Title: Peter Pan (1911)
Author: J. M. Barrie
Chapter 1 PETER BREAKS THROUGH
Chapter 2 THE SHADOW
Chapter 3 COME AWAY, COME AWAY!
Chapter 4 THE FLIGHT
Chapter 5 THE ISLAND COME TRUE
Chapter 6 THE LITTLE HOUSE
Chapter 7 THE HOME UNDER THE GROUND
Chapter 8 THE MERMAID'S LAGOON
Chapter 9 THE NEVER BIRD
Chapter 10 THE HAPPY HOME
Chapter 11 WENDY'S STORY
Chapter 12 THE CHILDREN ARE CARRIED OFF
Chapter 13 DO YOU BELIEVE IN FAIRIES?
Chapter 14 THE PIRATE SHIP
Chapter 15 "HOOK OR ME THIS TIME"
Chapter 16 THE RETURN HOME
Chapter 17 WHEN WENDY GREW UP
Chapter 1 PETER BREAKS THROUGH
All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will
grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two
years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower
and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather
delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried,
"Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that
passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that
she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the
beginning of the end.
Of course they lived at 14 [their house number on their street],
and until Wendy came her mother was the chief one. She was a lovely lady,
with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind
was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the
puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more; and
her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get,
though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner.
The way Mr. Darling won her was this: the many gentlemen who
had been boys when she was a girl discovered simultaneously that
they loved her, and they all ran to her house to propose to her
except Mr. Darling, who took a cab and nipped in first, and so he
got her. He got all of her, except the innermost box and the
kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying
for the kiss. Wendy thought Napoleon could have got it, but I
can picture him trying, and then going off in a passion, slamming
Mr. Darling used to boast to Wendy that her mother not only
loved him but respected him. He was one of those deep ones who
know about stocks and shares. Of course no one really knows,
but he quite seemed to know, and he often said stocks were up and
shares were down in a way that would have made any woman respect
Mrs. Darling was married in white, and at first she kept the
books perfectly, almost gleefully, as if it were a game, not so
much as a Brussels sprout was missing; but by and by whole
cauliflowers dropped out, and instead of them there were pictures
of babies without faces. She drew them when she should have been
totting up. They were Mrs. Darling's guesses.
Wendy came first, then John, then Michael.
For a week or two after Wendy came it was doubtful whether they
would be able to keep her, as she was another mouth to feed. Mr.
Darling was frightfully proud of her, but he was very honourable,
and he sat on the edge of Mrs. Darling's bed, holding her hand
and calculating expenses, while she looked at him imploringly.
She wanted to risk it, come what might, but that was not his way;
his way was with a pencil and a piece of paper, and if she
confused him with suggestions he had to begin at the beginning
"Now don't interrupt," he would beg of her. "I have one pound seventeen
here, and two and six at the office; I can cut off my coffee at the
office, say ten shillings, making two nine and six, with your eighteen
and three makes three nine seven, with five naught naught in my
cheque-book makes eight nine seven--who is that moving?--eight nine
seven, dot and carry seven--don't speak, my own--and the pound you
lent to that man who came to the door--quiet, child--dot and carry
child--there, you've done it!--did I say nine nine seven? yes, I said
nine nine seven; the question is, can we try it for a year on nine
"Of course we can, George," she cried. But she was prejudiced
in Wendy's favour, and he was really the grander character of the
"Remember mumps," he warned her almost threateningly, and off
he went again. "Mumps one pound, that is what I have put down,
but I daresay it will be more like thirty shillings--don't
speak--measles one five, German measles half a guinea, makes
two fifteen six--don't waggle your finger--whooping-cough,
say fifteen shillings"--and so on it went, and it added up
differently each time; but at last Wendy just got through,
with mumps reduced to twelve six, and the two kinds of measles
treated as one.
There was the same excitement over John, and Michael had even a
narrower squeak; but both were kept, and soon, you might have seen
the three of them going in a row to Miss Fulsom's Kindergarten
school, accompanied by their nurse.
Mrs. Darling loved to have everything just so, and Mr. Darling
had a passion for being exactly like his neighbours; so, of
course, they had a nurse. As they were poor, owing to the amount
of milk the children drank, this nurse was a prim Newfoundland
dog, called Nana, who had belonged to no one in particular until
the Darlings engaged her. She had always thought children
important, however, and the Darlings had become acquainted with
her in Kensington Gardens, where she spent most of her spare time
peeping into perambulators, and was much hated by careless
nursemaids, whom she followed to their homes and complained of to
their mistresses. She proved to be quite a treasure of a nurse.
How thorough she was at bath-time, and up at any moment of the
night if one of her charges made the slightest cry. Of course
her kennel was in the nursery. She had a genius for knowing when
a cough is a thing to have no patience with and when it needs
stocking around your throat. She believed to her last day in
old-fashioned remedies like rhubarb leaf, and made sounds of
contempt over all this new-fangled talk about germs, and so on.
It was a lesson in propriety to see her escorting the children to
school, walking sedately by their side when they were well
behaved, and butting them back into line if they strayed. On
John's footer [in England soccer was called football, "footer"
for short] days she never once forgot his sweater, and she
usually carried an umbrella in her mouth in case of rain. There
is a room in the basement of Miss Fulsom's school where the
nurses wait. They sat on forms, while Nana lay on the floor,
but that was the only difference. They affected to ignore her as
of an inferior social status to themselves, and she despised
their light talk. She resented visits to the nursery from Mrs.
Darling's friends, but if they did come she first whipped off
Michael's pinafore and put him into the one with blue braiding,
and smoothed out Wendy and made a dash at John's hair.
No nursery could possibly have been conducted more correctly,
and Mr. Darling knew it, yet he sometimes wondered uneasily
whether the neighbours talked.
He had his position in the city to consider.
Nana also troubled him in another way. He had sometimes a
feeling that she did not admire him. "I know she admires you
tremendously, George," Mrs. Darling would assure him, and then
she would sign to the children to be specially nice to father.
Lovely dances followed, in which the only other servant, Liza,
was sometimes allowed to join. Such a midget she looked in her
long skirt and maid's cap, though she had sworn, when engaged,
that she would never see ten again. The gaiety of those romps!
And gayest of all was Mrs. Darling, who would pirouette so wildly
that all you could see of her was the kiss, and then if you had
dashed at her you might have got it. There never was a simpler
happier family until the coming of Peter Pan.
Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her
children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother
after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put
things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper
places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If
you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your
own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to
watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see
her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of
your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing
up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to
her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly
stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the
naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have
been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and
on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier
thoughts, ready for you to put on.
I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's
mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and
your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them
trying to draw a map of a child's mind, which is not only
confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag
lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are
probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or
less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and
there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing,
and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors,
and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder
brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old
lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were
all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers,
the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take
the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say
ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and
so on, and either these are part of the island or they are
another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing,
especially as nothing will stand still.
Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for
instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which
John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a
flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat
turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a
house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends,
Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by
its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family
resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them
that they have each other's nose, and so forth. On these magic
shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles
[simple boat]. We too have been there; we can still hear the
sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
Of all delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and
most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious
distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed.
When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is
not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to
sleep it becomes very real. That is why there are night-lights.
Occasionally in her travels through her children's minds Mrs.
Darling found things she could not understand, and of these quite
the most perplexing was the word Peter. She knew of no Peter,
and yet he was here and there in John and Michael's minds, while
Wendy's began to be scrawled all over with him. The name stood
out in bolder letters than any of the other words, and as Mrs.
Darling gazed she felt that it had an oddly cocky appearance.
"Yes, he is rather cocky," Wendy admitted with regret. Her
mother had been questioning her.
"But who is he, my pet?"
"He is Peter Pan, you know, mother."
At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back
into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said
to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him, as
that when children died he went part of the way with them, so
that they should not be frightened. She had believed in him at
the time, but now that she was married and full of sense she
quite doubted whether there was any such person.
"Besides," she said to Wendy, "he would be grown up by this
"Oh no, he isn't grown up," Wendy assured her confidently, "and
he is just my size." She meant that he was her size in both mind
and body; she didn't know how she knew, she just knew it.
Mrs. Darling consulted Mr. Darling, but he smiled pooh-pooh.
"Mark my words," he said, "it is some nonsense Nana has been
putting into their heads; just the sort of idea a dog would have.
Leave it alone, and it will blow over."
But it would not blow over and soon the troublesome boy gave
Mrs. Darling quite a shock.
Children have the strangest adventures without being troubled
by them. For instance, they may remember to mention, a week
after the event happened, that when they were in the wood they
had met their dead father and had a game with him. It was in
this casual way that Wendy one morning made a disquieting
revelation. Some leaves of a tree had been found on the nursery
floor, which certainly were not there when the children went to
bed, and Mrs. Darling was puzzling over them when Wendy said with
a tolerant smile:
"I do believe it is that Peter again!"
"Whatever do you mean, Wendy?"
"It is so naughty of him not to wipe his feet," Wendy said,
sighing. She was a tidy child.
She explained in quite a matter-of-fact way that she thought
Peter sometimes came to the nursery in the night and sat on the
foot of her bed and played on his pipes to her. Unfortunately
she never woke, so she didn't know how she knew, she just knew.
"What nonsense you talk, precious. No one can get into the
house without knocking."
"I think he comes in by the window," she said.
"My love, it is three floors up."
"Were not the leaves at the foot of the window, mother?"
It was quite true; the leaves had been found very near the
Mrs. Darling did not know what to think, for it all seemed so
natural to Wendy that you could not dismiss it by saying she had
"My child," the mother cried, "why did you not tell me of this
"I forgot," said Wendy lightly. She was in a hurry to get her
Oh, surely she must have been dreaming.
But, on the other hand, there were the leaves. Mrs. Darling
examined them very carefully; they were skeleton leaves, but she
was sure they did not come from any tree that grew in England.
She crawled about the floor, peering at it with a candle for
marks of a strange foot. She rattled the poker up the chimney
and tapped the walls. She let down a tape from the window to the
pavement, and it was a sheer drop of thirty feet, without so much
as a spout to climb up by.
Certainly Wendy had been dreaming.
But Wendy had not been dreaming, as the very next night showed,
the night on which the extraordinary adventures of these children
may be said to have begun.
On the night we speak of all the children were once more in
bed. It happened to be Nana's evening off, and Mrs. Darling had
bathed them and sung to them till one by one they had let go her
hand and slid away into the land of sleep.
All were looking so safe and cosy that she smiled at her fears
now and sat down tranquilly by the fire to sew.
It was something for Michael, who on his birthday was getting
into shirts. The fire was warm, however, and the nursery dimly
lit by three night-lights, and presently the sewing lay on Mrs.
Darling's lap. Then her head nodded, oh, so gracefully. She was
asleep. Look at the four of them, Wendy and Michael over there,
John here, and Mrs. Darling by the fire. There should have been
a fourth night-light.
While she slept she had a dream. She dreamt that the Neverland
had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from
it. He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him
before in the faces of many women who have no children. Perhaps
he is to be found in the faces of some mothers also. But in her
dream he had rent the film that obscures the Neverland, and she
saw Wendy and John and Michael peeping through the gap.
The dream by itself would have been a trifle, but while she was
dreaming the window of the nursery blew open, and a boy did drop
on the floor. He was accompanied by a strange light, no bigger
than your fist, which darted about the room like a living thing
and I think it must have been this light that wakened Mrs.
She started up with a cry, and saw the boy, and somehow she
knew at once that he was Peter Pan. If you or I or Wendy had
been there we should have seen that he was very like Mrs.
Darling's kiss. He was a lovely boy, clad in skeleton leaves and
the juices that ooze out of trees but the most entrancing thing
about him was that he had all his first teeth. When he saw she
was a grown-up, he gnashed the little pearls at her.
Chapter 2 - THE SHADOW
Mrs. Darling screamed, and, as if in answer to a bell, the door
opened, and Nana entered, returned from her evening out. She
growled and sprang at the boy, who leapt lightly through the
window. Again Mrs. Darling screamed, this time in distress for
him, for she thought he was killed, and she ran down into the
street to look for his little body, but it was not there; and she
looked up, and in the black night she could see nothing but what
she thought was a shooting star.
She returned to the nursery, and found Nana with something in
her mouth, which proved to be the boy's shadow. As he leapt at
the window Nana had closed it quickly, too late to catch him, but
his shadow had not had time to get out; slam went the window and
snapped it off.
You may be sure Mrs. Darling examined the shadow carefully, but
it was quite the ordinary kind.
Nana had no doubt of what was the best thing to do with this
shadow. She hung it out at the window, meaning "He is sure to
come back for it; let us put it where he can get it easily
without disturbing the children."
But unfortunately Mrs. Darling could not leave it hanging out
at the window, it looked so like the washing and lowered the
whole tone of the house. She thought of showing it to Mr.
Darling, but he was totting up winter great-coats for John and
Michael, with a wet towel around his head to keep his brain
clear, and it seemed a shame to trouble him; besides, she knew
exactly what he would say: "It all comes of having a dog for a
She decided to roll the shadow up and put it away carefully in
a drawer, until a fitting opportunity came for telling her
husband. Ah me!
The opportunity came a week later, on that never-to-be-
forgotten Friday. Of course it was a Friday.
"I ought to have been specially careful on a Friday," she used
to say afterwards to her husband, while perhaps Nana was on the
other side of her, holding her hand.
"No, no," Mr. Darling always said, "I am responsible for it
all. I, George Darling, did it. MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA." He had
had a classical education.
They sat thus night after night recalling that fatal Friday,
till every detail of it was stamped on their brains and came
through on the other side like the faces on a bad coinage.
"If only I had not accepted that invitation to dine at 27,"
Mrs. Darling said.
"If only I had not poured my medicine into Nana's bowl," said
"If only I had pretended to like the medicine," was what Nana's
wet eyes said.
"My liking for parties, George."
"My fatal gift of humour, dearest."
"My touchiness about trifles, dear master and mistress."
Then one or more of them would break down altogether; Nana at
the thought, "It's true, it's true, they ought not to have had a
dog for a nurse." Many a time it was Mr. Darling who put the
handkerchief to Nana's eyes.
"That fiend!" Mr. Darling would cry, and Nana's bark was the
echo of it, but Mrs. Darling never upbraided Peter; there was
something in the right-hand corner of her mouth that wanted her
not to call Peter names.
They would sit there in the empty nursery, recalling fondly
every smallest detail of that dreadful evening. It had begun so
uneventfully, so precisely like a hundred other evenings, with
Nana putting on the water for Michael's bath and carrying him to
it on her back.
"I won't go to bed," he had shouted, like one who still
believed that he had the last word on the subject, "I won't, I
won't. Nana, it isn't six o'clock yet. Oh dear, oh dear, I
shan't love you any more, Nana. I tell you I won't be bathed, I
won't, I won't!"
Then Mrs. Darling had come in, wearing her white evening-gown.
She had dressed early because Wendy so loved to see her in her
evening-gown, with the necklace George had given her. She was
wearing Wendy's bracelet on her arm; she had asked for the loan
of it. Wendy loved to lend her bracelet to her mother.
She had found her two older children playing at being herself
and father on the occasion of Wendy's birth, and John was saying:
"I am happy to inform you, Mrs. Darling, that you are now a
mother," in just such a tone as Mr. Darling himself may have used
on the real occasion.
Wendy had danced with joy, just as the real Mrs. Darling must
Then John was born, with the extra pomp that he conceived due
to the birth of a male, and Michael came from his bath to ask to
be born also, but John said brutally that they did not want any
Michael had nearly cried. "Nobody wants me," he said, and of
course the lady in the evening-dress could not stand that.
"I do," she said, "I so want a third child."
"Boy or girl?" asked Michael, not too hopefully.
Then he had leapt into her arms. Such a little thing for Mr.
and Mrs. Darling and Nana to recall now, but not so little if
that was to be Michael's last night in the nursery.
They go on with their recollections.
"It was then that I rushed in like a tornado, wasn't it?" Mr.
Darling would say, scorning himself; and indeed he had been like
Perhaps there was some excuse for him. He, too, had been
dressing for the party, and all had gone well with him until he
came to his tie. It is an astounding thing to have to tell, but
this man, though he knew about stocks and shares, had no real
mastery of his tie. Sometimes the thing yielded to him without a
contest, but there were occasions when it would have been better
for the house if he had swallowed his pride and used a made-up
This was such an occasion. He came rushing into the nursery
with the crumpled little brute of a tie in his hand.
"Why, what is the matter, father dear?"
"Matter!" he yelled; he really yelled. "This tie, it will not
tie." He became dangerously sarcastic. "Not round my neck!
Round the bed-post! Oh yes, twenty times have I made it up round
the bed-post, but round my neck, no! Oh dear no! begs to be
He thought Mrs. Darling was not sufficiently impressed, and he
went on sternly, "I warn you of this, mother, that unless this
tie is round my neck we don't go out to dinner to-night, and if I
don't go out to dinner to-night, I never go to the office again,
and if I don't go to the office again, you and I starve, and our
children will be flung into the streets."
Even then Mrs. Darling was placid. "Let me try, dear," she
said, and indeed that was what he had come to ask her to do, and
with her nice cool hands she tied his tie for him, while the
children stood around to see their fate decided. Some men would
have resented her being able to do it so easily, but Mr. Darling
had far too fine a nature for that; he thanked her carelessly, at
once forgot his rage, and in another moment was dancing round the
room with Michael on his back.
"How wildly we romped!" says Mrs. Darling now, recalling it.
"Our last romp!" Mr. Darling groaned.
"O George, do you remember Michael suddenly said to me, `How
did you get to know me, mother?'"
"They were rather sweet, don't you think, George?"
"And they were ours, ours! and now they are gone."
The romp had ended with the appearance of Nana, and most
unluckily Mr. Darling collided against her, covering his trousers
with hairs. They were not only new trousers, but they were the
first he had ever had with braid on them, and he had had to bite
his lip to prevent the tears coming. Of course Mrs. Darling
brushed him, but he began to talk again about its being a mistake
to have a dog for a nurse.
"George, Nana is a treasure."
"No doubt, but I have an uneasy feeling at times that she
looks upon the children as puppies."
"Oh no, dear one, I feel sure she knows they have souls."
"I wonder," Mr. Darling said thoughtfully, "I wonder." It was
an opportunity, his wife felt, for telling him about the boy. At
first he pooh-poohed the story, but he became thoughtful when she
showed him the shadow.
"It is nobody I know," he said, examining it carefully, "but it
does look a scoundrel."
"We were still discussing it, you remember," says Mr. Darling,
"when Nana came in with Michael's medicine. You will never carry
the bottle in your mouth again, Nana, and it is all my fault."
Strong man though he was, there is no doubt that he had behaved
rather foolishly over the medicine. If he had a weakness, it was
for thinking that all his life he had taken medicine boldly, and
so now, when Michael dodged the spoon in Nana's mouth, he had
said reprovingly, "Be a man, Michael."
"Won't; won't!" Michael cried naughtily. Mrs. Darling left the
room to get a chocolate for him, and Mr. Darling thought this
showed want of firmness.
"Mother, don't pamper him," he called after her. "Michael,
when I was your age I took medicine without a murmur. I said,
`Thank you, kind parents, for giving me bottles to make we
He really thought this was true, and Wendy, who was now in her
night-gown, believed it also, and she said, to encourage
Michael, "That medicine you sometimes take, father, is much
nastier, isn't it?"
"Ever so much nastier," Mr. Darling said bravely, "and I would
take it now as an example to you, Michael, if I hadn't lost the
He had not exactly lost it; he had climbed in the dead of night
to the top of the wardrobe and hidden it there. What he did not
know was that the faithful Liza had found it, and put it back on
"I know where it is, father," Wendy cried, always glad to be of
service. "I'll bring it," and she was off before he could stop
her. Immediately his spirits sank in the strangest way.
"John," he said, shuddering, "it's most beastly stuff. It's
that nasty, sticky, sweet kind."
"It will soon be over, father," John said cheerily, and then in
rushed Wendy with the medicine in a glass.
"I have been as quick as I could," she panted.
"You have been wonderfully quick," her father retorted, with a
vindictive politeness that was quite thrown away upon her.
"Michael first," he said doggedly.
"Father first," said Michael, who was of a suspicious nature.
"I shall be sick, you know," Mr. Darling said threateningly.
"Come on, father," said John.
"Hold your tongue, John," his father rapped out.
Wendy was quite puzzled. "I thought you took it quite easily,
"That is not the point," he retorted. "The point is, that
there is more in my glass than in Michael's spoon." His proud
heart was nearly bursting. "And it isn't fair: I would say it
though it were with my last breath; it isn't fair."
"Father, I am waiting," said Michael coldly.
"It's all very well to say you are waiting; so am I waiting."
"Father's a cowardly custard."
"So are you a cowardly custard."
"I'm not frightened."
"Neither am I frightened."
"Well, then, take it."
"Well, then, you take it."
Wendy had a splendid idea. "Why not both take it at the same
"Certainly," said Mr. Darling. "Are you ready, Michael?"
Wendy gave the words, one, two, three, and Michael took his
medicine, but Mr. Darling slipped his behind his back.
There was a yell of rage from Michael, and "O father!" Wendy
"What do you mean by `O father'?" Mr. Darling demanded. "Stop
that row, Michael. I meant to take mine, but I--I missed it."
It was dreadful the way all the three were looking at him, just
as if they did not admire him. "Look here, all of you," he said
entreatingly, as soon as Nana had gone into the bathroom. "I
have just thought of a splendid joke. I shall pour my medicine
into Nana's bowl, and she will drink it, thinking it is milk!"
It was the colour of milk; but the children did not have their
father's sense of humour, and they looked at him reproachfully as
he poured the medicine into Nana's bowl. "What fun!" he said
doubtfully, and they did not dare expose him when Mrs. Darling
and Nana returned.
"Nana, good dog," he said, patting her, "I have put a little
milk into your bowl, Nana."
Nana wagged her tail, ran to the medicine, and began lapping
it. Then she gave Mr. Darling such a look, not an angry look:
she showed him the great red tear that makes us so sorry for
noble dogs, and crept into her kennel.
Mr. Darling was frightfully ashamed of himself, but he would
not give in. In a horrid silence Mrs. Darling smelt the bowl.
"O George," she said, "it's your medicine!"
"It was only a joke," he roared, while she comforted her boys,
and Wendy hugged Nana. "Much good," he said bitterly, "my
wearing myself to the bone trying to be funny in this house."
And still Wendy hugged Nana. "That's right," he shouted.
"Coddle her! Nobody coddles me. Oh dear no! I am only the
breadwinner, why should I be coddled--why, why, why!"
"George," Mrs. Darling entreated him, "not so loud; the
servants will hear you." Somehow they had got into the way of
calling Liza the servants.
"Let them!" he answered recklessly. "Bring in the whole world.
But I refuse to allow that dog to lord it in my nursery for an
The children wept, and Nana ran to him beseechingly, but he
waved her back. He felt he was a strong man again. "In vain, in
vain," he cried; "the proper place for you is the yard, and there
you go to be tied up this instant."
"George, George," Mrs. Darling whispered, "remember what I told
you about that boy."
Alas, he would not listen. He was determined to show who was
master in that house, and when commands would not draw Nana from
the kennel, he lured her out of it with honeyed words, and
seizing her roughly, dragged her from the nursery. He was
ashamed of himself, and yet he did it. It was all owing to his
too affectionate nature, which craved for admiration. When he
had tied her up in the back-yard, the wretched father went and
sat in the passage, with his knuckles to his eyes.
In the meantime Mrs. Darling had put the children to bed in
unwonted silence and lit their night-lights. They could hear
Nana barking, and John whimpered, "It is because he is chaining
her up in the yard," but Wendy was wiser.
"That is not Nana's unhappy bark," she said, little guessing
what was about to happen; "that is her bark when she smells
"Are you sure, Wendy?"
Mrs. Darling quivered and went to the window. It was securely
fastened. She looked out, and the night was peppered with stars.
They were crowding round the house, as if curious to see what was
to take place there, but she did not notice this, nor that one or
two of the smaller ones winked at her. Yet a nameless fear
clutched at her heart and made her cry, "Oh, how I wish that I
wasn't going to a party to-night!"
Even Michael, already half asleep, knew that she was perturbed,
and he asked, "Can anything harm us, mother, after the night-
lights are lit?"
"Nothing, precious," she said; "they are the eyes a mother
leaves behind her to guard her children."
She went from bed to bed singing enchantments over them, and
little Michael flung his arms round her. "Mother," he cried,
"I'm glad of you." They were the last words she was to hear from
him for a long time.
No. 27 was only a few yards distant, but there had been a
slight fall of snow, and Father and Mother Darling picked their
way over it deftly not to soil their shoes. They were already
the only persons in the street, and all the stars were watching
them. Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part
in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment
put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now
knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and
seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones
still wonder. They are not really friendly to Peter, who had a
mischievous way of stealing up behind them and trying to blow
them out; but they are so fond of fun that they were on his side
to-night, and anxious to get the grown-ups out of the way. So
as soon as the door of 27 closed on Mr. and Mrs. Darling there
was a commotion in the firmament, and the smallest of all the
stars in the Milky Way screamed out:
Chapter 3 - COME AWAY, COME AWAY!
For a moment after Mr. and Mrs. Darling left the house the
night-lights by the beds of the three children continued to burn
clearly. They were awfully nice little night-lights, and one
cannot help wishing that they could have kept awake to see Peter;
but Wendy's light blinked and gave such a yawn that the other two
yawned also, and before they could close their mouths all the
three went out.
There was another light in the room now, a thousand times
brighter than the night-lights, and in the time we have taken to
say this, it had been in all the drawers in the nursery, looking
for Peter's shadow, rummaged the wardrobe and turned every pocket
inside out. It was not really a light; it made this light by
flashing about so quickly, but when it came to rest for a second
you saw it was a fairy, no longer than your hand, but still
growing. It was a girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in
a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure
could be seen to the best advantage. She was slightly inclined
to EMBONPOINT. [plump hourglass figure]
A moment after the fairy's entrance the window was blown open
by the breathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He
had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still
messy with the fairy dust.
