Peter Pan en inglés

Chapter 7 THE HOME UNDER THE GROUND

One of the first things Peter did next day was to measure Wendy and John
and Michael for hollow trees. Hook, you remember, had sneered at the
boys for thinking they needed a tree apiece, but this was ignorance, for
unless your tree fitted you it was difficult to go up and down, and no
two of the boys were quite the same size. Once you fitted, you drew in
[let out] your breath at the top, and down you went at exactly the
right speed, while to ascend you drew in and let out alternately, and so
wriggled up. Of course, when you have mastered the action you are able
to do these things without thinking of them, and nothing can be more
graceful.

But you simply must fit, and Peter measures you for your tree as
carefully as for a suit of clothes: the only difference being that the
clothes are made to fit you, while you have to be made to fit the tree.
Usually it is done quite easily, as by your wearing too many garments
or too few, but if you are bumpy in awkward places or the only available
tree is an odd shape, Peter does some things to you, and after that you
fit. Once you fit, great care must be taken to go on fitting, and this,
as Wendy was to discover to her delight, keeps a whole family in perfect
condition.

Wendy and Michael fitted their trees at the first try, but John had to
be altered a little.

After a few days’ practice they could go up and down as gaily as buckets
in a well. And how ardently they grew to love their home under the
ground; especially Wendy. It consisted of one large room, as all houses
should do, with a floor in which you could dig [for worms] if you wanted
to go fishing, and in this floor grew stout mushrooms of a charming
colour, which were used as stools. A Never tree tried hard to grow in
the centre of the room, but every morning they sawed the trunk through,
level with the floor. By tea-time it was always about two feet high, and
then they put a door on top of it, the whole thus becoming a table;
as soon as they cleared away, they sawed off the trunk again, and thus
there was more room to play. There was an enormous fireplace which was
in almost any part of the room where you cared to light it, and across
this Wendy stretched strings, made of fibre, from which she suspended
her washing. The bed was tilted against the wall by day, and let down at
6:30, when it filled nearly half the room; and all the boys slept in it,
except Michael, lying like sardines in a tin. There was a strict rule
against turning round until one gave the signal, when all turned at
once. Michael should have used it also, but Wendy would have [desired]
a baby, and he was the littlest, and you know what women are, and the
short and long of it is that he was hung up in a basket.

It was rough and simple, and not unlike what baby bears would have made
of an underground house in the same circumstances. But there was one
recess in the wall, no larger than a bird-cage, which was the private
apartment of Tinker Bell. It could be shut off from the rest of
the house by a tiny curtain, which Tink, who was most fastidious
[particular], always kept drawn when dressing or undressing. No woman,
however large, could have had a more exquisite boudoir [dressing room]
and bed-chamber combined. The couch, as she always called it, was
a genuine Queen Mab, with club legs; and she varied the bedspreads
according to what fruit-blossom was in season. Her mirror was a
Puss-in-Boots, of which there are now only three, unchipped, known to
fairy dealers; the washstand was Pie-crust and reversible, the chest
of drawers an authentic Charming the Sixth, and the carpet and rugs the
best (the early) period of Margery and Robin. There was a chandelier
from Tiddlywinks for the look of the thing, but of course she lit the
residence herself. Tink was very contemptuous of the rest of the house,
as indeed was perhaps inevitable, and her chamber, though beautiful,
looked rather conceited, having the appearance of a nose permanently
turned up.

I suppose it was all especially entrancing to Wendy, because those
rampagious boys of hers gave her so much to do. Really there were whole
weeks when, except perhaps with a stocking in the evening, she was never
above ground. The cooking, I can tell you, kept her nose to the pot, and
even if there was nothing in it, even if there was no pot, she had to
keep watching that it came aboil just the same. You never exactly
knew whether there would be a real meal or just a make-believe, it all
depended upon Peter’s whim: he could eat, really eat, if it was part of
a game, but he could not stodge [cram down the food] just to feel
stodgy [stuffed with food], which is what most children like better than
anything else; the next best thing being to talk about it. Make-believe
was so real to him that during a meal of it you could see him getting
rounder. Of course it was trying, but you simply had to follow his lead,
and if you could prove to him that you were getting loose for your tree
he let you stodge.

Wendy’s favourite time for sewing and darning was after they had all
gone to bed. Then, as she expressed it, she had a breathing time for
herself; and she occupied it in making new things for them, and putting
double pieces on the knees, for they were all most frightfully hard on
their knees.

When she sat down to a basketful of their stockings, every heel with a
hole in it, she would fling up her arms and exclaim, “Oh dear, I am sure
I sometimes think spinsters are to be envied!”

Her face beamed when she exclaimed this.

You remember about her pet wolf. Well, it very soon discovered that she
had come to the island and it found her out, and they just ran into each
other’s arms. After that it followed her about everywhere.

