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Five Things that Never Happened to Eustace Clarence Scrubb

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Shanghaied

"No!" he says, gaping.

The old man's hands grasp his, and they are still strong, though his skin is paper-thin and spotted with age. The bright eyes fix on Eustace's face, and he cannot deny it--this is the Caspian he remembers, fierce and noble in his pride and determination. "You must," Caspian whispers. "There is no one else!"

Eustace nearly pulls away, but Jill puts her hands on his shoulders, and will not let him stand. When he glances up at her, she is weeping, the tears running unheeded down her face. She fought harder than anyone to save Rilian, Eustace remembers, and in the fog of the moment, he wonders who she is crying for, the father or the lost son.

Trumpkin bustles in, and Caspian lets go of Eustace with one hand to fumble at the Dwarf's shoulder. The other courtiers crowd in closer, eager to hear. The sun is hot on Eustace's back.

"Hear me!" says Caspian, in a shaky voice, gasping out each word. "I name my heir: the Lord Eustace, kin to High King Peter the Magnificent, and trusty companion of my youth. He will serve Narnia well."

There is a gasp from the crowd, and murmurs of surprise. "Eustace? Who is that?"

Caspian tugs at Trumpkin, and the Dwarf leans even closer. "Trumpkin," says the king, and he is dying now, there is no mistaking it. Each word comes slower and slower, separated by long pauses as Caspian marshals his strength. "Serve him, as you have done for me. Aslan sent him to us, we must... trust..."

He does not finish the sentence, but lets go of Trumpkin's crushed velvet sleeve, his hand falling to his side. His mouth stays open, as do his eyes; but King Caspian of Narnia sees nothing of what is about him, nor ever will again.

Trumpkin falls to his knees and puts his hands over his face. Eustace remembers the stories that his cousins and Caspian used to tell about Trumpkin; he's been Caspian's friend and advisor for longer than anyone here has been alive, except maybe for the Centaurs.

Eustace takes a step back, shakily. Caspian looks strangely gray. Jill chokes, sniffles, and then sobs openly. If Eustace had any handkerchiefs left, he'd give her one, but they're gone along with his school uniform. He rubs his nose and looks around uncertainly.

There's an uproar in the crowd around them. A Faun with a bushy black beard grabs Eustace's arm and tugs him away from the King's stretcher. Trumpkin doesn't look up.

"The King is Dead!" cries the Faun. There is a stir in the crowd, people turning to look their way, as if in answer to a message they had been expecting.

The Faun shouts it again: "The King is Dead!" This time nearly everyone hears him.

The crowd responds, "The King is Dead!"

Eustace staggers as the Faun lifts his hand high into the air.

"Long live the King!" shrieks the Faun, and the words echo weirdly around the Great Lawn, bouncing off the bannered walls of the castle shining in the sun.

"Long live the King! Long Live the King! Long Live the King!"

 

****

Interred

The people gathered outside the church swirled and clumped like leaves in the wind, manifestly reluctant to depart. It was unseasonably warm and sunny, and before they had gone into the church Alberta had made an uncharacteristic comment about the inappropriate weather.

Now, the service over, Eustace stood uncomfortably next to his mother as the mourners moved past, many stopping to greet Alberta and press her hand in consolation. He tugged at his tie, which was snugged right up to his neck, and Alberta hissed, "Stop that." (The Scrubbs' rationalist ethos did not, generally, provide for such socially-imposed inefficiencies as formal dress, but a family funeral trumped personal style choices.)

He felt uneasy about his own discomfort, and instead sighed and tried to pay attention to the people around him. In the church he had been too distracted by the unfamiliar surroundings; the golden vessels on the table up front, and the gorgeous colors of the painted windows, had consumed all his attention. Now he looked at the people standing on the steps of the old-fashioned church, and felt some surprise.

The Pevensies were--had been--ordinary people, or so he'd always been told. Alberta and Harold had always agreed on that. Ordinary, they'd said, with a tone of knowing superiority. The Scrubbs were rational, educated, forward-thinking pacifists; whereas Alberta's sister Helen had married a hide-bound, traditional fellow who joined the Army even though he needn't have, and she did what was expected in sheeplike obedience.

But as Eustace looked about, he saw little of the sheep in the crowd gathered to mourn the Pevensie family. A black fellow in a priest's collar talked somberly with an elderly woman in a purple hat. Two schoolgirls about Eustace's age, their eyes reddened, were accompanied by a man in a military uniform who had shining stripes on his cuffs. Four more men in uniform, about the age of Eustace's father, stood by the churchyard gate, watching the church and the crowd with interest. Eustace didn't remember seeing them inside the church.

