The Chronicles of Narnia: The Telmarine Princess 2
Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Chapter Nine: Deathwater Island
The entire crew was cheerful as the Dawn Treader sailed away from Dragon Island. They had fair winds as soon as they were out of the bay and came early next morning to the unknown land which some of them had seen when flying over the mountains while Eustace was still a dragon. It was a low green island inhabited by nothing but rabbits and a few goats, but from the ruins of stone huts, and from blackened places where fires had been, they judged that it had been inhabited not long before. There were also some bones and broken weapons.
"Pirates' work," Caspian suggested.
"Or the dragon's," Edmund replied, shrugging. There was nothing much on the Island besides a small boat just the right size for Reepicheep, so it was brought on board, and then they continued on thier way.
For about five days they ran before a south-south-east wind, out of sight of all lands and saw nothing but water and sky. Then they had a day when it rained hard till the afternoon.
Eustace attempted to place Chess with Reepicheep, but the mouse kept winning. Gael, who was reading, glanced out the window.
"I think there's something out there. Something big" She said nervously. Sophia, Gael and Razier were ordered to stay below deck, while the rest of them rushed up on the deck of the ship. As they looked out, Drinian looked worried.
"Its moving a great deal quicker than we can sail, Sire," said Drinian. "It'll be up with us in a minute."
"What is it?" Peter asked. What it turned out to be was far worse than anyone had suspected. Suddenly, only about the length of a cricket pitch from their port side, an appalling head reared itself out of the sea. It was all greens and vermilions with purple blotches - except where shell fish clung to it - and shaped rather like a horse's, though without ears. It had enormous eyes, eyes made for staring through the dark depths of the ocean, and a gaping mouth filled with double rows of sharp fish-like teeth. It came up on what they first took to be a huge neck, but as more and more of it emerged everyone knew that this was not its neck but its body and that at last they were seeing what so many people have foolishly wanted to see - the great Sea Serpent. The folds of its gigantic tail could be seen far away, rising at intervals from the surface. And now its head was towering up higher than the mast.
Every man rushed to his weapon, but there was nothing to be done, the monster was out of reach.
"Shoot! Shoot!" The Master Bowman shouted, and several obeyed, but the arrows glanced off the Sea Serpent's hide as if it was ironplated. Then, for a dreadful minute, everyone was still, staring up at its eyes and mouth and wondering where it would pounce.
But it didn't pounce. It shot its head forward across the ship on a level with the yard of the mast. Now its head was just beside the fighting top. Still it stretched and stretched till its head was over the starboard bulwark. Then down it began to come - not on to the crowded deck but into the water, so that the whole ship was under an arch of serpent. And almost at once that arch began to get smaller: indeed on the starboard the Sea Serpent was now almost touching the Dawn Treader's side.
Eustace now did the first brave thing he had ever done. He was wearing a sword that Caspian had lent him. As soon as the serpent's body was near enough on the starboard side he jumped on to the bulwark and began hacking at it with all his might. Angered, The serpent reared its tail and sent Eustace flying into the water.
"Eustace!"Lucy and Edmund screamed is name.
"Don't fight! Push!" Reepicheep called out. It was so unusual for the Mouse to advise anyone not to fight that, even in that terrible moment, every eye turned to him. And when he jumped up on to the bulwark, forward of the snake, and set his little furry back against its huge scaly, slimy back, and began pushing as hard as he could, quite a number of people saw what he meant and rushed to both sides of the ship to do the same. And when, a moment later, the Sea Serpent's head appeared again, this time on the port side, and this time with its back to them, then everyone understood.
The brute had made a loop of itself round the Dawn Treader and was beginning to draw the loop tight. When it got quite tight - snap! - there would be floating matchwood where the ship had been and it could pick them out of the water one by one. Their only chance was to push the loop backward till it slid over the stern; or else (to put the same thing another way) to push the ship forward out of the loop.
Lucy paid no heed to what the crew was doing, she was eying the raging water frantically.
"Peter, I need some rope" She called over the raging wind and rain. Peter eyed his sister and in that moment, he knew what she intended to do. He also knew that in Narnia, she was a warrior and would not take no for an answer. He hesitated onl momentarily, before grabbing a coil of rope and tossing it to her.
