Wait! Before you read more about Bism, be sure to read the trip report that Roger has posted about his tour of Oxford and C.S. Lewis's home.
Now for more of the chapter "The Bottom of the World", from The Silver Chair:
“Your Honors,” said Golg (and when they turned to look at him they could see nothing but blackness for a few minutes, their eyes were so dazzled). “Your Honors, why don’t you come down to Bism? You’d be happier there than in that cold, unprotected, naked country out on top. Or at least come down for a short visit.”
Jill took it for granted that none of the others would listen to such an idea for a moment.
To her horror she hear the Prince saying:
“Truly, friend Golg, I have half a mind to come down with you. For this is a marvelous adventure, and it may be no mortal man has ever looked into Bism before or will ever have the chance again. And I know not how, as the years pass, I shall bear to remember that it was once in my power to have probed the uttermost pit of the Earth and that I forbore. But could a man live there? You do not swim in the fire-river itself?”
“Oh no, you Honor. Not we. It’s only salamanders live in the fire itself.”
“What kind of beast is your salamander?” asked the Prince.
“It is hard to tell their kind, your Honor,” said Golg. “For they are too white-hot to look at. But they are most like small dragons. They speak to us out of the fire. They are wonderfully clever with their tongues: very witty and eloquent.”…
“Yes,” said Golg. “I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Topdwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cupful of diamond juice.”….At that moment a hissing, scorching voice like the voice of Fire itself (they wondered afterward if it could have been a salamander’s) came whistling up out of the very depth of Bism.
“Quick! Quick! Quick! To the cliffs, to the cliffs, to the cliffs!” it said. “The rift closes. It closes. It closes.”
See more wonderful Narnia illustrations by the artist Edwina Peterson Cross here.