[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny]
Narnia Recap: The trio have fallen deep underground.
The Silver Chair, Chapter 10: Travels Without the Sun
Chapter 10 is when we finally meet the ensorcelled prince, which I think we're due for in terms of "signs", anyway. Find the lost city, check. Obey the words on the stone, check. Now we just need for someone to ask for something in the name of Aslan. (I kind of regret that the trio doesn't use the signs more proactively, like, asking everyone they meet "and in whose name should we do this thing" until someone pops out with an "Aslan!" and bam, there's our lost prince. But Lewis' theologies do not seem to be in favor of proactiveness.)
“WHO’S THERE?” SHOUTED THE THREE travelers.
Pro-tip: If you're ever an author and you find yourself hurting for things that a certain character can do, these are good moments to make use of. I'm kinda blanking at a mental image of all three pilgrims--Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum--shouting the exact same words in unison, whereas this could have been a useful point for Jill to actually be a protagonist. I mean, hell, she had all those mad social skills in the last chapter, and here is where she could employ them in non-disapproved-of-by-Lewis ways.
“I am the Warden of the Marches of Underland, and with me stand a hundred Earthmen in arms,” came the reply. “Tell me quickly who you are and what is your errand in the Deep Realm?”
“We fell down by accident,” said Puddleglum, truthfully enough.
But of course I forgot that Jill is protagonist in name only. We're here for the older male. Sigh.
“Many fall down, and few return to the sunlit lands,” said the voice. “Make ready now to come with me to the Queen of the Deep Realm.”
“What does she want with us?” asked Scrubb cautiously.
We are three lines in and Jill has not said a word that wasn't echoed by the others. It is increasingly (and depressingly) clear to me that my childhood love for this book, based on it having a female protagonist, was very heavily mentally edited in order to achieve this.
Jill found herself blinking and staring at a dense crowd. They were of all sizes, from little gnomes barely a foot high to stately figures taller than men. All carried three-pronged spears in their hands, and all were dreadfully pale, and all stood as still as statues. Apart from that, they were very different; some had tails and others not, some wore great beards and others had very round, smooth faces, big as pumpkins. There were long, pointed noses, and long, soft noses like small trunks, and great blobby noses. Several had single horns in the middle of their foreheads. But in one respect they were all alike: every face in the whole hundred was as sad as a face could be. They were so sad that, after the first glance, Jill almost forgot to be afraid of them. She felt she would like to cheer them up.
I have complicated feels about the Bism Gnomes because, as Thomas has pointed out, they're one of a very few cultures in the Narnia chronicles that is different from Narnia and yet not overtly treated as inferior or evil. Later, when we see a glimpse of Bism, it really does seem to be described as a lovely place, if not necessarily the best place for Narnians to live. (On account of the floor being lava.) And I am pleased to note that we get one nice adjective here for the Bism people: "Stately". Which, okay, could just mean "tall" in this context, but it's something.
On the other hand, that one adjective is followed by a bunch of descriptors that really aren't very favorable. "Big as pumpkins" and "blobby noses" may be technically accurate for what Lewis wanted to convey, but aren't very attractive ways to describe features that the Bism people themselves might well find very attractive. I'm most reminded of the descriptions of the White Witch's horde in LWW, which went from "different" to "ugly" to "disabled" with alarming alacrity. There are various ways to describe "different" people in ways that make them seem attractive or ugly, or to describe them as neutrally alien to our standards. Lewis always seems to be edging into the ludicrous and grotesque in ways that throw the racism and ableism of the series in rather sharp relief.
In addition to all the above feels, I'm glad that we finally get some idea of what our female protagonist is thinking, but less pleased that her immediate thoughts on seeing an army of possibly hostile people is "d'aw! hugs!". I'm not saying that I don't have characters like these--and in fact I love me some good hug-dispensing characters--but it's just massively disappointing that we only really call on Jill when we need a "girly" reaction. (And disappointing that this show of empathy didn't come from Eustace, who has ostensibly had actual character growth in that direction.)
“Well!” said Puddleglum, rubbing his hands. “This is just what I needed. If these chaps don’t teach me to take a serious view of life, I don’t know what will. Look at that fellow with the walrus mustache—or that one with the—”
This is mockery, though whether Puddleglum is consciously aware of it (and I think that he is) is up for a debate I can't be arsed to have. I will instead note that Jill feels sympathy for the Bism peoples' sadness, while Puddleglum works out how it will be used to his best advantage. Keep in mind that this is the same character who is supposed to be delivering the moral lesson of this book in another chapter or two.
