates of Tashbaan

Chapter Four: Shasta Falls In With the Narnians

Chapter Five: Prince Corin

Chapter Six: Shasta Among the Tombs

Chapter Seven: Aravis in Tashbaan

Chapter Eight: In the House of the Tisroc

Chapter Nine: Across the Desert

Chapter Ten: The Hermit of the Southern March

Chapter Eleven: The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler

Chapter Twelve: Shasta in Narnia

Chapter Thirteen: The Fight at Anvar; d

Chapter Fourteen: How Bree Became a Wiser Horse

Chapter Fifteen: Rabadash the Ridiculous



Prince Caspian

Dedication

Chapter One: The Island

Chapter Two: The Ancient Treasure House

Chapter Three: The Dwarf

Chapter Four: The Dwarf Tells of Prince Caspian

Chapter Five: Caspian’s Adventure in the Mountains

Chapter Six: The People That Lived in Hiding

Chapter Seven: Old Narnia in Danger

Chapter Eight: How They Left the Island

Chapter Nine: What Lucy Saw

Chapter Ten: The Return of the Lion

Chapter Eleven: The Lion Roars

Chapter Twelve: Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance

Chapter Thirteen: The High King in Command

Chapter Fourteen: How All Were Very Busy

Chapter Fifteen: Aslan Makes a Door in the Air



The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Dedication

Chapter One: The Picture in the Bedroom

Chapter Two: On Board the Dawn Treader

Chapter Three: The Lone Islands

Chapter Four: What Caspian Did There

Chapter Five: The Storm and What Came of It

Chapter Six: The Adventures of Eustace

Chapter Seven: How the Adventure Ended

Chapter Eight: Two Narrow Escapes

Chapter Nine: The Island of the Voices

Chapter Ten: The Magician’s Book

Chapter Eleven: The Dufflepuds Made Happy

Chapter Twelve: The Dark Island

Chapter Thirteen: The Three Sleepers

Chapter Fourteen: The Beginning of the End of the World

Chapter Fifteen: The Wonders of the Last Sea

Chapter Sixteen: The Very End of the World



The Silver Chair

Dedication

Chapter One: Behind the Gym

Chapter Two: Jill Is Given a Task

Chapter Three: The Sailing of the King

Chapter Four: A Parliament of Owls

Chapter Five: Puddleglum

Chapter Six: The Wild Waste Lands of the North

Chapter Seven: The Hill of the Strange Trenches

Chapter Eight: The House of Harfang

Chapter Nine: How They Discovered Something Worth Knowing

Chapter Ten: Travels Without the Sun

Chapter Eleven: In the Dark Castle

Chapter Twelve: The Queen of Underland

Chapter Thirteen: Underland Without the Queen

Chapter Fourteen: The Bottom of the World

Chapter Fifteen: The Disappearance of Jill

Chapter Sixteen: The Healing of Harms



The Last Battle

Chapter One: By Caldron Pool

Chapter Two: The Rashness of the King

Chapter Three: The Ape in Its Glory

Chapter Four: What Happened That Night

Chapter Five: How Help Came to the King

Chapter Six: A Good Night’s Work

Chapter Seven: Mainly About Dwarfs

Chapter Eight: What News the Eagle Brought

Chapter Nine: The Great Meeting on Stable Hill

Chapter Ten: Who Will Go Into the Stable?

Chapter Eleven: The Pace Quickens

Chapter Twelve: Through the Stable Door

Chapter Thirteen: How the Dwarfs Refused to Be Taken In

Chapter Fourteen: Night Falls on Narnia

Chapter Fifteen: Further Up and Further In

Chapter Sixteen: Farewell to Shadowlands



Boxen

Introduction

Animal-Land

The King’s Ring

Manx Against Manx

The Relief of Murry

History of Mouse-Land from Stone-Age to Bublish I (Old History)

History of Animal-Land (New History)

The Chess Monograph

The Geography of Animal-Land

Boxen

Boxen: or Scenes from Boxonian City Life

The Locked Door and Than-Kyu

The Sailor

Littera Scripta Manet

Tararo

The Life of Lord John Big of Bigham

Encyclopedia Boxoniana

The History of Boxen

Copyright



About the Author

Back Ads

Credit

Copyright

About the Publisher





Introduction

A Conversation with Douglas Gresham

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

—The Last Battle





On November 22, 1963, C. S. Lewis began the Great Story, and his fans around the world lost their beloved author. In honor of the 50th anniversary of his passing, you are invited to join in on an exclusive conversation with Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, who lived with him at his home, The Kilns, from the age of ten.

Mr. Gresham remembers his stepfather, Jack, telling stories about how as boys, he and his brother, Warnie, crossed the Irish Sea from Belfast on a steamer to get to boarding school in England. Though Warnie suffered terri- ble seasickness, Jack delighted in the voyages and would dash about the ship with great enthusiasm. He loved the sights, sounds, smells, and liveliness of the sea, which he vividly depicted in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Mr. Gresham also recalls Jack’s famous friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien (Tollers, to Jack), a bond that grew from shared values in literature and ultimately encouraged the men to write The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, respectively, works now included in the canon of classic literature. Mr. Gresham continues to see the legacy of Narnia carried on worldwide and more intimately within his own family—his tenth grand-child is called Caspian, a name that, to him, stands for something far-off and adventurous, a touch magical and wondrous.

On this momentous occasion, Mr. Gresham graciously shares these and other personal memories of growing up with the author of Narnia while he was still writing the series, and pays tribute to the lasting impression C. S. Lewis made on generations of readers.



1. You told us that C. S. Lewis always said that if a book was worth reading when you are five, it should be equally worth reading when you are fifty, or any age at all. How do you think people react to The Chronicles of Narnia as children, and how is that different when reading the books as adults?

Children have the ability to more easily project themselves into the fantasy, and unless they savour and practice this skill, it tends to fade as life and the world get in the way. Grown-up people who do not have this skill must relearn it to become a part of Narnia in the way that children do. Also, young children have often not yet been indoctrinated regarding what is real and what is not and what can happen and what is impossible; thus they can accept fantasy far more readily than adults can instead of somehow validating it by calling it “news” or “reality.” Children have a far better and undimmed sense of truth than adults.

2. Why did your stepfather set out to write a children’s book? Did he talk about the process and if it was different from writing an adult book?

I think it all goes back to a conversation, or series of conversations, between my stepfather and Tolkien, and possibly others as well. They seem to have talked about the children’s literature of the late 1940s and early 1950s with dismay, finding nothing that they would have enjoyed as children or even could enjoy as adults. The literature that children were being expected to read and enjoy at that time seemed to teach them things that sensible parents would rather their children did not learn—all about “issues” and “complexes” and such. High Adventure, Chivalry, Personal Responsibility, Personal Commitment, Duty, Honor, Courtesy, and Honesty all seemed to have been dismissed as out of date or passé. Jack and Tolkien both agreed that such qualities and virtues were essential to human civilization and decided that they themselves had better have a try at writing about them. So they did.

3. From what literary influences did C. S. Lewis draw his inspiration for Narnia? What types of mythology and literature have been blended to form the world and the creatures of that land?

Jack drew from the huge wealth of knowledge he had gleaned over many years by his own voracious reading. He drew from all the ancient mythologies of the world: Greece, Rome; he also borrowed from Scandinavian mythology, Persian, and Egyptian—even from the history of the ancient East. His Calormen civilization, for example, comes from the ages-past Moghul Empire of India, while his Narnian Dwarfs came from the far North of Europe. He also drew his characters from people whom he knew. Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, a member of Jack’s only completely original species, the Marsh-wiggles of the Shribble Marshes, was drawn from the wonderful character of Frederick Calcutt Paxford, our gardener at The Kilns, our home in Oxfordshire.

4. Were you ever in the same room with C. S. Lewis while he was writing? What was that like? Did he ever discuss or share how his writing went that day?

Several times, but I was always careful not to be an intrusive or distractive presence. I had been raised by writers and knew very well that to sit silently reading was acceptable; to fidget and talk or otherwise intrude was not. Jack was very forgiving though. But as a normal everyday thing, Jack would retire to his upstairs study or down to Warnie’s study to write; only occasionally did he sit at the old desk in the bay window of the Common Room, as we called our sitting room and where I was likely to be, to write. I would occasionally ask him what he had been working on, and he would tell me in some detail or even read a passage to me if he thought the matter would interest me. We had a household word for arrant nonsense, which was “bilge”; and if Jack was working on something deep and complex, some academic essay or something that he knew I would neither enjoy nor understand, he would laugh and say self-deprecatingly, “Oh just bilge, Doug, just bilge,” and we would both laugh, for I knew all too well that what he referred to as “just bilge” was likely to be work of great value to the world and the people of it.

5. When was the first time you read a Narnia book, and what did you think of it? How did you come to read the other books?

I first encountered Narnia when my mother read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to me, in my bedroom in our huge old house near Staatsburg in upstate New York, chapter by chapter, one per night, as a bedtime story. Neither of us had yet met Jack, of course. I was about six years old then, I think, and I was fascinated and enthralled from the first words. Now, more than sixty years later, I still am. As soon as another Narnia book became available, that too was read to me, and at some stage along my journeys into Narnia, I learned to read for myself, the process accelerated by my need to return to Narnia again and again, and I began to read the books over and over again; I still do.

6. What other books did you read as a child? Were they books that Jack recommended you read? How do they contribute to your experience of Narnia?

Wow, that is a big question! Almost everything I read as a young child was recommended by either my mother, Jack, or Warnie. Later, of course, I began to explore the shelves at will. The Kilns was full of books. Whenever the weather was inclement, which (despite some halcyon days in summer and astonishingly beautiful days of frost or snow in winter) seemed to be a lot of the time in Oxford, I would be found in either the Common Room or on the dining room sofa deep in a book. I read all I could get my hands on of Mark Twain, John Buchan, E. Nesbit, Jack London, Charles Dickens, Ernest Thompson Seton, George MacDonald, Roger Lancelyn Green, John Galsworthy, and many others. The books that Mother, Jack, and Warnie recommended always fascinated, and nothing was forbidden, nothing censored. I read the complete works of William Shakespeare before I was fourteen (not without some considerable effort, I confess). I discovered that the wisdom of the world, and a great deal of its folly also, is to be found in the pages of books. And throughout it all, I kept returning to old favorites again and again: The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and later Till We Have Faces. The more I read of other writers, the more I discovered how good the tales of Narnia really are.

