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Back on This Side of the Door

BECAUSE the game of hide-and-seek was still going on, it took Edmund and Lucy some time to find the others. But when at last they were all together (which happened in the long room, where the suit of armour was) Lucy burst out:

"Peter! Susan! It's all true. Edmund has seen it too. There is a country you can get to through the wardrobe. Edmund and I both got in. We met one another in there, in the wood. Go on, Edmund; tell them all about it."

"What's all this about, Ed?" said Peter.

And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story. Up to that moment Edmund had been feeling sick, and sulky, and annoyed with Lucy for being right, but he hadn't made up his mind what to do. When Peter suddenly asked him the question he decided all at once to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he could think of. He decided to let Lucy down.

"Tell us, Ed," said Susan.

And Edmund gave a very superior look as if he were far older than Lucy (there was really only a year's difference) and then a little snigger and said, "Oh, yes, Lucy and I have been playing - pretending that all her story about a country in the wardrobe is true. just for fun, of course. There's nothing there really."

Poor Lucy gave Edmund one look and rushed out of the room.

Edmund, who was becoming a nastier person every minute, thought that he had scored a great success, and went on at once to say, "There she goes again. What's the matter with her? That's the worst of young kids, they always -"

"Look here," said Peter, turning on him savagely, "shut up! You've been perfectly beastly to Lu ever since she started this nonsense about the wardrobe, and now you go playing games with her about it and setting her off again. I believe you did it simply out of spite."

"But it's all nonsense," said Edmund, very taken aback.

"Of course it's all nonsense," said Peter, "that's just the point. Lu was perfectly all right when we left home, but since we've been down here she seems to be either going queer in the head or else turning into a most frightful liar. But whichever it is, what good do you think you'll do by jeering and nagging at her one day and encouraging her the next?"

"I thought - I thought," said Edmund; but he couldn't think of anything to say.

"You didn't think anything at all," said Peter; "it's just spite. You've always liked being beastly to anyone smaller than yourself; we've seen that at school before now."

"Do stop it," said Susan; "it won't make things any better having a row between you two. Let's go and find Lucy."

It was not surprising that when they found Lucy, a good deal later, everyone could see that she had been crying. Nothing they could say to her made any difference. She stuck to her story and said:

"I don't care what you think, and I don't care what you say. You can tell the Professor or you can write to Mother or you can do anything you like. I know I've met a Faun in there and - I wish I'd stayed there and you are all beasts, beasts."

It was an unpleasant evening. Lucy was miserable and Edmund was beginning to feel that his plan wasn't working as well as he had expected. The two older ones were really beginning to think that Lucy was out of her mind. They stood in the passage talking about it in whispers long after she had gone to bed.

The result was the next morning they decided that they really would go and tell the whole thing to the Professor. "He'll write to Father if he thinks there is really something wrong with Lu," said Peter; "it's getting beyond us." So they went and knocked at the study door, and the Professor said "Come in," and got up and found chairs for them and said he was quite at their disposal. Then he sat listening to them with the tips of his fingers pressed together and never interrupting, till they had finished the whole story. After that he said nothing for quite a long time. Then he cleared his throat and said the last thing either of them expected:

"How do you know," he asked, "that your sister's story is not true?"

"Oh, but -" began Susan, and then stopped. Anyone could see from the old man's face that he was perfectly serious. Then Susan pulled herself together and said, "But Edmund said they had only been pretending."

"That is a point," said the Professor, "which certainly deserves consideration; very careful consideration. For instance - if you will excuse me for asking the question - does your experience lead you to regard your brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean, which is the more truthful?"

"That's just the funny thing about it, sir," said Peter. "Up till now, I'd have said Lucy every time."

"And what do you think, my dear?" said the Professor, turning to Susan.

"Well," said Susan, "in general, I'd say the same as Peter, but this couldn't be true - all this about the wood and the Faun."

"That is more than I know," said the Professor, "and a charge of lying against someone whom you have always found truthful is a very serious thing; a very serious thing indeed."

"We were afraid it mightn't even be lying," said Susan; "we thought there might be something wrong with Lucy."

"Madness, you mean?" said the Professor quite coolly. "Oh, you can make your minds easy about that. One has only to look at her and talk to her to see that she is not mad."

"But then," said Susan, and stopped. She had never dreamed that a grown-up would talk like the Professor and didn't know what to think.

"Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth."

Susan looked at him very hard and was quite sure from the expression on his face that he was no making fun of them.

"But how could it be true, sir?" said Peter.

"Why do you say that?" asked the Professor.

