By three bells that morning
they were all stirring their
stumps [legs]; for there was
a big sea running; and Tootles,
the bo'sun, was among them, with
a rope's end in his hand and
chewing tobacco. They all donned
pirate clothes cut off at the
knee, shaved smartly, and tumbled
up, with the true nautical roll
hitching their trousers.
It need not be said who was
the captain. Nibs and John were
first and second mate. There
was a woman aboard. The rest
were tars [sailors] before the
mast, and lived in the fo'c'sle.
Peter had already lashed himself
to the wheel; but he piped all
hands and delivered a short address
to them; said he hoped they would
do their duty like gallant hearties,
but that he knew they were the
scum of Rio and the Gold Coast,
and if they snapped at him he
would tear them. The bluff strident
words struck the note sailors
understood, and they cheered
him lustily. Then a few sharp
orders were given, and they turned
the ship round, and nosed her
for the mainland.
Captain Pan calculated, after
consulting the ship's chart,
that if this weather lasted they
should strike the Azores about
the 21st of June, after which
it would save time to fly.
Some of them wanted it to be
an honest ship and others were
in favour of keeping it a pirate;
but the captain treated them
as dogs, and they dared not express
their wishes to him even in a
round robin [one person after
another, as they had to Cpt.
Hook]. Instant obedience was
the only safe thing. Slightly
got a dozen for looking perplexed
when told to take soundings.
The general feeling was that
Peter was honest just now to
lull Wendy's suspicions, but
that there might be a change
when the new suit was ready,
which, against her will, she
was making for him out of some
of Hook's wickedest garments.
It was afterwards whispered among
them that on the first night
he wore this suit he sat long
in the cabin with Hook's cigar-holder
in his mouth and one hand clenched,
all but for the forefinger, which
he bent and held threateningly
aloft like a hook.
watching the ship, however,
we must now return to
that desolate home from which
three of our characters had taken
heartless flight so long ago.
It seems a shame to have neglected
No. 14 all this time; and yet
we may be sure that Mrs. Darling
does not blame us. If we had
returned sooner to look with
sorrowful sympathy at her, she
would probably have cried, "Don't
be silly; what do I matter? Do
go back and keep an eye on the
children." So long as mothers
are like this their children
will take advantage of them;
and they may lay to [bet on]
Even now we venture into that
familiar nursery only because
its lawful occupants are on their
way home; we are merely hurrying
on in advance of them to see
that their beds are properly
aired and that Mr. and Mrs. Darling
do not go out for the evening.
We are no more than servants.
Why on earth should their beds
be properly aired, seeing that
they left them in such a thankless
hurry? Would it not serve them
jolly well right if they came
back and found that their parents
were spending the week-end in
the country? It would be the
moral lesson they have been in
need of ever since we met them;
but if we contrived things in
this way Mrs. Darling would never
One thing I
should like to do immensely,
and that is to
tell her, in the way authors
have, that the children are coming
back, that indeed they will be
here on Thursday week. This would
spoil so completely the surprise
to which Wendy and John and Michael
are looking forward. They have
been planning it out on the ship:
mother's rapture, father's shout
of joy, Nana's leap through the
air to embrace them first, when
what they ought to be prepared
for is a good hiding. How delicious
to spoil it all by breaking the
news in advance; so that when
they enter grandly Mrs. Darling
may not even offer Wendy her
mouth, and Mr. Darling may exclaim
pettishly, "Dash it all, here
are those boys again." However,
we should get no thanks even
for this. We are beginning to
know Mrs. Darling by this time,
and may be sure that she would
upbraid us for depriving the
children of their little pleasure.
"But, my dear
madam, it is ten days till
so that by telling you what's
what, we can save you ten days
"Yes, but at
what a cost! By depriving the
children of ten
minutes of delight."
"Oh, if you
look at it in that way!"
way is there in which to look
You see, the woman had no proper
spirit. I had meant to say extraordinarily
nice things about her; but I
despise her, and not one of them
will I say now. She does not
really need to be told to have
things ready, for they are ready.
All the beds are aired, and she
never leaves the house, and observe,
the window is open. For all the
use we are to her, we might well
go back to the ship. However,
as we are here we may as well
stay and look on. That is all
we are, lookers-on. Nobody really
wants us. So let us watch and
say jaggy things, in the hope
that some of them will hurt.
The only change to be seen
in the night-nursery is that
between nine and six the kennel
is no longer there. When the
children flew away, Mr. Darling
felt in his bones that all the
blame was his for having chained
Nana up, and that from first
to last she had been wiser than
he. Of course, as we have seen,
he was quite a simple man; indeed
be might have passed for a boy
again if he had been able to
take his baldness off; but he
had also a noble sense of justice
and a lion's courage to do what
seemed right to him; and having
thought the matter out with anxious
care after the flight of the
children, he went down on all
fours and crawled into the kennel.
To all Mrs. Darling's dear invitations
to him to come out he replied
sadly but firmly:
"No, my own
one, this is the place for
In the bitterness of his remorse
he swore that he would never
leave the kennel until his children
came back. Of course this was
a pity; but whatever Mr. Darling
did he had to do in excess, otherwise
he soon gave up doing it. And
there never was a more humble
man than the once proud George
Darling, as he sat in the kennel
of an evening talking with his
wife of their children and all
their pretty ways.
Very touching was his deference
to Nana. He would not let her
come into the kennel, but on
all other matters he followed
her wishes implicitly.
Every morning the kennel was
carried with Mr. Darling in it
to a cab, which conveyed him
to his office, and he returned
home in the same way at six.
Something of the strength of
character of the man will be
seen if we remember how sensitive
he was to the opinion of neighbours:
this man whose every movement
now attracted surprised attention.
Inwardly he must have suffered
torture; but he preserved a calm
exterior even when the young
criticised his little home, and
he always lifted his hat courteously
to any lady who looked inside.
It may have
been Quixotic, but it was magnificent.
the inward meaning of it leaked
out, and the great heart of the
public was touched. Crowds followed
the cab, cheering it lustily;
charming girls scaled it to get
his autograph; interviews appeared
in the better class of papers,
and society invited him to dinner
and added, "Do come in the kennel."
On that eventful Thursday week,
Mrs. Darling was in the night-
nursery awaiting George's return
home; a very sad-eyed woman.
Now that we look at her closely
and remember the gaiety of her
in the old days, all gone now
just because she has lost her
babes, I find I won't be able
to say nasty things about her
after all. If she was too fond
of her rubbishy children, she
couldn't help it. Look at her
in her chair, where she has fallen
asleep. The corner of her mouth,
where one looks first, is almost
withered up. Her hand moves restlessly
on her breast as if she had a
pain there. Some like Peter best,
and some like Wendy best, but
I like her best. Suppose, to
make her happy, we whisper to
her in her sleep that the brats
are coming back. They are really
within two miles of the window
now, and flying strong, but all
we need whisper is that they
are on the way. Let's.
It is a pity we did it, for
she has started up, calling their
names; and there is no one in
the room but Nana.
"O Nana, I
dreamt my dear ones had come
Nana had filmy eyes, but all
she could do was put her paw
gently on her mistress's lap;
and they were sitting together
thus when the kennel was brought
back. As Mr. Darling puts his
head out to kiss his wife, we
see that his face is more worn
than of yore, but has a softer
He gave his hat to Liza, who
took it scornfully; for she had
no imagination, and was quite
incapable of understanding the
motives of such a man. Outside,
the crowd who had accompanied
the cab home were still cheering,
and he was naturally not unmoved.
"Listen to them," he said; "it
is very gratifying."
"Lots of little boys," sneered
"There were several adults
to-day," he assured her with
a faint flush; but when she tossed
her head he had not a word of
reproof for her. Social success
had not spoilt him; it had made
him sweeter. For some time he
sat with his head out of the
kennel, talking with Mrs. Darling
of this success, and pressing
her hand reassuringly when she
said she hoped his head would
not be turned by it.
"But if I had been a weak man," he
said. "Good heavens, if I had
been a weak man!"
"And, George," she said timidly, "you
are as full of remorse as ever,
"Full of remorse
as ever, dearest! See my punishment:
"But it is
punishment, isn't it, George?
You are sure you
are not enjoying it?"
You may be sure she begged
his pardon; and then, feeling
drowsy, he curled round in the
"Won't you play me to sleep," he
asked, "on the nursery piano?" and
as she was crossing to the day-nursery
he added thoughtlessly, "And
shut that window. I feel a draught."
never ask me to do that. The
window must always
be left open for them, always,
Now it was his turn to beg
her pardon; and she went into
the day-nursery and played, and
soon he was asleep; and while
he slept, Wendy and John and
Michael flew into the room.
Oh no. We have written it so,
because that was the charming
arrangement planned by them before
we left the ship; but something
must have happened since then,
for it is not they who have flown
in, it is Peter and Tinker Bell.
Peter's first words tell all.
"Quick Tink," he whipered, "close
the window; bar it! That's right.
Now you and I must get away by
the door; and when Wendy comes
she will think her mother has
barred her out; and she will
have to go back with me."
Now I understand what had hitherto
puzzled me, why when Peter had
exterminated the pirates he did
not return to the island and
leave Tink to escort the children
to the mainland. This trick had
been in his head all the time.
feeling that he was behaving
badly he danced
with glee; then he peeped into
the day-nursery to see who was
playing. He whispered to Tink, "It's
Wendy's mother! She is a pretty
lady, but not so pretty as my
mother. Her mouth is full of
thimbles, but not so full as
my mother's was."
Of course he knew nothing whatever
about his mother; but he sometimes
bragged about her.
He did not
know the tune, which was "Home, Sweet Home," but he
knew it was saying, "Come back,
Wendy, Wendy, Wendy"; and he
cried exultantly, "You will never
see Wendy again, lady, for the
window is barred!"
He peeped in again to see why
the music had stopped, and now
he saw that Mrs. Darling had
laid her head on the box, and
that two tears were sitting on
"She wants me to unbar the
window," thought Peter, "but
I won't, not I!"
He peeped again, and the tears
were still there, or another
two had taken their place.
"She's awfully fond of Wendy," he
said to himself. He was angry
with her now for not seeing why
she could not have Wendy.
was so simple: "I'm
fond of her too. We can't both
have her, lady."
But the lady would not make
the best of it, and he was unhappy.
He ceased to look at her, but
even then she would not let go
of him. He skipped about and
made funny faces, but when he
stopped it was just as if she
were inside him, knocking.
"Oh, all right," he said at
last, and gulped. Then he unbarred
the window. "Come on, Tink," he
cried, with a frightful sneer
at the laws of nature; "we don't
want any silly mothers"; and
he flew away.
Thus Wendy and John and Michael
found the window open for them
after all, which of course was
more than they deserved. They
alighted on the floor, quite
unashamed of themselves, and
the youngest one had already
forgotten his home.
"John," he said, looking around
him doubtfully, "I think I have
been here before."
you have, you silly. There
is your old bed."
"So it is," Michael
said, but not with much conviction.
"I say," cried John, "the kennel!" and
he dashed across to look into
"Perhaps Nana is inside it," Wendy
But John whistled. "Hullo," he
said, "there's a man inside it."
"It's father!" exclaimed
"Let me see father," Michael
begged eagerly, and he took a
good look. "He is not so big
as the pirate I killed," he said
with such frank disappointment
that I am glad Mr. Darling was
asleep; it would have been sad
if those had been the first words
he heard his little Michael say.
Wendy and John had been taken
aback somewhat at finding their
father in the kennel.
"Surely," said John, like one
who had lost faith in his memory, "he
used not to sleep in the kennel?"
"John," Wendy said falteringly, "perhaps
we don't remember the old life
as well as we thought we did."
A chill fell upon them; and
serve them right.
"It is very careless of mother," said
that young scoundrel John, "not
to be here when we come back."
It was then that Mrs. Darling
began playing again.
"It's mother!" cried
"So it is!" said
"Then are you not really our
mother, Wendy?" asked Michael,
who was surely sleepy.
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Wendy,
with her first real twinge of
remorse [for having gone], "it
was quite time we came back,"
"Let us creep in," John suggested, "and
put our hands over her eyes."
But Wendy, who saw that they
must break the joyous news more
gently, had a better plan.
"Let us all
slip into our beds, and be
there when she comes in,
just as if we had never been
And so when Mrs. Darling went
back to the night-nursery to
see if her husband was asleep,
all the beds were occupied. The
children waited for her cry of
joy, but it did not come. She
saw them, but she did not believe
they were there. You see, she
saw them in their beds so often
in her dreams that she thought
this was just the dream hanging
around her still.
She sat down in the chair by
the fire, where in the old days
she had nursed them.
They could not understand this,
and a cold fear fell upon all
the three of them.
"That's Wendy," she
said, but still she was sure
it was the
"That's John," she
Michael. He knew her now.
"That's Michael," she
said, and she stretched out
for the three little selfish
children they would never envelop
again. Yes, they did, they went
round Wendy and John and Michael,
who had slipped out of bed and
run to her.
"George, George!" she
cried when she could speak;
Darling woke to share her bliss,
and Nana came rushing in. There
could not have been a lovelier
sight; but there was none to
see it except a little boy who
was staring in at the window.
He had had ecstasies innumerable
that other children can never
know; but he was looking through
the window at the one joy from
which he must be for ever barred.