7. Do you know what books Jack may have read as a child?

Many of those same authors I have enumerated above. He recommended to me those books that he had loved as a child, as did Mother and Warnie.

8. Do you have a favorite title in the Narnia series? Did Jack? If so, which and what makes it stand out for either of you?

For me, it is always whichever of them I am reading at the time that question is asked. But Jack most liked The Last Battle, and for very simple reasons. Contrary to some theories that have recently been bandied about, Jack never intended, nor set out, to write a series of books about Narnia. When he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and sent it off to Geoffrey Bles (its first publisher), he thought he had written a one-off novel for children and that would be the end of it. But quite soon Prince Caspian demanded his attention and he wrote that one too, then The Dawn Treader climbed up over the horizon of the Narnia Eastern Sea and Jack had to write that adventure too, and so it went on. At last, Jack, determinedly and with celestial permission from his Muse, wrote The Last Battle, in which the heaven of Narnia at last became Heaven, and he sent it off to Spencer Curtis Brown, his then literary agent, with a sigh of relief. This work, which had grown of itself and which he had never intended, was rounded off and finished. Jack liked The Last Battle the best because its culmination was his vision of True Heaven imposed on a Narnian context, Narnia itself being a shadow of his childhood vision of heaven. In other words, true Narnia became to Narnia what Jack imagined Heaven will be to Earth. And also he liked it because it was his last Narnian battle.

9. Who were some of your favorite Narnians growing up?

Apart from Aslan, whom everyone has to love—but from a safe distance in most cases—Puddleglum is one of my favorites because he brings back to me a man whom I loved a great deal and who had helped me through so many childish dilemmas and sorrows. Reepicheep is another for his valor and purity. Among the Knights of King Arthur’s Court, while my schoolmates all wanted to be Launcelot, I always wanted to be Galahad (still do, I suppose), and Reepicheep is that pure Knight of Narnia, much like Galahad was the pure Knight of King Arthur’s court. Shasta/Cor, Prince of Archenland, appeals to me greatly, too.

10. You’ve mentioned Frederick Calcutt Paxford twice now, the man after whom Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle is modeled, and his impact on you. Can you tell us more about him? Was he like Puddleglum? What was his relationship with Jack? With you?

Fred was exactly like Puddleglum in character, the outwardly ever- pessimistic covert optimist, although the two have no physical resemblance at all. Fred was heavyset and stout and of average height; Puddleglum very tall, very thin. He was a veteran of the horror of the trenches of the First World War and had suffered from a poison gas attack. He and Jack were in some ways kindred spirits, both possessing in great measure the virtues of honesty and kindness. Fred was a great friend to me at a time in my life when I most needed one. We became friends out in the “gyaarden,” as Fred pronounced the word, of The Kilns and soon discovered that we shared common interests. He taught me things that would perhaps be good-naturedly frowned upon by Jack and Warnie, like how to set snares for rabbits, how to maze a hare, how to shoot straight with a 12-bore shotgun, how to plough a straight furrow with a horse-drawn plough, and innumerable other things of more value than almost anything I ever learned at any school. I was weeping softly beneath the old weeping willow tree out by The Kilns themselves the day my mother died when Fred joined me, laid his massive arm gently across my shoulders, and held me to him. “Doant cry, son,” he said softly; but the effect was spoiled somewhat by the tears I saw running down his face. Fred was a good friend.

11. Were there other characters based on people you and Jack knew? Did those people know they inspired these great books? How are the characters similar to the people who inspired them?

Jack had an almost uncanny talent for writing unpleasant characters who turned out to be the living images of people he was about to meet [or his readers are about to meet]. He always said that his villains were modeled on himself. There were other characters that he drew from friends and acquaintances, but he was always very careful not to let it become obvious, so he would mix and match his characters’ personalities and appearances to avoid anyone ever being able to recognize them. He couldn’t fool Warnie, however; and sometimes Warnie would tell me that “so and so was modeled on an old fool at Merton” or wherever. But Jack never gave a character taken from someone he knew an appearance in any way similar to that person, nor even a similar profession. Jack protected his models.

12. What made C. S. Lewis decide to write The Magician’s Nephew well after writing and publishing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ? Why was the series reordered to put The Magician’s Nephew first?

Jack listened to his Muse and also to his audience. People were asking how it all came to be, why and how Narnia had come into existence in the first place. But also I think that he knew that he would not be allowed or able to end Narnia until he had first begun it. As for the “reordering” of Narnia, the putting of numbers on the spines of books was an American idea and one which I felt was superfluous, feeling that we should all be allowed to read the books in any order we like (and I do), but the first American publisher set the precedent. I asked Jack what order the books should be read in when The Magician’s Nephew had appeared and The Last Battle finally came out. He told me that his preference was for them to be read in order of Narnian chronology but that it didn’t really matter. I agreed completely, and many years later when HarperCollins took over the worldwide English language publication of the books, they decided to retain numbers on the spines and asked me what order they should be in. I told them to go with what Jack himself preferred. And they did!

13. How do you think the perception of Narnia has changed since C. S. Lewis first wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

Not a lot really, at least not among those very wise folk who read the books. Of course we have made movies of several of the books, and that has spread the knowledge of Narnia even farther than the worldwide publication of the books in many languages had already achieved. But Narnia is Narnia and appeals to young men and women, to children, and to white-bearded ancients alike, no matter where they live or what language they speak, and it always will.

14. November 22, 2013, marks the fiftieth anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s passing. What do you remember about this event?

Very little, actually. That whole time is a faded haze in my mind. I remember his funeral at which I stood as the leading mourner, and I remember the single candle that stood upon his coffin, first in the church and then under the tree at the graveside. There was a strange and perhaps holy stillness about the air that day, not a breath of wind stirred; and the candle flame stood straight and tall, never so much as even wavering, only to be extinguished as it was taken from the coffin (by whom I did not see) as it was lowered into the grave. We buried more than a man that day; we buried a light as well. Had Jack not written so much so well, the world would today be a much darker place for so many people. That was a hard, bitter time for me. There were many condolence letters, but I didn’t read them nor even open the envelopes. Loneliness is really the only thing I remember. Once again, all that I loved, all that I valued had been swept away, and I was alone.

15. Do you recall how fans reacted to the news of C. S. Lewis’s death?

Hardly at all; his death passed at first almost unnoticed, as President Kennedy was assassinated the same day.

16. C. S. Lewis is being honored with a memorial stone in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner on the anniversary of his death. How do you feel about this? How do you think Jack would have responded to this tribute?

I think he would have certainly found it gratifying and would smile.

17. Why do you think so many people connect to The Chronicles of Narnia? What do readers take from it? Why do they keep returning to Narnia?

Readers return to Narnia simply because mankind has been gifted with a sense of truth. It is stronger in some than in others, but we all have it to some degree or another. In Narnia, we sense the truth of what is written, no matter who we are or where we are from.

Narnia, and all it stands for and represents, rings true.





THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW





Dedication

To The Kilmer Family





Contents

Dedication



Chapter One: The Wrong Door

Chapter Two: Digory and His Uncle

Chapter Three: The Wood Between the Worlds

Chapter Four: The Bell and the Hammer

Chapter Five: The Deplorable Word

Chapter Six: The Beginning of Uncle Andrew’s Troubles

Chapter Seven: What Happened at the Front Door

Chapter Eight: The Fight at the Lamp-post

Chapter Nine: The Founding of Narnia

Chapter Ten: The First Joke and Other Matters

Chapter Eleven: Digory and His Uncle Are Both in Trouble

Chapter Twelve: Strawberry’s Adventure

Chapter Thirteen: An Unexpected Meeting

Chapter Fourteen: The Planting of the Tree

Chapter Fifteen: The End of This Story and the Beginning of All the Others





Chapter One

The Wrong Door

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.

In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road. In those days, if you were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usually nastier than now. But meals were nicer; and as for sweets, I won’t tell you how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water in vain. And in those days there lived in London a girl called Polly Plummer.

She lived in one of a long row of houses which were all joined together. One morning she was out in the back garden when a boy scrambled up from the garden next door and put his face over the wall. Polly was very surprised because up till now there had never been any children in that house, but only Mr. Ketterley and Miss Ketterley, a brother and sister, old bachelor and old maid, living together. So she looked up, full of curiosity. The face of the strange boy was very grubby. It could hardly have been grubbier if he had first rubbed his hands in the earth, and then had a good cry, and then dried his face with his hands. As a matter of fact, this was very nearly what he had been doing.

“Hullo,” said Polly.

“Hullo,” said the boy. “What’s your name?”

“Polly,” said Polly. “What’s yours?”

“Digory,” said the boy.

“I say, what a funny name!” said Polly.

“It isn’t half so funny as Polly,” said Digory.

“Yes it is,” said Polly.

“No, it isn’t,” said Digory.

“At any rate I do wash my face,” said Polly, “which is what you need to do; especially after—” and then she stopped. She had been going to say “After you’ve been blubbing,” but she thought that wouldn’t be polite.

“All right, I have then,” said Digory in a much louder voice, like a boy who was so miserable that he didn’t care who knew he had been crying. “And so would you,” he went on, “if you’d lived all your life in the country and had a pony, and a river at the bottom of the garden, and then been brought to live in a beastly Hole like this.”

“London isn’t a Hole,” said Polly indignantly. But the boy was too wound up to take any notice of her, and he went on—

“And if your father was away in India—and you had to come and live with an Aunt and an Uncle who’s mad (who would like that?)—and if the reason was that they were looking after your Mother—and if your Mother was ill and was going to—going to—die.” Then his face went the wrong sort of shape as it does if you’re trying to keep back your tears.

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry,” said Polly humbly. And then, because she hardly knew what to say, and also to turn Digory’s mind to cheerful subjects, she asked:

“Is Mr. Ketterley really mad?”