"Tinker Bell," he called softly, after making sure that the
children were asleep, "Tink, where are you?" She was in a jug
for the moment, and liking it extremely; she had never been in a
"Oh, do come out of that jug, and tell me, do you know where
they put my shadow?"
The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the
fairy language. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if
you were to hear it you would know that you had heard it once
Tink said that the shadow was in the big box. She meant the
chest of drawers, and Peter jumped at the drawers, scattering
their contents to the floor with both hands, as kings toss
ha'pence to the crowd. In a moment he had recovered his shadow,
and in his delight he forgot that he had shut Tinker Bell up in
If he thought at all, but I don't believe he ever thought, it
was that he and his shadow, when brought near each other, would
join like drops of water, and when they did not he was appalled.
He tried to stick it on with soap from the bathroom, but that
also failed. A shudder passed through Peter, and he sat on the
floor and cried.
His sobs woke Wendy, and she sat up in bed. She was not
alarmed to see a stranger crying on the nursery floor; she was
only pleasantly interested.
"Boy," she said courteously, "why are you crying?"
Peter could be exceeding polite also, having learned the grand
manner at fairy ceremonies, and he rose and bowed to her
beautifully. She was much pleased, and bowed beautifully to him
from the bed.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Wendy Moira Angela Darling," she replied with some
satisfaction. "What is your name?"
She was already sure that he must be Peter, but it did seem a
comparatively short name.
"Is that all?"
"Yes," he said rather sharply. He felt for the first time that
it was a shortish name.
"I'm so sorry," said Wendy Moira Angela.
"It doesn't matter," Peter gulped.
She asked where he lived.
"Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till
"What a funny address!"
Peter had a sinking. For the first time he felt that perhaps
it was a funny address.
"No, it isn't," he said.
"I mean," Wendy said nicely, remembering that she was hostess,
"is that what they put on the letters?"
He wished she had not mentioned letters.
"Don't get any letters," he said contemptuously.
"But your mother gets letters?"
"Don't have a mother," he said. Not only had he no mother, but
he had not the slightest desire to have one. He thought them
very over-rated persons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she
was in the presence of a tragedy.
"O Peter, no wonder you were crying," she said, and got out of
bed and ran to him.
"I wasn't crying about mothers," he said rather indignantly.
"I was crying because I can't get my shadow to stick on.
Besides, I wasn't crying."
"It has come off?"
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled,
and she was frightfully sorry for Peter. "How awful!" she said,
but she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been
trying to stick it on with soap. How exactly like a boy!
Fortunately she knew at once what to do. "It must be sewn on,"
she said, just a little patronisingly.
"What's sewn?" he asked.
"You're dreadfully ignorant."
"No, I'm not."
But she was exulting in his ignorance. "I shall sew it on for
you, my little man," she said, though he was tall as herself, and
she got out her housewife [sewing bag], and sewed the shadow on
to Peter's foot.
"I daresay it will hurt a little," she warned him.
"Oh, I shan't cry," said Peter, who was already of the opinion
that he had never cried in his life. And he clenched his teeth
and did not cry, and soon his shadow was behaving properly,
though still a little creased.
"Perhaps I should have ironed it," Wendy said thoughtfully, but
Peter, boylike, was indifferent to appearances, and he was now
jumping about in the wildest glee. Alas, he had already
forgotten that he owed his bliss to Wendy. He thought he had
attached the shadow himself. "How clever I am!" he crowed
rapturously, "oh, the cleverness of me!"
It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter
was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal
frankness, there never was a cockier boy.
But for the moment Wendy was shocked. "You conceit [braggart],"
she exclaimed, with frightful sarcasm; "of course I did nothing!"
"You did a little," Peter said carelessly, and continued to
"A little!" she replied with hauteur [pride]; "if I am no use
I can at least withdraw," and she sprang in the most dignified
way into bed and covered her face with the blankets.
To induce her to look up he pretended to be going away, and
when this failed he sat on the end of the bed and tapped her
gently with his foot. "Wendy," he said, "don't withdraw. I
can't help crowing, Wendy, when I'm pleased with myself." Still
she would not look up, though she was listening eagerly.
"Wendy," he continued, in a voice that no woman has ever yet been
able to resist, "Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys."
Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very
many inches, and she peeped out of the bed-clothes.
"Do you really think so, Peter?"
"Yes, I do."
"I think it's perfectly sweet of you," she declared, "and I'll
get up again," and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She
also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did
not know what she meant, and he held out his hand expectantly.
"Surely you know what a kiss is?" she asked, aghast.
"I shall know when you give it to me," he replied stiffly, and
not to hurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.
"Now," said he, "shall I give you a kiss?" and she replied with
a slight primness, "If you please." She made herself rather
cheap by inclining her face toward him, but he merely dropped an
acorn button into her hand, so she slowly returned her face to
where it had been before, and said nicely that she would wear his
kiss on the chain around her neck. It was lucky that she did put
it on that chain, for it was afterwards to save her life.
When people in our set are introduced, it is customary for them
to ask each other's age, and so Wendy, who always liked to do the
correct thing, asked Peter how old he was. It was not really a
happy question to ask him; it was like an examination paper that
asks grammar, when what you want to be asked is Kings of England.
"I don't know," he replied uneasily, "but I am quite young."
He really knew nothing about it, he had merely suspicions, but he
said at a venture, "Wendy, I ran away the day I was born."
Wendy was quite surprised, but interested; and she indicated in
the charming drawing-room manner, by a touch on her night-gown,
that he could sit nearer her.
"It was because I heard father and mother," he explained in a
low voice, "talking about what I was to be when I became a man."
He was extraordinarily agitated now. "I don't want ever to be a
man," he said with passion. "I want always to be a little boy
and to have fun. So I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a
long long time among the fairies."
She gave him a look of the most intense admiration, and he
thought it was because he had run away, but it was really because
he knew fairies. Wendy had lived such a home life that to know
fairies struck her as quite delightful. She poured out questions
about them, to his surprise, for they were rather a nuisance
to him, getting in his way and so on, and indeed he sometimes
had to give them a hiding [spanking]. Still, he liked them
on the whole, and he told her about the beginning of fairies.
"You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first
time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went
skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."
Tedious talk this, but being a stay-at-home she liked it.
"And so," he went on good-naturedly, "there ought to be one
fairy for every boy and girl."
"Ought to be? Isn't there?"
"No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't
believe in fairies, and every time a child says, `I don't believe
in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead."
Really, he thought they had now talked enough about fairies,
and it struck him that Tinker Bell was keeping very quiet. "I
can't think where she has gone to," he said, rising, and he
called Tink by name. Wendy's heart went flutter with a sudden
"Peter," she cried, clutching him, "you don't mean to tell me
that there is a fairy in this room!"
"She was here just now," he said a little impatiently. "You
don't hear her, do you?" and they both listened.
"The only sound I hear," said Wendy, "is like a tinkle of
"Well, that's Tink, that's the fairy language. I think I hear
The sound come from the chest of drawers, and Peter made a
merry face. No one could ever look quite so merry as Peter, and
the loveliest of gurgles was his laugh. He had his first laugh
"Wendy," he whispered gleefully, "I do believe I shut her up in
He let poor Tink out of the drawer, and she flew about the
nursery screaming with fury. "You shouldn't say such things,"
Peter retorted. "Of course I'm very sorry, but how could I know
you were in the drawer?"
Wendy was not listening to him. "O Peter," she cried, "if she
would only stand still and let me see her!"
"They hardly ever stand still," he said, but for one moment
Wendy saw the romantic figure come to rest on the cuckoo clock.
"O the lovely!" she cried, though Tink's face was still distorted
"Tink," said Peter amiably, "this lady says she wishes you
were her fairy."
Tinker Bell answered insolently.
"What does she say, Peter?"
He had to translate. "She is not very polite. She says you
are a great [huge] ugly girl, and that she is my fairy."
He tried to argue with Tink. "You know you can't be my fairy,
Tink, because I am an gentleman and you are a lady."
To this Tink replied in these words, "You silly ass," and
disappeared into the bathroom. "She is quite a common fairy,"
Peter explained apologetically, "she is called Tinker Bell
because she mends the pots and kettles [tinker = tin worker]."
[Similar to "cinder" plus "elle" to get Cinderella]
They were together in the armchair by this time, and Wendy
plied him with more questions.
"If you don't live in Kensington Gardens now--"
"Sometimes I do still."
"But where do you live mostly now?"
"With the lost boys."
"Who are they?"
"They are the children who fall out of their perambulators when
the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in
seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray
expenses. I'm captain."
"What fun it must be!"
"Yes," said cunning Peter, "but we are rather lonely. You see
we have no female companionship."
"Are none of the others girls?"
"Oh, no; girls, you know, are much too clever to fall out of
This flattered Wendy immensely. "I think," she said, "it is
perfectly lovely the way you talk about girls; John there just
For reply Peter rose and kicked John out of bed, blankets and
all; one kick. This seemed to Wendy rather forward for a first
meeting, and she told him with spirit that he was not captain in
her house. However, John continued to sleep so placidly on the
floor that she allowed him to remain there. "And I know you meant
to be kind," she said, relenting, "so you may give me a kiss."
For the moment she had forgotten his ignorance about kisses.
"I thought you would want it back," he said a little bitterly,
and offered to return her the thimble.
"Oh dear," said the nice Wendy, "I don't mean a kiss, I mean a
"It's like this." She kissed him.
"Funny!" said Peter gravely. "Now shall I give you a thimble?"
"If you wish to," said Wendy, keeping her head erect this time.
Peter thimbled her, and almost immediately she screeched.
"What is it, Wendy?"
"It was exactly as if someone were pulling my hair."
"That must have been Tink. I never knew her so naughty
And indeed Tink was darting about again, using offensive
"She says she will do that to you, Wendy, every time I give you
Again Tink replied, "You silly ass." Peter could not
understand why, but Wendy understood, and she was just slightly
disappointed when he admitted that he came to the nursery window
not to see her but to listen to stories.
"You see, I don't know any stories. None of the lost boys
knows any stories."
"How perfectly awful," Wendy said.
"Do you know," Peter asked "why swallows build in the eaves of
houses? It is to listen to the stories. O Wendy, your mother
was telling you such a lovely story."
"Which story was it?"
"About the prince who couldn't find the lady who wore the glass
"Peter," said Wendy excitedly, "that was Cinderella, and he
found her, and they lived happily ever after."
Peter was so glad that he rose from the floor, where they had
been sitting, and hurried to the window.
"Where are you going?" she cried with misgiving.
"To tell the other boys."
"Don't go Peter," she entreated, "I know such lots of stories."
Those were her precise words, so there can be no denying that
it was she who first tempted him.
He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eyes now which
ought to have alarmed her, but did not.
"Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys!" she cried, and then
Peter gripped her and began to draw her toward the window.
"Let me go!" she ordered him.
"Wendy, do come with me and tell the other boys."
Of course she was very pleased to be asked, but she said, "Oh
dear, I can't. Think of mummy! Besides, I can't fly."
"I'll teach you."
"Oh, how lovely to fly."
"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away
"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.
"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you
might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."
"And, Wendy, there are mermaids."
"Mermaids! With tails?"
"Such long tails."
"Oh," cried Wendy, "to see a mermaid!"
He had become frightfully cunning. "Wendy," he said, "how we
should all respect you."
She was wriggling her body in distress. It was quite as if she
were trying to remain on the nursery floor.
But he had no pity for her.
"Wendy," he said, the sly one, "you could tuck us in at night."
"None of us has ever been tucked in at night."
"Oo," and her arms went out to him.
"And you could darn our clothes, and make pockets for us. None
of us has any pockets."
How could she resist. "Of course it's awfully fascinating!"
she cried. "Peter, would you teach John and Michael to fly too?"
"If you like," he said indifferently, and she ran to John and
Michael and shook them. "Wake up," she cried, "Peter Pan has
come and he is to teach us to fly."
John rubbed his eyes. "Then I shall get up," he said. Of
course he was on the floor already. "Hallo," he said, "I am up!"
Michael was up by this time also, looking as sharp as a knife
with six blades and a saw, but Peter suddenly signed silence.
Their faces assumed the awful craftiness of children listening
for sounds from the grown-up world. All was as still as salt.
Then everything was right. No, stop! Everything was wrong.
Nana, who had been barking distressfully all the evening, was
quiet now. It was her silence they had heard.
"Out with the light! Hide! Quick!" cried John, taking command
for the only time throughout the whole adventure. And thus when
Liza entered, holding Nana, the nursery seemed quite its old
self, very dark, and you would have sworn you heard its three
wicked inmates breathing angelically as they slept. They were
really doing it artfully from behind the window curtains.
Liza was in a bad temper, for she was mixing the Christmas
puddings in the kitchen, and had been drawn from them, with a
raisin still on her cheek, by Nana's absurd suspicions. She
thought the best way of getting a little quiet was to take Nana
to the nursery for a moment, but in custody of course.
"There, you suspicious brute," she said, not sorry that Nana
was in disgrace. "They are perfectly safe, aren't they? Every
one of the little angels sound asleep in bed. Listen to their
Here Michael, encouraged by his success, breathed so loudly
that they were nearly detected. Nana knew that kind of
breathing, and she tried to drag herself out of Liza's clutches.
But Liza was dense. "No more of it, Nana," she said sternly,
pulling her out of the room. "I warn you if bark again I shall
go straight for master and missus and bring them home from the
party, and then, oh, won't master whip you, just."
She tied the unhappy dog up again, but do you think Nana ceased
to bark? Bring master and missus home from the party! Why, that
was just what she wanted. Do you think she cared whether she was
whipped so long as her charges were safe? Unfortunately Liza
returned to her puddings, and Nana, seeing that no help would
come from her, strained and strained at the chain until at last
she broke it. In another moment she had burst into the dining-
room of 27 and flung up her paws to heaven, her most expressive
way of making a communication. Mr. and Mrs. Darling knew at once
that something terrible was happening in their nursery, and
without a good-bye to their hostess they rushed into the street.
But it was now ten minutes since three scoundrels had been
breathing behind the curtains, and Peter Pan can do a great deal
in ten minutes.
We now return to the nursery.
"It's all right," John announced, emerging from his hiding-
place. "I say, Peter, can you really fly?"
Instead of troubling to answer him Peter flew around the room,
taking the mantelpiece on the way.
"How topping!" said John and Michael.
"How sweet!" cried Wendy.
"Yes, I'm sweet, oh, I am sweet!" said Peter, forgetting his
It looked delightfully easy, and they tried it first from the
floor and then from the beds, but they always went down instead
"I say, how do you do it?" asked John, rubbing his knee. He
was quite a practical boy.
"You just think lovely wonderful thoughts," Peter explained,
"and they lift you up in the air."
He showed them again.
"You're so nippy at it," John said, "couldn't you do it very
Peter did it both slowly and quickly. "I've got it now,
Wendy!" cried John, but soon he found he had not. Not one of
them could fly an inch, though even Michael was in words of two
syllables, and Peter did not know A from Z.
Of course Peter had been trifling with them, for no one can fly
unless the fairy dust has been blown on him. Fortunately, as we
have mentioned, one of his hands was messy with it, and he blew
some on each of them, with the most superb results.
"Now just wiggle your shoulders this way," he said, "and let
They were all on their beds, and gallant Michael let go first.
He did not quite mean to let go, but he did it, and immediately
he was borne across the room.
"I flewed!" he screamed while still in mid-air.
John let go and met Wendy near the bathroom.
"Look at me!"
"Look at me!"
"Look at me!"
They were not nearly so elegant as Peter, they could not help
kicking a little, but their heads were bobbing against the
ceiling, and there is almost nothing so delicious as that. Peter
gave Wendy a hand at first, but had to desist, Tink was so
Up and down they went, and round and round. Heavenly was
"I say," cried John, "why shouldn't we all go out?"
Of course it was to this that Peter had been luring them.
Michael was ready: he wanted to see how long it took him to do
a billion miles. But Wendy hesitated.
"Mermaids!" said Peter again.
"And there are pirates."
"Pirates," cried John, seizing his Sunday hat, "let us go at
It was just at this moment that Mr. and Mrs. Darling hurried
with Nana out of 27. They ran into the middle of the street to
look up at the nursery window; and, yes, it was still shut, but
the room was ablaze with light, and most heart-gripping sight of
all, they could see in shadow on the curtain three little figures
in night attire circling round and round, not on the floor but in
Not three figures, four!
In a tremble they opened the street door. Mr. Darling would
have rushed upstairs, but Mrs. Darling signed him to go softly.
She even tried to make her heart go softly.
Will they reach the nursery in time? If so, how delightful for
them, and we shall all breathe a sigh of relief, but there will
be no story. On the other hand, if they are not in time, I
solemnly promise that it will all come right in the end.
They would have reached the nursery in time had it not been
that the little stars were watching them. Once again the stars
blew the window open, and that smallest star of all called out:
Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. "Come,"
he cried imperiously, and soared out at once into the night,
followed by John and Michael and Wendy.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late.
The birds were flown.
Chapter 4 - THE FLIGHT
"Second to the right, and straight on till morning."
That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but
even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners,
could not have sighted it with these instructions. Peter, you
see, just said anything that came into his head.
At first his companions trusted him implicitly, and so great
were the delights of flying that they wasted time circling round
church spires or any other tall objects on the way that took
John and Michael raced, Michael getting a start.
They recalled with contempt that not so long ago they had
thought themselves fine fellows for being able to fly round a
Not long ago. But how long ago? They were flying over the sea
before this thought began to disturb Wendy seriously. John
thought it was their second sea and their third night.
Sometimes it was dark and sometimes light, and now they were
very cold and again too warm. Did they really feel hungry at
times, or were they merely pretending, because Peter had such a
jolly new way of feeding them? His way was to pursue birds who
had food in their mouths suitable for humans and snatch it from
them; then the birds would follow and snatch it back; and they
would all go chasing each other gaily for miles, parting at last
with mutual expressions of good-will. But Wendy noticed with
gentle concern that Peter did not seem to know that this was
rather an odd way of getting your bread and butter, nor even
that there are other ways.
Certainly they did not pretend to be sleepy, they were sleepy;
and that was a danger, for the moment they popped off, down they
fell. The awful thing was that Peter thought this funny.
"There he goes again!" he would cry gleefully, as Michael
suddenly dropped like a stone.
"Save him, save him!" cried Wendy, looking with horror at the
cruel sea far below. Eventually Peter would dive through the air,
and catch Michael just before he could strike the sea, and it was
lovely the way he did it; but he always waited till the last
moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him
and not the saving of human life. Also he was fond of variety,
and the sport that engrossed him one moment would suddenly cease
to engage him, so there was always the possibility that the next
time you fell he would let you go.
He could sleep in the air without falling, by merely lying on
his back and floating, but this was, partly at least, because he
was so light that if you got behind him and blew he went faster.
"Do be more polite to him," Wendy whispered to John, when they
were playing "Follow my Leader."
"Then tell him to stop showing off," said John.
When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the
water and touch each shark's tail in passing, just as in the
street you may run your finger along an iron railing. They
could not follow him in this with much success, so perhaps it was
rather like showing off, especially as he kept looking behind to
see how many tails they missed.
"You must be nice to him," Wendy impressed on her brothers.
"What could we do if he were to leave us!"
"We could go back," Michael said.
"How could we ever find our way back without him?"
"Well, then, we could go on," said John.
"That is the awful thing, John. We should have to go on, for
we don't know how to stop."
This was true, Peter had forgotten to show them how to stop.
John said that if the worst came to the worst, all they had to
do was to go straight on, for the world was round, and so in time
they must come back to their own window.
"And who is to get food for us, John?"
"I nipped a bit out of that eagle's mouth pretty neatly,
"After the twentieth try," Wendy reminded him. "And even
though we became good a picking up food, see how we bump against
clouds and things if he is not near to give us a hand."
Indeed they were constantly bumping. They could now fly
strongly, though they still kicked far too much; but if they saw
a cloud in front of them, the more they tried to avoid it, the
more certainly did they bump into it. If Nana had been with them,
she would have had a bandage round Michael's forehead by this
Peter was not with them for the moment, and they felt rather
lonely up there by themselves. He could go so much faster than
they that he would suddenly shoot out of sight, to have some
adventure in which they had no share. He would come down
laughing over something fearfully funny he had been saying to a
star, but he had already forgotten what it was, or he would come
up with mermaid scales still sticking to him, and yet not be able
to say for certain what had been happening. It was really rather
irritating to children who had never seen a mermaid.
"And if he forgets them so quickly," Wendy argued, "how can we
expect that he will go on remembering us?"
Indeed, sometimes when he returned he did not remember them, at
least not well. Wendy was sure of it. She saw recognition come
into his eyes as he was about to pass them the time of day and go
on; once even she had to call him by name.
"I'm Wendy," she said agitatedly.
He was very sorry. "I say, Wendy," he whispered to her,
"always if you see me forgetting you, just keep on saying `I'm
Wendy,' and then I'll remember."
Of course this was rather unsatisfactory. However, to make
amends he showed them how to lie out flat on a strong wind that
was going their way, and this was such a pleasant change that
they tried it several times and found that they could sleep thus with
security. Indeed they would have slept longer, but Peter tired
quickly of sleeping, and soon he would cry in his captain voice,
"We get off here." So with occasional tiffs, but on the whole
rollicking, they drew near the Neverland; for after many moons
they did reach it, and, what is more, they had been going pretty
straight all the time, not perhaps so much owing to the guidance
of Peter or Tink as because the island was looking for them. It
is only thus that any one may sight those magic shores.
"There it is," said Peter calmly.
"Where all the arrows are pointing."
Indeed a million golden arrows were pointing it out to the
children, all directed by their friend the sun, who wanted
them to be sure of their way before leaving them for the night.
Wendy and John and Michael stood on tip-toe in the air to get
their first sight of the island. Strange to say, they all
recognized it at once, and until fear fell upon them they hailed
it, not as something long dreamt of and seen at last, but as a
familiar friend to whom they were returning home for the holidays.
"John, there's the lagoon."
"Wendy, look at the turtles burying their eggs in the sand."
"I say, John, I see your flamingo with the broken leg!"
"Look, Michael, there's your cave!"
"John, what's that in the brushwood?"
"It's a wolf with her whelps. Wendy, I do believe that's your
"There's my boat, John, with her sides stove in!"
"No, it isn't. Why, we burned your boat."
"That's her, at any rate. I say, John, I see the smoke of the
"Where? Show me, and I'll tell you by the way smoke curls
whether they are on the war-path."
"There, just across the Mysterious River."
"I see now. Yes, they are on the war-path right enough."
Peter was a little annoyed with them for knowing so much, but
if he wanted to lord it over them his triumph was at hand, for
have I not told you that anon fear fell upon them?
It came as the arrows went, leaving the island in gloom.
In the old days at home the Neverland had always begun to look
a little dark and threatening by bedtime. Then unexplored
patches arose in it and spread, black shadows moved about in
them, the roar of the beasts of prey was quite different now, and
above all, you lost the certainty that you would win. You were
quite glad that the night-lights were on. You even liked Nana to
say that this was just the mantelpiece over here, and that the
Neverland was all make-believe.
Of course the Neverland had been make-believe in those days,
but it was real now, and there were no night-lights, and it was
getting darker every moment, and where was Nana?
They had been flying apart, but they huddled close to Peter
now. His careless manner had gone at last, his eyes were
sparkling, and a tingle went through them every time they touched
his body. They were now over the fearsome island, flying so low
that sometimes a tree grazed their feet. Nothing horrid was
visible in the air, yet their progress had become slow and
laboured, exactly as if they were pushing their way through
hostile forces. Sometimes they hung in the air until Peter had
beaten on it with his fists.
"They don't want us to land," he explained.
"Who are they?" Wendy whispered, shuddering.
But he could not or would not say. Tinker Bell had been asleep
on his shoulder, but now he wakened her and sent her on in front.
Sometimes he poised himself in the air, listening intently, with
his hand to his ear, and again he would stare down with eyes so
bright that they seemed to bore two holes to earth. Having done
these things, he went on again.
His courage was almost appalling. "Would you like an adventure
now," he said casually to John, "or would you like to have your
Wendy said "tea first" quickly, and Michael pressed her hand
in gratitude, but the braver John hesitated.
"What kind of adventure?" he asked cautiously.
"There's a pirate asleep in the pampas just beneath us," Peter
told him. "If you like, we'll go down and kill him."
"I don't see him," John said after a long pause.
"Suppose," John said, a little huskily, "he were to wake up."
Peter spoke indignantly. "You don't think I would kill him
while he was sleeping! I would wake him first, and then kill
him. That's the way I always do."
"I say! Do you kill many?"
John said "How ripping," but decided to have tea first. He
asked if there were many pirates on the island just now, and
Peter said he had never known so many.
"Who is captain now?"
"Hook," answered Peter, and his face became very stern as he
said that hated word.
Then indeed Michael began to cry, and even John could speak in
gulps only, for they knew Hook's reputation.
"He was Blackbeard's bo'sun," John whispered huskily. "He is
the worst of them all. He is the only man of whom Barbecue was
"That's him," said Peter.
"What is he like? Is he big?"
"He is not so big as he was."
"How do you mean?"
"I cut off a bit of him."
"Yes, me," said Peter sharply.
"I wasn't meaning to be disrespectful."
"Oh, all right."
"But, I say, what bit?"
"His right hand."
"Then he can't fight now?"
"Oh, can't he just!"
"He has an iron hook instead of a right hand, and he claws with
"I say, John," said Peter.
"Say, `Ay, ay, sir.'"
"Ay, ay, sir."
"There is one thing," Peter continued, "that every boy who
serves under me has to promise, and so must you."
"It is this, if we meet Hook in open fight, you must leave him
"I promise," John said loyally.
For the moment they were feeling less eerie, because Tink was
flying with them, and in her light they could distinguish each
other. Unfortunately she could not fly so slowly as they, and
so she had to go round and round them in a circle in which they
moved as in a halo. Wendy quite liked it, until Peter pointed
out the drawbacks.
"She tells me," he said, "that the pirates sighted us before
the darkness came, and got Long Tom out."
"The big gun?"
"Yes. And of course they must see her light, and if they guess
we are near it they are sure to let fly."
"Tell her to go away at once, Peter," the three cried
simultaneously, but he refused.
"She thinks we have lost the way," he replied stiffly, "and she
is rather frightened. You don't think I would send her away all
by herself when she is frightened!"
For a moment the circle of light was broken, and something gave
Peter a loving little pinch.
"Then tell her," Wendy begged, "to put out her light."
"She can't put it out. That is about the only thing fairies
can't do. It just goes out of itself when she falls asleep, same
as the stars."
"Then tell her to sleep at once," John almost ordered.
"She can't sleep except when she's sleepy. It is the only
other thing fairies can't do."
"Seems to me," growled John, "these are the only two things
Here he got a pinch, but not a loving one.
"If only one of us had a pocket," Peter said, "we could carry
her in it." However, they had set off in such a hurry that there
was not a pocket between the four of them.
He had a happy idea. John's hat!
Tink agreed to travel by hat if it was carried in the hand.
John carried it, though she had hoped to be carried by Peter.
Presently Wendy took the hat, because John said it struck against
his knee as he flew; and this, as we shall see, led to mischief,
for Tinker Bell hated to be under an obligation to Wendy.
In the black topper the light was completely hidden, and they
flew on in silence. It was the stillest silence they had ever
known, broken once by a distant lapping, which Peter explained
was the wild beasts drinking at the ford, and again by a rasping
sound that might have been the branches of trees rubbing
together, but he said it was the redskins sharpening their
Even these noises ceased. To Michael the loneliness was
dreadful. "If only something would make a sound!" he cried.
As if in answer to his request, the air was rent by the most
tremendous crash he had ever heard. The pirates had fired Long
Tom at them.
The roar of it echoed through the mountains, and the echoes
seemed to cry savagely, "Where are they, where are they, where
Thus sharply did the terrified three learn the difference
between an island of make-believe and the same island come true.
When at last the heavens were steady again, John and Michael
found themselves alone in the darkness. John was treading the
air mechanically, and Michael without knowing how to float was
"Are you shot?" John whispered tremulously.
"I haven't tried [myself out] yet," Michael whispered back.
We know now that no one had been hit. Peter, however, had been
carried by the wind of the shot far out to sea, while Wendy was
blown upwards with no companion but Tinker Bell.
It would have been well for Wendy if at that moment she had
dropped the hat.
I don't know whether the idea came suddenly to Tink, or whether
she had planned it on the way, but she at once popped out of the
hat and began to lure Wendy to her destruction.
Tink was not all bad; or, rather, she was all bad just now,
but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have
to be one thing or the other, because being so small they
unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They
are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete
change. At present she was full of jealousy of Wendy. What she
said in her lovely tinkle Wendy could not of course understand,
and I believe some of it was bad words, but it sounded kind, and
she flew back and forward, plainly meaning "Follow me, and all
will be well."
What else could poor Wendy do? She called to Peter and John
and Michael, and got only mocking echoes in reply. She did not
yet know that Tink hated her with the fierce hatred of a very
woman. And so, bewildered, and now staggering in her flight, she
followed Tink to her doom.
Chapter 5 - THE ISLAND COME TRUE
Feeling that Peter was on his way back, the Neverland had again
woke into life. We ought to use the pluperfect and say wakened,
but woke is better and was always used by Peter.
In his absence things are usually quiet on the island. The
fairies take an hour longer in the morning, the beasts attend to
their young, the redskins feed heavily for six days and nights,
and when pirates and lost boys meet they merely bite their thumbs
at each other. But with the coming of Peter, who hates lethargy,
they are under way again: if you put your ear to the ground now,
you would hear the whole island seething with life.
On this evening the chief forces of the island were disposed as
follows. The lost boys were out looking for Peter, the pirates
were out looking for the lost boys, the redskins were out looking
for the pirates, and the beasts were out looking for the
redskins. They were going round and round the island, but they
did not meet because all were going at the same rate.
All wanted blood except the boys, who liked it as a rule, but
to-night were out to greet their captain. The boys on the
island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed
and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against
the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six
of them, counting the twins as two. Let us pretend to lie here
among the sugar-cane and watch them as they steal by in single
file, each with his hand on his dagger.
They are forbidden by Peter to look in the least like him, and
they wear the skins of the bears slain by themselves, in which
they are so round and furry that when they fall they roll. They
have therefore become very sure-footed.
The first to pass is Tootles, not the least brave but the most
unfortunate of all that gallant band. He had been in fewer
adventures than any of them, because the big things constantly
happened just when he had stepped round the corner; all would be
quiet, he would take the opportunity of going off to gather a few
sticks for firewood, and then when he returned the others would
be sweeping up the blood. This ill-luck had given a gentle
melancholy to his countenance, but instead of souring his nature
had sweetened it, so that he was quite the humblest of the boys.
Poor kind Tootles, there is danger in the air for you to-night.
Take care lest an adventure is now offered you, which, if
accepted, will plunge you in deepest woe. Tootles, the fairy
Tink, who is bent on mischief this night is looking for a
tool [for doing her mischief], and she thinks you are the
most easily tricked of the boys. 'Ware Tinker Bell.
Would that he could hear us, but we are not really on the
island, and he passes by, biting his knuckles.
Next comes Nibs, the gay and debonair, followed by Slightly,
who cuts whistles out of the trees and dances ecstatically to his
own tunes. Slightly is the most conceited of the boys. He
thinks he remembers the days before he was lost, with their
manners and customs, and this has given his nose an offensive
tilt. Curly is fourth; he is a pickle, [a person who gets in
pickles-predicaments] and so often has he had to deliver up his
person when Peter said sternly, "Stand forth the one who did this
thing," that now at the command he stands forth automatically
whether he has done it or not. Last come the Twins, who cannot
be described because we should be sure to be describing the wrong
one. Peter never quite knew what twins were, and his band were
not allowed to know anything he did not know, so these two were
always vague about themselves, and did their best to give
satisfaction by keeping close together in an apologetic sort of
The boys vanish in the gloom, and after a pause, but not a long
pause, for things go briskly on the island, come the pirates on
their track. We hear them before they are seen, and it is always
the same dreadful song:
"Avast belay, yo ho, heave to,
A-pirating we go,
And if we're parted by a shot
We're sure to meet below!"
A more villainous-looking lot never hung in a row on Execution
dock. Here, a little in advance, ever and again with his head to
the ground listening, his great arms bare, pieces of eight in his
ears as ornaments, is the handsome Italian Cecco, who cut his
name in letters of blood on the back of the governor of the
prison at Gao. That gigantic black behind him has had many
names since he dropped the one with which dusky mothers still
terrify their children on the banks of the Guadjo-mo. Here is
Bill Jukes, every inch of him tattooed, the same Bill Jukes who
got six dozen on the WALRUS from Flint before he would drop the
bag of moidores [Portuguese gold pieces]; and Cookson, said to be
Black Murphy's brother (but this was never proved), and Gentleman
Starkey, once an usher in a public school and still dainty in his
ways of killing; and Skylights (Morgan's Skylights); and the
Irish bo'sun Smee, an oddly genial man who stabbed, so to speak,
without offence, and was the only Non-conformist in Hook's crew;
and Noodler, whose hands were fixed on backwards; and Robt.
Mullins and Alf Mason and many another ruffian long known and
feared on the Spanish Main.
In the midst of them, the blackest and largest in that dark
setting, reclined James Hook, or as he wrote himself, Jas. Hook,
of whom it is said he was the only man that the Sea-Cook feared.
He lay at his ease in a rough chariot drawn and propelled by his
men, and instead of a right hand he had the iron hook with which
ever and anon he encouraged them to increase their pace. As dogs
this terrible man treated and addressed them, and as dogs they
obeyed him. In person he was cadaverous [dead looking] and
blackavized [dark faced], and his hair was dressed in long curls,
which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave a
singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance.
His eyes were of the blue of the forget-me-not, and of a profound
melancholy, save when he was plunging his hook into you, at which
time two red spots appeared in them and lit them up horribly. In
manner, something of the grand seigneur still clung to him, so
that he even ripped you up with an air, and I have been told that
he was a RACONTEUR [storyteller] of repute. He was never more
sinister than when he was most polite, which is probably the
truest test of breeding; and the elegance of his diction, even
when he was swearing, no less than the distinction of his
demeanour, showed him one of a different cast from his crew. A
man of indomitable courage, it was said that the only thing he
shied at was the sight of his own blood, which was thick and of
an unusual colour. In dress he somewhat aped the attire
associated with the name of Charles II, having heard it said in
some earlier period of his career that he bore a strange
resemblance to the ill-fated Stuarts; and in his mouth he had a
holder of his own contrivance which enabled him to smoke two
cigars at once. But undoubtedly the grimmest part of him was his
Let us now kill a pirate, to show Hook's method. Skylights
will do. As they pass, Skylights lurches clumsily against him,
ruffling his lace collar; the hook shoots forth, there is a
tearing sound and one screech, then the body is kicked aside,
and the pirates pass on. He has not even taken the cigars from
Such is the terrible man against whom Peter Pan is pitted.
Which will win?
On the trail of the pirates, stealing noiselessly down the war-
path, which is not visible to inexperienced eyes, come the
redskins, every one of them with his eyes peeled. They carry
tomahawks and knives, and their naked bodies gleam with paint and
oil. Strung around them are scalps, of boys as well as of
pirates, for these are the Piccaninny tribe, and not to be
confused with the softer-hearted Delawares or the Hurons. In the
van, on all fours, is Great Big Little Panther, a brave of so
many scalps that in his present position they somewhat impede his
progress. Bringing up the rear, the place of greatest danger,
comes Tiger Lily, proudly erect, a princess in her own right.
She is the most beautiful of dusky Dianas [Diana = goddess of the
woods] and the belle of the Piccaninnies, coquettish [flirting],
cold and amorous [loving] by turns; there is not a brave who
would not have the wayward thing to wife, but she staves off the
altar with a hatchet. Observe how they pass over fallen twigs
without making the slightest noise. The only sound to be heard
is their somewhat heavy breathing. The fact is that they are all
a little fat just now after the heavy gorging, but in time they
will work this off. For the moment, however, it constitutes
their chief danger.
The redskins disappear as they have come like shadows, and soon
their place is taken by the beasts, a great and motley
procession: lions, tigers, bears, and the innumerable smaller
savage things that flee from them, for every kind of beast, and,
more particularly, all the man-eaters, live cheek by jowl on the
favoured island. Their tongues are hanging out, they are hungry
When they have passed, comes the last figure of all, a gigantic
crocodile. We shall see for whom she is looking presently.
The crocodile passes, but soon the boys appear again, for the
procession must continue indefinitely until one of the parties
stops or changes its pace. Then quickly they will be on top of
All are keeping a sharp look-out in front, but none suspects
that the danger may be creeping up from behind. This shows how
real the island was.
The first to fall out of the moving circle was the boys. They
flung themselves down on the sward [turf], close to their
"I do wish Peter would come back," every one of them said
nervously, though in height and still more in breadth they were
all larger than their captain.
"I am the only one who is not afraid of the pirates," Slightly
said, in the tone that prevented his being a general favourite;
but perhaps some distant sound disturbed him, for he added
hastily, "but I wish he would come back, and tell us whether he
has heard anything more about Cinderella."
They talked of Cinderella, and Tootles was confident that his
mother must have been very like her.
It was only in Peter's absence that they could speak of
mothers, the subject being forbidden by him as silly.
"All I remember about my mother," Nibs told them, "is that she
often said to my father, `Oh, how I wish I had a cheque-book of
my own!' I don't know what a cheque-book is, but I should just
love to give my mother one."
While they talked they heard a distant sound. You or I, not
being wild things of the woods, would have heard nothing, but
they heard it, and it was the grim song:
"Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life,
The flag o' skull and bones,
A merry hour, a hempen rope,
And hey for Davy Jones."
At once the lost boys--but where are they? They are no
longer there. Rabbits could not have disappeared more quickly.
I will tell you where they are. With the exception of Nibs,
who has darted away to reconnoitre [look around], they are
already in their home under the ground, a very delightful
residence of which we shall see a good deal presently. But how
have they reached it? for there is no entrance to be seen, not so
much as a large stone, which if rolled away, would disclose
the mouth of a cave. Look closely, however, and you may note
that there are here seven large trees, each with a hole in its
hollow trunk as large as a boy. These are the seven entrances to
the home under the ground, for which Hook has been searching in
vain these many moons. Will he find it tonight?
As the pirates advanced, the quick eye of Starkey sighted Nibs
disappearing through the wood, and at once his pistol flashed
out. But an iron claw gripped his shoulder.
"Captain, let go!" he cried, writhing.
Now for the first time we hear the voice of Hook. It was a
black voice. "Put back that pistol first," it said
"It was one of those boys you hate. I could have shot him
"Ay, and the sound would have brought Tiger Lily's redskins
upon us. Do you want to lose your scalp?"
"Shall I after him, Captain," asked pathetic Smee, "and tickle
him with Johnny Corkscrew?" Smee had pleasant names for
everything, and his cutlass was Johnny Corkscrew, because he
wiggled it in the wound. One could mention many lovable traits
in Smee. For instance, after killing, it was his spectacles he
wiped instead of his weapon.
"Johnny's a silent fellow," he reminded Hook.
"Not now, Smee," Hook said darkly. "He is only one, and I want
to mischief all the seven. Scatter and look for them."
The pirates disappeared among the trees, and in a moment their
Captain and Smee were alone. Hook heaved a heavy sigh, and I
know not why it was, perhaps it was because of the soft beauty
of the evening, but there came over him a desire to confide to
his faithful bo'sun the story of his life. He spoke long and
earnestly, but what it was all about Smee, who was rather
stupid, did not know in the least.
Anon [later] he caught the word Peter.
"Most of all," Hook was saying passionately, "I want their
captain, Peter Pan. 'Twas he cut off my arm." He brandished the
hook threateningly. "I've waited long to shake his hand with
this. Oh, I'll tear him!"
"And yet," said Smee, "I have often heard you say that hook was
worth a score of hands, for combing the hair and other homely
"Ay," the captain answered, "if I was a mother I would pray to
have my children born with this instead of that," and he cast a
look of pride upon his iron hand and one of scorn upon the other.
Then again he frowned.
"Peter flung my arm," he said, wincing, "to a crocodile that
happened to be passing by."
"I have often," said Smee, "noticed your strange dread of
"Not of crocodiles," Hook corrected him, "but of that one
crocodile." He lowered his voice. "It liked my arm so much,
Smee, that it has followed me ever since, from sea to sea and
from land to land, licking its lips for the rest of me."
"In a way," said Smee, "it's sort of a compliment."
"I want no such compliments," Hook barked petulantly. "I want
Peter Pan, who first gave the brute its taste for me."
He sat down on a large mushroom, and now there was a quiver in
his voice. "Smee," he said huskily, "that crocodile would have
had me before this, but by a lucky chance it swallowed a clock
which goes tick tick inside it, and so before it can reach me I
hear the tick and bolt." He laughed, but in a hollow way.
"Some day," said Smee, "the clock will run down, and then he'll
Hook wetted his dry lips. "Ay," he said, "that's the fear that
Since sitting down he had felt curiously warm. "Smee," he
said, "this seat is hot." He jumped up. "Odds bobs, hammer and
tongs I'm burning."
They examined the mushroom, which was of a size and solidity
unknown on the mainland; they tried to pull it up, and it came
away at once in their hands, for it had no root. Stranger still,
smoke began at once to ascend. The pirates looked at each other.
"A chimney!" they both exclaimed.
They had indeed discovered the chimney of the home under the
ground. It was the custom of the boys to stop it with a mushroom
when enemies were in the neighbourhood.
Not only smoke came out of it. There came also children's
voices, for so safe did the boys feel in their hiding-place that
they were gaily chattering. The pirates listened grimly, and
then replaced the mushroom. They looked around them and noted
the holes in the seven trees.
"Did you hear them say Peter Pan's from home?" Smee whispered,
fidgeting with Johnny Corkscrew.
Hook nodded. He stood for a long time lost in thought, and at
last a curdling smile lit up his swarthy face. Smee had been
waiting for it. "Unrip your plan, captain," he cried eagerly.
"To return to the ship," Hook replied slowly through his teeth,
"and cook a large rich cake of a jolly thickness with green sugar
on it. There can be but one room below, for there is but one
chimney. The silly moles had not the sense to see that they did
not need a door apiece. That shows they have no mother. We will
leave the cake on the shore of the Mermaids' Lagoon. These boys
are always swimming about there, playing with the mermaids. They
will find the cake and they will gobble it up, because, having no
mother, they don't know how dangerous 'tis to eat rich damp
cake." He burst into laughter, not hollow laughter now, but
honest laughter. "Aha, they will die."
Smee had listened with growing admiration.
"It's the wickedest, prettiest policy ever I heard of!" he
cried, and in their exultation they danced and sang:
"Avast, belay, when I appear,
By fear they're overtook;
Nought's left upon your bones when you
Have shaken claws with Hook."
They began the verse, but they never finished it, for another
sound broke in and stilled them. There was at first such a tiny
sound that a leaf might have fallen on it and smothered it, but
as it came nearer it was more distinct.
Tick tick tick tick!
Hook stood shuddering, one foot in the air.
"The crocodile!" he gasped, and bounded away, followed by his
It was indeed the crocodile. It had passed the redskins, who
were now on the trail of the other pirates. It oozed on after
Once more the boys emerged into the open; but the dangers of
the night were not yet over, for presently Nibs rushed breathless
into their midst, pursued by a pack of wolves. The tongues of
the pursuers were hanging out; the baying of them was horrible.
"Save me, save me!" cried Nibs, falling on the ground.
"But what can we do, what can we do?"
It was a high compliment to Peter that at that dire moment
their thoughts turned to him.
"What would Peter do?" they cried simultaneously.
Almost in the same breath they cried, "Peter would look at them
through his legs."
And then, "Let us do what Peter would do."
It is quite the most successful way of defying wolves, and as
one boy they bent and looked through their legs. The next
moment is the long one, but victory came quickly, for as the boys
advanced upon them in the terrible attitude, the wolves dropped
their tails and fled.
Now Nibs rose from the ground, and the others thought that his
staring eyes still saw the wolves. But it was not wolves he saw.
"I have seen a wonderfuller thing," he cried, as they gathered
round him eagerly. "A great white bird. It is flying this way."
"What kind of a bird, do you think?"
"I don't know," Nibs said, awestruck, "but it looks so weary,
and as it flies it moans, `Poor Wendy,'"
"I remember," said Slightly instantly, "there are birds called
"See, it comes!" cried Curly, pointing to Wendy in the heavens.
Wendy was now almost overhead, and they could hear her
plaintive cry. But more distinct came the shrill voice of Tinker
Bell. The jealous fairy had now cast off all disguise of
friendship, and was darting at her victim from every direction,
pinching savagely each time she touched.
"Hullo, Tink," cried the wondering boys.
Tink's reply rang out: "Peter wants you to shoot the Wendy."
It was not in their nature to question when Peter ordered.
"Let us do what Peter wishes!" cried the simple boys. "Quick,
bows and arrows!"
All but Tootles popped down their trees. He had a bow and
arrow with him, and Tink noted it, and rubbed her little hands.
"Quick, Tootles, quick," she screamed. "Peter will be so
Tootles excitedly fitted the arrow to his bow. "Out of the
way, Tink," he shouted, and then he fired, and Wendy fluttered to
the ground with an arrow in her breast.
Chapter 6 - THE LITTLE HOUSE
Foolish Tootles was standing like a conqueror over Wendy's body
when the other boys sprang, armed, from their trees.
"You are too late," he cried proudly, "I have shot the Wendy.
Peter will be so pleased with me."
Overhead Tinker Bell shouted "Silly ass!" and darted into
hiding. The others did not hear her. They had crowded round
Wendy, and as they looked a terrible silence fell upon the wood.
If Wendy's heart had been beating they would all have heard it.
Slightly was the first to speak. "This is no bird," he said in
a scared voice. "I think this must be a lady."
"A lady?" said Tootles, and fell a-trembling.
"And we have killed her," Nibs said hoarsely.
They all whipped off their caps.
"Now I see," Curly said: "Peter was bringing her to us." He
threw himself sorrowfully on the ground.
"A lady to take care of us at last," said one of the twins,
"and you have killed her!"
They were sorry for him, but sorrier for themselves, and when
he took a step nearer them they turned from him.
Tootles' face was very white, but there was a dignity about him
now that had never been there before.
"I did it," he said, reflecting. "When ladies used to come to
me in dreams, I said, `Pretty mother, pretty mother.' But when
at last she really came, I shot her."
He moved slowly away.
"Don't go," they called in pity.
"I must," he answered, shaking; "I am so afraid of Peter."
It was at this tragic moment that they heard a sound which made
the heart of every one of them rise to his mouth. They heard
"Peter!" they cried, for it was always thus that he signalled
"Hide her," they whispered, and gathered hastily around Wendy.
But Tootles stood aloof.
Again came that ringing crow, and Peter dropped in front of
them. "Greetings, boys," he cried, and mechanically they
saluted, and then again was silence.
"I am back," he said hotly, "why do you not cheer?"
They opened their mouths, but the cheers would not come. He
overlooked it in his haste to tell the glorious tidings.
"Great news, boys," he cried, "I have brought at last a mother
for you all."
Still no sound, except a little thud from Tootles as he dropped
on his knees.
"Have you not seen her?" asked Peter, becoming troubled. "She
flew this way."
"Ah me!" once voice said, and another said, "Oh, mournful day."
Tootles rose. "Peter," he said quietly, "I will show her to
you," and when the others would still have hidden her he said,
"Back, twins, let Peter see."
So they all stood back, and let him see, and after he had
looked for a little time he did not know what to do next.
"She is dead," he said uncomfortably. "Perhaps she is
frightened at being dead."
He thought of hopping off in a comic sort of way till he was
out of sight of her, and then never going near the spot any more.
They would all have been glad to follow if he had done this.
But there was the arrow. He took it from her heart and faced
"Whose arrow?" he demanded sternly.
"Mine, Peter," said Tootles on his knees.
"Oh, dastard hand," Peter said, and he raised the arrow to use
it as a dagger.
Tootles did not flinch. He bared his breast. "Strike, Peter,"
he said firmly, "strike true."
Twice did Peter raise the arrow, and twice did his hand fall.
"I cannot strike," he said with awe, "there is something stays my
All looked at him in wonder, save Nibs, who fortunately looked
"It is she," he cried, "the Wendy lady, see, her arm!"
Wonderful to relate [tell], Wendy had raised her arm. Nibs
bent over her and listened reverently. "I think she said, `Poor
Tootles,'" he whispered.
"She lives," Peter said briefly.
Slightly cried instantly, "The Wendy lady lives."
Then Peter knelt beside her and found his button. You remember
she had put it on a chain that she wore round her neck.
"See," he said, "the arrow struck against this. It is the kiss
I gave her. It has saved her life."
"I remember kisses," Slightly interposed quickly, "let me see it.
Ay, that's a kiss."
Peter did not hear him. He was begging Wendy to get better
quickly, so that he could show her the mermaids. Of course she
could not answer yet, being still in a frightful faint; but from
overhead came a wailing note.
"Listen to Tink," said Curly, "she is crying because the Wendy lives."
Then they had to tell Peter of Tink's crime, and almost never
had they seen him look so stern.
"Listen, Tinker Bell," he cried, "I am your friend no more.
Begone from me for ever."
She flew on to his shoulder and pleaded, but he brushed her
off. Not until Wendy again raised her arm did he relent
sufficiently to say, "Well, not for ever, but for a whole week."
Do you think Tinker Bell was grateful to Wendy for raising her
arm? Oh dear no, never wanted to pinch her so much. Fairies
indeed are strange, and Peter, who understood them best, often
cuffed [slapped] them.
But what to do with Wendy in her present delicate state of
"Let us carry her down into the house," Curly suggested.
"Ay," said Slightly, "that is what one does with ladies."
"No, no," Peter said, "you must not touch her. It would not be
"That," said Slightly, "is what I was thinking."
"But if she lies there," Tootles said, "she will die."
"Ay, she will die," Slightly admitted, "but there is no way
"Yes, there is," cried Peter. "Let us build a little house
They were all delighted. "Quick," he ordered them, "bring me
each of you the best of what we have. Gut our house. Be sharp."
In a moment they were as busy as tailors the night before a
wedding. They skurried this way and that, down for bedding, up
for firewood, and while they were at it, who should appear but
John and Michael. As they dragged along the ground they fell
asleep standing, stopped, woke up, moved another step and slept
"John, John," Michael would cry, "wake up! Where is Nana,
John, and mother?"
And then John would rub his eyes and mutter, "It is true, we
You may be sure they were very relieved to find Peter.
"Hullo, Peter," they said.
"Hullo," replied Peter amicably, though he had quite forgotten
them. He was very busy at the moment measuring Wendy with his
feet to see how large a house she would need. Of course he meant
to leave room for chairs and a table. John and Michael watched
"Is Wendy asleep?" they asked.
"John," Michael proposed, "let us wake her and get her to make
supper for us," but as he said it some of the other boys rushed
on carrying branches for the building of the house. "Look at
them!" he cried.
"Curly," said Peter in his most captainy voice, "see that these
boys help in the building of the house."
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Build a house?" exclaimed John.
"For the Wendy," said Curly.
"For Wendy?" John said, aghast. "Why, she is only a girl!"
"That," explained Curly, "is why we are her servants."
"You? Wendy's servants!"
"Yes," said Peter, "and you also. Away with them."
The astounded brothers were dragged away to hack and hew and
carry. "Chairs and a fender [fireplace] first," Peter ordered.
