I put pen to paper tonight with the determination not to write about the virtues of Rabadash, clear though they are to me. I have spent too much paper and too much ink in that same task before this night, and although he is charming and although he is brave, and as pleasing as any who have come courting, tonight I must clear my mind and set down my thoughts without excuse or bias, for tomorrow Prince Rabadash departs and my brother the High King will ask for these very thoughts, and I would not be tardy in the telling.
Therefore I shall begin without delay, taking the preceding pages as given, and acknowledging and even glorying in the plain fact that I find him attractive - and more, he is brave and skilled and well mannered, passionate in love and in war, and best of all, when he smiles at me I must smile back. Indeed, I think I could love him, were I given the chance, and am perhaps fair on the path toward that already.
And that is perhaps enough for the woman who would marry the man, but a queen must think further. It is difficult for a ruling queen to marry, and leave her home and her responsibilities to take up a new life in a foreign land. Therefore let me write the dilemma and consider.
Item the first: Calormen is a large land, with people and customs that differ greatly from those of the north. Regardless of my joy as woman and wife, were I to attach my fate to that land, would the land and the way of life bring me joy?
Item the second: I fear me that my siblings and fellow rulers do not like Prince Rabadash as I do, and I would be grieved to have anything come between us four.
Item the third: Can I give up being a ruling queen to become a wife? For make no mistake, Prince Rabadash is not looking for a co-ruler, that much is clear. A wife, a help-mate, a mother for his children - it is not a less role than that of ruler, but it is a different role, and I fear me I would see it as a diminishment.
Truth to tell, it is but a woman's dilemma writ large. To marry is to tie one's destiny to one man, for better or for worse, and allow him to tie his destiny to yours. Two become one, and it must indeed be a change for you both, but I do not think I exaggerate to say that it must be the larger change for me. And I am afraid.
Yes, afraid! Afraid to give up the joy that I have, the fellowship of my siblings, the easy manner in which we rule together in amity, and exchange it for the closer bond of a spouse. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the changes that must come to my life. Afraid to change, and I do not think it possible that I would not change, with change surrounding me.
And yet, I long for those very changes. A ruling queen is a barren role, and choose what I may, the simple truth is that I and my siblings cannot stay the same forever. Yes, presently the balance holds, but for how long? Were Peter to marry...or Edmund, or Lucy? What then?
And yet they - even Lucy, especially Lucy - would not leave Narnia to marry. Our family would grow, not sunder, were any of them to choose a spouse, and Cair Paravel would ring to the laughter of their children.
Would I let while mine grow to adulthood far away from Narnia? Could I bear it?
And yet, why not? Did we not ourselves spend our first years in a different world? I am strong, and can learn to love the land I find myself in, and surely it is not a hardship to marry a prince, even the prince of a foreign land. Nor is it hardship to marry a man such as Prince Rabadash has proved himself on this visit. Indeed, everything in me cries out to accept him, and let the rest settle itself, as surely it would.
I am no coward, to shrink from happiness for fear of the unknown.
There, I have reached the very nub of the decision, and as I expected, in the writing of it my choice comes clear. I cannot decide against him, not for fear, not for doubt. And so I must accept the prince his invitation and see what adventure comes of it, and so I shall say when Peter asks.
Yes, it is the time for hope, and not the time for commitment, neither for nor against. It is not a time for decisions, however much I long to throw myself one way or another. If I have learned only one thing as ruling queen, it is this: a hasty decision oft leads to regret.
And now conscientiously to bed, and may sweet dreams of my prince comfort me in my prudence.