“Well either he’s mad,” said Digory, “or there’s some other mystery. He has a study on the top floor and Aunt Letty says I must never go up there. Well, that looks fishy to begin with. And then there’s another thing. Whenever he tries to say anything to me at meal times—he never even tries to talk to her—she always shuts him up. She says, ‘Don’t worry the boy, Andrew’ or ‘I’m sure Digory doesn’t want to hear about that,’ or else, ‘Now, Digory, wouldn’t you like to go out and play in the garden?’”

“What sort of things does he try to say?”

“I don’t know. He never gets far enough. But there’s more than that. One night—it was last night in fact—as I was going past the foot of the attic-stairs on my way to bed (and I don’t much care for going past them either) I’m sure I heard a yell.”

“Perhaps he keeps a mad wife shut up there.”

“Yes, I’ve thought of that.”

“Or perhaps he’s a coiner.”

“Or he might have been a pirate, like the man at the beginning of Treasure Island, and be always hiding from his old shipmates.”

“How exciting!” said Polly. “I never knew your house was so interesting.”

“You may think it interesting,” said Digory. “But you wouldn’t like it if you had to sleep there. How would you like to lie awake listening for Uncle Andrew’s step to come creeping along the passage to your room? And he has such awful eyes.”

That was how Polly and Digory got to know one another: and as it was just the beginning of the summer holidays and neither of them was going to the sea that year, they met nearly every day.

Their adventures began chiefly because it was one of the wettest and coldest summers there had been for years. That drove them to do indoor things: you might say, indoor exploration. It is wonderful how much exploring you can do with a stump of candle in a big house, or in a row of houses. Polly had discovered long ago that if you opened a certain little door in the box-room attic of her house you would find the cistern and a dark place behind it which you could get into by a little careful climbing. The dark place was like a long tunnel with brick wall on one side and sloping roof on the other. In the roof there were little chunks of light between the slates. There was no floor in this tunnel: you had to step from rafter to rafter, and between them there was only plaster. If you stepped on this you would find yourself falling through the ceiling of the room below. Polly had used the bit of the tunnel just beside the cistern as a smugglers’ cave. She had brought up bits of old packing cases and the seats of broken kitchen chairs, and things of that sort, and spread them across from rafter to rafter so as to make a bit of floor. Here she kept a cash-box containing various treasures, and a story she was writing and usually a few apples. She had often drunk a quiet bottle of ginger-beer in there: the old bottles made it look more like a smugglers’ cave.

Digory quite liked the cave (she wouldn’t let him see the story) but he was more interested in exploring.

“Look here,” he said. “How long does this tunnel go on for? I mean, does it stop where your house ends?”

“No,” said Polly. “The walls don’t go out to the roof. It goes on. I don’t know how far.”

“Then we could get the length of the whole row of houses.”

“So we could,” said Polly. “And oh, I say!”

“What?”

“We could get into the other houses.”

“Yes, and get taken up for burglars! No thanks.”

“Don’t be so jolly clever. I was thinking of the house beyond yours.”

“What about it?”

“Why, it’s the empty one. Daddy says it’s always been empty ever since we came here.”

“I suppose we ought to have a look at it then,” said Digory. He was a good deal more excited than you’d have thought from the way he spoke. For of course he was thinking, just as you would have been, of all the reasons why the house might have been empty so long. So was Polly. Neither of them said the word “haunted.” And both felt that once the thing had been suggested, it would be feeble not to do it.

“Shall we go and try it now?” said Digory.

“All right,” said Polly.

“Don’t if you’d rather not,” said Digory.

“I’m game if you are,” said she.

“How are we to know when we’re in the next house but one?”

They decided they would have to go out into the box-room and walk across it taking steps as long as the steps from one rafter to the next. That would give them an idea of how many rafters went to a room. Then they would allow about four more for the passage between the two attics in Polly’s house, and then the same number for the maid’s bedroom as for the box-room. That would give them the length of the house. When they had done that distance twice they would be at the end of Digory’s house; any door they came to after that would let them into an attic of the empty house.

“But I don’t expect it’s really empty at all,” said Digory.

“What do you expect?”

“I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get a reward. It’s all rot to say a house would be empty all those years unless there was some mystery.”

“Daddy thought it must be the drains,” said Polly.

“Pooh! Grown-ups are always thinking of uninteresting explanations,” said Digory. Now that they were talking by daylight in the attic instead of by candlelight in the Smugglers’ Cave it seemed much less likely that the empty house would be haunted.

When they had measured the attic they had to get a pencil and do a sum. They both got different answers to it at first, and even when they agreed I am not sure they got it right. They were in a hurry to start on the exploration.

“We mustn’t make a sound,” said Polly as they climbed in again behind the cistern. Because it was such an important occasion they took a candle each (Polly had a good store of these in her cave).

It was very dark and dusty and drafty and they stepped from rafter to rafter without a word except when they whispered to one another, “We’re opposite your attic now” or “this must be halfway through our house.” And neither of them stumbled and the candles didn’t go out, and at last they came to where they could see a little door in the brick wall on their right. There was no bolt or handle on this side of it, of course, for the door had been made for getting in, not for getting out; but there was a catch (as there often is on the inside of a cupboard door) which they felt sure they would be able to turn.

“Shall I?” said Digory.

“I’m game if you are,” said Polly, just as she had said before. Both felt that it was becoming very serious, but neither would draw back. Digory pushed round the catch with some difficulty. The door swung open and the sudden daylight made them blink. Then, with a great shock, they saw that they were looking, not into a deserted attic, but into a furnished room. But it seemed empty enough. It was dead silent. Polly’s curiosity got the better of her. She blew out her candle and stepped out into the strange room, making no more noise than a mouse.

It was shaped, of course, like an attic, but furnished as a sitting-room. Every bit of the walls was lined with shelves and every bit of the shelves was full of books. A fire was burning in the grate (you remember that it was a very cold wet summer that year) and in front of the fireplace with its back toward them was a high-backed armchair. Between the chair and Polly, and filling most of the middle of the room, was a big table piled with all sorts of things—printed books, and books of the sort you write in, and ink bottles and pens and sealing-wax and a microscope. But what she noticed first was a bright red wooden tray with a number of rings on it. They were in pairs—a yellow one and a green one together, then a little space, and then another yellow one and another green one. They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them because they were so bright. They were the most beautiful shiny little things you can imagine. If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to put one in her mouth.

The room was so quiet that you noticed the ticking of the clock at once. And yet, as she now found, it was not absolutely quiet either. There was a faint—a very, very faint—humming sound. If vacuum cleaners had been invented in those days Polly would have thought it was the sound of a Hoover being worked a long way off—several rooms away and several floors below. But it was a nicer sound than that, a more musical tone: only so faint that you could hardly hear it.

“It’s all right—there’s no one here,” said Polly over her shoulder to Digory. She was speaking above a whisper now. And Digory came out, blinking and looking extremely dirty—as indeed Polly was too.

“This is no good,” he said. “It’s not an empty house at all. We’d better leave before anyone comes.”

“What do you think those are?” said Polly, pointing at the colored rings.

“Oh, come on,” said Digory. “The sooner—”

He never finished what he was going to say for at that moment something happened. The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly and there rose up out of it—like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor—the alarming form of Uncle Andrew. They were not in the empty house at all; they were in Digory’s house and in the forbidden study! Both children said “O-o-oh” and realized their terrible mistake. They felt they ought to have known all along that they hadn’t gone nearly far enough.

Uncle Andrew was tall and very thin. He had a long clean-shaven face with a sharply pointed nose and extremely bright eyes and a great tousled mop of gray hair.

Digory was quite speechless, for Uncle Andrew looked a thousand times more alarming than he had ever looked before. Polly was not so frightened yet; but she soon was. For the very first thing Uncle Andrew did was to walk across to the door of the room, shut it, and turn the key in the lock. Then he turned round, fixed the children with his bright eyes, and smiled, showing all his teeth.

“There!” he said. “Now my fool of a sister can’t get at you!”

It was dreadfully unlike anything a grown-up would be expected to do. Polly’s heart came into her mouth, and she and Digory started backing toward the little door they had come in by. Uncle Andrew was too quick for them. He got behind them and shut that door too and stood in front of it. Then he rubbed his hands and made his knuckles crack. He had very long, beautifully white, fingers.

“I am delighted to see you,” he said. “Two children are just what I wanted.”

“Please, Mr. Ketterley,” said Polly. “It’s nearly my dinner time and I’ve got to go home. Will you let us out, please?”

“Not just yet,” said Uncle Andrew. “This is too good an opportunity to miss. I wanted two children. You see, I’m in the middle of a great experiment. I’ve tried it on a guinea-pig and it seemed to work. But then a guinea-pig can’t tell you anything. And you can’t explain to it how to come back.”

“Look here, Uncle Andrew,” said Digory, “it really is dinner time and they’ll be looking for us in a moment. You must let us out.”

“Must?” said Uncle Andrew.

Digory and Polly glanced at one another. They dared not say anything, but the glances meant “Isn’t this dreadful?” and “We must humor him.”

“If you let us go for our dinner now,” said Polly, “we could come back after dinner.”

“Ah, but how do I know that you would?” said Uncle Andrew with a cunning smile. Then he seemed to change his mind.

“Well, well,” he said, “if you really must go, I suppose you must. I can’t expect two youngsters like you to find it much fun talking to an old buffer like me.” He sighed and went on. “You’ve no idea how lonely I sometimes am. But no matter. Go to your dinner. But I must give you a present before you go. It’s not every day that I see a little girl in my dingy old study; especially, if I may say so, such a very attractive young lady as yourself.”

Polly began to think he might not really be mad after all.

“Wouldn’t you like a ring, my dear?” said Uncle Andrew to Polly.

“Do you mean one of those yellow or green ones?” said Polly. “How lovely!”

“Not a green one,” said Uncle Andrew. “I’m afraid I can’t give the green ones away. But I’d be delighted to give you any of the yellow ones: with my love. Come and try one on.”

Polly had now quite got over her fright and felt sure that the old gentleman was not mad; and there was certainly something strangely attractive about those bright rings. She moved over to the tray.

“Why! I declare,” she said. “That humming noise gets louder here. It’s almost as if the rings were making it.”

