Jill realizes her mistake, but not until the Giants provide yet another obstacle to overcome.
“If you please, Sire, the Lady of the Green Kirtle salutes you by us and said you’d like to have us for your Autumn Feast.”
The giant King and Queen looked at each other, nodded at each other, and smiled in a way that Jill didn’t exactly like. […] Then the King put out his tongue and licked his lips. Anyone might do that: but his tongue was so very large and came out so unexpectedly, that it gave Jill quite a shock.
Puddleglum appears to be out of commission at this point (read: drunk out of his wits), and although Eustace manages to do all the talking, Jill is still understandably out of sorts.
I hope you don’t lose all interest in Jill for the rest of the book if I tell you that at this moment she began to cry.
Again, there’s something about the way Lewis frames her reaction which really has the opposite effect on me than he clearly intended. I don’t think it’s supposed to be humorous (dry or otherwise); it merely draws attention to her apparent weakness in its attempt to rationalize her behavior. I understand the sentiment, but it just feels patronizing. Personally, I’ve always been very emotional, which would occasionally manifest itself in the form of “crying at the drop of a hat” when I was little, and thus I was once dubbed a “crybaby” (not to my face, but I heard it nonetheless). You remember how I said that I had an unfortunate tendency to project my self-loathing onto characters that shared my flaws? Yeah…it doesn’t exactly help that Lewis phrases this as if crying is a bad thing that people will automatically dislike you for.
Anyhow, the three of them are apparently taken to separate rooms and get their much longed for bed & baths, although Jill is saddled with an infuriatingly condescending old nurse giantess. Before she falls asleep, she finds out that the snow had changed to rain already (in the afternoon) – thus proving that yes, they could very well have not died had they been forced to spend the night outdoors again, especially if they had done something clever with those trenches they’d stumbled into. Speaking of which…
“Hullo! Good morning,” said Jill. “Isn’t this fun? I’ve slept about fifteen hours, I believe. I do feel better, don’t you?”
“I do,” said Scrubb, “but Puddleglum says he has a headache. Hullo! – your window has a window seat. If we got up on that, we could see out.” And at once they did so: and at first glance Jill said, “Oh, how perfectly dreadful!”
[…] Down below them, spread out like a map, lay the flat hill-top which they had struggled over yesterday afternoon; seen from the castle, it could not be mistaken for anything but the ruins of a gigantic city. […] To crown all, in large, dark lettering across the center of the pavement, ran the words UNDER ME.
The three travelers looked at each other in dismay, and, after a short whistle, Scrubb said what they were all thinking, “The second and third signs muffed.”
Jill wonders if Aslan might have put the writing there overnight (as she suddenly recalls dreaming about him and the writing overnight), but Eustace figures out that the letters were already there, in the form of the trenches they stumbled into the day before.
“So it’s no good, Pole. I know what you were thinking because I was thinking the same. You were thinking how nice it would have been if Aslan hadn’t put the instructions on the stones of the ruined city till after we’d passed it. And then it would have been his fault, not ours. So likely, isn’t it? No. We must own up. We’ve only four signs to go by, and we’ve muffed the first three.”
Then they all realize that, since they can’t open the giant doors on their own, they would have to ask the giants to let them go outside to investigate the ruins, and they’re all suddenly uncertain about whether the giants would allow them to leave if they asked. Eustace proposes that they see if they can find an open door or window in the afternoon, and with no better ideas, they decide to try it.
As a matter of fact, Scrubb’s plan was not quite so hopeless as you might think. If you want to get out of a house without being seen, the middle of the afternoon is in some ways a better time to try it than in the middle of the night. Doors and windows are more likely to be open; and if you are caught, you can always pretend you weren’t meaning to go far and had no particular plans (It is very hard to make either giants or grown-ups believe this if you’re found climbing out of a bedroom window at one o’clock in the morning.)
In order to remain unsuspicious, they figure that they should pretend to be excited about the Autumn Feast. And then Puddleglum utters this:
“I dare say you two thought I was a trifle tipsy last night, but I do assure you it was – well, most of it was – put on. I had an idea it would come in useful, somehow.”
So I suppose you were faking that massive hangover, too, right Puddleglum?
Next time: Having used their brains, they actually discover something worth knowing…