Odd things happen to all of
us on our way through life without
our noticing for a time that
they have happened. Thus, to
take an instance, we suddenly
discover that we have been deaf
in one ear for we don't know
how long, but, say, half an hour.
Now such an experience had come
that night to Peter. When last
we saw him he was stealing across
the island with one finger to
his lips and his dagger at the
ready. He had seen the crocodile
pass by without noticing anything
peculiar about it, but by and
by he remembered that it had
not been ticking. At first he
thought this eerie, but soon
concluded rightly that the clock
Without giving a thought to
what might be the feelings of
a fellow-creature thus abruptly
deprived of its closest companion,
Peter began to consider how he
could turn the catastrophe to
his own use; and he decided to
tick, so that wild beasts should
believe he was the crocodile
and let him pass unmolested.
He ticked superbly, but with
one unforeseen result. The crocodile
was among those who heard the
sound, and it followed him, though
whether with the purpose of regaining
what it had lost, or merely as
a friend under the belief that
it was again ticking itself,
will never be certainly known,
for, like slaves to a fixed idea,
it was a stupid beast.
the shore without mishap, and
went straight on,
his legs encountering the water
as if quite unaware that they
had entered a new element. Thus
many animals pass from land to
water, but no other human of
whom I know. As he swam he had
but one thought: "Hook or me
this time." He had ticked so
long that he now went on ticking
without knowing that he was doing
it. Had he known he would have
stopped, for to board the brig
by help of the tick, though an
ingenious idea, had not occurred
On the contrary, he thought
he had scaled her side as noiseless
as a mouse; and he was amazed
to see the pirates cowering from
him, with Hook in their midst
as abject as if he had heard
No sooner did Peter remember
it than he heard
the ticking. At first he thought
the sound did come from the crocodile,
and he looked behind him swiftly.
They he realised that he was
doing it himself, and in a flash
he understood the situation. "How
clever of me!" he thought at
once, and signed to the boys
not to burst into applause.
It was at this moment that
Ed Teynte the quartermaster emerged
from the forecastle and came
along the deck. Now, reader,
time what happened by your watch.
Peter struck true and deep. John
clapped his hands on the ill-fated
pirate's mouth to stifle the
dying groan. He fell forward.
Four boys caught him to prevent
the thud. Peter gave the signal,
and the carrion was cast overboard.
There was a splash, and then
silence. How long has it taken?
had begun to count.)
None too soon, Peter, every
inch of him on tiptoe, vanished
into the cabin; for more than
one pirate was screwing up his
courage to look round. They could
hear each other's distressed
breathing now, which showed them
that the more terrible sound
"It's gone, captain," Smee
said, wiping off his spectacles. "All's
Slowly Hook let his head emerge
from his ruff, and listened so
intently that he could have caught
the echo of the tick. There was
not a sound, and he drew himself
up firmly to his full height.
"Then here's to Johnny Plank!" he
cried brazenly, hating the boys
more than ever because they had
seen him unbend. He broke into
the villainous ditty:
"Yo ho, yo
ho, the frisky plank, You walks
along it so, Till it
goes down and you goes down To
Davy Jones below!"
the prisoners the more, though
with a certain
loss of dignity, he danced along
an imaginary plank, grimacing
at them as he sang; and when
he finished he cried, "Do you
want a touch of the cat [`o nine
tails] before you walk the plank?"
At that they
fell on their knees. "No, no!" they
cried so piteously that every
"Fetch the cat, Jukes," said
Hook; "it's in the cabin."
The cabin! Peter was in the
cabin! The children gazed at
"Ay, ay," said
Jukes blithely, and he strode
into the cabin.
They followed him with their
eyes; they scarce knew that Hook
had resumed his song, his dogs
joining in with him:
"Yo ho, yo
ho, the scratching cat, Its
tails are nine, you
know, And when they're writ upon
your back -- "
What was the last line will
never be known, for of a sudden
the song was stayed by a dreadful
screech from the cabin. It wailed
through the ship, and died away.
Then was heard a crowing sound
which was well understood by
the boys, but to the pirates
was almost more eerie than the
"What was that?" cried
The Italian Cecco hesitated
for a moment and then swung into
the cabin. He tottered out, haggard.
"What's the matter with Bill
Jukes, you dog?" hissed Hook,
towering over him.
"The matter wi' him is he's
dead, stabbed," replied Cecco
in a hollow voice.
"Bill Jukes dead!" cried
the startled pirates.
"The cabin's as black as a
pit," Cecco said, almost gibbering, "but
there is something terrible in
there: the thing you heard crowing."
The exultation of the boys,
the lowering looks of the pirates,
both were seen by Hook.
"Cecco," he said in his most
steely voice, "go back and fetch
me out that doodle-doo."
of the brave, cowered before
his captain, crying "No,
no"; but Hook was purring to
"Did you say you would go,
Cecco?" he said musingly.
Cecco went, first flinging
his arms despairingly. There
was no more singing, all listened
now; and again came a death-screech
and again a crow.
No one spoke
except Slightly. "Three," he
his dogs with a gesture. "'S'death and odds
fish," he thundered, "who is
to bring me that doodle-doo?"
"Wait till Cecco comes out," growled
Starkey, and the others took
up the cry.
"I think I heard you volunteer,
Starkey," said Hook, purring
"No, by thunder!" Starkey
"My hook thinks you did," said
Hook, crossing to him. "I wonder
if it would not be advisable,
Starkey, to humour the hook?"
"I'll swing before I go in
there," replied Starkey doggedly,
and again he had the support
of the crew.
"Is this mutiny?" asked Hook
more pleasantly than ever. "Starkey's
"Captain, mercy!" Starkey
whimpered, all of a tremble
"Shake hands, Starkey," said
Hook, proffering his claw.
Starkey looked round for help,
but all deserted him. As he backed
up Hook advanced, and now the
red spark was in his eye. With
a despairing scream the pirate
leapt upon Long Tom and precipitated
himself into the sea.
"And now," Hook said courteously, "did
any other gentlemen say mutiny?" Seizing
a lantern and raising his claw
with a menacing gesture, "I'll
bring out that doodle-doo myself," he
said, and sped into the cabin.
Slightly longed to say it.
He wetted his lips
to be ready, but Hook came staggering
out, without his lantern.
"Something blew out the light," he
said a little unsteadily.
"What of Cecco?" demanded
"He's as dead as Jukes," said
to return to the cabin impressed
unfavourably, and the mutinous
sounds again broke forth. All
pirates are superstitious, and
Cookson cried, "They do say the
surest sign a ship's accurst
is when there's one on board
more than can be accounted for."
"I've heard," muttered Mullins, "he
always boards the pirate craft
last. Had he a tail, captain?"
"They say," said another, looking
viciously at Hook, "that when
he comes it's in the likeness
of the wickedest man aboard."
"Had he a hook, captain?" asked
Cookson insolently; and one after
another took up the cry, "The
ship's doomed!" At this the children
could not resist raising a cheer.
Hook had well-nigh forgotten
his prisoners, but as he swung
round on them now his face lit
"Lads," he cried to his crew, "now
here's a notion. Open the cabin
door and drive them in. Let them
fight the doodle-doo for their
lives. If they kill him, we're
so much the better; if he kills
them, we're none the worse."