“What a funny fancy, my dear,” said Uncle Andrew with a laugh. It sounded a very natural laugh, but Digory had seen an eager, almost a greedy, look on his face.

“Polly! Don’t be a fool!” he shouted. “Don’t touch them.”

It was too late. Exactly as he spoke, Polly’s hand went out to touch one of the rings. And immediately, without a flash or a noise or a warning of any sort, there was no Polly. Digory and his Uncle were alone in the room.





Chapter Two

Digory and His Uncle

IT WAS SO SUDDEN, AND SO HORRIBLY UNLIKE ANYTHING that had ever happened to Digory even in a nightmare, that he let out a scream. Instantly Uncle Andrew’s hand was over his mouth. “None of that!” he hissed in Digory’s ear. “If you start making a noise your Mother’ll hear it. And you know what a fright might do to her.”

As Digory said afterward, the horrible meanness of getting at a chap in that way, almost made him sick. But of course he didn’t scream again.

“That’s better,” said Uncle Andrew. “Perhaps you couldn’t help it. It is a shock when you first see someone vanish. Why, it gave even me a turn when the guinea-pig did it the other night.”

“Was that when you yelled?” asked Digory.

“Oh, you heard that, did you? I hope you haven’t been spying on me?”

“No, I haven’t,” said Digory indignantly. “But what’s happened to Polly?”

“Congratulate me, my dear boy,” said Uncle Andrew, rubbing his hands. “My experiment has succeeded. The little girl’s gone—vanished—right out of the world.”

“What have you done to her?”

“Sent her to—well—to another place.”

“What do you mean?” asked Digory.

Uncle Andrew sat down and said, “Well, I’ll tell you all about it. Have you ever heard of old Mrs. Lefay?”

“Wasn’t she a great-aunt or something?” said Digory.

“Not exactly,” said Uncle Andrew. “She was my godmother. That’s her, there, on the wall.”

Digory looked and saw a faded photograph: it showed the face of an old woman in a bonnet. And he could now remember that he had once seen a photo of the same face in an old drawer, at home, in the country. He had asked his Mother who it was and Mother had not seemed to want to talk about the subject much. It was not at all a nice face, Digory thought, though of course with those early photographs one could never really tell.

“Was there—wasn’t there—something wrong about her, Uncle Andrew?” he asked.

“Well,” said Uncle Andrew with a chuckle, “it depends what you call wrong. People are so narrow-minded. She certainly got very queer in later life. Did very unwise things. That was why they shut her up.”

“In an asylum, do you mean?”

“Oh no, no, no,” said Uncle Andrew in a shocked voice. “Nothing of that sort. Only in prison.”

“I say!” said Digory. “What had she done?”

“Ah, poor woman,” said Uncle Andrew. “She had been very unwise. There were a good many different things. We needn’t go into all that. She was always very kind to me.”

“But look here, what has all this got to do with Polly? I do wish you’d—”

“All in good time, my boy,” said Uncle Andrew. “They let old Mrs. Lefay out before she died and I was one of the very few people whom she would allow to see her in her last illness. She had got to dislike ordinary, ignorant people, you understand. I do myself. But she and I were interested in the same sort of things. It was only a few days before her death that she told me to go to an old bureau in her house and open a secret drawer and bring her a little box that I would find there. The moment I picked up that box I could tell by the pricking in my fingers that I held some great secret in my hands. She gave it to me and made me promise that as soon as she was dead I would burn it, unopened, with certain ceremonies. That promise I did not keep.”

“Well, then, it was jolly rotten of you,” said Digory.

“Rotten?” said Uncle Andrew with a puzzled look. “Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I’m sure, and I’m very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys—and servants—and women—and even people in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine. But then he remembered the ugly look he had seen on his Uncle’s face the moment before Polly had vanished: and all at once he saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words. “All it means,” he said to himself, “is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants.”

“Of course,” said Uncle Andrew, “I didn’t dare to open the box for a long time, for I knew it might contain something highly dangerous. For my godmother was a very remarkable woman. The truth is, she was one of the last mortals in this country who had fairy blood in her. (She said there had been two others in her time. One was a duchess and the other was a charwoman.) In fact, Digory, you are now talking to the last man (possibly) who really had a fairy godmother. There! That’ll be something for you to remember when you are an old man yourself.”

“I bet she was a bad fairy,” thought Digory; and added out loud, “But what about Polly?”

“How you do harp on that!” said Uncle Andrew. “As if that was what mattered! My first task was of course to study the box itself. It was very ancient. And I knew enough even then to know that it wasn’t Greek, or Old Egyptian, or Babylonian, or Hittite, or Chinese. It was older than any of those nations. Ah—that was a great day when I at last found out the truth. The box was Atlantean; it came from the lost island of Atlantis. That meant it was centuries older than any of the stone-age things they dig up in Europe. And it wasn’t a rough, crude thing like them either. For in the very dawn of time Atlantis was already a great city with palaces and temples and learned men.”

He paused for a moment as if he expected Digory to say something. But Digory was disliking his Uncle more every minute, so he said nothing.

“Meanwhile,” continued Uncle Andrew, “I was learning a good deal in other ways (it wouldn’t be proper to explain them to a child) about Magic in general. That meant that I came to have a fair idea what sort of things might be in the box. By various tests I narrowed down the possibilities. I had to get to know some—well, some devilish queer people, and go through some very disagreeable experiences. That was what turned my head gray. One doesn’t become a magician for nothing. My health broke down in the end. But I got better. And at last I actually knew.”

Although there was not really the least chance of anyone overhearing them, he leaned forward and almost whispered as he said:

“The Atlantean box contained something that had been brought from another world when our world was only just beginning.”

“What?” asked Digory, who was now interested in spite of himself.

“Only dust,” said Uncle Andrew. “Fine, dry dust. Nothing much to look at. Not much to show for a lifetime of toil, you might say. Ah, but when I looked at that dust (I took jolly good care not to touch it) and thought that every grain had once been in another world—I don’t mean another planet, you know; they’re part of our world and you could get to them if you went far enough—but a really Other World—another Nature—another universe—somewhere you would never reach even if you traveled through the space of this universe forever and ever—a world that could be reached only by Magic—well!” Here Uncle Andrew rubbed his hands till his knuckles cracked like fireworks.

“I knew,” he went on, “that if only you could get it into the right form, that dust would draw you back to the place it had come from. But the difficulty was to get it into the right form. My earlier experiments were all failures. I tried them on guinea-pigs. Some of them only died. Some exploded like little bombs—”

“It was a jolly cruel thing to do,” said Digory, who had once had a guinea-pig of his own.

“How you do keep getting off the point!” said Uncle Andrew. “That’s what the creatures were for. I’d bought them myself. Let me see—where was I? Ah yes. At last I succeeded in making the rings: the yellow rings. But now a new difficulty arose. I was pretty sure, now, that a yellow ring would send any creature that touched it into the Other Place. But what would be the good of that if I couldn’t get them back to tell me what they had found there?”

“And what about them?” said Digory. “A nice mess they’d be in if they couldn’t get back!”

“You will keep on looking at everything from the wrong point of view,” said Uncle Andrew with a look of impatience. “Can’t you understand that the thing is a great experiment? The whole point of sending anyone into the Other Place is that I want to find out what it’s like.”

“Well why didn’t you go yourself then?”

Digory had hardly ever seen anyone look so surprised and offended as his Uncle did at this simple question. “Me? Me?” he exclaimed. “The boy must be mad! A man at my time of life, and in my state of health, to risk the shock and the dangers of being flung suddenly into a different universe? I never heard anything so preposterous in my life! Do you realize what you’re saying? Think what Another World means—you might meet anything—anything.”

“And I suppose you’ve sent Polly into it then,” said Digory. His cheeks were flaming with anger now. “And all I can say,” he added, “even if you are my Uncle—is that you’ve behaved like a coward, sending a girl to a place you’re afraid to go to yourself.”

“Silence, sir!” said Uncle Andrew, bringing his hand down on the table. “I will not be talked to like that by a little, dirty, schoolboy. You don’t understand. I am the great scholar, the magician, the adept, who is doing the experiment. Of course I need subjects to do it on. Bless my soul, you’ll be telling me next that I ought to have asked the guinea-pigs’ permission before I used them! No great wisdom can be reached without sacrifice. But the idea of my going myself is ridiculous. It’s like asking a general to fight as a common soldier. Supposing I got killed, what would become of my life’s work?”

“Oh, do stop jawing,” said Digory. “Are you going to bring Polly back?”

“I was going to tell you, when you so rudely interrupted me,” said Uncle Andrew, “that I did at last find out a way of doing the return journey. The green rings draw you back.”

“But Polly hasn’t got a green ring.”

“No,” said Uncle Andrew with a cruel smile.

“Then she can’t get back,” shouted Digory. “And it’s exactly the same as if you’d murdered her.”

“She can get back,” said Uncle Andrew, “if someone else will go after her, wearing a yellow ring himself and taking two green rings, one to bring himself back and one to bring her back.”

And now of course Digory saw the trap in which he was caught: and he stared at Uncle Andrew, saying nothing, with his mouth wide open. His cheeks had gone very pale.

“I hope,” said Uncle Andrew presently in a very high and mighty voice, just as if he were a perfect Uncle who had given one a handsome tip and some good advice, “I hope, Digory, you are not given to showing the white feather. I should be very sorry to think that anyone of our family had not enough honor and chivalry to go to the aid of—er—a lady in distress.”

“Oh shut up!” said Digory. “If you had any honor and all that, you’d be going yourself. But I know you won’t. All right. I see I’ve got to go. But you are a beast. I suppose you planned the whole thing, so that she’d go without knowing it and then I’d have to go after her.”

“Of course,” said Uncle Andrew with his hateful smile.

“Very well. I’ll go. But there’s one thing I jolly well mean to say first. I didn’t believe in Magic till today. I see now it’s real. Well if it is, I suppose all the old fairy tales are more or less true. And you’re simply a wicked, cruel magician like the ones in the stories. Well, I’ve never read a story in which people of that sort weren’t paid out in the end, and I bet you will be. And serve you right.”

