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The heavily-laden boat was making poor headway through the Chillthaw Marsh--which was only to be expected, with wind and current both against it. Not without reason were the boat's two human occupants chosen in part for being young--and light in weight. The vital cargo made hard enough going for those who were providing most of the propulsion while wading in water almost a fathom deep: Ironbulk the Talking Elephant pulling in harness from in front, and Lady Riddlechaser the Centauress pushing from astern.

"Wouldn't this all be easier if the King simply had flying creatures carry everything over the ice wall?" asked eleven-year-old Elsima. The excitement of her first inclusion in one of these missions had worn thin after several hours of hard work. Though Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were providing the raw strength, Elsima and her fourteen-year-old brother Shandorf were kept busy helping as they could with boat poles, and wrestling occasional tree branches out of the way.

"Most flying creatures can't carry enough weight to do any good for this business," Shandorf replied. "Besides, there aren't many left who are on our side. The White Witch has always made a special effort to kill any intelligent flying creatures who wouldn't serve her."

Riddlechaser spared the breath to say, "Your brother speaks truth, little foal. The accursed Jadis is always in fear that some Griffin, Winged Horse, or Talking Bird will fly to Aslan's country and tell Him of the evil she does in His realm of Narnia--causing Him to arise in wrath and come over the sea to punish her. Which only proves that Jadis, thinking herself to be wise, is yet a fool. If Aslan were not already aware of all that Jadis does, He would not extend His sovereign power from afar to render her magic ineffective south of Narnia. You may be sure that she would conquer Archenland as well, if she could; and yet she does not seem to realize that the limit of her power's range proves that she reigns anywhere only by the Lion's sufferance."

"So why doesn't He ever come and stop her from reigning?" demanded Elsima. As a well-taught Archenlander, she would not have spoken so doubtingly of Aslan if she were not irritable from fatigue; the Centauress, understanding this, answered her without reproach:

"If Aslan always did everything for us directly, how would we learn to practice virtue for ourselves? He will make an end of Jadis when His Almighty Father commands it; but in the meantime, we must show that we care for those who suffer in the endless winter."

Shandorf took over at this point, so that Riddlechaser could use all her breath for work. "Life isn't as simple as bedtime stories, Elsima. In stories, people can sit down to a dinner that simply appears on their table from nowhere. But in real life, unless Aslan grants a very special miracle, food has to come from someplace. With no spring, summer or autumn in Narnia, they can't grow any crops. That means that Jadis could starve all Narnians--or have them eating each other in desperation--if we didn't smuggle food to them. Aslan didn't leave us normal weather and rich harvests so that we could ignore our hungry neighbors while we have all we need.

"In fact, the Witch's own magic actually works against her here along the border. The ice wall that marks the edge of her magical winter is always melting off on the Archenland side because of the warmer air touching it. The water from that melting ice is what created the Chillthaw Marsh, filling all parts of the borderlands outside the mountains; and the Marsh helps us to sneak up to the border with boatloads of food for Narnia. The water flow is against us as we move north; and so is the wind, because of something about the way cold air pushes in under warm air (Centaurs understand that better than I do); that's why it's such hard work moving the boats. But it's our duty to help." Shandorf glanced ahead at their Narnian Elephant friend. "Which reminds me--I think it's time poor Ironbulk had a dose of the potion."

The boy, already an accomplished swamp-sailor, climbed skillfully from the boat's bow, over the towing harness, onto Ironbulk's broad back, bringing with him a covered jar. In this jar was a potion concocted by a great wise man of Archenland, having the power to help living things endure extreme cold. Any creature not made to dwell in cold water needed this potion to perform at length such work as Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were doing. Siphoning half of the jar's contents with his trunk, then emptying his trunk into his mouth, the huge beast (equal in size to a non-talking bull elephant, something unusual for the larger types of Talking Animals) soon felt sufficiently comforted and refreshed to utter the first words he had spoken in more than an hour.

"Thank you, Shandorf." His voice was deeper than deep, yet strained with weariness. "Do you suppose Breezebeak will rejoin us before we offload? I'm beginning to think he's decided to wait with Zubgunch." Breezebeak was the third Narnian refugee in this team bringing relief to Narnia: a Talking Thrush, whose roles were scouting and message-bearing. Zubgunch was a Black-Haired Dwarf, the informal leader of all remaining Dwarfs within Narnia who still believed in Aslan; a longtime friend of Riddlechaser, he was usually in charge of receiving and distributing the food rations covertly provided by Archenland.

