Frank and Helen
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|Major character in|
|Major character in|
King Frank and Queen Helen, also known as the "Cabby" and "Nellie", were the first rulers of Narnia in the Chronicles of Narnia. The Magician's Nephew says little of their history, except that the Cabby and Nelly were both country folk, and lived in London only from economic necessity. Taking place in or about 1900, Frank drove a horse-drawn carriage while Helen kept house.
Helen shares her name with Helen Joy Davidman, Lewis' friend and later wife.
The fight at the lamp-post
The Cabby's last fare almost proved the end of his life, for it was none other than Jadis, Empress of Charn, accompanied by her bumbling squire, Andrew Ketterley. Jadis seems to have "hired" his cab after robbing a jewellery store. Exactly what transpired in the cab is unclear, but Jadis hijacked the cab and drove the horse so hard that the cab was utterly destroyed. When the Cabby finally caught up with the cab, it was a total shambles, and Jadis was astride the horse and was whipping the horse into a dangerous frenzy. The Cabby prevailed upon the police constables at the scene to allow him to try to calm the horse, but Jadis demanded that he keep his hands off her "royal charger." Frank apparently paid her little heed, even when she wrenched off a bar from a lamp-post and started to attack three constables with it. Frank's first and only concern was for his horse—and thus he still had contact with the horse when Digory Kirke grabbed hold of Jadis and then used his yellow ring to take Jadis to the Wood between the Worlds. In this way, Digory, Polly Plummer, Jadis, Uncle Andrew, the horse, and Frank himself came into that Wood.
They did not stay in the Wood long. Jadis, severely weakened by being in the Wood, could not direct the horse any longer. Strawberry is immediately calmed, and he goes into another pool to drink. The others follow and, with everyone in contact with one another, Digory used a green ring to bring them to the world that this pool represented—which was Narnia, but Narnia when it is formless and empty.
Of the party that were now landed in Narnia, The Cabby was the only one who had complete command of himself (although this was partly because he didn't realize that they were in a different world and seemed to think that they had, instead, fallen down a hole of some sort). He urged everyone to remain calm, and suggested that they ought to "pass the time" by singing a hymn. This he proceeded to do, choosing Come Ye Thankful People, Come, but only the two children joined in. He later broke off singing when Aslan began to sing his own song of creation—a song that Frank liked, to the point of chiding the others for talking when he wanted to listen. Only the children and the horse enjoyed the song as much as he.
When at length Aslan had Narnia laid out and the first animals created, Frank was surprised to see his own horse "awakened" to become a Talking Horse. Frank's first discussion with his old cab horse was inauspicious at first, because the horse remembered being a slave, a memory the horse did not find pleasant. Frank eventually confessed that he never liked working in London, which was no place for him or his horse.
When Aslan called his first council-of-war to deal with the Jadis situation, Digory announced his desire to seek an audience with Aslan, in the hope that Aslan might give him some kind of cure for his ailing mother. Frank offered to accompany the children, because he wanted to see Aslan himself.
When he first saw Aslan face to face, Frank doffed his hat in respect—and when he finally spoke to Aslan, he began to lose the harsh Cockney accent he had affected in London and to speak with the accent of the country dweller. Frank also realized, when Aslan asked him, that he knew Aslan, though not in Aslan's present aspect; Aslan told him,
You know me better than you think you know, and you shall come to know me better yet.
Aslan asked him whether he, the Cabby, would enjoy living in Narnia for life, and Frank hesitated, only because he was married and his wife was not present. So Aslan, by singing a single pure note, brought the Cabby's wife to stand by his side.
Rulers of Narnia
Helen was washing clothes in London, England, when she heard a deep, pure note, which is described as being a call one hearing it would not only wish to obey, but would be able to obey instantly. In the next instant, she found herself standing in a calm, peaceful woodland, with her husband and two strange children (Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer) standing nearby, and a large Lion (Aslan) dominating the scene.
At first she believed that she was dreaming, but only for a moment. Then when she became fully aware of Aslan, she realized soon enough that this was not a Lion who would violently attack her, but one who was indeed a King, and she was in his dominion. She curtsied to him, perhaps as she would have curtsied to Queen Victoria back in England. Then she stood by her husband's side, understandably shy.
Aslan then dumbfounded Frank by announcing that he and Helen would become the first King and Queen of Narnia. Frank protested that he lacked sufficient education for such a job—but Aslan helped him to realize that he had every qualification that a King of Narnia would require—facility with the practices of agriculture, a basic sense of justice, and a willingness to try his courage in war, when war would inevitably come. Frank accepted, and he and Helen celebrated their coronation after Digory brought back an apple and used it to plant the Tree of Protection.
Their descendants became the original Kings and Queens of Narnia.
Jadis, the White Witch, took over Narnia 900 years after their reign began and ruled a reign of tyranny for 100 years, but illegitimately (as she was not a Daughter of Eve, but of a race native to Charn), before finally being defeated by Aslan and the Pevensie children, who were then themselves proclaimed Kings and Queens of Narnia.
King Frank and Queen Helen later appear in "The Last Battle" at the end of time.