A middle-aged man with a bureaucrat's face stopped to greet Alberta. "I'm sorry for your losses. It must have been a great shock."

"Indeed," said Alberta, dully. "I'm sorry, I don't think--"

"Oh, indeed. My name is Stanley-Ross, I worked with your brother-in-law for some years. He wouldn't have mentioned me. But I felt I should put in an appearance."

"Thank you. Erm, Mr. Ross. This is my son, Eustace." She put a hand on his shoulder, and Eustace straightened, and extended a hand.

The man looked at him shrewdly. "A fine lad, I'm sure," he said, before turning away.

Looking after him, Eustace caught the eye of one of the soldiers, who acknowledged him with a lifted eyebrow before glancing away.

Alberta sniffed disapprovingly as Stanley-Ross approached Eustace's cousin Susan, who was standing alone, for the moment, on the stairs. She wore a black dress cut in fashionable lines, with a matching coat, despite the ongoing shortage of fabric. Her small cap supported a mesh veil draped over her pale face. Eustace thought she looked sad, naturally, but also somehow unmoored.

Well, of course she's lost, he told himself. She's just lost her entire family! It would be unnatural for her not to be upset.

The man Stanley-Ross greeted her with some familiarity. Her face brightened for a moment as they shook hands. When they parted, she slipped something into her small handbag.

"You should say something to your cousin," said Alberta.

"But--" Eustace began, instinctively.

Alberta's hand closed on his shoulder. "Your father could not be here, for his own wife's family. I will not be shamed by your cowardice. Go speak to Susan." Her eyes narrowed, and Eustace, with heavy feet, crossed the churchyard to his cousin.

"Eustace," Susan said with little emotion as he stepped up to her.

He nearly stumbled, but he knew his mother was watching. "I'm sorry!" he blurted out. "For your loss, I mean. It's awful."

Her face had been tight with anticipation--had she expected him to say something nasty? He supposed, with a flash of shame, that Edmund and Lucy had told her something of what had gone on that summer the two Pevensies had spent in Cambridge. It was several years ago, and Eustace had grown up a great deal since then, but looking back on everything he had said and done then made his stomach clench.

"Thank you," Susan responded, and her face relaxed a little. "That's very kind of you." It was what she said to everyone, he could tell.

Eustace floundered for something else to say. What could you say to someone who'd lost everyone? "What did he give you?" It came out of his mouth almost without thinking. "That man in the grey suit?"

She blinked, and extracted a small white card. "His card," she said, and offered it to him.

"Col. Ralph Stanley-Ross (ret.), Foreign Office," he read. "Who is he?"

"I'm not sure, but I think he offered me a job."

Eustace gaped, flushed, and closed his mouth. "As what?" He found it difficult to think of his carefully fashionable cousin working, although his mother had said that Susan had been in the WRENS for the last part of the war.

"Who knows?" she replied, and took the card back. She looked away, across the churchyard; he followed her gaze to see that both the man Stanley-Ross and the four soldiers were gone.

"Would you take it?" Eustace asked. Harold had refused to ask Susan to stay with them (the resulting argument was one reason Harold was not at the funeral), but looking at her now, Eustace could not imagine that Susan would have accepted any help.

Susan opened her mouth, closed it, and hesitated. It was the first time Eustace had seen his cousin exhibit any kind of uncertainty, and it made him like her, just a bit. Maybe she wasn't as perfect as she let on.

"It would get me away from this place," she said, and took a shaking breath. "Yes. Yes, I will." She straightened her shoulders and tugged at the cuffs of her gloves before stepping down the stairs.

Eustace watched her go, and when she reached the bottom, she stopped and turned around. "Thank you, Eustace." The smile she gave him was startling in its brilliance.

When she left the churchyard, Eustace stood for several moments on the steps, wondering what it was that filled her with such hope. He wished, inarticulately, that he knew what it was he was missing.

 

****

Endragoned

 

In the end, he withdrew to the Western Wild. It was not that he was not welcome at Cair Paravel; as a relation of the legendary kings and queens of old, not to mention a companion of King Caspian on the great voyage of the Dawn Treader, he was greeted with enthusiasm all over Narnia.

But it was awkward. He was awkward. He could not return to England as he was--imagine Alberta's reaction!--and he felt out of place in the polished and sophisticated Narnian court. He could not eat neatly, or exchange a witty phrase with a courtier, or (most importantly) even fit within any of the castle buildings.

He would always be crouched uncomfortably in a field nearby, worrying that he might cough and burn down an orchard, or that the Talking Horses might hear his stomach growl and take offense.