Shandorf replied in a very quiet voice, which elephant ears could still easily hear: "I'm afraid that he might have been caught by something." He didn't want his sister to hear such an alarming suggestion; she was very fond of the adventurous bird.

"Aslan forfend, but that is undeniably possible," rumbled Ironbulk. "I suggest that you and Riddlechaser make sure your bows are ready for use. And have Elsima watch the sky. If Breezebeak has been captured, something less friendly than he might come flying our way." Shandorf scrambled back on board the boat and began inspecting the bows and arrows as inconspicuously as possible.

The supply boat continued forcing its way through the marshy maze. The sun was almost halfway up its climb to noon; before long, they should be in sight of the rendezvous point, where Narnian Badgers and Beavers years ago had dug a hidden tunnel through the ice wall to facilitate the smuggling operation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Breezebeak the Thrush was indeed with Zubgunch the Dwarf at the rendezvous point, under a great jutting rock that was partly merged with the ice wall. Zubgunch, however, was not as happy with the bird's company as might have been expected. This was in part because the Black Dwarf and the Narnians in his reception party--four Talking Goats and a young Unicorn as bearers, plus a girl Faun named Fironia to help with sorting and loading--were all in chains, with Talking Wolves of Queen Jadis' secret police hungrily standing guard over them. It was also because Breezebeak, with a triumphant air extraordinary for so small a creature (though bigger than a non-talking thrush), was happily perched on one horn of the massive Minotaur who was in charge of the arresting squad--a squad which Breezebeak had alerted.

"How soon will the Queen bestow my reward upon me?" chirped the feathered betrayer.

"As soon as these rebels, and any of their friends whom we can take alive, have been publicly turned into stone," said the Minotaur. "The very next spell Her Majesty casts after that will be to transform you as you desire."

Fironia, her pleasant face wracked with despair, cried out, "Breezebeak! How could you turn against us this way?"

The disloyal bird angled his beak upward, much like a man lifting his nose in disdain. "I grew tired of being unappreciated for my true worth. None of you big folk ever accorded me any dignity; that stupid girl Elsima considered me cute! But when my outward form changes to match my superior spirit...when I grow larger than any eagle, more magnificent than any peacock...then I will be respected."

"Respected!" snapped Zubgunch. "Not by me, you presumptious horsefly!" In return for this defiant outburst, he was clubbed unconscious by a Dwarf of similar appearance to himself, but a Dwarf loyal to the White Witch. This Dwarf then caught the eye of the Minotaur, and said, "Your pardon, Captain, but you are the only other one in our squad with hands. Would you please help me get Zubgunch's hat, cloak and boots off of him and onto me? We don't want the Archenlanders realizing it isn't him greeting them till it's too late for them to escape."

The Minotaur consented to do as asked. Meanwhile, one other squad member was moving toward where the melt-off streams emptied themselves into the marsh. This creature had no name that it would reveal, and it made even the commanding Minotaur a little nervous. It was not a native of Narnia, but a monster conjured from somewhere by Jadis: in form like a very large and very ugly snake, but able to live comfortably in cold conditions that would incapacitate any true reptile. It could also breathe water as well as air; submerged, it would play a crucial role in the ambush of Lady Riddlechaser's party.

Fironia, meanwhile, made one more attempt with Breezebeak: "Dear Thrush, do you really think size and outward splendor are everything? Can you honestly think for a moment that Ironbulk has ever looked on you, or me, or Zubgunch as inferior to himself because we are smaller then he? Why, as for that, Aslan Himself manifests Himself in a form physically smaller than some creatures, but --"

"No more talk about the Lion!" shouted the Minotaur. "Serivolk! Give her a nip as punishment!" This command was addressed to the Talking Wolf nearest to the Faun.

Fironia braced herself to take the pain without giving the Minotaur the satisfaction of hearing her scream; but to her surprise, her guard hissed in her ear, "Cry out as if bitten!"--then faked biting her on one arm--an arm that was not in the Minotaur's view.

Fironia obligingly screamed...and noticed that Serivolk, before stepping away, loosened her bonds with his teeth behind her back, whispering, "Wait for your chance."

