Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

       J. M. Barrie / Fantasy
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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Produced by Al Haines (This file was produced from imagesgenerously made available by The Internet Archive)

Cover art]

[Frontispiece: _The Kensington Gardens are in London, where the Kinglives_.]





(_From 'The Little White Bird'_)



Title page art]




Copyright, 1902, 1906,
















1. 'The Kensington Gardens are in London, where the King lives' . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

2. 'The lady with the balloons, who sits just outside'

3. 'Old Mr. Salford was a crab-apple of an old gentleman who wandered all day in the Gardens'

4. 'When he heard Peter's voice he popped in alarm behind a tulip'

5. 'Put his strange case before old Solomon Caw'

6. 'After this the birds said that they would help him no more in his mad enterprise'

7. 'For years he had been quietly filling his stocking'

8. 'Fairies are all more or less in hiding until dusk'

9. 'These tricky fairies sometimes slyly change the board on a ball night'

10. 'When her Majesty wants to know the time'

11. 'Peter Pan is the fairies' orchestra'

12. 'A chrysanthemum heard her, and said pointedly, ”Hoity-toity, what is this?”'

13. 'Shook his bald head and murmured, ”Cold, quite cold.”'

14. 'Fairies never say, ”We feel happy”; what they say is, ”We feel _dancey_.”'

15. 'Looking very undancey indeed'

16. 'Building the house for Maimie'



Map of Peter Pan's Kensington Gardens]




You must see for yourselves that it will be difficult to follow PeterPan's adventures unless you are familiar with the Kensington Gardens.They are in London, where the King lives, and I used to take Davidthere nearly every day unless he was looking decidedly flushed. Nochild has ever been in the whole of the Gardens, because it is so soontime to turn back. The reason it is soon time to turn back is that, ifyou are as small as David, you sleep from twelve to one. If yourmother was not so sure that you sleep from twelve to one, you couldmost likely see the whole of them.


The Gardens are bounded on one side by a never-ending line ofomnibuses, over which your nurse has such authority that if she holdsup her finger to any one of them it stops immediately. She thencrosses with you in safety to the other side. There are more gates tothe Gardens than one gate, but that is the one you go in at, and beforeyou go in you speak to the lady with the balloons, who sits justoutside. This is as near to being inside as she may venture, because,if she were to let go her hold of the railings for one moment, theballoons would lift her up, and she would be flown away. She sits verysquat, for the balloons are always tugging at her, and the strain hasgiven her quite a red face. Once she was a new one, because the oldone had let go, and David was very sorry for the old one, but as shedid let go, he wished he had been there to see.

_The lady with the balloons, who sits just outside._]

The Gardens are a tremendous big place, with millions and hundreds oftrees; and first you come to the Figs, but you scorn to loiter there,for the Figs is the resort of superior little persons, who areforbidden to mix with the commonalty, and is so named, according tolegend, because they dress in full fig. These dainty ones arethemselves contemptuously called Figs by David and other heroes, andyou have a key to the manners and customs of this dandiacal section ofthe Gardens when I tell you that cricket is called crickets here.Occasionally a rebel Fig climbs over the fence into the world, and sucha one was Miss Mabel Grey, of whom I shall tell you when we come toMiss Mabel Grey's gate. She was the only really celebrated Fig.

We are now in the Broad Walk, and it is as much bigger than the otherwalks as your father is bigger than you. David wondered if it beganlittle, and grew and grew, until it was quite grown up, and whether theother walks are its babies, and he drew a picture, which diverted himvery much, of the Broad Walk giving a tiny walk an airing in aperambulator. In the Broad Walk you meet all the people who are worthknowing, and there is usually a grown-up with them to prevent themgoing on the damp grass, and to make them stand disgraced at the cornerof a seat if they have been mad-dog or Mary-Annish. To be Mary-Annishis to behave like a girl, whimpering because nurse won't carry you, orsimpering with your thumb in your mouth, and it is a hateful quality;but to be mad-dog is to kick out at everything, and there is somesatisfaction in that.

If I were to point out all the notable places as we pass up the BroadWalk, it would be time to turn back before we reach them, and I simplywave my stick at Cecco Hewlett's Tree, that memorable spot where a boycalled Cecco lost his penny, and, looking for it, found twopence.There has been a good deal of excavation going on there ever since.Farther up the walk is the little wooden house in which Marmaduke Perryhid. There is no more awful story of the Gardens than this ofMarmaduke Perry, who had been Mary-Annish three days in succession, andwas sentenced to appear in the Broad Walk dressed in his sister'sclothes. He hid in the little wooden house, and refused to emergeuntil they brought him knickerbockers with pockets.

You now try to go to the Round Pond, but nurses hate it, because theyare not really manly, and they make you look the other way, at the BigPenny and the Baby's Palace. She was the most celebrated baby of theGardens, and lived in the palace all alone, with ever so many dolls, sopeople rang the bell, and up she got out of her bed, though it was pastsix o'clock, and she lighted a candle and opened the door in hernighty, and then they all cried with great rejoicings, 'Hail, Queen ofEngland!' What puzzled David most was how she knew where the matcheswere kept. The Big Penny is a statue about her.

