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Journey to the North

Chapter Text

 She was a terribly bad half-jinn and half-giant, one of the very wickedest sort and, in fact, she was the evil itself. It is unknown if she had been devoid of goodness to this extent before eating a silver apple of the Tree of Youth. She`d become an immortal creature and acquired inexhaustible strength at a high price of being cursed to never know peace or happiness. Her deviousness could have been explained by her everlasting misery, if not for the fact that prior to theft and banishment an entire empire had perished in her conquest for power.

 Trapped in the Wild Lands of the North she dreamt of revenge biding her time and gathering her forces for a great attack on the entire world. Her witchcraft powers grew stronger and stronger, to the point that she could leave her cage of ice and snow, when winter came. In vain she tried to prolong her freedom by casting an eternal winter. Her tormentor, the Great Lion, however, needed only to bare his teeth for winter to meet its death and shake his mane to summon spring.

 All she could do was keep gathering forces: not gain allies, but recruit underlings. Hags studied Deep Magic under her guidance, too lowly of creatures to understand or utilize it as she did though. Not entirely worthless, truth be told, they spread stories of her glory and ambition, when she couldn`t pass the borders of the North, and more menacing creatures joined her ranks with each passing year. There were talking animals such as wolves, spiders, snakes, hyenas and rats. There were beasts such as goblins, minotaurs, ghouls, ogres, werewolves and many, so many more. Still none could compare to her tremendous physical strength as well. Good thing she was used to being superior, otherwise she`d be disappointed.

 “The Tree of Protection shall fall,” she said on another first day of winter, voice echoing in great halls of her ice castle. “Great cat shall die by my own hand. All I need is an adequate tool.”

 Flakes of snow were falling on Christendom and, at last, after whole three seasons of waiting, Jadis was swept out of her queendom in a sledge drawn by two reindeer.  

Chapter Text

 The Pevensies lived in a big city with many houses and people filling the precious space that could have been occupied by gardens. People had to make do with flowerpots. Nevertheless, the youngest Pevensie had a garden that was a bit bigger than a flower-pot. With four children and two adults in the house there were more rooms, which meant more windows. Outside each window they had large wooden boxes where they grew vegetables as well as a small rose-tree – there were two in the box outside children`s bedroom, white and red, and they grew so beautifully. Long pea-stalks hung down over the edges of the box. Rose-trees grew long branches, wound themselves round the window, and bent towards each other forming a triumphal arch of greenery and flowers.

 “Which roses do you like best, Lucy?” asked Susan caressing the petals. “White or red?”

 The pretty girl at the age of twelve was destined to grow into a beautiful woman. The second eldest Pevensie`s face reflected her sweet nature: soft features, full lips and bright blue eyes with long dark lashes. But the most striking in her appearance was thick ebony-black hair that fell to her shoulders. Lucy sniffed at a flower from both trees and smiled at her sister.

 “How can I choose, when both are so lovely? They even smell different, but I still can`t say one is better than the other,” said Lucy; her smile faltered and eyes cast down. “Every time winter comes I know they must fade until spring, and still I can`t help feeling sad.” 

 “Don`t be, love,” said Susan in that slightly patronizing tone of the elder child in family. “As you said, it`s only until the spring. Imagine how wonderful it will be after all the cold to see them bloom again!”

 “Not to say that we`ll be moving to country,” said Edmund, the second youngest, barging in the conversation with grace of a rhino. “There`ll be so many roses, that I fear Lucy might pass out.”

 “Ed,” addressed Peter, the eldest, warningly, then turned to Lucy: “Professor Kirke lives in a big house. There`s probably a hot-house as well, and if not, we could build it together.”

 “Yes,” nodded Susan. “We could have fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers for all seasons.”

 “Don`t speak like you know how to build a hot-house,” sniffed Edmund in contempt.

 “Don`t speak like you`re not excited to try,” grinned Lucy.

 “Edmund`s just being a baby because it`s high-time he were in bed,” said Susan with the same challenging grin.

 “You`re the one who`s trying to talk like Mother and I`m the baby?!” exclaimed Edmund in irritation. “And go to bed yourself, I`m not tired.”

 “Is that why you`re swaying and grumbling?” asked Peter innocently, whom Edmund decided not to grace with an answer.