As she waited, with new hope welling up in her, Fironia remembered a story said to have been passed down from the legendary King Frank. It was said that King Frank and Queen Helen had told their children and other Narnians many true stories of the world of Adam and Eve. Aslan had walked among the people of that world in the form of a man; and while He had so lived among them, a friend of His called Judas had turned against Him. But later, another man named Saul, who was Aslan's bitter enemy, had changed in heart and become Aslan's faithful follower.

"It seems to be happening that way here," Fironia reflected. "Breezebeak deserts good for evil, but this Wolf is deserting evil for good--unless it is another trick."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"No one in Archenland ever blamed the Talking Elephants for fleeing Narnia once the Witch-winter set in," said Elsima. "Aslan didn't create them to bear such cold. There are other large beasts who could endure the Chillthaw Marsh much more easily than Ironbulk; so why does he insist on doing this work?"

Shandorf glanced admiringly at their pachyderm comrade. "He feels guilty for living safely in Archenland while other Narnians are suffering under Jadis. And, as Riddlechaser would say, the motivation in his heart is more important to our work than the suitability of his body."

"Riddlechaser also says that it will be children of Adam and Eve who finally overthrow Jadis. So when will we have the power to do that?"

"She doesn't mean us humans in Archenland and the remote countries. It's to be children from the world of Adam and Eve. They'll appear when Aslan brings them. In the meantime, our job is to help Narnia stay alive."

A tree branch ripped Elsima's jacket, worsening her mood further. "Well, what is Aslan waiting for? Is He waiting for human beings to be killed off in Archenland as the Witch killed them off in Narnia? Why doesn't He bring those children to us now?"

Lady Riddlechaser spoke once more: "I believe that Aslan waits in order to give time for people's true character to emerge. By people, of course, I mean all thinking beings. When Aslan does put things right, no doubt all Narnians will hasten to say that they were faithful to Him all along; but it will have been their conduct in the time of trial that proved them faithful--or not."

"We're almost there!" grunted Ironbulk. "I can see Zubgunch waving us in. By the Lion's mane, I'll be glad to unharness!" His boat-pulling rig had a release catch at his chest, so designed that he could free himself with one movement of his trunk. Willing worker though Ironbulk was, it was always a blessed relief to pull that catch at the end of a delivery trip.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The traitor Dwarf, disguised as Zubgunch, had moved a little way along the shore, stepping over several melting-ice rivulets, to help ensure that the boat crew would not be looking in the direction of danger; now he gestured vigorously for them to hurry in. The traitor Thrush flew conspicuously about, cheerfully twittering, to enhance the illusion that all was well. And under the icy water, the nameless monster was moving in for a surprise attack upon the most formidable opponent in the Archenlandish party, timing its approach to attack when Ironbulk was almost out of the water, so there would be no chance of the boat escaping. Now the snake-thing was thirty yards away from Ironbulk...twenty-five yards...twenty yards...

The Wolf Serivolk noted that his five lupine comrades, and their hulking commander, were fixing their attention on the boat; so he turned toward the captive Unicorn, who was bound much more heavily than the Talking Goats, because of course even a half-grown Unicorn was more dangerous than a Goat. Barely loudly enough for the other Wolves to hear, Serivolk growled, "You Unicorns think you're so much better than the rest of us; well, I'll only grant that you taste better than we do--and we will ask the Empress to let us eat you alive, rather than waste you as a statue!" He made a great show of sniffing the captive up and down, as if in cruel anticipation of that feast. Then, not loudly enough for any but the Unicorn to hear, he added, "But not all Wolves have forgotten their Maker. Hold still, and wait for your chance." And his fangs tore the Unicorn's ropes, by forelegs and hind legs, just enough that the Unicorn's own strength should be able to break them. Then he moved back toward the water, as far as the Minotaur was permitting any of the squad to go, trying to see how near the boat had come.

Fironia had noticed what Serivolk was doing, without showing any reaction that would give him away. "Does he mean for us all simply to flee," she wondered, "or does he plan to fight his companions?" She glanced about to see if there were anything at hand that she could use as a weapon. The most promising thing in sight was a large loose icicle on the ground nearby.

Whatever Serivolk was planning, the Dwarf Zubgunch precipitated events. The Minotaur had had to untie him to get his cloak for the other Dwarf--and had not bothered to bind him again, since he was unconscious. But Zubgunch was not as unconscious as the Minotaur thought; and while Ironbulk, with the boat in tow, was still some fifteen yards from land, he suddenly sprang up, dashed out into plain view, and roared at the top of his lungs: "Riddlechaser, look out! The enemy is here! It's a trap!" That was all he had time to shout, before he was knocked down by the hairy weight--of Serivolk.