"Then we shall build a house round them."
"Ay," said Slightly, "that is how a house is built; it all
comes back to me."
Peter thought of everything. "Slightly," he cried, "fetch a
"Ay, ay," said Slightly at once, and disappeared, scratching his
head. But he knew Peter must be obeyed, and he returned in a
moment, wearing John's hat and looking solemn.
"Please, sir," said Peter, going to him, "are you a doctor?"
The difference between him and the other boys at such a time
was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe
and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled
them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their
If they broke down in their make-believe he rapped them on the
"Yes, my little man," Slightly anxiously replied, who had
"Please, sir," Peter explained, "a lady lies very ill."
She was lying at their feet, but Slightly had the sense not to
"Tut, tut, tut," he said, "where does she lie?"
"In yonder glade."
"I will put a glass thing in her mouth," said Slightly, and he
made-believe to do it, while Peter waited. It was an anxious
moment when the glass thing was withdrawn.
"How is she?" inquired Peter.
"Tut, tut, tut," said Slightly, "this has cured her."
"I am glad!" Peter cried.
"I will call again in the evening," Slightly said; "give her
beef tea out of a cup with a spout to it"; but after he had
returned the hat to John he blew big breaths, which was his habit
on escaping from a difficulty.
In the meantime the wood had been alive with the sound of axes;
almost everything needed for a cosy dwelling already lay at
"If only we knew," said one, "the kind of house she likes
"Peter," shouted another, "she is moving in her sleep."
"Her mouth opens," cried a third, looking respectfully into it.
"Perhaps she is going to sing in her sleep," said Peter.
"Wendy, sing the kind of house you would like to have."
Immediately, without opening her eyes, Wendy began to sing:
"I wish I had a pretty house,
The littlest ever seen,
With funny little red walls
And roof of mossy green."
They gurgled with joy at this, for by the greatest good luck
the branches they had brought were sticky with red sap, and all
the ground was carpeted with moss. As they rattled up the little
house they broke into song themselves:
"We've built the little walls and roof
And made a lovely door,
So tell us, mother Wendy,
What are you wanting more?"
To this she answered greedily:
"Oh, really next I think I'll have
Gay windows all about,
With roses peeping in, you know,
And babies peeping out."
With a blow of their fists they made windows, and large yellow
leaves were the blinds. But roses--?
"Roses," cried Peter sternly.
Quickly they made-believe to grow the loveliest roses up the
To prevent Peter ordering babies they hurried into song again:
"We've made the roses peeping out,
The babes are at the door,
We cannot make ourselves, you know,
'cos we've been made before."
Peter, seeing this to be a good idea, at once pretended that it
was his own. The house was quite beautiful, and no doubt Wendy
was very cosy within, though, of course, they could no longer see
her. Peter strode up and down, ordering finishing touches.
Nothing escaped his eagle eyes. Just when it seemed absolutely
"There's no knocker on the door," he said.
They were very ashamed, but Tootles gave the sole of his shoe,
and it made an excellent knocker.
Absolutely finished now, they thought.
Not of bit of it. "There's no chimney," Peter said; "we must
have a chimney."
"It certainly does need a chimney," said John importantly.
This gave Peter an idea. He snatched the hat off John's head,
knocked out the bottom [top], and put the hat on the roof. The
little house was so pleased to have such a capital chimney that,
as if to say thank you, smoke immediately began to come out of
Now really and truly it was finished. Nothing remained to do
but to knock.
"All look your best," Peter warned them; "first impressions are
He was glad no one asked him what first impressions are; they
were all too busy looking their best.
He knocked politely, and now the wood was as still as the
children, not a sound to be heard except from Tinker Bell, who was
watching from a branch and openly sneering.
What the boys were wondering was, would any one answer the
knock? If a lady, what would she be like?
The door opened and a lady came out. It was Wendy. They all
whipped off their hats.
She looked properly surprised, and this was just how they had
hoped she would look.
"Where am I?" she said.
Of course Slightly was the first to get his word in. "Wendy
lady," he said rapidly, "for you we built this house."
"Oh, say you're pleased," cried Nibs.
"Lovely, darling house," Wendy said, and they were the very
words they had hoped she would say.
"And we are your children," cried the twins.
Then all went on their knees, and holding out their arms cried,
"O Wendy lady, be our mother."
"Ought I?" Wendy said, all shining. "Of course it's
frightfully fascinating, but you see I am only a little girl. I
have no real experience."
"That doesn't matter," said Peter, as if he were the only
person present who knew all about it, though he was really the
one who knew least. "What we need is just a nice motherly
"Oh dear!" Wendy said, "you see, I feel that is exactly what I
"It is, it is," they all cried; "we saw it at once."
"Very well," she said, "I will do my best. Come inside at
once, you naughty children; I am sure your feet are damp. And
before I put you to bed I have just time to finish the story of
In they went; I don't know how there was room for them, but you
can squeeze very tight in the Neverland. And that was the first
of the many joyous evenings they had with Wendy. By and by she
tucked them up in the great bed in the home under the trees, but
she herself slept that night in the little house, and Peter kept
watch outside with drawn sword, for the pirates could be heard
carousing far away and the wolves were on the prowl. The little
house looked so cosy and safe in the darkness, with a bright
light showing through its blinds, and the chimney smoking
beautifully, and Peter standing on guard. After a time he fell
asleep, and some unsteady fairies had to climb over him on their
way home from an orgy. Any of the other boys obstructing the
fairy path at night they would have mischiefed, but they just
tweaked Peter's nose and passed on.
Chapter 7 - THE HOME UNDER THE GROUND
One of the first things Peter did next day was to measure Wendy
and John and Michael for hollow trees. Hook, you remember, had
sneered at the boys for thinking they needed a tree apiece, but
this was ignorance, for unless your tree fitted you it was
difficult to go up and down, and no two of the boys were quite
the same size. Once you fitted, you drew in [let out] your
breath at the top, and down you went at exactly the right speed,
while to ascend you drew in and let out alternately, and so
wriggled up. Of course, when you have mastered the action you
are able to do these things without thinking of them, and nothing
can be more graceful.
But you simply must fit, and Peter measures you for your tree
as carefully as for a suit of clothes: the only difference being
that the clothes are made to fit you, while you have to be made
to fit the tree. Usually it is done quite easily, as by your
wearing too many garments or too few, but if you are bumpy in
awkward places or the only available tree is an odd shape, Peter
does some things to you, and after that you fit. Once you fit,
great care must be taken to go on fitting, and this, as Wendy was
to discover to her delight, keeps a whole family in perfect
Wendy and Michael fitted their trees at the first try, but John
had to be altered a little.
After a few days' practice they could go up and down as gaily
as buckets in a well. And how ardently they grew to love their
home under the ground; especially Wendy. It consisted of one
large room, as all houses should do, with a floor in which you
could dig [for worms] if you wanted to go fishing, and in this
floor grew stout mushrooms of a charming colour, which were used
as stools. A Never tree tried hard to grow in the centre of the
room, but every morning they sawed the trunk through, level with
the floor. By tea-time it was always about two feet high, and
then they put a door on top of it, the whole thus becoming a
table; as soon as they cleared away, they sawed off the trunk
again, and thus there was more room to play. There was an
enourmous fireplace which was in almost any part of the room
where you cared to light it, and across this Wendy stretched
strings, made of fibre, from which she suspended her washing.
The bed was tilted against the wall by day, and let down at 6:30,
when it filled nearly half the room; and all the boys slept
in it, except Michael, lying like sardines in a tin. There was a
strict rule against turning round until one gave the signal, when
all turned at once. Michael should have used it also, but Wendy
would have [desired] a baby, and he was the littlest, and you know
what women are, and the short and long of it is that he was hung
up in a basket.
It was rough and simple, and not unlike what baby bears would
have made of an underground house in the same circumstances. But
there was one recess in the wall, no larger than a bird-cage,
which was the private apartment of Tinker Bell. It could be shut
off from the rest of the house by a tiny curtain, which Tink, who
was most fastidious [particular], always kept drawn when dressing
or undressing. No woman, however large, could have had a more
exquisite boudoir [dressing room] and bed-chamber combined. The
couch, as she always called it, was a genuine Queen Mab, with
club legs; and she varied the bedspreads according to what fruit-
blossom was in season. Her mirror was a Puss-in-Boots, of which
there are now only three, unchipped, known to fairy dealers; the
washstand was Pie-crust and reversible, the chest of drawers an
authentic Charming the Sixth, and the carpet and rugs the best
(the early) period of Margery and Robin. There was a chandelier
from Tiddlywinks for the look of the thing, but of course she lit
the residence herself. Tink was very contemptuous of the rest of
the house, as indeed was perhaps inevitable, and her chamber,
though beautiful, looked rather conceited, having the appearance
of a nose permanently turned up.
I suppose it was all especially entrancing to Wendy, because
those rampagious boys of hers gave her so much to do. Really
there were whole weeks when, except perhaps with a stocking in
the evening, she was never above ground. The cooking, I can tell
you, kept her nose to the pot, and even if there was nothing in it,
even if there was no pot, she had to keep watching that it
came aboil just the same. You never exactly knew whether there would
be a real meal or just a make-believe, it all depended upon Peter's
whim: he could eat, really eat, if it was part of a game, but he
could not stodge [cram down the food] just to feel stodgy [stuffed
with food], which is what most children like better than anything else;
the next best thing being to talk about it. Make-believe was so real
to him that during a meal of it you could see him getting rounder.
Of course it was trying, but you simply had to follow his lead,
and if you could prove to him that you were getting loose for your
tree he let you stodge.
Wendy's favourite time for sewing and darning was after they
had all gone to bed. Then, as she expressed it, she had a
breathing time for herself; and she occupied it in making new
things for them, and putting double pieces on the knees, for they
were all most frightfully hard on their knees.
When she sat down to a basketful of their stockings, every heel
with a hole in it, she would fling up her arms and exclaim, "Oh
dear, I am sure I sometimes think spinsters are to be envied!"
Her face beamed when she exclaimed this.
You remember about her pet wolf. Well, it very soon discovered
that she had come to the island and it found her out, and they
just ran into each other's arms. After that it followed her
As time wore on did she think much about the beloved parents
she had left behind her? This is a difficult question, because
it is quite impossible to say how time does wear on in the
Neverland, where it is calculated by moons and suns, and there
are ever so many more of them than on the mainland. But I am
afraid that Wendy did not really worry about her father and
mother; she was absolutely confident that they would always keep
the window open for her to fly back by, and this gave her
complete ease of mind. What did disturb her at times was that
John remembered his parents vaguely only, as people he had once
known, while Michael was quite willing to believe that she was
really his mother. These things scared her a little, and nobly
anxious to do her duty, she tried to fix the old life in their
minds by setting them examination papers on it, as like as
possible to the ones she used to do at school. The other boys
thought this awfully interesting, and insisted on joining, and
they made slates for themselves, and sat round the table, writing
and thinking hard about the questions she had written on another
slate and passed round. They were the most ordinary questions--
"What was the colour of Mother's eyes? Which was taller, Father
or Mother? Was Mother blonde or brunette? Answer all three
questions if possible." "(A) Write an essay of not less than 40
words on How I spent my last Holidays, or The Characters of
Father and Mother compared. Only one of these to be attempted."
Or "(1) Describe Mother's laugh; (2) Describe Father's laugh; (3)
Describe Mother's Party Dress; (4) Describe the Kennel and its
They were just everyday questions like these, and when you
could not answer them you were told to make a cross; and it was
really dreadful what a number of crosses even John made. Of course
the only boy who replied to every question was Slightly, and no
one could have been more hopeful of coming out first, but his
answers were perfectly ridiculous, and he really came out last:
a melancholy thing.
Peter did not compete. For one thing he despised all mothers
except Wendy, and for another he was the only boy on the island
who could neither write nor spell; not the smallest word. He was
above all that sort of thing.
By the way, the questions were all written in the past tense.
What was the colour of Mother's eyes, and so on. Wendy, you see,
had been forgetting, too.
Adventures, of course, as we shall see, were of daily
occurrence; but about this time Peter invented, with Wendy's
help, a new game that fascinated him enormously, until he
suddenly had no more interest in it, which, as you have been
told, was what always happened with his games. It consisted in
pretending not to have adventures, in doing the sort of thing
John and Michael had been doing all their lives, sitting on
stools flinging balls in the air, pushing each other, going out
for walks and coming back without having killed so much as a
grizzly. To see Peter doing nothing on a stool was a great
sight; he could not help looking solemn at such times, to sit
still seemed to him such a comic thing to do. He boasted that he
had gone walking for the good of his health. For several suns
these were the most novel of all adventures to him; and John and
Michael had to pretend to be delighted also; otherwise he would
have treated them severely.
He often went out alone, and when he came back you were never
absolutely certain whether he had had an adventure or not. He
might have forgotten it so completely that he said nothing about
it; and then when you went out you found the body; and, on the
other hand, he might say a great deal about it, and yet you could
not find the body. Sometimes he came home with his head
bandaged, and then Wendy cooed over him and bathed it in lukewarm
water, while he told a dazzling tale. But she was never quite
sure, you know. There were, however, many adventures which she
knew to be true because she was in them herself, and there were
still more that were at least partly true, for the other boys
were in them and said they were wholly true. To describe them
all would require a book as large as an English-Latin, Latin-
English Dictionary, and the most we can do is to give one as a
specimen of an average hour on the island. The difficulty is
which one to choose. Should we take the brush with the redskins
at Slightly Gulch? It was a sanguinary [cheerful] affair, and
especially interesting as showing one of Peter's peculiarities,
which was that in the middle of a fight he would suddenly change
sides. At the Gulch, when victory was still in the balance,
sometimes leaning this way and sometimes that, he called out,
"I'm redskin to-day; what are you, Tootles?" And Tootles
answered, "Redskin; what are you, Nibs?" and Nibs said,
"Redskin; what are you Twin?" and so on; and they were all
redskins; and of course this would have ended the fight had not
the real redskins fascinated by Peter's methods, agreed to be
lost boys for that once, and so at it they all went again, more
fiercely than ever.
The extraordinary upshot of this adventure was--but we have
not decided yet that this is the adventure we are to narrate.
Perhaps a better one would be the night attack by the redskins on
the house under the ground, when several of them stuck in the
hollow trees and had to be pulled out like corks. Or we might
tell how Peter saved Tiger Lily's life in the Mermaids' Lagoon,
and so made her his ally.
Or we could tell of that cake the pirates cooked so that the
boys might eat it and perish; and how they placed it in one
cunning spot after another; but always Wendy snatched it from the
hands of her children, so that in time it lost its succulence,
and became as hard as a stone, and was used as a missile, and Hook
fell over it in the dark.
Or suppose we tell of the birds that were Peter's friends,
particularly of the Never bird that built in a tree overhanging
the lagoon, and how the nest fell into the water, and still the
bird sat on her eggs, and Peter gave orders that she was not to
be disturbed. That is a pretty story, and the end shows how
grateful a bird can be; but if we tell it we must also tell the
whole adventure of the lagoon, which would of course be telling
two adventures rather than just one. A shorter adventure, and
quite as exciting, was Tinker Bell's attempt, with the help of
some street fairies, to have the sleeping Wendy conveyed on a
great floating leaf to the mainland. Fortunately the leaf gave
way and Wendy woke, thinking it was bath-time, and swam back. Or
again, we might choose Peter's defiance of the lions, when he
drew a circle round him on the ground with an arrow and dared
them to cross it; and though he waited for hours, with the other
boys and Wendy looking on breathlessly from trees, not one of
them dared to accept his challenge.
Which of these adventures shall we choose? The best way will
be to toss for it.
I have tossed, and the lagoon has won. This almost makes one
wish that the gulch or the cake or Tink's leaf had won. Of
course I could do it again, and make it best out of three;
however, perhaps fairest to stick to the lagoon.
Chapter 8 - THE MERMAIDS' LAGOON
If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times
a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the
darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins
to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another
squeeze they must go on fire. But just before they go on fire
you see the lagoon. This is the nearest you ever get to it on
the mainland, just one heavenly moment; if there could be two
moments you might see the surf and hear the mermaids singing.
The children often spent long summer days on this lagoon,
swimming or floating most of the time, playing the mermaid games
in the water, and so forth. You must not think from this that
the mermaids were on friendly terms with them: on the contrary,
it was among Wendy's lasting regrets that all the time she was on
the island she never had a civil word from one of them. When she
stole softly to the edge of the lagoon she might see them by the
score, especially on Marooners' Rock, where they loved to bask,
combing out their hair in a lazy way that quite irritated her; or
she might even swim, on tiptoe as it were, to within a yard of
them, but then they saw her and dived, probably splashing her
with their tails, not by accident, but intentionally.
They treated all the boys in the same way, except of course
Peter, who chatted with them on Marooners' Rock by the hour, and
sat on their tails when they got cheeky. He gave Wendy one of
The most haunting time at which to see them is at the turn of
the moon, when they utter strange wailing cries; but the lagoon
is dangerous for mortals then, and until the evening of which we
have now to tell, Wendy had never seen the lagoon by moonlight,
less from fear, for of course Peter would have accompanied her,
than because she had strict rules about every one being in bed by
seven. She was often at the lagoon, however, on sunny days after
rain, when the mermaids come up in extraordinary numbers to play
with their bubbles. The bubbles of many colours made in rainbow
water they treat as balls, hitting them gaily from one to another
with their tails, and trying to keep them in the rainbow till
they burst. The goals are at each end of the rainbow, and the
keepers only are allowed to use their hands. Sometimes a dozen
of these games will be going on in the lagoon at a time, and it
is quite a pretty sight.
But the moment the children tried to join in they had to play
by themselves, for the mermaids immediately disappeared.
Nevertheless we have proof that they secretly watched the
interlopers, and were not above taking an idea from them; for
John introduced a new way of hitting the bubble, with the head
instead of the hand, and the mermaids adopted it. This is the
one mark that John has left on the Neverland.
It must also have been rather pretty to see the children
resting on a rock for half an hour after their mid-day meal.
Wendy insisted on their doing this, and it had to be a real rest
even though the meal was make-believe. So they lay there in the
sun, and their bodies glistened in it, while she sat beside them
and looked important.
It was one such day, and they were all on Marooners' Rock. The
rock was not much larger than their great bed, but of course they
all knew how not to take up much room, and they were dozing, or
at least lying with their eyes shut, and pinching occasionally
when they thought Wendy was not looking. She was very busy,
While she stitched a change came to the lagoon. Little shivers
ran over it, and the sun went away and shadows stole across the
water, turning it cold. Wendy could no longer see to thread her
needle, and when she looked up, the lagoon that had always
hitherto been such a laughing place seemed formidable and
It was not, she knew, that night had come, but something as
dark as night had come. No, worse than that. It had not come,
but it had sent that shiver through the sea to say that it was
coming. What was it?
There crowded upon her all the stories she had been told of
Marooners' Rock, so called because evil captains put sailors on
it and leave them there to drown. They drown when the tide
rises, for then it is submerged.
Of course she should have roused the children at once; not
merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, but
because it was no longer good for them to sleep on a rock grown
chilly. But she was a young mother and she did not know this;
she thought you simply must stick to your rule about half an hour
after the mid-day meal. So, though fear was upon her, and she
longed to hear male voices, she would not waken them. Even when
she heard the sound of muffled oars, though her heart was in her
mouth, she did not waken them. She stood over them to let them
have their sleep out. Was it not brave of Wendy?
It was well for those boys then that there was one among them
who could sniff danger even in his sleep. Peter sprang erect, as
wide awake at once as a dog, and with one warning cry he roused
He stood motionless, one hand to his ear.
"Pirates!" he cried. The others came closer to him. A strange
smile was playing about his face, and Wendy saw it and shuddered.
While that smile was on his face no one dared address him; all
they could do was to stand ready to obey. The order came sharp
There was a gleam of legs, and instantly the lagoon seemed
deserted. Marooners' Rock stood alone in the forbidding waters
as if it were itself marooned.
The boat drew nearer. It was the pirate dinghy, with three
figures in her, Smee and Starkey, and the third a captive, no
other than Tiger Lily. Her hands and ankles were tied, and she
knew what was to be her fate. She was to be left on the rock to
perish, an end to one of her race more terrible than death by
fire or torture, for is it not written in the book of the tribe
that there is no path through water to the happy hunting-ground?
Yet her face was impassive; she was the daughter of a chief, she
must die as a chief's daughter, it is enough.
They had caught her boarding the pirate ship with a knife in
her mouth. No watch was kept on the ship, it being Hook's boast
that the wind of his name guarded the ship for a mile around.
Now her fate would help to guard it also. One more wail would go
the round in that wind by night.
In the gloom that they brought with them the two pirates did
not see the rock till they crashed into it.
"Luff, you lubber," cried an Irish voice that was Smee's;
"here's the rock. Now, then, what we have to do is to hoist the
redskin on to it and leave her here to drown."
It was the work of one brutal moment to land the beautiful girl
on the rock; she was too proud to offer a vain resistance.
Quite near the rock, but out of sight, two heads were bobbing
up and down, Peter's and Wendy's. Wendy was crying, for it was
the first tragedy she had seen. Peter had seen many tragedies,
but he had forgotten them all. He was less sorry than Wendy for
Tiger Lily: it was two against one that angered him, and he
meant to save her. An easy way would have been to wait until the
pirates had gone, but he was never one to choose the easy way.
There was almost nothing he could not do, and he now imitated
the voice of Hook.
"Ahoy there, you lubbers!" he called. It was a marvellous
"The captain!" said the pirates, staring at each other in
"He must be swimming out to us," Starkey said, when they had
looked for him in vain.
"We are putting the redskin on the rock," Smee called out.
"Set her free," came the astonishing answer.
"Yes, cut her bonds and let her go."
"At once, d'ye hear," cried Peter, "or I'll plunge my hook in
"This is queer!" Smee gasped.
"Better do what the captain orders," said Starkey nervously.
"Ay, ay." Smee said, and he cut Tiger Lily's cords. At once
like an eel she slid between Starkey's legs into the water.
Of course Wendy was very elated over Peter's cleverness; but
she knew that he would be elated also and very likely crow and
thus betray himself, so at once her hand went out to cover his
mouth. But it was stayed even in the act, for "Boat ahoy!" rang
over the lagoon in Hook's voice, and this time it was not Peter
who had spoken.
Peter may have been about to crow, but his face puckered in a
whistle of surprise instead.
"Boat ahoy!" again came the voice.
Now Wendy understood. The real Hook was also in the water.
He was swimming to the boat, and as his men showed a light to
guide him he had soon reached them. In the light of the lantern
Wendy saw his hook grip the boat's side; she saw his evil swarthy
face as he rose dripping from the water, and, quaking, she would
have liked to swim away, but Peter would not budge. He was
tingling with life and also top-heavy with conceit. "Am I not a
wonder, oh, I am a wonder!" he whispered to her, and though she
thought so also, she was really glad for the sake of his
reputation that no one heard him except herself.
He signed to her to listen.
The two pirates were very curious to know what had brought
their captain to them, but he sat with his head on his hook in a
position of profound melancholy.
"Captain, is all well?" they asked timidly, but he answered
with a hollow moan.
"He sighs," said Smee.
"He sighs again," said Starkey.
"And yet a third time he sighs," said Smee.
Then at last he spoke passionately.
"The game's up," he cried, "those boys have found a mother."
Affrighted though she was, Wendy swelled with pride.
"O evil day!" cried Starkey.
"What's a mother?" asked the ignorant Smee.
Wendy was so shocked that she exclaimed. "He doesn't know!"
and always after this she felt that if you could have a pet
pirate Smee would be her one.
Peter pulled her beneath the water, for Hook had started up,
crying, "What was that?"
"I heard nothing," said Starkey, raising the lantern over the
waters, and as the pirates looked they saw a strange sight. It
was the nest I have told you of, floating on the lagoon, and the
Never bird was sitting on it.
"See," said Hook in answer to Smee's question, "that is a
mother. What a lesson! The nest must have fallen into the
water, but would the mother desert her eggs? No."
There was a break in his voice, as if for a moment he recalled
innocent days when--but he brushed away this weakness with his
Smee, much impressed, gazed at the bird as the nest was borne
past, but the more suspicious Starkey said, "If she is a mother,
perhaps she is hanging about here to help Peter."
Hook winced. "Ay," he said, "that is the fear that haunts me."
He was roused from this dejection by Smee's eager voice.
"Captain," said Smee, "could we not kidnap these boys' mother
and make her our mother?"
"It is a princely scheme," cried Hook, and at once it took
practical shape in his great brain. "We will seize the children
and carry them to the boat: the boys we will make walk the
plank, and Wendy shall be our mother."
Again Wendy forgot herself.
"Never!" she cried, and bobbed.
"What was that?"
But they could see nothing. They thought it must have been a
leaf in the wind. "Do you agree, my bullies?" asked Hook.
"There is my hand on it," they both said.
"And there is my hook. Swear."
They all swore. By this time they were on the rock, and
suddenly Hook remembered Tiger Lily.
"Where is the redskin?" he demanded abruptly.
He had a playful humour at moments, and they thought this was
one of the moments.
"That is all right, captain," Smee answered complacently; "we
let her go."
"Let her go!" cried Hook.
"'Twas your own orders," the bo'sun faltered.
"You called over the water to us to let her go," said Starkey.
"Brimstone and gall," thundered Hook, "what cozening [cheating]
is going on here!" His face had gone black with rage, but he saw
that they believed their words, and he was startled. "Lads," he
said, shaking a little, "I gave no such order."
"It is passing queer," Smee said, and they all fidgeted
uncomfortably. Hook raised his voice, but there was a quiver in
"Spirit that haunts this dark lagoon to-night," he cried, "dost
Of course Peter should have kept quiet, but of course he did
not. He immediately answered in Hook's voice:
"Odds, bobs, hammer and tongs, I hear you."
In that supreme moment Hook did not blanch, even at the gills,
but Smee and Starkey clung to each other in terror.
