Lucy and Edmund return to find that the game of hide-and-seek is still going on, and so it takes them some time to find their siblings. Lucy, excited, immediately tells the others that Narnia is real, and that Edmund has been there now, too. When Peter asks Edmund if Lucy is telling the truth, Edmund decides “to do the meanest and most spiteful thing he [can] think of,” and lies to Peter and Susan, telling them that he and Lucy have simply been playing pretend in the wardrobe. Lucy, hurt, runs from the room to be alone.
Edmund makes a conscious decision to hurt Lucy by denying her the chance to prove that Narnia was real all along. Edmund wants to gain power over his siblings, and sees humiliating Lucy as the surest way to do so as he waits for his chance to secure the ultimate coup-de-grace by bringing them all to the White Witch.
Peter reprimands Edmund for being “beastly” to Lucy and setting her off. Edmund protests that Lucy has been spouting nonsense. Peter replies that he knows it’s nonsense, but that Edmund isn’t doing Lucy any favors by being cruel to her and jerking her around. Peter accuses Edmund of being cruel to anyone littler than himself, and reminds Edmund of the trouble Edmund was getting up to at school before they left London. Susan tells the boys to stop fighting, and suggests they all go off and find Lucy.
Through Peter’s allusions to Edmund’s difficulties in school, Lewis demonstrates further the deep internal conflict which must be spurring Edmund to make the wrong decisions at every single turn. Edmund, struggling so hard in the real world, of course wants to buy into the escapist fantasy of the idea that the Queen could one day put him In charge of a whole world.
When they encounter Lucy again, she has clearly been crying. She tells the others that she doesn’t care what they think; she is telling the truth about Narnia, and now wishes she had stayed there forever. Peter and Susan are concerned for Lucy, and wonder if she is slightly losing her mind. After discussing the matter, Peter and Susan decide to go to the Professor and tell him what’s going on.
Peter and Susan love their little sister, but are disturbed by how emotional she is about what they believe is a pretend game. They do not see that perhaps Lucy has gained a kind of wisdom they can’t yet perceive or understand.
The Professor listens thoughtfully to Peter and Susan’s story, and then asks them how they know that Lucy isn’t telling the truth. Susan tells him that Edmund accused Lucy of lying. The Professor, though, asks Peter and Susan which of their siblings is more reliable: Lucy or Edmund. Peter admits that Lucy is more truthful, and Susan agrees. The Professor warns them that to charge a truthful person with lying is a “very serious thing indeed.” Peter and Susan confess that they are worried Lucy has gone mad, but the Professor insists that one can simply look at Lucy and see that she is perfectly sane. Logic, then, says the professor, dictates that if Lucy is not a liar and hasn’t gone mad, they all must assume she is telling the truth.
The Professor is an unlikely ally to Lucy, and urges Peter and Susan to be more generous with their younger sister and even go so far as to take her at her world. The Professor’s willingness to believe Lucy rather than Peter and Susan—despite not having even talked with Lucy about the matter—seems to imply that his allegiance to the idea that Narnia could be real stems from some deeper place. As the owner of the big, old house, perhaps the Professor has firsthand experience with the magical land hidden inside of the wardrobe.
Susan and Peter are shocked to see that the Professor is serious, but he presses on, encouraging them to question the nature of what is real and unreal. He states that he himself cannot promise that there is not a door to another world hidden somewhere in his “very strange house” which he himself knows little about, and that the discovery of another dimension within it would not exactly surprise him. Peter and Susan as the Professor what they should do about Lucy, and he advises them to try minding their own business; with that, the conversation is over.
The Professor wants the children to admit that perhaps they don’t know everything—that there could be whole worlds waiting to be discovered, and endless strains of new wisdom to be gleaned from them.
After their conversation with the Professor, Peter and Susan try hard to make things better for Lucy. Peter gets Edmund to stop teasing her, and no one brings the wardrobe up at all.
Rather than confront the issue further, the siblings all agree to pretend it doesn’t exist—this willful ignorance ties in with Lewis’s theme of hiding from ugly truths about dire matters such as war.
The Professor’s house is old and famous, and many people come from all over England to take a tour of it. Mrs. Macready, the housekeeper, is in charge of leading groups of tourists through the house, telling them all about the rare books and the suits of armor. Mrs. Macready, who does not like children, always warns the four siblings never to interrupt her during these tours, and to make themselves scarce while they are going on. One morning, Peter and Edmund are playing near a suit of armor when Lucy and Susan rush into the room and warn them to get out of the way—Mrs. Macready and a tour group are coming through. The siblings run through the adjoining rooms until they come to the wardrobe room. Desperate to hide, all four squeeze themselves into the wardrobe and shut themselves inside.
The children, all in need of a hiding place, decide on the wardrobe as the best spot despite the tensions it has recently created in their relationship. The theme of hiding from reality and ensconcing oneself in a fantasy world is enacted literally in this passage as the siblings seek refuge—only to find that perhaps they are stumbling into even more trouble.