"Pretend to be dead now!" the Wolf said through bloodthirsty-sounding snarls, closing his jaws over the Dwarf's neck without biting through. Zubgunch had not become a leader without the benefit of a quick mind; instantly understanding that he had a new ally, he compliantly pretended to have been killed--but aimed his "lifeless" eyes in the direction of the enemy, so he could choose his moment to jump up again.

The four Goats, however, believed their leader to be slain in reality, and all went into a panic, vainly struggling against their bonds. The Minotaur and Wolves paid them no attention; but the Unicorn, who had just freed himself, was tripped up by their thrashing and rolling about, and so could not immediately take any action. Fironia seized her icicle--but with no surety of help, hesitated to join battle. It was no boost for her courage when she heard the Elephant trumpeting--not in rage but in alarm.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As soon as he heard Zubgunch's warning, Ironbulk slipped off his harness, shouting, "Children! Push back!"--meaning that Shandorf and Elsima must use their poles to move the boat away from the icy shore, so that Ironbulk and Riddlechaser would be free to help Zubgunch's party. The Elephant had scarcely uttered that command, before something like a tremendous cable coiled itself around both his left legs and began to pull him under with terrifying strength. Trumpeting once in momentary fear, Ironbulk regained his wits just in time to suck in a vital breath of air before his head was submerged. The water churned wildly as the Narnian beast struggled with his unnatural assailant.

Shandorf, seeing a Minotaur and Wolves emerging onto the beach from the vicinity of the tunnel exit, quickly handed Riddlechaser her bow and quiver before throwing all his effort into poling the boat back down-current. The Centauress rapidly shot three arrows at the Minotaur; all struck their mark, but the Minotaur was wearing thick leather armor which partly stopped the arrows, so that he was not fatally wounded. Riddlechaser then tossed her bow back onto the boat's deck. Drawing a dagger as she plowed forward through the water, she began trying to help Ironbulk against the snake-thing, whose coils flashed into and out of sight amid the splashing. That left the human Archenlanders to their own devices.

As soon as the boat reached a stretch of open water, still in sight of the shore, Shandorf said, "Keep moving away!" Then, taking his own bow and quiver, he leaped into the nearest tree, climbed up, and took stock of the situation. Ironbulk and Riddlechaser seemed to be holding their own against the snake-thing, and there was nothing the boy could do about that fight; "But I'll give that blasted Minotaur something to think about," he promised himself, and began shooting arrows on a high trajectory toward the leader of Jadis' force.

His second arrow fell onto the "dead" Zubgunch, who at that moment was getting up with a rock in each hand to attack one of the hostile Wolves. Wounded slightly in the side, the Dwarf yelped, then scrambled to join Fironia and the Unicorn; these three engaged two of the Wolves in a battle to save the surviving Goats. (One Goat had been freed by a slash of the Unicorn's horn, only to have his neck broken by the Minotaur.) Serivolk, meanwhile, had put one Wolf out of action with a surprise crippling bite to a leg, and was now fighting the two remaining Jadis-loyal Wolves. The mortified Shandorf corrected his aim, and his fourth arrow plunged perfectly into the Minotaur's neck.

All the arrows launched at the horned monster had so far prevented him from giving much help to his Wolves; but even the neck shot failed to kill him. Seeing where this shot had come from, the Minotaur drew a heavy axe from his belt...and threw it the entire distance to Shandorf's perch, where it severed the whole tree-limb, dropping Shandorf into the water.

Seeing her brother's peril, Elsima let go of her boat-pole and dived in to save him. The steely cold of the water almost paralyzed her, but she found the will to swim for Shandorf.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Faun with her ice-dagger, the Dwarf with rocks (ignoring the discomfort of his bootless feet), and the Unicorn with hoofs and horn, managed by necessity to coordinate their efforts enough that they could hold off their Wolf antagonists. But the Wolves' persistent charges gave them no time to cut loose the Goats, who could otherwise have helped in the fight. Unwilling to abandon their bound friends, the three defenders could only hope for more aid to reach them before the Minotaur closed in.

