Maimie felt quite shy, but Peter
knew not what shy was.
"I hope you have had a good
night," he said earnestly.
"Thank you," she replied, "I
was so cosy and warm. But you"--and
she looked at his nakedness awkwardly--"don't
you feel the least bit cold?"
Now cold was
another word Peter had forgotten,
so he answered, "I
think not, but I may be wrong:
you see I am rather ignorant.
I am not exactly a boy, Solomon
says I am a Betwixt-and-Between."
"So that is what it is called," said
"That's not my name," he explained, "my
name is Peter Pan."
"Yes, of course," she said, "I
know, everybody knows."
You can't think how pleased
Peter was to learn that all the
people outside the gates knew
about him. He begged Maimie to
tell him what they knew and what
they said, and she did so. They
were sitting by this time on
a fallen tree; Peter had cleared
off the snow for Maimie, but
he sat on a snowy bit himself.
"Squeeze closer," Maimie
"What is that?" he
asked, and she showed him,
and then he did
it. They talked together and
he found that people knew a great
deal about him, but not everything,
not that he had gone back to
his mother and been barred out,
for instance, and he said nothing
of this to Maimie, for it still
"Do they know that I play games
exactly like real boys?" he asked
very proudly. "Oh, Maimie, please
tell them!" But when he revealed
how he played, by sailing his
hoop on the Round Pond, and so
on, she was simply horrified.
"All your ways of playing," she
said with her big eyes on him, "are
quite, quite wrong, and not in
the least like how boys play!"
uttered a little moan at this,
and he cried for
the first time for I know not
how long. Maimie was extremely
sorry for him, and lent him her
handkerchief, but he didn't know
in the least what to do with
it, so she showed him, that is
to say, she wiped her eyes, and
then gave it back to him, saying "Now
you do it," but instead of wiping
his own eyes he wiped hers, and
she thought it best to pretend
that this was what she had meant.
She said, out
of pity for him, "I
shall give you a kiss if you
like," but though he once knew
he had long forgotten what kisses
are, and he replied, "Thank you," and
held out his hand, thinking she
had offered to put something
into it. This was a great shock
to her, but she felt she could
not explain without shaming him,
so with charming delicacy she
gave Peter a thimble which happened
to be in her pocket, and pretended
that it was a kiss. Poor little
boy! he quite believed her, and
to this day he wears it on his
finger, though there can be scarcely
anyone who needs a thimble so
little. You see, though still
a tiny child, it was really years
and years since he had seen his
mother, and I daresay the baby
who had supplanted him was now
a man with whiskers.
But you must not think that
Peter Pan was a boy to pity rather
than to admire; if Maimie began
by thinking this, she soon found
she was very much mistaken. Her
eyes glistened with admiration
when he told her of his adventures,
especially of how he went to
and fro between the island and
the Gardens in the Thrush's Nest.
"How romantic," Maimie
exclaimed, but it was another
and he hung his head thinking
she was despising him.
"I suppose Tony would not have
done that?" he said very humbly.
"Never, never!" she answered
with conviction, "he would have
"What is afraid?" asked Peter
longingly. He thought it must
be some splendid thing. "I do
wish you would teach me how to
be afraid, Maimie," he said.
"I believe no one could teach
that to you," she answered adoringly,
but Peter thought she meant that
he was stupid. She had told him
about Tony and of the wicked
thing she did in the dark to
frighten him (she knew quite
well that it was wicked), but
Peter misunderstood her meaning
and said, "Oh, how I wish I was
as brave as Tony."
It quite irritated
are twenty thousand times braver
than Tony," she said, "you are
ever so much the bravest boy
I ever knew!"
He could scarcely believe she
meant it, but when be did believe
he screamed with joy.
"And if you want very much
to give me a kiss," Maimie said, "you
can do it."
Very reluctantly Peter began
to take the thimble off his finger.
He thought she wanted it back.
"I don't mean a kiss," she
said hurriedly, "I mean a thimble."
"What's that?" Peter
"It's like this," she
said, and kissed him.
"I should love to give you
a thimble," Peter said gravely,
so he gave her one. He gave her
quite a number of thimbles, and
then a delightful idea came into
his head! "Maimie," he said, "will
you marry me?"
to tell, the same idea had
come at exactly the
same time into Maimie's head. "I
should like to," she answered, "but
will there be room in your boat
"If you squeeze close," he
birds would be angry?"
her that the birds would love
to have her, though
I am not so certain of it myself.