Of all the things Digory had said this was the first that really went home. Uncle Andrew started and there came over his face a look of such horror that, beast though he was, you could almost feel sorry for him. But a second later he smoothed it all away and said with a rather forced laugh, “Well, well, I suppose that is a natural thing for a child to think—brought up among women, as you have been. Old wives’ tales, eh? I don’t think you need worry about my danger, Digory. Wouldn’t it be better to worry about the danger of your little friend? She’s been gone some time. If there are any dangers Over There—well, it would be a pity to arrive a moment too late.”

“A lot you care,” said Digory fiercely. “But I’m sick of this jaw. What have I got to do?”

“You really must learn to control that temper of yours, my boy,” said Uncle Andrew coolly. “Otherwise you’ll grow up to be just like your Aunt Letty. Now. Attend to me.”

He got up, put on a pair of gloves, and walked over to the tray that contained the rings.

“They only work,” he said, “if they’re actually touching your skin. Wearing gloves, I can pick them up—like this—and nothing happens. If you carried one in your pocket nothing would happen: but of course you’d have to be careful not to put your hand in your pocket and touch it by accident. The moment you touch a yellow ring, you vanish out of this world. When you are in the Other Place I expect—of course this hasn’t been tested yet, but I expect—that the moment you touch a green ring you vanish out of that world and—I expect—reappear in this. Now. I take these two greens and drop them into your right-hand pocket. Remember very carefully which pocket the greens are in. G for green and R for right. G.R. you see: which are the first two letters of green. One for you and one for the little girl. And now you pick up a yellow one for yourself. I should put it on—on your finger—if I were you. There’ll be less chance of dropping it.”

Digory had almost picked up the yellow ring when he suddenly checked himself.

“Look here,” he said. “What about Mother? Supposing she asks where I am?”

“The sooner you go, the sooner you’ll be back,” said Uncle Andrew cheerfully.

“But you don’t really know whether I can get back.”

Uncle Andrew shrugged his shoulders, walked across to the door, unlocked it, threw it open, and said:

“Oh very well then. Just as you please. Go down and have your dinner. Leave the little girl to be eaten by wild animals or drowned or starved in the Otherworld or lost there for good, if that’s what you prefer. It’s all one to me. Perhaps before tea time you’d better drop in on Mrs. Plummer and explain that she’ll never see her daughter again; because you were afraid to put on a ring.”

“By gum,” said Digory, “don’t I just wish I was big enough to punch your head!”

Then he buttoned up his coat, took a deep breath, and picked up the ring. And he thought then, as he always thought afterward too, that he could not decently have done anything else.





Chapter Three

The Wood Between the Worlds

UNCLE ANDREW AND HIS STUDY VANISHED INSTANTLY. Then, for a moment, everything became muddled. The next thing Digory knew was that there was a soft green light coming down on him from above, and darkness below. He didn’t seem to be standing on anything, or sitting, or lying. Nothing appeared to be touching him. “I believe I’m in water,” said Digory. “Or under water.” This frightened him for a second, but almost at once he could feel that he was rushing upward. Then his head suddenly came out into the air and he found himself scrambling ashore, out on to smooth grassy ground at the edge of a pool.

As he rose to his feet he noticed that he was neither dripping nor panting for breath as anyone would expect after being under water. His clothes were perfectly dry. He was standing by the edge of a small pool—not more than ten feet from side to side—in a wood. The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others—a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterward Digory always said, “It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.”

The strangest thing was that, almost before he had looked about him, Digory had half forgotten how he had come there. At any rate, he was certainly not thinking about Polly, or Uncle Andrew, or even his Mother. He was not in the least frightened, or excited, or curious. If anyone had asked him “Where did you come from?” he would probably have said, “I’ve always been here.” That was what it felt like—as if one had always been in that place and never been bored although nothing had ever happened. As he said long afterward, “It’s not the sort of place where things happen. The trees go on growing, that’s all.”

After Digory had looked at the wood for a long time he noticed that there was a girl lying on her back at the foot of a tree a few yards away. Her eyes were nearly shut but not quite, as if she were just between sleeping and waking. So he looked at her for a long time and said nothing. And at last she opened her eyes and looked at him for a long time and she also said nothing. Then she spoke, in a dreamy, contented sort of voice.

“I think I’ve seen you before,” she said.

“I rather think so too,” said Digory. “Have you been here long?”

“Oh, always,” said the girl. “At least—I don’t know—a very long time.”

“So have I,” said Digory.

“No you haven’t,” said she. “I’ve just seen you come up out of that pool.”

“Yes, I suppose I did,” said Digory with a puzzled air. “I’d forgotten.”

Then for quite a long time neither said any more.

“Look here,” said the girl presently, “I wonder did we ever really meet before? I had a sort of idea—a sort of picture in my head—of a boy and a girl, like us—living somewhere quite different—and doing all sorts of things. Perhaps it was only a dream.”

“I’ve had that same dream, I think,” said Digory. “About a boy and a girl, living next door—and something about crawling among rafters. I remember the girl had a dirty face.”

“Aren’t you getting it mixed? In my dream it was the boy who had the dirty face.”

“I can’t remember the boy’s face,” said Digory: and then added, “Hullo! What’s that?”

“Why! it’s a guinea-pig,” said the girl. And it was—a fat guinea-pig, nosing about in the grass. But round the middle of the guinea-pig there ran a tape, and, tied on to it by the tape, was a bright yellow ring.

“Look! look,” cried Digory. “The ring! And look! You’ve got one on your finger. And so have I.”

The girl now sat up, really interested at last. They stared very hard at one another, trying to remember. And then, at exactly the same moment, she shouted out “Mr. Ketterley” and he shouted out “Uncle Andrew,” and they knew who they were and began to remember the whole story. After a few minutes of hard talking they had got it straight. Digory explained how beastly Uncle Andrew had been.

“What do we do now?” said Polly. “Take the guinea-pig and go home?”

“There’s no hurry,” said Digory with a huge yawn.

“I think there is,” said Polly. “This place is too quiet. It’s so—so dreamy. You’re almost asleep. If we once give in to it we shall just lie down and drowse forever and ever.”

“It’s very nice here,” said Digory.

“Yes, it is,” said Polly. “But we’ve got to get back.” She stood up and began to go cautiously toward the guinea-pig. But then she changed her mind.

“We might as well leave the guinea-pig,” she said. “It’s perfectly happy here, and your uncle will only do something horrid to it if we take it home.”

“I bet he would,” answered Digory. “Look at the way he’s treated us. By the way, how do we get home?”

“Go back into the pool, I expect.”

They came and stood together at the edge, looking down into the smooth water. It was full of the reflection of the green, leafy branches; they made it look very deep.

“We haven’t any bathing things,” said Polly.

“We shan’t need them, silly,” said Digory. “We’re going in with our clothes on. Don’t you remember it didn’t wet us on the way up?”

“Can you swim?”

“A bit. Can you?”

“Well—not much.”

“I don’t think we shall need to swim,” said Digory. “We want to go down, don’t we?”

Neither of them much liked the idea of jumping into that pool, but neither said so to the other. They took hands and said “One—Two—Three—Go” and jumped. There was a great splash and of course they closed their eyes. But when they opened them again they found they were still standing, hand in hand, in that green wood, and hardly up to their ankles in water. The pool was apparently only a couple of inches deep. They splashed back onto the dry ground.

“What on earth’s gone wrong?” said Polly in a frightened voice; but not quite so frightened as you might expect, because it is hard to feel really frightened in that wood. The place is too peaceful.

“Oh! I know,” said Digory. “Of course it won’t work. We’re still wearing our yellow rings. They’re for the outward journey, you know. The green ones take you home. We must change rings. Have you got pockets? Good. Put your yellow ring in your left. I’ve got two greens. Here’s one for you.”

They put on their green rings and came back to the pool. But before they tried another jump Digory gave a long “O-o-oh!”

“What’s the matter?” said Polly.

“I’ve just had a really wonderful idea,” said Digory. “What are all the other pools?”

“How do you mean?”

“Why, if we can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn’t we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others? Supposing there was a world at the bottom of every pool.”

“But I thought we were already in your Uncle Andrew’s Other World or Other Place or whatever he called it. Didn’t you say—”

“Oh bother Uncle Andrew,” interrupted Digory. “I don’t believe he knows anything about it. He never had the pluck to come here himself. He only talked of one Other World. But suppose there were dozens?”

“You mean, this wood might be only one of them?”

“No, I don’t believe this wood is a world at all. I think it’s just a sort of in-between place.”

Polly looked puzzled. “Don’t you see?” said Digory. “No, do listen. Think of our tunnel under the slates at home. It isn’t a room in any of the houses. In a way, it isn’t really part of any of the houses. But once you’re in the tunnel you can go along it and come out into any of the houses in the row. Mightn’t this wood be the same?—a place that isn’t in any of the worlds, but once you’ve found that place you can get into them all.”

“Well, even if you can—” began Polly, but Digory went on as if he hadn’t heard her.

“And of course that explains everything,” he said. “That’s why it is so quiet and sleepy here. Nothing ever happens here. Like at home. It’s in the houses that people talk, and do things, and have meals. Nothing goes on in the in-between places, behind the walls and above the ceilings and under the floor, or in our own tunnel. But when you come out of our tunnel you may find yourself in any house. I think we can get out of this place into jolly well Anywhere! We don’t need to jump back into the same pool we came up by. Or not just yet.”

“The Wood between the Worlds,” said Polly dreamily. “It sounds rather nice.”

“Come on,” said Digory. “Which pool shall we try?”

“Look here,” said Polly, “I’m not going to try any new pool till we’ve made sure that we can get back by the old one. We’re not even sure if it’ll work yet.”

“Yes,” said Digory. “And get caught by Uncle Andrew and have our rings taken away before we’ve had any fun. No thanks.”

“Couldn’t we just go part of the way down into our own pool,” said Polly. “Just to see if it works. Then if it does, we’ll change rings and come up again before we’re really back in Mr. Ketterley’s study.”

“Can we go part of the way down?”

“Well, it took time coming up. I suppose it’ll take a little time going back.”

Digory made rather a fuss about agreeing to this, but he had to in the end because Polly absolutely refused to do any exploring in new worlds until she had made sure about getting back to the old one. She was quite as brave as he about some dangers (wasps, for instance) but she was not so interested in finding out things nobody had ever heard of before; for Digory was the sort of person who wants to know everything, and when he grew up he became the famous Professor Kirke who comes into other books.