[...] the stony floor sloped downward as they proceeded. It was worse for Jill than the others, because she hated dark, underground places. And when, as they went on, the cave got lower and narrower, and when, at last, the light-bearer stood aside, and the gnomes, one by one, stooped down (all except the very smallest ones) and stepped into a little dark crack and disappeared, she felt she could bear it no longer. “I can’t go in there, I can’t! I can’t! I won’t,” she panted. The Earthmen said nothing but they all lowered their spears and pointed them at her.
“Steady, Pole,” said Puddleglum. “Those big fellows wouldn’t be crawling in there if it didn’t get wider later on. And there’s one thing about this underground work, we shan’t get any rain.”
“Oh, you don’t understand. I can’t,” wailed Jill.
“Think how I felt on that cliff, Pole,” said Scrubb. “You go first, Puddleglum, and I’ll come after her.”
“That’s right,” said the Marsh-wiggle, getting down on his hands and knees. “You keep a grip on my heels, Pole, and Scrubb will hold on to yours. Then we’ll all be comfortable.”
“Comfortable!” said Jill. But she got down and they crawled in on their elbows. It was a nasty place. You had to go flat on your face for what seemed like half an hour, though it may really have been only five minutes. It was hot. Jill felt she was being smothered. But at last a dim light showed ahead, the tunnel grew wider and higher, and they came out, hot, dirty, and shaken, into a cave so large that it scarcely seemed a cave at all.
So despite the supposedly wide variety of humanoid shapes that the Bism people encompass, I guess "no fatties" was a company-wide rule, because I'm not sure how else they would fit through here. Considering that (I'm pretty sure) Jill has been marked out as smaller and more slender than Eustace, and considering that while Puddleglum may technically be thinner than Jill, he has been described as being rather ungainly with his long limbs, I'm really struggling with visualizing this passage with just the three of them, let alone the Bism people who are traveling with them. The entire army of one hundred people, all of them with "three-pronged spears" and one of them with a huge light-on-a-stick... are all crawling on their faces here? With their prisoners in tow? And being stately and having an elephant's trunk for a nose doesn't prevent this?
I don't remember if the book ever tells us why the Bism people were on the other side of this passage in order to collect the trio when they fortuitously fell, but right now it seems utterly implausible. I'm trying to work out what this passage gets us besides "Jill is to narrow spaces as Eustace is to heights", and I'm getting nothing. That was already established earlier (when Jill fell down into the giant letters), and there's really no point to it, since it's not like Eustace was brave on the cliffs so that this moment of bravery for Jill could serve as a comparison moment. On the cliffs, he seemed to act on instinct in order to save her; here she has quite a bit of time to consider what to do, but is ultimately left with no choice. It's not a bookend moment, even though I suspect it was meant to be, so once again let us reflect on how white Christian men who scorn second drafts are treated better than most female authors.
It was full of a dim, drowsy radiance, so that here they had no need of the Earthmen’s strange lantern. The floor was soft with some kind of moss and out of this grew many strange shapes, branched and tall like trees, but flabby like mushrooms. They stood too far apart to make a forest; it was more like a park. The light (a greenish gray) seemed to come both from them and from the moss, and it was not strong enough to reach the roof of the cave, which must have been a long way overhead.
Apropos of this, if you haven't played the old Avernum (nee "Exile") games from Spiderweb Software, I strongly recommend them and they're available on Steam now in both the "classic remake" and "new remake" flavors. (Yes, they've been remade twice, and it was totally worth it each time. I'll understand if you don't believe me.)
...damn, now I want to go play Avernum. Must finish Narnia post first!
Here they passed dozens of strange animals lying on the turf, either dead or asleep, Jill could not tell which. These were mostly of a dragonish or bat-like sort; Puddleglum did not know what any of them were.
“Do they grow here?” Scrubb asked the Warden. He seemed very surprised at being spoken to, but replied, “No. They are all beasts that have found their way down by chasms and caves, out of Overland into the Deep Realm. Many come down, and few return to the sunlit lands. It is said that they will all wake at the end of the world.”
Something something theologies, end of the world, resurrection of the sleeping and the dead, something something don't care. I'll be over here banging my head against the wall at the "social character" (who is, I WILL REMIND YOU, and I do not blame you if you forgot, JILL POLE) not being the one to breach the prisoner/captor conversational barrier in order to ask about this strange new world and make friends with the warden that she supposedly feels sympathy for.
