|"The child," she gasped... "What is the name of the child?"|
Leif closed her eyes and muttered some words under her breath. A strong wind suddenly blew through the garden and around Melanie, and seemed to carry Leif away with it, as her body disintegrated into blossoms of some strange Narnian tree. The "Leif-petals" swirled around the fearful Melanie twice before settling back into the form of a woman, and becoming the Leif Melanie recognized.
"I am a dryad," she said, "a tree-nymph from Narnia. I do not age as long as my tree is still alive. My real name is Leafy."
“In Narnia, all the Talking Animals, Dryads, Naiads, Dwarves, and Fauns have gone into hiding. The King is intent on destroying every last vestige of Old Narnia, as it is now called.
"This is why I left, and why I now must return, dear Melanie. I have just received news that my tree is marked for extermination, so I must go back to my tree and do what I can. If I cannot save it, I will die. Even if I do detain them, they will probably kill me for who I am, for the forests are evil to Telmarines."
Melanie nodded; such "logical" superstition had crossed the bridge from this world into hers. "If you must go, then, Leafy, I wish you luck," Melanie said with a sigh, "May Aslan grant you success on your mission."
So saying, the two friends parted, with Melanie retiring into the castle, and Leafy out of the garden and into the City.
Once she was alone in the alleyways, Leafy reached into the folds of her petticoat and drew out a small, carved chest. She stroked it and whispered, "Ah yes, soon I will go; but not to Narnia. It is not safe there."
"Where are you going, foolish dryad?"
At the bold inquiry, Leafy whirled around to behold and old sage in a hooded robe the color of midnight, with a long, snow-white beard. He leaned on a gnarled staff.
"Who—what are—how . . . how did you know?" she gasped frantically.
The old man gazed piercingly at her. "The Lion has sent me with a warning: if you cross into the other world, you can never resume your dryad form, but you will become wholly human, therefore you will age as a human. It will most likely be a painful experience for you."
Leafy sighed and steeled herself. She fixed her goal in her mind: she would take the box of jewels she had stolen from Melanie, use them to enter Melanie's world, book passage to New Telmar (which she had been so clever to research in all her questions about Melanie's past!), and use her knowledge of magic to impress the superstitious inhabitants of that island, who would no doubt be willing to make her their ruler. "I am ready to bear that pain," she said resolutely.
Leafy fancied she heard the old sage chuckle. "That is only the warning. This is the prophecy: Aslan also says, 'I know of your secret plans, and of your knowledge of magic. If you go, your offspring will learn of your magic, and the knowledge will become a bane to Narnia."
Carefully, she pried back the lid. She paused a moment to admire the glitter, dreaming greedily of the respect such riches would garner. A large ring set with a ruby rested on the top of the pile. Leafy reached out with a bare hand to touch it.
A gust of wind enveloped her, pulling her in. Leafy could feel her insides losing their airy, blossom-like lightness, and becoming firmer, solidifying. With a rush and a gasp, she found herself in the other world! Leafy, feeling victorious, paused a moment to take in all her surroundings.
The streets were paved with stones. Carriages moved to and fro in the streets. Leafy noted with satisfaction that most of the ladies wore dresses similar to hers. Gracious! What would she have done if her clothing was not in the latest fashion? She stared at all the people walking or riding past her, and some of them had the audacity to stare back.
Finally, her roving eyes caught sight of a certain storefront sign, and she knew that within that building she could find what she needed: SEE THE WORLD! It said, London Travel Agency.
London! Didn't Melanie say that London was the capital of England? Leafy had come to the right place, then; what luck! Leafy recalled the prophecy concerning her offspring. An ingenious plan formed in her mind.
"If I call myself Mrs. Leafy," she said to herself, "I can say I am a widow, and I will never marry, and therefore, have no offspring." She smiled at her own brilliance. Where is your prophecy now, Aslan? She thought to herself. You can't get me here!
Leafy flounced into the Travel Agency and boldly approached the small window at the front. The agent—looking very much like he ought to partake of the service he provided others—asked through his cigar, "Whar would ye like to travel?"
Leafy managed to maintain her composure and avoid breathing the acrid smoke seeping from the man's breath, even as she replied, "I'd like to book passage on a ship to New Telmar."
The rotund man nearly dropped his cigar, a display of emotion the likes of which he hadn't shown since that "loony" came in wanting to book passage to the moon! However, the agent had a reputation to maintain, so he clenched his teeth on his cigar and asked (through another issuing of smoke), "You want to—what?"