After a good deal of arguing they agreed to put on their green rings (“Green for safety,” said Digory, “so you can’t help remembering which is which”) and hold hands and jump. But as soon as they seemed to be getting back to Uncle Andrew’s study, or even to their own world, Polly was to shout “Change” and they would slip off their greens and put on their yellows. Digory wanted to be the one who shouted “Change” but Polly wouldn’t agree.

They put on the green rings, took hands, and once more shouted, “One—Two—Three—Go.” This time it worked. It is very hard to tell you what it felt like, for everything happened so quickly. At first there were bright lights moving about in a black sky; Digory always thinks these were stars and even swears that he saw Jupiter quite close—close enough to see its moon. But almost at once there were rows and rows of roofs and chimney pots about them, and they could see St. Paul’s and knew they were looking at London. But you could see through the walls of all the houses. Then they could see Uncle Andrew, very vague and shadowy, but getting clearer and more solid-looking all the time, just as if he were coming into focus. But before he became quite real Polly shouted “Change,” and they did change, and our world faded away like a dream, and the green light above grew stronger and stronger, till their heads came out of the pool and they scrambled ashore. And there was the wood all about them, as green and bright and still as ever. The whole thing had taken less than a minute.

“There!” said Digory. “That’s all right. Now for the adventure. Any pool will do. Come on. Let’s try that one.”

“Stop!” said Polly. “Aren’t we going to mark this pool?”

They stared at each other and turned quite white as they realized the dreadful thing that Digory had just been going to do. For there were any number of pools in the wood, and the pools were all alike and the trees were all alike, so that if they had once left behind the pool that led to our own world without making some sort of landmark, the chances would have been a hundred to one against their ever finding it again.

Digory’s hand was shaking as he opened his penknife and cut out a long strip of turf on the bank of the pool. The soil (which smelled nice) was of a rich reddish brown and showed up well against the green. “It’s a good thing one of us has some sense,” said Polly.

“Well, don’t keep on gassing about it,” said Digory. “Come along, I want to see what’s in one of the other pools.” And Polly gave him a pretty sharp answer and he said something even nastier in reply. The quarrel lasted for several minutes but it would be dull to write it all down. Let us skip on to the moment at which they stood with beating hearts and rather scared faces on the edge of the unknown pool with their yellow rings on and held hands and once more said “One—Two—Three—Go!”

Splash! Once again it hadn’t worked. This pool, too, appeared to be only a puddle. Instead of reaching a new world they only got their feet wet and splashed their legs for the second time that morning (if it was a morning: it seems to be always the same time in the Wood between the Worlds).

“Blast and botheration!” exclaimed Digory. “What’s gone wrong now? We’ve put our yellow rings on all right. He said yellow for the outward journey.”

Now the truth was that Uncle Andrew, who knew nothing about the Wood between the Worlds, had quite a wrong idea about the rings. The yellow ones weren’t “outward” rings and the green ones weren’t “homeward” rings; at least, not in the way he thought. The stuff of which both were made had all come from the wood. The stuff in the yellow rings had the power of drawing you into the wood; it was stuff that wanted to get back to its own place, the in-between place. But the stuff in the green rings was stuff that was trying to get out of its own place: so that a green ring would take you out of the wood into a world. Uncle Andrew, you see, was working with things he did not really understand; most magicians are. Of course Digory did not realize the truth quite clearly either, or not till later. But when they had talked it over, they decided to try their green rings on the new pool, just to see what happened.

“I’m game if you are,” said Polly. But she really said this because, in her heart of hearts, she now felt sure that neither kind of ring was going to work at all in the new pool, and so there was nothing worse to be afraid of than another splash. I am not quite sure that Digory had not the same feeling. At any rate, when they had both put on their greens and come back to the edge of the water, and taken hands again, they were certainly a good deal more cheerful and less solemn than they had been the first time.

“One—Two—Three—Go!” said Digory. And they jumped.





Chapter Four

The Bell and the Hammer

THERE WAS NO DOUBT ABOUT THE MAGIC THIS TIME. Down and down they rushed, first through darkness and then through a mass of vague and whirling shapes which might have been almost anything. It grew lighter. Then suddenly they felt that they were standing on something solid. A moment later everything came into focus and they were able to look about them.

“What a queer place!” said Digory.

“I don’t like it,” said Polly, with something like a shudder.

What they noticed first was the light. It wasn’t like sunlight, and it wasn’t like electric light, or lamps, or candles, or any other light they had ever seen. It was a dull, rather red light, not at all cheerful. It was steady and did not flicker. They were standing on a flat paved surface and buildings rose all around them. There was no roof overhead; they were in a sort of courtyard. The sky was extraordinarily dark—a blue that was almost black. When you had seen that sky you wondered that there should be any light at all.

“It’s very funny weather here,” said Digory. “I wonder if we’ve arrived just in time for a thunderstorm; or an eclipse.”

“I don’t like it,” said Polly.

Both of them, without quite knowing why, were talking in whispers. And though there was no reason why they should still go on holding hands after their jump, they didn’t let go.

The walls rose very high all round that courtyard. They had many great windows in them, windows without glass, through which you saw nothing but black darkness. Lower down there were great pillared arches, yawning blackly like the mouths of railway tunnels. It was rather cold.

The stone of which everything was built seemed to be red, but that might only be because of the curious light. It was obviously very old. Many of the flat stones that paved the courtyard had cracks across them. None of them fitted closely together and the sharp corners were all worn off. One of the arched doorways was half filled up with rubble. The two children kept on turning round and round to look at the different sides of the courtyard. One reason was that they were afraid of somebody—or something—looking out of those windows at them when their backs were turned.

“Do you think anyone lives here?” said Digory at last, still in a whisper.

“No,” said Polly. “It’s all in ruins. We haven’t heard a sound since we came.”

“Let’s stand still and listen for a bit,” suggested Digory.

They stood still and listened, but all they could hear was the thump-thump of their own hearts. This place was at least as quiet as the Wood between the Worlds. But it was a different kind of quietness. The silence of the Wood had been rich and warm (you could almost hear the trees growing) and full of life: this was a dead, cold, empty silence. You couldn’t imagine anything growing in it.

“Let’s go home,” said Polly.

“But we haven’t seen anything yet,” said Digory. “Now we’re here, we simply must have a look round.”

“I’m sure there’s nothing at all interesting here.”

“There’s not much point in finding a magic ring that lets you into other worlds if you’re afraid to look at them when you’ve got there.”

“Who’s talking about being afraid?” said Polly, letting go of Digory’s hand.

“I only thought you didn’t seem very keen on exploring this place.”

“I’ll go anywhere you go.”

“We can get away the moment we want to,” said Digory. “Let’s take off our green rings and put them in our right-hand pockets. All we’ve got to do is to remember that our yellows are in our left-hand pockets. You can keep your hand as near your pocket as you like, but don’t put it in or you’ll touch your yellow and vanish.”

They did this and went quietly up to one of the big arched doorways which led into the inside of the building. And when they stood on the threshold and could look in, they saw it was not so dark inside as they had thought at first. It led into a vast, shadowy hall which appeared to be empty; but on the far side there was a row of pillars with arches between them and through those arches there streamed in some more of the same tired-looking light. They crossed the hall, walking very carefully for fear of holes in the floor or of anything lying about that they might trip over. It seemed a long walk. When they had reached the other side they came out through the arches and found themselves in another and larger courtyard.

“That doesn’t look very safe,” said Polly, pointing at a place where the wall bulged outward and looked as if it were ready to fall over into the courtyard. In one place a pillar was missing between two arches and the bit that came down to where the top of the pillar ought to have been hung there with nothing to support it. Clearly, the place had been deserted for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

“If it’s lasted till now, I suppose it’ll last a bit longer,” said Digory. “But we must be very quiet. You know a noise sometimes brings things down—like an avalanche in the Alps.”

They went on out of that courtyard into another doorway, and up a great flight of steps and through vast rooms that opened out of one another till you were dizzy with the mere size of the place. Every now and then they thought they were going to get out into the open and see what sort of country lay around the enormous palace. But each time they only got into another courtyard. They must have been magnificent places when people were still living there. In one there had once been a fountain. A great stone monster with widespread wings stood with its mouth open and you could still see a bit of piping at the back of its mouth, out of which the water used to pour. Under it was a wide stone basin to hold the water; but it was as dry as a bone. In other places there were the dry sticks of some sort of climbing plant which had wound itself round the pillars and helped to pull some of them down. But it had died long ago. And there were no ants or spiders or any of the other living things you expect to see in a ruin; and where the dry earth showed between the broken flagstones there was no grass or moss.

It was all so dreary and all so much the same that even Digory was thinking they had better put on their yellow rings and get back to the warm, green, living forest of the In-between place, when they came to two huge doors of some metal that might possibly be gold. One stood a little ajar. So of course they went to look in. Both started back and drew a long breath: for here at last was something worth seeing.

For a second they thought the room was full of people—hundreds of people, all seated, and all perfectly still. Polly and Digory, as you may guess, stood perfectly still themselves for a good long time, looking in. But presently they decided that what they were looking at could not be real people. There was not a movement nor the sound of a breath among them all. They were like the most wonderful waxworks you ever saw.

This time Polly took the lead. There was something in this room which interested her more than it interested Digory: all the figures were wearing magnificent clothes. If you were interested in clothes at all, you could hardly help going in to see them closer. And the blaze of their colors made this room look, not exactly cheerful, but at any rate rich and majestic after all the dust and emptiness of the others. It had more windows, too, and was a good deal lighter.

I can hardly describe the clothes. The figures were all robed and had crowns on their heads. Their robes were of crimson and silvery gray and deep purple and vivid green: and there were patterns, and pictures of flowers and strange beasts, in needlework all over them. Precious stones of astonishing size and brightness stared from their crowns and hung in chains round their necks and peeped out from all the places where anything was fastened.

“Why haven’t these clothes all rotted away long ago?” asked Polly.

“Magic,” whispered Digory. “Can’t you feel it? I bet this whole room is just stiff with enchantments. I could feel it the moment we came in.”

