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Food delivery in Leigh Looking for food delivery in Leigh? It was a lesson in propriety to see her escorting the children to school, walking sedately by their side when they were well behaved, and butting them back into line if they strayed.
There is a room in the basement of Miss Fulsom's school where the nurses wait. They sat on forms, while Nana lay on the floor, but that was the only difference.
They affected to ignore her as of an inferior social status to themselves, and she despised their light talk.
She resented visits to the nursery from Mrs. Darling's friends, but if they did come she first whipped off Michael's pinafore and put him into the one with blue braiding, and smoothed out Wendy and made a dash at John's hair.
No nursery could possibly have been conducted more correctly, and Mr. Darling knew it, yet he sometimes wondered uneasily whether the neighbours talked.
Nana also troubled him in another way. He had sometimes a feeling that she did not admire him. Darling would assure him, and then she would sign to the children to be specially nice to father.
Lovely dances followed, in which the only other servant, Liza, was sometimes allowed to join. Such a midget she looked in her long skirt and maid's cap, though she had sworn, when engaged, that she would never see ten again.
The gaiety of those romps! And gayest of all was Mrs. Darling, who would pirouette so wildly that all you could see of her was the kiss, and then if you had dashed at her you might have got it.
There never was a simpler happier family until the coming of Peter Pan. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds.
It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.
If you could keep awake but of course you can't you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her.
It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight.
When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.
I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child's mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time.
There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose.
It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.
Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it.
John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together.
John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other's nose, and so forth.
On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles [simple boat]. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
Of all delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed.
When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very real.
That is why there are night-lights. Occasionally in her travels through her children's minds Mrs. Darling found things she could not understand, and of these quite the most perplexing was the word Peter.
She knew of no Peter, and yet he was here and there in John and Michael's minds, while Wendy's began to be scrawled all over with him. The name stood out in bolder letters than any of the other words, and as Mrs.
Darling gazed she felt that it had an oddly cocky appearance. Her mother had been questioning her. At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies.
There were odd stories about him, as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened.
She had believed in him at the time, but now that she was married and full of sense she quite doubted whether there was any such person.
Darling consulted Mr. Darling, but he smiled pooh-pooh. Leave it alone, and it will blow over. But it would not blow over and soon the troublesome boy gave Mrs.
Darling quite a shock. Children have the strangest adventures without being troubled by them. For instance, they may remember to mention, a week after the event happened, that when they were in the wood they had met their dead father and had a game with him.
It was in this casual way that Wendy one morning made a disquieting revelation. Some leaves of a tree had been found on the nursery floor, which certainly were not there when the children went to bed, and Mrs.
Darling was puzzling over them when Wendy said with a tolerant smile:. She was a tidy child. She explained in quite a matter-of-fact way that she thought Peter sometimes came to the nursery in the night and sat on the foot of her bed and played on his pipes to her.
Unfortunately she never woke, so she didn't know how she knew, she just knew. No one can get into the house without knocking.
Darling did not know what to think, for it all seemed so natural to Wendy that you could not dismiss it by saying she had been dreaming.
But, on the other hand, there were the leaves. Darling examined them very carefully; they were skeleton leaves, but she was sure they did not come from any tree that grew in England.
She crawled about the floor, peering at it with a candle for marks of a strange foot. She rattled the poker up the chimney and tapped the walls.
She let down a tape from the window to the pavement, and it was a sheer drop of thirty feet, without so much as a spout to climb up by.
But Wendy had not been dreaming, as the very next night showed, the night on which the extraordinary adventures of these children may be said to have begun.
On the night we speak of all the children were once more in bed. It happened to be Nana's evening off, and Mrs.
Darling had bathed them and sung to them till one by one they had let go her hand and slid away into the land of sleep. All were looking so safe and cosy that she smiled at her fears now and sat down tranquilly by the fire to sew.
It was something for Michael, who on his birthday was getting into shirts. The fire was warm, however, and the nursery dimly lit by three night-lights, and presently the sewing lay on Mrs.
