an enigma wrapped in a schizophrenic (karabou) wrote in everydayreader,
an enigma wrapped in a schizophrenic
karabou
everydayreader

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, part 3


Chapter 3

COME AWAY, COME AWAY!

For a moment after Mr. and Mrs. Darling left the house the
night-lights by the beds of the three children continued to burn
clearly. They were awfully nice little night-lights, and one
cannot help wishing that they could have kept awake to see Peter;
but Wendy's light blinked and gave such a yawn that the other two
yawned also, and before they could close their mouths all the
three went out.

There was another light in the room now, a thousand times
brighter than the night-lights, and in the time we have taken to
say this, it had been in all the drawers in the nursery, looking
for Peter's shadow, rummaged the wardrobe and turned every pocket
inside out. It was not really a light; it made this light by
flashing about so quickly, but when it came to 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 gowned in
a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure
could be 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 the breathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He
had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still
messy with the fairy dust.

"Tinker Bell," he called softly, after making sure that the
children were asleep, "Tink, where are you?" She was in a jug
for the moment, and liking 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 my shadow?"

The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the
fairy language. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if
you were to hear 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 of drawers, and Peter jumped at the drawers, scattering
their contents to the floor with both hands, as kings toss
ha'pence to the crowd. In a moment he had recovered his shadow,
and in his delight he forgot that he had shut Tinker Bell up in
the drawer.

If he thought at all, but I don't believe he ever thought, it
was that he and his shadow, when brought near each other, would
join like drops of water, and when they did not he was appalled.
He tried to stick it on with soap from the bathroom, but that
also failed. A shudder passed through Peter, and he sat on the
floor and cried.

His sobs woke Wendy, and she sat up in bed. She was not
alarmed to see a stranger crying on the nursery floor; she was
only pleasantly interested.

"Boy," she said courteously, "why are you crying?"

Peter could be exceeding polite also, having learned the grand
manner at fairy ceremonies, and he rose and bowed to her
beautifully. She was much pleased, and bowed beautifully to him
from the bed.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Wendy Moira Angela Darling," she replied with some
satisfaction. "What is your name?"

"Peter Pan."

She was already sure that he must be Peter, but it did seem a
comparatively short name.

"Is that all?"

"Yes," he said rather sharply. He felt for the first time that
it was a shortish 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 a funny address.

"No, it isn't," he said.

"I mean," Wendy said nicely, remembering that she was hostess,
"is that what 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 had not the slightest desire to have one. He thought them
very over-rated persons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she
was in the presence of a tragedy.

"O Peter, no wonder you were crying," she said, and got out of
bed and ran to him.

"I wasn't crying about mothers," he said rather indignantly.
"I was crying because I can't get my shadow to stick on.
Besides, I wasn't crying."

"It has come off?"

"Yes."

Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled,
and she was frightfully sorry for Peter. "How awful!" she said,
but she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been
trying to stick it on with soap. 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, my little man," she said, though he was tall as herself, and
she got out her 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 he had never cried in his life. And he clenched his teeth
and did not cry, and soon his shadow was behaving properly,
though still a little creased.

"Perhaps I should have ironed it," Wendy said thoughtfully, but
Peter, boylike, was indifferent to appearances, and he was now
jumping about in the wildest glee. Alas, he had already
forgotten that he owed his bliss to Wendy. He thought he had
attached the shadow himself. "How clever I am!" he crowed
rapturously, "oh, the cleverness of me!"

It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter
was one 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],"
she exclaimed, 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 at least withdraw," and she sprang in the most dignified
way into bed and covered her face with the blankets.

To induce her to look up he pretended to be going away, and
when this failed 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, when I'm pleased with myself." Still
she would not look up, though she was listening eagerly.
"Wendy," he continued, in a voice that no woman has ever yet been
able to resist, "Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys."

Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very
many inches, 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 up again," and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She
also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did
not know what she meant, 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 to hurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.

