Daughter, Would You Accompany Me?
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or places mentioned in this story. They belong to C. S. Lewis and I'm just borrowing them for a spell.
"Daughter, would you accompany me?"
Caught in mid-sigh, Helen lifted her head from the tea dishes in astonishment at the sound of a deep voice here in the kitchen. It was not the voice of Mr. Phelps, for he never came down here, nor yet the butler James or any of the staff. She had never heard this voice before, but something about it was strangely familiar. All in an instant she saw that the light was different, as if the afternoon sun was shining from the hall behind her and not the small window before her, and the sweet scent of all that was best of summer filled the air.
Lifting her water-wrinkled hands out of the dishwater, she slowly turned to face this Voice. She was surprised yet not so to see a lion, golden and brilliant, filling the room. There was such majesty and wisdom and kindness to his appearance that no trace of fear entered into her heart even though his huge paws were as large as the plates she was supposed to be washing. A glow eminated from him and his every move scattered light from his mane like the fine-cut crystal used for service when Mrs. Phelps threw dinner parties. Never in her life had Helen Dyer seen or imagined anything so majestic and mighty, and she could not see anything else in the room but him. At a loss, she dropped into a quick curtsy because she could not think of what else to do or say.
The Lion inclined his head in silent greeting, his long, tufted tail lashing the air. Gold-brown eyes watched her with quiet patience and he asked once again,
"Daughter, would you accompany me?"
Confused, Helen stood with her mouth open. That this Lion should be able to speak did not come as a shock. She would not put anything beyond his capability, especially since he had appeared as if from the very air and he was far too large to fit down the narrow hall to the servants' door. If she was dreaming it was a wonderous dream and she did not want it to end.
"Accompany you?" she finally managed. "Where, Sir?"
"To your home," answered the Lion. "To your husband's side."
Fear instantly gripped her and she lifted her dripping hands to her mouth. "Frank? Has he been hurt? Oh!"
The great Lion seemed to smile, banishing her anxiety. "No, Daughter, your husband is well and safe. You need not fear for him."
She let out a shuddering sigh, for her Frank had been known to jump to the defense of people being laid upon by hoodlums and had more than once come home battered and bruised. Young or old, rich or poor, it didn't matter to Frank and though it pained her to see him sore she had always been so proud that he would stand up for anyone that needed help. It was one of the things she loved best about him. Her family had only seen a rough and unpolished country boy in Frank, but Helen had seen a jewel beyond price. Not for one instant had she ever regretted marrying him, not even when her family had turned their backs on her.
"Did he send you, Sir?" Helen asked, wondering how and why Frank had met this Lion, for she could not imagine a more fantastic messenger.
"He sent for you."
"From home, Sir?" She suspected that somehow the Lion was not talking about their shabby apartment at the end of a dirty alley many blocks from the fine house where she worked.
"From your true home. From the kingdom that awaits you. Your husband is there waiting for you."
She shook her head, wishing she could understand what he was trying to tell her. It was like a beautiful memory dancing on the edge of recollection. Almost without realizing it, she took a step towards him.
"Where is this home?"
"Right before you. Will you accompany me, Daughter?"
She stared into his eyes, bright with hope and promise. There was such love there as she had only ever seen in Frank's eyes, absolute and eternal. It seemed to Helen a perfect moment, as if any misdeed she had ever committed was washed away, and to look into the Lion's deep, golden eyes and to feel the love in his expression was the whole point and purpose in her young life.
Her voice was a whisper, so awed was she by what she saw. "To Frank?"
"To Frank. To Narnia. To Me."
Narnia. The word thrilled her. She felt her heart leap for the joy and the sound of it. Frank was there waiting for her and she was seized by a sudden, overwhelming desire to tell her husband how deeply, how completely she loved him for sending this Lion to her.
"If I may, Sir," she hesitantly pressed, "who are you?"
The Lion's voice was a deep rumble like thunder, but there was no anger in his tone. It was the might and weight of the answer that expanded his voice and she somehow felt that her question pleased him. "I am Myself. I am Aslan. I am the Son of the Emperor-Over-Sea. Will you come, Helen, Daughter of Eve, across worlds and ages, that you may know me better?"
Aslan. His name called out to her and she felt a longing to obey. "Will you be there?"
"I will be with you always."
"Yes, Aslan. I will," she breathed. "How?"
"Lay your hand upon my mane and do not be afraid."
She reached for him, soapy water still clinging to her hands. His mane looked deep and soft and she wanted to nestle close and warm within the halo of golden light surrounding him. A thought suddenly struck her and she hesitated, pointing to the hall.
"My hat! It's my best . . ." She broke off, feeling a little foolish.
With joy and delight in his expression, Aslan gently replied, "You won't need it, dear Helen."
"Oh," she said. Unable to devise a more clever answer, she simply echoed, "Oh."
"Come!" invited Aslan. "Come to the kingdoms that await you!"
And, without the least bit of fear in her heart, she went.