A/N: I'm not at all sure about this chapter, but it took so long to write, that I really had to post it. Sorry I took so long.
Disclaimer: I'm not dead, and I'm not rich. Do you understand? I don't own anything in this story.
Chapter 4: The Little Robber Girl
As Lucy traveled in the carriage through Narnia, towards the northern border where Narnia met Ettinsmoor, she looked out the window, watching the land as it passed. The Narnian hills were still very green despite it being late fall, at least the Witch had no bearing here, yet. Lucy watched as dryads waved to her, and waved back cheerfully. She was going to find Edmund, she knew where she was going, and she had all the supplies and help she needed to get there. The only thing better then this would be to actually find Edmund.
She traveled happily through the countryside, although she began to notice that the further north she got, the colder it was. The third day in the carriage, she saw the mountains. The sight of them made her wish for the gangly little house she shared with her grandmother; you could see the mountains from Beaversdam as well.
So it went for many days, but one bright, snowy morning at a time nearing midwinter, bandits saw the bright little coach. The bandits' leader said to herself, "That would be a fine coach that I could take for myself..."
Her adopted daughter, a raggedy girl by the name of Jill; although, for some unknown reason, the woman's son called the girl Pole, was grinning wickedly at the coach, imagining what fine things she could have for herself that might be inside. The bandit woman; called by most Alberta the Scrubber for the way she could scrub a floor with her enemies blood; came to a decision. "Take tha' ther' coach, and any tha' might be inside," She ordered, "Kill da driver, an' any'un else on the outs."
The bandits immediately followed their Chief's orders; it was not a good idea to keep the Scrubber waiting. The driver was quickly slaughtered, and Lucy dragged out into the horrid ring of sneering bandits. The bandits, mainly males as Alberta considered them easier to control, leered at her, saying such things as, "Look a' the pre'ty li'le girl, ain't she a treat." and "Come 'ere little miss, we's won't 'arm ye." A few of the comments were so very vulgar that the writer quite refuses to pen them in this narrative. If for some strange reason you, the reader, want to know what was said, bring a pretty, innocent girl to a place full of rowdy, unclean men, who relish the company of any they may find. This should give you some idea.
Jill, who wasn't nearly as bad as one may suppose for growing up in a bandit camp, couldn't stand the idea of anything happening to a girl her own age, maybe a little older. She jumped on her foster-mother's back, only one other would have dared do this, and began pulling the woman's ears. "Ma Alberta..." She screeched, "Let 'er come wi' me. I be lonesome now Scrubb," (Her name for Alberta's son Eustace,)"'as gone of wid Caspian!"
Now, Alberta was a strong willed woman in everything-except what her son and adopted daughter asked for. She, in fact, spoilt them both rather horribly. So of course she said to the bandits, "You 'eard me Jill, de lessie goes wid 'er!" After a moment of looking at the faces of the bandits, she added, "An' any as mess wid 'er are ta be delt wid by me."
After this speech, the bandits wouldn't have touched Lucy with a ten-metre stick. Quite glad of it she was too, the leering faces and smell of unwashed men had quite overpowered her. She was filled with a mixture of relief and fear as the bandit girl approached her. The girl looked a year or so younger then Lucy herself and had unkempt, curling black hair, with dancing green eyes that could have been quite beautiful without the cruel surface that was so apperant it looked put-on. The bandit girl grabbed Lucy's hand and pulled her back to the camp. Once there the girl led Lucy into a small, but neat, for bandits anyway, tent.
The tent, strangely enough, was full of all sorts of Animals-Animals with that gleam of intelligence in their eye. Bandits, as a general rule, don't much care if what they eat can talk or has never spoke a word in it's life. They even resorted to cannibalism at points. These were the animals that Jill and her adopted brother, Eustace had rescued from the bandit cook-pot. Why they did this doesn't really come into the story, but suffice it to say that it had quite a lot to do with meeting a young Telmarine run-away.
Jill said quietly to the Animals, "This girl 'll be joinin' our li'l group 'ere, so be nice to 'er." She left the tent quickly to do whatever it is little robber girls are expected to do by their foster mothers'.
Lucy found herself alone in the company of many Animals she'd never before met. There was a small bunch of Wood Pigeons, young things, barely able to fly, and an old, motherly looking Fox. On the other side of her, Lucy saw a Wolf pup with a bandaged paw, a small Squirrel that was bouncing about as though it had run mad, and, rather unexpectedly, a Talking Apple (1). The were all looking at her like she was some sort of other-worldly creature, not an ordinary Daughter of Eve.
A voice came from the back corner of the tent; "She has never brought a Human here to protect before." The voice sounded surprised, and, as Lucy looked over, she saw it was an albino Reindeer that had spoken.
