Thursday, February 16, 2012

Father Brown's Last Bow, part 2

Father Brown was just figuring out how the talk would go:

Susan received him with a glass of wine. He sighed for relief. She was not a Puritan or an Albigensian. He had wanted to start about the talking animals, but he let that wait.

"Do you think God wants you to tell everybody about this?"

"No, but neither to lie about it to hide it. That is the difficult part. I get into trouble for this."

"Can I ask a few more specific question?"

"Of course."

"Did you ever see one beast that was not talking turn into a talking one?"

"No, except Aslan said it was when the mice bit through the ropes they became talking mice."

"Did you see them start to talk back then?"

"No, I was told it a year later of our time, when we came back to Prince Caspian's rescue."

"Hmmm ... ok ..."

He went off to the window and asked if he could smoke a cigar.

"Oh, I do not mind at all."

"Some do."

"Some have asthma and some are Puritan. Neither is the case with me."

Father Brown enjoyed his cigar while thinking of the next question.

"Do you pray for people in Narnia?" he resumed while putting down the last embers of the cigar.

"I prayed for Rilian's delivery from enchantment, hypnosis, and captivity, and from being treated like a fool when he was not."

"And when Jack Lewis - as I suppose the friends call Clive Staples - wrote The Silver Chair from the papers your friends Scrubb and Pole had left with Professor Kirke, did he know this?"

"No, we were not that close. Nor are we now."

"Do you feel responsible for Narnia?"

"I am the only surviving Queen of the land, am I not?"

"And ruling as a Queen here?"

"Of course not! I was just trying to defend an innocent person!"

"Indeed, you are back after some trouble that took you abroad."

He fell silent. The he resumed again:

"If this was from God, and if he gave you no message to spread to others - at least not personally - what did it do to you?"

"Heard of St Lucia da Narni, Father?"

He nodded.

"Or of Sister Lucy in Fatima?"


"I admired them. They risked so much, they suffered so much. I could never do that, but if I had not seen my sister try to do something similar, I would not have known what it is to love God"

He waited.

"And it was Lucy's essays that led me to fight for righteousness, to save innocent persons from school tyranny and from abortion, and which led me to the Catholic Church."

When she opened the door, he knew this was not what was going to be said.

Her guilty, hopeless, probably often responsibility ridden face gave him all the information he needed:

"What have you done to your sister?"

"I betrayed her, because I tried to be her keeper."

And he heard her confession, and she could know that her heart was henceforth pure of that treason. And she could receive her Lord and her God in her mouth, as previously she had thrown her arms around him in Narnia.

Monday, February 6, 2012


One of the better things with being one kind of worldly person - as Susan had been for the years between restoring Caspian X and the railway accident - is that you get good at doing pleasant things, for other people as well as for yourself.

The loneliness did not stop her from cooking well. The evening she had made a beef stew with carrots, she had also had ground horseradish to go with it. And she had saved half the Lavazza of coffee for the morning.

Which came much earlier than she had reckoned with. The doorbell rang, it was dark, and a few voices were discussing with some heat outside.

"She's not awake, guv'nor!" it was a voice she knew - yes, the milkman. "Either you leave, or I'll have to call the cops"

"Just another try, it's just this morning and she might be in a good mood about it."

"She yes, me no. If it is not funny with a man in a sleepingbag lying outside a young lady's rooms ..."

"Jumping Jiminy, how was I to know ..." the voice was a bit plaintive, but not unkind.

"And how do I know you did not know, for all I know ..."

Here Susan shouted out: "Oh stop it!"

She ran out of bed, to the window, and while both men were looking up - the milkman as blonde and tall as usual, the other one swarty, like some of the pikeys, she added:

"If you will wait till I am dressed, I will make you some coffee. You can have the jug through the window."

"Sure about it, Miss Pevensie?" said the milkman.

"As sure as I am sure I am alive. I will not ruin this chance to be kind to a poor man."

"Well, if you want me to call the police, it's now. I have my round to do."

"Do go on, I'll manage." Then she turned to the pikey, young as well:

"You want coffee or tea this morning?"

"Oh either will do. I like coffee." - The milkman was watching him, but started walking away, as he saw he was a rather peaceful fellow, once he talked to the ladies.

"Can you take some warmed up from yesterday?"

"Might do."

"Hand me the milk bottle then, it's the only decent way of warming coffee to add hot milk to it."

"Coo. Now you are talking. You know coffee better than most English!" And the milk bottle went up to her, as she had taken on the sleeping gown.

"I was in Italy this last Christmas."

And less than one minute later - she had a gas stove - the steams of hot milk and coffee reached his nostrils, so he scrambled up from the sleeping bag a second time.

"Here you are. Sorry I have only biscuits to go with it - unless you would like some of yesterday's food."

"Coo. Not saying no to that."

She went in again, reached him horseradish to grind, and a few minutes later came out dressed in sweaters and a woollen dress with two plates of beef stew, one in each hand, and the forks in the right hand. Lots of potatoes and carrots to go with the boiled beef. He took the one she held in the left hand, then she sat down.

"Ah, that is a relief, it is." He handed her the plate with the grater and the horseradish. She had a spoon among the two forks, and she divided the horseradish on the two plates.

"What is your name? I am Susan and the milkman already told you it is Pevensie."


"Wait, I had a friend - George told me about a Nobby."

"Wait, the George you talk about - is it a girl?"

"You are Nobby! Come in, let us talk!"