 “We better all go to bed now,” concluded Lucy. “Everyone has to get up early in the morning.”

 “Lucy`s right,” said Susan. “Now that school`s started we`re expected to be crisp and clean by the first lesson.”

 “Like a freshly ironed shirt,” added Edmund.

 “Where are their parents, though?” you might be asking. Well, the threat of an upcoming war hovered over the country. Mr. Pevensie was a military servant with a rank high enough to know beforehand that the spring of the next year children had to be far away from big cities to stay safe. Mrs. Pevensie would be staying, however. With all men at the front all labor would fall on women`s shoulders. She had a relative, Professor Kirke, whom children have already mentioned, living in the heart of the country, as far away from any big city as you can get. When children asked what Professor was like, their mother said he was old and they would like him instantly.

 Time passes quickly for happy children and, despite parting with their parents in prospect and Edmund`s occasional spitefulness, the Pevensies were happy.

 One evening when the windows of their house were completely frozen shut from the worst of winter, children entertained themselves by making peepholes in each window. They heated small copper coins on the tiled stove, placed a hot coin on the frozen window-pane, and it formed a perfectly round peephole, behind which a wonderfully mild eye would peer out. The snow was swirling outside.

 “It sounds as if bees were swarming,” wondered Lucy.

 “White swarming bees,” said Peter. “Do they also have a bee-queen?”

 “I don`t know,” said Lucy anticipating a story. “Do they?”

 “She flies where they are swarming at their thickest,” said Peter. “The largest one, that never stays on the ground and keeps flying into the black cloud. On winter nights she flies through the city streets and looks through the windows, and they freeze over so strangely, as if with flowers. Didn`t you know why we`re making these peephole, Lu?”

 “To spot her?” tried Lucy.

 “Indeed,” said Peter.

 “What on earth are you two talking about?” asked Susan as she entered the room.

 “The Snow Bee-queen!” said Lucy.

 “Never heard of her,” pondered Susan. “But I have read about the Snow Queen.”

 “Still reading fairy tales, I see.” said Edmund.

 “It`s not a fairy tale,” scoffed Susan. “It`s a legend. And if you want to listen, show maestro some respect here and be quiet.”

 Edmund frowned but stayed silent. The children formed a circle and Susan began:

 “Good sirs,” Peter raised an invisible hat, while Edmund formed a ring with his fingers pretending it was a monocle. “Fair lady,” Lucy took the border of her skirt imitating a curtsy. “The Snow Queen really does travel in snowstorms, but not as the largest snowflake. She moves on a sledge drawn by reindeer about the size of Shetland ponies. Their hair is so white that even snow hardly looks white compared with them. Their branching horns are glided and shine like something on fire when the sunrise catches them. In the middle of the sledge a great lady sits, taller than any woman you`ve ever seen. She`s covered in white fur up to her throat and wears a golden crown on her head. Her face is white as snow or paper or icing-sugar, except for her very red mouth. Whom she kisses once with those crimson lips won`t ever feel cold,” Susan pecked Peter in the cheek. ”Whom she kisses twice won`t ever remember their home and loved ones,” Lucy got two pecks while giggling. “And whom she kisses thrice will fall into an eternal sleep!”

 Edmund tried to escape his sister, but Peter and Lucy held him, so he got a peck on each check and a forehead.

 “You`re making things up,” said Edmund wiping his face from the kisses. “There`s no way you`ve read this, with all the kissing.”

 “I am curious why a winter spirit would kiss anyone,” said Lucy.

 “Well,” started Susan, “I think, it`s a metaphor to hypothermia. First you feel numb, your mind is all groggy and then…”

 “Thank you for the bedtime story, Susan,” said Peter pointedly looking down at Lucy. “It`s time for bed itself.”

 While the rest were busy brushing their hair and teeth before going to sleep, Edmund looked out of the small hole in the frost. He expected to see the blizzard dancing on their street in a faint light of lamp-posts, but what he saw was something else: a woman, very fine and beautiful, as if made of blinding, twinkling ice, and yet alive; with eyes staring like two bright stars, although blazing with ruthlessness and pride. There she stood in furs and crown, lips stained red, looking right back at him. Edmund blinked and stepped away from the window.

