Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A Child's Story?
My husband has read my kids all the Chronicles of Narnia stories over the past couple of years, as my brother in law has done with his boys. I think I got more out of the stories than they do.
I admit; I love a good children's story with layers and substance that provokes thought in kids and adults. I love this passage in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I hope you will too.
"So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden-trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it was a well. I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells-like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not."
"I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snakey sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that is what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and the scales started coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe."
"But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means that I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe."
"Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, however many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew that it had been no good."
"Then the lion said-but I don't know if it spoke-You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay down flat on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off; it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know-if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place it hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away."
"I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off-just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt-and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as soft and smooth as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me-I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on-and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them. After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me-"
"Dressed you. With his paws?"
"Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes-the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. "
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis.