Peter Pan [for US only]**, by James M. Barrie
Part 1 out of 4
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[PETER AND WENDY]
J. M. BARRIE
[James Matthew Barrie]
A Millennium Fulcrum Edition
(c)1991 by Duncan Research
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 FARIES?
Chapter 14 THE PIRATE SHIP
Chapter 15 "HOOK OR ME THIS TIME"
Chapter 16 THE RETURN HOME
Chapter 17 WHEN WENDY GREW UP
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 is 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 nine seven?"
"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.
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 that 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:
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 tamper, 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.
"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.
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
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