At a Fork in the Great River (Northwest Bank)
You stand on a jutting precipice that makes up the northeast bank of the Great River. Below, the river itself runs wide and deep, its waters clear and bright in the steady sunshine as it flows downward into a deep river valley to the south.
A much smaller stream from the north joins the river here, draining down from between two grassy hills in the distance. The riverbank path fords the stream as it continues southward through the rolling hills of the Great Plains. Upstream, the Great River bends to the west toward a forest in the distance.
Lanisen sits alone on the bank of the smaller stream that flows down from the north to join the Great River, his feet dangling in the cool, rapid water. He watches the light glinting off the ripples absently.
A beaver with a pair of glasses perched atop her head (Mrs. Beaver) comes waddling along the riverbank, foraging as she goes. As she straightens, she happens to glance up and pushes her glasses up on her face. “Oh! A son of Adam. Hello, dearie. Don’t see much of your kind up this way.”
Lanisen startles slightly and reaches for his shoes before he has even found the speaker. “Oh!” he says, once he has, and the rather wary look on his face eases and shifts to a pleasant, if tired, grin. “Hi; hello; I’m sorry, is this, am I trespassin’? I can move, I don’t want to make any trouble.”
Mrs. Beaver says, “Oh goodness me. Did I startle you, Son of Adam? Forgive me, it’s just been a while since I seen a Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve. Not since the disappearance of their majesties.” Here she looks downcast, but it passes. “No dear, you’re not trespassing in the least. Why, Aslan gave the good riverbank to us all. No, No, you won’t be a trouble in the least.”
Lanisen says, getting to his feet, “No, not, not at all, not very much. I was– um, I was distracted, a little bit.” He pauses, then adds, “It’s a very nice riverbank.”
Mrs. Beaver nods. “That it is, dearie.” She takes in the son of Adam as he gets to his feet. “You needn’t leave on account of me, though. I’m just foraging a little for Mr. Beaver’s supper. You can call me Mrs. Beaver. What’s your name, Son of Adam?”
Lanisen says, “It’s, my name’s Lanisen, ma’am.” He bows, his bare feet dripping in the grass. “What’s, what’re you foragin’ for?”
Mrs. Beaver says, “Pleased to meet you, Lanisen.” In reply to his other question, she replies, “Just a few greens. Bit of this and that.”
Lanisen pauses, then offers, “D’you want any help? I came down here to see if Kala was about, but she’s not, and I haven’t got anythin’ to do for a couple of hours.”
Mrs.Beaver says, ” I’d be much obliged to you, dearie, if it weren’t no bother.”
Lanisen assures her, “It’s not, it’s not.” He steps a little further away from the stream, wiping his feet on the grass, and sits down on a fallen log to put his shoes back on. His eyes rest briefly on her basket and the greens in it, then he glances over the foliage in the immediate area, already searching.
Mrs. Beaver observes the son of Adam as he moves to the log. She turns to foraging as well. “Where’re you staying, dearie? Up at the Inn? You’d be more than welcome to join us for supper, such as it is.”
Lanisen ties his laces, his right hand a little stiff and clumsy, as if he doesn’t have full use of it. “No, um– Over, over south of the pool? There’s some caves there, I been stayin’ there.”
Mrs. Beaver tuts, a concerned look on her face. “A cave’s no place to stay, not with the weather ’bout to be turning. You look like you could use a good meal and a good warm bed. You’ll join us for supper tonight, won’t you? It’s just Mr. Beaver and I.”
Lanisen says, “Oh,” and darts a quick wary look at her face, searching. “Um…”
Mrs. Beaver smiles, motherly, “We’d be more than happy to have you. It’s not much, but it’s warm and dry. Why I am almost reminded of their majesties when they came into Narnia. But that was a long time ago.”
Lanisen is distracted from his uncertainty by this. “You knew them then?” he asks curiously.
Mrs. Beaver smiles, though it is tinged with some sadness. “I did. What dears they were. All unsure and uncertain. ‘Course, those were the days of the White Witch, and there was much that was uncertain then, for we had just heard rumor that Aslan had landed and was at the Stone Table.”