For the last time his dogs
admired Hook, and devotedly they
did his bidding. The boys, pretending
to struggle, were pushed into
the cabin and the door was closed
"Now, listen!" cried
Hook, and all listened. But
dared to face the door. Yes,
one, Wendy, who all this time
had been bound to the mast. It
was for neither a scream nor
a crow that she was watching,
it was for the reappearance of
She had not
long to wait. In the cabin
he had found the thing
for which he had gone in search:
the key the would free the children
of their manacles, and now they
all stole forth, armed with such
weapons as they could find. First
signing them to hide, Peter cut
Wendy's bonds, and then nothing
could have been easier than for
them all to fly off together;
but one thing barred the way,
an oath, "Hook or me this time." So
when he had freed Wendy, he whispered
for her to conceal herself with
the others, and himself took
her place by the mast, her cloak
around him so that he should
pass for her. Then he took a
great breath and crowed.
To the pirates it was a voice
crying that all the boys lay
slain in the cabin; and they
were panic-stricken. Hook tried
to hearten them; but like the
dogs he had made them they showed
him their fangs, and he knew
that if he took his eyes off
them now they would leap at him.
"Lads," he said, ready to cajole
or strike as need be, but never
quailing for an instant, "I've
thought it out. There's a Jonah
"Ay," they snarled, "a
man wi' a hook."
no, it's the girl. Never was
luck on a pirate ship
wi' a woman on board. We'll right
the ship when she's gone."
Some of them
remembered that this had been
a saying of Flint's. "It's
worth trying," they said doubtfully.
"Fling the girl overboard," cried
Hook; and they made a rush at
the figure in the cloak.
"There's none can save you
now, missy," Mullins hissed jeeringly.
"There's one," replied
"Peter Pan the avenger!" came
the terrible answer; and as he
spoke Peter flung off his cloak.
Then they all knew who 'twas
that had been undoing them in
the cabin, and twice Hook essayed
to speak and twice he failed.
In that frightful moment I think
his fierce heart broke.
At last he
cried, "Cleave him
to the brisket!" but without
"Down, boys, and at them!" Peter's
voice rang out; and in another
moment the clash of arms was
resounding through the ship.
Had the pirates kept together
it is certain that they would
have won; but the onset came
when they were still unstrung,
and they ran hither and thither,
striking wildly, each thinking
himself the last survivor of
the crew. Man to man they were
the stronger; but they fought
on the defensive only, which
enabled the boys to hunt in pairs
and choose their quarry. Some
of the miscreants leapt into
the sea; others hid in dark recesses,
where they were found by Slightly,
who did not fight, but ran about
with a lantern which he flashed
in their faces, so that they
were half blinded and fell as
an easy prey to the reeking swords
of the other boys. There was
little sound to be heard but
the clang of weapons, an occasional
screech or splash, and Slightly
monotonously counting -- five
-- six -- seven -- eight -- nine
-- ten -- eleven.
I think all were gone when
a group of savage boys surrounded
Hook, who seemed to have a charmed
life, as he kept them at bay
in that circle of fire. They
had done for his dogs, but this
man alone seemed to be a match
for them all. Again and again
they closed upon him, and again
and again he hewed a clear space.
He had lifted up one boy with
his hook, and was using him as
a buckler [shield], when another,
who had just passed his sword
through Mullins, sprang into
"Put up your swords, boys," cried
the newcomer, "this man is mine."
Thus suddenly Hook found himself
face to face with Peter. The
others drew back and formed a
ring around them.
For long the two enemies looked
at one another, Hook shuddering
slightly, and Peter with the
strange smile upon his face.
"So, Pan," said Hook at last, "this
is all your doing."
"Ay, James Hook," came the
stern answer, "it is all my doing."
"Proud and insolent youth," said
Hook, "prepare to meet thy doom."
"Dark and sinister man," Peter
answered, "have at thee."
Without more words they fell
to, and for a space there was
no advantage to either blade.
