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《银椅子》 第十三章 无主秘境







ALL felt that they had earned what Scrubb called a “breather”. The Witch had locked the door and told the Earthmen not to disturb her,so there was no danger of interruption for the present. Their first business was,of course,Puddleglum’s burnt foot. A couple of clean shirts from the Prince’s bedroom,torn into strips,and well greased on the inside with butter and salad oil off the supper table,made a fairly good dressing. When this had been applied, they all sat down and had a little refreshment,and discussed plans for escaping from the Underworld.
Rilian explained that there were quite a lot of outlets by which one could get to the surface;he had been taken out through most of them at one time or another. But he had never gone out alone,only with the Witch;and he had always reached these outlets by going in a ship across the Sunless Sea. What the Earthmen would say if he went down to the harbour without the Witch,and with four strangers,and simply ordered a ship,no one could guess. But
most likely they would ask awkward questions. On the other hand the new outlet,the one for the invasion of Overworld,was on this side of the sea,and only a few miles away. The Prince knew that it was nearly finished;only a few feet of earth divided the diggings from the outer air. It was even possible that it had now been quite finished. Perhaps the Witch had come back to tell him this and to start the attack. Even if it was not,they could probably dig themselves out by that route in a few hours—if they could only get there without being stopped,and if only they found the diggings unguarded. But those were the difficulties.
“If you ask me—”began Puddleglum,when Scrubb interrupted.
“I say,”he asked,“what’s that noise ?”
“I’ve been wondering that for some time !”said Jill.
They had all,in fact,been hearing the noise but it had begun and increased so gradually that they did not know when they had first noticed it. For a time it had been only a vague disquiet like gentle winds,or traffic very far away. Then it swelled to a murmur like the sea. Then came rumblings and rushings. Now there seemed to be voices as well and also a steady roaring that was not voices.
“By the Lion,”said Prince Rilian,“it seems this silent land has found a tongue at last.”He rose,walked to the window,and drew aside the curtains. The others crowded round him to look out.
The very first thing they noticed was a great red glow. Its reflection made a red patch on the roof of the Underworld thousands of feet above them,so that they could see a rocky ceiling which had perhaps been hidden in darkness ever since the world was made. The glow itself came from the far side of the city so that many buildings,grim and great,stood up blackly against it. But it also cast its light down many streets that ran from it towards the castle. And in those streets something very strange was going on. The closely-packed,silent crowds of Earthmen had vanished. Instead,there were figures darting about by ones,or twos,or threes. They behaved like people who do not want to be seen: lurking in shadow behind buttresses or in doorways,and then moving quickly across the open into fresh places of hiding. But the strangest thing of all,to anyone who knew the gnomes,was the noise. Shouts and cries came from all directions. But from the harbour there came a low,rumbling roar which grew steadily louder and was already shaking the whole city.
“What’s happened to the Earthmen ?”said Scrubb. “Is it them shouting ?”
“Tis hardly possible,”said the Prince. “I never heard one of the rascals so much as speak with a loud voice in all the weary years of my bondage. Some new devilry,I don’t doubt.”
“And what is that red light over there ?”asked Jill. “Is something on fire ?”
“If you ask me,”said Puddleglum,“I should say that was the central fires of the Earth breaking out to make a new volcano. We’ll be in the middle of it,I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Look at that ship !”said Scrubb. “Why’s it coming on so quickly ? No one’s rowing it.”
“Look,look !”said the Prince. “The ship is already far this side of the harbour—it is in the street. Look ! All the ships are driving into the city ! By my head,the sea’s rising. The flood is upon us. Aslan be praised,this castle stands on high ground. But the water comes on grimly fast.”
“Oh,what can be happening ?”cried Jill. “Fire and water and all those people dodging about the streets.”
“I’ll tell you what it is,”said Puddleglum.“That Witch has laid a train of magic spells so that whenever she was killed,at that same moment her whole kingdom would fall to pieces. She’s the sort that wouldn’t so much mind dying herself if she knew that the chap who killed her was going to be burned,or buried,or drowned five minutes later.”
“Hast hit it,friend wiggle,”said the Prince. “When our swords hacked off the Witch’s head,that stroke ended all her magic works,and now the Deep Lands are falling to pieces. We are looking on the end of Underworld.”
