Peter pan, p.3
Peter Pan, p.3J. M. Barrie
Chapter 3 COME AWAY, COME AWAY!
For a moment after Mr. and Mrs. Darling left the house the night-lightsby the beds of the three children continued to burn clearly. They wereawfully nice little night-lights, and one cannot help wishing that theycould have kept awake to see Peter; but Wendy's light blinked and gavesuch a yawn that the other two yawned also, and before they could closetheir mouths all the three went out.
There was another light in the room now, a thousand times brighter thanthe night-lights, and in the time we have taken to say this, it had beenin all the drawers in the nursery, looking for Peter's shadow, rummagedthe wardrobe and turned every pocket inside out. It was not really alight; it made this light by flashing about so quickly, but when it cameto 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 gownedin a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure couldbe 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 thebreathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He had carriedTinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still messy with the fairydust.
"Tinker Bell," he called softly, after making sure that the childrenwere asleep, "Tink, where are you?" She was in a jug for the moment, andliking it extremely; she had never been in a jug before.
"Oh, do come out of that jug, and tell me, do you know where they put myshadow?"
The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the fairylanguage. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if you were tohear it you would know that you had heard it once before.
Tink said that the shadow was in the big box. She meant the chest ofdrawers, and Peter jumped at the drawers, scattering their contents tothe floor with both hands, as kings toss ha'pence to the crowd. In amoment he had recovered his shadow, and in his delight he forgot that hehad shut Tinker Bell up in the drawer.
If he thought at all, but I don't believe he ever thought, it was thathe and his shadow, when brought near each other, would join like dropsof water, and when they did not he was appalled. He tried to stick iton with soap from the bathroom, but that also failed. A shudder passedthrough Peter, and he sat on the floor and cried.
His sobs woke Wendy, and she sat up in bed. She was not alarmed to seea stranger crying on the nursery floor; she was only pleasantlyinterested.
"Boy," she said courteously, "why are you crying?"
Peter could be exceeding polite also, having learned the grand manner atfairy ceremonies, and he rose and bowed to her beautifully. She was muchpleased, and bowed beautifully to him from the bed.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Wendy Moira Angela Darling," she replied with some satisfaction. "Whatis your name?"
She was already sure that he must be Peter, but it did seem acomparatively short name.
"Is that all?"
"Yes," he said rather sharply. He felt for the first time that it was ashortish 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 morning."
"What a funny address!"
Peter had a sinking. For the first time he felt that perhaps it was afunny address.
"No, it isn't," he said.
"I mean," Wendy said nicely, remembering that she was hostess, "is thatwhat 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 hadnot the slightest desire to have one. He thought them very over-ratedpersons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she was in the presence of atragedy.
"O Peter, no wonder you were crying," she said, and got out of bed andran to him.
"I wasn't crying about mothers," he said rather indignantly. "I wascrying because I can't get my shadow to stick on. Besides, I wasn'tcrying."
"It has come off?"
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled, and she wasfrightfully sorry for Peter. "How awful!" she said, but she could nothelp smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on withsoap. 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, mylittle man," she said, though he was tall as herself, and she got outher 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 hehad never cried in his life. And he clenched his teeth and did notcry, and soon his shadow was behaving properly, though still a littlecreased.
"Perhaps I should have ironed it," Wendy said thoughtfully, but Peter,boylike, was indifferent to appearances, and he was now jumping about inthe wildest glee. Alas, he had already forgotten that he owed his blissto Wendy. He thought he had attached the shadow himself. "How clever Iam!" he crowed rapturously, "oh, the cleverness of me!"
It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter wasone 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]," sheexclaimed, with frightful sarcasm; "of course I did nothing!"
"You did a little," Peter said carelessly, and continued to dance.
"A little!" she replied with hauteur [pride]; "if I am no use I can atleast withdraw," and she sprang in the most dignified way into bed andcovered her face with the blankets.
To induce her to look up he pretended to be going away, and when thisfailed 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, whenI'm pleased with myself." Still she would not look up, though she waslistening eagerly. "Wendy," he continued, in a voice that no woman hasever yet been able to resist, "Wendy, one girl is more use than twentyboys."
Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very manyinches, 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 upagain," and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She also saidshe would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did not know what shemeant, 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 tohurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.