Lanisen looks at her, his face going soft, and is quiet for a moment. “You must miss them terribly.”
Mrs. Beaver nods. “Yes. Yes. But there’s always a reason to Aslan’s doings, even if we can’t see it. He brought them into Narnia for his purpose and he took them back when their time was done.” She reaches up a paw to wipe at her eye.
Lanisen quickly pats at his pockets until he finds a clean handkerchief. He offers this to her wordlessly.
Mrs. Beaver takes the handkerchief, dabbing at her eyes. After a time she offers it back, gathering herself. “Now look at me gone to jawing and left my foraging.”
Lanisen shakes his head slightly to indicate that she can keep it. He studies the ground and kneels when he finds a patch of greens that match the ones she’s already gathered, drawing out his knife to cut them neatly away. After a moment, he offers without looking up at her, “Aslan was sad too.”
Mrs. Beaver accepts the handkerchief, smiling fondly. At Lanisen’s comment she pauses. “Was that so?”
Lanisen nods, just a slight motion of his head. He glances at her sidelong, a quick careful look, then looks back down at the greens he’s cutting. “I don’t know if it– if it was for his sake or ours, but…” He nods again. “He didn’t… he didn’t say not to be sad.”
Mrs. Beaver nods. Finally she says, “Thank you.”
Lanisen offers her the handful of greens.
Mrs. Beaver takes the greens and puts them in the basket, thanking him. “I imagine he loved them the best of all.”
Lanisen nods in quiet agreement. He gets to his feet, dusting off his knees, and moves to the next patch of greens.
Mrs. Beaver forages likewise, somewhat occupied with her thoughts and her chore.
Lanisen asks after a little while, “You remember the Winter, then?”
Mrs. Beaver nods, “I do.”
Lanisen nods thoughtfully, quiet. After a moment, he says, “I grew up in Carmichael, right south of the saddle. We could– there was always snow on the mountains, I remember; my brother took me up the road to the saddle one summer to see. It was just…” He pauses. “It was green, and then it– it just stopped? Nothing but snow. High snow.”
Mrs. Beaver nods. “It was always winter and never Christmas. A lot of good Narnians perished in it or were turned to stone. We held tight to the prophecy, Mr Beaver and I, but I never though I’d be the one to welcome the chosen ones into my home.”
Mrs.Beaver says, “They say a lot of Narnians fled over the mountains.””
Lanisen says, shaking his head slightly, “It was well before my time. But my fri–” He catches the word back and hesitates before he lets it through again: “My, my friend, she had relatives, her great-grandmother, she was Narnian.”
Mrs. Beaver looks up at Lanisen, a bit of motherly concern as he hesiates. “Well I am glad to know some of the sons and daughters of eve escaped. It does one’s heart good. But that was a dark time for certain.”
Lanisen glances at her, listening, and kneels to harvest a patch of dandelion greens.
Mrs. Beaver surveys the greens they’ve gathered and the ones that Lanisen is harvesting. “There now. Just harvest those there and we should have enough.”
Lanisen nods, handing over the greens. He wipes his knife clean and puts it away, getting to his feet.
Mrs. Beaver looks up at the son of Adam. “You will come won’t you? The dam is just this way,” she says, pointing north and a little west. “Mr Beaver will certainly catch us a nice catch of fish and of course there’ll be potatoes and bread and a marmalade roll.”
Lanisen’s eyes follow her gesture and he rubs his elbow. “Um,” he says, nervous and wary again. “I don’t want to– I don’t want to intrude…”
Mrs. Beaver says, “Not a bit. Not a bit. We’d be happy to have you. It’s been some time since we had company. Just this way.” She begins to make her way towards the dam, stopping to look expectantly back at Lanisen.
Lanisen hangs back and shifts his weight, rubbing at his scarred wrists, his face twisting up briefly with indecision and distress before she looks back at him. He moistens his lips and finally follows after her.
Mrs. Beaver smiles and pads in the direction of the Dam.