 “Am I that easily impressed,” murmured Edmund; “that it takes only a silly story to make me see things? Nonsense, I didn`t see anything. It`s dark and I`m already half-asleep.”

 The next day was week-end and only children that were grounded or with a very bad cough stayed inside. The weather was perfect for building snowmen and snow fortresses, for snow fights and sledging, while the mothers were busy preparing a hot meal, baking cookies and boiling water for some strong tea with cream and sugar.

 Lucy and Susan were building a snowman together. They had forgotten to bring a carrot for its nose. Instead they put there a slightly bigger cob than the other two serving as its eyes.

 Peter was engaged in a brutal snow fight with his peers. Those slower and less interested were buried in snow piles almost at once, so the fighters had to be on high alert as well as the unsuspecting bystanders not to get the snow in their scruffs.

 On the great square the boldest boys of the city often fastened their sledges to the farmer`s cart and were pulled a really long way. There Edmund was. Right in the middle of the game, a large sledge came along; it was painted completely white and in it sat someone wrapped in a thick white fur with a thick furry cape. On the third time it went round the square Edmund quickly fastened his small sledge to it. The person driving the sledge looked backwards and nodded to Edmund in a friendly way. Edmund wondered if she knew him somehow. He tried to look closer at her face but most of it was obscured by the furs. His ride went faster and faster into the next street, and Edmund was ready to unfasten his little sledge from it, but the horses ran faster. His frightened shouts fell on deaf ears. He quickly let go of the string to free himself from the snow-white sledge, all for naught. They crossed the city gate. The snow started to fall so thick and fast that Edmund couldn`t see a hand in front of his face. His cheeks stung from the flying snow-flakes, that at the speed they were moving felt like daggers. The snow whirled past and the sledge flew along. They must have been driving over ditches and fences; from time to time it gave a leap.

 Finally the sledge came to a halt, and the person driving it stood up. The lady, tall and straight in posture, whom Edmund had mistaken for a normal wealthy woman, was the Snow Queen.

 Edmund couldn`t move or even speak for a moment, only shiver from cold and fear. Looking at her sledge now he noted the reindeer, but he could have sworn they had been horses before.

 “We`ve arrived safely!” she said. “My poor child, you are freezing! Come sit on the sledge by my side and I will put my mantle round you, so we can talk.”

 This arrangement was undesirable for so many reasons, but he was called and something told him he would pay for disobedience. He stepped on to the sledge and took a seat beside her, as she told him to. Edmund then felt the soft fur round him.

 “You are still cold,” she said. “Should you like something hot to drink?”

 Edmund`s teeth were clattering. “Yes please, your Majesty,” he managed to say.

 The Queen looked pleased with how the boy addressed her and from somewhere among her wrappings took a very small bottle. The bottle looked as if it was made of copper, but with the real Snow Queen who really knew? She held out her arm and let a single drop from it fall on the snow beside the sledge. The drop shone like a diamond amidst falling. However, the moment it touched the snow with a hissing sound it turned into a jeweled cup full of some steaming liquid. The Queen brought the cup to his lips nodding encouragingly. Edmund took a sip. It was something very sweet to taste with a foamy and creamy texture. Warmth filled him right to toes and he felt much better.

 “What is your name, sweet boy?” she asked tucking him in the mantel.

 “Edmund, your Majesty,” he said still a little uneasy.

 “Edmund,” she repeated. “A lovely name for a handsome young man as yourself. Could you guess that this small bottle can not only make any drink but also any sort of food? What would you like best to eat now?”

 “Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.

 There was another drop on to the snow that turned into a round box tied with green silk ribbon. When Edmund opened it, he saw several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Edmund had never tasted anything as sweet and light. Little did he know that with each bite the enchanted dessert addicted him to the taste until he would be willing to do anything to get more.

 “You know, my house has rooms full of Turkish Delight. What wouldn`t I give for a nice child such as yourself to bring up as a Prince? He would become the King of my domain once. As a Prince he would wear a gold crown and eat Turkish Delight all day long. Are you clever, Edmund? I would like my King to be as clever as he is handsome.”

 Edmund looked her in the face, the cleverest, loveliest face he`d ever seen. He felt so silly for being afraid of her before.

 “I believe I am, your Majesty,” and he told her that he could do mental arithmetic and fractions, and knew the area of countries and “how many inhabitants”.

 When she smiled at that, he felt that what he knew wasn`t enough.

 The sledge was moving again, so fast that they were outright flying high up onto the black cloud. The storm around them roared and raged, the sound that remotely reminded him of old songs. They flew over crowns of trees in snow caps, frozen lakes, over lands and seas. The cold wind beneath them roared. He heard the howling of wolves and the screeching of crows. He saw the snow glittering beneath and the moon shining large and bright high above. He spent the long, long wintry night looking, listening and marveling. The whole next day, though, he slept in Snow Queen`s embrace.

 

Chapter Text

 Edmund had been missing and no one knew where he could have gone. No one had anything to tell on the square. The boys could only say that they had seen him tie his small sledge to a magnificent large sleigh. They`d seen it drive off into the street and out the city gate. No one knew where Edmund was. The Pevensies wept profoundly. Edmund was dead for the whole world, had drowned in the river that ran close to the city.

 “They say so, but they haven`t found the body!” exclaimed Lucy.

 Arguments had become frequent in their household, for it was hard for the youngest to believe that her brother was really gone.

 “Lu,” started Peter gently.

 “Stop this, Lucy,” snapped Susan with watery eyes. “I know, you don`t want to believe it, but delaying to accept the fact will only make it worse for you. For everyone.”

 Peter frowned at Susan. His sister became so blunt in stressful circumstance, that she had the tendency to hurt herself and others without even realizing it.

 “The whole city`s been looking for him, Lu,” was all he could think of saying.

 When spring came and sun grew warmer, Lucy, Susan and Peter were about to be on their way to the country. None of the adults or her elder siblings let Lucy near that river. But she had to examine the water to prove herself either wrong or right.

 Lucy rose quite early that day; her mother, brother and sister were asleep. She gave each one of them a kiss, that she`d be back, not that they could argue in their slumber. She took her red shoes and quietly left the house. Having put the shoes on outside, she went all on her own out of the city gate to the river.

 “Would you return my brother to me, if I gave you my shoes?” thought Lucy.

 She could have been seeing things, but Lucy thought the waves nodded. She took off her red shoes and flung both of them out into the water, but they fell close to the shore, and the small waves bore them back to her on the land. It was as if the river did not want to take the girl`s possessions because it did not have Edmund. Lucy just thought she hadn`t thrown the shoes far enough out. Then she saw a boat. It wasn`t laid in the reeds, as you might have expected. Instead, it was floating in the water guided by the stream with no one in it. The front of the boat had a carving of lion`s head.

 In retrospect, it was a very silly thing to get in a boat that wasn`t fixed to anything. The bare push of her foot, when she got in, made the boat start to glide away from the land. Lucy noticed this and hurried to get off, but before she could do that the land was a couple of feet out. The boat was slipping away faster and faster.

 Then Lucy screamed for help quite scared, but no one heard her except the house sparrows, and they could not carry her back to the shore. They flew alongside, at least, as if saying “Here we are!” to comfort her. It is really astonishing which words might end up comforting us. Lucy didn`t know where she was headed, where this “here” was, but something in her felt reassured by the chirping.

 The boat drifted with the current. Small red shoes of hers floated behind, unable to reach the boat, which was moving in an impressive speed.

 On both shores were lovely flowers, old tress and slopes with sheep and cows, but not a single person in sight.

 “Could the river be taking me to where Edmund is?” thought Lucy and that put her in a better mood, eventually. She gazed for many hours at the beautiful green shores.

 Her boat came to a clearing in the wood. There, near a large cherry tree with light pink buds in bloom, stood a very strange person with an umbrella and some parcels. Lucy could see he was a little taller than herself. From the waist upwards he was like any man, but his legs were shaped like a goat`s with glossy black hair on them and instead of feet he had goat`s hoofs. He also had a tail which Lucy hadn`t noticed at first. His little face was strange but pleasant, with a short pointed beard and curly hair. On each side of his curly forehead stuck out two horns.