“That’s it,Sir,”said Puddleglum. “Unless it should happen to be the end of the whole world.”
“But are we just going to stay here and—wait ?”gasped Jill.
“Not by my counsel,”said the Prince. “I would save my horse,Coalblack,and the Witch’s Snowflake(a noble beast and worthy of a better mistress)which are both stabled in the courtyard. After that,let us make shift to get out to high ground and pray that we shall find an outlet. The horses can carry two each at need,and if we put them to it they may outstrip the flood.”
“Will your Highness not put on armour ?”asked Puddleglum. “I don’t like the look of those”—and he pointed down to the street. Everyone looked down. Dozens of creatures(and now that they were close,they obviously were Earthmen)were coming up from the direction of the harbour. But they were not moving like an aimless crowd. They behaved like modern soldiers in an attack, making rushes and taking cover,anxious not to be seen from the castle windows.
“I dare not see the inside of that armour again,”said the Prince. “I rode in it as in a movable dungeon,and it stinks of magic and slavery. But I will take the shield.”
He left the room and returned with a strange light in his eyes a moment later.
“Look,friends,”he said,holding out the shield towards them. “An hour ago it was black and without device;and now,this.”The shield had turned bright as silver,and on it,redder than blood or cherries,was the figure of the Lion.
“Doubtless,”said the Prince,“this signifies that Aslan will be our good lord,whether he means us to live or die. And all’s one,for that. Now,by my counsel,we shall all kneel and kiss his likeness,and then all shake hands one with another,as true friends that may shortly be parted. And then,let us descend into the city and take the adventure that is sent us.”
And they all did as the Prince had said. But when Scrubb shook hands with Jill,he said,“So long,Jill. Sorry I’ve been a funk and so ratty. I hope you get safe home,”and Jill said,“So long,Eustace. And I’m sorry I’ve been such a pig.”And this was the first time they had ever used Christian names,because one didn’t do it at school.
The Prince unlocked the door and they all went down the stairs:three of them with drawn swords,and Jill with drawn knife. The attendants had vanished and the great room at the foot of the Prince’s stairs was empty. The grey,doleful lamps were still burning and by their light they had no difficulty in passing gallery after gallery and descending stairway after stairway. The noises from outside the castle were not so easily heard here as they had been in the room above. Inside the house all was still as death,and deserted. It was as they turned a corner into the great hall on the ground floor that they met their first Earthman-a fat, whitish creature with a very piglike face who was gobbling up all the remains of food on the tables. It squealed(the squeal also was very like a pig’s)and darted under a bench,whisking its long tail out of Puddleglum’s reach in the nick of time. Then it rushed away through the far door too quickly to be followed.
From the hall they came out into the courtyard. Jill,who went to a riding school in the holidays,had just noticed the smell of a stable(a very nice,honest,homely smell it is to meet in a place like Underland)when Eustace said,“Great Scott ! Look at that ! ”A magnificent rocket had risen from somewhere beyond the castle walls and broken into green stars.
“Fireworks ! ”said Jill in a puzzled voice.
“Yes,”said Eustace,“but you can’t imagine those Earth people letting them off for fun ! It must be a signal.”
“And means no good to us,I’ll be bound,”said Puddleglum.
“Friends,”said the Prince,“when once a man is launched on such an adventure as this,he must bid farewell to hopes and fears,otherwise death or deliverance will both come too late to save his honour and his reason. Ho,my beauties”(he was now opening the stable door). “Hey cousins ! Steady,Coalblack ! Softly now,Snowflake ! You are not forgotten.”
The horses were both frightened by the strange lights and the noises. Jill,who had been so cowardly about going through a black hole betweeen one cave and another,went in without fear between the stamping and snorting beasts,and she and the Prince had them saddled and bridled in a few minutes. Very fine they looked as they came out into the courtyard,tossing their heads. Jill mounted Snowflake,and Puddleglum got up behind her. Eustace got up behind the Prince on Coalblack. Then with a great echo of hoofs,they rode out of the main gateway into the street.
“Not much danger of being burnt. That’s the bright side of it,”observed Puddleglum,pointing to their right. There,hardly a hundred yards away,lapping against the walls of the houses,was water.
“Courage !”said the Prince. “The road there goes down steeply. That water has climbed only half up the greatest hill in the city. It might come so near in the first half-hour and come no nearer in the next two. My fear is more of that-”and he pointed with his sword to a great tall Earthman with boar’s tusks,followed by six others of assorted shapes and sizes who had just dashed out of a side street and stepped into the shadow of the houses where no one could see them.
The Prince led them,aiming always in the direction of the glowing red light but a little to the left of it. His plan was to get round the fire(if it was a fire)on to high ground,in hope that they might find their way to the new diggings. Unlike the other three,he seemed to be almost enjoying himself. He whistled as he rode,and sang snatches of an old song about Corin Thunder-fist of Archenland. The truth is,he was so glad at being free from his long enchantment that all dangers seemed a game in comparison. But the rest found it an eerie journey.
Behind them was the sound of clashing and entangled ships, and the rumble of collapsing buildings. Overhead was the great patch of lurid light on the roof of the Underworld. Ahead was the mysterious glow,which did not seem to grow any bigger. From the same direction came a continual hubbub of shouts,screams, cat-calls,laughter,squeals,and bellowings;and fireworks of all sorts rose in the dark air. No one could guess what they meant. Nearer to them,the city was partly lit up by the red glow,and partly by the very different light of the dreary Gnome lamps. But there were many places where neither of these lights fell,and those places were jet-black. And in and out of those places the shapes of Earthmen were darting and slipping all the time,always with their eyes fixed on the travellers,always trying to keep out of sight themselves. There were big faces and little faces,huge eyes like fishes’ eyes and little eyes like bears. There were feathers and bristles,horns and tusks,noses like whipcord,and chins so long that they looked like beards. Every now and then a group of them would get too big or come too near. Then the Prince would brandish his sword and make a show of charging them. And the creatures, with all manner of hootings,squeakings,and cluckings,would dive away into the darkness.
But when they had climbed many steep streets and were far away from the flood,and almost out of the town on the inland side, it began to be more serious. They were now close to the red glow and nearly on a level with it,though they still could not see what it really was. But by its light they could see their enemies more clearly. Hundreds—perhaps a few thousands—of gnomes were all moving towards it. But they were doing so in short rushes,and whenever they stopped,they turned and faced the travellers.
“If your Highness asked me,”said Puddleglum,“I’d say those fellows were meaning to cut us off in front.”
“That was my thought too,Puddleglum,”said the Prince. “And we can never fight our way through so many. Hark you ! Let us ride forth close by the edge of yonder house. And even as we reach it,do you slip off into its shadow. The Lady and I will go forward a few paces. Some of these devils will follow us,I doubt not; they are thick behind us. Do you,who have long arms,take one alive if you may,as it passes your ambush. We may get a true tale of it or learn what is their quarrel against us.”
“But won’t the others all come rushing at us to rescue the one we catch,”said Jill in a voice not so steady as she tried to make it.
“Then,Madam,”said the Prince,“you shall see us die fighting around you,and you must commend yourself to the Lion. Now,good Puddleglum.”
The Marsh-wiggle slipped off into the shadow as quickly as a cat. The others,for a sickening minute or so,went forward at a walk. Then suddenly from behind them there broke out a series of blood-curdling screams,mixed with the familiar voice of Puddleglum,saying,“Now then ! Don’t cry out before you’re hurt,or you will be hurt,see ? Anyone would think it was a pig being killed.”
“That was good hunting,”exclaimed the Prince,immediately turning Coalblack and coming back to the corner of the house. “Eustace,”he said,“of your courtesy,take Coalblack’s head.”Then he dismounted,and all three gazed in silence while Puddleglum pulled his catch out into the light. It was a most miserable little gnome,only about three feet long. It had a sort of ridge,like a cock’s comb(only hard),on the top of its head, little pink eyes,and a mouth and chin so large and round that its face looked like that of a pigmy hippopotamus. If they had not been in such a tight place,they would have burst into laughter at the sight of it.
“Now,Earthman,”said the Prince,standing over it and holding his sword point very near the prisoner’s neck,“speak, up,like an honest gnome,and you shall go free. Play the knave with us,and you are but a dead Earthman. Good Puddleglum, how can it speak while you hold its mouth tight shut ?”
“No,and it can’t bite either,”said Puddleglum. “If I had the silly soft hands that you humans have(saving your Highness’s reverence)I’d have been all over blood by now. Yet even a Marsh-wiggle gets tired of being chewed.”
