Aslan Shrugged: The Witch

All four of the Pevensie children naturally interrogated John Galt about these events. “Do you have a gateway to another world in your wardrobe?” they ask.

“I couldn’t make my engine work with normal thermodynamic principles,” admits Professor Galt. “So I kitbashed together some dimensional theory. The details, however, are a trade secret.”

He grins at them. “Figure them out if you can.”

“Rotter,” says Edmund.

But he can’t resist the challenge in Professor Galt’s eyes. So Edmund is the next of them to travel to the wardrobe and investigate the land of Narnia.

In the woods, he hears a distant jingling. Soon, a strange sleigh pulls up, drawn by white reindeer and driven by a dwarf. A white witch sits beside the dwarf as a passenger.

“Hello,” Edmund says. He is very cold, and has a bit of a sniffle.

“Identify yourself!” snaps the witch. “You are a very large dwarf—or, perhaps, a snake that has assumed human form?”

“If it please you,” says Edmund, “I’m a railroad tycoon.”

Edmund looks down.

Honesty impels him to add, “A boy genius tycoon. I haven’t been able to actually lay much track yet.”

The witch narrows her eyes. “Impossible,” she says. “All the boys are gone. Are you speaking the truth? Are you really a Son of Adam?”

“I’m the son of Mr. Pevensie,” says Edmund. “But I guess his first name might be Adam. I’ve never really asked.”

The witch looks at the dwarf. There is suppressed excitement in her voice. “We might not have to use reindeer any more. If he could rebuild the Caer Paravel line . . . boy!” she snaps, turning back to Edmund. “I can provide addictive substances and hollow assurances to compensate you for your time. But you’d have to be willing to abide by my regulations.”

“I . . .”

“Have you seen the line?” she asks. She hops down from the sleigh. She brushes the snow away from the ground. She shows him the remnant of track.

Edmund’s voice catches in his throat. “What metal is that?” he asks.

“It’s Plummer Metal,” says the witch. “Also called ‘Turkish Delight.'”

“You can ensure me a supply of this? For my railroad?”

“Of course,” says the witch, airily. She waves her hand. “I’ll make sure those lazy dwarf miners fall into line.”

“Turkish Delight,” whispers Edmund, and runs his hand over the metal. And in that moment, he is lost. He looks up. “I’ll do it. And I can get you my siblings, too.”

“Siblings?” asks the witch.

“Peter’s a military genius,” says Edmund. “And Lucy’s a whizbang doctor. And Susan . . .”

He hesitates. He’s never seen that much value in what Susan does. So he puts it diplomatically. “She could probably do something about that complexion of yours.”

“Ah,” says the witch. She looks at the dwarf. The dwarf looks at the witch. They are both remembering a prophecy: when two human kings and two human queens sit again at Caer Paravel, it will mean the end not just of the winter but of the witch.

“Are you any good at . . . demolitions?” the witch asks. “For there is a castle in the way of the railroad line, and four thrones that simply must go.”

Edmund straightens. “Whatever it takes, ma’am. Whatever it takes.”

4 thoughts on “Aslan Shrugged: The Witch

  1. I always found this test of loyalties by the Wtich to be the most starkly disturbing of all of the events in the entire series… mostly because I had absolutely no idea what Turkish Delight was when I was a little kid, and I figured it was some kind of hideously addictive opiate. So let me take this opportunity to thank you for updating that sense of distress to my current sensibilities (because nothing is going to scare the bejezus out of any modern person like the rise of a new breed of robber baron).

  2. I recall my reaction the first time I actually tasted Turkish Delight:

    “Uck. Edmund betrayed his siblings for this?

  3. There’s Turkish Delight, and then there’s Turkish Delight. Some of it seems to be merely brightly colored gelatin with artificial fruit flavoring. However, the good stuff is fresh clear gelatin with plenty of pistachios, flavored with rose water and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. I wouldn’t betray anyone important for a desert that doesn’t include chocolate, but it’s pretty nice.

    Sometimes Bitar’s in south Philadelphia (USA) has the good stuff.

  4. All four of the Pevensie children naturally interrogated John Galt about these events. “Do you have a gateway to another world in your wardrobe?” they ask.

    “I couldn’t make my engine work with normal thermodynamic principles,” admits Professor Galt. “So I kitbashed together some dimensional theory. The details, however, are a trade secret.”

    He grins at them. “Figure them out if you can.”

    “Rotter,” says Edmund.

    I don’t think I’m going to stop cackling over this for about a week.

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