Darling's lap. Then her head nodded, oh, so gracefully. She was asleep. Look at the four of them, Wendy and Michael over there, John here, and Mrs.
Darling by the fire. There should have been a fourth night-light. While she slept she had a dream. She dreamt that the Neverland had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from it.
He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him before in the faces of many women who have no children.
Perhaps he is to be found in the faces of some mothers also. But in her dream he had rent the film that obscures the Neverland, and she saw Wendy and John and Michael peeping through the gap.
The dream by itself would have been a trifle, but while she was dreaming the window of the nursery blew open, and a boy did drop on the floor.
He was accompanied by a strange light, no bigger than your fist, which darted about the room like a living thing and I think it must have been this light that wakened Mrs.
She started up with a cry, and saw the boy, and somehow she knew at once that he was Peter Pan. If you or I or Wendy had been there we should have seen that he was very like Mrs.
Darling's kiss. He was a lovely boy, clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that ooze out of trees but the most entrancing thing about him was that he had all his first teeth.
When he saw she was a grown-up, he gnashed the little pearls at her. Darling screamed, and, as if in answer to a bell, the door opened, and Nana entered, returned from her evening out.
She growled and sprang at the boy, who leapt lightly through the window. Again Mrs. Darling screamed, this time in distress for him, for she thought he was killed, and she ran down into the street to look for his little body, but it was not there; and she looked up, and in the black night she could see nothing but what she thought was a shooting star.
She returned to the nursery, and found Nana with something in her mouth, which proved to be the boy's shadow.
As he leapt at the window Nana had closed it quickly, too late to catch him, but his shadow had not had time to get out; slam went the window and snapped it off.
You may be sure Mrs. Darling examined the shadow carefully, but it was quite the ordinary kind. Nana had no doubt of what was the best thing to do with this shadow.
But unfortunately Mrs. Darling could not leave it hanging out at the window, it looked so like the washing and lowered the whole tone of the house.
She thought of showing it to Mr. She decided to roll the shadow up and put it away carefully in a drawer, until a fitting opportunity came for telling her husband.
Ah me! The opportunity came a week later, on that never-to-be-forgotten Friday. Of course it was a Friday.
I, George Darling, did it. They sat thus night after night recalling that fatal Friday, till every detail of it was stamped on their brains and came through on the other side like the faces on a bad coinage.
Darling said. Darling who put the handkerchief to Nana's eyes. Darling would cry, and Nana's bark was the echo of it, but Mrs.
Darling never upbraided Peter; there was something in the right-hand corner of her mouth that wanted her not to call Peter names.
They would sit there in the empty nursery, recalling fondly every smallest detail of that dreadful evening. It had begun so uneventfully, so precisely like a hundred other evenings, with Nana putting on the water for Michael's bath and carrying him to it on her back.
Nana, it isn't six o'clock yet. Oh dear, oh dear, I shan't love you any more, Nana. I tell you I won't be bathed, I won't, I won't!
Then Mrs. Darling had come in, wearing her white evening-gown. She had dressed early because Wendy so loved to see her in her evening-gown, with the necklace George had given her.
She was wearing Wendy's bracelet on her arm; she had asked for the loan of it. Wendy loved to lend her bracelet to her mother.
She had found her two older children playing at being herself and father on the occasion of Wendy's birth, and John was saying:.
Darling himself may have used on the real occasion. Then John was born, with the extra pomp that he conceived due to the birth of a male, and Michael came from his bath to ask to be born also, but John said brutally that they did not want any more.
Michael had nearly cried. Then he had leapt into her arms. Such a little thing for Mr. Darling and Nana to recall now, but not so little if that was to be Michael's last night in the nursery.
Darling would say, scorning himself; and indeed he had been like a tornado. Perhaps there was some excuse for him.
He, too, had been dressing for the party, and all had gone well with him until he came to his tie. It is an astounding thing to have to tell, but this man, though he knew about stocks and shares, had no real mastery of his tie.
Sometimes the thing yielded to him without a contest, but there were occasions when it would have been better for the house if he had swallowed his pride and used a made-up tie.
