The Horse and His Boy, стр. 12
When he had thought all this he did what I expect you would have done if you had been up very early and had a long walk and a great deal of excitement and then a very good meal, and were lying on a sofa in a cool room with no noise in it except when a bee came buzzing in through the wide open windows. He fell asleep.
What woke him was a loud crash. He jumped up off the sofa, staring. He saw at once from the mere look of the room—the lights and shadows all looked different—that he must have slept for several hours. He saw also what had made the crash: a costly porcelain vase which had been standing on the window-sill lay on—the floor broken into about thirty pieces. But he hardly noticed all these things. What he did notice was two hands gripping the window-sill from outside. They gripped harder and harder (getting white at the knuckles) and then up came a head and a pair of shoulders. A moment later there was a boy of Shasta’s own age sitting astride the sill with one leg hanging down inside the room.
Shasta had never seen his own face in a looking-glass. Even if he had, he might not have realized that the other boy was (at ordinary times) almost exactly like himself. At the moment this boy was not particularly like anyone for he had the finest black eye you ever saw, and a tooth missing, and his clothes (which must have been splendid ones when he put them on) were torn and dirty, and there was both blood and mud on his face.
“Who are you?” said the boy in a whisper.
“Are you Prince Corin?” said Shasta.
“Yes, of course,” said the other. “But who are you?”
“I’m nobody, nobody in particular, I mean,” said Shasta. “King Edmund caught me in the street and mistook me for you. I suppose we must look like one another. Can I get out the way you’ve got in?”
“Yes, if you’re any good at climbing,” said Corin. “But why are you in such a hurry? I say: we ought to be able to get some fun out of this being mistaken for one another.”
“No, no,” said Shasta. “We must change places at once. It’ll be simply frightful if Mr Tumnus comes back and finds us both here. I’ve had to pretend to be you. And you’re starting tonight—secretly. And where were you all this time?”
“A boy in the street made a beastly joke about Queen Susan,” said Prince Corin, “so I knocked him down. He ran howling into a house and his big brother came out. So I knocked the big brother down. Then they all followed me until we ran into three old men with spears who are called the Watch. So I fought the Watch and they knocked me down. It was getting dark by now. Then the Watch took me along to lock me up somewhere. So I asked them if they’d like a stoup of wine and they said they didn’t mind if they did. Then I took them to a wine shop and got them some and they all sat down and drank till they feel asleep. I thought it was time for me to be off so I came out quietly and then I found the first boy—the one who had started all the trouble—still hanging about. So I knocked him down again. After that I climbed up a pipe on to the roof of a house and lay quiet till it began to get light this morning. Ever since that I’ve been finding my way back. I say, is there anything to drink?”
“No, I drank it,” said Shasta. “And now, show me how you got in. There’s not a minute to lose. You’d better lie down on the sofa and pretend-but I forgot. It’ll be no good with all those bruises and black eye. You’ll just have to tell them the truth, once I’m safely away.”
“What else did you think I’d be telling them?” asked the Prince with a rather angry look. “And who are you?”
“There’s no time,” said Shasta in a frantic whisper. “I’m a Narnian, I believe; something Northern anyway. But I’ve been brought up all my life in Calormen. And I’m escaping: across the desert; with a talking Horse called Bree. And now, quick! How do I get away?”
“Look,” said Corin. “Drop from this window on to the roof of the verandah. But you must do it lightly, on your toes, or someone will hear you. Then along to your left and you can get up to the top of that wall if you’re any good at all as a climber. Then along the wall to the corner. Drop onto the rubbish heap you will find outside, and there you are.”
“Thanks,” said Shasta, who was already sitting on the sill. The two boys were looking into each other’s faces and suddenly found that they were friends.
“Good-bye,” said Corin. “And good luck. I do hope you get safe away.”
“Good-bye,” said Shasta. “I say, you have been having some adventures.”
“Nothing to yours,” said the Prince. “Now drop; lightlyI say,” he added as Shasta dropped. “I hope we meet in Archenland. Go to my father King Lune and tell him you’re a friend of mine. Look out! I hear someone coming.”
SHASTA AMONG THE TOMBS
SHASTA ran lightly along the roof on tiptoes. It felt hot to his bare feet. He was only a few seconds scrambling up the wall at the far end and when he got to the corner he found himself looking down into a narrow, smelly street, and there was a rubbish heap against the outside of the wall just as Corin had told him. Before jumping down he took a rapid glance round him to get his bearings. Apparently he had now come over the crown of the island-hill on which Tashbaan is built. Everything sloped away before him, flat roofs below flat roofs, down to the towers and battlements of the city’s Northern wall. Beyond that was the river and beyond the river a short slope covered with gardens. But beyond that again there was something he had never seen the like of—a great yellowish-grey thing, flat as a calm sea, and stretching for miles. On the far side of it were huge blue things, lumpy but with jagged edges, and some of them with white tops. “The desert! the mountains!” thought Shasta.
He jumped down on to the rubbish and began trotting along downhill as fast as he could in the narrow lane, which soon brought him into a wider street where there were more people. No one bothered to look at a little ragged boy running along on bare feet. Still, he was anxious and uneasy till he turned a corner and there saw the city gate in front of him. Here he was pressed and jostled a bit, for a good many other people were also going out; and on the bridge beyond the gate the crowd became quite a slow procession, more like a queue than a crowd. Out there, with clear running water on each side, it was deliciously fresh after the smell and heat and noise of Tashbaan.
When once Shasta had reached the far end of the bridge he found the crowd melting away; everyone seemed to be going either to the left or right along the river bank. He went straight ahead up a road that did not appear to be much used, between gardens. In a few paces he was alone, and a few more brought him to the top of the slope. There he stood and stared. It was like coming to the end of the world for all the grass stopped quite suddenly a few feet before him and the sand began: endless level sand like on a sea shore but a bit rougher because it was never wet. The mountains, which now looked further off than before, loomed ahead. Greatly to his relief he saw, about five minutes’ walk away on his left, what must certainly be the Tombs, just as Bree had described them; great masses of mouldering stone shaped like gigantic bee-hive, but a little narrower. They looked very black and grim, for the sun was now setting right behind them.
He turned his face West and trotted towards the Tombs. He could not help looking out very hard for any sign of his friends, though the setting sun shone in his face so that he could see hardly anything. “And anyway,” he thought, “of course they’ll be round on the far side of the farthest Tomb, not this side where anyone might see them from the city.”
There were about twelve Tombs, each with a low arched doorway that opened into absolute blackness. They were dotted about in no kind of order, so that it took a long time, going round this one and going round that one, before you could be sure that you had looked round every side of every tomb. This was what Shasta had to do. There was nobody there.