Instead of help, though, the traitor Dwarf came--causing Zubgunch for an instant to wonder if Aslan had forgotten them. The evil Dwarf, seeing Serivolk slaying one Wolf opponent, had stabbed him in the back; and now, with Serivolk's other opponent, was hurrying to assist the other Wolves. The Minotaur was busy stanching the blood from his neck wound; but even without him, the tide was turning against Zubgunch.

One Goat, seeing the worsening odds, cried out, "Fironia! Get away! Save yourself!" But of course, neither she, nor Zubgunch, nor the Unicorn would abandon their friends. The defenders made a last valiant counterattack--in which Zubgunch had the grim satisfaction of breaking the traitor Dwarf's skull with a great stone--before they were all pinned down under the paws of the three Wolves. Only the discipline of Jadis' secret police kept those wolves from tearing their throats out at once.

"Good, lads, just hold them there," bellowed the Minotaur; "the Empress shall yet have some new statues. I must see to retrieving the boat;" and he waded into the water, staying clear of where Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were still battling the snake-thing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

With Elsima's help, Shandorf was able to drag himself back on board the boat, though his bow and arrows were lost. "Th-th-th-the p-p-potion!" he gasped. "We have s-s-s-some left. W-w-with no d-d-dry clothes, we'll f-f-freeze to death if we d-d-don't d-d-drink some n-n-now!"

Elsima searched for a potion jar among the barrels and other containers on deck. Neither she nor her brother noticed that the boat was no longer drifting any farther down-current. Still less did they notice the reason for this: Breezebeak the Thrush had flown out, found a trailing end of Ironbulk's harness, and wound it around one of the swamp trees, tethering the boat in place.

"You d-d-drink f-f-f-first," insisted Shandorf. Elsima did so; then, as she was handing the jar to her brother, a feathered missile knocked it out of her hand, the precious contents pouring onto the deck. Elsima barely had time to realize disbelievingly that this was her friend Breezebeak, before he flew into her face and began trying to peck her eyes out. "Come on, Captain, I've got them!" the treacherous bird screeched as he attacked. Shandorf lunged to his sister's aid, to have his own face attacked in turn by the dangerously agile Thrush.

Meanwhile, only a bowshot away, Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were finally getting the best of the snake-thing, after minutes of the most desperate fighting Elephant or Centauress had ever experienced. The creature seemed impossible to grasp and hold, yet able to entangle them at will; and its teeth had drawn blood from them both. But at last Riddlechaser had gotten in a telling rip with her dagger, weakening it. This presently enabled Ironbulk to get a foot planted on part of the snake-thing's body, and his trunk around its neck; after that, the two Narnians shortly made an end of it. Not waiting to take a better look at the monster, Ironbulk headed for the boat to see to the children's safety, while Riddlechaser started for shore to rescue Zubgunch's party if possible.

On the boat, Breezebeak's attack on Shandorf allowed Elsima to lower her bloodied forearms from her bloodied face. Seeing her cold-weakened brother vainly swatting at the wicked bird, the girl made a bold grab and caught Breezebeak before he could notice and evade her lunge. He shrieked in fury and bit her savagely, but she retained her grip. "What are you doing, Breezebeak?" she sobbed. "We're your friends! Has the Witch cast a spell over you?"

"The spell comes later," thundered the Minotaur, who had just reached the boat and was climbing aboard. "My revenge for my wounds comes NOW!"

Shandorf dragged himself between Elsima and the Minotaur. "I'm th-th-the one who sh-sh-shot you! M-m-my sister d-d-didn't do anyth-th-thing to you. Let her g-g-go!"

Terror of the Minotaur caused Elsima to lose hold of Breezebeak, who fluttered up out of reach and perched on a box. "Think you're brave, do you?" he jeered at Shandorf. "Well, my friends have tortures to use on you that'll have you begging them to torture your sister instead! Then you'll quit giving yourself grand airs! Then you'll stop chuckling behind my back, making light of me!"

"Wh-wh-what are you t-t-talking about?" cried Shandorf. "I always adm-m-mired you! And how c-c-can J-J-Jadis' monsters b-b-b-be your f-f-friends?"

The Minotaur grinned, an expression even more hideous than his anger. "The little fellow knows who his true friends are--the friends who have taught him to love himself properly!" Breezebeak flew down to perch on the Minotaur's left arm, as that creature's other arm began reaching toward Shandorf...