And, I mean! Not only would talking to their captor be the Protagonisty thing to do, but that actually would make her fear of being underground relevant, because she would be overcoming that fear in order to (a) express the sympathy that she feels (which would also make that sympathy relevant and not just a girly-girl aside), (b) exercise the social skills that she had back when Lewis wanted to sneer over her and the Harfang giants, and (c) improve the situation that she finds herself in by using those empathic and social skills to a reasonable advantage.
Instead we get Eustace talking manly Exploration / Theology topics with the other men, not unlike Eustace talking with the Owls, while Jill is silent in the background. This disappoints me to no end.
When they had walked for several miles, they came to a wall of rock, and in it a low archway leading into another cavern. It was not, however, so bad as the last entrance and Jill could go through it without bending her head.
What I'm getting for this is that the Bism gnomes were "stately" only for the length of that paragraph.
It brought them into a smaller cave, long and narrow, about the shape and size of a cathedral. And here, filling almost the whole length of it, lay an enormous man fast asleep. He was far bigger than any of the giants, and his face was not like a giant’s, but noble and beautiful. His breast rose and fell gently under the snowy beard which covered him to the waist. A pure, silver light (no one saw where it came from) rested upon him.
“Who’s that?” asked Puddleglum. And it was so long since anyone had spoken, that Jill wondered how he had the nerve.
ARGH. This. Ya'll. This is such bullshit and I wouldn't belabor the point that much except I remind you that most mainstream literary circles treat C.S. Lewis as Our Lord And Savior Who Invented Childhood Literature. Jill doesn't speak. She's social and girly only when the plot needs someone to dirty their hands with "bad" socialization, like subterfuge and flirting and making doe-eyes at everyone. Whenever "good" socialization needs to happen, it's invariably left to the men, and when it's Puddleglum speaking, his chorus literally tells us how super and awesome and handsome and special and perfect he is. For doing the Protagonist's job that Jill isn't allowed to do.
“That is old Father Time, who was once a King in Overland,” said the Warden. “And now he has sunk down into the Deep Realm and lies dreaming of all the things that are done in the upper world. Many sink down, and few return to the sunlit lands. They say he will wake at the end of the world.”
Something something theologies don't care.
“One thing I’d like to know,” said Puddleglum, “is whether anyone from our world—from up-a-top, I mean—has ever done this trip before?”
“Many have taken ship at the pale beaches,” replied the Warden, “and—”
“Yes, I know,” interrupted Puddleglum. “And few return to the sunlit lands. You needn’t say it again. You are a chap of one idea, aren’t you?”
Haha, it's awesome because the character who is good at socializing has been silent for basically this entire chapter, while the older English male author-insert who insults people is basically making things worse for no good reason, but it's okay because one of the nice things about being an older English man is that you don't have to be polite to people if you don't want to be. Literally nothing bad will ever happen to you if you are rude, because it's not like people will stab you with three-pronged spears when you're an older English man.
The children huddled close together on each side of Puddleglum. They had thought him a wet blanket while they were still above ground, but down here he seemed the only comforting thing they had.
Does. Does anyone want to, like, catalogue all the examples of Jill and Eustace marveling at the wonder and perfection that is Puddleglum? Does anyone want to talk about how if Puddleglum had tits and used "she/her/hers" pronouns, and if the "C.S." in C.S. Lewis stood for "Catherine Shannon", then we would have put Puddleglumsy on the Mary Sue examples trope page decades ago and she would be hated for her Bella Swan levels of negativity and the narrative insistence that we be in awe of her anyway?
“Oh, whatever will become of us?” said Jill despairingly.
“Now don’t you let your spirits down, Pole,” said the Marsh-wiggle. “There’s one thing you’ve got to remember. We’re back on the right lines. We were to go under the Ruined City, and we are under it. We’re following the instructions again.”
Haha, I'm pretty sure that's only the second time Jill has spoken this chapter, and it was in order to let Puddleglum (the pessimistic one, but what the fuck is character-consistency, who are we to expect that in our books, we are dreamers and fools) cheer her up. Because he's the awesome protagonist and she's the emotional flighty girl.
Presently they were given food—flat, flabby cakes of some sort which had hardly any taste. And after that, they gradually fell asleep. But when they woke, everything was just the same; the gnomes still rowing, the ship still gliding on, still dead blackness ahead. How often they woke and slept and ate and slept again, none of them could ever remember. And the worst thing about it was that you began to feel as if you had always lived on that ship, in that darkness, and to wonder whether sun and blue skies and wind and birds had not been only a dream.
