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The Dawn Treader sails east. Every day the wind and waves get a little softer, and the ship glides smoothly across the water. At night they see constellations never recorded by anyone in Narnia.
One night, during a beautiful sunset, they see land. As they get close to this island, they see that it is covered in low hills and has a nice smell.
They anchor the ship in a shallow bay beside the island and go ashore in the boat. Lord Rhoop stays on the Dawn Treader.
Caspian leads a group of adventurers inland to explore the island. There are no signs that anyone lives there, and they have a pleasant walk across a countryside covered with a plant that's similar to heather.
Drinian sees something tall in the distance, and nobody's sure whether it's trees, towers, or giants. As they get closer, Lucy guesses that it's a ruin.
When they arrive at the structure, they see that it's a large rectangular space paved with smooth stones and bordered by tall pillars. It has no roof. Filling the space is a large table on which there is an enormous feast.
The adventurers wonder who the feast is for. Edmund notices that there is a strange hairy mass of three figures at the end of the table.
The mass looks like several beavers, or a huge bird's nest, or a haystack. Reepicheep runs up it then calls everyone over, saying these people won't fight.
The adventurers get closer and see that the three figures are men whose hair and beards have grown until they – and part of the table – are enveloped in a mat of hair.
Caspian asks whether the men are dead. Reepicheep says they are warm and have heartbeats, and Eustace realizes they are asleep. Lucy thinks it must be an enchanted sleep and that it's their duty to break the spell.
Caspian shakes one of the men. The man mutters something about going back to Narnia, but he doesn't wake up all the way. The next man they shake murmurs something about going east, and the third man just asks for Mustard.
Drinian calls Caspian's attention to the reference to Narnia. Caspian looks at the signet rings on the men's fingers and realizes they are the three remaining lords, Revilian, Argoz, and Mavramorn.
Rhince wants to eat the feast while they talk about what to do, but Caspian, Reepicheep, and some of the sailors think the food is probably responsible for the three lords' enchanted sleep.
Rynelf points out that the sun is setting. Most of the men want to go back to the ship. Edmund agrees and says there is no reason for them to stay there all night.
Reepicheep says that he's going to sit at the table until sunrise, because this is a great adventure and he doesn't want to miss out on such an exciting mystery.
Edmund, Caspian, and Lucy say they will stay with Reepicheep. Eustace, showing surprising bravery, also volunteers.
Eventually Drinian and the sailors go back to the ship for the night, leaving Reepicheep and his four companions behind.
The five adventurers sit at the table, close enough to the sleeping lords to keep an eye on them, but not too close. They talk at first, but then the conversation lags and they simply sit and listen to the waves.
Just before dawn everyone suddenly feels very awake. Outside the pillars there is a hill. A door in the hill opens and a figure carrying a light comes out.
The figure slowly moves toward them, and they see that it's a tall, yellow-haired girl dressed in blue, carrying a candle in a silver candlestick. She is incredibly beautiful.
The girl places the candlestick on the table. In the light of the flame, Lucy sees a strange, ancient-looking stone knife that she didn't notice before.
Everyone stands up to greet the girl. She asks them why they aren't eating and drinking the food on Aslan's Table.
Caspian explains that they were afraid the food put the men to sleep. She says they never tasted it.
Lucy asks what happened to the men. The girl says they arrived seven years ago in a ship that was falling apart. When they sat down at the table, they had an argument about what to do next. One of them wanted to return to Narnia, one wanted to keep sailing east, and one wanted to settle down on the island. In the course of the argument, the one who wanted to sail east grabbed the Knife of Stone. When he did, all three of them fell into their enchanted sleep.
Eustace asks what the Knife of Stone is. Lucy says she thinks she's seen it before – it's the knife that the White Witch used to kill Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The girl confirms that she's right.
Edmund asks how they can know that the girl is telling the truth and is their friend. He says when he looks at her face, he believes her, but that's what would happen if she was an evil witch, too. (After his first experience in Narnia, Edmund isn't quite as trusting as he used to be.)
The girl says they can't be sure she is a friend; they can only choose to believe her or not. There is a pause. Reepicheep asks Caspian to fill a cup with wine for him, then he drinks to the lady. Soon everyone is eating the delicious food.
Lucy asks why it is called Aslan's Table. The girl says it is laid there on Aslan's orders for anyone who adventures so far east.
Eustace asks how the food stays fresh. The girl says it's renewed every day, and they will see the process.
Caspian asks how they can wake the enchanted sleepers. He tells her that, in the world that Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace come from, there is a story about a prince who kisses a princess to dissolve an enchanted sleep. Looks like Caspian is falling for her! The girl tells him that here it is the opposite: he has to break the spell before he can kiss the princess.
Caspian once again asks how to wake the sleepers. The girl says her father will explain and points to the door in the hillside. The sky is getting lighter and it's almost dawn....