But their enemies' concentration upon the boy had given Elsima a moment to act. Scrambling aft, she had grabbed Riddlechaser's discarded bow and one of its arrows. The bow was too large for the girl to use in the normal way; but setting her feet against the bowstave, nocking the arrow and pulling the string with both hands, she took hasty aim, whispering, "Aslan, please--!"

The arrow flew straight...straight through Breezebeak's feathered body, and into a seam of the Minotaur's leather armor. Roaring with pain, the horned horror staggered back four paces with the already-dead Thrush pinned to his chest...then lurched forward once more, determined to kill the children whether he himself lived or died--

But this wish was denied to him, as a pair of tusks longer than his horns reached over the railing to impale him from behind. With a last hateful bellow, the Minotaur perished. Ironbulk flung him into the water--and with him, the traitor Thrush, who had wanted so much to be an awe-inspiring creature, but departed this life almost unnoticed, to face the judgment of Him Who notices all.

"Oh, thank you!" gasped Elsima, looking at once for another jar of the cold-thwarting potion. "But I need to help Shandorf; he's freezing to death."

"There should be another jar over behind that flour barrel," said the Elephant. "You'll be safe here for the moment; I must go and see if Riddlechaser needs me."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

All was settled on the shore by the time Ironbulk arrived there. Lady Riddlechaser had rushed the three enemy Wolves at full gallop; turning to face her, they had lost control of their captives; and in the ugly combat that followed, Riddlechaser and the Unicorn had both suffered fresh wounds, but the three Wolves all died. The only hostile creature still alive was the Wolf whom Serivolk had disabled early in the battle. Serivolk himself, mortally hurt by blade and fang, had lived long enough to see Finoria bending over him and weeping for him. To her he said, "I have a mate and cubs. Make my former friend there tell you where they den. Save them if you can. For myself--Aslan knows my story..." And he breathed his last, making his way to a very different eternal reception than what awaited Breezebeak.

The girl Faun found the short sword of the evil Dwarf who had stabbed Serivolk. Picking it up, and feeling a righteous wrath she had never felt before in her gentle life, Finoria turned and menaced the crippled Wolf. "Listen, you filthy beast. I never slew any thinking creature before today. But if you do not tell me now what I need to know about Serivolk's family, I will make you suffer the pain of twenty deaths." A little shocked at the cruelty of her own words, she added, "If you do as I command, I will ask the Archenlanders to give you a safe haven in their land, where you can learn to do good instead of evil."

The captured Wolf told Finoria how to find Serivolk's family, and Riddlechaser's intuition assured her that he was speaking truthfully. Zubgunch laid a hand on Finoria's shoulder and said, "As soon as we move the food shipment to safe concealment, I give my word that I'll help you find our Wolf rescuer's wife and pups, and lead them past the border guards to freedom. We owe him that. We also owe it to Aslan to grant this Wolf the mercy you promised him." The Unicorn and the surviving Goats joined in the pledge to liberate Serivolk's family. Serivolk and the slain Goat were then hastily buried under some boulders. Riddlechaser promised herself that later, when a new smuggling route was established and Jadis no longer had cause to take interest in this place, she would return here and say fitting words over the grave. Right now, it was necessary to complete the food delivery, vacate this now-unsafe location, and get the boat and the children safely home. Finoria, whom no one had originally expected to bear burdens, carried on her back as big a load as she could manage, since one of the assigned bearers was now bearing nothing but his reward in Aslan's country.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That evening, enroute southward for the normal climate of Archenland, Elsima remarked to her recovered brother, "It's bad enough that Jadis can make it always winter in Narnia and never Christmas. But I think it's even more horrid that she could turn someone like Breezebeak into a traitor."

"I think he turned himself into a traitor," snapped Shandorf. His face being worse wounded by Breezebeak's pecking than Elsima's was, he was not inclined to judge the Thrush leniently.

"It's true that free will has to be involved for evil to arise," interjected Riddlechaser. "But it's also true that the White Witch has an accursed great skill at playing upon people's ambitions and resentments. Poor Breezebeak simply was not wise enough to see through the falseness of her promises."

"And not loyal enough to keep his own promises," Ironbulk snorted.

"Well," ventured Elsima after some thought, "I'll wager that when Aslan does bring the children who are to save Narnia, the Witch will try to defeat them by using some of that same kind of trickery."

Riddlechaser looked at her intently. "You are swiftly becoming a wise girl, Elsima. Let us all pray that the Emperor-Over-Sea will not allow such trickery to succeed."