Another good example of a failure to describe another culture in non-bad ways ("flat, flabby cakes", yum!) It would have been good to see whether the Bism people enjoyed their food (because different tastebuds and cultural ideas of food) or hated their food (because they are secretly prisoners and that's why they are sad) but Lewis doesn't seem to care and so his protagonists are utterly incurious despite their lives depending on connecting with their captors.
The bit about feeling like they had always been underground is an interesting foreshadowing, except it kinda jumps the gun a little. The whole "there is no sun" is supposed to be a suggestion that is magically enforced, and having it come about through mundane travel weariness beforehand seems a bit much. I have lived in places where it rained so often that I could hardly remember sunny days, but never so much that I figured my entire life up to that point had been a dream; that seems like the sort of thing that needs magic behind it.
I do feel like three people on a ship ought to be able to come up with a tracking system for time, even if it's just the number of bowel movements that Puddleglum has had. (You can see them in the dark because they sparkle with the power of older English manhood.) Eustace lived on a ship for an indeterminate amount of time that felt like ~3 months to me, and they would have needed to record days during the week-long storm that they experienced. I kinda think (second drafts for the win!) that Lewis knew where he was going with the Puddleglum speech and over-emphasized the time-distortion early because he was afraid it might not make it in otherwise.
“By Jove,” said Scrubb. “A city!” and soon they all saw that he was right. But it was a queer city. The lights were so few and far apart that they would hardly have done for scattered cottages in our world. But the little bits of the place which you could see by the lights were like glimpses of a great seaport. You could make out in one place a whole crowd of ships loading or unloading; in another, bales of stuff and warehouses; in a third, walls and pillars that suggested great palaces or temples; and always, wherever the light fell, endless crowds—hundreds of Earthmen, jostling one another as they padded softly about their business in narrow streets, broad squares, or up great flights of steps. Their continued movement made a sort of soft, murmuring noise as the ship drew nearer and nearer; but there was not a song or a shout or a bell or the rattle of a wheel anywhere. The City was as quiet, and nearly as dark, as the inside of an ant-hill.
At last their ship was brought alongside a quay and made fast. The three travelers were taken ashore and marched up into the City. Crowds of Earthmen, no two alike, rubbed shoulders with them in the crowded streets, and the sad light fell on many sad and grotesque faces. But no one showed any interest in the strangers. Every gnome seemed to be as busy as it was sad, though Jill never found what they were so busy about. But the endless moving, shoving, hurrying, and the soft pad-pad-pad went on.
Welp, now the Bism gnomes are literally "grotesque" so it was nice to have a tiny bit of multiculturalism while it lasted but now we are squarely back in the comforting blanket of Only English People Are Pretty.
“And few return to the sunlit lands,” they answered, as if it were the countersign. Then all three put their heads together and talked. At last one of the two gnomes-in-waiting said, “I tell you the Queen’s grace is gone from hence on her great affair. We had best keep these top dwellers in strait prison till her homecoming. Few return to the sunlit lands.”
At that moment the conversation was interrupted by what seemed to Jill the most delightful noise in the world. It came from above, from the top of the staircase; and it was a clear, ringing, perfectly human voice, the voice of a young man.
“What coil are you keeping down there, Mullugutherum?” it shouted. “Overworlders, ha! Bring them up to me, and that presently.”
“Please it your Highness to remember,” began Mullugutherum, but the voice cut him short.
“It pleases my Highness principally to be obeyed, old mutterer. Bring them up,” it called.
It is worth noting here that the ensorcelled Prince--who Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum dislike because of his "bad" manners--is never called out for being rude to the Bism gnomes, or at least not that I can recall. Jill hates him for that sort of jovial "excessive" laughter and courtesy that tends to come off as insincere or foppish or mocking (in that "don't you worry your pretty head" kind of way), but no one calls him out for being a jerk to the gnomes. I'm not sure how they reasonably could call him out, since Puddleglum has already done his best to be rude to them, and Lewis seems to consider that to be perfectly appropriate under the circumstances.
This could kind of work in a What The Fuck, Hero moment if we were retrospectively supposed to look back at the Bism people after we know they were captives and realize that Puddleglum and the Prince were exercising their privilege in harmful ways. Like, yes, Puddleglum and the Prince were captives in a difficult situation, but the Bism people were even more captives and in worse straits, and the protagonist men refused to even consider that as a possibility. The problem is that the Bism people being miserable isn't really a "reveal", because the narrative has told us several times now that they look and act and clearly are utterly miserable. They are cowed and in fear of the queen. All this is plain as day to see. And after the witch is dead, there's no sense that Puddleglum or the Prince feel genuinely bad at their behavior to the Bism people. We're left with the sense that, captives or no, they deserved scorn because they weren't more polite to the older English men.