"Now," said he, "shall I give you a kiss?" and she replied with a slightprimness, "If you please." She made herself rather cheap by incliningher face toward him, but he merely dropped an acorn button into herhand, so she slowly returned her face to where it had been before, andsaid 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 tosave her life.
When people in our set are introduced, it is customary for them toask each other's age, and so Wendy, who always liked to do the correctthing, asked Peter how old he was. It was not really a happy question toask him; it was like an examination paper that asks grammar, when whatyou want to be asked is Kings of England.
"I don't know," he replied uneasily, "but I am quite young." He reallyknew nothing about it, he had merely suspicions, but he said at aventure, "Wendy, I ran away the day I was born."
Wendy was quite surprised, but interested; and she indicated in thecharming
"It was because I heard father and mother," he explained in a lowvoice, "talking about what I was to be when I became a man." He wasextraordinarily agitated now. "I don't want ever to be a man," he saidwith passion. "I want always to be a little boy and to have fun. SoI ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a long long time among thefairies."
She gave him a look of the most intense admiration, and he thought itwas 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 asquite 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, heliked 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, itslaugh 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 forevery boy and girl."
"Ought to be? Isn't there?"
"No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't believe infairies, 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 itstruck him that Tinker Bell was keeping very quiet. "I can't think whereshe has gone to," he said, rising, and he called Tink by name. Wendy'sheart went flutter with a sudden thrill.
"Peter," she cried, clutching him, "you don't mean to tell me that thereis a fairy in this room!"
"She was here just now," he said a little impatiently. "You don't hearher, do you?" and they both listened.
"The only sound I hear," said Wendy, "is like a tinkle of bells."
"Well, that's Tink, that's the fairy language. I think I hear her too."
The sound came from the chest of drawers, and Peter made a merry face.No one could ever look quite so merry as Peter, and the loveliest ofgurgles was his laugh. He had his first laugh still.
"Wendy," he whispered gleefully, "I do believe I shut her up in thedrawer!"
He let poor Tink out of the drawer, and she flew about the nurseryscreaming 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 onlystand still and let me see her!"
"They hardly ever stand still," he said, but for one moment Wendy sawthe romantic figure come to rest on the cuckoo clock. "O the lovely!"she cried, though Tink's face was still distorted with passion.
"Tink," said Peter amiably, "this lady says she wishes you were herfairy."
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 disappearedinto the bathroom. "She is quite a common fairy," Peter explainedapologetically, "she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the potsand kettles [tinker = tin worker]." [Similar to "cinder" plus "elle" toget Cinderella]
They were together in the armchair by this time, and Wendy plied himwith 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 thenurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in sevendays they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses. I'mcaptain."
"What fun it must be!"
"Yes," said cunning Peter, "but we are rather lonely. You see we have nofemale companionship."
"Are none of the others girls?"
"Oh, no; girls, you know, are much too clever to fall out of theirprams."
This flattered Wendy immensely. "I think," she said, "it is perfectlylovely the way you talk about girls; John there just despises us."
For reply Peter rose and kicked John out of bed, blankets and all; onekick. This seemed to Wendy rather forward for a first meeting, and shetold him with spirit that he was not captain in her house. However,John continued to sleep so placidly on the floor that she allowed himto 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 thoughtyou would want it back," he said a little bitterly, and offered toreturn her the thimble.
"Oh dear," said the nice Wendy, "I don't mean a kiss, I mean a thimble."
"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 before."
And indeed Tink was darting about again, using offensive language.
"She says she will do that to you, Wendy, every time I give you athimble."
Again Tink replied, "You silly ass." Peter could not understand why,but Wendy understood, and she was just slightly disappointed when headmitted that he came to the nursery window not to see her but to listento stories.
"You see, I don't know any stories. None of the lost boys knows anystories."
"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 yousuch a lovely story."
"Which story was it?"
"About the prince who couldn't find the lady who wore the glassslipper."
"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 beensitting, 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 shewho first tempted him.
He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eyes now which ought tohave alarmed her, but did not.
"Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys!" she cried, and then Petergripped 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, Ican'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 we go."
"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.
"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might beflying 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 allrespect you."
She was wriggling her body in distress. It was quite as if she weretrying 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 hasany 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 Michaeland shook them. "Wake up," she cried, "Peter Pan has come and he is toteach us to fly."