"Be careful!" He shouted. No one else noticed this exhange, they were too busy trying to push the serpent, as Reepicheep had instructed. The whole ship's company was in two long lines along the two bulwarks, each man's chest to the back of the man in front, so that the weight of the whole line was in the last man, pushing for their lives. For a few sickening seconds (which seemed like hours) nothing appeared to happen.
Lucy paid them no heed, tying one end the rope tightly to the mast and the other around her chest. She dove off the ship. Edmund saw her.
"Lucy!" He shouted, making to go after her. Peter stopped him.
"She knows what she's doing" He told his brother. Edmund nodded.
Meanwhile, Joints cracked, sweat dropped, breath came in grunts and gasps from the men pushing the serpent. Then they felt that the ship was moving. They saw that the snake-loop was further from the mast than it had been. But they also saw that it was smaller. And now the real danger was at hand. Could they get it over the poop deck, or was it already too tight? Yes. It would just fit. It was resting on the rails. The Sea Serpent's body was so low now that they could make a line across the poop and push side by side. Hope rose high till everyone remembered the high carved stern, the dragon tail, of the Dawn Treader. It would be quite impossible to get the brute over that.
"An axe," cried Caspian hoarsely, "and still shove." Edmund, who knew where everything was, heard him where he was standing. In a few seconds he had been below, got the axe, and was rushing up the ladder to the deck. But just as he reached the top there came a great crashing noise like a tree coming down and the ship rocked and darted forward. For at that very moment, whether because the Sea Serpent was being pushed so hard, or because it foolishly decided to draw the noose tight, the whole of the carved stern broke off and the ship was free.
The serpent made no attempt to continue to chase them as it slithered away, disapearing in the depths. Peter and Edmund rushed to the side of the deck where Lucy had tied the rope.
After Lucy had jumped off the ship and dove into the water, she began searching for the blonde. She swam further down and realized that the rope wasn't long enough. Should she go back and get a longer rope, she wondered. No. She took the dagger from her sheath and sliced the rope. As she swam further down, she spotted her cousin, who was unconcious. He didn't know how to swim and had sank like a rock. She grabbed him under the arm and kicked with her feet towards the surface, but he was too heavy. She now berated herself for cutting the rope, for there was no one to pull her up and she couldn't hold her breath forever.
Edmund stared at the cut rope.
"She wouldn't" He whispered. Peter sighed.
"She would" He said.
"There!" Razier shouted, pointing out at the water. They all turned to look and spotted two mermaids. One was holding onto Lucy and the other had Eustace. Caspian quickly lowered the rowboat and the mermaids placed the humans in the boat. As the boat was lifted, the mermaids waved at the vrew, then dove beneath the waves.
Eustace and Lucy were dragged onto shore. Peter performed CPR on Lucy and Edmund performed it on Eustace to get the water out of thier lungs. Lucy began coughing and slowly opened her eyes.
"I thought I told you to be careful" Peter said, hugging his little sister.
"Can't breath" She gasped out. Eustace slowly opened the eyes.
"What happened?" He asked groggily. Edmund looked at him, teary-eyed.
"You were recklessly brave" He said, hugging his cousin.
After this they sailed for three days more and saw once again nothing but sea and sky. On the fourth day the wind changed to the north and the seas began to rise; by the afternoon it had nearly become a gale. But at the same time they sighted land on their port bow.
"By your leave, Sire," said Drinian, "we will try to get under the lee of that country by rowing and lie in harbour, maybe till this is over." Caspian agreed, but a long row against the gale did not bring them to the land before evening. By the last light of that day they steered into a natural harbour and anchored, but no one went ashore that night. In the morning they found themselves in the green bay of a rugged, lonely-looking country which sloped up to a rocky summit. From the windy north beyond that summit clouds came streaming rapidly. They lowered the boat and loaded her with any of the water casks which were now empty.
"Which stream shall we water at, Drinian?" Caspian asked as he took his seat in the stern-sheets of the boat. "There seem to be two coming down into the bay."
"It makes little odds, Sire," Drinian replied. "But I think it's a shorter pull to that on the starboard-the eastern one."
"Here comes the rain," Lucy pointed out. And it was.
"Let's go to the other stream. There are trees there and we'll have some shelter." Edmund suggested.
"Yes, let's," Peter agreed. "No point in getting wetter than we need." But all the time Drinian was steadily steering to the starboard, like tiresome people in cars who continue at forty miles an hour while you are explaining to them that they are on the wrong road.
