Appeasing the Deep Magic (Narnia part 2)


 “I’ve a most terrible feeling-as if something were hanging over us” said Lucy.

“Have you?  Because as a matter of fact, so have I,” replied Susan.

“Something about Aslan.  Either some dreadful thing is going to happen to him, or something dreadful that he’s going to do.”… “Susan!  Let’s go outside and have a look round.  We might see him.”

”Oh children, children, why are you following me?”

“We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy—and then felt sure that she need say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.

“Please, may we come with you wherever you’ve going?” asked Susan.

“Well—” said Aslan and seemed to be thinking.  Then he said, “I shall be glad of company tonight.  Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when  I tell you, and after that leave me to go on alone.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you.  And we will,” said the two girls.

Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion.

Aslan stopped and said, “Oh, children, children.  Here you must stop.  And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen.  Farewell.”

And both girls cried bitterly (though they hardly knew why) and clung to the Lion and kissed his mane and his nose and his paws and his great, sad eyes.   Then he turned from them and walked out on the top of the hill.  And Lucy and Susan, crouching in the bushes, looked after him and this is what they saw.

A great crowd of people were standing all round the Stone Table and though the moon was shining, many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke.  But such people!  Ogres and monstrous teeth, and wolves and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plant; and other creatures whom I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let you read this book—Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins.  In fact here were all those who were on the Witch’s side and whom Wolf had summoned at her command.  And right in the middle, standing by the Table, was the Witch herself. 

A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing toward them, and for a moment even the Witch herself seemed to be struck with fear.  Then she recovered herself and gave a wild, fierce laugh.

“The fool!” she cried.  “The fool has come. Bind him fast.”

Lucy and Susan held their breaths waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies.  But it never came.  Four hags, grinning and leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him.  “Bind him, I say!” repeated the Witch.  The Hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all.  Then others—evil dwarves and apes—rushed in to help them, and in between them they rolled the huge Lion over on his back and tied all his four paws together, shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all.  But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh.  Then they began to drag him toward the stone table.

“Stop!” said the Witch.  “Let him first be shaved.”

…snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground…

“Why he’s only a great cat after all!” cried one.

“Is that what we were afraid of?” said another…

“Muzzle him!” said the Witch…[and now] those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the girls could not even see him-so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.  

At last the rabble had had enough of this.  They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone table, some pulling and some pushing.

When Aslan had been tied on the flat stone, a hush fell over the crowd…The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan.  Then she began to whet her knife. 

…at last she drew near.  She stood by Aslan’s head.  Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry no afraid, but a little sad. 

The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. 


From C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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