Next we come to the Hump, which is the part of the Broad Walk where allthe big races are run; and even though you had no intention of runningyou do run when you come to the Hump, it is such a fascinating,slide-down kind of place. Often you stop when you have run abouthalf-way down it, and then you are lost; but there is another littlewooden house near here, called the Lost House, and so you tell the manthat you are lost and then he finds you. It is glorious fun racingdown the Hump, but you can't do it on windy days because then you arenot there, but the fallen leaves do it instead of you. There is almostnothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf.

From the Hump we can see the gate that is called after Miss Mabel Grey,the Fig I promised to tell you about. There were always two nurseswith her, or else one mother and one nurse, and for a long time she wasa pattern-child who always coughed off the table and said, 'How do youdo?' to the other Figs, and the only game she played at was flinging aball gracefully and letting the nurse bring it back to her. Then oneday she tired of it all and went mad-dog, and, first, to show that shereally was mad-dog, she unloosened both her boot-laces and put out hertongue east, west, north, and south. She then flung her sash into apuddle and danced on it till dirty water was squirted over her frock,after which she climbed the fence and had a series of incredibleadventures, one of the least of which was that she kicked off both herboots. At last she came to the gate that is now called after her, outof which she ran into streets David and I have never been in though wehave heard them roaring, and still she ran on and would never againhave been heard of had not her mother jumped into a 'bus and thusovertaken her. It all happened, I should say, long ago, and this isnot the Mabel Grey whom David knows.

Returning up the Broad Walk we have on our right the Baby Walk, whichis so full of perambulators that you could cross from side to sidestepping on babies, but the nurses won't let you do it. From this walka passage called Bunting's Thumb, because it is that length, leads intoPicnic Street, where there are real kettles, and chestnut-blossom fallsinto your mug as you are drinking. Quite common children picnic herealso, and the blossom falls into their mugs just the same.

Next comes St. Govor's Well, which was full of water when Malcolm theBold fell into it. He was his mother's favourite, and he let her puther arm round his neck in public because she was a widow; but he wasalso partial to adventures, and liked to play with a chimney-sweep whohad killed a good many bears. The sweep's name was Sooty, and one day,when they were playing near the well, Malcolm fell in and would havebeen drowned had not Sooty dived in and rescued him; and the water hadwashed Sooty clean, and he now stood revealed as Malcolm's long-lostfather. So Malcolm would not let his mother put her arm round his neckany more.

Between the well and the Round Pond are the cricket pitches, andfrequently the choosing of sides exhausts so much time that there isscarcely any cricket. Everybody wants to bat first, and as soon as heis out he bowls unless you are the better wrestler, and while you arewrestling with him the fielders have scattered to play at somethingelse. The Gardens are noted for two kinds of cricket: boy cricket,which is real cricket with a bat, and girl cricket, which is with aracquet and the governess. Girls can't really play cricket, and whenyou are watching their futile efforts you make funny sounds at them.Nevertheless, there was a very disagreeable incident one day when someforward girls challenged David's team, and a disturbing creature calledAngela Clare sent down so many yorkers that--However, instead oftelling you the result of that regrettable match I shall pass onhurriedly to the Round Pond, which is the wheel that keeps all theGardens going.

It is round because it is in the very middle of the Gardens, and whenyou are come to it you never want to go any farther. You can't be goodall the time at the Round Pond, however much you try. You can be goodin the Broad Walk all the time, but not at the Round Pond, and thereason is that you forget, and, when you remember, you are so wet thatyou may as well be wetter. There are men who sail boats on the RoundPond, such big boats that they bring them in barrows, and sometimes inperambulators, and then the baby has to walk. The bow-legged childrenin the Gardens are those who had to walk too soon because their fatherneeded the perambulator.

You always want to have a yacht to sail on the Round Pond, and in theend your uncle gives you one; and to carry it to the pond the first dayis splendid, also to talk about it to boys who have no uncle issplendid, but soon you like to leave it at home. For the sweetestcraft that slips her moorings in the Round Pond is what is called astick-boat, because she is rather like a stick until she is in thewater and you are holding the string. Then as you walk round, pullingher, you see little men running about her deck, and sails risemagically and catch the breeze, and you put in on dirty nights at snugharbours which are unknown to the lordly yachts. Night passes in atwink, and again your rakish craft noses for the wind, whales spout,you glide over buried cities, and have brushes with pirates, and castanchor on coral isles. You are a solitary boy while all this is takingplace, for two boys together cannot adventure far upon the Round Pond,and though you may talk to yourself throughout the voyage, givingorders and executing them with despatch, you know not, when it is timeto go home, where you have been or what swelled your sails; yourtreasure-trove is all locked away in your hold, so to speak, which willbe opened, perhaps, by another little boy many years afterwards.