 “Goodness gracious me!” exclaimed the stranger

 He was a Faun. And when he saw Lucy he gave such a start of surprise that he dropped all his belongings. Her boat was about to float away, when he ran to the water, pulled the boat to the shore and lifted Lucy out. Afterwards, he ran back to pick everything up.

 “Good afternoon,” said Lucy following him to help out.

 “Good afternoon, good afternoon,” said the Faun. “Excuse me– I don`t want to be inquisitive– but should I be right in thinking that you are seeking something?”

 “Someone,” nodded little girl. “My name`s Lucy. I am looking for my elder brother, Edmund.”

 “To be sure, to be sure,” said the Faun. “Though humans often seek berries or mushrooms in the Forest, they`ve never come here for siblings. I am delighted. That is to say-” he stopped seemingly uncomfortable. “Delighted to meet you. I am sorry for your elder brother. I hope you`ll find him soon. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tumnus.”

 “I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy.

 “And may I ask, O Lucy Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus, “how you have come to be here?”

 And she told him, about that mysterious sledge in the square, Edmund`s disappearance and the boat. Mr. Tumnus took another look at the boat on the shore.

 “To my understanding, you have come to the right place.”

 “Have you seen Edmund? Is he alright?”

 “Apologies, I haven`t seen him. But the boat, that brought you here, seems to be made by Aslan himself.” Something spurred inside of Lucy at the mention of this “Aslan”, even though she had no idea who Mr. Tumnus was talking about. It felt like waking up in the morning to realize that there is a whole summer ahead or, at least, that it was the beginning of a very long jolly holiday. “So it must be a sign that I can help in your searches somehow.”

 “It`s very kind of you.”

 “Now I might not know or realize how exactly, but the answer shall most certainly come! Meanwhile, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

 “Thank you, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But I was wondering whether I ought to be back. My family must be worried sick. I don`t think they left without me, so if I just walk by the river I will get back home.”

 “But it`s almost an evening, Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus. “You can`t walk such a distance barefoot in the dark. You have not eaten a crumb the whole day. Get some rest at my home. In the morning I shall get you some footwear and, who knows, maybe by that time I might find your brother somewhere in the woods. My house is just round the corner and there`ll be a roaring fire– and toast– and sardines– and cake.”

 "Well, I guess I could come for a little while,” said Lucy, almost laughing. “If you have sardines."

 “If you will take my arm, Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus. “I shall be able to hold the umbrella over both of us. There is still some snow and frozen water left on the leaves. That`s the way. Now– off we go.”

 They hadn`t gone far before they came to a place where the ground became rough and there were rocks all about and little hills up and little hills down. At the bottom of one small valley Mr. Tumnus turned suddenly aside as if he were going to walk straight into an unusually large rock, but at the last moment Lucy found he was leading her into the entrance of a cave. As soon as they were inside she found herself blinking in the light of a wood fire. Then Mr. Tumnus stooped and took a flaming piece of wood out of the fire with a neat little pair of tongs, and lit a lamp.

 Lucy thought she had never been in a nicer place. It was a little, dry, clean cave of reddish stone with a carpet on the floor and two little chairs-

 “One for me and one for a friend,” said Mr. Tumnus.

 -a table and a dresser and a mantelpiece over the fire and above that a picture of an old Faun with a grey beard. In one corner there was a door which Lucy thought must lead to Mr. Tumnus`s bedroom, and on one wall was a shelf full of books. They had titles like The Life and Letters of Silenus or Nymphs and Their Ways or Men, Monks and Gamekeepers; a Study in Popular Legend or Is Man a Myth?

 The kettle was boiling away.

 And really it was a wonderful tea. There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake.

 When Lucy got tired of eating Mr. Tumnus began to talk.

 “Our Forest rarely has human visitors, though not for lack of entertainment. It`s quite lively and full of wonder, once you know what to look for and who spend time with,” he glanced at the picture of the old Faun. “Us, Fauns, we have this tradition of boisterous midnight dances- The Nymphs join us. They come out of the wells and trees they live in, the latter ones are called Dryads, and move their light feet so graciously. I get a feeling you dance beautifully as well, Daughter of Eve. It would be splendid if you joined the event one day.”

 “One night,” Lucy smiled. “I would have been overjoyed, really, if all Fauns are as nice as you are. Besides, I`ve never seen a real Nymph.”