[...] A young man with fair hair rose to greet them. He was handsome and looked both bold and kind, though there was something about his face that didn’t seem quite right.
I will never not hate the Lewisian insistence that you can tell at a glance who is Christian and who is not. Edmund also had a not-right face after being ensorcelled, and I remember the face thing coming up a couple times in Dawn Treader, including during the Goldwater Island episode.
“Welcome, Overworlders,” he cried. “But stay a moment! I cry you mercy! I have seen you two fair children, and this, your strange governor, before. Was it not you three that met me by the bridge on the borders of Ettinsmoor when I rode there by my Lady’s side?”
“Oh … you were the black knight who never spoke?” exclaimed Jill.
“And was that lady the Queen of Underland?” asked Puddleglum, in no very friendly voice. And Scrubb, who was thinking the same, burst out, “Because if it was, I think she was jolly mean to send us off to a castle of giants who intended to eat us. What harm had we ever done her, I should like to know?”
Oh my god. Why would you even include a social-skills character in your party if you are going to pull this shit? In a better D&D setting, Jill would be well within her rights to cast mute-spells on the both of you because holy shit. Ya'll are prisoners! Either this guy knows and is complicit with what the Lady of the Green Kirtle and the Harfang Giants planned, in which case you have utterly spoiled any element of subterfuge by making it clear that you know he is your enemy, or he doesn't know and you have gone about this in the absolute worst possible way. And this is from a character who is supposed to be smart! And is supposed to have somewhat successfully navigated social politics and bullying at school!
“How?” said the Black Knight with a frown. “If you were not so young a warrior, Boy, you and I must have fought to the death on this quarrel. I can hear no words against my Lady’s honor. But of this you may be assured, that whatever she said to you, she said of a good intent. You do not know her. She is a nosegay of all virtues, as truth, mercy, constancy, gentleness, courage, and the rest. I say what I know. Her kindness to me alone, who can in no way reward her, would make an admirable history. But you shall know and love her hereafter. Meanwhile, what is your errand in the Deep Lands?”
And before Puddleglum could stop her, Jill blurted out, “Please we are trying to find Prince Rilian of Narnia.” And then she realized what a frightful risk she had taken; these people might be enemies. But the Knight showed no interest.
After. After days, maybe weeks, maybe months of captivity and forced marching and being carried on a ship to places they do not wish to be carried... after directly hearing that they are prisoners to be kept in prison until the queen arrives... the queen who sent them to giants to be eaten... Jill realizes that these people MIGHT be enemies.
Hard to say.
Wouldn't want to jump to conclusions.
But they might be. Could be good to be cautious here. At least until we know.
I... I cannot remember the last time I read writing this bad.
“Rilian? Narnia?” he said carelessly. “Narnia? What land is that? I have never heard the name. It must be a thousand leagues from those parts of the Overworld that I know. But it was a strange fantasy that brought you seeking this—how do you call him?—Billian? Trillian? in my Lady’s realm. Indeed, to my certain knowledge, there is no such man here.” He laughed very loudly at this, and Jill thought to herself, “I wonder is that what’s wrong with his face? Is he a bit silly?”
“We had been told to look for a message on the stones of the City Ruinous,” said Scrubb. “And we saw the words UNDER ME.”
Haha, oh my god. Well, they might be enemies and we might need to be cautious, but the plot isn't going to advance itself any time soon, so let's just hash everything out right here and now and get rid of those dangling plot threads. Check that whole "why the fuck were those words even there" off the list and plow forward, full steam ahead.
The Knight laughed even more heartily than before. “You were the more deceived,” he said. “Those words meant nothing to your purpose. Had you but asked my Lady, she could have given you better counsel. For those words are all that is left of a longer script, which in ancient times, as she well remembers, expressed this verse:
Though under Earth and throneless now I be,
Yet, while I lived, all Earth was under me.
“From which it is plain that some great king of the ancient giants, who lives buried there, caused this boast to be cut in the stone over his sepulcher; though the breaking up of some stones, and the carrying away of others for new buildings, and the filling up of the cuts with rubble, has left only two words that can still be read. Is it not the merriest jest in the world that you should have thought they were written to you?”