"Now," said he, "shall I give you a kiss?" and she replied with
a slight primness, "If you please." She made herself rather
cheap by inclining her face toward him, but he merely dropped an
acorn button into her hand, so she slowly returned her face to
where it had been before, and said 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 to save her life.

When people in our set are introduced, it is customary for them
to ask each other's age, and so Wendy, who always liked to do the
correct thing, asked Peter how old he was. It was not really a
happy question to ask him; it was like an examination paper that
asks grammar, when what you want to be asked is Kings of England.

"I don't know," he replied uneasily, "but I am quite young."
He really knew nothing about it, he had merely suspicions, but he
said at a venture, "Wendy, I ran away the day I was born."

Wendy was quite surprised, but interested; and she indicated in
the charming drawing-room manner, by a touch on her night-gown,
that he could sit nearer her.

"It was because I heard father and mother," he explained in a
low voice, "talking about what I was to be when I became a man."
He was extraordinarily agitated now. "I don't want ever to be a
man," he said with passion. "I want always to be a little boy
and to have fun. So I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a
long long time among the fairies."

She gave him a look of the most intense admiration, and he
thought it was 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 as quite 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, he liked 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, its laugh 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 for every boy and girl."

"Ought to be? Isn't there?"

"No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't
believe in fairies, 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 it struck him that Tinker Bell was keeping very quiet. "I
can't think where she has gone to," he said, rising, and he
called Tink by name. Wendy's heart went flutter with a sudden
thrill.

"Peter," she cried, clutching him, "you don't mean to tell me
that there is a fairy in this room!"

"She was here just now," he said a little impatiently. "You
don't hear her, 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 come from the chest of drawers, and Peter made a
merry face. No one could ever look quite so merry as Peter, and
the loveliest of gurgles was his laugh. He had his first laugh
still.

"Wendy," he whispered gleefully, "I do believe I shut her up in
the drawer!"

He let poor Tink out of the drawer, and she flew about the
nursery screaming 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 only stand still and let me see her!"

"They hardly ever stand still," he said, but for one moment
Wendy saw the 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 her fairy."

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
disappeared into the bathroom. "She is quite a common fairy,"
Peter explained apologetically, "she is called Tinker Bell
because she mends the pots and kettles [tinker = tin worker]."
[Similar to "cinder" plus "elle" to get Cinderella]

They were together in the armchair by this time, and Wendy
plied him with 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
the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in
seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray
expenses. I'm captain."

"What fun it must be!"

"Yes," said cunning Peter, "but we are rather lonely. You see
we have no female companionship."

"Are none of the others girls?"

"Oh, no; girls, you know, are much too clever to fall out of
their prams."

This flattered Wendy immensely. "I think," she said, "it is
perfectly lovely the way you talk about girls; John there just
despises us."

For reply Peter rose and kicked John out of bed, blankets and
all; one kick. This seemed to Wendy rather forward for a first
meeting, and she told him with spirit that he was not captain in
her house. However, John continued to sleep so placidly on the
floor that she allowed him to 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 thought you would want it back," he said a little bitterly,
and offered to return her the thimble.

"Oh dear," said the nice Wendy, "I don't mean a kiss, I mean a
thimble."

"What's that?"

"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
a thimble."

"But why?"

"Why, Tink?"

Again Tink replied, "You silly ass." Peter could not
understand why, but Wendy understood, and she was just slightly
disappointed when he admitted that he came to the nursery window
not to see her but to listen to stories.

"You see, I don't know any stories. None of the lost boys
knows any stories."

"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 you such a lovely story."

"Which story was it?"

"About the prince who couldn't find the lady who wore the glass
slipper."

"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
been sitting, 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 she who first tempted him.

He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eyes now which
ought to have alarmed her, but did not.

"Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys!" she cried, and then
Peter gripped 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, I can'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 be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."

"Oo!"

"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 all respect you."

She was wriggling her body in distress. It was quite as if she
were trying 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."

"Oo!"

"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 has any 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
Michael and shook them. "Wake up," she cried, "Peter Pan has
come and he is to teach us to fly."

