The Dawn Treader sails on, traveling directly east thanks to a wind from due west. The ocean seems to go on and on and they don't see any fish or birds or land. Stores of food are low and they wonder if they should turn back.
On the last day before they turn back, they see an island. They make harbor (anchor the ship) in a bay beside the island in the afternoon and go ashore in the boat.
The island seems deserted, but it's clearly inhabited, because the lawns are mowed and the trees have been spaced and trimmed. They find a sandy path leading to a large house.
As they start down the path, Lucy stops to take a rock out of her shoe. She doesn't mention it to the others and they go on without her, not noticing that she has stopped. Lucy's shoelace gets tangled and she has to spend a long time untangling it.
While Lucy is sitting on the ground with her back to a tree, she hears a strange thumping noise that seems to be getting closer and closer. She sits absolutely still and hopes she won't be seen.
As the thumping gets closer, Lucy can feel the ground shaking, but she can't see anything. Right in front of her, there is a loud thump and the sand on the path scatters – but she still doesn't see anyone or anything.
The noises seem to gather about twenty feet away from Lucy, and a voice speaks out of thin air. The voice says, "Mates, now's our chance" (9.9).
As Lucy listens, a chorus of voices agrees with this Chief Voice. The Chief Voice describes their plan: they will go down to the beach, get between the adventurers and their boat, and attack them.
The other voices agree and Lucy hears the thumps again. This time, the noises get fainter and fainter as the invisible people move away from Lucy and back toward the shore.
Lucy gets up and runs along the path after her friends to warn them.
Meanwhile, Caspian, Eustace, Edmund, Reepicheep, and Drinian have reached the house. It's a two-story building partly covered with ivy. Someone definitely lives there, because smoke is coming out of the chimney.
They walk through a gateway into a courtyard, where they see the handle of a water pump moving on its own. Caspian wonders if it's magic. Eustace is excited to see machinery, which indicates civilization.
Lucy rushes into the courtyard and explains what she has overheard.
Everyone is upset by the news that invisible enemies are waiting to besiege them. Edmund questions Lucy about what the creatures might look like. All she knows is that they're not exactly human, because instead of footsteps they make a weird thumping sound.
Caspian realizes that one of the invisible people is working the water pump, so they move into a grove of trees to talk privately. But, as Eustace points out, you can't hide from people you can't see.
They discuss their options. Caspian wants to abandon the boat, go down to another part of the shore, and signal to the Dawn Treader. Drinian says the water wouldn't be deep enough for it to come to them. Lucy suggests swimming.
Reepicheep argues that it's pointless to try to avoid an invisible enemy and suggests they go straight down to the shore and bravely face whatever they find there. Edmund agrees with Reepicheep.
Lucy wonders whether, if Rhince and the men see them fighting, they will help. Eustace says that, because their enemies are invisible, it will look like they're just play-fighting.
Everyone shakes hands and gets weapons ready. They march down to the beach.
Before they can get to the sand, the Chief Voice speaks again, warning them not to go any farther. It says there are more than 50 of them, armed, on the beach. The chorus of voices agrees with the Chief.
Reepicheep says he doesn't see 50 warriors. The Chief Voice says they're invisible.
Caspian tells Reepicheep to be quiet and asks what the invisible people want from them. The Chief Voice says they want Lucy to do something.
Reepicheep tells the voices that Lucy is a Queen, and that if they want her to do anything dishonorable or dangerous, she will be defended.
The Chief Voice says it's a long story and invites them to sit down. The Narnians don't sit, but the invisible people seem to.
The Chief tells the story of his people: The island has been controlled by a great magician for as long as anyone can remember. His people are, or maybe were, the magician's servants.
One day the magician gave his servants an order and they refused to carry it out. The magician was enraged and put a spell on them that made them so ugly they couldn't bear to look at one another.
That night, when the magician went to sleep, some of the people crept upstairs to look at his magic books and try to figure out how to undo the spell. They couldn't manage to reverse the spell, so instead they cast another one to make themselves invisible.
The Chief Voice's daughter, Clipsie, recited the invisibility spell. Apparently, the spell had to be spoken by the magician himself or by a little girl.
At first, the people were relieved not to see how ugly they were. But now they're tired of being invisible. Also, the magician seems to have become invisible, too, or maybe left or died, and they want to know where he is.
The narrator explains that it takes a long time for the Chief Voice to tell this story because the other voices keep interrupting him by agreeing with him, saying that he's right, and encouraging him to keep telling the story.
When the story is finished, the Narnians sit silently for a while. Lucy asks what it has to do with them.
The Chief Voice is surprised that he's managed to leave out the main point. He explains that they've been waiting for a little girl to arrive on the island so that she could go upstairs in the magician's house and undo the invisibility spell. They are sworn not to let any visitors leave unless she does so.
Reepicheep says he can't see the people's weapons. A spear comes whizzing through the air and hits a tree behind him. The Chief Voice explains that their weapons become visible once they leave their hands.
Lucy asks why one of the invisible people can't perform this task – aren't there any little girls among them? They admit that there are, but that they're too afraid to send their own daughters.
Edmund and Caspian are disgusted by the cowardice of the invisible people.
Lucy asks whether she has to perform the task at night or whether she can do it during the day. They say she can do it in daylight. Lucy agrees.
Caspian and Edmund try to talk Lucy out of doing something so dangerous, but Lucy says she would be saving her own life, too. She doesn't want to be hacked to pieces by an invisible sword.
Lucy also points out that it might not be very dangerous – the invisible people don't seem very brave. Eustace agrees and says they don't seem very smart, either.
Reepicheep agrees with Lucy's plan. They have no way to save her by fighting, he says, and the deed she's going to perform is heroic and honorable.
The others give in and allow Lucy to perform the task. The invisible people cheer. The Chief Voice invites them to have supper and spend the night with them before Lucy goes to face the magician in the morning. They go back to the house, with the strange thumping noises following them.