Listening to “The Silver Chair” by Lewis with the girls, we came across Jill Pole’s first encounter of Aslan. What to do when there is no other stream, and the lion won’t leave.
“Are you not thirsty?’’ said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,’’ said Jill.
“Then drink,’’ said the Lion.
“May I, could I, would you mind going away while I do?’’ said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And, as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked a whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come?’’ said Jill.
“I make no promise,’’ said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?’’ she asked.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’’ said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,’’ said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,’’ said the Lion.
“Oh dear!’’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’’
“There is no other stream,’’ said the Lion.
It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion. No one who had seen his stern face could do that and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. Before she tasted it she had been intending to make a dash away from the Lion the moment she finished. Now she realized that this would be, on the whole, the most dangerous thing of all. She got up and stood there with her lips still wet from drinking.