His cousins were gone, having passed through the magical wave at the end of the world, as Caspian had described. And here he was, trapped in a monster's body, living on the sufferance of those who had only known him as a petty, small-minded prig. It was not to be borne.

So one cool midnight, about two months after the Dawn Treader had returned, towing its draconic companion on a great wooden raft, Eustace silently lifted into the air and glided west, into the empty lands beyond Caldron Pool.

Legends grew over the years, about the enormous benign lizard who haunted the western mountains, how he would never eat a Talking Beast, and would sometimes save travelers trapped by storms or slides.

 

****

Pitcairn Island

 

"Scrubb," said Jill Pole from outside the wigwam, "were we expecting guests today?"

Eustace sat up and pushed the blankets down. Jill's side of the bed was cold; she must have slept poorly again. He pushed his feet into his boots, straightened the bedclothes, and grabbed his hat as he went out into the yard. Rian was asleep in the corner, curled like a nut under a woolly blanket.

"Hat," said Jill, without looking at him, and he pulled it on, rolling his eyes.

She was right, of course. But her reminder was unnecessary, as the hat had become second nature after four years. At a distance, hardly anyone could tell the difference between a Human and a Marshwiggle, so long as the Human wore a Marshwiggle hat.

It was a grey day, with lowering clouds and that dankness in the air that spoke of rain. (Of course, in the Marshes, nearly every day was dank.) Eustace splashed some water on his face and went to stand next to Jill, who was sitting on a stump with a fishing line trailing in the water.

"Which way?" he asked, peering at the horizon.

She tilted her chin southwards without speaking. After a long moment, Eustace identified a dark blotch against the lighter green of a tall stand of cattails. It did appear to be heading straight for their wigwam, which was set some distance west of the rest of the Marshwiggle community. (The Marshwiggles were generous enough to allow two fugitive Humans to stay, but they disliked the smell of Human food--and vice versa.)

Eustace considered the figure for a while, as it stomped and floundered along the narrow and unstable pathways. It was definitely getting closer, and he was pretty sure it was Human, but not Calormene. He was also pretty sure the bird flying above the figure was guiding it. "Well," he finally said. "Guess we're having guests for breakfast."

Just as Jill nodded, her line twitched, and within thirty seconds, she drew a fat catfish neatly out of the water. Eustace watched her clean it, and went into the wigwam to get the big frying pan. Rian grunted and rolled over; when Eustace leaned over and poked her in the stomach, she hissed and buried her head in her blanket again.

By the time the Human and the Crow arrived, Jill had caught another catfish and they were both frying up merrily over the small stove next to the wigwam, while Eustace cleaned some greens to accompany them. (After the first year in the Marshes, Jill and Eustace had concurred that cooking over an open fire was for chumps, and had traded dried eels and some of Jill's English fairy tales for enough worked metal to construct a functioning, if not very efficient, wood-burning stove.)

The Human was a stout woman with gray braids to her waist, who wore a knife and short sword belted over gray and green skirts (now muddied to the knee). She was no Calormene, but other than her comfort with the Crow now riding her shoulder, there was nothing to mark her as Narnian rather than Galman, Terebinthian, or Archenlander. The Crow was a Crow: black and glistening, although his tail looked a bit tattered. When she stepped up out of the mud onto the platform supporting the wigwam, the woman gave a gusty sigh.

"Well," she said to no one in particular, "that was a pleasant hike."

The Crow ruffled its feathers and said, irritably, "Flying's faster, innit?"

"Certainly," said Jill, "but you won't find a Bird large enough to carry you between here and the western mountains nowadays."

Bright eyes under thinning brows twinkled at Jill. "Indeed not, young lady." The woman settled herself down on the stump they kept for their infrequent visitors. "Now, then. You'll be the Lady Jill, and you the Lord Eustace, kin to the great kings and queens of old. I'm Kenthy of Hereward, from Archenland. This old grumbler is Hotfoot, for he cannot sit still for longer than it takes to boil an egg for breakfast." And indeed the Crow was already shifting restlessly from side to side on Kenthy's shoulder; at her words, he squawked once and launched himself, to land on a hook by the wigwam door.

Jill glanced once at Eustace, and he shrugged back at her. Their safety from the Calormenes had always relied on obscurity rather than active deceit; once someone identified them, he saw no point in claiming otherwise. "And if we are?" He supposed she might be some collaborator with the Calormenes, but few of the remaining Talking Beasts in Narnia would have anything to do with the Tarkheena's forces. And she might have a sword, but they outnumbered her, and they both had kept up their training, despite the peacefulness of their exile. (Athough the last time Eustace had used his sword outside of practice, it had been to lever a root out of their small vegetable patch.)

