[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Violence]
Narnia Recap: The four runaways navigation through Tashbaan.
Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.
The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 4: Shasta Falls In With The Narnians
When we last left our heroes, Shasta was gawking at the Narnian group while I was hitting my head repeatedly against my desk. Let's continue that, shall we?
It was quite unlike any other party they had seen that day. The crier who went before it shouting “Way, way!” was the only Calormene in it. And there was no litter; everyone was on foot. There were about half a dozen men and Shasta had never seen anyone like them before. For one thing, they were all as fair-skinned as himself, and most of them had fair hair. And they were not dressed like men of Calormen. Most of them had legs bare to the knee. Their tunics were of fine, bright, hardy colors—woodland green, or gay yellow, or fresh blue. Instead of turbans they wore steel or silver caps, some of them set with jewels, and one with little wings on each side. A few were bare-headed. The swords at their sides were long and straight, not curved like Calormene scimitars. And instead of being grave and mysterious like most Calormenes, they walked with a swing and let their arms and shoulders go free, and chatted and laughed. One was whistling. You could see that they were ready to be friends with anyone who was friendly and didn’t give a fig for anyone who wasn’t. Shasta thought he had never seen anything so lovely in his life.
Breaking this down:
1. Apparently there are six men* here ("about half a dozen") and... no one else? There's no mention of any women or Talking Animals here, or indeed any animals of any kind at all. That seems a little small for a "party" but okay. It also seems (as ya'll pointed out in the comments last time) a little odd that the narrative then falls back on "a few" and "most" and "some of them" for their descriptions. It is admittedly difficult to characterize people in small groups in fiction, but here is a passage that would have improved greatly with editing, I think.
* No word right now on whether these "men" are actual human men or "man-shaped" creatures like River Gods. Once again, this feels like a story that ought to have been in the Caspian time-frame and was only set back in the King Peter days because Lewis had literally two named women and didn't want to make up a third one to play Helen of Troy. And again I remind you that people who are shaped like humans yet aren't humans were supposed to be the most awful things imaginable, back when the White Witch was being described.
2. This party of six men is entirely made up of white Narnians (or Archenlanders, and no distinction will ever be made between them, if I recall correctly) and one Calormen/Calormene** crier. Frankly that strikes me as really weird. This party is theoretically out walking around trying to find the missing Prince Corin, so it seems more than a little strange that they don't have a local guide helping out. They're also the guests of the Prince and it seems a little odd that they'd be allowed to gallivant about the city without a protective-guard (to keep them safe and thus avert war) as well as a babysitter-guard (to keep an eye on them, report back their activities, make sure they don't do things they shouldn't, etc.)
** Lewis is inconsistent on word usage across the books.
3. Shasta notes the "fine, bright, hardy" colors which is a none-too-subtle reflection on the fine, bright, hardy white people wearing the colors. One supposes that this is in contrast to the dull colors that impoverished Shasta grew up with and the lavish but indolent colors that the rich Aravis grew up with. None of this is race-neutral and all of it reinforces White England as a cleaner, purer, better place than Brown Arabialand. See also the differences in clothing: tunics rather than robes; straight swords to curved ones; caps to turbans. Shasta ought to view these people as strange and weird, maybe pointing out how silly they look being red and sunburned, but no, their white beauty shines through. ("Shasta thought he had never seen anything so lovely in his life.")
4. The entire bit about how they aren't grave and mysterious but are instead gay and merry just makes me want to projectile vomit at the naked racism. Lewis is, of course, perfectly happy to have grave and mysterious men when they're stars or magicians or, you know, lion-gods, but obviously here we get the picture of Honest White Men who don't hide their thoughts or think sneaky dastardly things about you when you're not looking. No, they're ready to be Friends with you (unlike those wary brown people who never know when you'll hurt them!) and if you don't like them they won't Give A Fig (because they have the privilege not to care).
Seriously, this is gross.
5. It's also a breath-takingly good description of privilege. In addition to the "friends to the friendly" and "not giving of figs" stuff, I'm struck by how the group is laughing and chatting among themselves as they clog up a busy thoroughfare and people are being literally kicked out of their way. They don't care; they don't even seem to notice. They've got their own business to chat about. And while the party is ostensibly out and about to find the missing Prince Corin (maybe? that is never explicitly said?), they aren't particularly worried or bothered, despite the fact that he's a crown prince who has been missing overnight and I mean, not to put to fine a point on it, but he's an only child because his sainted parents have already lost his only brother.