"Well, for one thing," said Peter, "if it was true why doesn't everyone find this country every time they go to the wardrobe? I mean, there was nothing there when we looked; even Lucy didn't pretend the was."

"What has that to do with it?" said the Professor.

"Well, sir, if things are real, they're there all the time."

"Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did'nt know quite what to say.

"But there was no time," said Susan. "Lucy had no time to have gone anywhere, even if there was such a place. She came running after us the very moment we were out of the room. It was less than minute, and she pretended to have been away for hours."

"That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true," said the Professor. "If there really a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it) - if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at a surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stay there it would never take up any of our time. On the other hand, I don't think many girls of her age would invent that idea for themselves. If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story."

"But do you really mean, sir," said Peter, "that there could be other worlds - all over the place, just round the corner - like that?"

"Nothing is more probable," said the Professor, taking off his spectacles and beginning to polish them, while he muttered to himself, "I wonder what they do teach them at these schools."

"But what are we to do?" said Susan. She felt that the conversation was beginning to get off the point.

"My dear young lady," said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, "there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying."

"What's that?" said Susan.

"We might all try minding our own business," said he. And that was the end of that conversation.

After this things were a good deal better for Lucy. Peter saw to it that Edmund stopped jeering at her, and neither she nor anyone else felt inclined to talk about the wardrobe at all. It had become a rather alarming subject. And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be.

This house of the Professor's - which even he knew so little about - was so old and famous that people from all over England used to come and ask permission to see over it. It was the sort of house that is mentioned in guide books and even in histories; and well it might be, for all manner of stories were told about it, some of them even stranger than the one I am telling you now. And when parties of sightseers arrived and asked to see the house, the Professor always gave them permission, and Mrs Macready, the housekeeper, showed them round, telling them about the pictures and the armour, and the rare books in the library. Mrs Macready was not fond of children, and did not like to be interrupted when she was telling visitors all the things she knew. She had said to Susan and Peter almost on the first morning (along with a good many other instructions), "And please remember you're to keep out of the way whenever I'm taking a party over the house."

"Just as if any of us would want to waste half the morning trailing round with a crowd of strange grown-ups!" said Edmund, and the other three thought the same. That was how the adventures began for the second time.

A few mornings later Peter and Edmund were looking at the suit of armour and wondering if they could take it to bits when the two girls rushed into the room and said, "Look out! Here comes the Macready and a whole gang with her."

"Sharp's the word," said Peter, and all four made off through the door at the far end of the room. But when they had got out into the Green Room and beyond it, into the Library, they suddenly heard voices ahead of them, and realized that Mrs Macready must be bringing her party of sightseers up the back stairs - instead of up the front stairs as they had expected. And after that - whether it was that they lost their heads, or that Mrs Macready was trying to catch them, or that some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia they seemed to find themselves being followed everywhere, until at last Susan said, "Oh bother those trippers! Here - let's get into the Wardrobe Room till they've passed. No one will follow us in there." But the moment they were inside they heard the voices in the passage - and then someone fumbling at the door - and then they saw the handle turning.

"Quick!" said Peter, "there's nowhere else," and flung open the wardrobe. All four of them bundled inside it and sat there, panting, in the dark. Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, of course, he remembered, as every sensible person does, that you should never never shut yourself up in a wardrobe.

第五章 回到了橱门这一边

因为彼得和苏珊还在捉迷藏,所以爱德蒙和露茜花了好长时间才找到他俩。当大家一起聚集到放有盔甲的那间狭长屋子里以后,露茜大声说:

“彼得!苏珊!一点也不错,爱德蒙也看见了,那里有一个国家,可以从衣橱里边进去。爱德蒙和我进去过了,把所有的情况都告诉他们。”

“艾德,这到底是怎么一回事?”彼得问。

现在我们写到这个故事中最令人不愉快的部分。在这以前,爱德蒙一直感到很不舒服,一直在生露茜的气,但对露茜究竟采取什么行动,他一时还没有拿定主意。现在彼得突如其来地问起他这个问题,他就把心一横,决定干出他所能想到的最不光彩的事情,来整一下露茜。

“告诉我们吧,艾德。”苏珊说。

艾德显出老成持重的样子,好像他比露茜要大得多(实际上两人只相差一岁)。他噗嗤一笑说:“噢,对啦,露茜和我一直在做游戏,她故意说上次讲的衣橱里有个国家的故事是真的。当然喽,我们只是开开玩笑,其实,那儿什么东西也没有。”

可怜的露茜看了爱德蒙一眼,便一口气奔到了屋外。

爱德蒙现在变得越来越不像话了,他自以为已经取得了极大的成功,立刻接下去说道:“她又去啦,她是中了魔法还是怎么的?小孩子就是爱胡闹,他们老是……”