"If you are, then I have come at Aslan's request, to recall you to your duty."

At the name, Eustace felt a chill run down his spine. The dull light gleamed a bit more brightly on the flat water, and the chuckle of a blackheaded duck sounded a bit more cheerful.

"Who's that?"

Rian stood at the wigwam entry, blinking in the daylight. Her nightshift was marked with mud and falling partway off one skinny shoulder, reminding Eustace it was time to do the washing again.

"It's a lady from Narnia," said Jill carefully, keeping her eyes on Kenthy. "She wants to talk to us."

The woman's eyebrows had gone up when Rian emerged, and hadn't yet descended when she answered, "You're in Narnia now."

"Not according to the Wiggles," said Eustace dourly, and waved Rian forward. She tripped lightly across the damp ground and climbed into his lap, curling one arm around his neck. "The Wiggles seceded as soon as Tirian was killed, and consider this independent territory."

He was watching Kenthy, as was Jill. One would think that Narnians were casual about interspecies breeding; after all, many magical creatures appeared to be part one thing and part another. But in reality Human crossbreeds were considered distasteful at best and positive abominations at worst, for reasons Eustace had never been able to discover.

Rian, who had been a nameless scrap of fur when Jill found her five years ago on the edge of a battlefield, was at the very least a product of a Faun and a Calormene, and Eustace suspected that her sharp teeth and fur meant there was some other creature in her background, as well. The result was a slight little girl-child with a soft cream-and-brown furred coat fading to fuzz on her brown face and hands, bright white canines, and brilliant ivory horns showing unexpectedly in her curling red-brown hair.

Eustace ran a comforting hand down Rian's back as he watched Kenthy's expression change from surprise to realization to distaste. The woman hesitated, and looked from Eustace to Jill and back, clearly wondering where such a child had come from.

"This is our daughter, Rian," said Jill firmly, and Eustace felt his heart swell. "Rian, say hello."

Rian pulled her head from the crook of Eustace's neck and whispered, "Hello," before hiding her face again.

The Crow squawked in amusement. "Gotcha there, don't it?" He tilted his head at Kenthy, who looked embarrassed.

"Hello, Rian," she said, and folded her hands in front of her. Despite the muddy skirts and her weapons, she looked remarkably like a teacher in front of a classroom. She looked at Jill, whose face was hard and uncompromising, and then back at Eustace, who was amused by the idea that his would be the only vote.

Finally, helplessly, she said, "Aslan has sent me to you, to help us free Narnia. Will you come?"

Jill looked at Eustace, her face more familiar to him than his own, after four years without a mirror. He knew what she thought.

For two years they had run and fought at Tirian's side, building a guerrilla resistance in the western foothills and the deep forests of Lantern Waste. But the Calormenes had been unstoppable, flooding Narnia with men and horses, and in the end, under the new Tarkheena, even elephants. The forests fell, tree by tree, and Narnia's resistance crumpled with it. At the last, Tirian had died in a desperate charge against an elephant brigade, and Eustace had woken from a blow to the head to find the battlefield deserted but for the dead and the vultures. Jill had been with the last company of Dwarf archers Tirian had been able to field, and when the Narnian lines broke they had taken refuge in the mines at Piney Gorge.

When Eustace finally found Jill, more than two miserable weeks later, she had Rian tucked inside her tunic, and refused to consider abandoning the helpless thing. They had tried to stay in Narnia, tried to muster resistance, but it was hopeless. Neither of them was a great war leader or diplomat. They were exhausted and despairing after all the destruction they had seen, and Aslan was nowhere to be found.

In the end, the offer of refuge among the Marshwiggles, in honor of their long-ago companion Puddleglum (the greatest hero the Wiggles had ever produced), was their only option.

And it had turned out fine. Surprisingly fine, actually. They laid low, and didn't announce their presence, and nobody bothered them. They had, in the end, not been important enough for the Calormenes to search for them. In return, they didn't bother the Calormenes, for it was ever-present in their minds: if something happened to them, who would care for Rian?

"Why has Aslan come now?" asked Eustace, finally. It had been the perpetual question: why, in Narnia's greatest need, had Aslan deserted them?

"Who is Asland?" asked Rian. Oh, good, she was in one of those moods.

Eustace shook his head, and she quieted. She wouldn't forget her question, but she was sharp enough to know when things could wait until later.

Hotfoot coughed. "He's not here yet," he said, and Kenthy scowled at him. "We just know he's coming."