“Sirrah,”said the Prince to the gnome,“one bite and you die. Let its mouth open,Puddleglum.”
“Oo-ee-ee,”squealed the Earthman,“let me go,let me go. It isn’t me. I didn’t do it.”
“Didn’t do what ?”asked Puddleglum.
“Whatever your Honours say I did do,”answered the creature.
“Tell me your name,”said the Prince,“and what you Earthmen are all about today.”
“Oh please,your Honours,please,kind gentlemen,” whimpered the gnome. “Promise you will not tell the Queen’s grace anything I say.”
“The Queen’s grace,as you call her,”said the Prince sternly, “is dead. I killed her myself.”
“What !”cried the gnome,opening its ridiculous mouth wider and wider in astonishment. “Dead ? The Witch dead ? And by your Honour’s hand ?”It gave a huge sigh of relief and added,“Why then your Honour is a friend !”
The Prince withdrew his sword an inch or so. Puddleglum let the creature sit up. It looked round on the four travellers with its twinkling,red eyes,chuckled once or twice,and began.

第十三章 无主秘境

就像尤斯塔斯说的,大家总算可以缓口气了。女巫锁门之前, 曾经吩咐下人不要来打扰她。他们暂时是安全的。他们现在要做的第一件事就是处理一下普德格勒姆烧伤的脚。他们从王子的卧室里找来干净的衬衣,撕成布条,再涂上黄油和色拉油,把食物变成绝佳的敷料。之后,他们坐下来一边享用茶点,一边讨论出逃计划。
瑞利安说这里有许多通往地面的出口,大部分他都走过,当然是和女巫一起,但没有单独去过,但不管哪个出口都必须穿过幽境海洋。假如他独自一人带着四个陌生人到港口,要求乘船穿越幽境海洋, 不知道那些秘境人会不会放行。他们八成会问一些无法回答的问题。另一条路,也就是那个新的出口,是为了侵略挖的出口,在幽静海洋的另一边,而且距离只有几英里路。王子知道,那个出口很快就完工, 只差几英尺厚的土了。现在说不定已经完工,也许女巫回来就是为了告诉他这件事,让他做好准备。即便还没完工,只要他们能够顺利到那儿,顺着路线,大概只需要几个小时就能出去。至于在路上会不会受阻,出口那里有没有人把守就很难讲了,反正这两个方案都不好实施。
实际上,这声音一直都在。不过因为它是逐渐变大了,他们也搞不清是从什么时候开始出现的。刚开始只是隐约的骚动声,有点像轻柔的风声或远处的车马声。不久,它变成了浪涛一样的沙沙声。紧随其后的,是响亮的轰隆声和哗啦啦的声音。现在还多了些说话声, 甚至低吼声。
“狮王保佑,”瑞利安王子说,“看来沉默的土地发怒了。” 他站起来走到窗边拉开窗帘,其他几个人围在他身边一起往外看。
他们首先看到一大片红光,就在上面几千英尺的地方,地下世界的顶部。他们甚至能看见一片“天花板”,也许这块天花板很久以前就在这里了。红光来自于城市的另一头,在光的映照下,很多阴森森大房子显得很突出,红光也映出许多通往城堡的街道。很奇怪的是, 街上那些熙熙攘攘的人群都消失了,只有三两个人影走来走去。很显然,他们不想让人发现:他们潜伏在阴影或门后,不时迅速地穿过空地,寻找新的庇护。而最奇怪的,是那些声音了。四面八方都是吵闹声, 港口那边发出隆隆的低吼声,声音越来越大,震动着整个城市。
