Study Guide

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Chapter 8

By C.S. Lewis

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Chapter 8

Two Narrow Escapes

  • The Dawn Treader sails away from Dragon Island and everyone is in high spirits.
  • The next morning they arrive at another island, which is uninhabited and has a few ruined huts, bones, and broken weapons. They speculate that pirates or the dragon attacked the people of the island and drove them away.
  • On this little island they find a coracle, which is a small boat made out of animal hide stretched over a wicker frame. It's just the right size for Reepicheep, so they keep it. They name the place Burnt Island and sail away.
  • For five days the Dawn Treader sails without any adventures. One rainy afternoon everyone gets pretty grumpy, but then the rain stops and Lucy notices something in the water that looks like a series of smooth rocks. The rocks are spaced at wide, even intervals of about 40 feet.
  • The adventurers realize that the things they're seeing can't be rocks because they keep appearing and disappearing. And they're getting closer!
  • The strange things that are not rocks move toward the Dawn Treader faster than it can sail away from them. Everyone holds their breath.
  • Suddenly the enormous head of a monster rears up out of the water on the port side of the ship. It's green and red with purple blotches and looks like a horse's head with fishy teeth and no ears.
  • As the monster rises out of the sea, its neck seems to go on forever, then they realize that that's its body. It's the great Sea Serpent. (You know, the kind of thing people imagine when they think of the Loch Ness Monster.)
  • Everyone grabs weapons and they shoot arrows at it, but there's really nothing they can do. For a moment the monster hovers beside them, its head towering in the air above the ship.
  • Quick as a flash, the monster dives down into the water on the starboard side of the ship. It has made an arch across the Dawn Treader
  • with its body, and as it dives the arch gets smaller.
  • Eustace bravely draws the sword Caspian lent him and hacks at the monster's body. The sword breaks into pieces.
  • Reepicheep shouts to everyone to push instead of fighting. He throws himself against the loop of the sea serpent's body and starts pushing. He's too small to move it himself, but when everyone realizes what he's doing, they start to help.
  • What Reepicheep has realized is this: the monster has made a loop of its body around the ship, and now it's drawing the loop closed. The ship will be crushed!
  • Soon every single person on the ship is pushing against the monster's body. Slowly, with a great deal of effort, they begin to move it toward the stern (the back end of the ship).
  • At the very tip of the ship, they get stuck. Because the Dawn Treader is made to look like a dragon, the stern of the ship is carved to look like a dragon's tail sticking up into the air. Caspian shouts for someone to bring an axe and hack it off.
  • Lucy runs and gets an axe, but before anyone can use it, the serpent pulls harder and snaps off the carved stern of the ship. Luckily, however, the rest of the ship is OK.
  • Exhausted, the adventurers watch as the sea serpent looks for the ship's wreckage in the water. It's too dumb to understand that it didn't crush the ship, so it doesn't pursue them as they sail away.
  • Everyone lies around recovering from the immense physical effort of throwing off the sea serpent. As they start to feel better, they talk and laugh about the experience and praise Eustace and Reepicheep.
  • The Dawn Treader sails on for three more days without incident. Four days after the adventure with the sea serpent, a storm starts to gather, but they sight land. Lord Drinian and Caspian decide to row the ship into a natural harbor along the coast of this new island and wait until the storm passes.
  • They successfully get the Dawn Treader into harbor and sleep on the ship that night. In the morning, they launch a small boat from the ship and go ashore to explore.
  • As they row the boat toward the land, Caspian notices that there are two different streams coming into the bay. Drinian wants to go to the one on the starboard (the right), because it's not as far for everyone to row. Everyone else wants to go to the one to port (the left), because it's in a grove of trees and will shelter them from the rain.
  • Reluctantly, Drinian changes course and the boat heads to the stream to port. The narrator tells us that this small course correction will turn out to be a very good decision.
  • They fill up their casks with fresh water for the ship. By the time they're done, it has stopped raining.
  • Caspian, Eustace, Lucy, Edmund, and Reepicheep go for a hike up a nearby hill. From the top, they can see that the island is small and desolate.
  • As they look toward the eastern horizon, Eustace comments that their voyage is crazy. He says it out of habit, not out of rudeness, like he would have before.
  • Lucy suggests that they hike over to the other stream, the one Drinian wanted to go to. They all agree.
  • They discover that the source of the other stream is a deep mountain lake surrounded by cliffs that block out the wind. They sit down to rest.
  • When Edmund sits down, he finds himself sitting on a rusty old sword. Caspian examines the sword and says that it's Narnian. Lucy discovers that she is sitting on a chain mail shirt. (That's the kind of metal chain shirt that medieval knights wear when they're going into battle.) They all search in the heather and find all kinds of artifacts – a helmet, a dagger, and coins. All of the things are Narnian, and Edmund suggests that perhaps one of the seven lords was here.
  • They are puzzled by the evidence they've found. None of the weapons have any blood on them, and there are no bones. Even if the lord had been eaten by a wild animal, it couldn't have taken off his mail shirt.
  • Feeling creeped out, the adventurers hike down to the place where the stream comes out of the lake. Eustace is about to take a drink of water when Reepicheep and Lucy call out.
  • What Reepicheep and Lucy are pointing to is a life-size statue of a man. The statue, which appears to be made of gold, is lying on the bottom of the pool.
  • Everyone is impressed. Caspian wants to try to get the statue out. Reepicheep suggests diving for it, but Edmund thinks the statue will be too heavy to carry up while swimming.
  • Edmund lowers his spear into the water to measure the depth of the pool. As the spear goes in, Lucy observes that it looks gold, too. Maybe the statue isn't gold but just looks that way due to a trick of the light
  • Edmund drops the spear, saying that it suddenly became heavy. It falls to the bottom of the pool, looking just like the statue.
  • Edmund looks at his boots, then stands up and orders everyone away from the water. They all back away and stare at him.
  • Edmund shows them that, where the water splashed on his boots, they turned to solid gold. The water of the pool is magical and can turn anything into gold.
  • They realize that their "statue" is one of the missing lords. He must have come to the pool on a hot day, undressed, jumped in, and been turned to gold. Lucy is horrified by this strange death. The adventurers feel lucky that none of them dipped their hands or feet into the water.
  • Caspian tests the properties of the water by dipping a sprig of heather into it. When he lifts it out, it is a perfect model of a sprig of heather made of gold.
  • Caspian claims the island and the spring for Narnia. He names it Goldwater Island and orders everyone to keep it secret.
  • Edmund objects, saying that he ranks higher than Caspian in the Narnian monarchy. Caspian lays his hand on his sword.
  • Lucy begs Edmund and Caspian to stop fighting, but then her voice dies away. Everyone looks in the direction she is looking and sees Aslan, the great lion, walking through the heather. He's there for just a moment, then he's gone.
  • The adventurers turn to one another again. They seem to be waking up or coming back to themselves. Caspian asks what they were talking about and apologizes if he was being a jerk.
  • Reepicheep says the island is cursed and they should call it Deathwater Island.
  • Caspian says that's a good name, but he can't remember why. Everyone's memory of the discovery is fuzzy. They head back to where Drinian and the others are camped, then go back to the ship.
  • Later, Drinian says to Rhince that the three monarchs seemed strange when they came on board. They wouldn't or couldn't tell him much, except that they found the body of one of the lords.
  • Rhince observes that they have now found three of the seven lords and only have four more to go!

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