Storm's Journal

who would have ever thought that there 
might be 'weapons of mass destruction' in NARNIA...! 

now what has he got in his pocketsesses... 
err, uhm... i mean that there STABLE. ! 

three pages of the best reading this weekend. :}

--| C.S. Lewis - The Ape's Stable |--- 

The Ape was speaking again.

"And after a horrid thing like that, Aslan - Tashlan - is angrier than
ever. He says he's been a great deal too good to you, coming out every
night to be looked at, see! Well, he's not coming out any more."

Howls and mewings and squeals and grunts were the Animals' answer to this,
but suddenly a quite different voice broke in with a loud laugh.

"Hark what the monkey says," it shouted. "We know why he isn't going to
bring his precious Aslan out. I'll tell you why: because he hasn't got
him. He never had anything except an old donkey with a lion-skin on its
back. Now he's lost that and he doesn't know what to do."

Tirian could not see the faces on the other side of the fire very well but
he guessed this was Griffle the Chief Dwarf. And he was quite certain of
it when, a second later, all the Dwarfs' voices joined in, singing: "Don't
know what to do! Don't know what to do! Don't know what to do-o-o!"

"Silence!" thundered Rishda Tarkaan. "Silence, children of mud! Listen to
me, you other Narnians, lest I give command to my warriors to fall upon
you with the edge of the sword. The Lord Shift has already told you of
that wicked Ass. Do you think, because of him that there is no real
Tashlan in the stable! Do you? Beware, beware."

"No, no," shouted most of the crowd. But the Dwarfs said, "That's right,
Darkie, you've got it. Come on, Monkey, show us what's in the stable,
seeing is believing."

When next there was a moment's quiet the Ape said: "You Dwarfs think
you're very clever, don't you? But not so fast. I never said you couldn't
see Tashlan. Anyone who likes can see him."

The whole assembly became silent. Then, after nearly a minute, the Bear
began in a slow, puzzled voice:

"I don't quite understand all this," it grumbled, "I thought you said -"

"You thought!" repeated the Ape. "As if anyone could call what goes on in
your head thinking. Listen, you others. Anyone can see Tashlan. But he's
not coming out. You have to go in and see him."

"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you," said dozens of voices. "That's what
we wanted! We can go in and see him face to face. And now he'll be kind
and it will all be as it used to be." And the Birds chattered, and the
Dogs barked excitedly. Then suddenly, there was a great stirring and a
noise of creatures rising to their feet, and in a second the whole lot of
them would have been rushing forward and trying to crowd into the stable
door all together. But the Ape shouted:

"Get back! Quiet! Not so fast."

The Beasts stopped, many of them with one paw in the with tails wagging,
and all of them with heads on one side.

"I thought you said," began the Bear, but Shift interrupted.

"Anyone can go in," he said. "But, one at a time. Who'll go first? He
didn't say he was feeling very kind. He's been licking his lips a lot
since he swallowed up the wicked King the other night. He's been growling
a good deal this morning. I wouldn't much like to go into that stable
myself tonight. But just as you please. Who'd like to go in first? Don't
blame me if he swallows you whole or blasts you into a cinder with the
mere terror of his eyes. That's your affair. Now then! Who's first? What
about one of you Dwarfs?"

"Dilly, dilly, come and be killed!" sneered Griffle. "How do we know what
you've got in there?"

"Ho-ho!" cried the Ape. "So you're beginning to think there's something
there, eh? Well, all you Beasts were making noise enough a minute ago.
What's struck you all dumb? Who's going in first?"

But the Beasts all stood looking at one another and began backing away
from the stable. Very few tails were wagging now. The Ape waddled to and
fro jeering at them. "Ho-ho-ho!" he chuckled. "I thought you were all so
eager to see Tashlan face to face! Changed your mind, eh?"

Tirian bent his head to hear something that Jill was trying to whisper in
his ear. "What do you think is really inside the stable?" she said. "Who
knows?" said Tirian. "Two Calormenes with drawn swords, as likely as not,
one on each side of the door." "You don't think," said Jill, "it might be
. . . you know . . . that horrid thing we saw?" "Tash himself?" whispered
Tirian. "There's no knowing. But courage, child: we are all between the
paws of the true Aslan."