This was such an occasion. He came rushing into the nursery with the crumpled little brute of a tie in his hand.
Round the bed-post! Oh yes, twenty times have I made it up round the bed-post, but round my neck, no!
Oh dear no! He thought Mrs. Even then Mrs. Darling was placid. Some men would have resented her being able to do it so easily, but Mr. Darling had far too fine a nature for that; he thanked her carelessly, at once forgot his rage, and in another moment was dancing round the room with Michael on his back.
The romp had ended with the appearance of Nana, and most unluckily Mr. Darling collided against her, covering his trousers with hairs. They were not only new trousers, but they were the first he had ever had with braid on them, and he had had to bite his lip to prevent the tears coming.
Of course Mrs. Darling brushed him, but he began to talk again about its being a mistake to have a dog for a nurse. At first he pooh-poohed the story, but he became thoughtful when she showed him the shadow.
You will never carry the bottle in your mouth again, Nana, and it is all my fault. Strong man though he was, there is no doubt that he had behaved rather foolishly over the medicine.
Darling left the room to get a chocolate for him, and Mr. Darling thought this showed want of firmness. I said, 'Thank you, kind parents, for giving me bottles to make me well.
He had not exactly lost it; he had climbed in the dead of night to the top of the wardrobe and hidden it there. What he did not know was that the faithful Liza had found it, and put it back on his wash-stand.
Immediately his spirits sank in the strangest way. It's that nasty, sticky, sweet kind. Wendy gave the words, one, two, three, and Michael took his medicine, but Mr.
Darling slipped his behind his back. Darling demanded. I meant to take mine, but I—I missed it. It was dreadful the way all the three were looking at him, just as if they did not admire him.
I shall pour my medicine into Nana's bowl, and she will drink it, thinking it is milk! It was the colour of milk; but the children did not have their father's sense of humour, and they looked at him reproachfully as he poured the medicine into Nana's bowl.
Darling and Nana returned. Nana wagged her tail, ran to the medicine, and began lapping it. Then she gave Mr. Darling such a look, not an angry look: she showed him the great red tear that makes us so sorry for noble dogs, and crept into her kennel.
Darling was frightfully ashamed of himself, but he would not give in. In a horrid silence Mrs. Darling smelt the bowl. And still Wendy hugged Nana.
Nobody coddles me. I am only the breadwinner, why should I be coddled—why, why, why! But I refuse to allow that dog to lord it in my nursery for an hour longer.
The children wept, and Nana ran to him beseechingly, but he waved her back. He felt he was a strong man again. Alas, he would not listen. He was determined to show who was master in that house, and when commands would not draw Nana from the kennel, he lured her out of it with honeyed words, and seizing her roughly, dragged her from the nursery.
He was ashamed of himself, and yet he did it. It was all owing to his too affectionate nature, which craved for admiration.
When he had tied her up in the back-yard, the wretched father went and sat in the passage, with his knuckles to his eyes. In the meantime Mrs.
Darling had put the children to bed in unwonted silence and lit their night-lights. Darling quivered and went to the window. It was securely fastened.
She looked out, and the night was peppered with stars. They were crowding round the house, as if curious to see what was to take place there, but she did not notice this, nor that one or two of the smaller ones winked at her.
She went from bed to bed singing enchantments over them, and little Michael flung his arms round her. They were already the only persons in the street, and all the stars were watching them.
Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was.
So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak winking is the star language , but the little ones still wonder.
They are not really friendly to Peter, who had a mischievous way of stealing up behind them and trying to blow them out; but they are so fond of fun that they were on his side to-night, and anxious to get the grown-ups out of the way.
So as soon as the door of 27 closed on Mr. Darling there was a commotion in the firmament, and the smallest of all the stars in the Milky Way screamed out:.
For a moment after Mr. 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.
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.
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. 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. She was already sure that he must be Peter, but it did seem a comparatively short name.
He felt for the first time that it was a shortish name. Peter had a sinking. For the first time he felt that perhaps it was a funny address.
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. Besides, I wasn't crying. Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled, and she was frightfully sorry for Peter.