"Who are you, stranger? Speak!" Hook demanded.
"I am James Hook," replied the voice, "captain of the JOLLY
"You are not; you are not," Hook cried hoarsely.
"Brimstone and gall," the voice retorted, "say that again, and
I'll cast anchor in you."
Hook tried a more ingratiating manner. "If you are Hook," he
said almost humbly, "come tell me, who am I?"
"A codfish," replied the voice, "only a codfish."
"A codfish!" Hook echoed blankly, and it was then, but not till
then, that his proud spirit broke. He saw his men draw back from
"Have we been captained all this time by a codfish!" they
muttered. "It is lowering to our pride."
They were his dogs snapping at him, but, tragic figure though
he had become, he scarcely heeded them. Against such fearful
evidence it was not their belief in him that he needed, it was
his own. He felt his ego slipping from him. "Don't desert me,
bully," he whispered hoarsely to it.
In his dark nature there was a touch of the feminine, as in all
the great pirates, and it sometimes gave him intuitions.
Suddenly he tried the guessing game.
"Hook," he called, "have you another voice?"
Now Peter could never resist a game, and he answered blithely
in his own voice, "I have."
"And another name?"
"Vegetable?" asked Hook.
"No!" This answer rang out scornfully.
To Wendy's pain the answer that rang out this time was "Yes."
"Are you in England?"
"Are you here?"
Hook was completely puzzled. "You ask him some questions," he
said to the others, wiping his damp brow.
Smee reflected. "I can't think of a thing," he said
"Can't guess, can't guess!" crowed Peter. "Do you give it up?"
Of course in his pride he was carrying the game too far, and
the miscreants [villains] saw their chance.
"Yes, yes," they answered eagerly.
"Well, then," he cried, "I am Peter Pan."
In a moment Hook was himself again, and Smee and Starkey were
his faithful henchmen.
"Now we have him," Hook shouted. "Into the water, Smee.
Starkey, mind the boat. Take him dead or alive!"
He leaped as he spoke, and simultaneously came the gay voice of
"Are you ready, boys?"
"Ay, ay," from various parts of the lagoon.
"Then lam into the pirates."
The fight was short and sharp. First to draw blood was John,
who gallantly climbed into the boat and held Starkey. There was
fierce struggle, in which the cutlass was torn from the pirate's
grasp. He wriggled overboard and John leapt after him. The
dinghy drifted away.
Here and there a head bobbed up in the water, and there was a
flash of steel followed by a cry or a whoop. In the confusion
some struck at their own side. The corkscrew of Smee got Tootles
in the fourth rib, but he was himself pinked [nicked] in turn by
Curly. Farther from the rock Starkey was pressing Slightly and
the twins hard.
Where all this time was Peter? He was seeking bigger game.
The others were all brave boys, and they must not be blamed for
backing from the pirate captain. His iron claw made a circle of
dead water round him, from which they fled like affrighted
But there was one who did not fear him: there was one prepared
to enter that circle.
Strangely, it was not in the water that they met. Hook rose to
the rock to breathe, and at the same moment Peter scaled it on
the opposite side. The rock was slippery as a ball, and they had
to crawl rather than climb. Neither knew that the other was
coming. Each feeling for a grip met the other's arm: in
surprise they raised their heads; their faces were almost
touching; so they met.
Some of the greatest heroes have confessed that just before
they fell to [began combat] they had a sinking [feeling in the
stomach]. Had it been so with Peter at that moment I would admit
it. After all, he was the only man that the Sea-Cook had
feared. But Peter had no sinking, he had one feeling only,
gladness; and he gnashed his pretty teeth with joy. Quick
as thought he snatched a knife from Hook's belt and was about to
drive it home, when he saw that he was higher up the rock that
his foe. It would not have been fighting fair. He gave the
pirate a hand to help him up.
It was then that Hook bit him.
Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter.
It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified.
Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated
unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you
to be yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he
will love you again, but will never afterwards be quite the same
boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except
Peter. He often met it, but he always forgot it. I suppose that
was the real difference between him and all the rest.
So when he met it now it was like the first time; and he could
just stare, helpless. Twice the iron hand clawed him.
A few moments afterwards the other boys saw Hook in the water
striking wildly for the ship; no elation on the pestilent face
now, only white fear, for the crocodile was in dogged pursuit of
him. On ordinary occasions the boys would have swum alongside
cheering; but now they were uneasy, for they had lost both Peter
and Wendy, and were scouring the lagoon for them, calling them by
name. They found the dinghy and went home in it, shouting
"Peter, Wendy" as they went, but no answer came save mocking
laughter from the mermaids. "They must be swimming back or
flying," the boys concluded. They were not very anxious, because
they had such faith in Peter. They chuckled, boylike, because they
would be late for bed; and it was all mother Wendy's fault!
When their voices died away there came cold silence over the
lagoon, and then a feeble cry.
Two small figures were beating against the rock; the girl had
fainted and lay on the boy's arm. With a last effort Peter
pulled her up the rock and then lay down beside her. Even as he
also fainted he saw that the water was rising. He knew that they
would soon be drowned, but he could do no more.
As they lay side by side a mermaid caught Wendy by the feet,
and began pulling her softly into the water. Peter, feeling her
slip from him, woke with a start, and was just in time to draw
her back. But he had to tell her the truth.
"We are on the rock, Wendy," he said, "but it is growing
smaller. Soon the water will be over it."
She did not understand even now.
"We must go," she said, almost brightly.
"Yes," he answered faintly.
"Shall we swim or fly, Peter?"
He had to tell her.
"Do you think you could swim or fly as far as the island,
Wendy, without my help?"
She had to admit that she was too tired.
"What is it?" she asked, anxious about him at once.
"I can't help you, Wendy. Hook wounded me. I can neither fly
"Do you mean we shall both be drowned?"
"Look how the water is rising."
They put their hands over their eyes to shut out the sight.
They thought they would soon be no more. As they sat thus
something brushed against Peter as light as a kiss, and stayed
there, as if saying timidly, "Can I be of any use?"
It was the tail of a kite, which Michael had made some days
before. It had torn itself out of his hand and floated away.
"Michael's kite," Peter said without interest, but next moment
he had seized the tail, and was pulling the kite toward him.
"It lifted Michael off the ground," he cried; "why should it
not carry you?"
"Both of us!"
"It can't lift two; Michael and Curly tried."
"Let us draw lots," Wendy said bravely.
"And you a lady; never." Already he had tied the tail round her.
She clung to him; she refused to go without him; but with a
"Good-bye, Wendy," he pushed her from the rock; and in a few minutes
she was borne out of his sight. Peter was alone on the lagoon.
The rock was very small now; soon it would be submerged. Pale
rays of light tiptoed across the waters; and by and by there was
to be heard a sound at once the most musical and the most
melancholy in the world: the mermaids calling to the moon.
Peter was not quite like other boys; but he was afraid at last.
A tremour ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea;
but on the sea one shudder follows another till there are
hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. Next moment he
was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face
and a drum beating within him. It was saying, "To die will be an
awfully big adventure."
Chapter 9 - THE NEVER BIRD
The last sound Peter heard before he was quite alone were the
mermaids retiring one by one to their bedchambers under the sea.
He was too far away to hear their doors shut; but every door in
the coral caves where they live rings a tiny bell when it opens
or closes (as in all the nicest houses on the mainland), and he
heard the bells.
Steadily the waters rose till they were nibbling at his feet;
and to pass the time until they made their final gulp, he watched
the only thing on the lagoon. He thought it was a piece of
floating paper, perhaps part of the kite, and wondered idly how
long it would take to drift ashore.
Presently he noticed as an odd thing that it was undoubtedly
out upon the lagoon with some definite purpose, for it was
fighting the tide, and sometimes winning; and when it won, Peter,
always sympathetic to the weaker side, could not help clapping;
it was such a gallant piece of paper.
It was not really a piece of paper; it was the Never bird,
making desperate efforts to reach Peter on the nest. By working
her wings, in a way she had learned since the nest fell into the
water, she was able to some extent to guide her strange craft,
but by the time Peter recognised her she was very exhausted. She
had come to save him, to give him her nest, though there were
eggs in it. I rather wonder at the bird, for though he had been
nice to her, he had also sometimes tormented her. I can suppose
only that, like Mrs. Darling and the rest of them, she was melted
because he had all his first teeth.
She called out to him what she had come for, and he called out
to her what she was doing there; but of course neither of them
understood the other's language. In fanciful stories people can
talk to the birds freely, and I wish for the moment I could
pretend that this were such a story, and say that Peter replied
intelligently to the Never bird; but truth is best, and I want to
tell you only what really happened. Well, not only could they
not understand each other, but they forgot their manners.
bird called, speaking as slowly and distinctly as possible, "and
--then--you--can--drift--ashore, but--I--am--too -
"What are you quacking about?" Peter answered. "Why don't you
let the nest drift as usual?"
"I--want--you--" the bird said, and repeated it all over.
Then Peter tried slow and distinct.
"What--are--you--quacking--about?" and so on.
The Never bird became irritated; they have very short tempers.
"You dunderheaded little jay," she screamed, "Why don't you do
as I tell you?"
Peter felt that she was calling him names, and at a venture he
"So are you!"
Then rather curiously they both snapped out the same remark:
Nevertheless the bird was determined to save him if she could,
and by one last mighty effort she propelled the nest against the
rock. Then up she flew; deserting her eggs, so as to make her
Then at last he understood, and clutched the nest and waved
his thanks to the bird as she fluttered overhead. It was not to
receive his thanks, however, that she hung there in the sky; it
was not even to watch him get into the nest; it was to see what
he did with her eggs.
There were two large white eggs, and Peter lifted them up and
reflected. The bird covered her face with her wings, so as not
to see the last of them; but she could not help peeping between
I forget whether I have told you that there was a stave on the
rock, driven into it by some buccaneers of long ago to mark the
site of buried treasure. The children had discovered the
glittering hoard, and when in a mischievous mood used to fling
showers of moidores, diamonds, pearls and pieces of eight to the
gulls, who pounced upon them for food, and then flew away, raging
at the scurvy trick that had been played upon them. The stave
was still there, and on it Starkey had hung his hat, a deep
tarpaulin, watertight, with a broad brim. Peter put the eggs
into this hat and set it on the lagoon. It floated beautifully.
The Never bird saw at once what he was up to, and screamed her
admiration of him; and, alas, Peter crowed his agreement with
her. Then he got into the nest, reared the stave in it as a
mast, and hung up his shirt for a sail. At the same moment the
bird fluttered down upon the hat and once more sat snugly on her
eggs. She drifted in one direction, and he was borne off in
another, both cheering.
Of course when Peter landed he beached his barque [small ship,
actually the Never Bird's nest in this particular case in point]
in a place where the bird would easily find it; but the hat was
such a great success that she abandoned the nest. It drifted about
till it went to pieces, and often Starkey came to the shore of the
lagoon, and with many bitter feelings watched the bird sitting
on his hat. As we shall not see her again, it may be worth
mentioning here that all Never birds now build in that shape of
nest, with a broad brim on which the youngsters take an airing.
Great were the rejoicings when Peter reached the home under the
ground almost as soon as Wendy, who had been carried hither and
thither by the kite. Every boy had adventures to tell; but
perhaps the biggest adventure of all was that they were several
hours late for bed. This so inflated them that they did various
dodgy things to get staying up still longer, such as demanding
bandages; but Wendy, though glorying in having them all home
again safe and sound, was scandalised by the lateness of the
hour, and cried, "To bed, to bed," in a voice that had to be
obeyed. Next day, however, she was awfully tender, and gave out
bandages to every one, and they played till bed-time at limping
about and carrying their arms in slings.
Chapter 10 - THE HAPPY HOME
One important result of the brush [with the pirates] on the
lagoon was that it made the redskins their friends. Peter had
saved Tiger Lily from a dreadful fate, and now there was nothing
she and her braves would not do for him. All night they sat
above, keeping watch over the home under the ground and awaiting
the big attack by the pirates which obviously could not be much
longer delayed. Even by day they hung about, smoking the pipe of
peace, and looking almost as if they wanted tit-bits to eat.
They called Peter the Great White Father, prostrating
themselves [lying down] before him; and he liked this
tremendously, so that it was not really good for him.
"The great white father," he would say to them in a very lordly
manner, as they grovelled at his feet, "is glad to see the
Piccaninny warriors protecting his wigwam from the pirates."
"Me Tiger Lily," that lovely creature would reply. "Peter Pan
save me, me his velly nice friend. Me no let pirates hurt him."
She was far too pretty to cringe in this way, but Peter thought
it his due, and he would answer condescendingly, "It is good.
Peter Pan has spoken."
Always when he said, "Peter Pan has spoken," it meant that they
must now shut up, and they accepted it humbly in that spirit; but
they were by no means so respectful to the other boys, whom they
looked upon as just ordinary braves. They said "How-do?" to
them, and things like that; and what annoyed the boys was that
Peter seemed to think this all right.
Secretly Wendy sympathised with them a little, but she was far
too loyal a housewife to listen to any complaints against father.
"Father knows best," she always said, whatever her private
opinion must be. Her private opinion was that the redskins
should not call her a squaw.
We have now reached the evening that was to be known among them
as the Night of Nights, because of its adventures and their
upshot. The day, as if quietly gathering its forces, had been
almost uneventful, and now the redskins in their blankets were at
their posts above, while, below, the children were having their
evening meal; all except Peter, who had gone out to get the time.
The way you got the time on the island was to find the crocodile,
and then stay near him till the clock struck.
The meal happened to be a make-believe tea, and they sat around
the board, guzzling in their greed; and really, what with their
chatter and recriminations, the noise, as Wendy said, was
positively deafening. To be sure, she did not mind noise, but
she simply would not have them grabbing things, and then excusing
themselves by saying that Tootles had pushed their elbow. There
was a fixed rule that they must never hit back at meals, but
should refer the matter of dispute to Wendy by raising the right
arm politely and saying, "I complain of so-and-so;" but what
usually happened was that they forgot to do this or did it too
"Silence," cried Wendy when for the twentieth time she had told
them that they were not all to speak at once. "Is your mug empty,
"Not quite empty, mummy," Slightly said, after looking into an
"He hasn't even begun to drink his milk," Nibs interposed.
This was telling, and Slightly seized his chance.
"I complain of Nibs," he cried promptly.
John, however, had held up his hand first.
"May I sit in Peter's chair, as he is not here?"
"Sit in father's chair, John!" Wendy was scandalised.
"He is not really our father," John answered. "He didn't even
know how a father does till I showed him."
This was grumbling. "We complain of John," cried the twins.
Tootles held up his hand. He was so much the humblest of them,
indeed he was the only humble one, that Wendy was specially
gentle with him.
"I don't suppose," Tootles said diffidently [bashfully or
timidly], "that I could be father."
Once Tootles began, which was not very often, he had a silly
way of going on.
"As I can't be father," he said heavily, "I don't suppose,
Michael, you would let me be baby?"
"No, I won't," Michael rapped out. He was already in his
"As I can't be baby," Tootles said, getting heavier and heavier
and heavier, "do you think I could be a twin?"
"No, indeed," replied the twins; "it's awfully difficult to be
"As I can't be anything important," said Tootles, "would any of
you like to see me do a trick?"
"No," they all replied.
Then at last he stopped. "I hadn't really any hope," he said.
The hateful telling broke out again.
"Slightly is coughing on the table."
"The twins began with cheese-cakes."
"Curly is taking both butter and honey."
"Nibs is speaking with his mouth full."
"I complain of the twins."
"I complain of Curly."
"I complain of Nibs."
"Oh dear, oh dear," cried Wendy, "I'm sure I sometimes think
that spinsters are to be envied."
She told them to clear away, and sat down to her work-basket,
a heavy load of stockings and every knee with a hole in it as
"Wendy," remonstrated [scolded] Michael, "I'm too big for a
"I must have somebody in a cradle," she said almost tartly,
"and you are the littlest. A cradle is such a nice homely thing
to have about a house."
While she sewed they played around her; such a group of happy
faces and dancing limbs lit up by that romantic fire. It had
become a very familiar scene, this, in the home under the
ground, but we are looking on it for the last time.
There was a step above, and Wendy, you may be sure, was the
first to recognize it.
"Children, I hear your father's step. He likes you to meet him
at the door."
Above, the redskins crouched before Peter.
"Watch well, braves. I have spoken."
And then, as so often before, the gay children dragged him from
his tree. As so often before, but never again.
He had brought nuts for the boys as well as the correct time
"Peter, you just spoil them, you know," Wendy simpered
[exaggerated a smile].
"Ah, old lady," said Peter, hanging up his gun.
"It was me told him mothers are called old lady," Michael
whispered to Curly.
"I complain of Michael," said Curly instantly.
The first twin came to Peter. "Father, we want to dance."
"Dance away, my little man," said Peter, who was in high good
"But we want you to dance."
Peter was really the best dancer among them, but he pretended
to be scandalised.
"Me! My old bones would rattle!"
"And mummy too."
"What," cried Wendy, "the mother of such an armful, dance!"
"But on a Saturday night," Slightly insinuated.
It was not really Saturday night, at least it may have been,
for they had long lost count of the days; but always if they
wanted to do anything special they said this was Saturday night,
and then they did it.
"Of course it is Saturday night, Peter," Wendy said, relenting.
"People of our figure, Wendy!"
"But it is only among our own progeny [children]."
So they were told they could dance, but they must put on their
"Ah, old lady," Peter said aside to Wendy, warming himself by
the fire and looking down at her as she sat turning a heel,
"there is nothing more pleasant of an evening for you and me when
the day's toil is over than to rest by the fire with the little
ones near by."
"It is sweet, Peter, isn't it?" Wendy said, frightfully
gratified. "Peter, I think Curly has your nose."
"Michael takes after you."
She went to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Dear Peter," she said, "with such a large family, of course, I
have now passed my best, but you don't want to [ex]change me, do
Certainly he did not want a change, but he looked at her
uncomfortably, blinking, you know, like one not sure whether he
was awake or asleep.
"Peter, what is it?"
"I was just thinking," he said, a little scared. "It is only
make-believe, isn't it, that I am their father?"
"Oh yes," Wendy said primly [formally and properly].
"You see," he continued apologetically, "it would make me seem
so old to be their real father."
"But they are ours, Peter, yours and mine."
"But not really, Wendy?" he asked anxiously.
"Not if you don't wish it," she replied; and she distinctly
heard his sigh of relief. "Peter," she asked, trying to speak
firmly, "what are your exact feelings to [about] me?"
"Those of a devoted son, Wendy."
"I thought so," she said, and went and sat by herself at the
extreme end of the room.
"You are so queer," he said, frankly puzzled, "and Tiger Lily
is just the same. There is something she wants to be to me, but
she says it is not my mother."
"No, indeed, it is not," Wendy replied with frightful emphasis.
Now we know why she was prejudiced against the redskins.
"Then what is it?"
"It isn't for a lady to tell."
"Oh, very well," Peter said, a little nettled. "Perhaps Tinker
Bell will tell me."
"Oh yes, Tinker Bell will tell you," Wendy retorted scornfully.
"She is an abandoned little creature."
Here Tink, who was in her bedroom, eavesdropping, squeaked out
"She says she glories in being abandoned," Peter interpreted.
He had a sudden idea. "Perhaps Tink wants to be my mother?"
"You silly ass!" cried Tinker Bell in a passion.
She had said it so often that Wendy needed no translation.
"I almost agree with her," Wendy snapped. Fancy Wendy
snapping! But she had been much tried, and she little knew what
was to happen before the night was out. If she had known she
would not have snapped.
None of them knew. Perhaps it was best not to know. Their
ignorance gave them one more glad hour; and as it was to be
their last hour on the island, let us rejoice that there were
sixty glad minutes in it. They sang and danced in their night-
gowns. Such a deliciously creepy song it was, in which they
pretended to be frightened at their own shadows, little witting
that so soon shadows would close in upon them, from whom they
would shrink in real fear. So uproariously gay was the dance,
and how they buffeted each other on the bed and out of it! It
was a pillow fight rather than a dance, and when it was finished,
the pillows insisted on one bout more, like partners who know
that they may never meet again. The stories they told, before it
was time for Wendy's good-night story! Even Slightly tried to
tell a story that night, but the beginning was so fearfully dull
that it appalled not only the others but himself, and he said happily:
"Yes, it is a dull beginning. I say, let us pretend that it is
And then at last they all got into bed for Wendy's story, the
story they loved best, the story Peter hated. Usually when she
began to tell this story he left the room or put his hands over
his ears; and possibly if he had done either of those things this
time they might all still be on the island. But to-night he
remained on his stool; and we shall see what happened.
Chapter 11 - WENDY'S STORY
"Listen, then," said Wendy, settling down to her story, with
Michael at her feet and seven boys in the bed. "There was once a
"I had rather he had been a lady," Curly said.
"I wish he had been a white rat," said Nibs.
"Quiet," their mother admonished [cautioned] them. "There was
a lady also, and--"
"Oh, mummy," cried the first twin, "you mean that there is a
lady also, don't you? She is not dead, is she?"
"I am awfully glad she isn't dead," said Tootles. "Are you
"Of course I am."
"Are you glad, Nibs?"
"Are you glad, Twins?"
"We are glad."
"Oh dear," sighed Wendy.
"Little less noise there," Peter called out, determined that
she should have fair play, however beastly a story it might be in
"The gentleman's name," Wendy continued, "was Mr. Darling, and
her name was Mrs. Darling."
"I knew them," John said, to annoy the others.
"I think I knew them," said Michael rather doubtfully.
"They were married, you know," explained Wendy, "and what do
you think they had?"
"White rats," cried Nibs, inspired.
"It's awfully puzzling," said Tootles, who knew the story by
"Quiet, Tootles. They had three descendants."
"What is descendants?"
"Well, you are one, Twin."
"Did you hear that, John? I am a descendant."
"Descendants are only children," said John.
"Oh dear, oh dear," sighed Wendy. "Now these three children
had a faithful nurse called Nana; but Mr. Darling was angry with
her and chained her up in the yard, and so all the children flew
"It's an awfully good story," said Nibs.
"They flew away," Wendy continued, "to the Neverland, where the
lost children are."
"I just thought they did," Curly broke in excitedly. "I don't
know how it is, but I just thought they did!"
"O Wendy," cried Tootles, "was one of the lost children called
"Yes, he was."
"I am in a story. Hurrah, I am in a story, Nibs."
"Hush. Now I want you to consider the feelings of the unhappy
parents with all their children flown away."
"Oo!" they all moaned, though they were not really considering
the feelings of the unhappy parents one jot.
"Think of the empty beds!"
"It's awfully sad," the first twin said cheerfully.
"I don't see how it can have a happy ending," said the second
twin. "Do you, Nibs?"
"I'm frightfully anxious."
"If you knew how great is a mother's love," Wendy told them
triumphantly, "you would have no fear." She had now come to the
part that Peter hated.
"I do like a mother's love," said Tootles, hitting Nibs with a
pillow. "Do you like a mother's love, Nibs?"
"I do just," said Nibs, hitting back.
"You see," Wendy said complacently, "our heroine knew that the
mother would always leave the window open for her children to fly
back by; so they stayed away for years and had a lovely time."
"Did they ever go back?"
"Let us now," said Wendy, bracing herself up for her finest
effort, "take a peep into the future"; and they all gave
themselves the twist that makes peeps into the future easier.
"Years have rolled by, and who is this elegant lady of uncertain
age alighting at London Station?"
"O Wendy, who is she?" cried Nibs, every bit as excited as if
he didn't know.
"Can it be--yes--no--it is--the fair Wendy!"
"And who are the two noble portly figures accompanying her, now
grown to man's estate? Can they be John and Michael? They are!"
"`See, dear brothers,' says Wendy pointing upwards, `there is
the window still standing open. Ah, now we are rewarded for our
sublime faith in a mother's love.' So up they flew to their
mummy and daddy, and pen cannot describe the happy scene, over
which we draw a veil."
That was the story, and they were as pleased with it as the
fair narrator herself. Everything just as it should be, you see.
Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is
what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely
selfish time, and then when we have need of special attention we
nobly return for it, confident that we shall be rewarded instead
So great indeed was their faith in a mother's love that they
felt they could afford to be callous for a bit longer.
But there was one there who knew better, and when Wendy
finished he uttered a hollow groan.
"What is it, Peter?" she cried, running to him, thinking he was
ill. She felt him solicitously, lower down than his chest.
"Where is it, Peter?"
"It isn't that kind of pain," Peter replied darkly.
"Then what kind is it?"
"Wendy, you are wrong about mothers."
They all gathered round him in affright, so alarming was his
agitation; and with a fine candour he told them what he had
"Long ago," he said, "I thought like you that my mother would
always keep the window open for me, so I stayed away for moons
and moons and moons, and then flew back; but the window was
barred, for mother had forgotten all about me, and there was
another little boy sleeping in my bed."
I am not sure that this was true, but Peter thought it was
true; and it scared them.
"Are you sure mothers are like that?"
So this was the truth about mothers. The toads!
Still it is best to be careful; and no one knows so quickly as
a child when he should give in. "Wendy, let us [let's] go home,"
cried John and Michael together.
"Yes," she said, clutching them.
"Not to-night?" asked the lost boys bewildered. They knew in
what they called their hearts that one can get on quite well
without a mother, and that it is only the mothers who think you
"At once," Wendy replied resolutely, for the horrible thought
had come to her: "Perhaps mother is in half mourning by this
This dread made her forgetful of what must be Peter's feelings,
and she said to him rather sharply, "Peter, will you make the
"If you wish it," he replied, as coolly as if she had asked him
to pass the nuts.
Not so much as a sorry-to-lose-you between them! If she did
not mind the parting, he was going to show her, was Peter, that
neither did he.
But of course he cared very much; and he was so full of wrath
against grown-ups, who, as usual, were spoiling everything, that
as soon as he got inside his tree he breathed intentionally quick
short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this
because there is a saying in the Neverland that, every time you
breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off
vindictively as fast as possible.