Also that there were very few
birds in winter. "Of course they
might want your clothes," he
had to admit rather falteringly.
She was somewhat indignant
"They are always thinking of
their nests," he said apologetically, "and
there are some bits of you"--he
stroked the fur on her pelisse--"that
would excite them very much."
"They sha'n't have my fur," she
"No," he said, still fondling
it, however, "no! Oh, Maimie," he
said rapturously, "do you know
why I love you? It is because
you are like a beautiful nest."
made her uneasy. "I
think you are speaking more like
a bird than a boy now," she said,
holding back, and indeed he was
even looking rather like a bird. "After
all," she said, "you are only
a Betwixt-and-Between." But it
hurt him so much that she immediately
added, "It must be a delicious
thing to be."
"Come and be one then, dear
Maimie," he implored her, and
they set off for the boat, for
it was now very near Open-Gate
time. "And you are not a bit
like a nest," he whispered to
"But I think it is rather nice
to be like one," she said in
a woman's contradictory way. "And,
Peter, dear, though I can't give
them my fur, I wouldn't mind
their building in it. Fancy a
nest in my neck with little spotty
eggs in it! Oh, Peter, how perfectly
But as they
drew near the Serpentine, she
shivered a little, and said, "Of
course I shall go and see mother
often, quite often. It is not
as if I was saying good-bye for
ever to mother, it is not in
the least like that."
"Oh, no," answered Peter, but
in his heart he knew it was very
like that, and he would have
told her so had he not been in
a quaking fear of losing her.
He was so fond of her, he felt
he could not live without her. "She
will forget her mother in time,
and be happy with me," he kept
saying to himself, and he hurried
her on, giving her thimbles by
But even when
she had seen the boat and exclaimed
over its loveliness, she still
talked tremblingly about her
mother. "You know quite well,
Peter, don't you," she said, "that
I wouldn't come unless I knew
for certain I could go back to
mother whenever I want to? Peter,
He said it, but he could no
longer look her in the face.
"If you are sure your mother
will always want you," he added
"The idea of mother's not always
wanting me!" Maimie cried, and
her face glistened.
"If she doesn't bar you out," said
"The door," replied Maimie, "will
always, always be open, and mother
will always be waiting at it
"Then," said Peter, not without
grimness, "step in, if you feel
so sure of her," and he helped
Maimie into the Thrush's Nest.
"But why don't you look at
me?" she asked, taking him by
Peter tried hard not to look,
he tried to push off, then he
gave a great gulp and jumped
ashore and sat down miserably
in the snow.
She went to
him. "What is it,
dear, dear Peter?" she said,
"Oh, Maimie," he cried, "it
isn't fair to take you with me
if you think you can go back.
Your mother"--he gulped again--"you
don't know them as well as I
And then he
told her the woful story of
how he had been barred
out, and she gasped all the time. "But
my mother," she said, "my mother"--
"Yes, she would," said Peter, "they
are all the same. I daresay she
is looking for another one already."
aghast, "I can't
believe it. You see, when you
went away your mother had none,
but my mother has Tony, and surely
they are satisfied when they
should see the letters Solomon
gets from ladies who have six."
Just then they heard a grating
creak, followed by creak, creak,
all round the Gardens. It was
the Opening of the Gates, and
Peter jumped nervously into his
boat. He knew Maimie would not
come with him now, and he was
trying bravely not to cry. But
Maimie was sobbing painfully.
"If I should be too late," she
called in agony, "oh, Peter,
if she has got another one already!"
Again he sprang
ashore as if she had called
him back. "I shall
come and look for you to-night," he
said, squeezing close, "but if
you hurry away I think you will
be in time."
Then he pressed a last thimble
on her sweet little mouth, and
covered his face with his hands
so that he might not see her
"Dear Peter!" she
"Dear Maimie!" cried
the tragic boy.
She leapt into his arms, so
that it was a sort of fairy wedding,
and then she hurried away. Oh,
how she hastened to the gates!
Peter, you may be sure, was back
in the Gardens that night as
soon as Lock-out sounded, but
he found no Maimie, and so he
knew she had been in time. For
long he hoped that some night
she would come back to him; often
he thought he saw her waiting
for him by the shore of the Serpentine
as his bark drew to land, but
Maimie never went back. She wanted
to, but she was afraid that if
she saw her dear Betwixt-and-Between
again she would linger with him
too long, and besides the ayah
now kept a sharp eye on her.
