Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it to the children of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel," Deuteronomy 31:19
Peter closed the journal gingerly.
"I've left the information as true to the incidents as I possibly could," Eustace said. He was a little breathless, because he'd decided to follow his cousin out for his daily walk around London. Granted, Eustace had expected the need to pace himself (Peter was no slump), but Peter's paces couldn't help but be twice as large as Eustace's. So Peter walked through London, reading Eustace's journal, and Eustace jogged with a red face to keep up. "Everything is recorded almost as exactly as they happened."
But like the lump in Peter's throat, that idea was a little hard to swallow.
"I have no doubt that all of this was written almost exactly as they happened, good my cousin. But- Are you certain you don't need Ed and Lu's stories as well?"
"Well, I suppose I could." A tetchy scowl was beginning to work its way onto the younger boy's mouth, and the blond scrub of his eyebrows withered from the strain of keeping his sharp tongue sheathed. "I rather doubt they'd have much to add."
Peter thought of how Lucy might like to add how one-footed dwarves had managed to wisk her away from beneath Edmund's nose (sleeping or otherwise) when they had been discussing which of the party to take in not-so-hushed tones. Or perhaps how Edmund would have thought of something, anything, besides a sea-serpent as his worst nightmare. Or why Caspian, with whom Peter had come to associate with a high-end Telmarine accent, was suddenly speaking in an accent as posh as Eustace's.
"It's just-" he paused, reopened the journal, and flipped a few pages in, "-It's just a little disconcerting for me to read that Edmund and Lucy would compare how we're treated better than them. Before the picture came to life."
"I thought it was adding a bit of a dramatic element," Eustace explained. They stopped at an intersection, waiting for a few automobiles to roll by. A few people bumped into Eustace as they passed, but Peter remained undisturbed. They parted around him like water around a rock. "Don't people who like fanciful novels enjoy that sort of thing?"
And there was the rub.
"This isn't fanciful, Eustace. It's truth." And Peter didn't appreciate having his brother and sister speaking sentiments that went so clearly against their hearts. "If you had asked Edmund or Lucy, they would have told you how they felt about being stuck in England while Susan was in America." Because Peter had never even gone in the first place. He had been studying in the English countryside with the Professor.
"I had to ask them about what they saw," Peter's cousin said forcefully, "When the mist was fooling around with our heads on that blasted tub."
"Except there was no 'green mist.'"
"How would you know?"
Peter gaped at his cousin, "You really don't know Ed that well, do you?" There would be too many pea-soup jokes for Edmund to resist if there had been such a shapeless villain.
Today, Eustace was learning that despite his unique schooling and applied curiosity to various studies, he had forgotten an area of self-perfection that the Pevensies had in spades: exercise.
"Sword point up! HAH-"
"There you go! HAH-HAH-YAAAH! Why are you waiting for me to come at you? Move those legs, cuz- Quick, now!"
"Keep your blade up; keep your blade up- Why aren't you keeping your blade up? UP!"
"Now, wait a minute, cousin-"
"Ow, my hand!"
"It wouldn't have been if you'd been keeping that blade of yours up like I told you! Lucy! Ready to replace Lord Eustace, yet?"
"It's far too hot, Edmund. Do go easy on him. He hasn't had the same training, you know."
"He's about to! BLADE UP!"
"All right, all right! Yield. Uncle. Whatever..." After all, he had nearly taken off Eustace's head by pulling that last stunt. There seemed to be no need for his cousins to ever stop fighting. They were a frightfully athletic bunch, even Susan, who took trips downtown to swim in the club pool almost every day. Edmund biked, played rugger, climbed buildings, and fought with wooden swords until he drew blood. It was for this reason that Eustace preferred to learn swordplay from Lucy: she, at least, went easy on him in the back yard.
But Edmund only grinned wolfishly at his younger cousin, and Eustace accepted the momentary lapse in training to stagger after the shaded chair beside Lucy. The absence of sun chilled the sweat that pooled around his collar and down the length of his back, making him shiver. A hand bumped his- Lucy was offering him a cup of water.
"Thanks," he said, and almost chugged down the whole thing, "I thought you said you didn't tell him about it."
"Oh," Lucy smiled, "I didn't. This is how Edmund trains- But I suppose he's used to having Peter on the other end of things."
An image of the blond boy came to Eustace's mind, and with it, a sense of stuffy boorishness. It was still difficult to wrap his head around the idea that Peter was, in fact, a very terrifying and equally terrific warrior.
"I don't think Cousin Peter liked my edition of our adventures," Eustace confessed to Lucy, "He seemed rather put-out. Kept talking about political correctness towards Dufflepods and an incorrect measure of time from island to island."
"Well, Peter would know," said Lucy. She sipped from her own glass of water, watching Edmund continue to spin and whack at thin air with his wooden sword. "He was the Emperor over the Lone Islands."
"All the same," Eustace sniffed, "I can hardly be held accountable for any minor errors- I was practically dehydrated for half of the journey!"
"Here we go," Edmund pretended to whisper to Lucy.
