|"It did not occur to her until later that evening what she had done...."|
[Excerpt from Chapter 20]
From that day forward, Mrs. Lefay developed an intense, mysterious fixation with "going back." She couldn't remember, no matter how hard she tried (not even with magic), where she came from, but she desperately wanted to go there.
After a week of hard thinking, she recalled the word "tree," but it could not be said if she lived upon a tree, under a tree, around a tree, beside a tree, or even within a tree.
She began leaving her house more often, to search for a "way back." The police brought her back to the Ketterleys' once, saying they found her in the park, feeling the trees, sometimes shaking the smaller ones. She spoke of that incident sadly, and as if she thought the trees should have had voices.
Mrs. Lefay tried to walk down the street, but her feet kept getting in the way. What is more, the whole road just wouldn't hold still, but rolled up and down like a stormy sea. Perhaps she needed more of the tarven's brew? She took another drink. It was like liquid fire in her throat! Mrs. Lefay moaned in pain.
Something crossed her path; what was it? Her eyesight was blurry. It was only a common, stray cat, but in the old woman's intoxicated brain it grew to the size of a lion. Instead of a mangy stray, Mrs. Lefay saw the Great Lion!
"You!" Mrs. Lefay rasped as the world tilted beneath her. "You've done this to me! It's all your fault!" Angrily, she threw the first thing she could find at the Lion: the bottle in her hand.
The crash almost jolted Mrs. Lefay from her stupor. She blinked and the Lion disappeared. In its place, she saw what she had done: The bottle had crashed through the window of a jewelry shop. Its contents, the brown "medicine," cascaded over the displays, drawing her attention to the object in the center: a ring.
Yes! That was what she needed! A ring brought her there, a ring would certainly send her back! The jeweler was in the back room, and thus it appeared that the store was empty, but even that did not deter the inebriated Mrs. Lefay as she grabbed the ring and headed down the street to the Ketterley house.
Andrew had just stepped onto the porch when she neared the house. She waved to him and shouted, "Yoo-hoo!"
The young boy glanced up just in time to see a crowd of policemen closing in on the woman. He ran down the steps toward her, hoping to reach her before they did.
Too late! They surrounded her just as he approached. "Mrs. Lefay!" he cried.
"Andrew!" the old woman gasped, "Andrew!" She pressed something into his hand. "Save this for me; it's my way back," she said, and they dragged her away.
Andrew looked at the object in his hand. A ring sparkled up at him.
[Excerpt from Chapter 21]
"Mrs. Lefay: Guilty on charges of vandalism, disturbing the peace, violence, and mental instability. Sentence, seven years!"
The judge dropped his gavel, and it was final. With a last pitiful glance at Andrew, Mrs. Lefay allowed the bailiff to lead her away.
Andrew sulked all that day, and would have remained thus for all seven years, but his parents sent him away to boarding school. He would have forgotten the crazy old woman, but it happened that he was home for a holiday when they released her. Andrew, now grown to a young man of nineteen years, departed to see his old friend straight away.
He knew the moment he entered her old room at the Burgundy Place: she was dying. How weak and haggard she looked against the pillow! She made neither movement nor sound as Andrew meekly approached her bedside and laid the ring before her on the coverlet.
The instant she saw it, her eyes gleamed. "Can this then be the hour of my release?" she breathed. Mrs. Lefay seized the ring triumphantly. "You wonderful boy!" she cried, "Now you will witness the truth about me!"
"What do you mean?" Andrew asked.
Mrs. Lefay smiled on him. "Look at me, Andrew. Do I seem as one of your fairies?"
Andrew shook his head, but then he caught her meaning. He stared at her in awe. "Truly, Mrs. Lefay?" he breathed.
The woman nodded. "Yes; this old mortal soul has fairy blood in her veins. Let that be a lesson to you, young man! The most ordinary humans may have fairy blood in them, anyone from a charwoman to a duchess! I myself am among the last of that exquisite breed." And she sighed over the fate of her race.
"But Mrs. Lefay," Andrew gasped, "why do you tell me this now?"
Mrs. Lefay grew very sad again. "I am ill, Andrew; I expected to die soon. But now that I have the ring . . ." she paused to gaze at it glittering in her palm.
"What will the ring do?"
The old fairy-woman frowned upon him as if she thought him a dull schoolboy asking silly questions. "It was by a ring I came here, and it is by a ring I shall go back." The frown disappeared and she smiled at him again, "and because of your faithfulness to me, you, Andrew Richard Ketterley, shall have the honor of witnessing this great event!"
Andrew's eyes glowed at this prospect. Imperiously, Mrs. Lefay held up her hand in front of her face. "Behold my departure!" she cried, and slipped the ring on her finger.
Nothing happened, though boy and woman waited with bated breath.
Disappointed, Mrs. Lefay handed the ring back to Andrew. "Oh dear, it's only a common ring, nothing magic about it at all! That won't do. Please be so kind as to return it for me, Andrew."
Andrew was puzzled. "You mean, the ring does not belong to you? Where did you get it?" When she told him the name of the jewelry store, he cried in alarm, "Why, you did not steal it, did you, Mrs. Lefay?"
"Of course not! I had every intention of putting it to good use! If I wasn't so ill, I'd return it myself."
Because of their relationship, Andrew was loath to think badly of Mrs. Lefay, so he did not notice her deliberate dodge of his question. He accepted the ring from her hand. "But how am I to return the ring without being seen?"
Mrs. Lefay got a queer glint in her eye. "For a long time, we have talked about magic, haven't we, Andrew?"
The young man nodded.
"And you remember all I have told you about making sure that you remain in control over it, and use it to your advantage, but not for evil purposes, don't you?"
He nodded again.
"Well, since you do, I think you are ready to know some real magic."
He looked up and grinned craftily. "Really, Mrs. Lefay?"
She nodded. "When you reach the store, say these words, and no one in there will even notice you at all."
She gave him certain words to speak (but I shall not print them), and he departed.
It did not occur to her until late that evening what she had done. She recalled Aslan's prophecy as clearly as if he were in the room, repeating it to her: "Your offspring will learn of your magic, and bythat knowledge a great Evil will come to Narnia."
Every memory she had of her Narnian life came rushing back in one awful knell.
"No!" Mrs. Lefay screeched, "Curse you, Aslan! Curse your prophecies!"
What will become of Mrs. Lefay, and young Andrew--and the box? Follow the links to find out! Meanwhile, back in Telmar....
To the Lady Melanie, Regent of Nast,
Greetings from His Highness, Caspian the Eighth, King in Narnia;
I have heard of your faithful work, how you have served my country with miraculous success, even though it is not your native land.
This letter is meant to congratulate you for your diligence and commitment to excellence.
I have also lately learned of your beliefs, which are unfortunately rampant here in Narnia.
I, King Caspian, therefore invite you most cordially here to my castle in Narnia, that I might show you the birthplace of that which you believe. I would also be most interested to converse with you more about this singular form of spiritism.
In the Mighty Name of His Most Regal Majesty,
King Caspian VIII