I'd be moving faster than arms-swinging-and-gaily-chatting pace, is what I'm saying.
*** Incidentally, it is odd to me that Narnia and Archenland are on such good terms right now. They really sort of oughtn't be? Narnia is a land entirely of Talking Animals and exactly 4 humans. It's now rich in resources but determined to stay in an idealized medieval setting; we recall here that the Pevensies were against roads and schools on ideological grounds. Whereas Archenland seems to be majority-human with a small minority of Talking Animals, possibly who relocated there after fleeing the White Witch. It's nice that the Animals don't hold a grudge against the humans for not helping during the Long Winter, and it's nice that the humans don't want to invade the verdant human-less country immediately north of them, but the fact that this happened seamlessly and effortlessly is frankly bizarre. Again: this would make sense if this was set in the Caspian time-period and Archenland was a sister-country settled by Telmarine cousins.
But there was not time to enjoy it for at once a really dreadful thing happened. The leader of the fair-headed men suddenly pointed at Shasta, cried out, “There he is! There’s our runaway!” and seized him by the shoulder. Next moment he gave Shasta a smack—not a cruel one to make you cry but a sharp one to let you know you are in disgrace—and added, shaking:
“Shame on you, my lord! Fie for shame! Queen Susan’s eyes are red with weeping because of you. What! Truant for a whole night! Where have you been?”
Now begins our Prince and the Pauper plot and it is very bad. It is worth remembering here that Mark Twain was a satirist at heart and many of his stories are meant to make the people within seem silly and stupid precisely because they believe the things they do. Narnia tries to play the same tropes straight and it doesn't work.
Twins look similar to one another, sure. But Shasta looks identical to Corin, really? They have the same hairstyle, after weeks (months?) of Shasta living on the road and sleeping out in the open air? The same coloring, the same tan lines? The same bearing, between a boy raised to be a haughty prince and a boy raised as a beaten and worn-down slave? And they look so closely identical that Shasta stands out in a giant crowd? This is ridiculous, this is nonsense, this is past any kind of believing. The only way this works even at all is to make whiteness the most paramount trait in this world, such that Shasta is a literal special snowflake shining out amongst the dark others.
Of course his first impulse was to say that he was only poor Arsheesh the fisherman’s son and that the foreign lord must have mistaken him for someone else. But then, the very last thing he wanted to do in that crowded place was to start explaining who he was and what he was doing. If he started on that, he would soon be asked where he had got his horse from, and who Aravis was—and then, good-bye to any chance of getting through Tashbaan.
I don't know. Shasta is a child and he's been raised to defer to authority. I'm not going to say that it's absolutely impossible that he wouldn't freeze here, but the narrative goes overboard here by making it seem like saying "nope, not the droids you're looking for" would suddenly require the divulgence of someone's entire life story. I really don't think it does, and since the Calormene attitude so far seems to have been pretty much a big shrug anyway, it seems weird for us to suddenly be sold on Tashbaan as a police state where the authorities are all very very curious about peasants.
Also, the whole "where he got his horse from" doesn't make sense because it was previously established that Shasta had been separated from the group at this point: "Shasta tried to get out of the way and to make Bree go back. But no horse, not even a Talking Horse from Narnia, backs easily. [...] in the confusion of the moment he lost hold of Bree. And then the whole crowd behind him became so stiffened and packed tight that he couldn’t move at all. So he found himself, unintentionally, in the first row and had a fine sight of the party that was coming down the street."
Lewis specifically shoved Shasta out here on his own so that the Narnians could see him, and Shasta knows he's on his own, so suddenly telling us that he's worried about fielding questions about this horse of his doesn't work very well here. I think this scene could have worked if Lewis had played Shasta up more as panicky (legitimate) and childish (he is), but it's trying to sell the whole thing as logical when it's really not. A lot of this stuff is believable because we're all familiar with the idea of an Oppressive Empire who Asks Questions, but asking us to rely on stereotypes (and, in this case, racistly-applied stereotypes) is not a substitute for world-building.
His next impulse was to look at Bree for help. But Bree had no intention of letting all that crowd know that he could talk, and stood looking just as stupid as a horse can. As for Aravis, Shasta did not even dare to look at her for fear of drawing attention.
Okay, no. First of all, this makes no damn sense because Bree isn't even nearby; they were separated. But setting that aside: Shasta has just been addressed as "my lord" and it was established by the crier earlier that these are "Narnian lords". From Narnia.
