One important result of the
brush [with the pirates] on the
lagoon was that it made the redskins their friends. Peter had
saved Tiger Lily from a dreadful fate, and now there was nothing
she and her braves would not do for him. All night they sat
above, keeping watch over the home under the ground and awaiting
the big attack by the pirates which obviously could not be much
longer delayed. Even by day they hung about, smoking the pipe of
peace, and looking almost as if they wanted tit-bits to eat.
They called Peter the Great
White Father, prostrating themselves
[lying down] before him; and
he liked this tremendously, so
that it was not really good for
"The great white father," he
would say to them in a very lordly
manner, as they grovelled at
his feet, "is glad to see the
Piccaninny warriors protecting
his wigwam from the pirates."
"Me Tiger Lily," that lovely
creature would reply. "Peter
Pan save me, me his velly nice
friend. Me no let pirates hurt
was far too
pretty to cringe
in this way, but Peter thought
it his due, and he would answer
condescendingly, "It is good.
Peter Pan has spoken."
when he said, "Peter
Pan has spoken," it meant that
they must now shut up, and they
accepted it humbly in that spirit;
but they were by no means so
respectful to the other boys,
whom they looked upon as just
ordinary braves. They said "How-do?" to
them, and things like that; and
what annoyed the boys was that
Peter seemed to think this all
with them a little, but she was
far too loyal a housewife to
listen to any complaints against
father. "Father knows best," she
always said, whatever her private
opinion must be. Her private
opinion was that the redskins
should not call her a squaw.
We have now reached the evening
that was to be known among them
as the Night of Nights, because
of its adventures and their upshot.
The day, as if quietly gathering
its forces, had been almost uneventful,
and now the redskins in their
blankets were at their posts
above, while, below, the children
were having their evening meal;
all except Peter, who had gone
out to get the time. The way
you got the time on the island
was to find the crocodile, and
then stay near him till the clock
to be a make-believe
tea, and they sat around the
board, guzzling in their greed;
and really, what with their chatter
and recriminations, the noise,
as Wendy said, was positively
deafening. To be sure, she did
not mind noise, but she simply
would not have them grabbing
things, and then excusing themselves
by saying that Tootles had pushed
their elbow. There was a fixed
rule that they must never hit
back at meals, but should refer
the matter of dispute to Wendy
by raising the right arm politely
and saying, "I complain of so-and-so;" but
what usually happened was that
they forgot to do this or did
it too much.
"Silence," cried Wendy when
for the twentieth time she had
told them that they were not
all to speak at once. "Is your
mug empty, Slightly darling?"
"Not quite empty, mummy," Slightly
said, after looking into an imaginary
"He hasn't even begun to drink
his milk," Nibs interposed.
This was telling, and Slightly
seized his chance.
"I complain of Nibs," he
John, however, had held up
his hand first.
I sit in Peter's
chair, as he
is not here?"
"Sit in father's chair, John!" Wendy
was scandalised. "Certainly not."
"He is not really our father," John
answered. "He didn't even know
how a father does till I showed
was grumbling. "We complain
of John," cried the twins.
Tootles held up his hand. He
was so much the humblest of them,
indeed he was the only humble
one, that Wendy was specially
gentle with him.
"I don't suppose," Tootles
said diffidently [bashfully or
timidly], "that I could be father. "No,
Once Tootles began, which was
not very often, he had a silly
way of going on.
"As I can't be father," he
said heavily, "I don't suppose,
Michael, you would let me be
"No, I won't," Michael
He was already
in his basket.
"As I can't be baby," Tootles
said, getting heavier and heavier
and heavier, "do you think I
could be a twin?"
"No, indeed," replied the twins; "it's
awfully difficult to be a twin."
"As I can't be anything important," said
Tootles, "would any of you like
to see me do a trick?"
at last he
hadn't really any hope," he said.
The hateful telling broke out
on the table."
"The twins began with cheese-cakes." "Curly
is taking both butter and honey."
with his mouth
"Oh dear, oh dear," cried Wendy, "I'm
sure I sometimes think that spinsters
are to be envied."
She told them to clear away,
and sat down to her work-basket,
a heavy load of stockings and
every knee with a hole in it
"Wendy," remonstrated [scolded]
Michael, "I'm too big for a cradle."
"I must have somebody in a
cradle," she said almost tartly, "and
you are the littlest. A cradle
is such a nice homely thing to
have about a house."
While she sewed they played
around her; such a group of happy
faces and dancing limbs lit up
by that romantic fire. It had
become a very familiar scene,
this, in the home under the ground,
but we are looking on it for
the last time.