Then having given the necessary instructions to the redskins he
returned to the home, where an unworthy scene had been enacted in
his absence. Panic-stricken at the thought of losing Wendy the
lost boys had advanced upon her threateningly.
"It will be worse than before she came," they cried.
"We shan't let her go."
"Let's keep her prisoner."
"Ay, chain her up."
In her extremity an instinct told her to which of them to turn.
"Tootles," she cried, "I appeal to you."
Was it not strange? She appealed to Tootles, quite the
Grandly, however, did Tootles respond. For that one moment he
dropped his silliness and spoke with dignity.
"I am just Tootles," he said, "and nobody minds me. But the
first who does not behave to Wendy like an English gentleman I
will blood him severely."
He drew back his hanger; and for that instant his sun was at
noon. The others held back uneasily. Then Peter returned, and
they saw at once that they would get no support from him. He
would keep no girl in the Neverland against her will.
"Wendy," he said, striding up and down, "I have asked the
redskins to guide you through the wood, as flying tires you so."
"Thank you, Peter."
"Then," he continued, in the short sharp voice of one
accustomed to be obeyed, "Tinker Bell will take you across the
sea. Wake her, Nibs."
Nibs had to knock twice before he got an answer, though Tink
had really been sitting up in bed listening for some time.
"Who are you? How dare you? Go away," she cried.
"You are to get up, Tink," Nibs called, "and take Wendy on a
Of course Tink had been delighted to hear that Wendy was going;
but she was jolly well determined not to be her courier, and she
said so in still more offensive language. Then she pretended to
be asleep again.
"She says she won't!" Nibs exclaimed, aghast at such
insubordination, whereupon Peter went sternly toward the young
"Tink," he rapped out, "if you don't get up and dress at once I
will open the curtains, and then we shall all see you in your
This made her leap to the floor. "Who said I wasn't getting
up?" she cried.
In the meantime the boys were gazing very forlornly at Wendy,
now equipped with John and Michael for the journey. By this time
they were dejected, not merely because they were about to lose
her, but also because they felt that she was going off to
something nice to which they had not been invited. Novelty was
beckoning to them as usual.
Crediting them with a nobler feeling Wendy melted.
"Dear ones," she said, "if you will all come with me I feel
almost sure I can get my father and mother to adopt you."
The invitation was meant specially for Peter, but each of the
boys was thinking exclusively of himself, and at once they jumped
"But won't they think us rather a handful?" Nibs asked in the
middle of his jump.
"Oh no," said Wendy, rapidly thinking it out, "it will only
mean having a few beds in the drawing-room; they can be hidden
behind the screens on first Thursdays."
"Peter, can we go?" they all cried imploringly. They took it
for granted that if they went he would go also, but really they
scarcely cared. Thus children are ever ready, when novelty
knocks, to desert their dearest ones.
"All right," Peter replied with a bitter smile, and immediately
they rushed to get their things.
"And now, Peter," Wendy said, thinking she had put everything
right, "I am going to give you your medicine before you go." She
loved to give them medicine, and undoubtedly gave them too much.
Of course it was only water, but it was out of a bottle, and
she always shook the bottle and counted the drops, which gave
it a certain medicinal quality. On this occasion, however, she
did not give Peter his draught [portion], for just as she had
prepared it, she saw a look on his face that made her heart sink.
"Get your things, Peter," she cried, shaking.
"No," he answered, pretending indifference, "I am not going
with you, Wendy."
To show that her departure would leave him unmoved, he skipped
up and down the room, playing gaily on his heartless pipes. She
had to run about after him, though it was rather undignified.
"To find your mother," she coaxed.
Now, if Peter had ever quite had a mother, he no longer missed
her. He could do very well without one. He had thought them
out, and remembered only their bad points.
"No, no," he told Wendy decisively; "perhaps she would say I
was old, and I just want always to be a little boy and to have
And so the others had to be told.
"Peter isn't coming."
Peter not coming! They gazed blankly at him, their sticks over
their backs, and on each stick a bundle. Their first thought was
that if Peter was not going he had probably changed his mind
about letting them go.
But he was far too proud for that. "If you find your mothers,"
he said darkly, "I hope you will like them."
The awful cynicism of this made an uncomfortable impression,
and most of them began to look rather doubtful. After all, their
faces said, were they not noodles to want to go?
"Now then," cried Peter, "no fuss, no blubbering; good-bye,
Wendy"; and he held out his hand cheerily, quite as if they must
really go now, for he had something important to do.
She had to take his hand, and there was no indication that he
would prefer a thimble.
"You will remember about changing your flannels, Peter?" she
said, lingering over him. She was always so particular about
"And you will take your medicine?"
That seemed to be everything, and an awkward pause followed.
Peter, however, was not the kind that breaks down before other
people. "Are you ready, Tinker Bell?" he called out.
"Then lead the way."
Tink darted up the nearest tree; but no one followed
her, for it was at this moment that the pirates made their
dreadful attack upon the redskins. Above, where all had been so
still, the air was rent with shrieks and the clash of steel.
Below, there was dead silence. Mouths opened and remained open.
Wendy fell on her knees, but her arms were extended toward Peter.
All arms were extended to him, as if suddenly blown in his
direction; they were beseeching him mutely not to desert them.
As for Peter, he seized his sword, the same he thought he had
slain Barbecue with, and the lust of battle was in his eye.
Chapter 12 - THE CHILDREN ARE CARRIED OFF
The pirate attack had been a complete surprise: a sure proof
that the unscrupulous Hook had conducted it improperly, for to
surprise redskins fairly is beyond the wit of the white man.
By all the unwritten laws of savage warfare it is always the
redskin who attacks, and with the wiliness of his race he does it
just before the dawn, at which time he knows the courage of the
whites to be at its lowest ebb. The white men have in the
meantime made a rude stockade on the summit of yonder undulating
ground, at the foot of which a stream runs, for it is destruction
to be too far from water. There they await the onslaught, the
inexperienced ones clutching their revolvers and treading on
twigs, but the old hands sleeping tranquilly until just before
the dawn. Through the long black night the savage scouts
wriggle, snake-like, among the grass without stirring a blade.
The brushwood closes behind them, as silently as sand into which
a mole has dived. Not a sound is to be heard, save when they
give vent to a wonderful imitation of the lonely call of the
coyote. The cry is answered by other braves; and some of them do
it even better than the coyotes, who are not very good at it.
So the chill hours wear on, and the long suspense is horribly
trying to the paleface who has to live through it for the first
time; but to the trained hand those ghastly calls and still
ghastlier silences are but an intimation of how the night is
That this was the usual procedure was so well known to Hook
that in disregarding it he cannot be excused on the plea of
The Piccaninnies, on their part, trusted implicitly to his
honour, and their whole action of the night stands out in marked
contrast to his. They left nothing undone that was consistent
with the reputation of their tribe. With that alertness of the
senses which is at once the marvel and despair of civilised
peoples, they knew that the pirates were on the island from the
moment one of them trod on a dry stick; and in an incredibly
short space of time the coyote cries began. Every foot of ground
between the spot where Hook had landed his forces and the home
under the trees was stealthily examined by braves wearing their
mocassins with the heels in front. They found only one hillock
with a stream at its base, so that Hook had no choice; here he
must establish himself and wait for just before the dawn.
Everything being thus mapped out with almost diabolical cunning,
the main body of the redskins folded their blankets around them,
and in the phlegmatic manner that is to them, the pearl of manhood
squatted above the children's home, awaiting the cold moment when
they should deal pale death.
Here dreaming, though wide-awake, of the exquisite tortures to
which they were to put him at break of day, those confiding
savages were found by the treacherous Hook. From the accounts
afterwards supplied by such of the scouts as escaped the
carnage, he does not seem even to have paused at the rising
ground, though it is certain that in that grey light he must have
seen it: no thought of waiting to be attacked appears from first
to last to have visited his subtle mind; he would not even hold
off till the night was nearly spent; on he pounded with no policy
but to fall to [get into combat]. What could the bewildered
scouts do, masters as they were of every war-like artifice save
this one, but trot helplessly after him, exposing themselves
fatally to view, while they gave pathetic utterance to the
Around the brave Tiger Lily were a dozen of her stoutest
warriors, and they suddenly saw the perfidious pirates bearing
down upon them. Fell from their eyes then the film through which
they had looked at victory. No more would they torture at the
stake. For them the happy hunting-grounds was now. They knew it;
but as their father's sons they acquitted themselves. Even then
they had time to gather in a phalanx [dense formation] that would
have been hard to break had they risen quickly, but this they
were forbidden to do by the traditions of their race. It is
written that the noble savage must never express surprise in the
presence of the white. Thus terrible as the sudden appearance of
the pirates must have been to them, they remained stationary for
a moment, not a muscle moving; as if the foe had come by
invitation. Then, indeed, the tradition gallantly upheld, they
seized their weapons, and the air was torn with the war-cry; but
it was now too late.
It is no part of ours to describe what was a massacre rather
than a fight. Thus perished many of the flower of the
Piccaninny tribe. Not all unavenged did they die, for with Lean
Wolf fell Alf Mason, to disturb the Spanish Main no more, and
among others who bit the dust were Geo. Scourie, Chas. Turley,
and the Alsatian Foggerty. Turley fell to the tomahawk of the
terrible Panther, who ultimately cut a way through the pirates
with Tiger Lily and a small remnant of the tribe.
To what extent Hook is to blame for his tactics on this
occasion is for the historian to decide. Had he waited on the
rising ground till the proper hour he and his men would probably
have been butchered; and in judging him it is only fair to take
this into account. What he should perhaps have done was to
acquaint his opponents that he proposed to follow a new method.
On the other hand, this, as destroying the element of surprise,
would have made his strategy of no avail, so that the whole
question is beset with difficulties. One cannot at least
withhold a reluctant admiration for the wit that had conceived
so bold a scheme, and the fell [deadly] genius with which it was
What were his own feelings about himself at that triumphant
moment? Fain [gladly] would his dogs have known, as breathing
heavily and wiping their cutlasses, they gathered at a discreet
distance from his hook, and squinted through their ferret eyes at
this extraordinary man. Elation must have been in his heart, but
his face did not reflect it: ever a dark and solitary enigma, he
stood aloof from his followers in spirit as in substance.
The night's work was not yet over, for it was not the redskins
he had come out to destroy; they were but the bees to be smoked,
so that he should get at the honey. It was Pan he wanted, Pan
and Wendy and their band, but chiefly Pan.
Peter was such a small boy that one tends to wonder at the
man's hatred of him. True he had flung Hook's arm to the
crocodile, but even this and the increased insecurity of life to
which it led, owing to the crocodile's pertinacity [persistance],
hardly account for a vindictiveness so relentless and malignant.
The truth is that there was a something about Peter which goaded
the pirate captain to frenzy. It was not his courage, it was not
his engaging appearance, it was not--. There is no beating about
the bush, for we know quite well what it was, and have got to
tell. It was Peter's cockiness.
This had got on Hook's nerves; it made his iron claw twitch,
and at night it disturbed him like an insect. While Peter lived,
the tortured man felt that he was a lion in a cage into which a
sparrow had come.
The question now was how to get down the trees, or how to get
his dogs down? He ran his greedy eyes over them, searching for
the thinnest ones. They wriggled uncomfortably, for they knew he
would not scruple [hesitate] to ram them down with poles.
In the meantime, what of the boys? We have seen them at the
first clang of the weapons, turned as it were into stone figures,
open-mouthed, all appealing with outstretched arms to Peter; and
we return to them as their mouths close, and their arms fall to
their sides. The pandemonium above has ceased almost as suddenly
as it arose, passed like a fierce gust of wind; but they know
that in the passing it has determined their fate.
Which side had won?
The pirates, listening avidly at the mouths of the trees,
heard the question put by every boy, and alas, they also heard
"If the redskins have won," he said, "they will beat the tom-
tom; it is always their sign of victory."
Now Smee had found the tom-tom, and was at that moment sitting
on it. "You will never hear the tom-tom again," he muttered, but
inaudibly of course, for strict silence had been enjoined
[urged]. To his amazement Hook signed him to beat the tom-tom,
and slowly there came to Smee an understanding of the dreadful
wickedness of the order. Never, probably, had this simple man
admired Hook so much.
Twice Smee beat upon the instrument, and then stopped to listen
"The tom-tom," the miscreants heard Peter cry; "an Indian
The doomed children answered with a cheer that was music to the
black hearts above, and almost immediately they repeated their
good-byes to Peter. This puzzled the pirates, but all their
other feelings were swallowed by a base delight that the enemy
were about to come up the trees. They smirked at each other and
rubbed their hands. Rapidly and silently Hook gave his orders:
one man to each tree, and the others to arrange themselves in a
line two yards apart.
Chapter 13 - DO YOU BELIEVE IN FAIRIES?
The more quickly this horror is disposed of the better. The
first to emerge from his tree was Curly. He rose out of it into
the arms of Cecco, who flung him to Smee, who flung him to
Starkey, who flung him to Bill Jukes, who flung him to Noodler,
and so he was tossed from one to another till he fell at the feet
of the black pirate. All the boys were plucked from their trees
in this ruthless manner; and several of them were in the air
at a time, like bales of goods flung from hand to hand.
A different treatment was accorded to Wendy, who came last.
With ironical politeness Hook raised his hat to her, and,
offering her his arm, escorted her to the spot where the others
were being gagged. He did it with such an air, he was so
frightfully DISTINGUE [imposingly distinguished], that she was
too fascinated to cry out. She was only a little girl.
Perhaps it is tell-tale to divulge that for a moment Hook
entranced her, and we tell on her only because her slip led to
strange results. Had she haughtily unhanded him (and we should
have loved to write it of her), she would have been hurled
through the air like the others, and then Hook would probably not
have been present at the tying of the children; and had he not
been at the tying he would not have discovered Slightly's
secret, and without the secret he could not presently have made
his foul attempt on Peter's life.
They were tied to prevent their flying away, doubled up with
their knees close to their ears; and for the trussing of them the
black pirate had cut a rope into nine equal pieces. All went
well until Slightly's turn came, when he was found to be like
those irritating parcels that use up all the string in going
round and leave no tags [ends] with which to tie a knot. The
pirates kicked him in their rage, just as you kick the parcel
(though in fairness you should kick the string); and strange to
say it was Hook who told them to belay their violence. His lip
was curled with malicious triumph. While his dogs were merely
sweating because every time they tried to pack the unhappy lad
tight in one part he bulged out in another, Hook's master mind
had gone far beneath Slightly's surface, probing not for effects
but for causes; and his exultation showed that he had found them.
Slightly, white to the gills, knew that Hook had surprised
[discovered] his secret, which was this, that no boy so blown out
could use a tree wherein an average man need stick. Poor
Slightly, most wretched of all the children now, for he was in a
panic about Peter, bitterly regretted what he had done. Madly
addicted to the drinking of water when he was hot, he had swelled
in consequence to his present girth, and instead of reducing
himself to fit his tree he had, unknown to the others, whittled
his tree to make it fit him.
Sufficient of this Hook guessed to persuade him that Peter at
last lay at his mercy, but no word of the dark design that now
formed in the subterranean caverns of his mind crossed his lips; he
merely signed that the captives were to be conveyed to the ship,
and that he would be alone.
How to convey them? Hunched up in their ropes they might
indeed be rolled down hill like barrels, but most of the way lay
through a morass. Again Hook's genius surmounted difficulties.
He indicated that the little house must be used as a conveyance.
The children were flung into it, four stout pirates raised it on
their shoulders, the others fell in behind, and singing the
hateful pirate chorus the strange procession set off through the
wood. I don't know whether any of the children were crying; if
so, the singing drowned the sound; but as the little house
disappeared in the forest, a brave though tiny jet of smoke
issued from its chimney as if defying Hook.
Hook saw it, and it did Peter a bad service. It dried up any
trickle of pity for him that may have remained in the pirate's
The first thing he did on finding himself alone in the fast
falling night was to tiptoe to Slightly's tree, and make sure
that it provided him with a passage. Then for long he remained
brooding; his hat of ill omen on the sward, so that any gentle
breeze which had arisen might play refreshingly through his hair.
Dark as were his thoughts his blue eyes were as soft as the
periwinkle. Intently he listened for any sound from the nether
world, but all was as silent below as above; the house under the
ground seemed to be but one more empty tenement in the void. Was
that boy asleep, or did he stand waiting at the foot of
Slightly's tree, with his dagger in his hand?
There was no way of knowing, save by going down. Hook let his
cloak slip softly to the ground, and then biting his lips till a
lewd blood stood on them, he stepped into the tree. He was a
brave man, but for a moment he had to stop there and wipe his brow,
which was dripping like a candle. Then, silently, he let himself
go into the unknown.
He arrived unmolested at the foot of the shaft, and stood still
again, biting at his breath, which had almost left him. As his
eyes became accustomed to the dim light various objects in the
home under the trees took shape; but the only one on which his
greedy gaze rested, long sought for and found at last, was the
great bed. On the bed lay Peter fast asleep.
Unaware of the tragedy being enacted above, Peter had
continued, for a little time after the children left, to play
gaily on his pipes: no doubt rather a forlorn attempt to prove
to himself that he did not care. Then he decided not to take his
medicine, so as to grieve Wendy. Then he lay down on the bed
outside the coverlet, to vex her still more; for she had always
tucked them inside it, because you never know that you may not
grow chilly at the turn of the night. Then he nearly cried; but
it struck him how indignant she would be if he laughed instead;
so he laughed a haughty laugh and fell asleep in the middle of
Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more
painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be
separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them.
They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence. At
such times it had been Wendy's custom to take him out of bed and
sit with him on her lap, soothing him in dear ways of her own
invention, and when he grew calmer to put him back to bed before
he quite woke up, so that he should not know of the indignity to
which she had subjected him. But on this occasion he had fallen
at once into a dreamless sleep. One arm dropped over the edge of
the bed, one leg was arched, and the unfinished part of his laugh
was stranded on his mouth, which was open, showing the little
Thus defenceless Hook found him. He stood silent at the foot
of the tree looking across the chamber at his enemy. Did no
feeling of compassion disturb his sombre breast? The man was not
wholly evil; he loved flowers (I have been told) and sweet music
(he was himself no mean performer on the harpsichord); and, let
it be frankly admitted, the idyllic nature of the scene stirred
him profoundly. Mastered by his better self he would have
returned reluctantly up the tree, but for one thing.
What stayed him was Peter's impertinent appearance as he slept.
The open mouth, the drooping arm, the arched knee: they were
such a personification of cockiness as, taken together, will
never again, one may hope, be presented to eyes so sensitive to
their offensiveness. They steeled Hook's heart. If his rage had
broken him into a hundred pieces every one of them would have
disregarded the incident, and leapt at the sleeper.
Though a light from the one lamp shone dimly on the bed, Hook
stood in darkness himself, and at the first stealthy step forward
he discovered an obstacle, the door of Slightly's tree. It did
not entirely fill the aperture, and he had been looking over it.
Feeling for the catch, he found to his fury that it was low down,
beyond his reach. To his disordered brain it seemed then that
the irritating quality in Peter's face and figure visibly
increased, and he rattled the door and flung himself against it.
Was his enemy to escape him after all?
But what was that? The red in his eye had caught sight of
Peter's medicine standing on a ledge within easy reach. He
fathomed what it was straightaway, and immediately knew that the
sleeper was in his power.
Lest he should be taken alive, Hook always carried about his
person a dreadful drug, blended by himself of all the death-
dealing rings that had come into his possession. These he had
boiled down into a yellow liquid quite unknown to science, which
was probably the most virulent poison in existence.
Five drops of this he now added to Peter's cup. His hand
shook, but it was in exultation rather than in shame. As he did
it he avoided glancing at the sleeper, but not lest pity should
unnerve him; merely to avoid spilling. Then one long gloating
look he cast upon his victim, and turning, wormed his way with
difficulty up the tree. As he emerged at the top he looked the
very spirit of evil breaking from its hole. Donning his hat at
its most rakish angle, he wound his cloak around him, holding one
end in front as if to conceal his person from the night, of which
it was the blackest part, and muttering strangely to himself,
stole away through the trees.
Peter slept on. The light guttered [burned to edges] and
went out, leaving the tenement in darkness; but still he slept.
It must have been not less than ten o'clock by the crocodile,
when he suddenly sat up in his bed, wakened by he knew not what.
It was a soft cautious tapping on the door of his tree.
Soft and cautious, but in that stillness it was sinister.
Peter felt for his dagger till his hand gripped it. Then he
"Who is that?"
For long there was no answer: then again the knock.
"Who are you?"
He was thrilled, and he loved being thrilled. In two strides
he reached the door. Unlike Slightly's door, it filled the
aperture [opening], so that he could not see beyond it, nor could
the one knocking see him.
"I won't open unless you speak," Peter cried.
Then at last the visitor spoke, in a lovely bell-like voice.
"Let me in, Peter."
It was Tink, and quickly he unbarred to her. She flew in
excitedly, her face flushed and her dress stained with mud.
"What is it?"
"Oh, you could never guess!" she cried, and offered him three
guesses. "Out with it!" he shouted, and in one ungrammatical
sentence, as long as the ribbons that conjurers [magicians] pull
from their mouths, she told of the capture of Wendy and the boys.
Peter's heart bobbed up and down as he listened. Wendy bound,
and on the pirate ship; she who loved everything to be just so!
"I'll rescue her!" he cried, leaping at his weapons. As he
leapt he thought of something he could do to please her. He
could take his medicine.
His hand closed on the fatal draught.
"No!" shrieked Tinker Bell, who had heard Hook mutter about his
deed as he sped through the forest.
"It is poisoned."
"Poisoned? Who could have poisoned it?"
"Don't be silly. How could Hook have got down here?"
Alas, Tinker Bell could not explain this, for even she did not
know the dark secret of Slightly's tree. Nevertheless Hook's
words had left no room for doubt. The cup was poisoned.
"Besides," said Peter, quite believing himself "I never fell
He raised the cup. No time for words now; time for deeds; and
with one of her lightning movements Tink got between his lips and
the draught, and drained it to the dregs.
"Why, Tink, how dare you drink my medicine?"
But she did not answer. Already she was reeling in the air.
"What is the matter with you?" cried Peter, suddenly afraid.
"It was poisoned, Peter," she told him softly; "and now I am
going to be dead."
"O Tink, did you drink it to save me?"
"But why, Tink?"
Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she
alighted on his shoulder and gave his nose a loving bite. She
whispered in his ear "You silly ass," and then, tottering to her
chamber, lay down on the bed.
His head almost filled the fourth wall of her little room as he
knelt near her in distress. Every moment her light was growing
fainter; and he knew that if it went out she would be no more.
She liked his tears so much that she put out her beautiful finger
and let them run over it.
Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what
she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought
she could get well again if children believed in fairies.
Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it
was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the
Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think:
boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their
baskets hung from trees.
"Do you believe?" he cried.
Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.
She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then
again she wasn't sure.
"What do you think?" she asked Peter.
"If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't
let Tink die."
A few beasts hissed.
The clapping stopped suddenly; as if countless mothers had
rushed to their nurseries to see what on earth was happening; but
already Tink was saved. First her voice grew strong, then she
popped out of bed, then she was flashing through the room more
merry and impudent than ever. She never thought of thanking
those who believed, but she would have like to get at the ones
who had hissed.
"And now to rescue Wendy!"
The moon was riding in a cloudy heaven when Peter rose from his
tree, begirt [belted] with weapons and wearing little else, to
set out upon his perilous quest. It was not such a night as he
would have chosen. He had hoped to fly, keeping not far from the
ground so that nothing unwonted should escape his eyes; but in
that fitful light to have flown low would have meant trailing his
shadow through the trees, thus disturbing birds and acquainting a
watchful foe that he was astir.
He regretted now that he had given the birds of the island such
strange names that they are very wild and difficult of approach.
There was no other course but to press forward in redskin
fashion, at which happily he was an adept [expert]. But in what
direction, for he could not be sure that the children had been
taken to the ship? A light fall of snow had obliterated all
footmarks; and a deathly silence pervaded the island, as if for a
space Nature stood still in horror of the recent carnage. He had
taught the children something of the forest lore that he had
himself learned from Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, and knew that in
their dire hour they were not likely to forget it. Slightly, if
he had an opportunity, would blaze [cut a mark in] the trees, for
instance, Curly would drop seeds, and Wendy would leave her
handkerchief at some important place. The morning was needed to
search for such guidance, and he could not wait. The upper world
had called him, but would give no help.
The crocodile passed him, but not another living thing, not a
sound, not a movement; and yet he knew well that sudden death
might be at the next tree, or stalking him from behind.
He swore this terrible oath: "Hook or me this time."
Now he crawled forward like a snake, and again erect, he
darted across a space on which the moonlight played, one finger
on his lip and his dagger at the ready. He was frightfully
Chapter 14 - THE PIRATE SHIP
One green light squinting over Kidd's Creek, which is near the
mouth of the pirate river, marked where the brig, the JOLLY
ROGER, lay, low in the water; a rakish-looking [speedy-looking]
craft foul to the hull, every beam in her detestable, like ground
strewn with mangled feathers. She was the cannibal of the seas,
and scarce needed that watchful eye, for she floated immune in
the horror of her name.
She was wrapped in the blanket of night, through which no sound
from her could have reached the shore. There was little sound,
and none agreeable save the whir of the ship's sewing machine at
which Smee sat, ever industrious and obliging, the essence of the
commonplace, pathetic Smee. I know not why he was so infinitely
pathetic, unless it were because he was so pathetically unaware
of it; but even strong men had to turn hastily from looking at
him, and more than once on summer evenings he had touched the
fount of Hook's tears and made it flow. Of this, as of almost
everything else, Smee was quite unconscious.
A few of the pirates leant over the bulwarks, drinking in the
miasma [putrid mist] of the night; others sprawled by barrels over
games of dice and cards; and the exhausted four who had carried
the little house lay prone on the deck, where even in their sleep
they rolled skillfully to this side or that out of Hook's reach,
lest he should claw them mechanically in passing.
