Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Things Changed for the Better

He led them rapidly through the wood, and before they had gone many paces, the wall of Experiment House appeared before them. Then Aslan roared so that the sun shook in the sky and thirty feet of the wall fell down before them. They looked through the gap, down into the school shrubbery and on to the roof of the gym, all under the same dull autumn sky which they had seen before their adventures began. Aslan turned to Jill and Eustace and breathed upon them and touched their foreheads with his tongue. Then he lay down amid the gap he had made in the wall and turned his golden back to England, and his lordly face towards his own lands. At the same moment Jill saw figures whom she knew only too well running up through the laurels towards them. Most of the gang were there Adela Pennyfather and Cholmondely Major, Edith Winterblott, `Spotty' Sorrier, big Bannister, and the two loathsome Garrett twins. But suddenly they stopped. Their faces changed, and all the meanness, conceit, cruelty, and sneakishness almost disappeared in one single expression of terror. For they saw the wall fallen down, and a lion as large as a young elephant lying in the gap, and three figures in glittering clothes with weapons in their hands rushing down upon them. For, with the strength of Aslan in them, Jill plied her crop on the girls and Caspian and Eustace plied the flats of their swords on the boys so well that in two minutes all the bullies were running like mad, crying out, `Murder! Fascists! Lions! It isn't fair.' And then the Head (who was, by the way, a woman) came running out to see what was happening. And when she saw the lion and the broken wall and Caspian and Jill and Eustace (whom she quite failed to recognize) she had hysterics and went back to the house and began ringing up the police with stories about a lion escaped from a circus, and escaped convicts who broke down walls and carried drawn swords. In the midst of all this fuss Jill and Eustace slipped quietly indoors and changed out of their bright clothes into ordinary things, and Caspian went back into his own world. And the wall, at Aslan's word, was made whole again. When the police arrived and found no lion, no broken wall, and no convicts, and the Head behaving like a lunatic, there was an inquiry into the whole thing. And in the inquiry all sorts of things about Experiment House came out, and about ten people got expelled. After that, the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.

Eustace buried his fine clothes secretly one night in the school grounds, but Jill smuggled hers home and wore them at a fancy-dress ball next holidays. And from that day forth things changed for the better at Experiment House, and it became quite a good school. And Jill and Eustace were always friends.
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Chapter Sixteen: The Healing of Harms (1953)
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On this day:

1942 The Screwtape Letters is published by Geoffrey Bles, London

6 Comment(s):

At Wed Feb 09, 07:55:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I love how Lewis takes a swipe at experimental schools, beaurocrats, and Parliament all in the same paragraph.

Speaking of which: paragraphs! Anyone else feeling that Lewis needed some paragraph structure here?

 
At Wed Feb 09, 07:58:00 AM EST, Blogger Bob said...

I always thought this was particularly wonderful. And while I never really had any problems with bullies myself, it appealed to my sense of justice very strongly.

The dig at politicians is interesting as well.

 
At Wed Feb 09, 11:05:00 AM EST, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

Just a belated thanks to whoever you are for doing this. Keep it up!

 
At Wed Feb 09, 11:17:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Welcome to The Window, Martin!

It's nice to see a new face now and then. Although the old faces are nice too. ;-)

Glad you enjoy the blog.

 
At Wed Feb 09, 04:41:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

There are lots of things I like about this passage but one of them is not the dig at women in authority. Okay, he doesn't labour the point here, but he does elsewhere and it is one of the very few things I find myself disgreeing with Lewis on. To be fair I expect he met very few women, and liked even fewer. It is a satisfying passage, though. They get to beat up the bullies for once, and there are good long term effects as well.

 
At Thu Feb 10, 06:13:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Ooo, thanks for pointing that out, Mr.Kimi. I know I sort of gloss over that phrase now when I read it, but you are right, Lewis reveals his chauvinism just a wee bit here.

 

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