How exactly like a boy! Fortunately she knew at once what to do. But she was exulting in his ignorance.
And he clenched his teeth and did not cry, and soon his shadow was behaving properly, though still a little creased. Alas, he had already forgotten that he owed his bliss to Wendy.
He thought he had attached the shadow himself. 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. 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.
I can't help crowing, Wendy, when I'm pleased with myself. Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very many inches, and she peeped out of the bed-clothes.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. Wendy's heart went flutter with a sudden thrill.
The sound came 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. He let poor Tink out of the drawer, and she flew about the nursery screaming with fury.
Wendy was not listening to him. He had to translate. She says you are a great [huge] ugly girl, and that she is my fairy.
He tried to argue with Tink. They were together in the armchair by this time, and Wendy plied him with more questions. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses.
I'm captain. You see we have no female companionship. This flattered Wendy immensely. 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.
For the moment she had forgotten his ignorance about kisses. Peter thimbled her, and almost immediately she screeched. None of the lost boys knows any stories.
It is to listen to the stories. O Wendy, your mother was telling you such a lovely story. Peter was so glad that he rose from the floor, where they had been sitting, and hurried to the window.
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.
Think of mummy! Besides, I can't fly. He had become frightfully cunning. She was wriggling her body in distress.
It was quite as if she were trying to remain on the nursery floor. None of us has any pockets. How could she resist. John rubbed his eyes. Of course he was on the floor already.
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. 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 temper, 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. 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. 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.
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.
Instead of troubling to answer him Peter flew around the room, taking the mantelpiece on the way. 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.
He was quite a practical boy. Peter did it both slowly and quickly. 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.
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.
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. Michael was ready: he wanted to see how long it took him to do a billion miles.
But Wendy hesitated. It was just at this moment that Mr. Darling hurried with Nana out of 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.
In a tremble they opened the street door. 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:.
Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late. The birds were flown.
That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners, could not have sighted it with these instructions.
Peter, you see, just said anything that came into his head. At first his companions trusted him implicitly, and so great were the delights of flying that they wasted time circling round church spires or any other tall objects on the way that took their fancy.
They recalled with contempt that not so long ago they had thought themselves fine fellows for being able to fly round a room.
Not long ago. But how long ago? They were flying over the sea before this thought began to disturb Wendy seriously. John thought it was their second sea and their third night.
Sometimes it was dark and sometimes light, and now they were very cold and again too warm. Did they really feel hungry at times, or were they merely pretending, because Peter had such a jolly new way of feeding them?
His way was to pursue birds who had food in their mouths suitable for humans and snatch it from them; then the birds would follow and snatch it back; and they would all go chasing each other gaily for miles, parting at last with mutual expressions of good-will.
But Wendy noticed with gentle concern that Peter did not seem to know that this was rather an odd way of getting your bread and butter, nor even that there are other ways.
Certainly they did not pretend to be sleepy, they were sleepy; and that was a danger, for the moment they popped off, down they fell.
The awful thing was that Peter thought this funny. Eventually Peter would dive through the air, and catch Michael just before he could strike the sea, and it was lovely the way he did it; but he always waited till the last moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life.
Also he was fond of variety, and the sport that engrossed him one moment would suddenly cease to engage him, so there was always the possibility that the next time you fell he would let you go.
He could sleep in the air without falling, by merely lying on his back and floating, but this was, partly at least, because he was so light that if you got behind him and blew he went faster.
When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the water and touch each shark's tail in passing, just as in the street you may run your finger along an iron railing.
They could not follow him in this with much success, so perhaps it was rather like showing off, especially as he kept looking behind to see how many tails they missed.
We should have to go on, for we don't know how to stop. John said that if the worst came to the worst, all they had to do was to go straight on, for the world was round, and so in time they must come back to their own window.
Indeed they were constantly bumping. They could now fly strongly, though they still kicked far too much; but if they saw a cloud in front of them, the more they tried to avoid it, the more certainly did they bump into it.
