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The Return to Narnia
How All Were Very Busy
A little before two o'clock, Trumpkin and the Badger sat with the rest of the creatures at the wood's edge looking across at the gleaming line of Miraz's army which was about two arrow-shots away. In between, a square space of level grass had been staked for the combat. At the two far corners stood Glozelle and Sopespian with drawn swords. At the near corners were Giant Wimbleweather and the Bulgy Bear, who in spite of all their warnings was sucking his paws and looking, to tell the truth, uncommonly silly. To make up for this, Glenstorm on the right of the lists, stock-still except when he stamped a hind hoof occasionally on the turf, looked much more imposing than the Telmarine baron who faced him on the left. Peter had just shaken hands with Edmund and the Doctor, and was now walking down to the combat. It was like the moment before the pistol goes at an important race, but very much worse.
"I wish Aslan had turned up before it came to this," said Trumpkin.
"So do I," said Trufflehunter. "But look behind you."
"Crows and crockery!" muttered the Dwarf as soon as he had done so. "What are they? Huge people -- beautiful people -- like gods and goddesses and giants. Hundreds and thousands of them, closing in behind us. What are they?"
"It's the Dryads and Hamadryads and Silvans," said Trufflehunter. "Aslan has wakened them."
"Humph!" said the Dwarf. "That'll be very useful if the enemy try any treachery. But it won't help the High King very much if Miraz proves handier with his sword."
The Badger said nothing, for now Peter and Miraz were entering the lists from opposite ends, both on foot, both in chain shirts, with helmets and shields. They advanced till they were close together. Both bowed and seemed to speak, but it was impossible to hear what they said. Next moment the two swords flashed in the sunlight. For a second the clash could be heard but it was immediately drowned because both armies began shouting like crowds at a football match.
"Well done, Peter, oh, well done!" shouted Edmund as he saw Miraz reel back a whole pace and a half. "Follow it up, quick!" And Peter did, and for a few seconds it looked as if the fight might be won. But then Miraz pulled himself together -- began to make real use of his height and weight. "Miraz! Miraz! The King! The King!" came the roar of the Telmarines. Caspian and Edmund grew white with sickening anxiety.
"Peter is taking some dreadful knocks," said Edmund.
"Hullo!" said Caspian. "What's happening now?"
"Both falling apart," said Edmund. "A bit blown, I expect. Watch. Ah, now they're beginning again, more scientifically this time. Circling round and round, feeling each other's defences."
"I'm afraid this Miraz knows his work," muttered the Doctor. But hardly had he said this when there was such a clapping and baying and throwing up of hoods among the Old Narnians that it was nearly deafening.
"What was it? What was it?" asked the Doctor. "My old eyes missed it."
"The High King has pricked him in the armpit," said Caspian, still clapping. "Just where the arm-hole of the hauberk let the point through. First blood."
"It's looking ugly again, now, though," said Edmund. "Peter's not using his shield properly. He must be hurt in the left arm."
It was only too true. Everyone could see that Peter's shield hung limp. The shouting of the Telmarines redoubled.
"You've seen more battles than I," said Caspian. "Is there any chance now?"
"Precious little," said Edmund. "I suppose he might just do it. With luck."
"Oh, why did we let it happen at all?" said Caspian.
Suddenly all the shouting on both sides died down. Edmund was puzzled for a moment. Then he said, "Oh, I see. They've both agreed to a rest. Come on, Doctor. You and I may be able to do something for the High King." They ran down to the lists and Peter came outside the ropes to meet them, his face red and sweaty, his chest heaving.
"Is your left arm wounded?" asked Edmund.
"It's not exactly a wound," Peter said. "I got the full weight of his shoulder on my shield -- like a load of bricks -- and the rim of the shield drove into my wrist. I don't think it's broken, but it might be a sprain. If you could tie it up very tight I think I could manage."
While they were doing this, Edmund asked anxiously, "What do you think of him, Peter?"
"Tough," said Peter. "Very tough. I have a chance if I can keep him on the hop till his weight and short wind come against him -- in this hot sun too. To tell the truth, I haven't much chance else. Give my love to -- to everyone at home, Ed, if he gets me. Here he comes into the lists again. So long, old chap. Goodbye, Doctor. And I say, Ed, say something specially nice to Trumpkin. He's been a brick."
Edmund couldn't speak. He walked back with the Doctor to his own lines with a sick feeling in his stomach.
But the new bout went well. Peter now seemed to be able to make some use of his shield, and he certainly made good use of his feet. He was almost playing Tig with Miraz now, keeping out of range, shifting his ground, making the enemy work.
"Coward!" booed the Telmarines. "Why don't you stand up to him? Don't you like it, eh? Thought you'd come to fight, not dance. Yah!"
"Oh, I do hope he won't listen to them," said Caspian.Prince Caspian
The Return to Narnia. Copyright © by C. Lewis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Return to Narnia by C. S. Lewis
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