20 January 2009

“Come and try on your beautiful new lionskin coat,” said Shift.

“Oh, bother that old skin,” said Puzzle.  “I’ll try it on in the morning.  I’m too tired tonight.”

“You are unkind, Puzzle,” said Shift.  “If you’re tired, what do you think I am?  All day long, while you’ve been having a lovely refreshing walk down the valley, I’ve been working hard to make you a coat.  My paws are so tired I can hardly hold these scissors.  And now you won’t say thank you– and you won’t even look at the coat– and you don’t care– and– and–“

“My dear Shift,”  said Puzzle getting up at once, “I’m so sorry.  I’ve been horrid.  Of course I’d love to try it on.  And it looks simply splendid.  Do try it on me at once.  Please do.”

“Well, stand still then,” said the Ape.  The skin was very heavy for him to lift, but in the end, with a lot of pulling and pushing and puffing and blowing, he got it onto the donkey.  He tied it underneath Puzzle’s body and he tied the legs to Puzzle’s legs and the tail to Puzzle’s tail.  A good deal of Puzzle’s grey nose and face could be seen through the open mouth of the lion’s head.  No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment.  But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lionskin, he just might mistake him for a lion, if he didn’t come too close, and if the light was not too good, and if Puzzle didn’t let out a bray and didn’t make any noise with his hoofs.

“You look wonderful, wonderful,” said the Ape.  “If anyone saw you now, they’d think you were Aslan, the Great Lion, himself.”

“That would be dreadful,” said Puzzle.

“No it wouldn’t,” said Shift.  “Everyone would do whatever you told them.”

“But I don’t want to tell them anything.”

“But think of the good we could do!” said Shift.  “You’d have me to advise you, you know.  I’d think of sensible orders for you to give.  And everyone would have to obey us…”

–C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Chapter I