The Fox said, " There is no reason Jill should not protect her own kind as she does others." She paused to look at Lucy a moment more before continuing, "We don't even know this new child's name as of yet, be civil, Tarandos!"
"Alright!" Said the Reindeer, Tarandos. Then he turned to Lucy and said, rather sharply, "What's your name, Daughter of Eve?"
"Lucy, sir." She said rather shyly.
The Fox came forward and said, "It's nice to meet you, Lucy. I am Ambika." She gestured to the Reindeer, "This is Tarandos, and these are Raoul," Looking at the Wolf pup, "Nigel, Nicolas, Nicodemus, and their sister Nia." She added looking at the four Pigeons.
The Apple, put out at not being introduced, said, "I'm Carolena, and that ball of energy over there is Pattertwig."
Lucy said, "It's very nice to meet you all."
Ambika asked her why she was traveling the world, she was a rather a young girl too be traveling after all.
The Animals gathered close as Lucy told her story, and just as she got to the part about meeting the Magician, Jill came in, and Lucy was obliged to begin again. The story of Lucy's quest was so very touching that a few of the Animals, and the Apple, felt their eyes grow somewhat foggy, as the tale of a loyal little girl risking her life to find her best friend unfolded. It sounded so like a fairy-story that Jill, who had heard very few such stories, as Alberta really was the sort to tell such things, was quite enchanted. She made up her mind to do what-ever she could to help this girl, who she didn't even know the name of, rescue a boy that Jill had never even met.
To you, my readers, this mayen't seem like much more than what any decent person should do, but you must keep in mind that Jill was raised in a robber camp, and was rather spoilt and a little bit selfish. She was not at all used to doing things for others; that wasn't how it worked among bandits.
"I've made up me mind." Said Jill, "I'll 'elp you find Edmund," For Lucy had told them her friend's name, "No ma'er what."
Lucy said, "Thank you ever so much, but how can I? Wouldn't it be dangerous for you to help me escape? And I don't even know where I'm going."
"You're goin' north. Ta find tha' Wha'ever-'er-name-is Witch-person," Thinking of names reminded Jill, "Wha's your name, anyway?"
"Well, Lucy, you'll just keep goin' north to find this Ice Witch or wha'ever, an' then you'll find your friend."
"You haven't answered my other questions." Lucy said, wryly.
"Oh, righ', It ain't dangerous fir me. Ma Alberta, she's the bandit leader, she would ne'er 'urt, or let any'un else 'urt, me or 'er son, Scrubb."
"You have a friend named Scrubb?"
"No," Replied Jill, "I jus' call 'im that, 'is real name is Eustace Clarence, 'arfol name, don' ya think?"
Lucy just nodded.
There was no moon in the sky as Jill led Lucy and Tarandos out of the robbers' camp. Once out of earshot, and sight, of the camp, Jill took off the backpack she was wearing.
"This 'as some food an' warmer things," She said, lashing it to the Reindeer's back, "I would na' o' put it on ya, Tarandos, but Lucy's goin' ta need it."
"It's fine." Said the Reindeer; "I'll be going home."
Jill and Lucy both smiled before Jill continued, "If'n Scrubb an' Caspian were 'ere one of 'em woulda gone wid ya, but they're a'questin' for the end of the world."
This statement, I must say, was not half so absurd as it would have been in our world, for Narnia and her sister countries lay on a flat world.
Jill helped Lucy onto the Reindeer, and, after heartfelt farewells where none had a completely dry eye after, and many promises of meeting again, Lucy and Tarandos rode into the night. The last Lucy saw of Jill, before she was swallowed by the night, was her frantic waving, and a whisper-shout of a wish that Aslan would help Lucy on her journey.
Lucy thanked the Great Lion for the help, and new friend, she had found in Jill, and prayed that one day she would be able to see Jill again, and maybe Eustace and Caspian too, with Edmund by her side. She had promised to visit after she found her friend, but from what she had heard of the White Witch, she prayed there would indeed be an after.
A/N: I'm so, so sorry that it took so long to post. I had a lot of stuff happening, and I had a severe case of writer's block, but that's no excuse. I'll try to be faster next time.
BTW: All the original names mean something.
Tarandos: Comes from the Greek for Reindeer.
Ambika: Comes from Sanskrit, it means 'mother'
Nicolas: People of Victory
Nicodemus: People's Victory
Nia: Lustrous, goal, or purpose
Carolena: Little and womanly.
The last ones don't really make sense, but I chose the birds name 'cause they were similar, and the Apple was little.
(1): To find out more about Talking Fruit, read my story Lucy Meets a Talking Kumquat.