John rubbed his eyes. "Then I shall get up," he said. Of course he wason the floor already. "Hallo," he said, "I am up!"
Michael was up by this time also, looking as sharp as a knife with sixblades and a saw, but Peter suddenly signed silence. Their faces assumedthe awful craftiness of children listening for sounds from the grown-upworld. All was as still as salt. Then everything was right. No, stop!Everything was wrong. Nana, who had been barking distressfully all theevening, was quiet now. It was her silence they had heard.
"Out with the light! Hide! Quick!" cried John, taking command for theonly time throughout the whole adventure. And thus when Liza entered,holding Nana, the nursery seemed quite its old self, very dark, andyou would have sworn you heard its three wicked inmates breathingangelically as they slept. They were really doing it artfully frombehind the window curtains.
Liza was in a bad temper, for she was mixing the Christmas puddings inthe kitchen, and had been drawn from them, with a raisin still on hercheek, by Nana's absurd suspicions. She thought the best way of gettinga little quiet was to take Nana to the nursery for a moment, but incustody of course.
"There, you suspicious brute," she said, not sorry that Nana was indisgrace. "They are perfectly safe, aren't they? Every one of the littleangels sound asleep in bed. Listen to their gentle breathing."
Here Michael, encouraged by his success, breathed so loudly that theywere nearly detected. Nana knew that kind of breathing, and she tried todrag herself out of Liza's clutches.
But Liza was dense. "No more of it, Nana," she said sternly, pullingher out of the room. "I warn you if you bark again I shall go straightfor 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 shewanted. Do you think she cared whether she was whipped so long as hercharges were safe? Unfortunately Liza returned to her puddings, andNana, seeing that no help would come from her, strained and strained atthe chain until at last she broke it. In another moment she had burstinto the dining-room of 27 and flung up her paws to heaven, her mostexpressive way of making a communication. Mr. and Mrs. Darling knew atonce that something terrible was happening in their nursery, and withouta good-bye to their hostess they rushed into the street.
But it was now ten minutes since three scoundrels had been breathingbehind 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. "Isay, Peter, can you really fly?"
Instead of troubling to answer him Peter flew around the room, takingthe 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 mannersagain.
It looked delightfully easy, and they tried it first from the floor andthen from the beds, but they always went down instead of up.
"I say, how do you do it?" asked John, rubbing his knee. He was quite apractical boy.
"You just think lovely wonderful thoughts," Peter explained, "and theylift you up in the air."
He showed them again.
"You're so nippy at it," John said, "couldn't you do it very slowlyonce?"
Peter did it both slowly and quickly. "I've got it now, Wendy!" criedJohn, 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 notknow A from Z.
Of course Peter had been trifling with them, for no one can fly unlessthe 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 go."
They were all on their beds, and gallant Michael let go first. He didnot quite mean to let go, but he did it, and immediately he was borneacross 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 alittle, but their heads were bobbing against the ceiling, and there isalmost nothing so delicious as that. Peter gave Wendy a hand at first,but had to desist, Tink was so indignant.
Up and down they went, and round and round. Heavenly was Wendy's word.
"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 billionmiles. But Wendy hesitated.
"Mermaids!" said Peter again.
"And there are pirates."
"Pirates," cried John, seizing his Sunday hat, "let us go at once."
It was just at this moment that Mr. and Mrs. Darling hurried with Nanaout of 27. They ran into the middle of the street to look up at thenursery window; and, yes, it was still shut, but the room was ablazewith light, and most heart-gripping sight of all, they could see inshadow on the curtain three little figures in night attire circlinground and round, not on the floor but in the air.
Not three figures, four!
In a tremble they opened the street door. Mr. Darling would have rushedupstairs, but Mrs. Darling signed him to go softly. She even tried tomake her heart go softly.
Will they reach the nursery in time? If so, how delightful for them, andwe shall all breathe a sigh of relief, but there will be no story. Onthe other hand, if they are not in time, I solemnly promise that it willall come right in the end.
They would have reached the nursery in time had it not been that thelittle stars were watching them. Once again the stars blew the windowopen, and that smallest star of all called out:
Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. "Come," he criedimperiously, and soared out at once into the night, followed by John andMichael and Wendy.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late. Thebirds were flown.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie / Fantasy have rating 5.1 out of 5 / Based on117 votes