"They're right, Drinian," Caspian said finally. "Why don't you bring her head round and make for the western stream?"
"As your Majesty pleases," said Drinian a little shortly. He had had an anxious day with the weather yesterday, and he didn't like advice from landsmen. But he altered course; and it turned out afterwards that it was a good thing he did. By the time they had finished watering, the rain was over and Caspian, with Eustace, the Pevensies, and Reepicheep, decided to walk up to the top of the hill and see what could be seen. It was a stiffish climb through coarse grass and heather and they saw neither man nor beast, except seagulls. When they reached the top they saw that it was a very small island, not more than twenty acres; and from this height the sea looked larger and more desolate than it did from the deck, or even the fighting top, of the Dawn Treader.
"Crazy, you know," said Eustace to Lucy in a low voice, looking at the eastern horizon. "Sailing on and on into that with no idea what we may get to." But he only said it out of habit, not really nastily as he would have done at one time. It was too cold to stay long on the ridge for the wind still blew freshly from the north.
"Don't let's go back the same way," said Lucy as they turned; "let's go along a bit and come down by the other stream, the one Drinian wanted to go to."
Everyone agreed to this and after about fifteen minutes they were at the source of the second river. It was a more interesting place than they had expected; a deep little mountain lake, surrounded by cliffs except for a narrow channel on the seaward side out of which the water flowed. Here at last they were out of the wind, and all sat down in the heather above the cliff for a rest. All sat down, but Peter jumped up again very quickly.
"They go in for sharp stones on this island," he said, groping about in the heather. "Where is the wretched thing? . . . Ah, now I've got it . . . It wasn't a stone at all, it's a sword-hilt. No, by jove, it's a whole sword; what the rust has left of it. It must have lain here for ages." He pulled it out and eyed it. Sophia took it and held it in her hand.
"Narnian, too, by the look of it," She said, as they all crowded round.
"I'm sitting on something too," said Lucy. "Something hard." It turned out to be the remains of a mail-shirt. By this time everyone was on thier hands and knees, feeling in the thick heather in every direction. Their search revealed, one by one, a helmet, a dagger, and a few coins; not Calormen crescents but genuine Narnian "Lions" and "Trees" such as you might see any day in the market-place of Beaversdam or Beruna.
"Looks as if this might be all that's left of one of our seven lords," Eustace pointed out.
"Just what I was thinking," Caspian replied. "I wonder which it was. There's nothing on the dagger to show. And I wonder how he died."
"And how we are to avenge him," added Reepicheep.
Edmund, the only one of the party who had read several detective stories, had meanwhile been thinking.
"Look here," he said, "there's something very fishy about this. He can't have been killed in a fight."
"Why not?" Caspian asked.
"No bones," Edmund replied. "An enemy might take the armour and leave the body. But who ever heard of a chap who'd won a fight carrying away the body and leaving the armour?"
"Perhaps he was killed by a wild animal," Lucy suggested.
"It'd be a clever animal," Peter pointed out, "that would take a man's mail shirt off."
"Perhaps a dragon?" Caspian suggested. Eustace immediately shook his head.
"A dragon couldn't do it. I ought to know." He told them. Luc's pace had grown slightly pale.
"Well, let's get away from the place, anyway," she said quickly. She had not felt like sitting down again since Edmund had raised the question of bones.
"If you like," said Caspian, getting up. "I don't think any of this stuff is worth taking away."
They came down and round to the little opening where the stream came out of the lake, and stood looking at the deep water within the circle of cliffs. If it had been a hot day, no doubt some would have been tempted to bathe and everyone would have had a drink. Indeed, even as it was, Eustace was on the very point of stooping down and scooping up some water in his hands when Reepicheep and Lucy both at the same moment cried, "Look," so he forgot about his drink and looked.
The bottom of the pool was made of large greyish-blue stones and the water was perfectly clear, and on the bottom lay a life-size figure of a man, made apparently of gold. It lay face downwards with its arms stretched out above its head. And it so happened that as they looked at it, the clouds parted and the sun shone out. The golden shape was lit up from end to end. Lucy thought it was the most beautiful statue she had ever seen.
"Well!" whistled Caspian. "That was worth coming to see! I wonder, can we get it out?"
"We can dive for it, Sire," said Reepicheep.