I know the Prince is ensorcelled here and we're not supposed to agree with him, but I kind of do? Like, we were already informed that those words weren't placed there By Aslan, so it was already kind of tenuous that those words were there for the protagonists, except that Aslan sort of arbitrarily designated that they were so. I actually do kind of find it amusing that the protagonists saw those words and thought "clearly ancient people wrote that for OUR benefit".
Of course, this is probably a something something theology, because one of the things that pernicious non-Christians sometimes say is that it doesn't make a lot of sense to us to follow a collection of writings that pretty clearly (to us) were not written for us. Like, I've read the Bible many times, and I can honestly say that I am not the intended audience for that book. A lot of Christians tend to object to that attitude and wish to explain that, no really, I should think that this book was "written to you". So here you go: proof that ancient writings were written for us because Aslan said so. And if you follow their instructions, you'll end up a mile underground and the captive of grotesque gnome people. Or something.
“Don’t you mind him,” said Puddleglum. “There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this.”
“This guide of yours must be a long liver, friend,” said the Knight with another of his laughs.
Jill began to find them a little irritating.
“And it seems to me, Sir,” answered Puddleglum, “that this Lady of yours must be a long liver too, if she remembers the verse as it was when they first cut it.”
“Very shrewd, Frog-face,” said the Knight, clapping Puddleglum on the shoulder and laughing again, “And you have hit the truth. She is of divine race, and knows neither age nor death.
What the fuck is this even. I mean, yes, something something theologies SATAN, or whatever, but first of all, AGAIN, Puddleglum is deliberately antagonizing someone without any fear of recrimination, and this is not realistic to me and just screams "I am the most privileged fuckpot in the entire world and I have never in my adult life needed to be polite to anyone I didn't care to be polite to" because omg this is not how you prisoner. What is this? Even if Puddleglum doesn't care for himself, he presumably cares about these two kids he has with him!
But second of all, and more topical, we now have to be ageless and deathless and Satan in order to know history? Is this confirmation that Narnia has no written language and no means of passing down history in an accurate format? That when High King Peter abolished schools, that was continued again in the silver age of Caspian?
How does... how does this even make sense here? It's a chance for Puddleglum to insult the Prince and the Lady (yay privilege), and a chance to underscore that she's totes the Witch/Satan that they've been searching for, and a chance to vomit backstory at us, yes. But it doesn't flow from what was said at all! Let's recap:
Prince: Haha, those letters weren't for you! They were cut [hundreds? thousands? something something young earth theory?] years ago as part of a longer/larger message!
Puddleglum: Well, Aslan was there when the letters were cut, and while this is not a rebuttal to your larger point that the words don't apply to us, it sort of sounds like a rebuttal and that's close enough.
Prince: Wow, that was a long time ago! This Aslan must be super old to have been there!
Puddleglum: Oh yeah? Well your lady must have been there too, and must therefore also be super old! I mean, you didn't claim she was literally there, as I did with Aslan, but you claimed that she knew what message was cut into the rock, so she must have been literally there because how else would she know? Also, this makes no sense as an insult, since Aslan is equally old, so apparently this is me trying to call her evil, since Aslan is evil. No wait. This is me trying to sarcastically cast her opinion on the letters in doubt, not expecting you to agree with me that she was there, because if the answer to "were you there?" [something something Adam and Eve and dinosaurs and evolution?] is "no", then therefore we're right and you're wrong because we won by default!
[...] I am the more thankful to her for all her infinite bounty to such a poor mortal wretch as I. For you must know, Sirs, I am a man under most strange afflictions, and none but the Queen’s grace would have had patience with me. Patience, said I? But it goes far beyond that. She has promised me a great kingdom in Overland, and, when I am king, her own most gracious hand in marriage. But the tale is too long for you to hear fasting and standing. Hi there, some of you! Bring wine and Updwellers’ food for my guests. Please you, be seated, gentlemen. Little maiden, sit in this chair. You shall hear it all.”
And that's the end of the chapter. I kind of love--and I mean that in a not-sarcastic way, I literally love it--that the Prince's "annoying excessive condescending courtesy" is utterly indistinguishable from the chivalry that Caspian displayed in the last book and indeed which Rillian will display towards Jill later in this book. Like, the excessive condescending courtesy just becomes "chivalry" magically once he's not ensorcelled anymore. New Prince, same as the old Prince... and yet somehow acceptable once he's doing it in the name of God rather than in the name of Satan.