"That water was disgusting!" cried Eustace, "I'd just as soon find liquid of that filth in the Ganges! And I was expected to drink it! And (do you know) the men on that ship used it to bathe in? It was absolutely unsanitary! We were living like pigs!"
Edmund swung around, sword point aimed between Eustace's eyes, "I know several lovely Pigs."
"Hear, hear!" grinned Lucy, while Eustace kept his eyes carefully crossed at Edmund's weapon. It had already given him some spectacular bruises that he was certain would be black and blue by the time he got back home to Alberta. "Did you at least take out the green mist, Eustace?"
"Green mist?" snorted Edmund, "What green mist?"
"Erm," said Eustace, who was still caught at the business end of a sword, "I might have made up that bit. For dramatic effect."
Edmund lowered his sword and slid it into his belt loop, grinning, "I see nothing dramatic or effective about green mist, Eustace."
"Even green mist that demanded a sacrifice?" Eustace asked hopefully.
Edmund threw back his head and busted out into loud and violent laughter. Lucy hid a smile.
"Erm, well," said Eustace. "What about being left behind by Peter and Susan?"
Edmund stilled, dark eyes focusing on his cousin's face. Lucy looked blankly at him from her chair.
"I would hardly call that being 'left behind...'" began Edmund, eyebrows furrowing, "After all, it's not anything we haven't had to do before."
"Because they're older?"
"Because that's how we work!" Lucy exclaimed, "Aslan, Eustace. I know you don't have siblings, but that's how it works!"
"We were always the ones to hold down the Cair while Peter and Susan were away," added Edmund. "Or Lucy and Susan while Peter and I were at war. Or me and Susan while Peter and Lucy were fighting. This was hardly any different."
"Your parents and sister got to go to America. Peter was in the country. I would have been green with envy!"
"You've never run a country, Eustace. Green doesn't suit a Sovereign."
"And Susan deserved it!" said Lucy, firmly, "She's worked very hard in school for the past few months. It doesn't come as easily to her as it does for Edmund or Peter. I think she deserved a nice treat."
"Well, why couldn't one of you have gone with them?"
"Um, we're poor?" Edmund said, in tones that insinuated suspicion of raging stupidity on his cousin's part. "Tickets to America aren't exactly cheap? Besides, Peter needed the time in the country to study. And I'm glad he got to go- It's almost like getting back to Narnia for him."
The siblings fell silent for a moment, and Eustace felt a new pang at having brought a conversation to something that made someone else sad. He was still new to this feeling, however, so he didn't know what else to do to alleviate the heartbreak that echoed on their faces than to ask;
Edmund grinned like a dog and Eustace's bruises gave him much more familiar pangs.
"I have a better idea," Edmund said, still grinning, "How about I tell you a story?"
Eustace hastily agreed.
Lucy covered Eustace's bruises with some sticky and foul-smelling paste as he leaned over the back of a kitchen chair in the Pevensie living room. Peter sat on the couch, legs folded. Susan was busy in the next room, but they all secretly knew that she was listening to every word they said.
Before them all, Edmund stood so tall and so stern that Eustace could almost see him with a beard and crown. And a cape-thing.
"I call to order this meeting of the Friends of Narnia," Edmund began, voice somehow carrying even though he didn't speak above an edged murmur. "Today, in light of certain events," and although he did not look at Eustace or put any emphasis in his voice, Eustace could still feel Lucy and Peter and even Susan, from the other room, give him their attention, "We will tell stories of Narnia."
"Hurray!" cried Lucy, smooshing more paste that Eustace would have liked onto his face.
"Which stories, Ed?" Peter asked.
Eustace had the feeling that Edmund and Peter had already discussed this, and were interacting like players on a stage.
"The beginning, Sire, of our story." Edmund turned dark eyes on Eustace then, and smiled a Kingly smile. "The precursor to your story, good Cousin. A reference. An example. A sire of all stories to Narnia."
"Except for the Professor's," Lucy added reasonably. Edmund nodded to her.
"Except for the Professor's."
"Go on, Edmund," Peter said. "It'll be your bedtime before you ever start."
Edmund sniffed, took a breath, and began:
"And the Chronicles of Narnia are recorded thus; Once there were four children who names were Peter," he nodded to his older brother, "Susan," he said, raising his voice a little so that she gasped in the next room, "Edmund and Lucy." He grinned and Lucy grinned back at him. Eustace thought there was something very... dear inside of the grin that Lucy and Edmund shared. "Anyway. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the heart of the country, ten miles from the nearest railway station and two miles from the nearest post office. He had no wife and he lived in a very large house with a housekeeper called Mrs. Macready and three servants." Edmund paused to flap a hand. "Their names were Ivy, Margaret and Betty, but they do not come into the story much."
"He himself," Edmund continued, "was a very old man with shaggy white hair which grew over most of his face as well as on his head, and they liked him almost at once; but on the first evening when he came out to meet them at the front door he was so odd-looking that Lucy (who was the youngest) was a little afraid of him-"
"I was not!" Lucy interjected. "I was shy! I was only a baby then. What did I know about meeting strangers?"