“听我说,”彼得转过身来,两眼盯住了他,十分气愤地说:“住口!自从她上次瞎扯了一些衣橱的事以来,你对她总是凶声凶气的,现在你跟她一起躲进了衣橱里做游戏,又把她气走了。我看,你这样做完全不怀好意。”

“但她讲的通通都是胡说八道。”爱德蒙说,彼得的话使他大吃一惊。

“当然都是胡言乱语,”彼得说,“问题的严重性就在这里。在家的时候,璐是好好的,但到了乡下以后,她看上去要么神经不很正常,要么就是谎话连篇。但无论是哪种情况,你想想看,你今天嘲笑她,对她喋喋不休说个不停,明天你又去怂恿她,这对她有什么帮助?”

“我原来想,我原来……”爱德蒙说,可是他又想不出说什么好。

“你想什么来着,”彼得说,“你尽想坏主意。你对比你小的孩子总喜欢这一套,我们以前在学校里就经常看到你这样。”

“别说了,”苏珊说,“你们互相埋怨又有什么用处?我们还是去找找露茜吧。”

他们找了好长一段时间,才找到了露茜。果然不出大家所料,她正哭的伤心。无论他们怎么说,露茜都坚持她说的情况是真的。

“不管你们怎么想,也不管你们怎么说,我都无所谓。你们可以去告诉教授,也可以写信告诉妈妈,随便你们怎么做都可以。我只知道我在那里碰见了一个农牧之神。我要是留在那里多好啊!你们净欺侮人。”

这是一个十分不愉快的夜晚。露茜感到很委屈,爱德蒙也开始感到,他的计划并没有像他预料的那样奏效。那两个年龄大些的孩子却真以为露茜的精神不大正常。在她入睡以后很久,他们还站在走廊里小声议论着。

第二天早上,他们决定把全部情况都告诉教授。“假如他也认为露茜真的有什么毛病,他将写信去告诉爸爸,”彼得说,“我们可管不了这样的事。”于是,他们就去敲老教授书房的门。教授说了声“请进”,便站起身来,找了椅子让他们坐下,还说有事尽管来找他,他乐意为他们效劳。然后他坐下来,将手指合拢,静静地听他们把整个故事讲完。听完以后,他好长时间没有吭声,最后他清了清嗓子,出乎意外地问道:

“你们怎能断定露茜讲的故事就不是真的呢?”

“哦,,但是……”苏珊刚想开口又停住了。从老人的脸色可以看出,他是十分严肃的。过了一会儿,苏珊鼓起了勇气说:“但是爱德蒙亲口告诉我们,他们只是假装说说玩的。”

“有一个关键问题倒值得你们仔细考虑,”教授说,“根据你们的经验——请原谅我提出这个问题——你们认为谁更诚实一些,是你们的弟弟,还是你们的妹妹?”

“这真是一个十分有趣的问题,先生,”彼得说,“直到现在为止,我应该说,露茜要比爱德蒙诚实。”

“你认为怎样呢,我亲爱的孩子?”教授转过头来又问苏珊。

“嗯,”苏珊说,“我嘛,基本上和彼得的看法相同。但关于森林和农牧之神的故事总不可能是真的。”

“这个问题我就不清楚了,”教授说,“但是,随口指责一个你们都认为是诚实的人说谎,这倒是一个非常严重的问题。”

“我们担心的倒不是露茜说谎,”苏珊说,“我们认为很可能露茜精神有了毛病。”

“你的意思是说她发了疯?”教授非常冷静地说,“嗯,这个你们很容易判断。你们只要观察观察她的脸色,再和她交谈交谈,就可以断定出来了。”

“但是……”苏珊刚开口又不说了。她做梦也没想到像教授这样的大人会说出这种话来,她真被搞糊涂了。

“逻辑!”教授多半自言自语地说,“现在这些学校为什么不教你们一点逻辑呢?这件事只有三种可能:或是你们的妹妹说了谎,或者是她精神不正常,要不,她讲的就是真话。你们都说她向来不说谎,她的精神又没有什么问题。那么在发现更充分的证据之前,我们就只能假定她讲的是真实的。”

苏珊两眼紧盯着他,从他脸上的表情,她可以肯定他不是在和他们开玩笑。

“但是,这怎么可能呢,先生?”彼得问。

“为什么就一定不可能呢?”教授反问了一句。

“因为,”彼得说,“假如是真的,为什么不是每个人每次到橱里都能发现那个国家呢?有一次,我们到橱里看的时候,根本没有发现什么别的情况,还是露茜亲自领着我们去看的呢,她自己也没有说她看到了旁的东西。”

