So this chapter consists of approximately 75% Conversations with the Professor, and I loved every moment of it. It’s one of those chapters where I struggle to find a quote mainly because I kind of love every single line. The Professor is based partly on Lewis himself (who was still a bachelor at the time) and partly on his old tutor from when he was a schoolboy.
But first, there be plot! When Lucy and Edmund finally find Peter and Susan (they were playing hide-and-seek, if you’ll recall), Lucy tells them about how she and Edmund had both gotten to Narnia and met in the wood.
“What’s all this about, Ed?” said Peter.
And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story. Up to that moment Edmund had been feeling sick, and sulky, and annoyed with Lucy for being right, but he hadn’t made up his mind what to do. When Peter suddenly asked him the question he decided all at once to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he could think of. He decided to let Lucy down.
“Tell us, Ed,” said Susan.
And Edmund gave a very superior look as if he were far older than Lucy (there was really only a year’s difference) and then a little snigger and said, “Oh, yes, Lucy and I have been playing – pretending that all her story about a country in the wardrobe is true. Just for fun, of course. There’s nothing there really.”
Poor Lucy gave Edmund one look and rushed out of the room.
Of course, Lucy continues to insist that Narnia is real, and she’s really hurt by Edmund’s actions on top of that. Peter and Susan are genuinely concerned that Lucy might be insane, so they decide to discuss the matter with the Professor and see what he thinks of it.
Then he sat listening to them with the tips of his fingers pressed together and never interrupting, till they had finished the whole story. After that he said nothing for quite a long time. Then he cleared his throat and said the last thing either of them expected:
“How do you know,” he asked, “that your sister’s story is not true?”
And here is where Lewis presents the same argument he uses for the divinity of Jesus in Mere Christianity. In a children’s fairy tale. And it is brilliant.
“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”
There are plenty more words of wisdom from the Professor, but I’m assuming you’ve read the chapter too, and I would rather not reprint half the chapter. He concludes by advising them to drop the subject completely, so Peter sees to it that Edmund stops making fun of Lucy and they don’t talk about Narnia or the wardrobe at all, which makes things less miserable all around.
But then one day, the housekeeper Macready is taking a party of sightseers through the house, so the children try to get out of their way.
And after that – whether it was that they lost their heads, or that Mrs. Macready was trying to catch them, or that some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia – they seemed to find themselves being followed everywhere, until at last Susan said, “Oh, bother those trippers! Here – let’s get into the Wardrobe Room till they’ve passed. No one will follow us in there.” But the moment they were inside they heard the voices in the passage – and then someone fumbling at the door – and then saw the handle turning.
“Quick!” said Peter, “there’s nowhere else,” and flung open the wardrobe. All four of them bundled inside it and sat there, panting, in the dark. Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, of course, he remembered, as every sensible person does, that you should never, never shut yourself in a wardrobe.
Just to emphasize how incredibly stupid Edmund is. He’s never going to live it down, is he?
PS: I’ve been fiddling around with the formatting, since I’m still getting used to WordPress and all, so if you see that my earlier posts have been edited recently, I’m probably just trying to make it uniform.