Maybe we wouldn't all perform perfectly in this situation. Maybe, again, this is a question of panic and seizing up. Bree has spent his entire life pretending to be mute in a crowd. I can believe that he would have trouble talking here! (Except he didn't earlier when he was chastising Aravis for not looking sufficiently enslaved.) But... I just... right now would be a good time to "yeah over here Narnian horse belonging to the Narnian lord", no? This is an unexpected gift, but in terms of dangers this is surely a better chance for freedom than "cross the uncrossable desert, then win".
And, I mean, again, I can buy that Bree froze up. But this is just so badly bungled in terms of setup. The narrative needs to acknowledge that this would have been a good time to speak up, and that he froze up. The narrative needs to do more with its characters than just shuffle them around on the table. Because right now this entire interlude exists to cram a POV character into a scene where he needs vital information, and it shows because it's handled sloppily.
The most frustrating thing here to me is that it didn't need more than a bit of polish to make this work. "Shasta and Bree froze up" are believable. "We can't explain Aravis and Hwin" are also very good points. Polish this up so that Aravis is the one holding the reins of both the horses and Shasta was scouting ahead a little because he can duck in and out and come back easier on his own, rather than a convenient crowd-surge just depositing him where he needs to be. Have the cuff from the Narnian lord stun him a little--like, for fuck's sake, it's telling that Lewis has all the brown people kicking and beating servants and children, but when a White Man does it he has to stop the narrative to make it clear that it's a good kind of hitting.
Have Calormen guides and soldiers with the Narnians, so that it's extra vital that Aravis not speak up or move forward with the horses. Have Bree and Hwin move to shield her face from some minor prince or lord who would recognize her. If you're going to have a damsel in your story and if you're demonstrably willing to distress her, use that to fix your plot points. Then you'd have characters who make choices to protect each other, rather than characters who just passively get moved around by your authorial hand. You guys, I care about the level of craft on display here.
And there was no time to think, for the leader of the Narnians said at once:
“Take one of his little lordship’s hands, Peridan, of your courtesy, and I’ll take the other. And now, on. Our royal sister’s mind will be greatly eased when she sees our young scapegrace safe in our lodging.”
I was about to question this "royal sister" stuff but, no, apparently this Narnian lord actually is King Edmund so it's now doubly weird that they didn't have some kind of escort or guard. If something happens to him out on the streets of Tashbaan, King Peter would hold the Tisroc responsible and at the very least any kind of wedding would be off the table for awhile. This just makes no sense! I get that Lewis wants to make the Narnians out as too brave and stalwart for a guard, but the fact that the Tisroc agreed to their incredibly stupid demands is just implausible to me. Iunno.
And so, before they were half-way through Tashbaan, all their plans were ruined, and without even a chance to say good-bye to the others Shasta found himself being marched off among strangers and quite unable to guess what might be going to happen next. The Narnian King—for Shasta began to see by the way the rest spoke to him that he must be a king—kept on asking him questions; where he had been, how he had got out, what he had done with his clothes, and didn’t he know that he had been very naughty. Only the king called it “naught” instead of naughty.
And Shasta said nothing in answer, because he couldn’t think of anything to say that would not be dangerous.
“What! All mum?” asked the king. “I must plainly tell you, prince, that this hangdog silence becomes one of your blood even less than the scape itself. To run away might pass for a boy’s frolic with some spirit in it. But the king’s son of Archenland should avouch his deed; not hang his head like a Calormene slave.”
Once again I strongly question Lewis' choice to use Edmund here instead of Caspian or Rilian because holy shit there's a lot of baggage to unpack here. Edmund, who has some experience with the whole "disappear for awhile, come back silent and sullen and changed", is taking the moment to berate "Corin" for disappearing overnight and coming back silent and sullen and changed. And we note here that it is Edmund the Just who is flinging around "slave" like an insult. That's... that's so awesome. Lewis, never change.
[Trigger Warning for this paragraph: child endangerment, assault.] And, the thing is, again: I don't demand that everything be grimdark. But holy shit, this child has been gone overnight. There's been a total lack of urgency in finding him and there's now a total dearth of any kind of real care that perhaps he has been harmed. Lewis is perfectly willing to include harm in his books--I remind you that later in this same story, a young girl is mauled by a lion--but there's no sense here that Corin could have been seriously hurt or injured overnight? The sort of hurt and injured that might make him silent and unhappy? No? No, he's just moping. I could buy this kind of callousness from Nameless Telmarine Courtier #27, but from King Edmund the wise and just and been-there-done-that? [/end TW]
This was very unpleasant, for Shasta felt all the time that this young king was the very nicest kind of grown-up and would have liked to make a good impression on him.