“这有什么关系呢?”教授说。

“有关系,先生。如果是真的,那些东西就应该始终都在那里。”

“始终?”教授问道,彼得不知如何回答才完全正确。

“但是露茜躲在橱里只有一眨眼工夫,”苏珊说,“即使橱里有这么一个地方,她也不曾有时间去呀。我们刚从空屋里出来,她就跟在我们后面溜出来了,前后还不到一分钟,她却硬是说离开了好几个钟头。”

“正因为如此,她说的故事才更像真的,”教授说,“如果这间屋里真的有一个门通向某一个别的世界(我得提醒你们,这是一栋非常神秘的房屋,即使是我,对它也了解很少)——就算她真的到了另一个世界,那我们也不应该感到奇怪,那个世界一定有它自己的时间概念,所以不管你在那儿逗留多久,也不会占去我们这个世界的任何一点时间。另外我还认为,像她这样年龄的女孩子,是不可能自己编造出这样的故事来的。假如她想说谎,她就会在里面多藏一段时间,然后再出来讲她的故事。”

“先生,你是说,“彼得问道,“在这栋房屋里,譬如说,就在附近,到处都有可能有别的世界吗?”

“这是非常可能的,”教授说,他一边摘下眼镜擦擦干净,一边又自言自语,“我真不懂,这些孩子在学校里,到底学了些什么东西?”

“这叫我们怎么办?”苏珊说,她感到这场谈话已经开始离题了。

“孩子们,”教授突然抬起头来,用一种非常严肃的神情看着他俩说,“有一个计划值得一试,但谁也没有提起过。”

“什么计划?”苏珊问。

“这个我们就别去管它了。”他说。那次谈话就这样结束了。彼得做了许多工作,使爱德蒙不再嘲笑露茜,她和别人都不想再谈衣橱的事,这已成了使人不快的话题。所以,在相当长的一段时间里,一切奇遇似乎都已成了过去,但事实却并不如此。

教授的这栋房屋——即使他自己,也了解得很少——是这样古老,又是这样闻名,全国各地的人都常常要求来此参观,这所房屋在旅游指南一类的书上,甚至在历史书上,都有所记载,在各式各样的故事中都谈到过,其中有些故事比我现在对你讲的这个故事还要离奇。每当观光的人要求进屋看看的时候,教授总是满口答应,女管家玛卡蕾蒂太太就带领着他们到各处转转,给他们介绍画儿啦,盔甲啦,以及图书馆里稀有的书籍啦。玛卡蕾蒂太太不很喜欢孩子,当她给客人们滔滔不绝地讲述她所知道的各种掌故时,她是不喜欢别人从旁边插嘴打扰的。几乎在孩子们来的第一天早上,她就向苏珊和彼得交代说(同时还交待了许多别的规矩):“请你们记着,我领人参观的时候,你们要躲远一点儿。”

“就好像我们当中会有人故意要跟一群陌生的大人浪费半天似的。”爱德蒙说。其余三人也有同样的想法。谁知,第二次奇遇就是由此引起的。

几天以后,彼得和爱德蒙正望着那副盔甲出神,想试试能否把它拆卸下来,两个女孩忽然奔进屋里说:“不好啦,玛卡蕾蒂带着一群人来了!”

“真糟糕!”彼得说,四个人很快就从另外一头的门溜掉了。他们溜出来以后先进了那间休息室,后来又跑到了图书馆,这时他们突然听到前面有说话的声音,他们都以为玛卡蕾蒂太太带着观光的人群到后楼去了,而没有像他们预料的那样到前楼来。以后,不知是他们自己昏了头,还是玛卡蕾蒂太太要来抓他们,还是这所住宅的魔力再次显现,要把他们赶往那尼亚,他们似乎感到每到一处都有人跟踪着。最后,苏珊说:“啊,这些游客真够讨厌!喂,让我们躲到放衣橱的那间空屋里去吧,等他们走了以后再说,谁也不会跟我们到那儿去的。”但他们刚进空屋,就听见走廊里有人在讲话,接着又是摸门的声音,一看,门把手已在移动了。

“赶快!”彼得说,“没有别的地方可躲了!”他猛地一下推开了橱门。四个人蜷缩在黑咕隆咚的衣橱里边,不停地喘气。彼得带上了橱门,但并没有把它关紧,因为,像每一个有理智的人一样,他懂得,一个人怎么可以把自己关在衣橱里面呢?