John rubbed his eyes. "Then I shall get up," he said. Of
course he was on the floor already. "Hallo," he said, "I am up!"

Michael was up by this time also, looking as sharp as a knife
with six blades and a saw, but Peter suddenly signed silence.
Their faces assumed the awful craftiness of children listening
for sounds from the grown-up world. All was as still as salt.
Then everything was right. No, stop! Everything was wrong.
Nana, who had been barking distressfully all the evening, was
quiet now. It was her silence they had heard.

"Out with the light! Hide! Quick!" cried John, taking command
for the only time throughout the whole adventure. And thus when
Liza entered, holding Nana, the nursery seemed quite its old
self, very dark, and you would have sworn you heard its three
wicked inmates breathing angelically as they slept. They were
really doing it artfully from behind the window curtains.

Liza was in a bad tamper, for she was mixing the Christmas
puddings in the kitchen, and had been drawn from them, with a
raisin still on her cheek, by Nana's absurd suspicions. She
thought the best way of getting a little quiet was to take Nana
to the nursery for a moment, but in custody of course.

"There, you suspicious brute," she said, not sorry that Nana
was in disgrace. "They are perfectly safe, aren't they? Every
one of the little angels sound asleep in bed. Listen to their
gentle breathing."

Here Michael, encouraged by his success, breathed so loudly
that they were nearly detected. Nana knew that kind of
breathing, and she tried to drag herself out of Liza's clutches.

But Liza was dense. "No more of it, Nana," she said sternly,
pulling her out of the room. "I warn you if bark again I shall
go straight for 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 she wanted. Do you think she cared whether she was
whipped so long as her charges were safe? Unfortunately Liza
returned to her puddings, and Nana, seeing that no help would
come from her, strained and strained at the chain until at last
she broke it. In another moment she had burst into the dining-
room of 27 and flung up her paws to heaven, her most expressive
way of making a communication. Mr. and Mrs. Darling knew at once
that something terrible was happening in their nursery, and
without a good-bye to their hostess they rushed into the street.

But it was now ten minutes since three scoundrels had been
breathing behind 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. "I say, Peter, can you really fly?"

Instead of troubling to answer him Peter flew around the room,
taking the 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
manners again.

It looked delightfully easy, and they tried it first from the
floor and then 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 a practical boy.

"You just think lovely wonderful thoughts," Peter explained,
"and they lift you up in the air."

He showed them again.

"You're so nippy at it," John said, "couldn't you do it very
slowly once?"

Peter did it both slowly and quickly. "I've got it now,
Wendy!" cried John, 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 not know A from Z.

Of course Peter had been trifling with them, for no one can fly
unless the 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 did not quite mean to let go, but he did it, and immediately
he was borne across the room.

"I flewed!" he screamed while still in mid-air.

John let go and met Wendy near the bathroom.

"Oh, lovely!"

"Oh, ripping!"

"Look at me!"

"Look at me!"

"Look at me!"

They were not nearly so elegant as Peter, they could not help
kicking a little, but their heads were bobbing against the
ceiling, and there is almost 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 billion miles. But Wendy hesitated.

"Mermaids!" said Peter again.

"Oo!"

"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 Nana out of 27. They ran into the middle of the street to
look up at the nursery window; and, yes, it was still shut, but
the room was ablaze with light, and most heart-gripping sight of
all, they could see in shadow on the curtain three little figures
in night attire circling round 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 rushed upstairs, but Mrs. Darling signed him to go softly.
She even tried to make her heart go softly.

Will they reach the nursery in time? If so, how delightful for
them, and we shall all breathe a sigh of relief, but there will
be no story. On the other hand, if they are not in time, I
solemnly promise that it will all come right in the end.

They would have reached the nursery in time had it not been
that the little stars were watching them. Once again the stars
blew the window open, and that smallest star of all called out:

"Cave, Peter!"

Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. "Come,"
he cried imperiously, and soared out at once into the night,
followed by John and Michael and Wendy.

Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late.
The birds were flown.
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
  • 1 comment