But she often talked lovingly
of Peter and she knitted a kettle-
holder for him, and one day when
she was wondering what Easter
present he would like, her mother
made a suggestion.
"Nothing," she said thoughtfully, "would
be so useful to him as a goat."
"He could ride on it," cried
Maimie, "and play on his pipe
at the same time!"
"Then," her mother asked, "won't
you give him your goat, the one
you frighten Tony with at night?"
"But it isn't a real goat," Maimie
"It seems very real to Tony," replied
"It seems frightfully real
to me too," Maimie admitted, "but
how could I give it to Peter?"
Her mother knew a way, and
next day, accompanied by Tony
(who was really quite a nice
boy, though of course he could
not compare), they went to the
Gardens, and Maimie stood alone
within a fairy ring, and then
her mother, who was a rather
gifted lady, said,
tell me, if you can, What have
you got for Peter
To which Maimie replied,
"I have a goat
for him to ride, Observe me
cast it far and wide."
She then flung her arms about
as if she were sowing seed, and
turned round three times.
Next Tony said,
"If P. doth
find it waiting here, Wilt
ne'er again make me
And Maimie answered,
"By dark or
light I fondly swear Never
to see goats anywhere."
She also left a letter to Peter
in a likely place, explaining
what she had done, and begging
him to ask the fairies to turn
the goat into one convenient
for riding on. Well, it all happened
just as she hoped, for Peter
found the letter, and of course
nothing could be easier for the
fairies than to turn the goat
into a real one, and so that
is how Peter got the goat on
which he now rides round the
Gardens every night playing sublimely
on his pipe. And Maimie kept
her promise and never frightened
Tony with a goat again, though
I have heard that she created
another animal. Until she was
quite a big girl she continued
to leave presents for Peter in
the Gardens (with letters explaining
how humans play with them), and
she is not the only one who has
done this. David does it, for
instance, and he and I know the
likeliest place for leaving them
in, and we shall tell you if
you like, but for mercy's sake
don't ask us before Porthos,
for were he to find out the place
he would take every one of them.
Though Peter still remembers
Maimie he is become as gay as
ever, and often in sheer happiness
he jumps off his goat and lies
kicking merrily on the grass.
Oh, he has a joyful time! But
he has still a vague memory that
he was a human once, and it makes
him especially kind to the house-swallows
when they revisit the island,
for house-swallows are the spirits
of little children who have died.
They always build in the eaves
of the houses where they lived
when they were humans, and sometimes
they try to fly in at a nursery
window, and perhaps that is why
Peter loves them best of all
And the little house? Every
lawful night (that is to say,
every night except ball nights)
the fairies now build the little
house lest there should be a
human child lost in the Gardens,
and Peter rides the marshes looking
for lost ones, and if he finds
them he carries them on his goat
to the little house, and when
they wake up they are in it and
when they step out they see it.
The fairies build the house merely
because it is so pretty, but
Peter rides round in memory of
Maimie and because he still loves
to do just as he believes real
boys would do.
But you must not think that,
because somewhere among the trees
the little house is twinkling,
it is a safe thing to remain
in the Gardens after Lock-out
Time. If the bad ones among the
fairies happen to be out that
night they will certainly mischief
you, and even though they are
not, you may perish of cold and
dark before Peter Pan comes round.
He has been too late several
times, and when he sees he is
too late he runs back to the
Thrush's Nest for his paddle,
of which Maimie had told him
the true use, and he digs a grave
for the child and erects a little
tombstone and carves the poor
thing's initials on it. He does
this at once because he thinks
it is what real boys would do,
and you must have noticed the
little stones and that there
are always two together. He puts
them in twos because it seems
less lonely. I think that quite
the most touching sight in the
Gardens is the two tombstones
of Walter Stephen Matthews and
Phoebe Phelps. They stand together
at the spot where the parishes
of Westminster St. Mary's is
said to meet the parish of Paddington.
Here Peter found the two babes,
who had fallen unnoticed from
their perambulators, Phoebe aged
thirteen months and Walter probably
still younger, for Peter seems
to have felt a delicacy about
putting any age on his stone.
They lie side by side, and the
simple inscriptions read
| | | | | W | | 13a. | | | |
P.P. | | St. M | | 1841 | | |
| | +-----------+ +-----------+
David sometimes places white
flowers on these two innocent
But how strange for parents,
when they hurry into the Gardens
at the opening of the gates looking
for their lost one, to find the
sweetest little tombstone instead.
I do hope that Peter is not too
ready with his spade. It is all