Lucy receives a shock when she runs out to find her siblings, because not only are they not worried sick about her being gone for so long, but they didn’t even notice she had left.
“What do you mean, Lu?” asked Peter.
“What I said,” answered Lucy. “It was just after breakfast when I went into the wardrobe, and I’ve been away for hours and hours, and had tea, and all sorts of things have happened.”
“Don’t be silly, Lucy,” said Susan. “We’ve only just come out of that room a moment ago, and you were there then.”
“She’s not being silly at all,” said Peter, “she’s just making up a story for fun, aren’t you, Lu? And why shouldn’t she?”
“No, Peter, I’m not,” she said. “It’s – it’s a magic wardrobe. There’s a wood inside it, and it’s snowing, and there’s a Faun and a Witch and it’s called Narnia; come and see.”
And then comes another shock when they actually try to go through the wardrobe: The wood isn’t there anymore, and the wardrobe itself appears to be completely ordinary. Between that and the way that her time in Narnia didn’t seem to take any time at all, needless to say nobody believes her about the whole thing.
This chapter establishes (even if it doesn’t come right out and say it) a very important mechanic for the wardrobe: You can’t get to Narnia through it whenever you want to. The magic only works when you’re treating it like an ordinary wardrobe, so that you can never intentionally get to Narnia. Thus, Lucy’s rather miserable for a while because everyone else just thinks she being stubborn (and silly), and Edmund teases her mercilessly about it. Then on the next rainy day, they end up playing hide-and-seek.
She did not mean to hide in wardrobe, because she knew that would only set the others talking again about the whole wretched business. But she did want to have one more look inside it; for by this time she was beginning to wonder herself whether Narnia and the Faun had not been a dream. The house was so large and complicated and full of hiding-places that she thought she would have time to have one look into the wardrobe and then hide somewhere else. But as soon as she reached it she heard steps in the passage outside, and then there was nothing for it but to jump into the wardrobe and hold the door closed behind her.
Lucy manages to get to Narnia this time because the first thought in her head is to use the wardrobe as a hiding place. Of course, the person she hears coming is Edmund (who really should be looking for a hiding place himself, but can’t resist teasing his little sister), and ironically, he manages to get into Narnia, too, simply because he doesn’t believe there’s anything magical about the wardrobe. Also, he shuts the door (which, as we all know, is a very foolish thing to do).
It would seem, however, that Edmund’s cynicism does have consequences. While Lucy was fortunate enough to run into Mr. Tumnus when she first entered Narnia (when she could just as easily have run into a less sympathetic kidnapper), Edmund kind of runs into the Snow Queen.
“And what, pray, are you?” said the Lady, looking hard at Edmund.
“I’m – I’m – my name’s Edmund,” said Edmund rather awkwardly. He did not like the way she looked at him.
The Lady frowned. “Is that how you address a Queen?” she asked, looking sterner than ever.
“I beg your pardon, your Majesty, I didn’t know,” said Edmund.
“Not know the Queen of Narnia?” cried she. “Ha! You shall know us better hereafter. But I repeat – what are you?”
“Please, your Majesty,” said Edmund, “I don’t know what you mean. I’m at school – at least I was – it’s the holidays now.”
To be continued…