Then a most surprising thing happened. Ginger the Cat said in a cool,
clear voice, not at all as if he was excited, "I'll go in, if you like."

Every creature turned and fixed its eyes on the Cat. "Mark their
subtleties, Sire," said Poggin to the King. "This cursed cat is in the
plot, in the very centre of it. Whatever is in the stable will not hurt
him, I'll be bound. Then Ginger will come out again and say that he has
seen some wonder."

But Tirian had no time to answer him. The Ape was calling the Cat to come
forward. "Ho-ho!" said the Ape. "So you, a pert Puss, would look upon him
face to face. Come on, then! I'll open the door for you. Don't blame me if
he scares the whiskers off your face. That's your affair."

And the Cat got up and came out of its place in the crowd, walking primly
and daintily, with its tail in the air, not one hair on its sleek coat out
of place. It came on till it had passed the fire and was so close that
Tirian, from where he stood with his shoulder against the end-wall of the
stable, could look right into its face. Its big green eyes never blinked.
("Cool as a cucumber," muttered Eustace. "It knows it has nothing to
fear.") The Ape, chuckling and making faces, shuttled across beside the
Cat: put up his paw: drew the bolt and opened the door. Tirian thought he
could hear the Cat purring as it walked into the dark doorway.

"Aii-aii-aouwee! -" The most horrible caterwaul you ever heard made
everyone jump. You have been wakened yourself by cats quarrelling or
making love on the roof in the middle of the night: you know the sound.

This was worse. The Ape was knocked head over heels by Ginger coming back
out of the stable at top speed. If you had not known he was a cat, you
might have thought he was a ginger-coloured streak of lightning. He shot
across the open grass, back into the crowd. No one wants to meet a cat in
that state. You could see animals getting out of his way to left and
right. He dashed up a tree, whisked around, and hung head downwards. His
tail was bristled out till it was nearly as thick as his whole body: his
eyes were like saucers of green fire: along his back every single hair
stood on end.

"I'd give my beard," whispered Poggin, "to know whether that brute is only
acting or whether it has really found something in there that frightened

"Peace, friend," said Tirian, for the Captain and the Ape were also
whispering and he wanted to hear what they said. He did not succeed,
except that he heard the Ape once more whimpering "My head, my head," but
he got the idea that those two were almost as puzzled by the cat's
behaviour as himself.

"Now, Ginger," said the Captain. "Enough of that noise. Tell them what
thou hast seen."

"Aii - Aii - Aaow - Awah," screamed the Cat.

"Art thou not called a Talking Beast?" said the Captain. "Then hold thy
devilish noise and talk."

What followed was rather horrible. Tirian felt quite certain (and so did
the others) that the Cat was trying to say something: but nothing came out
of his mouth except the ordinary, ugly cat-noises you might hear from any
angry or frightened old Tom in a backyard in England. And the longer he
caterwauled the less like a Talking Beast he looked. Uneasy whimperings
and little sharp squeals broke out from among the other Animals.

"Look, look!" said the voice of the Bear. "It can't talk. It has forgotten
how to talk! It has gone back to being a dumb beast. Look at its face."
Everyone saw that it was true. And then the greatest terror of all fell
upon those Narnians. For every one of them had been taught - when it was
only a chick or a puppy or a cub - how Aslan at the beginning of the world
had turned the beasts of Narnia into Talking Beasts and warned them that
if they weren't good they might one day be turned back again and be like
the poor witless animals one meets in other countries. "And now it is
coming upon us," they moaned.

"Mercy! Mercy!" wailed the Beasts. "Spare us, Lord Shift, stand between us
and Aslan, you must always go in and speak to him for us. We daren't, we

Ginger disappeared further up into the tree. No one ever saw him again.

Tirian stood with his hand on his sword-hilt and his head bowed. He was
dazed with the horrors of that night. Sometimes he thought it would be
best to draw his sword at once and rush upon the Calormenes: then next
moment he thought it would be better to wait and see what new turn affairs
might take. And now a new turn came.

"My Father," came a clear, ringing voice from the left of the crowd.
Tirian knew at once that it was one of the Calormenes speaking, for in The
Tisroc's army the common soldiers call the officers "My Master" but the
officers call their senior officers "My Father". Jill and Eustace didn't
know this but, after looking this way and that, they saw the speaker, for
of course people at the sides of the crowd were easier to see than people
in the middle where the glare of the fire made all beyond it look rather
black. He was young and tall and slender, and even rather beautiful in the
dark, haughty, Calormene way.

