Caspian is able to get a grand total of one word in before the Council of War is interrupted by the war itself, and things only get worse from there.

To sleep under the stars, to drink nothing but well water and to live chiefly on nuts and wild fruit, was a strange experience for Caspian after his bed with silken sheets in a tapestried chamber at the castle, with meals laid out on gold and silver dishes in the anteroom, and attendants ready at his call.  But he had never enjoyed himself more.  Never had sleep been more refreshing nor food tasted more savory, and he began already to harden and his face wore a kinglier look.

Doctor Cornelius arrives bearing ill tidings, however: Miraz has discovered where they are, and he’s sent his army after them.  He suggests retreating to an “ancient” place called Aslan’s How: A mound that was built over a “magical stone”.  Apparently, a couple centuries (more or less) after the four children ruled Narnia, some Narnians decided to build a mound around the Stone Table.  Since nobody has any better suggestions, Caspian and his army move their camp to Aslan’s How.

What’s interesting is that none of the Old Narnians even knew about the How – not the Beasts or even the Centaurs.  It’s implied that it’s a bit of ancient lore which only a “learned man” like Cornelius (who is also very interested in Narnian “mythology”) would know about.  This, combined with the implication that most of the animals in Narnia are ordinary dumb beasts at this point and the fact that the Naiads and Dryads have fallen asleep, gives the impression that Narnia has become spiritually dormant (not to mention forgetful).  It’s not just the Telmarines who are doing this to the land (although they certainly aren’t helping much), but the creatures themselves, lacking leadership, have just gone into survival mode.  They run and hide from the Humans, and so the Dwarfs have grown resentful (especially toward those Dwarfs who have managed to integrate into Telmarine society), the Beasts have become more wild, and the trees and waters limit themselves to little acts of menace toward any Telmarines that might run into them.

After an indeterminate time of constant skirmishes and battles with the Telmarine army, there came a night (after a battle that had hinged upon the Giant taking the enemy by surprise; he didn’t) when “everyone was out of temper”, and Caspian’s counselors actually manage to agree on something:

“If your Majesty is ever to use the Horn,” said Trufflehunter, “I think the time has now come.” […]

“We are certainly in great need,” answered Caspian.  “But it is hard to be sure we are at our greatest.  Supposing there came an even worse need and we had already used it?”

“By that argument,” said Nikabrik, “your Majesty will never use it until it is too late.”

“I agree with that,” said Doctor Cornelius.

And then Trumpkin volunteers to go as a “messenger” towards the ruins of Cair Paravel to receive whatever help might come.

“But I thought you didn’t believe in the Horn, Trumpkin,” said Caspian.

“No more I do, your Majesty.  But what’s that got to do with it?  I might as well die on a wild goose chase as die here.  You are my King.  I know the difference between giving advice and taking orders.  You’ve had my advice, and now it’s time for orders.”

This chapter went by pretty quickly – things just kept happening, and I couldn’t help wishing that Caspian and the Narnians would be able to enjoy their peace a bit longer, but of course that peace couldn’t have really lasted while Miraz was still in charge.  As I said before, this is a book with lots of plot (for its fairly short length), and this chapter creates a sense of urgency as we return to the Island which was somewhat lacking when the children first arrived.  They clearly have a task to accomplish in this book: To set up Caspian as the rightful ruler of Narnia.

Next chapter: Back to the Island…

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