But those yachts have nothing in their hold. Does any one return tothis haunt of his youth because of the yachts that used to sail it? Ohno. It is the stick-boat that is freighted with memories. The yachtsare toys, their owner a fresh-water mariner; they can cross and recrossa pond only while the stick-boat goes to sea. You yachtsmen with yourwands, who think we are all there to gaze on you, your ships are onlyaccidents of this place, and were they all to be boarded and sunk bythe ducks, the real business of the Round Pond would be carried on asusual.

Paths from everywhere crowd like children to the pond. Some of themare ordinary paths, which have a rail on each side, and are made by menwith their coats off, but others are vagrants, wide at one spot, and atanother so narrow that you can stand astride them. They are calledPaths that have Made Themselves, and David did wish he could see themdoing it. But, like all the most wonderful things that happen in theGardens, it is done, we concluded, at night after the gates are closed.We have also decided that the paths make themselves because it is theironly chance of getting to the Round Pond.

One of these gypsy paths comes from the place where the sheep get theirhair cut. When David shed his curls at the hair-dressers, I am told,he said good-bye to them without a tremor, though his mother has neverbeen quite the same bright creature since; so he despises the sheep asthey run from their shearer, and calls out tauntingly, 'Cowardy,cowardy custard!' But when the man grips them between his legs Davidshakes a fist at him for using such big scissors. Another startlingmoment is when the man turns back the grimy wool from the sheeps'shoulders and they look suddenly like ladies in the stalls of atheatre. The sheep are so frightened by the shearing that it makesthem quite white and thin, and as soon as they are set free they beginto nibble the grass at once, quite anxiously, as if they feared thatthey would never be worth eating. David wonders whether they know eachother, now that they are so different, and if it makes them fight withthe wrong ones. They are great fighters, and thus so unlike countrysheep that every year they give my St. Bernard dog, Porthos, a shock.He can make a field of country sheep fly by merely announcing hisapproach, but these town sheep come toward him with no promise ofgentle entertainment, and then a light from last year breaks uponPorthos. He cannot with dignity retreat, but he stops and looks abouthim as if lost in admiration of the scenery, and presently he strollsaway with a fine indifference and a glint at me from the corner of hiseye.


The Serpentine begins near here. It is a lovely lake, and there is adrowned forest at the bottom of it. If you peer over the edge you cansee the trees all growing upside down, and they say that at night thereare also drowned stars in it. If so, Peter Pan sees them when he issailing across the lake in the Thrush's Nest. A small part only of theSerpentine is in the Gardens, for soon it passes beneath a bridge tofar away where the island is on which all the birds are born thatbecome baby boys and girls. No one who is human, except Peter Pan (andhe is only half human), can land on the island, but you may write whatyou want (boy or girl, dark or fair) on a piece of paper, and thentwist it into the shape of a boat and slip it into the water, and itreaches Peter Pan's island after dark.

We are on the way home now, though of course, it is all pretence thatwe can go to so many of the places in one day. I should have had to becarrying David long ago, and resting on every seat like old Mr.Salford. That was what we called him, because he always talked to usof a lovely place called Salford where he had been born. He was acrab-apple of an old gentleman who wandered all day in the Gardens fromseat to seat trying to fall in with somebody who was acquainted withthe town of Salford, and when we had known him for a year or more weactually did meet another aged solitary who had once spent Saturday toMonday in Salford. He was meek and timid, and carried his addressinside his hat, and whatever part of London he was in search of healways went to Westminster Abbey first as a starting-point. Him wecarried in triumph to our other friend, with the story of that Saturdayto Monday, and never shall I forget the gloating joy with which Mr.Salford leapt at him. They have been cronies ever since, and I noticedthat Mr. Salford, who naturally does most of the talking, keeps tightgrip of the other old man's coat.

_Old Mr. Salford was a crab-apple of an old gentlemanwho wandered all day in the Gardens._]

The two last places before you come to our gate are the Dog's Cemeteryand the chaffinches nest, but we pretend not to know what the Dog'sCemetery is, as Porthos is always with us. The nest is very sad. Itis quite white, and the way we found it was wonderful. We were havinganother look among the bushes for David's lost worsted ball, andinstead of the ball we found a lovely nest made of the worsted, andcontaining four eggs, with scratches on them very like David'shandwriting, so we think they must have been the mother's love-lettersto the little ones inside. Every day we were in the Gardens we paid acall at the nest, taking care that no cruel boy should see us, and wedropped crumbs, and soon the bird knew us as friends, and sat in thenest looking at us kindly with her shoulders hunched up. But one daywhen we went there were only two eggs in the nest, and the next timethere were none. The saddest part of it was that the poor littlechaffinch fluttered about the bushes, looking so reproachfully at usthat we knew she thought we had done it; and though David tried toexplain to her, it was so long since he had spoken the bird languagethat I fear she did not understand. He and I left the Gardens that daywith our knuckles in our eyes.

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