As time wore on did she think much about the beloved parents she had
left behind her? This is a difficult question, because it is quite
impossible to say how time does wear on in the Neverland, where it is
calculated by moons and suns, and there are ever so many more of them
than on the mainland. But I am afraid that Wendy did not really worry
about her father and mother; she was absolutely confident that they
would always keep the window open for her to fly back by, and this gave
her complete ease of mind. What did disturb her at times was that John
remembered his parents vaguely only, as people he had once known, while
Michael was quite willing to believe that she was really his mother.
These things scared her a little, and nobly anxious to do her duty, she
tried to fix the old life in their minds by setting them examination
papers on it, as like as possible to the ones she used to do at school.
The other boys thought this awfully interesting, and insisted on
joining, and they made slates for themselves, and sat round the table,
writing and thinking hard about the questions she had written on another
slate and passed round. They were the most ordinary questions–“What
was the colour of Mother’s eyes? Which was taller, Father or Mother? Was
Mother blonde or brunette? Answer all three questions if possible.”
“(A) Write an essay of not less than 40 words on How I spent my last
Holidays, or The Characters of Father and Mother compared. Only one of
these to be attempted.” Or “(1) Describe Mother’s laugh; (2) Describe
Father’s laugh; (3) Describe Mother’s Party Dress; (4) Describe the
Kennel and its Inmate.”

They were just everyday questions like these, and when you could not
answer them you were told to make a cross; and it was really dreadful
what a number of crosses even John made. Of course the only boy who
replied to every question was Slightly, and no one could have been more
hopeful of coming out first, but his answers were perfectly ridiculous,
and he really came out last: a melancholy thing.

Peter did not compete. For one thing he despised all mothers except
Wendy, and for another he was the only boy on the island who could
neither write nor spell; not the smallest word. He was above all that
sort of thing.

By the way, the questions were all written in the past tense. What
was the colour of Mother’s eyes, and so on. Wendy, you see, had been
forgetting, too.

Adventures, of course, as we shall see, were of daily occurrence; but
about this time Peter invented, with Wendy’s help, a new game that
fascinated him enormously, until he suddenly had no more interest in it,
which, as you have been told, was what always happened with his games.
It consisted in pretending not to have adventures, in doing the sort of
thing John and Michael had been doing all their lives, sitting on stools
flinging balls in the air, pushing each other, going out for walks and
coming back without having killed so much as a grizzly. To see Peter
doing nothing on a stool was a great sight; he could not help looking
solemn at such times, to sit still seemed to him such a comic thing to
do. He boasted that he had gone walking for the good of his health. For
several suns these were the most novel of all adventures to him; and
John and Michael had to pretend to be delighted also; otherwise he would
have treated them severely.

He often went out alone, and when he came back you were never absolutely
certain whether he had had an adventure or not. He might have forgotten
it so completely that he said nothing about it; and then when you went
out you found the body; and, on the other hand, he might say a great
deal about it, and yet you could not find the body. Sometimes he came
home with his head bandaged, and then Wendy cooed over him and bathed
it in lukewarm water, while he told a dazzling tale. But she was never
quite sure, you know. There were, however, many adventures which she
knew to be true because she was in them herself, and there were still
more that were at least partly true, for the other boys were in them and
said they were wholly true. To describe them all would require a book as
large as an English-Latin, Latin-English Dictionary, and the most we can
do is to give one as a specimen of an average hour on the island. The
difficulty is which one to choose. Should we take the brush with the
redskins at Slightly Gulch? It was a sanguinary [cheerful] affair, and
especially interesting as showing one of Peter’s peculiarities, which
was that in the middle of a fight he would suddenly change sides. At the
Gulch, when victory was still in the balance, sometimes leaning this way
and sometimes that, he called out, “I’m redskin to-day; what are you,
Tootles?” And Tootles answered, “Redskin; what are you, Nibs?” and
Nibs said, “Redskin; what are you Twin?” and so on; and they were all
redskins; and of course this would have ended the fight had not the real
redskins fascinated by Peter’s methods, agreed to be lost boys for that
once, and so at it they all went again, more fiercely than ever.

The extraordinary upshot of this adventure was–but we have not decided
yet that this is the adventure we are to narrate. Perhaps a better one
would be the night attack by the redskins on the house under the ground,
when several of them stuck in the hollow trees and had to be pulled out
like corks. Or we might tell how Peter saved Tiger Lily’s life in the
Mermaids’ Lagoon, and so made her his ally.

Or we could tell of that cake the pirates cooked so that the boys might
eat it and perish; and how they placed it in one cunning spot after
another; but always Wendy snatched it from the hands of her children, so
that in time it lost its succulence, and became as hard as a stone, and
was used as a missile, and Hook fell over it in the dark.

Or suppose we tell of the birds that were Peter’s friends, particularly
of the Never bird that built in a tree overhanging the lagoon, and how
the nest fell into the water, and still the bird sat on her eggs, and
Peter gave orders that she was not to be disturbed. That is a pretty
story, and the end shows how grateful a bird can be; but if we tell
it we must also tell the whole adventure of the lagoon, which would
of course be telling two adventures rather than just one. A shorter
adventure, and quite as exciting, was Tinker Bell’s attempt, with the
help of some street fairies, to have the sleeping Wendy conveyed on a
great floating leaf to the mainland. Fortunately the leaf gave way and
Wendy woke, thinking it was bath-time, and swam back. Or again, we might
choose Peter’s defiance of the lions, when he drew a circle round him
on the ground with an arrow and dared them to cross it; and though he
waited for hours, with the other boys and Wendy looking on breathlessly
from trees, not one of them dared to accept his challenge.

Which of these adventures shall we choose? The best way will be to toss
for it.

I have tossed, and the lagoon has won. This almost makes one wish that
the gulch or the cake or Tink’s leaf had won. Of course I could do it
again, and make it best out of three; however, perhaps fairest to stick
to the lagoon.

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