There was a step above, and
Wendy, you may be sure, was the
first to recognize it.
I hear your
He likes you
to meet him
at the door."
Above, the redskins crouched
I have spoken."
And then, as so often before,
the gay children dragged him
from his tree. As so often before,
but never again.
He had brought nuts for the
boys as well as the correct time
"Peter, you just spoil them,
you know," Wendy simpered [exaggerated
"Ah, old lady," said
up his gun.
"It was me told him mothers
are called old lady," Michael
whispered to Curly.
"I complain of Michael," said
came to Peter. "Father,
we want to dance."
"Dance away, my little man," said
Peter, who was in high good humour.
we want you
Peter was really the best dancer
among them, but he pretended
to be scandalised.
My old bones
"What," cried Wendy, "the
mother of such
"But on a Saturday night," Slightly
It was not really Saturday
night, at least it may have been,
for they had long lost count
of the days; but always if they
wanted to do anything special
they said this was Saturday night,
and then they did it.
"Of course it is Saturday night,
Peter," Wendy said, relenting.
of our figure,
it is only
among our own
So they were told they could
dance, but they must put on their
"Ah, old lady," Peter said
aside to Wendy, warming himself
by the fire and looking down
at her as she sat turning a heel, "there
is nothing more pleasant of an
evening for you and me when the
day's toil is over than to rest
by the fire with the little ones
"It is sweet, Peter, isn't
it?" Wendy said, frightfully
gratified. "Peter, I think Curly
has your nose."
She went to him and put her
hand on his shoulder.
"Dear Peter," she said, "with
such a large family, of course,
I have now passed my best, but
you don't want to [ex]change
me, do you?"
Certainly he did not want a
change, but he looked at her
uncomfortably, blinking, you
know, like one not sure whether
he was awake or asleep.
what is it?"
"I was just thinking," he said,
a little scared. "It is only
make-believe, isn't it, that
I am their father?"
"Oh yes," Wendy
[formally and properly].
"You see," he continued apologetically, "it
would make me seem so old to
be their real father."
they are ours,
"But not really, Wendy?" he
"Not if you don't wish it," she
replied; and she distinctly heard
his sigh of relief. "Peter," she
asked, trying to speak firmly, "what
are your exact feelings to [about]
of a devoted
"I thought so," she
said, and went
and sat by
extreme end of the room.
"You are so queer," he said,
frankly puzzled, "and Tiger Lily
is just the same. There is something
she wants to be to me, but she
says it is not my mother."
"No, indeed, it is not," Wendy
replied with frightful emphasis.
Now we know why she was prejudiced
against the redskins.
what is it?"
isn't for a
lady to tell."
"Oh, very well," Peter said,
a little nettled. "Perhaps Tinker
Bell will tell me."
"Oh yes, Tinker Bell will tell
you," Wendy retorted scornfully. "She
is an abandoned little creature."
Here Tink, who was in her bedroom,
eavesdropping, squeaked out something
"She says she glories in being
abandoned," Peter interpreted.
had a sudden
Tink wants to be my mother?"
"You silly ass!" cried
in a passion.
She had said it so often that
Wendy needed no translation.
"I almost agree with her," Wendy
snapped. Fancy Wendy snapping!
But she had been much tried,
and she little knew what was
to happen before the night was
out. If she had known she would
not have snapped.
None of them knew. Perhaps
it was best not to know. Their
ignorance gave them one more
glad hour; and as it was to be
their last hour on the island,
let us rejoice that there were
sixty glad minutes in it. They
sang and danced in their night-
gowns. Such a deliciously creepy
song it was, in which they pretended
to be frightened at their own
shadows, little witting that
so soon shadows would close in
upon them, from whom they would
shrink in real fear. So uproariously
gay was the dance, and how they
buffeted each other on the bed
and out of it! It was a pillow
fight rather than a dance, and
when it was finished, the pillows
insisted on one bout more, like
partners who know that they may
never meet again. The stories
they told, before it was time
for Wendy's good-night story!
Even Slightly tried to tell a
story that night, but the beginning
was so fearfully dull that it
appalled not only the others
but himself, and he said happily:
it is a dull
I say, let
is the end."
And then at last they all got
into bed for Wendy's story, the
story they loved best, the story
Peter hated. Usually when she
began to tell this story he left
the room or put his hands over
his ears; and possibly if he
had done either of those things
this time they might all still
be on the island. But to-night
he remained on his stool; and
we shall see what happened.