“Any one of these dresses would cost hundreds of pounds,” said Polly.

But Digory was more interested in the faces, and indeed these were well worth looking at. The people sat in their stone chairs on each side of the room and the floor was left free down the middle. You could walk down and look at the faces in turn.

“They were nice people, I think,” said Digory.

Polly nodded. All the faces they could see were certainly nice. Both the men and women looked kind and wise, and they seemed to come of a handsome race. But after the children had gone a few steps down the room they came to faces that looked a little different. These were very solemn faces. You felt you would have to mind your P’s and Q’s, if you ever met living people who looked like that. When they had gone a little further, they found themselves among faces they didn’t like: this was about the middle of the room. The faces here looked very strong and proud and happy, but they looked cruel. A little further on they looked crueller. Further on again, they were still cruel but they no longer looked happy. They were even despairing faces: as if the people they belonged to had done dreadful things and also suffered dreadful things. The last figure of all was the most interesting—a woman even more richly dressed than the others, very tall (but every figure in that room was taller than the people of our world), with a look of such fierceness and pride that it took your breath away. Yet she was beautiful too. Years afterward when he was an old man, Digory said he had never in all his life known a woman so beautiful. It is only fair to add that Polly always said she couldn’t see anything specially beautiful about her.

This woman, as I said, was the last: but there were plenty of empty chairs beyond her, as if the room had been intended for a much larger collection of images.

“I do wish we knew the story that’s behind all this,” said Digory. “Let’s go back and look at that table sort of thing in the middle of the room.”

The thing in the middle of the room was not exactly a table. It was a square pillar about four feet high and on it there rose a little golden arch from which there hung a little golden bell; and beside this there lay a little golden hammer to hit the bell with.

“I wonder . . . I wonder . . . I wonder . . .” said Digory.

“There seems to be something written here,” said Polly, stooping down and looking at the side of the pillar.

“By gum, so there is,” said Digory. “But of course we shan’t be able to read it.”

“Shan’t we? I’m not so sure,” said Polly.

They both looked at it hard and, as you might have expected, the letters cut in the stone were strange. But now a great wonder happened: for, as they looked, though the shape of the strange letters never altered, they found that they could understand them. If only Digory had remembered what he himself had said a few minutes ago, that this was an enchanted room, he might have guessed that the enchantment was beginning to work. But he was too wild with curiosity to think about that. He was longing more and more to know what was written on the pillar. And very soon they both knew. What it said was something like this—at least this is the sense of it though the poetry, when you read it there, was better:



Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;

Strike the bell and bide the danger,

Or wonder, till it drives you mad,

What would have followed if you had.



“No fear!” said Polly. “We don’t want any danger.”

“Oh, but don’t you see it’s no good!” said Digory. “We can’t get out of it now. We shall always be wondering what else would have happened if we had struck the bell. I’m not going home to be driven mad by always thinking of that. No fear!”

“Don’t be so silly,” said Polly. “As if anyone would! What does it matter what would have happened?”

“I expect anyone who’s come as far as this is bound to go on wondering till it sends him dotty. That’s the Magic of it, you see. I can feel it beginning to work on me already.”

“Well I don’t,” said Polly crossly. “And I don’t believe you do either. You’re just putting it on.”

“That’s all you know,” said Digory. “It’s because you’re a girl. Girls never want to know anything but gossip and rot about people getting engaged.”

“You looked exactly like your Uncle when you said that,” said Polly.

“Why can’t you keep to the point?” said Digory. “What we’re talking about is—”

“How exactly like a man!” said Polly in a very grown-up voice; but she added hastily, in her real voice, “And don’t say I’m just like a woman, or you’ll be a beastly copy-cat.”

“I should never dream of calling a kid like you a woman,” said Digory loftily.

“Oh, I’m a kid, am I?” said Polly, who was now in a real rage. “Well you needn’t be bothered by having a kid with you any longer then. I’m off. I’ve had enough of this place. And I’ve had enough of you too—you beastly, stuck-up, obstinate pig!”

“None of that!” said Digory in a voice even nastier than he meant it to be; for he saw Polly’s hand moving to her pocket to get hold of her yellow ring. I can’t excuse what he did next except by saying that he was very sorry for it afterward (and so were a good many other people). Before Polly’s hand reached her pocket, he grabbed her wrist, leaning across her with his back against her chest. Then, keeping her other arm out of the way with his other elbow, he leaned forward, picked up the hammer, and struck the golden bell a light, smart tap. Then he let her go and they fell apart staring at each other and breathing hard. Polly was just beginning to cry, not with fear, and not even because he had hurt her wrist quite badly, but with furious anger. Within two seconds, however, they had something to think about that drove their own quarrels quite out of their minds.

As soon as the bell was struck it gave out a note, a sweet note such as you might have expected, and not very loud. But instead of dying away again, it went on; and as it went on it grew louder. Before a minute had passed it was twice as loud as it had been to begin with. It was soon so loud that if the children had tried to speak (but they weren’t thinking of speaking now—they were just standing with their mouths open) they would not have heard one another. Very soon it was so loud that they could not have heard one another even by shouting. And still it grew: all on one note, a continuous sweet sound, though the sweetness had something horrible about it, till all the air in that great room was throbbing with it and they could feel the stone floor trembling under their feet. Then at last it began to be mixed with another sound, a vague, disastrous noise which sounded first like the roar of a distant train, and then like the crash of a falling tree. They heard something like great weights falling. Finally, with a sudden rush and thunder, and a shake that nearly flung them off their feet, about a quarter of the roof at one end of the room fell in, great blocks of masonry fell all round them, and the walls rocked. The noise of the bell stopped. The clouds of dust cleared away. Everything became quiet again.

It was never found out whether the fall of the roof was due to Magic or whether that unbearably loud sound from the bell just happened to strike the note which was more than those crumbling walls could stand.

“There! I hope you’re satisfied now,” panted Polly.

“Well, it’s all over, anyway,” said Digory.

And both thought it was; but they had never been more mistaken in their lives.





Chapter Five

The Deplorable Word

THE CHILDREN WERE FACING ONE ANOTHER ACROSS the pillar where the bell hung, still trembling, though it no longer gave out any note. Suddenly they heard a soft noise from the end of the room which was still undamaged. They turned as quick as lightning to see what it was. One of the robed figures, the furthest-off one of all, the woman whom Digory thought so beautiful, was rising from its chair. When she stood up they realized that she was even taller than they had thought. And you could see at once, not only from her crown and robes, but from the flash of her eyes and the curve of her lips, that she was a great queen. She looked round the room and saw the damage and saw the children, but you could not guess from her face what she thought of either or whether she was surprised. She came forward with long, swift strides.

“Who has awaked me? Who has broken the spell?” she asked.

“I think it must have been me,” said Digory.

“You!” said the Queen, laying her hand on his shoulder—a white, beautiful hand, but Digory could feel that it was strong as steel pincers. “You? But you are only a child, a common child. Anyone can see at a glance that you have no drop of royal or noble blood in your veins. How did such as you dare to enter this house?”

“We’ve come from another world; by Magic,” said Polly, who thought it was high time the Queen took some notice of her as well as Digory.

“Is this true?” said the Queen, still looking at Digory and not giving Polly even a glance.

“Yes, it is,” said he.

The Queen put her other hand under his chin and forced it up so that she could see his face better. Digory tried to stare back but he soon had to let his eyes drop. There was something about hers that overpowered him. After she had studied him for well over a minute, she let go of his chin and said:

“You are no magician. The Mark of it is not on you. You must be only the servant of a magician. It is on another’s Magic that you have traveled here.”

“It was my Uncle Andrew,” said Digory.

At that moment, not in the room itself but from somewhere very close, there came, first a rumbling, then a creaking, and then a roar of falling masonry, and the floor shook.

“There is great peril here,” said the Queen. “The whole palace is breaking up. If we are not out of it in a few minutes we shall be buried under the ruin.” She spoke as calmly as if she had been merely mentioning the time of day. “Come,” she added, and held out a hand to each of the children. Polly, who was disliking the Queen and feeling rather sulky, would not have let her hand be taken if she could have helped it. But though the Queen spoke so calmly, her movements were as quick as thought. Before Polly knew what was happening her left hand had been caught in a hand so much larger and stronger than her own that she could do nothing about it.

“This is a terrible woman,” thought Polly. “She’s strong enough to break my arm with one twist. And now that she’s got my left hand I can’t get at my yellow ring. If I tried to stretch across and get my right hand into my left pocket I mightn’t be able to reach it before she asked me what I was doing. Whatever happens we mustn’t let her know about the rings. I do hope Digory has the sense to keep his mouth shut. I wish I could get a word with him alone.”

The Queen led them out of the Hall of Images into a long corridor and then through a whole maze of halls and stairs and courtyards. Again and again they heard parts of the great palace collapsing, sometimes quite close to them. Once a huge arch came thundering down only a moment after they had passed through it. The Queen was walking quickly—the children had to trot to keep up with her—but she showed no sign of fear. Digory thought, “She’s wonderfully brave. And strong. She’s what I call a Queen! I do hope she’s going to tell us the story of this place.”

She did tell them certain things as they went along:

“That is the door to the dungeons,” she would say, or “That passage leads to the principal torture chambers,” or “This was the old banqueting hall where my great-grandfather bade seven hundred nobles to a feast and killed them all before they had drunk their fill. They had had rebellious thoughts.”

They came at last into a hall larger and loftier than any they had yet seen. From its size and from the great doors at the far end, Digory thought that now at last they must be coming to the main entrance. In this he was quite right. The doors were dead black, either ebony or some black metal which is not found in our world. They were fastened with great bars, most of them too high to reach and all too heavy to lift. He wondered how they would get out.

The Queen let go of his hand and raised her arm. She drew herself up to her full height and stood rigid. Then she said something which they couldn’t understand (but it sounded horrid) and made an action as if she were throwing something toward the doors. And those high and heavy doors trembled for a second as if they were made of silk and then crumbled away till there was nothing left of them but a heap of dust on the threshold.

“Whew!” whistled Digory.

“Has your master magician, your uncle, power like mine?” asked the Queen, firmly seizing Digory’s hand again. “But I shall know later. In the meantime, remember what you have seen. This is what happens to things, and to people, who stand in my way.”