"My Father," he said to the Captain, "I also desire to go in."

"Peace, Emeth," said the Captain, "Who called thee to counsel? Does it
become a boy to speak?"

"My Father," said Emeth. "Truly I am younger than thou, yet I also am of
the blood of the Tarkaans even as thou art, and I also am the servant of
Tash. Therefore . . ."

"Silence," said Rishda Tarkaan. "Am not I thy Captain? Thou hast nothing
to do with this stable. It is for the Narnians."

"Nay, my Father," answered Emeth. "Thou hast said that their Aslan and our
Tash are all one. And if that is the truth, then Tash himself is in
yonder. And how then sayest thou that I have nothing to do with him? For
gladly would I die a thousand deaths if I might look once on the face of

"Thou art a fool and understandest nothing," said Rishda Tarkaan. "These
be high matters."

Emeth's face grew sterner. "Is it then not true that Tash and Aslan are
all one?" he asked. "Has the Ape lied to us?"

"Of course they're all one," said the Ape.

"Swear it, Ape," said Emeth.

"Oh dear!" whimpered Shift, "I wish you'd all stop bothering me. My head
does ache. Yes, yes, I swear it."

"Then, my Father," said Emeth, "I am utterly determined to go in."

"Fool," began Rishda Tarkaan, but at once the Dwarfs began shouting: "Come
along, Darkie. Why don't you let him in? Why do you let Narnians in and
keep your own people out? What have you got in there that you don't want
your own men to meet?"

Tirian and his friends could only see the back of Rishda Tarkaan, so they
never knew what his face looked like as he shrugged his shoulders and
said, "Bear witness all that I am guiltless of this young fool's blood.
Get thee in, rash boy, and make haste."

Then, just as Ginger had done, Emeth came walking forward into the open
strip of grass between the bonfire and the stable. His eyes were shining,
his face very solemn, his hand was on his sword-hilt, and he carried his
head high. Jill felt like crying when she looked at his face. And Jewel
whispered in the King's ear, "By the Lion's Mane, I almost love this young
warrior, Calormene though he be. He is worthy of a better god than Tash."

"I do wish we knew what is really inside there," said Eustace.

Emeth opened the door and went in, into the black mouth of the stable. He
closed the door behind him. Only a few moments passed - but it seemed
longer before the door opened again. A figure in Calormene armour reeled
out, fell on its back, and lay still: the door closed behind it. The
Captain leaped towards it and bent down to stare at its face. He gave a
start of surprise. Then he recovered himself and turned to the crowd,
crying out:

"The rash boy has had his will. He has looked on Tash and is dead. Take
warning, all of you."

"We will, we will," said the poor Beasts. But Tirian and his friends
stared at the dead Calormene and then at one another. For they, being so
close, could see what the crowd, being further off and beyond the fire,
could not see: this dead man was not Emeth. He was quite different: an
older man, thicker and not so tall, with a big beard.

"Ho-ho-ho," chuckled the Ape. "Any more? Anyone else want to go in? Well,
as you're all shy, I'll choose the next. You, you Boar! On you come. Drive
him up, Calormenes. He shall see Tashlan face to face."

"O-o-mph," grunted the Boar, rising heavily to his feet. "Come on, then.
Try my tusks."

When Tirian saw that brave Beast getting ready to fight for its life - and
Calormene soldiers beginning to close in on it with their drawn scimitars
- and no one going to its help - something seemed to burst inside him. He
no longer cared if this was the best moment to interfere or not.

"Swords out," he whispered to the others. "Arrow on string. Follow."

Next moment the astonished Narnians saw seven figures leap forth in front
of the stable, four of them in shining mail. The King's sword flashed in
the firelight as he waved it above his head and cried in a great voice:

"Here stand I, Tirian of Narnia, in Aslan's name, to prove with my body
that Tash is a foul fiend, the Ape a manifold traitor, and these
Calormenes worthy of death. To my side, all true Narnians. Would you wait
till your new masters have killed you all one by one?"

(C.S. Lewis, Narnia - The Last Battle, Chapter 10)

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- Lewis and Tolkien on Myths

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