If Nana had been with them, she would have had a bandage round Michael's forehead by this time. Peter was not with them for the moment, and they felt rather lonely up there by themselves.
He could go so much faster than they that he would suddenly shoot out of sight, to have some adventure in which they had no share.
He would come down laughing over something fearfully funny he had been saying to a star, but he had already forgotten what it was, or he would come up with mermaid scales still sticking to him, and yet not be able to say for certain what had been happening.
It was really rather irritating to children who had never seen a mermaid. Indeed, sometimes when he returned he did not remember them, at least not well.
Wendy was sure of it. She saw recognition come into his eyes as he was about to pass them the time of day and go on; once even she had to call him by name.
He was very sorry. Of course this was rather unsatisfactory. However, to make amends he showed them how to lie out flat on a strong wind that was going their way, and this was such a pleasant change that they tried it several times and found that they could sleep thus with security.
It is only thus that any one may sight those magic shores. Indeed a million golden arrows were pointing it out to the children, all directed by their friend the sun, who wanted them to be sure of their way before leaving them for the night.
Wendy and John and Michael stood on tip-toe in the air to get their first sight of the island. Strange to say, they all recognized it at once, and until fear fell upon them they hailed it, not as something long dreamt of and seen at last, but as a familiar friend to whom they were returning home for the holidays.
Wendy, I do believe that's your little whelp! I say, John, I see the smoke of the redskin camp! Show me, and I'll tell you by the way smoke curls whether they are on the war-path.
Peter was a little annoyed with them for knowing so much, but if he wanted to lord it over them his triumph was at hand, for have I not told you that anon fear fell upon them?
In the old days at home the Neverland had always begun to look a little dark and threatening by bedtime.
Then unexplored patches arose in it and spread, black shadows moved about in them, the roar of the beasts of prey was quite different now, and above all, you lost the certainty that you would win.
You were quite glad that the night-lights were on. You even liked Nana to say that this was just the mantelpiece over here, and that the Neverland was all make-believe.
Of course the Neverland had been make-believe in those days, but it was real now, and there were no night-lights, and it was getting darker every moment, and where was Nana?
They had been flying apart, but they huddled close to Peter now. His careless manner had gone at last, his eyes were sparkling, and a tingle went through them every time they touched his body.
They were now over the fearsome island, flying so low that sometimes a tree grazed their feet. Nothing horrid was visible in the air, yet their progress had become slow and laboured, exactly as if they were pushing their way through hostile forces.
Sometimes they hung in the air until Peter had beaten on it with his fists. But he could not or would not say. Tinker Bell had been asleep on his shoulder, but now he wakened her and sent her on in front.
Sometimes he poised himself in the air, listening intently, with his hand to his ear, and again he would stare down with eyes so bright that they seemed to bore two holes to earth.
Having done these things, he went on again. His courage was almost appalling. Peter spoke indignantly.
I would wake him first, and then kill him. That's the way I always do. He asked if there were many pirates on the island just now, and Peter said he had never known so many.
Then indeed Michael began to cry, and even John could speak in gulps only, for they knew Hook's reputation. He is the only man of whom Barbecue was afraid.
For the moment they were feeling less eerie, because Tink was flying with them, and in her light they could distinguish each other.
Unfortunately she could not fly so slowly as they, and so she had to go round and round them in a circle in which they moved as in a halo.
Wendy quite liked it, until Peter pointed out the drawbacks. And of course they must see her light, and if they guess we are near it they are sure to let fly.
You don't think I would send her away all by herself when she is frightened! For a moment the circle of light was broken, and something gave Peter a loving little pinch.
That is about the only thing fairies can't do. It just goes out of itself when she falls asleep, same as the stars. It is the only other thing fairies can't do.
Tink agreed to travel by hat if it was carried in the hand. John carried it, though she had hoped to be carried by Peter. Presently Wendy took the hat, because John said it struck against his knee as he flew; and this, as we shall see, led to mischief, for Tinker Bell hated to be under an obligation to Wendy.
