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 the door.
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 again.
"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 two.
"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
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
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.
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
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 time."
"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
, 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
"I do believe it is that Peter again!"
"Whatever do you mean
"It is so naughty
of him not to wipe his feet," Wendy said, sighing. She was a tidy
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.
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 window.
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 been dreaming.
"My child," the mother cried, "why did you not tell me of this before?"
"I forgot," said Wendy lightly. She was in a hurry to get her breakfast.
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 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
that obscures the Neverland, and she saw Wendy and John and Michael peeping through
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. Darling.
Chapter 12 THE CHILDREN ARE CARRIED OFF
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
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.
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
undulating ground, at the foot of which a stream
runs, for it is destruction
to be too far from water. There they await
, 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
, 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 marching.
That this was the usual procedure
was so well known to Hook that in disregarding it he cannot be excused on the plea
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
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
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 coyote cry.
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.
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
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
. 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
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
] 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
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 Peter's answer.
"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 gleefully
"The tom-tom," the miscreants heard Peter cry; "an Indian victory
The doomed children answered with a cheer
that was music to the black hearts above, and almost immediately
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.