It's... interesting that Shasta gets this impression about the guy who hit him, kidnapped him, and is now berating him for not answering him. And, of course, bandying about "Calormene slave" as an insult--and we pause to note here that Shasta is a Calormene slave and thinks of himself as such. White skin is a hell of a bonus to the Charisma stat, I guess.
I know I'm hammering on this a lot but really? The very nicest kind of grown-up? From this limited interaction? Not merely a decent sort who has made a mistake, oh no, the white king has to be the superlative best of all grown-ups. This sort of thing is not something that I'm inclined to just let slip by unchallenged.
The strangers led him—held tightly by both hands—along a narrow street and down a flight of shallow stairs and then up another to a wide doorway in a white wall with two tall, dark cypress trees, one on each side of it. Once through the arch, Shasta found himself in a courtyard which was also a garden. A marble basin of clear water in the center was kept continually rippling by the fountain that fell into it. Orange trees grew round it out of smooth grass, and the four white walls which surrounded the lawn were covered with climbing roses. The noise and dust and crowding of the streets seemed suddenly far away. He was led rapidly across the garden and then into a dark doorway. The crier remained outside. After that they took him along a corridor, where the stone floor felt beautifully cool to his hot feet, and up some stairs. A moment later he found himself blinking in the light of a big, airy room with wide open windows, all looking North so that no sun came in. There was a carpet on the floor more wonderfully colored than anything he had ever seen and his feet sank down into it as if he were treading in thick moss. All round the walls there were low sofas with rich cushions on them, and the room seemed to be full of people; very queer people some of them, thought Shasta.
I don't know what to make of the observation that I know more about the carpet in this room than, say, Shasta's age. (Is he old enough to need to shave? Surely he must not be, because that would be yet another wrinkle in the "mistaken for Corin" problem.)
But he had no time to think of that before the most beautiful lady he had ever seen rose from her place and threw her arms round him and kissed him, saying:
“Oh Corin, Corin, how could you? And thou and I such close friends ever since thy mother died. And what should I have said to thy royal father if I came home without thee? Would have been a cause almost of war between Archenland and Narnia which are friends time out of mind. It was naught, playmate, very naught of thee to use us so.”
And then there's this. What do we do with this?
Why was Susan left at the palace with her (non-human) retinue while Edmund went out with five human guards to (apparently?) look for Corin? There are potential good reasons for this, I'm not saying there aren't, but I am trying to poke through the paucity of real detail here. Was Susan staying at the palace in case Corin came back on his own and then she'd send word to Edmund? Are they leaving the women and Animals at the palace because they fear violence on the streets of Tashbaan? Because, I mean, I feel like Talking Birds and such might actually be better at searching for a lost crown prince than six men randomly tromping through the streets chatting with each other.
(Were they looking for Corin? It's never explicitly said that that's why the party was out on the street, but surely they must have been... right? A missing crown prince is a big deal! Yet there was no urgency among the group. Were they trying to play it cool and prevent the Calormen from knowing that the prince was missing? Was the plan to keep it a secret until they couldn't any longer, and thus the chatting and arm-swinging was all subterfuge? Any one of these would make a good story! I just resent having to fill in plot and details myself!)
Also: since when are Archenland and Narnia friends "time out of mind"? This is the first mention of Archenland and it basically breaks all the previous world-building, so it's pretty ballsy to not merely declare "oh yeah it's always been there" but also "and they were bestest friends forever". What the hell was Archenland doing while the White Witch was terrorizing the place? For that matter, what the hell will Archenland be doing when Telmarines stomp into Narnia and commit genocide on every living being in Narnia?
“Apparently,” thought Shasta to himself, “I’m being mistaken for a prince of Archenland, wherever that is. And these must be Narnians. I wonder where the real Corin is?” But these thoughts did not help him say anything out loud.
This is factually accurate but one of those passages that makes Shasta look like a robot. "Apparently my situation is thus. Huh." is not what I would be thinking here. "Oh holy hell, how much are these people going to beat me when they realize I'm not this prince they're looking for" would surely fit better with Shasta's violent upbringing. "How the heck do I get out of here" would also be acceptable, as would "can I use this to my advantage or would that end up getting me killed?"