Peter was a superb swordsman,
and parried with dazzling rapidity;
ever and anon he followed up
a feint with a lunge that got
past his foe's defence, but his
shorter reach stood him in ill
stead, and he could not drive
the steel home. Hook, scarcely
his inferior in brilliancy, but
not quite so nimble in wrist
play, forced him back by the
weight of his onset, hoping suddenly
to end all with a favourite thrust,
taught him long ago by Barbecue
at Rio; but to his astonishment
he found this thrust turned aside
again and again. Then he sought
to close and give the quietus
with his iron hook, which all
this time had been pawing the
air; but Peter doubled under
it and, lunging fiercely, pierced
him in the ribs. At the sight
of his own blood, whose peculiar
colour, you remember, was offensive
to him, the sword fell from Hook's
hand, and he was at Peter's mercy.
all the boys, but with a magnificent
Peter invited his opponent to
pick up his sword. Hook did so
instantly, but with a tragic
feeling that Peter was showing
Hitherto he had thought it
was some fiend fighting him,
but darker suspicions assailed
"Pan, who and what art thou?" he
"I'm youth, I'm joy," Peter
answered at a venture, "I'm a
little bird that has broken out
of the egg."
This, of course, was nonsense;
but it was proof to the unhappy
Hook that Peter did not know
in the least who or what he was,
which is the very pinnacle of
"To't again," he
He fought now like a human
flail, and every sweep of that
terrible sword would have severed
in twain any man or boy who obstructed
it; but Peter fluttered round
him as if the very wind it made
blew him out of the danger zone.
And again and again he darted
in and pricked.
Hook was fighting now without
hope. That passionate breast
no longer asked for life; but
for one boon it craved: to see
Peter show bad form before it
was cold forever.
Abandoning the fight he rushed
into the powder magazine and
"In two minutes," he cried, "the
ship will be blown to pieces."
Now, now, he thought, true
form will show.
But Peter issued from the powder
magazine with the shell in his
hands, and calmly flung it overboard.
What sort of form was Hook
himself showing? Misguided man
though he was, we may be glad,
without sympathising with him,
that in the end he was true to
the traditions of his race. The
other boys were flying around
him now, flouting, scornful;
and he staggered about the deck
striking up at them impotently,
his mind was no longer with them;
it was slouching in the playing
fields of long ago, or being
sent up [to the headmaster] for
good, or watching the wall-game
from a famous wall. And his shoes
were right, and his waistcoat
was right, and his tie was right,
and his socks were right.
James Hook, thou not wholly
unheroic figure, farewell.
For we have come to his last
Seeing Peter slowly advancing
upon him through the air with
dagger poised, he sprang upon
the bulwarks to cast himself
into the sea. He did not know
that the crocodile was waiting
for him; for we purposely stopped
the clock that this knowledge
might be spared him: a little
mark of respect from us at the
He had one last triumph, which
I think we need not grudge him.
As he stood on the bulwark looking
over his shoulder at Peter gliding
through the air, he invited him
with a gesture to use his foot.
It made Peter kick instead of
At last Hook had got the boon
for which he craved.
"Bad form," he
cried jeeringly, and went content
to the crocodile.
Thus perished James Hook.
sang out; but he was not quite
in his figures. Fifteen paid
the penalty for their crimes
that night; but two reached the
shore: Starkey to be captured
by the redskins, who made him
nurse for all their papooses,
a melancholy come-down for a
pirate; and Smee, who henceforth
wandered about the world in his
spectacles, making a precarious
living by saying he was the only
man that Jas. Hook had feared.
Wendy, of course,
had stood by taking no part
in the fight,
though watching Peter with glistening
eyes; but now that all was over
she became prominent again. She
praised them equally, and shuddered
delightfully when Michael showed
her the place where he had killed
one; and then she took them into
Hook's cabin and pointed to his
watch which was hanging on a
nail. It said "half- past one!"
The lateness of the hour was
almost the biggest thing of all.
She got them to bed in the pirates'
bunks pretty quickly, you may
be sure; all but Peter, who strutted
up and down on the deck, until
at last he fell asleep by the
side of Long Tom. He had one
of his dreams that night, and
cried in his sleep for a long
time, and Wendy held him tightly.