"Very well," said Edmund. "Lucy was a little shy of him, and Edmund," Edmund said soberly, "wanted to laugh and had to keep on pretending he was blowing his nose to hide it."
"Is that what you were doing?" Peter exclaimed, thunderstruck. "I thought you were coming down with a cold and that I'd have to call home to see how to medicate you!"
"Shut up," said Edmund, without losing his stride," As soon as they had said goodnight to the Professor and gone upstairs on the first night, the boys came into the girls' room and they all talked it over. 'We've fallen on our feet and no mistake,'" quoted Edmund in a deep and slightly unintelligent voice, "'This is going to be perfectly splendid. That old chap will let us do anything we like.'"
"I never," Peter said, insulted, "said that."
"You did so," Edmund retorted, "I remember, because then Susan said, 'I think he's an old dear.'"
"You're making this up!"
"Oh, come off it!" Edmund snapped. It took Eustace a second to realize that he was still quoting, "'Don't go on talking like that.' 'Like what?'" he asked in a high falsetto, "'and anyway, it's time you were in bed.' 'Trying to talk like Mother.'" Edmund growled, face decidedly petulant. Eustace was strongly reminded of a willful ten year old. "And who are you to say when I'm to go to bed? Go to bed yourself."
"Three guesses," Lucy laughed.
Peter was red in the face with suppressed giggles. From the other room, Eustace swore he could hear a feminine chuckle. His cousins were marbles that was for sure.
Before Eustace could stop himself, he was raptly watching as Edmund continued throwing himself between the personalities of his younger self and his siblings. Each character was amazingly young, almost nothing like the four Pevensies that Eustace knew now. He even wondered if his cousins had been unDragoned themselves, in their own ways. Edmund's Peter sounded like an idiot at first, and then slowly morphed into something steely and admirable. Susan was silly, becoming rational and wise. Lucy, at first a child, becoming more and more a treasure than a burdensome brat. And Edmund? Edmund played himself as one would tackle the role of a pathetic antagonist- someone who did the wrong thing, but was so wimble-nimble about it that one could barely even feel threatened by his presence. By the end, Eustace was sure that Edmund would not have thought of a sea serpent- his beasts were far more human, far more entrancing, far more terrible.
But Edmund pressed on through the thick of the troubles, regaling his time alone, his reunion with Peter and his sisters and (of course) Aslan. And after the White Witch was defeated, and the Pevensies grew into Kings and Queens and followed the White Stag back to England, King Edmund Pevensie looked down at his awed cousin and finished;
"And that, My Lord Eustace, my King and Queens, is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But," and here he smiled, "If the Professor was right, it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia."
"Hurray!" said Lucy again, clapping her hands and beaming. "Very well done, Edmund."
"Every point historically accurate," Peter commended, pointedly (but not rudely) avoiding looking at Eustace. The brothers shared a knowing look, and Eustace's suspicion was confirmed that they had plotted this whole ordeal together. Somehow.
"It falls to you, now," Lucy said, leaning over his shoulder where he sat in the kitchen chair. Her long hair tickled his shoulder. She smiled at him. "We decided the voyage on the Dawn Treader will be your Chronicle. We can add it to the collection when you're finished."
She leaned down farther and kissed his red, freckled cheek with affection, "I know you'll do it, Eustace Clarence Scrubb. You deserve it."
Very late that same night, covered in paste and gauze and smarting in ways that were more than physical, Eustace the UnDragoned sat at his bug-decorated desk and glared his old journal down.
A metal pen balanced between his fingers. Slowly it rotated halfway forwards and halfway backwards, keeping time with the wall clock. Eustace's fingers were rather detached and bored with his mind at this moment.
"How did it begin?" Eustace wondered aloud. His voice filled the room and walked away with his train of thought. He spoke again to bring it back, "Was there a bang? Was there a magic wardrobe? Goodness knows I don't have any siblings that brought me into the story..."
Eustace paused. The pen stopped timing.
"No," said Eustace, "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
And he laughed and wrote those very words down onto fresh paper.
This one has been sitting on my computer for forever! I finally got a chance to brush it off and put it up for you all. :)
Juvenalia is the earlier writings of famous authors, like C.S Lewis' Boxen that he and his brother wrote when they were boys.
I did quote exactly from LWW for Edmund's rendition, and Eustace's last line is the opening for VotDT. His new rendition is much more accurate. ;D
I won't lie- I liked the third movie the first time I saw it. I was just so excited to see Edmund and Lucy and Caspian in action again. The boy who played Eustace- Will Poulter- was perfectly cast! But the more I watched it, the more insulted I felt. It really was a terrible movie. I'm sorry that Mr. Gresham had to give up so much of the original plot just to keep the line about Aslan having another name in our world. But I'm fiercely proud that he fought for it. Well done, sir.
Liked it? Hated it? Thought it could use a revision of its own? I'd love to hear your input- even if its a single word.