“Where hast been, Corin?” said the lady, her hands still on Shasta’s shoulders.
“I—I don’t know,” stammered Shasta.
“There it is, Susan,” said the King. “I could get no tale out of him, true or false.”
“Your Majesties! Queen Susan! King Edmund!” said a voice: and when Shasta turned to look at the speaker he nearly jumped out of his skin with surprise. For this was one of those queer people whom he had noticed out of the corner of his eye when he first came into the room. He was about the same height as Shasta himself. From the waist upward he was like a man, but his legs were hairy like a goat’s, and shaped like a goat’s and he had goat’s hoofs and a tail. His skin was rather red and he had curly hair and a short pointed beard and two little horns. He was in fact a Faun, which is a creature Shasta had never seen a picture of or even heard of. And if you’ve read a book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you may like to know that this was the very same Faun, Tumnus by name, whom Queen Susan’s sister Lucy had met on the very first day when she found her way into Narnia. But he was a good deal older now for by this time Peter and Susan and Edmund and Lucy had been Kings and Queens of Narnia for several years.
“Your Majesties,” he was saying, “His little Highness has had a touch of the sun. Look at him! He is dazed. He does not know where he is.”
Lewis, good grief, I know you like it cozy but name-dropping books mid-book is a great way to take people out of the narrative. Anyway, I just do not even know what to do with this "oh the sun" thing that everyone just accepts as true. I fervently hope that Lewis was never in charge of the welfare of children because jesus christ my inner parental instincts are screeching in horror.
Then of course everyone stopped scolding Shasta and asking him questions and he was made much of and laid on a sofa and cushions were put under his head and he was given iced sherbet in a golden cup to drink and told to keep very quiet.
Nothing like this had ever happened to Shasta in his life before. He had never even imagined lying on anything so comfortable as that sofa or drinking anything so delicious as that sherbet. He was still wondering what had happened to the others and how on earth he was going to escape and meet them at the Tombs, and what would happen when the real Corin turned up again. But none of these worries seemed so pressing now that he was comfortable. And perhaps, later on, there would be nice things to eat!
I don't want to say that this part is presented as laudable, because I don't think it is, but I do think it is certainly presented as neutral. Which is interesting, because when Jill and Eustace relaxed and had nice meals and luxurious things before, it was often presented as very sinful because they were deviating from their important Christian Journey Quest in order to loll about in wealthy and luxury. And, of course, Aravis was thought very silly earlier in this same book for craving the things that Shasta is now enjoying. It doesn't put him in a good light, precisely, but neither is this treated as particularly damnable.
One wonders, per the Lewis theology of being responsible for things that happen to others, whether Shasta would be responsible here and now for anything bad happening to Aravis outside. If she were questioned for having two horses and Shasta wasn't there to help her and she ended up being beaten--or worse, sent back to her fiance to be forcibly married--would Aslan need to show up later to take those things out of Shasta's physical hide? To clarify, I don't actually blame Shasta for relaxing here--he's a child making the best of a confusing situation--but if Lewis had any consistency, he would blame Shasta as much as he blames Aravis, Jill, and Eustace.
I will say that again this piece of characterization is flimsy and does little to fill out Shasta as more than a plot device. All he really does in this scene is sit where he's put and relay the things he hears to the reader. "Maybe there will be food" is not necessarily a bad thing for a child to think, but it makes him seem young and unfocused. There's no real sense that he's in danger, despite the fact that he ought to expect violence from these adults once they know who he is. There's no real sense of loss over his companions or compassion or worry--he "wonders" how they are and how he'll meet up with them in a vague logistical sense, but it seems taken as read that they will all get to the Tombs as planned.
Meanwhile the people in that cool airy room were very interesting. Besides the Faun there were two Dwarfs (a kind of creature he had never seen before) and a very large Raven. The rest were all humans; grown-ups, but young, and all of them, both men and women, had nicer faces and voices than most Calormenes.
Oh. I just assumed there were Talking Animals, but there's literally only one. Plus two Dwarves and a Faun. Everyone else is a human. This means that the Pevensies have filled their court with human foreigners from Archenland rather than with native Narnians. This is the Caspian problem all over again, stocking his ship with all humans and one Mouse: he can't possibly represent the interests of his people when he's only willing to talk to and interact with people of his own race.