Hook trod the deck in thought. O man unfathomable. It was his
hour of triumph. Peter had been removed for ever from his path,
and all the other boys were in the brig, about to walk the plank.
It was his grimmest deed since the days when he had brought
Barbecue to heel; and knowing as we do how vain a tabernacle is
man, could we be surprised had he now paced the deck unsteadily,
bellied out by the winds of his success?
But there was no elation in his gait, which kept pace with the
action of his sombre mind. Hook was profoundly dejected.
He was often thus when communing with himself on board ship in
the quietude of the night. It was because he was so terribly
alone. This inscrutable man never felt more alone than when
surrounded by his dogs. They were socially inferior to him.
Hook was not his true name. To reveal who he really was would
even at this date set the country in a blaze; but as those who
read between the lines must already have guessed, he had been at
a famous public school; and its traditions still clung to him
like garments, with which indeed they are largely concerned.
Thus it was offensive to him even now to board a ship in the
same dress in which he grappled [attacked] her, and he still
adhered in his walk to the school's distinguished slouch. But
above all he retained the passion for good form.
Good form! However much he may have degenerated, he still knew
that this is all that really matters.
From far within him he heard a creaking as of rusty portals,
and through them came a stern tap-tap-tap, like hammering in the
night when one cannot sleep. "Have you been good form to-day?"
was their eternal question.
"Fame, fame, that glittering bauble, it is mine," he cried.
"Is it quite good form to be distinguished at anything?" the
tap-tap from his school replied.
"I am the only man whom Barbecue feared," he urged, "and Flint
"Barbecue, Flint--what house?" came the cutting retort.
Most disquieting reflection of all, was it not bad form to
think about good form?
His vitals were tortured by this problem. It was a claw within
him sharper than the iron one; and as it tore him, the
perspiration dripped down his tallow [waxy] countenance and
streaked his doublet. Ofttimes he drew his sleeve across his
face, but there was no damming that trickle.
Ah, envy not Hook.
There came to him a presentiment of his early dissolution
[death]. It was as if Peter's terrible oath had boarded the
ship. Hook felt a gloomy desire to make his dying speech, lest
presently there should be no time for it.
"Better for Hook," he cried, "if he had had less ambition!"
It was in his darkest hours only that he referred to himself
in the third person.
"No little children to love me!"
Strange that he should think of this, which had never troubled
him before; perhaps the sewing machine brought it to his mind.
For long he muttered to himself, staring at Smee, who was
hemming placidly, under the conviction that all children feared
Feared him! Feared Smee! There was not a child on board the
brig that night who did not already love him. He had said horrid
things to them and hit them with the palm of his hand, because he
could not hit with his fist, but they had only clung to him the
more. Michael had tried on his spectacles.
To tell poor Smee that they thought him lovable! Hook itched
to do it, but it seemed too brutal. Instead, he revolved this
mystery in his mind: why do they find Smee lovable? He pursued
the problem like the sleuth-hound that he was. If Smee was
lovable, what was it that made him so? A terrible answer
suddenly presented itself--"Good form?"
Had the bo'sun good form without knowing it, which is the best
form of all?
He remembered that you have to prove you don't know you have it
before you are eligible for Pop [an elite social club at Eton].
With a cry of rage he raised his iron hand over Smee's head;
but he did not tear. What arrested him was this reflection:
"To claw a man because he is good form, what would that be?"
The unhappy Hook was as impotent [powerless] as he was damp,
and he fell forward like a cut flower.
His dogs thinking him out of the way for a time, discipline
instantly relaxed; and they broke into a bacchanalian [drunken]
dance, which brought him to his feet at once, all traces of human
weakness gone, as if a bucket of water had passed over him.
"Quiet, you scugs," he cried, "or I'll cast anchor in you"; and
at once the din was hushed. "Are all the children chained, so
that they cannot fly away?"
"Then hoist them up."
The wretched prisoners were dragged from the hold, all except
Wendy, and ranged in line in front of him. For a time he seemed
unconscious of their presence. He lolled at his ease, humming,
not unmelodiously, snatches of a rude song, and fingering a pack
of cards. Ever and anon the light from his cigar gave a touch of
colour to his face.
"Now then, bullies," he said briskly, "six of you walk the
plank to-night, but I have room for two cabin boys. Which of you
is it to be?"
"Don't irritate him unnecessarily," had been Wendy's
instructions in the hold; so Tootles stepped forward politely.
Tootles hated the idea of signing under such a man, but an
instinct told him that it would be prudent to lay the
responsibility on an absent person; and though a somewhat silly
boy, he knew that mothers alone are always willing to be the
buffer. All children know this about mothers, and despise them
for it, but make constant use of it.
So Tootles explained prudently, "You see, sir, I don't think my
mother would like me to be a pirate. Would your mother like you
to be a pirate, Slightly?"
He winked at Slightly, who said mournfully, "I don't think so,"
as if he wished things had been otherwise. "Would your mother
like you to be a pirate, Twin?"
"I don't think so," said the first twin, as clever as the
others. "Nibs, would--"
"Stow this gab," roared Hook, and the spokesmen were dragged
back. "You, boy," he said, addressing John, "you look as if you
had a little pluck in you. Didst never want to be a pirate, my
Now John had sometimes experienced this hankering at maths.
prep.; and he was struck by Hook's picking him out.
"I once thought of calling myself Red-handed Jack," he said
"And a good name too. We'll call you that here, bully, if you
"What do you think, Michael?" asked John.
"What would you call me if I join?" Michael demanded.
Michael was naturally impressed. "What do you think, John?"
He wanted John to decide, and John wanted him to decide.
"Shall we still be respectful subjects of the King?" John
Through Hook's teeth came the answer: "You would have to
swear, `Down with the King.'"
Perhaps John had not behaved very well so far, but he shone out
"Then I refuse," he cried, banging the barrel in front of Hook.
"And I refuse," cried Michael.
"Rule Britannia!" squeaked Curly.
The infuriated pirates buffeted them in the mouth; and Hook
roared out, "That seals your doom. Bring up their mother. Get
the plank ready."
They were only boys, and they went white as they saw Jukes and
Cecco preparing the fatal plank. But they tried to look brave
when Wendy was brought up.
No words of mine can tell you how Wendy despised those pirates.
To the boys there was at least some glamour in the pirate
calling; but all that she saw was that the ship had not been
tidied for years. There was not a porthole on the grimy glass
of which you might not have written with your finger "Dirty pig";
and she had already written it on several. But as the boys
gathered round her she had no thought, of course, save for them.
"So, my beauty," said Hook, as if he spoke in syrup, "you are
to see your children walk the plank."
Fine gentlemen though he was, the intensity of his communings
had soiled his ruff, and suddenly he knew that she was gazing at
it. With a hasty gesture he tried to hide it, but he was too late.
"Are they to die?" asked Wendy, with a look of such frightful
contempt that he nearly fainted.
"They are," he snarled. "Silence all," he called gloatingly,
"for a mother's last words to her children."
At this moment Wendy was grand. "These are my last words, dear
boys," she said firmly. "I feel that I have a message to you
from your real mothers, and it is this: `We hope our sons will
die like English gentlemen.'"
Even the pirates were awed, and Tootles cried out hysterically,
"I am going to do what my mother hopes. What are you to do, Nibs?"
"What my mother hopes. What are you to do, Twin?"
"What my mother hopes. John, what are--"
But Hook had found his voice again.
"Tie her up!" he shouted.
It was Smee who tied her to the mast. "See here, honey," he
whispered, "I'll save you if you promise to be my mother."
But not even for Smee would she make such a promise. "I would
almost rather have no children at all," she said disdainfully
It is sad to know that not a boy was looking at her as Smee
tied her to the mast; the eyes of all were on the plank: that
last little walk they were about to take. They were no longer
able to hope that they would walk it manfully, for the capacity
to think had gone from them; they could stare and shiver only.
Hook smiled on them with his teeth closed, and took a step
toward Wendy. His intention was to turn her face so that she
should see they boys walking the plank one by one. But he never
reached her, he never heard the cry of anguish he hoped to wring
from her. He heard something else instead.
It was the terrible tick-tick of the crocodile.
They all heard it--pirates, boys, Wendy; and immediately
every head was blown in one direction; not to the water whence
the sound proceeded, but toward Hook. All knew that what was
about to happen concerned him alone, and that from being actors
they were suddenly become spectators.
Very frightful was it to see the change that came over him. It
was as if he had been clipped at every joint. He fell in a
The sound came steadily nearer; and in advance of it came this
ghastly thought, "The crocodile is about to board the ship!"
Even the iron claw hung inactive; as if knowing that it was no
intrinsic part of what the attacking force wanted. Left so
fearfully alone, any other man would have lain with his eyes shut
where he fell: but the gigantic brain of Hook was still working,
and under its guidance he crawled on the knees along the deck as
far from the sound as he could go. The pirates respectfully
cleared a passage for him, and it was only when he brought up
against the bulwarks that he spoke.
"Hide me!" he cried hoarsely.
They gathered round him, all eyes averted from the thing that
was coming aboard. They had no thought of fighting it. It was
Only when Hook was hidden from them did curiosity loosen the
limbs of the boys so that they could rush to the ship's side to
see the crocodile climbing it. Then they got the strangest
surprise of the Night of Nights; for it was no crocodile that was
coming to their aid. It was Peter.
He signed to them not to give vent to any cry of admiration
that might rouse suspicion. Then he went on ticking.
Chapter 15 - "HOOK OR ME THIS TIME"
Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life without
our noticing for a time that they have happened. Thus, to take
an instance, we suddenly discover that we have been deaf in one
ear for we don't know how long, but, say, half an hour. Now such
an experience had come that night to Peter. When last we saw him
he was stealing across the island with one finger to his lips and
his dagger at the ready. He had seen the crocodile pass by
without noticing anything peculiar about it, but by and by he
remembered that it had not been ticking. At first he thought
this eerie, but soon concluded rightly that the clock had run
Without giving a thought to what might be the feelings of a
fellow-creature thus abruptly deprived of its closest companion,
Peter began to consider how he could turn the catastrophe to his
own use; and he decided to tick, so that wild beasts should
believe he was the crocodile and let him pass unmolested. He
ticked superbly, but with one unforeseen result. The crocodile
was among those who heard the sound, and it followed him, though
whether with the purpose of regaining what it had lost, or
merely as a friend under the belief that it was again ticking
itself, will never be certainly known, for, like slaves to a
fixed idea, it was a stupid beast.
Peter reached the shore without mishap, and went straight on,
his legs encountering the water as if quite unaware that they had
entered a new element. Thus many animals pass from land to
water, but no other human of whom I know. As he swam he had but
one thought: "Hook or me this time." He had ticked so long that
he now went on ticking without knowing that he was doing it. Had
he known he would have stopped, for to board the brig by help of
the tick, though an ingenious idea, had not occurred to him.
On the contrary, he thought he had scaled her side as noiseless
as a mouse; and he was amazed to see the pirates cowering from
him, with Hook in their midst as abject as if he had heard the
The crocodile! No sooner did Peter remember it than he heard
the ticking. At first he thought the sound did come from the
crocodile, and he looked behind him swiftly. They he realised
that he was doing it himself, and in a flash he understood the
situation. "How clever of me!" he thought at once, and signed
to the boys not to burst into applause.
It was at this moment that Ed Teynte the quartermaster emerged
from the forecastle and came along the deck. Now, reader, time
what happened by your watch. Peter struck true and deep. John
clapped his hands on the ill-fated pirate's mouth to stifle the
dying groan. He fell forward. Four boys caught him to prevent
the thud. Peter gave the signal, and the carrion was cast
overboard. There was a splash, and then silence. How long has
"One!" (Slightly had begun to count.)
None too soon, Peter, every inch of him on tiptoe, vanished
into the cabin; for more than one pirate was screwing up his
courage to look round. They could hear each other's distressed
breathing now, which showed them that the more terrible sound had
"It's gone, captain," Smee said, wiping off his spectacles.
"All's still again."
Slowly Hook let his head emerge from his ruff, and listened so
intently that he could have caught the echo of the tick. There
was not a sound, and he drew himself up firmly to his full
"Then here's to Johnny Plank!" he cried brazenly, hating the
boys more than ever because they had seen him unbend. He broke
into the villainous ditty:
"Yo ho, yo ho, the frisky plank,
You walks along it so,
Till it goes down and you goes down
To Davy Jones below!"
To terrorize the prisoners the more, though with a certain loss
of dignity, he danced along an imaginary plank, grimacing at them
as he sang; and when he finished he cried, "Do you want a touch
of the cat [o' nine tails] before you walk the plank?"
At that they fell on their knees. "No, no!" they cried so
piteously that every pirate smiled.
"Fetch the cat, Jukes," said Hook; "it's in the cabin."
The cabin! Peter was in the cabin! The children gazed at each
"Ay, ay," said Jukes blithely, and he strode into the cabin.
They followed him with their eyes; they scarce knew that Hook had
resumed his song, his dogs joining in with him:
"Yo ho, yo ho, the scratching cat,
Its tails are nine, you know,
And when they're writ upon your back--"
What was the last line will never be known, for of a sudden the
song was stayed by a dreadful screech from the cabin. It wailed
through the ship, and died away. Then was heard a crowing sound
which was well understood by the boys, but to the pirates was
almost more eerie than the screech.
"What was that?" cried Hook.
"Two," said Slightly solemnly.
The Italian Cecco hesitated for a moment and then swung into
the cabin. He tottered out, haggard.
"What's the matter with Bill Jukes, you dog?" hissed Hook,
towering over him.
"The matter wi' him is he's dead, stabbed," replied Cecco in a
"Bill Jukes dead!" cried the startled pirates.
"The cabin's as black as a pit," Cecco said, almost gibbering,
"but there is something terrible in there: the thing you heard
The exultation of the boys, the lowering looks of the pirates,
both were seen by Hook.
"Cecco," he said in his most steely voice, "go back and fetch
me out that doodle-doo."
Cecco, bravest of the brave, cowered before his captain, crying
"No, no"; but Hook was purring to his claw.
"Did you say you would go, Cecco?" he said musingly.
Cecco went, first flinging his arms despairingly. There was no
more singing, all listened now; and again came a death-screech
and again a crow.
No one spoke except Slightly. "Three," he said.
Hook rallied his dogs with a gesture. "'S'death and odds
fish," he thundered, "who is to bring me that doodle-doo?"
"Wait till Cecco comes out," growled Starkey, and the others took
up the cry.
"I think I heard you volunteer, Starkey," said Hook, purring
"No, by thunder!" Starkey cried.
"My hook thinks you did," said Hook, crossing to him. "I
wonder if it would not be advisable, Starkey, to humour the hook?"
"I'll swing before I go in there," replied Starkey doggedly,
and again he had the support of the crew.
"Is this mutiny?" asked Hook more pleasantly than ever.
"Captain, mercy!" Starkey whimpered, all of a tremble now.
"Shake hands, Starkey," said Hook, proffering his claw.
Starkey looked round for help, but all deserted him. As he
backed up Hook advanced, and now the red spark was in his eye.
With a despairing scream the pirate leapt upon Long Tom and
precipitated himself into the sea.
"Four," said Slightly.
"And now," Hook said courteously, "did any other gentlemen say
mutiny?" Seizing a lantern and raising his claw with a menacing
gesture, "I'll bring out that doodle-doo myself," he said, and
sped into the cabin.
"Five." How Slightly longed to say it. He wetted his lips to
be ready, but Hook came staggering out, without his lantern.
"Something blew out the light," he said a little unsteadily.
"Something!" echoed Mullins.
"What of Cecco?" demanded Noodler.
"He's as dead as Jukes," said Hook shortly.
His reluctance to return to the cabin impressed them all
unfavourably, and the mutinous sounds again broke forth. All
pirates are superstitious, and Cookson cried, "They do say the
surest sign a ship's accurst is when there's one on board more
than can be accounted for."
"I've heard," muttered Mullins, "he always boards the pirate
craft last. Had he a tail, captain?"
"They say," said another, looking viciously at Hook, "that when
he comes it's in the likeness of the wickedest man aboard."
"Had he a hook, captain?" asked Cookson insolently; and one
after another took up the cry, "The ship's doomed!" At this the
children could not resist raising a cheer. Hook had well-nigh
forgotten his prisoners, but as he swung round on them now his
face lit up again.
"Lads," he cried to his crew, "now here's a notion. Open the
cabin door and drive them in. Let them fight the doodle-doo for
their lives. If they kill him, we're so much the better; if he
kills them, we're none the worse."
For the last time his dogs admired Hook, and devotedly they did
his bidding. The boys, pretending to struggle, were pushed into
the cabin and the door was closed on them.
"Now, listen!" cried Hook, and all listened. But not one dared
to face the door. Yes, one, Wendy, who all this time had been
bound to the mast. It was for neither a scream nor a crow that
she was watching, it was for the reappearance of Peter.
She had not long to wait. In the cabin he had found the thing
for which he had gone in search: the key that would free the
children of their manacles, and now they all stole forth, armed
with such weapons as they could find. First signing them to
hide, Peter cut Wendy's bonds, and then nothing could have been
easier than for them all to fly off together; but one thing
barred the way, an oath, "Hook or me this time." So when he had
freed Wendy, he whispered for her to conceal herself with the
others, and himself took her place by the mast, her cloak around
him so that he should pass for her. Then he took a great breath
To the pirates it was a voice crying that all the boys lay
slain in the cabin; and they were panic-stricken. Hook tried to
hearten them; but like the dogs he had made them they showed him
their fangs, and he knew that if he took his eyes off them now
they would leap at him.
"Lads," he said, ready to cajole or strike as need be, but
never quailing for an instant, "I've thought it out. There's a
"Ay," they snarled, "a man wi' a hook."
"No, lads, no, it's the girl. Never was luck on a pirate ship
wi' a woman on board. We'll right the ship when she's gone."
Some of them remembered that this had been a saying of
Flint's. "It's worth trying," they said doubtfully.
"Fling the girl overboard," cried Hook; and they made a rush at
the figure in the cloak.
"There's none can save you now, missy," Mullins hissed
"There's one," replied the figure.
"Peter Pan the avenger!" came the terrible answer; and as he
spoke Peter flung off his cloak. Then they all knew who 'twas
that had been undoing them in the cabin, and twice Hook essayed
to speak and twice he failed. In that frightful moment I think
his fierce heart broke.
At last he cried, "Cleave him to the brisket!" but without
"Down, boys, and at them!" Peter's voice rang out; and in
another moment the clash of arms was resounding through the ship.
Had the pirates kept together it is certain that they would have
won; but the onset came when they were still unstrung, and they
ran hither and thither, striking wildly, each thinking himself
the last survivor of the crew. Man to man they were the
stronger; but they fought on the defensive only, which enabled
the boys to hunt in pairs and choose their quarry. Some of the
miscreants leapt into the sea; others hid in dark recesses, where
they were found by Slightly, who did not fight, but ran about
with a lantern which he flashed in their faces, so that they were
half blinded and fell as an easy prey to the reeking swords of
the other boys. There was little sound to be heard but the clang
of weapons, an occasional screech or splash, and Slightly
I think all were gone when a group of savage boys surrounded
Hook, who seemed to have a charmed life, as he kept them at bay
in that circle of fire. They had done for his dogs, but this man
alone seemed to be a match for them all. Again and again they
closed upon him, and again and again he hewed a clear space. He
had lifted up one boy with his hook, and was using him as a
buckler [shield], when another, who had just passed his sword
through Mullins, sprang into the fray.
"Put up your swords, boys," cried the newcomer, "this man is
Thus suddenly Hook found himself face to face with Peter. The
others drew back and formed a ring around them.
For long the two enemies looked at one another, Hook shuddering
slightly, and Peter with the strange smile upon his face.
"So, Pan," said Hook at last, "this is all your doing."
"Ay, James Hook," came the stern answer, "it is all my doing."
"Proud and insolent youth," said Hook, "prepare to meet thy
"Dark and sinister man," Peter answered, "have at thee."
Without more words they fell to, and for a space there was no
advantage to either blade. Peter was a superb swordsman, and
parried with dazzling rapidity; ever and anon he followed up a
feint with a lunge that got past his foe's defence, but his
shorter reach stood him in ill stead, and he could not drive the
steel home. Hook, scarcely his inferior in brilliancy, but not
quite so nimble in wrist play, forced him back by the weight of
his onset, hoping suddenly to end all with a favourite thrust,
taught him long ago by Barbecue at Rio; but to his astonishment he
found this thrust turned aside again and again. Then he sought to
close and give the quietus with his iron hook, which all this time
had been pawing the air; but Peter doubled under it and, lunging
fiercely, pierced him in the ribs. At the sight of his own blood,
whose peculiar colour, you remember, was offensive to him,
the sword fell from Hook's hand, and he was at Peter's mercy.
"Now!" cried all the boys, but with a magnificent gesture Peter
invited his opponent to pick up his sword. Hook did so instantly,
but with a tragic feeling that Peter was showing good form.
Hitherto he had thought it was some fiend fighting him, but
darker suspicions assailed him now.
"Pan, who and what art thou?" he cried huskily.
"I'm youth, I'm joy," Peter answered at a venture, "I'm a
little bird that has broken out of the egg."
This, of course, was nonsense; but it was proof to the unhappy
Hook that Peter did not know in the least who or what he was,
which is the very pinnacle of good form.
"To't again," he cried despairingly.
He fought now like a human flail, and every sweep of that
terrible sword would have severed in twain any man or boy who
obstructed it; but Peter fluttered round him as if the very wind
it made blew him out of the danger zone. And again and again he
darted in and pricked.
Hook was fighting now without hope. That passionate breast no
longer asked for life; but for one boon it craved: to see Peter
show bad form before it was cold forever.
Abandoning the fight he rushed into the powder magazine and
"In two minutes," he cried, "the ship will be blown to pieces."
Now, now, he thought, true form will show.
But Peter issued from the powder magazine with the shell in his
hands, and calmly flung it overboard.
What sort of form was Hook himself showing? Misguided man
though he was, we may be glad, without sympathising with him,
that in the end he was true to the traditions of his race. The
other boys were flying around him now, flouting, scornful; and he
staggered about the deck striking up at them impotently, his mind
was no longer with them; it was slouching in the playing fields
of long ago, or being sent up [to the headmaster] for good, or
watching the wall-game from a famous wall. And his shoes were
right, and his waistcoat was right, and his tie was right, and
his socks were right.
James Hook, thou not wholly unheroic figure, farewell.
For we have come to his last moment.
Seeing Peter slowly advancing upon him through the air with
dagger poised, he sprang upon the bulwarks to cast himself into
the sea. He did not know that the crocodile was waiting for
him; for we purposely stopped the clock that this knowledge might
be spared him: a little mark of respect from us at the end.
He had one last triumph, which I think we need not grudge him.
As he stood on the bulwark looking over his shoulder at Peter
gliding through the air, he invited him with a gesture to use his
foot. It made Peter kick instead of stab.
At last Hook had got the boon for which he craved.
"Bad form," he cried jeeringly, and went content to the
Thus perished James Hook.
"Seventeen," Slightly sang out; but he was not quite correct in
his figures. Fifteen paid the penalty for their crimes that
night; but two reached the shore: Starkey to be captured by the
redskins, who made him nurse for all their papooses, a melancholy
come-down for a pirate; and Smee, who henceforth wandered about
the world in his spectacles, making a precarious living by saying
he was the only man that Jas. Hook had feared.
Wendy, of course, had stood by taking no part in the fight,
though watching Peter with glistening eyes; but now that all was
over she became prominent again. She praised them equally, and
shuddered delightfully when Michael showed her the place where he
had killed one; and then she took them into Hook's cabin and
pointed to his watch which was hanging on a nail. It said "half-
The lateness of the hour was almost the biggest thing of all.
She got them to bed in the pirates' bunks pretty quickly, you may
be sure; all but Peter, who strutted up and down on the deck,
until at last he fell asleep by the side of Long Tom. He had one
of his dreams that night, and cried in his sleep for a long time,
and Wendy held him tightly.
Chapter 16 - THE RETURN HOME
By three bells that morning they were all stirring their stumps
[legs]; for there was a big sea running; and Tootles, the bo'sun,
was among them, with a rope's end in his hand and chewing
tobacco. They all donned pirate clothes cut off at the knee,
shaved smartly, and tumbled up, with the true nautical roll and
hitching their trousers.
It need not be said who was the captain. Nibs and John were
first and second mate. There was a woman aboard. The rest were
tars [sailors] before the mast, and lived in the fo'c'sle. Peter
had already lashed himself to the wheel; but he piped all hands
and delivered a short address to them; said he hoped they would
do their duty like gallant hearties, but that he knew they were
the scum of Rio and the Gold Coast, and if they snapped at him he
would tear them. The bluff strident words struck the note
sailors understood, and they cheered him lustily. Then a few
sharp orders were given, and they turned the ship round, and nosed
her for the mainland.
Captain Pan calculated, after consulting the ship's chart, that
if this weather lasted they should strike the Azores about the
21st of June, after which it would save time to fly.
Some of them wanted it to be an honest ship and others were in
favour of keeping it a pirate; but the captain treated them as
dogs, and they dared not express their wishes to him even in a
round robin [one person after another, as they had to Cpt. Hook].
Instant obedience was the only safe thing. Slightly got a dozen
for looking perplexed when told to take soundings. The general
feeling was that Peter was honest just now to lull Wendy's
suspicions, but that there might be a change when the new suit
was ready, which, against her will, she was making for him out of
some of Hook's wickedest garments. It was afterwards whispered
among them that on the first night he wore this suit he sat long
in the cabin with Hook's cigar-holder in his mouth and one hand
clenched, all but for the forefinger, which he bent and held
threateningly aloft like a hook.