“噢!到底是怎么回事啊?”姬尔喊道,“又是火,又是水, 还有那些躲躲闪闪的人。”
“我告诉你吧。”普德格勒姆说,“那个女巫肯定施了一连串的魔法,她一死,她的王国也就崩溃了。她就是那种人,自己死了, 也想让别人给她陪葬,被烧死、淹死或活埋。”
“我看不行,”王子说,“我要去找我的黑炭,还有女巫的雪花, 那可是一匹好马,应该给它找个更好的女主人,它们都在后院的马厩里。我们得赶紧骑马到高地去,但愿能找到个出口。必要的时候, 可以两个人骑一匹马,还能越过洪水。”
“看,朋友们,”他把盾牌举起来对着他们,“一个小时之前, 它还是黑色的,没有花纹;现在,看看。”那盾已经变得光芒四射, 上面还有比鲜血和樱桃还要鲜红的狮王图案。”
他们按照王子所说的做了。当尤斯塔斯和姬尔握手时,他说,“再见,姬尔,很抱歉,过去我是个令人讨厌的胆小鬼。我希望你能平安回家。”姬尔说,“再见,尤斯塔斯,我很抱歉,以前是我太愚蠢了。” 这是他们第一次叫对方的名字,在学校里大家都不这么叫的。
王子打开门,带着他们走下去。他们三个拿着剑,姬尔拿着刀。那些侍从都不见了,大厅空荡荡的。那些灰暗的、阴森的灯倒还都亮着,在昏暗的灯光下,他们走过一条又一条走廊,走下一段又一段楼梯。这时他们听到的声音还是有点模糊,不如上面听起来的清晰。屋子里空无一人,死一般地静。他们迅速前行,很快遇到了在这里见到的第一个幽境居民——那是个脸色惨白的胖子,长着一个大猪头, 大口地吞咽着桌上的残羹冷炙。他尖叫着,冲到一条长凳下面,挥动着长尾巴,不让普德格勒姆抓住。然后飞快地从另一扇门冲了出去, 再也找不到了。
王子带着大家朝那片红光走去。他的计划是从左侧绕过大火(如果那是火的话),寻找新的通道。他和其他三个人明显不同,多了些自得其乐的味道。骑马的时候,不仅吹起了口哨,甚至还唱起了歌—— 歌颂安晨兰王国的一流霹雳手科林的一首老歌。事实上,由于他被禁锢的太久了,获得解脱实在太让他开心了,以至于所有一切危险都微不足道了。但是其他人都觉得这段路程走得是心惊肉跳的。
光照不到的地方还是一片漆黑,秘境居民的身影就在那些区域不断出现。那些居民们始终盯着他们,躲避他们。这些居民有的脸大有的脸小;有的眼睛像鱼眼,有的眼睛像熊的眼;有的披着羽毛, 有的长着鬃毛;有的长角,有的长獠牙,有的人鼻子长得犹如缰绳, 还有的人下巴长得像胡子。他们一旦靠得太近,或人数太多,王子就会挥舞着宝剑,做出一副要打他们的姿势。那些家伙就一边叫唤着, 一边躲到黑暗中去。
等他们爬上一条条崎岖的街道,洪水还在离他们很远的地方时, 事情突然恶化了。这时他们已经接近红光,几乎与它在同一个水平面上了,但是他们仍然不知道光是怎么来的。在红光下,那些敌人就更加清楚,那里有几百甚至上千个精灵。这些人蜂拥而上,很快就会赶上他们。
沼泽怪像猫一样敏捷,迅速钻到阴影里去了。其余的人迟疑了一会儿,才往前走。不久,他们身后突然传来了一阵令人胆战心惊的尖叫声,普德格勒姆的声音夹杂其中,他说:“行了,别叫唤了, 不然你就被我伤着了。懂吗?要不人家还以为在杀猪呢。”
“抓得好!”王子赞叹了一声,把黑炭调转方向,回到屋角。“尤斯塔斯,”他说,“请控制住黑炭。”然后下了马。三人看着普德格勒姆把精灵拖到光亮处。这个可怜的小精灵只有三英尺高,头顶长着个鸡冠似的东西(硬邦邦的),粉红色的小眼睛下面是大圆嘴和下巴, 看上去有点像小河马。要不是情况特殊,他们看见这个小精灵肯定会哈哈大笑的。
“好了,秘境居民,”王子紧盯着它,手中的剑指着它的脖子, 说,“老老实实回答就放了你。要是跟我们耍花招你就死定了。普德格勒姆,你捏住它的嘴,让它怎么说话?”
“小子!”王子对那怪物说,“你再敢咬一口,就没命了。放开他, 普德格勒姆。”
“噢……啊……呃,”那人尖叫道,“放开我,放开我。不是我干的, 不是我。”
“什么!”小精灵惊叫一声,他的嘴巴张得很大。“死了?女巫死了?而且是您亲手杀的?”然后他大大地松了一口气,说,“啊, 这么说你是朋友咯!”

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