"But, Ana, maybe they couldn't bring Animals because Calormen is such a racist--" Nope. That's not how courts work. If your courtiers aren't going to be welcome in the country you're planning to visit, you don't go. Nor will I entertain for a moment that no Animals wanted to go; that is not how people work. There are going to be folks of every race who take an interest in politics and want to be part of the inner advisory circle of the Kings and Queens. There is no excuse for these demographics save racism, and it reflects on both the author and the characters.
Oh and lest we forget: all the white humans have "nicer faces and voices" than the brown humans Shasta grew up with. Bullshit.
And soon Shasta found himself taking an interest in the conversation.
“Now, Madam,” the King was saying to Queen Susan (the lady who had kissed Shasta). “What think you? We have been in this city fully three weeks. Have you yet settled in your mind whether you will marry this dark-faced lover of yours, this Prince Rabadash, or no?”
This is possibly the most abrupt possible introduction to this topic and it burns my biscuits because it could have been so easily tied to the Shasta/Corin thing. If Edmund has been wanting to leave, then quite naturally they can't do so while the crown prince is missing, but hey we've found the crown prince so maybe we could have this conversation. I feel like we're writing this book for Lewis, like he just couldn't be arsed to connect all the pieces together.
Also: "dark-faced lover" I can't even. Of literally all the ways to describe him for the first time in this book, Lewis and Edmund went with that.
The lady shook her head. “No, brother,” she said, “not for all the jewels in Tashbaan.” (“Hullo!” thought Shasta. “Although they’re king and queen, they’re brother and sister, not married to one another.”)
“Truly, sister,” said the King, “I should have loved you the less if you had taken him. And I tell you that at the first coming of the Tisroc’s ambassadors into Narnia to treat of this marriage, and later when the Prince was our guest at Cair Paravel, it was a wonder to me that ever you could find it in your heart to show him so much favor.”
The whole "I should have loved you the less" would be bullshit coming from anyone, but again this is Edmund. Edmund who betrayed his family, Edmund who caused the death of Aslan, Edmund who more than anyone understands the value of love and forgiveness. I hate this, I hate that someone I liked and identified with is now reduced to this callous, uncaring, racist caricature of a "strong" king with the necessary moral backing to love his sister less for falling in love with someone he doesn't like.
“That was my folly, Edmund,” said Queen Susan, “of which I cry you mercy. Yet when he was with us in Narnia, truly this Prince bore himself in another fashion than he does now in Tashbaan. For I take you all to witness what marvelous feats he did in that great tournament and hastilude which our brother the High King made for him, and how meekly and courteously he consorted with us the space of seven days. But here, in his own city, he has shown another face.”
Here my heart breaks because Susan is asking forgiveness for liking someone. Someone she knew for seven days. Someone everyone liked at the time. She cries forgiveness for having a kind and gentle heart, begs Edmund not to love her less, and I just. Baby. Get out of Narnia and get away from it and be free with a light heart because this place is bad to you.
Seven days. And then they sent her out here with a tiny guard so she could have less than a month to decide whether or not to marry him? That's not how any of this works! You don't send a woman with a tiny guard to the land of another prince precisely because he could seize her and hurt her and recovery is very difficult at that point and there's always the chance that he could choose to kill her rather than let her be rescued.
What was King Peter thinking? What was King Edmund thinking? Are we supposed to believe that this was all Queen Susan's flighty idea and so it's her fault? What are we supposed to believe? How, Lewis, did this situation come about, how did we get here? Because literally none of this makes any sense given the setting and the characters.
“Ah!” croaked the Raven. “It is an old saying: See the bear in his own den before you judge of his conditions.”
“That’s very true, Sallowpad,” said one of the Dwarfs. “And another is, Come, live with me and you’ll know me.”
“Yes,” said the King. “We have now seen him for what he is: that is, a most proud, bloody, luxurious, cruel, and self-pleasing tyrant.”
Please go back and re-read everything I said last week about "pure-living" White Barbarians versus the luxuriant cruel indolent pleasure-loving Brown Foreigners.
“Then in the name of Aslan,” said Susan, “let us leave Tashbaan this very day.”
“There’s the rub, sister,” said Edmund. “For now I must open to you all that has been growing in my mind these last two days and more. Peridan, of your courtesy look to the door and see that there is no spy upon us. All well? So. For now we must be secret.”
Everyone had begun to look very serious. Queen Susan jumped up and ran to her brother. “Oh, Edmund,” she cried. “What is it? There is something dreadful in your face.”
And that's how the chapter ends. We literally have a chapter-break midway through a conversation for no reason other than to try to bludgeon suspense in where absolutely none has been properly built.