Instead of watching the ship, however, we must now return to
that desolate home from which three of our characters had taken
heartless flight so long ago. It seems a shame to have neglected
No. 14 all this time; and yet we may be sure that Mrs. Darling
does not blame us. If we had returned sooner to look with
sorrowful sympathy at her, she would probably have cried, "Don't
be silly; what do I matter? Do go back and keep an eye on the
children." So long as mothers are like this their children will
take advantage of them; and they may lay to [bet on] that.
Even now we venture into that familiar nursery only because its
lawful occupants are on their way home; we are merely hurrying on
in advance of them to see that their beds are properly aired and
that Mr. and Mrs. Darling do not go out for the evening. We are
no more than servants. Why on earth should their beds be
properly aired, seeing that they left them in such a thankless
hurry? Would it not serve them jolly well right if they came
back and found that their parents were spending the week-end in
the country? It would be the moral lesson they have been in need
of ever since we met them; but if we contrived things in this way
Mrs. Darling would never forgive us.
One thing I should like to do immensely, and that is to tell
her, in the way authors have, that the children are coming back,
that indeed they will be here on Thursday week. This would spoil
so completely the surprise to which Wendy and John and Michael
are looking forward. They have been planning it out on the ship:
mother's rapture, father's shout of joy, Nana's leap through the
air to embrace them first, when what they ought to be prepared
for is a good hiding. How delicious to spoil it all by breaking
the news in advance; so that when they enter grandly Mrs. Darling
may not even offer Wendy her mouth, and Mr. Darling may exclaim
pettishly, "Dash it all, here are those boys again." However, we
should get no thanks even for this. We are beginning to know
Mrs. Darling by this time, and may be sure that she would upbraid
us for depriving the children of their little pleasure.
"But, my dear madam, it is ten days till Thursday week; so that
by telling you what's what, we can save you ten days of
"Yes, but at what a cost! By depriving the children of ten
minutes of delight."
"Oh, if you look at it in that way!"
"What other way is there in which to look at it?"
You see, the woman had no proper spirit. I had meant to say
extraordinarily nice things about her; but I despise her, and not
one of them will I say now. She does not really need to be told
to have things ready, for they are ready. All the beds are aired,
and she never leaves the house, and observe, the window is open.
For all the use we are to her, we might well go back to the ship.
However, as we are here we may as well stay and look on. That is
all we are, lookers-on. Nobody really wants us. So let us watch
and say jaggy things, in the hope that some of them will hurt.
The only change to be seen in the night-nursery is that between
nine and six the kennel is no longer there. When the children
flew away, Mr. Darling felt in his bones that all the blame was
his for having chained Nana up, and that from first to last she
had been wiser than he. Of course, as we have seen, he was quite
a simple man; indeed he might have passed for a boy again if he
had been able to take his baldness off; but he had also a noble
sense of justice and a lion's courage to do what seemed right to
him; and having thought the matter out with anxious care after
the flight of the children, he went down on all fours and crawled
into the kennel. To all Mrs. Darling's dear invitations to him
to come out he replied sadly but firmly:
"No, my own one, this is the place for me."
In the bitterness of his remorse he swore that he would never
leave the kennel until his children came back. Of course this
was a pity; but whatever Mr. Darling did he had to do in excess,
otherwise he soon gave up doing it. And there never was a more
humble man than the once proud George Darling, as he sat in the
kennel of an evening talking with his wife of their children and
all their pretty ways.
Very touching was his deference to Nana. He would not let her
come into the kennel, but on all other matters he followed her
Every morning the kennel was carried with Mr. Darling in it to
a cab, which conveyed him to his office, and he returned home in
the same way at six. Something of the strength of character of
the man will be seen if we remember how sensitive he was to the
opinion of neighbours: this man whose every movement now
attracted surprised attention. Inwardly he must have suffered
torture; but he preserved a calm exterior even when the young
criticised his little home, and he always lifted his hat
courteously to any lady who looked inside.
It may have been Quixotic, but it was magnificent. Soon the
inward meaning of it leaked out, and the great heart of the
public was touched. Crowds followed the cab, cheering it
lustily; charming girls scaled it to get his autograph;
interviews appeared in the better class of papers, and society
invited him to dinner and added, "Do come in the kennel."
On that eventful Thursday week, Mrs. Darling was in the night-
nursery awaiting George's return home; a very sad-eyed woman.
Now that we look at her closely and remember the gaiety of her in
the old days, all gone now just because she has lost her babes, I
find I won't be able to say nasty things about her after all. If
she was too fond of her rubbishy children, she couldn't help it.
Look at her in her chair, where she has fallen asleep. The
corner of her mouth, where one looks first, is almost withered
up. Her hand moves restlessly on her breast as if she had a
pain there. Some like Peter best, and some like Wendy best, but
I like her best. Suppose, to make her happy, we whisper to her
in her sleep that the brats are coming back. They are really
within two miles of the window now, and flying strong, but all
we need whisper is that they are on the way. Let's.
It is a pity we did it, for she has started up, calling their
names; and there is no one in the room but Nana.
"O Nana, I dreamt my dear ones had come back."
Nana had filmy eyes, but all she could do was put her paw
gently on her mistress's lap; and they were sitting together thus
when the kennel was brought back. As Mr. Darling puts his head
out to kiss his wife, we see that his face is more worn than of
yore, but has a softer expression.
He gave his hat to Liza, who took it scornfully; for she had no
imagination, and was quite incapable of understanding the motives
of such a man. Outside, the crowd who had accompanied the cab
home were still cheering, and he was naturally not unmoved.
"Listen to them," he said; "it is very gratifying."
"Lots of little boys," sneered Liza.
"There were several adults to-day," he assured her with a faint
flush; but when she tossed her head he had not a word of reproof for
her. Social success had not spoilt him; it had made him sweeter.
For some time he sat with his head out of the kennel, talking with
Mrs. Darling of this success, and pressing her hand reassuringly
when she said she hoped his head would not be turned by it.
"But if I had been a weak man," he said. "Good heavens, if I
had been a weak man!"
"And, George," she said timidly, "you are as full of remorse as
ever, aren't you?"
"Full of remorse as ever, dearest! See my punishment: living
in a kennel."
"But it is punishment, isn't it, George? You are sure you are
not enjoying it?"
You may be sure she begged his pardon; and then, feeling
drowsy, he curled round in the kennel.
"Won't you play me to sleep," he asked, "on the nursery piano?"
and as she was crossing to the day-nursery he added
thoughtlessly, "And shut that window. I feel a draught."
"O George, never ask me to do that. The window must always be
left open for them, always, always."
Now it was his turn to beg her pardon; and she went into the
day-nursery and played, and soon he was asleep; and while he
slept, Wendy and John and Michael flew into the room.
Oh no. We have written it so, because that was the charming
arrangement planned by them before we left the ship; but
something must have happened since then, for it is not they who
have flown in, it is Peter and Tinker Bell.
Peter's first words tell all.
"Quick Tink," he whispered, "close the window; bar it! That's
right. Now you and I must get away by the door; and when Wendy
comes she will think her mother has barred her out; and she will
have to go back with me."
Now I understand what had hitherto puzzled me, why when Peter
had exterminated the pirates he did not return to the island and
leave Tink to escort the children to the mainland. This trick
had been in his head all the time.
Instead of feeling that he was behaving badly he danced with
glee; then he peeped into the day-nursery to see who was playing.
He whispered to Tink, "It's Wendy's mother! She is a pretty
lady, but not so pretty as my mother. Her mouth is full of
thimbles, but not so full as my mother's was."
Of course he knew nothing whatever about his mother; but he
sometimes bragged about her.
He did not know the tune, which was "Home, Sweet Home," but he
knew it was saying, "Come back, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy"; and he
cried exultantly, "You will never see Wendy again, lady, for the
window is barred!"
He peeped in again to see why the music had stopped, and now he
saw that Mrs. Darling had laid her head on the box, and that two
tears were sitting on her eyes.
"She wants me to unbar the window," thought Peter, "but I
won't, not I!"
He peeped again, and the tears were still there, or another two
had taken their place.
"She's awfully fond of Wendy," he said to himself. He was
angry with her now for not seeing why she could not have Wendy.
The reason was so simple: "I'm fond of her too. We can't both
have her, lady."
But the lady would not make the best of it, and he was unhappy.
He ceased to look at her, but even then she would not let go of
him. He skipped about and made funny faces, but when he stopped
it was just as if she were inside him, knocking.
"Oh, all right," he said at last, and gulped. Then he unbarred
the window. "Come on, Tink," he cried, with a frightful sneer at
the laws of nature; "we don't want any silly mothers"; and he
Thus Wendy and John and Michael found the window open for them
after all, which of course was more than they deserved. They
alighted on the floor, quite unashamed of themselves, and the
youngest one had already forgotten his home.
"John," he said, looking around him doubtfully, "I think I have
been here before."
"Of course you have, you silly. There is your old bed."
"So it is," Michael said, but not with much conviction.
"I say," cried John, "the kennel!" and he dashed across to look
"Perhaps Nana is inside it," Wendy said.
But John whistled. "Hullo," he said, "there's a man inside
"It's father!" exclaimed Wendy.
"Let me see father," Michael begged eagerly, and he took a good
look. "He is not so big as the pirate I killed," he said with
such frank disappointment that I am glad Mr. Darling was asleep;
it would have been sad if those had been the first words he heard
his little Michael say.
Wendy and John had been taken aback somewhat at finding their
father in the kennel.
"Surely," said John, like one who had lost faith in his memory,
"he used not to sleep in the kennel?"
"John," Wendy said falteringly, "perhaps we don't remember the
old life as well as we thought we did."
A chill fell upon them; and serve them right.
"It is very careless of mother," said that young scoundrel
John, "not to be here when we come back."
It was then that Mrs. Darling began playing again.
"It's mother!" cried Wendy, peeping.
"So it is!" said John.
"Then are you not really our mother, Wendy?" asked Michael, who
was surely sleepy.
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Wendy, with her first real twinge of
remorse [for having gone], "it was quite time we came back."
"Let us creep in," John suggested, "and put our hands over her
But Wendy, who saw that they must break the joyous news more
gently, had a better plan.
"Let us all slip into our beds, and be there when she comes in,
just as if we had never been away."
And so when Mrs. Darling went back to the night-nursery to see
if her husband was asleep, all the beds were occupied. The
children waited for her cry of joy, but it did not come. She saw
them, but she did not believe they were there. You see, she saw
them in their beds so often in her dreams that she thought this
was just the dream hanging around her still.
She sat down in the chair by the fire, where in the old days
she had nursed them.
They could not understand this, and a cold fear fell upon all
the three of them.
"Mother!" Wendy cried.
"That's Wendy," she said, but still she was sure it was the
"That's John," she said.
"Mother!" cried Michael. He knew her now.
"That's Michael," she said, and she stretched out her arms for
the three little selfish children they would never envelop again.
Yes, they did, they went round Wendy and John and Michael, who
had slipped out of bed and run to her.
"George, George!" she cried when she could speak; and Mr.
Darling woke to share her bliss, and Nana came rushing in. There
could not have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see
it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. He had
had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but
he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he
must be for ever barred.
Chapter 17 - WHEN WENDY GREW UP
I hope you want to know what became of the other boys. They
were waiting below to give Wendy time to explain about them; and
when they had counted five hundred they went up. They went up by
the stair, because they thought this would make a better
impression. They stood in a row in front of Mrs. Darling, with
their hats off, and wishing they were not wearing their pirate
clothes. They said nothing, but their eyes asked her to have
them. They ought to have looked at Mr. Darling also, but they
forgot about him.
Of course Mrs. Darling said at once that she would have them;
but Mr. Darling was curiously depressed, and they saw that he
considered six a rather large number.
"I must say," he said to Wendy, "that you don't do things by
halves," a grudging remark which the twins thought was pointed at
The first twin was the proud one, and he asked, flushing, "Do
you think we should be too much of a handful, sir? Because, if
so, we can go away."
"Father!" Wendy cried, shocked; but still the cloud was on him.
He knew he was behaving unworthily, but he could not help it.
"We could lie doubled up," said Nibs.
"I always cut their hair myself," said Wendy.
"George!" Mrs. Darling exclaimed, pained to see her dear one
showing himself in such an unfavourable light.
Then he burst into tears, and the truth came out. He was as
glad to have them as she was, he said, but he thought they should
have asked his consent as well as hers, instead of treating him
as a cypher [zero] in his own house.
"I don't think he is a cypher," Tootles cried instantly. "Do
you think he is a cypher, Curly?"
"No, I don't. Do you think he is a cypher, Slightly?"
"Rather not. Twin, what do you think?"
It turned out that not one of them thought him a cypher; and he
was absurdly gratified, and said he would find space for them all
in the drawing-room if they fitted in.
"We'll fit in, sir," they assured him.
"Then follow the leader," he cried gaily. "Mind you, I am not
sure that we have a drawing-room, but we pretend we have, and
it's all the same. Hoop la!"
He went off dancing through the house, and they all cried "Hoop
la!" and danced after him, searching for the drawing-room; and I
forget whether they found it, but at any rate they found corners,
and they all fitted in.
As for Peter, he saw Wendy once again before he flew away. He
did not exactly come to the window, but he brushed against it in
passing so that she could open it if she liked and call to him.
That is what she did.
"Hullo, Wendy, good-bye," he said.
"Oh dear, are you going away?"
"You don't feel, Peter," she said falteringly, "that you would
like to say anything to my parents about a very sweet subject?"
"About me, Peter?"
Mrs. Darling came to the window, for at present she was keeping
a sharp eye on Wendy. She told Peter that she had adopted all
the other boys, and would like to adopt him also.
"Would you send me to school?" he inquired craftily.
"And then to an office?"
"I suppose so."
"Soon I would be a man?"
"I don't want to go to school and learn solemn things," he told
her passionately. "I don't want to be a man. O Wendy's mother,
if I was to wake up and feel there was a beard!"
"Peter," said Wendy the comforter, "I should love you in a
beard"; and Mrs. Darling stretched out her arms to him, but he
"Keep back, lady, no one is going to catch me and make me a
"But where are you going to live?"
"With Tink in the house we built for Wendy. The fairies are to
put it high up among the tree tops where they sleep at nights."
"How lovely," cried Wendy so longingly that Mrs. Darling
tightened her grip.
"I thought all the fairies were dead," Mrs. Darling said.
"There are always a lot of young ones," explained Wendy, who
was now quite an authority, "because you see when a new baby
laughs for the first time a new fairy is born, and as there are
always new babies there are always new fairies. They live in
nests on the tops of trees; and the mauve ones are boys and the
white ones are girls, and the blue ones are just little sillies
who are not sure what they are."
"I shall have such fun," said Peter, with eye on Wendy.
"It will be rather lonely in the evening," she said, "sitting
by the fire."
"I shall have Tink."
"Tink can't go a twentieth part of the way round," she reminded
him a little tartly.
"Sneaky tell-tale!" Tink called out from somewhere round the
"It doesn't matter," Peter said.
"O Peter, you know it matters."
"Well, then, come with me to the little house."
"May I, mummy?"
"Certainly not. I have got you home again, and I mean to keep
"But he does so need a mother."
"So do you, my love."
"Oh, all right," Peter said, as if he had asked her from
politeness merely; but Mrs. Darling saw his mouth twitch, and she
made this handsome offer: to let Wendy go to him for a week
every year to do his spring cleaning. Wendy would have preferred
a more permanent arrangement; and it seemed to her that spring
would be long in coming; but this promise sent Peter away quite
gay again. He had no sense of time, and was so full of
adventures that all I have told you about him is only a
halfpenny-worth of them. I suppose it was because Wendy knew
this that her last words to him were these rather plaintive ones:
"You won't forget me, Peter, will you, before spring cleaning
Of course Peter promised; and then he flew away. He took Mrs.
Darling's kiss with him. The kiss that had been for no one else,
Peter took quite easily. Funny. But she seemed satisfied.
Of course all the boys went to school; and most of them got
into Class III, but Slightly was put first into Class IV and then
into Class V. Class I is the top class. Before they had
attended school a week they saw what goats they had been not to
remain on the island; but it was too late now, and soon they
settled down to being as ordinary as you or me or Jenkins minor
[the younger Jenkins]. It is sad to have to say that the power
to fly gradually left them. At first Nana tied their feet to the
bed-posts so that they should not fly away in the night; and one
of their diversions by day was to pretend to fall off buses [the
English double-deckers]; but by and by they ceased to tug at
their bonds in bed, and found that they hurt themselves when they
let go of the bus. In time they could not even fly after their
hats. Want of practice, they called it; but what it really meant was
that they no longer believed.
Michael believed longer than the other boys, though they jeered
at him; so he was with Wendy when Peter came for her at the end
of the first year. She flew away with Peter in the frock she had
woven from leaves and berries in the Neverland, and her one fear
was that he might notice how short it had become; but he never
noticed, he had so much to say about himself.
She had looked forward to thrilling talks with him about old
times, but new adventures had crowded the old ones from his mind.
"Who is Captain Hook?" he asked with interest when she spoke of
the arch enemy.
"Don't you remember," she asked, amazed, "how you killed him
and saved all our lives?"
"I forget them after I kill them," he replied carelessly.
When she expressed a doubtful hope that Tinker Bell would be
glad to see her he said, "Who is Tinker Bell?"
"O Peter," she said, shocked; but even when she explained he
could not remember.
"There are such a lot of them," he said. "I expect she is no
I expect he was right, for fairies don't live long, but they
are so little that a short time seems a good while to them.
Wendy was pained too to find that the past year was but as
yesterday to Peter; it had seemed such a long year of waiting to
her. But he was exactly as fascinating as ever, and they had a
lovely spring cleaning in the little house on the tree tops.
Next year he did not come for her. She waited in a new frock
because the old one simply would not meet; but he never came.
"Perhaps he is ill," Michael said.
"You know he is never ill."
Michael came close to her and whispered, with a shiver,
"Perhaps there is no such person, Wendy!" and then Wendy would
have cried if Michael had not been crying.
Peter came next spring cleaning; and the strange thing was that
he never knew he had missed a year.
That was the last time the girl Wendy ever saw him. For a
little longer she tried for his sake not to have growing pains;
and she felt she was untrue to him when she got a prize for
general knowledge. But the years came and went without bringing
the careless boy; and when they met again Wendy was a married
woman, and Peter was no more to her than a little dust in the box
in which she had kept her toys. Wendy was grown up. You need
not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow
up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker
than other girls.
All the boys were grown up and done for by this time; so it is
scarcely worth while saying anything more about them. You may
see the twins and Nibs and Curly any day going to an office, each
carrying a little bag and an umbrella. Michael is an engine-
driver [train engineer]. Slightly married a lady of title, and
so he became a lord. You see that judge in a wig coming out at
the iron door? That used to be Tootles. The bearded man who
doesn't know any story to tell his children was once John.
Wendy was married in white with a pink sash. It is strange to
think that Peter did not alight in the church and forbid the
banns [formal announcement of a marriage].
Years rolled on again, and Wendy had a daughter. This ought
not to be written in ink but in a golden splash.
She was called Jane, and always had an odd inquiring look, as
if from the moment she arrived on the mainland she wanted to ask
questions. When she was old enough to ask them they were mostly
about Peter Pan. She loved to hear of Peter, and Wendy told her
all she could remember in the very nursery from which the famous
flight had taken place. It was Jane's nursery now, for her
father had bought it at the three per cents [mortgage rate] from
Wendy's father, who was no longer fond of stairs. Mrs. Darling
was now dead and forgotten.
There were only two beds in the nursery now, Jane's and her
nurse's; and there was no kennel, for Nana also had passed away.
She died of old age, and at the end she had been rather difficult
to get on with; being very firmly convinced that no one knew how
to look after children except herself.
Once a week Jane's nurse had her evening off; and then it was
Wendy's part to put Jane to bed. That was the time for stories.
It was Jane's invention to raise the sheet over her mother's head
and her own, this making a tent, and in the awful darkness to
"What do we see now?"
"I don't think I see anything to-night," says Wendy, with a
feeling that if Nana were here she would object to further
"Yes, you do," says Jane, "you see when you were a little girl."
"That is a long time ago, sweetheart," says Wendy. "Ah me, how
"Does it fly," asks the artful child, "the way you flew when
you were a little girl?"
"The way I flew? Do you know, Jane, I sometimes wonder whether
I ever did really fly."
"Yes, you did."
"The dear old days when I could fly!"
"Why can't you fly now, mother?"
"Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they
forget the way."
"Why do they forget the way?"
"Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is
only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly."
"What is gay and innocent and heartless? I do wish I were gay
and innocent and heartless."
Or perhaps Wendy admits she does see something.
"I do believe," she says, "that it is this nursery."
"I do believe it is," says Jane. "Go on."
They are now embarked on the great adventure of the night when
Peter flew in looking for his shadow.
"The foolish fellow," says Wendy, "tried to stick it on with
soap, and when he could not he cried, and that woke me, and I
sewed it on for him."
"You have missed a bit," interrupts Jane, who now knows the
story better than her mother. "When you saw him sitting on the
floor crying, what did you say?"
"I sat up in bed and I said, `Boy, why are you crying?'"
"Yes, that was it," says Jane, with a big breath.
"And then he flew us all away to the Neverland and the fairies
and the pirates and the redskins and the mermaid's lagoon, and
the home under the ground, and the little house."
"Yes! which did you like best of all?"
"I think I liked the home under the ground best of all."
"Yes, so do I. What was the last thing Peter ever said to
"The last thing he ever said to me was, `Just always be
waiting for me, and then some night you will hear me crowing.'"
"But, alas, he forgot all about me," Wendy said it with a
smile. She was as grown up as that.
"What did his crow sound like?" Jane asked one evening.
"It was like this," Wendy said, trying to imitate Peter's crow.
"No, it wasn't," Jane said gravely, "it was like this"; and she
did it ever so much better than her mother.
Wendy was a little startled. "My darling, how can you know?"
"I often hear it when I am sleeping," Jane said.
"Ah yes, many girls hear it when they are sleeping, but I was
the only one who heard it awake."
"Lucky you," said Jane.
And then one night came the tragedy. It was the spring of the
year, and the story had been told for the night, and Jane was now
asleep in her bed. Wendy was sitting on the floor, very close to
the fire, so as to see to darn, for there was no other light in
the nursery; and while she sat darning she heard a crow. Then
the window blew open as of old, and Peter dropped in on the
He was exactly the same as ever, and Wendy saw at once that he
still had all his first teeth.
He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the
fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman.
"Hullo, Wendy," he said, not noticing any difference, for he
was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her white
dress might have been the nightgown in which he had seen her
"Hullo, Peter," she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small
as possible. Something inside her was crying "Woman, Woman, let
go of me."
"Hullo, where is John?" he asked, suddenly missing the third
"John is not here now," she gasped.
"Is Michael asleep?" he asked, with a careless glance at Jane.
"Yes," she answered; and now she felt that she was untrue to
Jane as well as to Peter.
"That is not Michael," she said quickly, lest a judgment should
fall on her.
Peter looked. "Hullo, is it a new one?"
"Boy or girl?"
Now surely he would understand; but not a bit of it.
"Peter," she said, faltering, "are you expecting me to fly away
"Of course; that is why I have come." He added a little
sternly, "Have you forgotten that this is spring cleaning time?"
She knew it was useless to say that he had let many spring
cleaning times pass.
"I can't come," she said apologetically, "I have forgotten how
"I'll soon teach you again."
"O Peter, don't waste the fairy dust on me."
She had risen; and now at last a fear assailed him. "What is
it?" he cried, shrinking.
"I will turn up the light," she said, "and then you can see for
For almost the only time in his life that I know of, Peter was
afraid. "Don't turn up the light," he cried.
She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was
not a little girl heart-broken about him; she was a grown woman
smiling at it all, but they were wet eyed smiles.
Then she turned up the light, and Peter saw. He gave a cry of
pain; and when the tall beautiful creature stooped to lift him in
her arms he drew back sharply.
"What is it?" he cried again.
She had to tell him.
"I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew
up long ago."
"You promised not to!"
"I couldn't help it. I am a married woman, Peter."
"No, you're not."
"Yes, and the little girl in the bed is my baby."
"No, she's not."
But he supposed she was; and he took a step towards the
sleeping child with his dagger upraised. Of course he did not
strike. He sat down on the floor instead and sobbed; and Wendy
did not know how to comfort him, though she could have done it so
easily once. She was only a woman now, and she ran out of the
room to try to think.
Peter continued to cry, and soon his sobs woke Jane. She sat
up in bed, and was interested at once.
"Boy," she said, "why are you crying?"
Peter rose and bowed to her, and she bowed to him from the bed.
"Hullo," he said.
"Hullo," said Jane.
"My name is Peter Pan," he told her.
"Yes, I know."
"I came back for my mother," he explained, "to take her to the
"Yes, I know," Jane said, "I have been waiting for you."
When Wendy returned diffidently she found Peter sitting on the
bed-post crowing gloriously, while Jane in her nighty was flying
round the room in solemn ecstasy.
"She is my mother," Peter explained; and Jane descended and
stood by his side, with the look in her face that he liked to see
on ladies when they gazed at him.
"He does so need a mother," Jane said.
"Yes, I know." Wendy admitted rather forlornly; "no one knows
it so well as I."
"Good-bye," said Peter to Wendy; and he rose in the air, and
the shameless Jane rose with him; it was already her easiest way
of moving about.
Wendy rushed to the window.
"No, no," she cried.
"It is just for spring cleaning time," Jane said, "he wants me
always to do his spring cleaning."
"If only I could go with you," Wendy sighed.
"You see you can't fly," said Jane.
Of course in the end Wendy let them fly away together. Our
last glimpse of her shows her at the window, watching them
receding into the sky until they were as small as stars.
As you look at Wendy, you may see her hair becoming white, and
her figure little again, for all this happened long ago. Jane is
now a common grown-up, with a daughter called Margaret; and every
spring cleaning time, except when he forgets, Peter comes for
Margaret and takes her to the Neverland, where she tells him
stories about himself, to which he listens eagerly. When
Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's
mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are
gay and innocent and heartless.
Title: Peter Pan (1911)
Labels: good reads