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Susan's JourneyStep Through the Wardrobe
By Alison Sage
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Alison Sage
All right reserved.
The room was pitch black. That meant the blackout was safely in place. Good, thought Susan as she lay in the darkness. At least no German planes could see their house. It was 1941 and the bombs fell almost every night over London. Every morning there were stories of houses gutted, families destroyed. Sometimes these things happened to people she knew. Susan didn't talk about it much because it upset their mother, especially now that Father was away in the air force.
Susan didn't like the War at all, and the way nothing was straightforward and under control. She felt helpless. Tomorrow, she and her brothers, Peter and Edmund, and her little sister, Lucy, were being evacuated from the dangerous city to stay with Professor Kirke in the safety of the countryside. Like thousands of other children, they were going to a place they didn't know, all by themselves. Susan felt tears rising and she choked them back. Mother had explained to her how important it was to keep cheerful so that the younger ones wouldn't be afraid. Mother trusted her to keep the family together. Peter was the oldest, but Susan knew that a lot of the responsibility rested on her shoulders. Edmund wasimpulsive, and little Lucy could be very determined.
Suddenly, Susan felt the house shake. The bombs were dropping again. She ran downstairs and out to the bomb shelter at the bottom of the garden. Edmund was being silly and running back into the house. Soon he emerged with a photo of their father and charged into the shelter. "Idiot!" shouted Peter. But Susan thought Edmund had been brave.
In the morning, there was a frenzied rush as the children got their things together. Mother hugged Susan good-bye, and then they were on the train and pulling out of the station.
Susan didn't know what she had expected, but nothing had prepared her for the huge rambling old house, or for the Professor's disagreeable housekeeper Mrs. Macready. Mrs. Macready seemed to have been born mean.
"There shall be no shouting or running," she snapped. "And above all, there shall be no disturbing of the Professor."
But Susan persevered. She tried to be cheerful. She tried to get the others to see how important it was to keep doing normal things, like going to bed on time and brushing their teeth.
The next day, it was pouring rain and Susan's heart sank. There could be no exploring outside, and indoors everything was forbidden. It would be just like Edmund to break something and get them all into trouble. He was already being especially nasty, teasing little Lucy. Susan thought it would be a good idea if they all played a dictionary quiz. Perhaps it would stop Edmund from picking on Lucy. But Lucy said she wanted to play hide-and-seek. Edmund sneered at Lucy and told her hide-and-seek was only for little kids. Sometimes Susan didn't understand her younger brother at all. He could be a complete twerp.
In the end, Susan was glad that Peter let Lucy have her way, although she knew that he would never have given in to Edmund like that-or her for that matter. Anything would be better than aimlessly wandering around that huge, dark house, arguing.
Peter started counting. "One, two, three . . ."
Susan had already discovered a good place to hide. Peter would never find her in the old window seat. This might be fun after all. Just as she was lowering herself into it, Lucy ran toward her. Frantically, Lucy dived off to find somewhere else.
"Forty-one, forty-two, forty-three . . ." chanted Peter.
Susan could hear Edmund and Lucy arguing about who was going to hide behind the velvet curtain.
"Eighty-nine, ninety. .
Edmund won. Susan knew he would. She heard Lucy dash off again.
"Ninety-nine, one hundred. Ready or not, here I come!"
Then something truly odd happened. The wardrobe door creaked open and Lucy shouted, "It's all right! I'm back!"
Back from where? What was happening?
Susan heard the angry, irritable voices of her brothers. She climbed out of her hiding place.
"Does this mean I win?" she asked, half-joking.
"Lucy doesn't want to play anymore," said Peter.
"I was playing," cried Lucy. "I was hiding in the wardrobe and next thing I was in a wood and I met a Faun named Mr. Tumnus. .
Susan looked at Peter anxiously. Was Lucy playing some kind of make-believe game? It didn't sound like a game. She was too upset, too bewildered. There was only one thing to do. Susan pulled back the coats in the big, old wardrobe. "Lucy, the only wood in here is the back of the wardrobe," she said firmly.
The next few hours were a blur of bad temper and ever-deepening mystery. Lucy insisted tearfully that she had been gone for hours in a strange country called Narnia, where it was always winter and never Christmas, and that she'd had tea with a Faun named Mr. Tumnus. How could she? She had only been gone for a couple of seconds. But she kept sobbing that it was true. Edmund wouldn't stop teasing her until Peter got furious with him and started telling them all what to do. It was unbearable and Susan could hardly wait to go to bed. Perhaps the next day would be better. It must be the rain that was making them all so mean to each other.
But it wasn't.
That night, Susan woke up to find that Lucy was gone! Scared, she jumped out of bed and ran to the boys' room. There was her sister, sitting on Peter's bed, babbling on about her mysterious snow-country again! She must have been dreaming. Only this time, she seemed to think that she had been there with Edmund. And this was the strange part: Why should she tell such a stupid life? Edmund, of course, said she was just pretending . . .
Excerpted from Susan's Journey by Alison Sage Copyright © 2006 by Alison Sage. Excerpted by permission.
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