Caspian makes his triumphal entry and cleanses the Lone Islands
Then Caspian caused his banner to be advanced and his trumpet to be blown and every man drew his sword and set his face into a joyful sternness, and they marched up the street so that the street shook, and their armor shone (for it was a sunny morning) so that one could hardly look at it steadily.
This is only the first time when the Sun will serve as an aid to the righteous.
At first the only people who cheered were those who had been warned by Bern’s messenger and knew what was happening and wanted it to happen. But then all the children joined in because they liked a procession and had seen very few. And then all the schoolboys joined in because they also liked processions and felt that the more noise and disturbance there was the less likely they would be to have any school that morning. And then all the old women put their heads out of doors and windows and began chattering and cheering because it was a king, and what was a governor compared with that? And all the young women joined in for the same reason and also because Caspian and Drinian and the rest were so handsome. And then all the young men came to see what all the young women were looking at, so that by the time Caspian reached the castle gates, nearly the whole town was shouting; and where Gumpas sat in the castle, muddling and messing about with accounts and forms and rules and regulations, he heard the noise.
Can you tell that Lewis didn’t like bureaucrats? He only made Hell itself a bureaucracy in The Screwtape Letters. Interesting enough, the Lone Islands appear to be the most “modern” of all the lands we’ve seen so far – if Eustace hadn’t been enslaved by the first residents he encountered, he might have been inclined to call them “civilized”. There is definitely something to be said about the sort of virtue often attributed to greed and “progress”.
“Tender as my years may be,” said Caspian, “I believe I understand the slave trade from within quite as well as your Sufficiency. And I do not see that it brings into the islands meat or bread or beer or wine or timber or cabbages or books or instruments of music or horses or armor or anything else worth having. But whether it does or not, it must be stopped.”
Did I mention that Bern is kind of brilliant? Because he’s brilliant, and well-deserving of the position of Duke of the Lone Islands. He orchestrated the entire plan to retake the Lone Islands with a single ship and its crew (without spilling a drop of blood on either side). Also, there’s stuff like this:
“Look here, this is all very well,” said one of Gumpas’s secretaries, “but suppose all you gentlemen stop play-acting and we do a little business. The question before us really is –“
“The question is,” said the Duke, “whether you and the rest of this rabble will leave without a flogging or with one. You may choose which you prefer.”
The mention of “flogging” made this particular episode easy to pin down: It’s the cleansing of the Temple (which appears in chapter 2 of John, while it’s presented far later in the other Gospels). Caspian comes in turning over tables and turning out the money-changers – but all ends peacefully, despite the threat of judgement.
The next order of business is, naturally, to go free all the slaves and find Edmund, Lucy, Reepicheep, and Eustace. And speaking of Eustace:
“Tacks, bring out Sulky.”
Thus Eustace was produced, and sulky he certainly seemed; for though no one would want to be sold as a slave, it is perhaps even more galling to be a sort of utility slave whom no one will buy. He walked up to Caspian and said, “I see. As usual. Been enjoying yourself somewhere while the rest of us were prisoners. I suppose you haven’t even found out about the British Consul. Of course not.”
This also marks the first appearance of the Calormenes (apparently frequent customers at the slave market), but I’ll wait until we get to The Horse and His Boy to get into that particular minefield, as I doubt Lewis himself gave them much thought before then (and they don’t play any significant role until then, either).
With all that settled, the crew prepares to enter the uncharted seas east of the Lone Islands, both by provisioning the ship and speaking to old sea captains who might have knowledge of said eastern sea.
Only one, to Reepicheep’s delight, said, “And beyond that, Aslan’s country. But that’s beyond the end of the world and you can’t get there.” But when they questioned him he could only say that he’d heard it from his father.
Next time: The real adventures begin…