"No good at all," said Edmund. "At least, if it's really gold - solid gold - it'll be far too heavy to bring up. And that pool's twelve or fifteen feet deep if it's an inch. Half a moment, though. It's a good thing I've brought a hunting spear with me. Let's see what the depth is like. Hold on to my hand, Caspian, while I lean out over the water a bit." Caspian took his hand and Edmund, leaning forward, began to lower his spear into the water.
"I don't believe the statue is gold at all. It's only the light. Your spear looks just the same colour." Sophia pointed out.
"What's wrong?" asked several voices at once; for Edmund had suddenly let go of the spear.
"I couldn't hold it," gasped Edmund, "it seemed so heavy."
"And there it is on the bottom now," said Caspian, "and Lucy is right. It looks just the same colour as the statue."
But Edmund, who appeared to be having some trouble with his boots - at least he was bending down and looking at them - straightened himself all at once and shouted out in the sharp voice which people hardly ever disobey:
"Get back! Back from the water. All of you. At once!" They all did and stared at him. "Look," said Edmund, "look at the toes of my boots."
"They look a bit yellow," began Eustace.
"They're gold, solid gold," interrupted Edmund. "Look at them. Feel them. The leather's pulled away from it already. And they're as heavy as lead."
"By Aslan!" Peter gasped. "You don't mean to say-?"
"Yes, I do," said Edmund. "That water turns things into gold. It turned the spear into gold, that's why it got so heavy. And it was just lapping against my feet (it's a good thing I wasn't barefoot) and it turned the toe-caps into gold. And that poor fellow on the bottom - well, you see."
"So it isn't a statue at all," said Lucy, voice trembling.
"No. The whole thing is plain now. He was here on a hot day. He undressed on top of the cliff - where we were sitting. The clothes have rotted away or been taken by birds to line nests with; the armour's still there. Then he dived and - "
"Don't," Lucy said quickly. "What a horrible thing." She and Sophia both shuddered.
"And what a narrow shave we've had," said Edmund.
"Narrow indeed," said Reepicheep. "Anyone's finger, anyone's foot, anyone's whisker, or anyone's tail, might have slipped into the water at any moment."
"All the same," Caspian said, "we may as well test it." He stooped down and wrenched up a spray of heather. Then, very cautiously, he knelt beside the pool and dipped it in. It was heather that he dipped; what he drew out was a perfect model of heather made of the purest gold, heavy and soft as lead. "The King who owned this island," Caspian said slowly, and his face flushed as he spoke, "would soon be the richest of all the Kings of the world. I claim this land for ever as a Narnian possession. It shall be called Goldwater Island. And I bind all of you to secrecy. No one must know of this. Not even Drinian - on pain of death, do you hear?"
"Who are you talking to?" Edmund snappd. "I'm no subject of yours. If anything it's the other way round. I am one of the four ancient sovereigns of Narnia and you are under allegiance to the High King my brother." He gestured to Peter who looked at his wife and Lucy for guidance, but neither knew what to do.
"So it has come to that, King Edmund, has it?" said Caspian, laying his hand on his sword-hilt. Lucy's eyes widened and she grew angry.
"Stop it, both of you," She snapped. "That's the worst of doing anything with boys. You're all such swaggering, bullying idiots - oooh! - " Her voice died away into a gasp. And everyone else saw what she had seen. Across the grey hillside above them - grey, for the heather was not yet in bloom - without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen. And they knew it was Aslan. And nobody ever saw how or where he went. They looked at one another like people waking from sleep.
"What were we talking about?" Caspian asked. "Have I been making rather an ass of myself?"
"Sire," said Reepicheep, "this is a place with a curse on it. Let us get back on board at once. And if I might have the honour of naming this island, I should call it Deathwater."
"That strikes me as a very good name, Reep," said Caspian, "though now that I come to think of it, I don't know why. But the weather seems to be settling and I dare say Drinian would like to be off. What a lot we shall have to tell him."
But in fact they had not much to tell for the memory of the last hour had all become confused.
"Their Majesties all seemed a bit bewitched when they came aboard," said Drinian to Rhince some hours later when the Dawn Treader was once more under sail and Deathwater Island already below the horizon. "Something happened to them in that place. The only thing I could get clear was that they think they've found the body of one of these lords we're looking for."
"You don't say so, Captain," answered Rhince. "Well, that's three. Only four more. At this rate we might be home soon after the New Year. And a good thing too. My baccy's running a bit low. Good night, Sir."