Much more light than they had yet seen in that country was pouring in through the now empty doorway, and when the Queen led them out through it they were not surprised to find themselves in the open air. The wind that blew in their faces was cold, yet somehow stale. They were looking from a high terrace and there was a great landscape spread out below them.

Low down and near the horizon hung a great, red sun, far bigger than our sun. Digory felt at once that it was also older than ours: a sun near the end of its life, weary of looking down upon that world. To the left of the sun, and higher up, there was a single star, big and bright. Those were the only two things to be seen in the dark sky; they made a dismal group. And on the earth, in every direction, as far as the eye could reach, there spread a vast city in which there was no living thing to be seen. And all the temples, towers, palaces, pyramids, and bridges cast long, disastrous-looking shadows in the light of that withered sun. Once a great river had flowed through the city, but the water had long since vanished, and there was now only a wide ditch of gray dust.

“Look well on that which no eyes will ever see again,” said the Queen. “Such was Charn, that great city, the city of the King of Kings, the wonder of the world, perhaps of all worlds. Does your uncle rule any city as great as this, boy?”

“No,” said Digory. He was going to explain that Uncle Andrew didn’t rule any cities, but the Queen went on:

“It is silent now. But I have stood here when the whole air was full of the noises of Charn; the trampling of feet, the creaking of wheels, the cracking of the whips and the groaning of slaves, the thunder of chariots, and the sacrificial drums beating in the temples. I have stood here (but that was near the end) when the roar of battle went up from every street and the river of Charn ran red.” She paused and added, “All in one moment one woman blotted it out forever.”

“Who?” said Digory in a faint voice; but he had already guessed the answer.

“I,” said the Queen. “I, Jadis, the last Queen, but the Queen of the World.”

The two children stood silent, shivering in the cold wind.

“It was my sister’s fault,” said the Queen. “She drove me to it. May the curse of all the Powers rest upon her forever! At any moment I was ready to make peace—yes and to spare her life too, if only she would yield me the throne. But she would not. Her pride has destroyed the whole world. Even after the war had begun, there was a solemn promise that neither side would use Magic. But when she broke her promise, what could I do? Fool! As if she did not know that I had more Magic than she! She even knew that I had the secret of the Deplorable Word. Did she think—she was always a weakling—that I would not use it?”

“What was it?” said Digory.

“That was the secret of secrets,” said the Queen Jadis. “It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it. But the ancient kings were weak and soft-hearted and bound themselves and all who should come after them with great oaths never even to seek after the knowledge of that word. But I learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it. I did not use it until she forced me to it. I fought to overcome her by every other means. I poured out the blood of my armies like water—”

“Beast!” muttered Polly.

“The last great battle,” said the Queen, “raged for three days here in Charn itself. For three days I looked down upon it from this very spot. I did not use my power till the last of my soldiers had fallen, and the accursed woman, my sister, at the head of her rebels was halfway up those great stairs that lead up from the city to the terrace. Then I waited till we were so close that we could see one another’s faces. She flashed her horrible, wicked eyes upon me and said, ‘Victory.’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘Victory, but not yours.’ Then I spoke the Deplorable Word. A moment later I was the only living thing beneath the sun.”

“But the people?” gasped Digory.

“What people, boy?” asked the Queen.

“All the ordinary people,” said Polly, “who’d never done you any harm. And the women, and the children, and the animals.”

“Don’t you understand?” said the Queen (still speaking to Digory). “I was the Queen. They were all my people. What else were they there for but to do my will?”

“It was rather hard luck on them, all the same,” said he.

“I had forgotten that you are only a common boy. How should you understand reasons of State? You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great Queen such as I. The weight of the world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny.”

Digory suddenly remembered that Uncle Andrew had used exactly the same words. But they sounded much grander when Queen Jadis said them; perhaps because Uncle Andrew was not seven feet tall and dazzlingly beautiful.

“And what did you do then?” said Digory.

“I had already cast strong spells on the hall where the images of my ancestors sit. And the force of those spells was that I should sleep among them, like an image myself, and need neither food nor fire, though it were a thousand years, till one came and struck the bell and awoke me.”

“Was it the Deplorable Word that made the sun like that?” asked Digory.

“Like what?” said Jadis.

“So big, so red, and so cold.”

“It has always been so,” said Jadis. “At least, for hundreds of thousands of years. Have you a different sort of sun in your world?”

“Yes, it’s smaller and yellower. And it gives a good deal more heat.”

The Queen gave a long drawn “A-a-ah!” And Digory saw on her face that same hungry and greedy look which he had lately seen on Uncle Andrew’s. “So,” she said, “yours is a younger world.”

She paused for a moment to look once more at the deserted city—and if she was sorry for all the evil she had done there, she certainly didn’t show it—and then said:

“Now, let us be going. It is cold here at the end of all the ages.”

“Going where?” asked both the children.

“Where?” repeated Jadis in surprise. “To your world, of course.”

Polly and Digory looked at each other, aghast. Polly had disliked the Queen from the first; and even Digory, now that he had heard the story, felt that he had seen quite as much of her as he wanted. Certainly, she was not at all the sort of person one would like to take home. And if they did like, they didn’t know how they could. What they wanted was to get away themselves: but Polly couldn’t get at her ring and of course Digory couldn’t go without her. Digory got very red in the face and stammered.

“Oh—oh—our world. I d-didn’t know you wanted to go there.”

“What else were you sent here for if not to fetch me?” asked Jadis.

“I’m sure you wouldn’t like our world at all,” said Digory. “It’s not her sort of place, is it, Polly? It’s very dull; not worth seeing, really.”

“It will soon be worth seeing when I rule it,” answered the Queen.

“Oh, but you can’t,” said Digory. “It’s not like that. They wouldn’t let you, you know.”

The Queen gave a contemptuous smile. “Many great kings,” she said, “thought they could stand against the House of Charn. But they all fell, and their very names are forgotten. Foolish boy! Do you think that I, with my beauty and my magic, will not have your whole world at my feet before a year has passed? Prepare your incantations and take me there at once.”

“This is perfectly frightful,” said Digory to Polly.

“Perhaps you fear for this Uncle of yours,” said Jadis. “But if he honors me duly, he shall keep his life and his throne. I am not coming to fight against him. He must be a very great Magician, if he has found how to send you here. Is he King of your whole world or only of part?”

“He isn’t King of anywhere,” said Digory.

“You are lying,” said the Queen. “Does not Magic always go with the royal blood? Who ever heard of common people being Magicians? I can see the truth whether you speak it or not. Your Uncle is the great King and the great Enchanter of your world. And by his art he has seen the shadow of my face, in some magic mirror or some enchanted pool; and for the love of my beauty he has made a potent spell which shook your world to its foundations and sent you across the vast gulf between world and world to ask my favor and to bring me to him. Answer me: is that not how it was?”

“Well, not exactly,” said Digory.

“Not exactly,” shouted Polly. “Why, it’s absolute bosh from beginning to end.”

“Minions!” cried the Queen, turning in rage upon Polly and seizing her hair, at the very top of her head where it hurts most. But in so doing she let go of both the children’s hands. “Now,” shouted Digory; and “Quick!” shouted Polly. They plunged their left hands into their pockets. They did not even need to put the rings on. The moment they touched them, the whole of that dreary world vanished from their eyes. They were rushing upward and a warm green light was growing nearer overhead.





Chapter Six

The Beginning of Uncle Andrew’s Troubles

“LET GO! LET GO!” SCREAMED POLLY.

“I’m not touching you!” said Digory.

Then their heads came out of the pool and, once more, the sunny quietness of the Wood between the Worlds was all about them, and it seemed richer and warmer and more peaceful than ever after the staleness and ruin of the place they had just left. I think that, if they had been given the chance, they would again have forgotten who they were and where they came from and would have lain down and enjoyed themselves, half asleep, listening to the growing of the trees. But this time there was something that kept them as wide-awake as possible: for as soon as they had got out on to the grass, they found that they were not alone. The Queen, or the Witch (whichever you like to call her) had come up with them, holding on fast by Polly’s hair. That was why Polly had been shouting out “Let go!”

This proved, by the way, another thing about the rings which Uncle Andrew hadn’t told Digory because he didn’t know it himself. In order to jump from world to world by using one of those rings you don’t need to be wearing or touching it yourself; it is enough if you are touching someone who is touching it. In that way they work like a magnet; and everyone knows that if you pick up a pin with a magnet, any other pin which is touching the first pin will come too.

Now that you saw her in the wood, Queen Jadis looked different. She was much paler than she had been; so pale that hardly any of her beauty was left. And she was stooped and seemed to be finding it hard to breathe, as if the air of that place stifled her. Neither of the children felt in the least afraid of her now.

“Let go! Let go of my hair,” said Polly. “What do you mean by it?”

“Here! Let go of her hair. At once,” said Digory.

They both turned and struggled with her. They were stronger than she and in a few seconds they had forced her to let go. She reeled back, panting, and there was a look of terror in her eyes.

“Quick, Digory!” said Polly. “Change rings and into the home pool.”

“Help! Help! Mercy!” cried the Witch in a faint voice, staggering after them. “Take me with you. You cannot mean to leave me in this horrible place. It is killing me.”

“It’s a reason of State,” said Polly spitefully. “Like when you killed all those people in your own world. Do be quick, Digory.” They had put on their green rings, but Digory said:

“Oh, bother! What are we to do?” He couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for the Queen.

“Oh don’t be such an ass,” said Polly. “Ten to one she’s only shamming. Do come on.” And then both children plunged into the home pool. “It’s a good thing we made that mark,” thought Polly. But as they jumped Digory felt that a large cold finger and thumb had caught him by the ear. And as they sank down and the confused shapes of our own world began to appear, the grip of that finger and thumb grew stronger. The Witch was apparently recovering her strength. Digory struggled and kicked, but it was not of the least use. In a moment they found themselves in Uncle Andrew’s study; and there was Uncle Andrew himself, staring at the wonderful creature that Digory had brought back from beyond the world.

And well he might stare. Digory and Polly stared too. There was no doubt that the Witch had got over her faintness; and now t