"Who is we?" asked Jill. She sounded suspicious; she had always resented the failure of Archenland to do more than offer nominal support.

Kenthy began to answer, and Eustace, weary of the whole business, cut her off. "It doesn't matter," he said sharply. They'd trusted Aslan, from the very beginning, and Aslan had failed them all. Failed Tirian, whose body had been displayed in pieces at the gates of his own city; failed Jewel, who lost even his beautiful horn in death; failed all of Narnia, which was pillaged and savaged from the mountains to the sea. The smoke of the burning had covered the southern horizon for months, and even now, when the wind changed, Eustace sometimes smelled the cold ashes on the wind.

"It doesn't matter," he said again, more quietly, and stood up, balancing Rian on his hip. He'd grown to manhood in this land, and he towered over Kenthy, who looked up at him with the first real uncertainty on her face.

"Aslan can fight his own battles now. If he wanted us to save Narnia, he should have done it when he had the chance."

Jill stood up and came around the stove to press her shoulder against his. "That's our decision," she said. "You'll have to find someone else to fight your wars for you. We're done."

 

****

Ennobled

 

The London Times, August 22, 2012.

LONDON (AP)--Acclaimed humanitarian and engineer Sir Eustace Scrubb died on Tuesday, after a short illness. He was 80.

The philanthropist's daughter Lucy Ferniehurst told the BBC that he passed away quietly, surrounded by family and friends. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth issued a statement calling him, "The conscience of a generation," and said that he "would be missed."

Born April 18, 1932, Eustace Clarence Scrubb was the only child of Harold and Alberta Scrubb of Cambridge, England. His father worked as an accountant for a series of moderately-successful publishing concerns, and Scrubb attended Experiment House in Wiltshire until he went to university. Contrary to his family's wishes, he attended the University of Birmingham rather than Cambridge or Oxford, and studied chemistry and civil engineering.

He went on to study internationally, obtaining a Ph.D. in hydrology at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1957 through the 1960s, Scrubb worked for Deloy Engineering, an engineering firm specializing in complex water projects in Africa and Asia. He designed a significant part of the Pertwan Dam in Egypt, and spent several years in Kenya and other regions of Africa, designing water projects.

But in 1971, his career took a sharp turn, when he filed a patent for a new type of water filter to be used in poor and undeveloped countries. The Scrubb filter, as it is now known, allows for clean water to be produced cheaply and in volume under the most extreme conditions. The filter is produced at low cost all over the world, and is used both in developing nations with compromised water supplies, and by backpackers and campers looking for a portable source of clean water. The development of the Scrubb filter was a major element in what is now known as the Green Revolution in agricultural development in the Third World.

His invention turned the sharp-tongued engineer from a nobody into an international celebrity and multi-millionaire within the span of two years. "He found it difficult," says his daughter Lucy Ferniehurst, "but he felt obligated to use his fame to help people."

In 1960, while he was still traveling extensively, Scrubb married his childhood friend Jill Pole, who had also attended Experiment House. Pole is a respected children's novelist and outdoorswoman, and she gathered material for many novels during their travels for Deloy. Lucy, their only child, was born in Lagos in 1964. (The Scrubbs left Nigeria on the eve of the Nigerian Civil War.)

Upon the success of the Scrubb filter, Scrubb retired from Deloy and purchased a home in the Wiltshire Downs. This house, a rambling 17th-century farmhouse, became the center of operations for a decades-long career in philanthropy. But Scrubb did not retire into isolation and leave the giving to others; from 1970 until just a few years before his death, he and his wife traveled frequently. They provided financial support for education, scientific research, clean water, and housing in places as far-flung as Nepal and the Northwest Territories of Canada. They invested wisely in firms like Hewlett-Packard and Dupont, and used their growing wealth to support civil-rights for persecuted minorities in the Soviet Union, the United States, South Africa, and Great Britain.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called out Eustace Scrubb publicly for his support of the striking coal miners in the north of England, but Scrubb ignored nearly all such political pressure, and continued investing in what he saw as worthy causes. For example, Scrubb's support for women in Saudi Arabia has sometimes embarrassed the United Kingdom ambassador to that nation.

Despite these political complexities, the importance of Scrubb's work in the relief of human suffering was recognized in 1997, when Queen Elizabeth knighted him.

"He hasn't always been easy to love," said his cousin Sir Edmund Pevensie, former assistant Foreign Minister, at an awards ceremony in 2009, "but he's no more a dragon than I am."

Sir Eustace Clarence Scrubb died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, and is survived by his wife, daughter, and two grandsons.