Miscommunication takes its final bow, making poor Eustace incredibly uncomfortable for a little longer.
The titular disappearance occurs at the very beginning of the chapter, when Jill manages to poke her head through the hole and appears to be captured.
“This is the greatest shame and sorrow that could have fallen on us,” said the Prince. “We have sent a brave lady into the hands of enemies and stayed behind in safety.”
“Don’t paint it too black, Sir,” said Puddleglum. “We’re not very safe except for death by starvation in this hole.”
As it turns out, Jill is perfectly safe – she was wary at first because the light seemed pale and blue rather than the sunlight she was hoping for, but it turned out to be moonlight on snow – they happened to come up during the night instead of the day, because of course they would.
They had not only got out into the upper world at last, but had come out in the heart of Narnia. Jill felt she could have fainted with delight; and the music – the wild music, intensely sweet and yet just the least bit eerie too, and full of good magic as the Witch’s thrumming had been full of bad magic – made her feel it all the more.
[…] Circling round and round the dancers was a ring of Dwarfs, all dressed in their finest clothes; mostly scarlet with fur-lined hoods and golden tassels and big furry top-boots. As they circled round they were all diligently throwing snowballs. […] They weren’t throwing them at the dancers as silly boys might have been doing in England. They were throwing them through the dance in such perfect time with the music and with such perfect aim that if all the dancers were in exactly the right places at exactly the right moments, no one would be hit. This is called the Great Snow Dance and is done every year in Narnia on the first moonlit night when there is snow on the ground. Of course it is a kind of game as well as a dance, because every now and then some dancer will be the least little bit wrong and get a snowball in the face, and then everyone laughs. But a good team of dancers, Dwarfs, and musicians will keep it up for hours without a single hit. On fine nights when the cold and the drum-taps, and the hooting of the owls, and the moonlight, have got into the wild, woodland blood and made it even wilder, they will dance till daybreak. I wish you could see it for yourselves.
I wish we could see it, too, but even if they did make it into a movie, they’d probably cut the dance…
Anyhow, Jill starts yelling for help (which none of the others below can make out, hence the confusion), and after Jill is retrieved, the Dwarfs and the Talking Moles set to work digging out the rest of the gang.
Then Jill heard cries of “Hi! What are you doing? Put that sword down,” and, “Now, young ‘un: none of that,” and, “He’s a vicious one, now, isn’t he?” Jill hurried to the spot and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she saw Eustace’s face, very pale and dirty, projecting from the blackness of the hole, and Eustace’s right hand brandishing a sword with which he made lunges at anyone who came near him.
Jill finally manages to communicate the good news to her friends, although Puddleglum and Rilian (and the horses) are forced to wait until they can be dug out.
Only ten minutes! Yet already it felt to Jill and Eustace as if all their dangers in the dark and heat and general smotheriness of the earth had been only a dream. Out here, in the cold, with the moon and the huge stars overhead (Narnian stars are nearer than stars in our world) and with kind, merry faces all round them, one couldn’t quite believe in Underland.
There’s really not much more to be said (although the scene where Rilian is greeted by the Narnians is positively heartwarming, I’ll just assume you guys have been reading it, too, since I’ve had enough lengthy quotes this chapter already). But I will have one last quote from Puddleglum:
“No, no, my story can wait. Nothing worth talking about has happened to me. I want to hear the news. Don’t try breaking it to me gently, for I’d rather have it all at once. Has the King been shipwrecked? Any forest fires? No wars on the Calormen border? Or a few dragons, I shouldn’t wonder?”
Next time: The healing of harms…