Leafy wondered at his consternation. She repeated, "I would like to go to New Telmar."
The travel agent rubbed his scalp. "We have a New England, New Holland, or New Guinea, but I—"
Leafy, assuming she knew the real reason behind his hesitation, pulled out the chest, which was surprisingly intact after its inter-terrestrial journey. "Money, you understand, is not an issue," she said significantly, with a wink.
The clerk sighed, expelling a particularly large cloud of grey smoke into the hazy atmosphere around his head. "It's not the—" he stopped, frustrated by this strange woman's insistence. He left his desk (not a habit he cared to form) and pointed the woman to a large map fastened on the wall. "There!" he said, "If you can find it on this map, I'll find a way to get you there!"
[Excerpt from Chapter 17]
Leafy's mind whirled frantically as she tried to make sense of the situation and what somewhere—oh, anywhere—at the same time.
So she was in the year 1860. That would be . . . nearly a century before Melanie's time! New Telmar probably did not even exist yet! How could such an unlucky thing happen?
Leafy kept walking until she saw a bench. She sat upon it, feeling a stinging in her eyes as she pondered her fate. Aslan had done this! It was entirely his fault! Angrily, Leafy shook her fist at the sky. Up till now she had been confident that, once outside of Narnia, Aslan had no jurisdiction over her. How terrible to find out that this was not true. All her plans were ruined!
No matter, Leafy thought, at least I still have the chest. She set it on her lap. Gently, secretively, she peeked inside.
A fine, grey dust covered the jewels and coins, but everything seemed intact. Leafy pondered as a sudden idea leaped into her head. By a ring she got here to England; would not that same ring take her back to Telmar? […] Forthwith, the former dryad slipped her delicate fingers into the box, intending to touch the ring and vanish without anyone noticing.
Rather than transporting her back to Telmar, the ring—along with all the other contents of the chest—disintegrated into that same fine, grey dust. It seems they weren't quite as intact as they appeared. For a moment, Leafy hardly knew what had happened. Oh, the mischief of Aslan! Now every last particle of her supposed riches was gone, and Leafy now held a chest full of useless grey dust.
Tears were a new experience to her, but not sorrow; dryads never cried, though they could feel sadness. Leafy's amazement mingled strangely with relief. She was sad, and she cried, but oh! She never realized how good it felt to get out all those tears!
"Hullo, what have we here?"
Leafy started, and looked up from those fascinating tears. A man stood before her; he was a handsome man, with a kind face, and eyes full of pity and concern. "Are you all right, madam?" he inquired politely.
Leafy's first reaction was one of denial. "Yes, I'm fi—" she remembered how matters stood, "No!" she admitted sharply, shedding more tears. "I am much distressed!"
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
Leafy nodded. "Please sir, I am a stranger in this land, with nowhere to live and no money. If you would be so kind as to lend me a small amount of currency, and point me to a place where one such as I can stay, I would be so grateful!"
The man cocked his head at this strange woman, this well-dressed beggar. "Do you not have any friends nearby, who can assist you? What is your name?"
"My name is Mrs. Leafy, and I tell you the truth, I know no other person in this whole land beside yourself."
The man, Leafy could see, hardly knew what to think or do about her plight. "Let me ask my wife. Wait here a moment, Mrs., ah . . . Mrs. Lefay."
He had crossed the lane before she had a chance to correct him. Leafy decided it prudent to merely hold her tongue in the matter. Instead, she watched him as he stepped up to a young woman—obviously expecting—and spoke with her. Leafy deduced that this was the young man's wife. Presently, the pair crossed the lane to where Leafy sat.
"Mrs. Lefay," the man said, persisting in his mistake, "I am Mr. Thomas Ketterley, and this is my wife, Patricia."
He stopped there, and an intense, strange longing welled up within Leafy. "The child," she gasped, gazing deep into Patricia's eyes, "what is the name of the child?" There was something captivating, something drawing her inexplicably to that still-forming life, and it showed in the hungry, desperate expression in her eyes.
Patricia was slightly uncomfortable. "We had thought to name him Andrew Richard," she faltered slightly, wondering at this strange insistence. When "Mrs. Lefay's" face relaxed, Thomas hastened to change the subject.
"Mrs. Lefay, we would be delighted if you would consent to live with us, as our guest.">>>>>>>
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