With the Queen thoroughly deposed, our heroes have merely gone out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“Oh, what can be happening?” cried Jill.  “Fire and water and all those people dodging about the streets.”

“I’ll tell you what it is,” said Puddleglum.  “That Witch has laid a train of magic spells so that whenever she was killed, at that same moment her whole kingdom would fall to pieces.  She’s the sort that wouldn’t so much mind dying herself if she knew that the chap who killed her was going to be burned, or buried, or drowned five minutes later.”

With the underground sea rising and what appears to be a fire elsewhere in the city (not to mention the Earthmen acting suspiciously and warlike), Rilian tells them that their best bet would be to venture toward the place where the Queen had been preparing to break out into the Overland, as it was most likely finished already (or very nearly so).  He decides to take his shield in addition to his sword, and receives a pleasant surprise.

“Look, friends,” he said, holding out the shield toward them.  “An hour ago it was black and without device; and now, this.”  The shield had turned bright as silver, and on it, redder than blood or cherries, was the figure of the Lion.

“Doubtless,” said the Prince, “this signifies that Aslan will be our good lord, whether he means us to live or die.  And all’s one, for that.”

For some reason, I heard Rilian with Prince Humperdinck’s voice, and I cannot unhear it.

Then they go out to the stable to get the horses (Coalblack and Snowflake), and there’s a single bit of information we get about Jill’s background: She goes to a riding stable on the holidays.  I’m pretty sure this is the only hint we ever get about her family or home life, but it’s not a stretch to draw a handful of conclusions from it: First, she’s from a more-or-less middle class family (since they can afford riding school, but not keeping a horse), and second (but less solidly), her family may not be all that close, if she’s going to another school (if a more pleasant one) over the holidays, as opposed to going home.  It took THIRTEEN CHAPTERS to get even this much, but I’ll take what I can get.

Anyhow, when the Earthmen seem to be preparing for an armed confrontation with them, they decide to see if they can’t capture one of them and hear what’s going on.

“Now, Earthman,” said the Prince, standing over it and holding his sword point very near the prisoner’s neck, “speak up, like an honest gnome, and you shall go free.  Play the knave with us, and you are but a dead Earthman.  Good Puddleglum, how can it speak while you hold its mouth tight shut?”

“No, and it can’t bite either,” said Puddleglum.  “If I had the silly soft hands you humans have (saving your Highness’s reverence) I’d have been all over blood by now.  Yet even a Marsh-wiggle gets tired of being chewed.”

They discover that (surprise!) MISCOMMUNICATION is to blame once again!  The Earthmen assumed that the Prince & Co. were on the Queen’s side, and didn’t know that she was dead.  Once that’s cleared up, they realize they’re on the same side, and the Earthman proceeds to tell his story…

…next time.

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