 “Never ever?” said perplexed Faun. His ears twitched a little at the thought of cities stocked to an extent that even a single Nymph couldn`t live there. “Well, what about Red Dwarfs? We feast together- Oh, what feast they are! The only jollification they cannot compete with is that when old Silenus visits us in summer, sometimes with Bacchus himself. The streams run with wine instead of water, and the whole Forest celebrates it for weeks- With Red Dwarfs we also go treasure-seeking. There are deep mines and caverns way beneath the Forest floor.”

 “Red Dwarfs? Like stars? Are they much smaller than me?”

 “They`re exactly your height, actually,” chuckled Mr. Tumnus. “But it`s alright, you`re a growing kid. And Red Dwarfs aren`t stars- Truth be told, the only Star I`m acquainted with is rather tall. She`s even taller than me.”

 Lucy was learning so much about the folk, that she`d used to only guess could be real, that her head was spinning a little.

 “You can get acquainted with an actual star from the sky?”

 “Yes, and it would be an honor for me to introduce you to each other.”

 At that Lucy could only smile, while Mr. Tumnus switched to another exciting tale.

 “Have you heard of the milk-white stag?” asked Faun.

 “I don`t think so,” her brows furrowed as she tried to recollect all stories she`d read or heard from Mum, Peter and Susan. Even searched among tales Edmund had told her, but they were all made up to scare her. Not that it made them less entertaining.

 Mr. Tumnus continued, unaware of the heavy feeling between the girl`s ribs.

 “If you catch this stag it can give you wishes. So we gather hunting parties now and then.”

 Lucy`s face took a disturbed expression, which he caught with an amused smile.

 “Don`t take me wrong, we never hurt the stag in an attempt to catch it- It`s more like playing tag than hunting that humans usually do.”

 “Oh. Have you ever caught it then?”

 “Not yet- Maybe this year.”

 Lucy pondered about how she`d wish for Edmund to be safe at home with them, if she managed to catch the milk-white stag. Mr. Tumnus might have caught that as well, for he took a strange little flute from the case in his dresser. As he began to play, the fire in the mantelpiece came alive in vivid shapes of Fauns and Nymphs, of Dwarfs and Centaurs, of many more marvelous residents of the forest, and maybe even old Silenus on a donkey and Bacchus himself. The tune he played made Lucy want to laugh and cry and sleep at the same time. When she settled at sleep, the flames turned into a lion`s head with a mighty roar and the tune was over. Lucy was tight asleep regardless, so the Faun carried her to his bed and covered her with a blanket. He gathered some tools from his bedroom, lit a lantern and went outside carefully closing the door.

 Outside there was… not even a woman, a vision, that made you think you had never before known what beauty meant.

 “Greetings, Master Tumnus,” said Liliandil.

 “Salutations, Daughter of Ramandu.”

 “Put the lantern away. I shall assist you with proper lighting for your honorable labour.”

 “Thank you,” said Faun as he sat on the chair and began to braid a thin rope from a yarn. “Have seen where Edmund Son of Adam went to?”

 “He was taken,” she observed him carefully, “to the North.”

 Faun`s fingers trembled.

 “The Snow Witch?”

 “I`m sorry,” she cast her eyes down in sympathy. “Aslan knows, she`s already put you and the Forest through enough.”

 “If I leave, she`ll likely capture me- And if the Keeper of the Forest is captured, the whole Forest is left bare and unprotected.”

 “That`s why He`s asking you to remain here.”

 “Must Lucy do this alone? Can`t a Centaur take her there on his back? Can`t a Dwarf keep her safe with his mighty axe?”

 “I`m afraid, no one from the Forest can accompany Daughter of Eve. Only she and the other two siblings can bring their brother back.”

 “More children dragged into this mess! Separated and alone, I presume!”

 “She`s the strongest of the four. Fear not, for I will be observing her from above. And you know, as well as I do, that Aslan never leaves a wondering soul in need. There will be people to help her, you included, but their role, as impactful as it is, minimal. You must assist the Daughter of Eve, but you can`t do things in her stead.”

 “I believe in Aslan,” said Mr. Tumnus still worried for his new friend. “So I shall obey Him.”