In the black topper the light was completely hidden, and they flew on in silence. It was the stillest silence they had ever known, broken once by a distant lapping, which Peter explained was the wild beasts drinking at the ford, and again by a rasping sound that might have been the branches of trees rubbing together, but he said it was the redskins sharpening their knives.
Even these noises ceased. To Michael the loneliness was dreadful. As if in answer to his request, the air was rent by the most tremendous crash he had ever heard.
The pirates had fired Long Tom at them. Thus sharply did the terrified three learn the difference between an island of make-believe and the same island come true.
When at last the heavens were steady again, John and Michael found themselves alone in the darkness.
John was treading the air mechanically, and Michael without knowing how to float was floating. We know now that no one had been hit.
Peter, however, had been carried by the wind of the shot far out to sea, while Wendy was blown upwards with no companion but Tinker Bell.
I don't know whether the idea came suddenly to Tink, or whether she had planned it on the way, but she at once popped out of the hat and began to lure Wendy to her destruction.
Tink was not all bad; or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.
They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change. At present she was full of jealousy of Wendy. What else could poor Wendy do?
She called to Peter and John and Michael, and got only mocking echoes in reply. She did not yet know that Tink hated her with the fierce hatred of a very woman.
And so, bewildered, and now staggering in her flight, she followed Tink to her doom. Feeling that Peter was on his way back, the Neverland had again woke into life.
We ought to use the pluperfect and say wakened, but woke is better and was always used by Peter. In his absence things are usually quiet on the island.
The fairies take an hour longer in the morning, the beasts attend to their young, the redskins feed heavily for six days and nights, and when pirates and lost boys meet they merely bite their thumbs at each other.
But with the coming of Peter, who hates lethargy, they are under way again: if you put your ear to the ground now, you would hear the whole island seething with life.
On this evening the chief forces of the island were disposed as follows. The lost boys were out looking for Peter, the pirates were out looking for the lost boys, the redskins were out looking for the pirates, and the beasts were out looking for the redskins.
They were going round and round the island, but they did not meet because all were going at the same rate. All wanted blood except the boys, who liked it as a rule, but to-night were out to greet their captain.
The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.
Let us pretend to lie here among the sugar-cane and watch them as they steal by in single file, each with his hand on his dagger.
They are forbidden by Peter to look in the least like him, and they wear the skins of the bears slain by themselves, in which they are so round and furry that when they fall they roll.
They have therefore become very sure-footed. The first to pass is Tootles, not the least brave but the most unfortunate of all that gallant band.
He had been in fewer adventures than any of them, because the big things constantly happened just when he had stepped round the corner; all would be quiet, he would take the opportunity of going off to gather a few sticks for firewood, and then when he returned the others would be sweeping up the blood.
This ill-luck had given a gentle melancholy to his countenance, but instead of souring his nature had sweetened it, so that he was quite the humblest of the boys.
Poor kind Tootles, there is danger in the air for you to-night. Take care lest an adventure is now offered you, which, if accepted, will plunge you in deepest woe.
Tootles, the fairy Tink, who is bent on mischief this night is looking for a tool [for doing her mischief], and she thinks you are the most easily tricked of the boys.
Would that he could hear us, but we are not really on the island, and he passes by, biting his knuckles. Next comes Nibs, the gay and debonair, followed by Slightly, who cuts whistles out of the trees and dances ecstatically to his own tunes.
Slightly is the most conceited of the boys. He thinks he remembers the days before he was lost, with their manners and customs, and this has given his nose an offensive tilt.
Last come the Twins, who cannot be described because we should be sure to be describing the wrong one. Peter never quite knew what twins were, and his band were not allowed to know anything he did not know, so these two were always vague about themselves, and did their best to give satisfaction by keeping close together in an apologetic sort of way.
The boys vanish in the gloom, and after a pause, but not a long pause, for things go briskly on the island, come the pirates on their track.
We hear them before they are seen, and it is always the same dreadful song:. A more villainous-looking lot never hung in a row on Execution dock.
Here, a little in advance, ever and again with his head to the ground listening, his great arms bare, pieces of eight in his ears as ornaments, is the handsome Italian Cecco, who cut his name in letters of blood on the back of the governor of the prison at Gao.
That gigantic black behind him has had many names since he dropped the one with which dusky mothers still terrify their children on the banks of the Guadjo-mo.
Here is Bill Jukes, every inch of him tattooed, the same Bill Jukes who got six dozen on the WALRUS from Flint before he would drop the bag of moidores [Portuguese gold pieces]; and Cookson, said to be Black Murphy's brother but this was never proved , and Gentleman Starkey, once an usher in a public school and still dainty in his ways of killing; and Skylights Morgan's Skylights ; and the Irish bo'sun Smee, an oddly genial man who stabbed, so to speak, without offence, and was the only Non-conformist in Hook's crew; and Noodler, whose hands were fixed on backwards; and Robt.
Mullins and Alf Mason and many another ruffian long known and feared on the Spanish Main. In the midst of them, the blackest and largest in that dark setting, reclined James Hook, or as he wrote himself, Jas.
Hook, of whom it is said he was the only man that the Sea-Cook feared. He lay at his ease in a rough chariot drawn and propelled by his men, and instead of a right hand he had the iron hook with which ever and anon he encouraged them to increase their pace.
As dogs this terrible man treated and addressed them, and as dogs they obeyed him. In person he was cadaverous [dead looking] and blackavized [dark faced], and his hair was dressed in long curls, which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave a singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance.
His eyes were of the blue of the forget-me-not, and of a profound melancholy, save when he was plunging his hook into you, at which time two red spots appeared in them and lit them up horribly.
He was never more sinister than when he was most polite, which is probably the truest test of breeding; and the elegance of his diction, even when he was swearing, no less than the distinction of his demeanour, showed him one of a different cast from his crew.
A man of indomitable courage, it was said that the only thing he shied at was the sight of his own blood, which was thick and of an unusual colour.
In dress he somewhat aped the attire associated with the name of Charles II, having heard it said in some earlier period of his career that he bore a strange resemblance to the ill-fated Stuarts; and in his mouth he had a holder of his own contrivance which enabled him to smoke two cigars at once.
But undoubtedly the grimmest part of him was his iron claw. Let us now kill a pirate, to show Hook's method.
Skylights will do. As they pass, Skylights lurches clumsily against him, ruffling his lace collar; the hook shoots forth, there is a tearing sound and one screech, then the body is kicked aside, and the pirates pass on.
He has not even taken the cigars from his mouth. On the trail of the pirates, stealing noiselessly down the war-path, which is not visible to inexperienced eyes, come the redskins, every one of them with his eyes peeled.
They carry tomahawks and knives, and their naked bodies gleam with paint and oil. Strung around them are scalps, of boys as well as of pirates, for these are the Piccaninny tribe, and not to be confused with the softer-hearted Delawares or the Hurons.
In the van, on all fours, is Great Big Little Panther, a brave of so many scalps that in his present position they somewhat impede his progress.
Bringing up the rear, the place of greatest danger, comes Tiger Lily, proudly erect, a princess in her own right. Observe how they pass over fallen twigs without making the slightest noise.
The only sound to be heard is their somewhat heavy breathing. The fact is that they are all a little fat just now after the heavy gorging, but in time they will work this off.
For the moment, however, it constitutes their chief danger. The redskins disappear as they have come like shadows, and soon their place is taken by the beasts, a great and motley procession: lions, tigers, bears, and the innumerable smaller savage things that flee from them, for every kind of beast, and, more particularly, all the man-eaters, live cheek by jowl on the favoured island.
Their tongues are hanging out, they are hungry to-night. When they have passed, comes the last figure of all, a gigantic crocodile.
We shall see for whom she is looking presently. The crocodile passes, but soon the boys appear again, for the procession must continue indefinitely until one of the parties stops or changes its pace.
Then quickly they will be on top of each other. All are keeping a sharp look-out in front, but none suspects that the danger may be creeping up from behind.
This shows how real the island was. The first to fall out of the moving circle was the boys. They flung themselves down on the sward [turf], close to their underground home.