Chapter 10 THE HAPPY HOME
One important result of the brush [with the pirates] on the lagoon was
that it made the redskins their friends. Peter had saved Tiger Lily from
a dreadful fate, and now there was nothing she and her braves would not
do for him. All night they sat above, keeping watch over the home under
the ground and awaiting the big attack by the pirates which obviously
could not be much longer delayed. Even by day they hung about, smoking
the pipe of peace, and looking almost as if they wanted tit-bits to eat.
They called Peter the Great White Father, prostrating themselves [lying
down] before him; and he liked this tremendously, so that it was not
really good for him.
«The great white father,» he would say to them in a very lordly manner,
as they grovelled at his feet, «is glad to see the Piccaninny warriors
protecting his wigwam from the pirates.»
«Me Tiger Lily,» that lovely creature would reply. «Peter Pan save me,
me his velly nice friend. Me no let pirates hurt him.»
She was far too pretty to cringe in this way, but Peter thought it his
due, and he would answer condescendingly, «It is good. Peter Pan has
Always when he said, «Peter Pan has spoken,» it meant that they must now
shut up, and they accepted it humbly in that spirit; but they were by
no means so respectful to the other boys, whom they looked upon as just
ordinary braves. They said «How-do?» to them, and things like that; and
what annoyed the boys was that Peter seemed to think this all right.
Secretly Wendy sympathised with them a little, but she was far too loyal
a housewife to listen to any complaints against father. «Father knows
best,» she always said, whatever her private opinion must be. Her
private opinion was that the redskins should not call her a squaw.
We have now reached the evening that was to be known among them as the
Night of Nights, because of its adventures and their upshot. The day, as
if quietly gathering its forces, had been almost uneventful, and now the
redskins in their blankets were at their posts above, while, below, the
children were having their evening meal; all except Peter, who had gone
out to get the time. The way you got the time on the island was to find
the crocodile, and then stay near him till the clock struck.
The meal happened to be a make-believe tea, and they sat around the
board, guzzling in their greed; and really, what with their chatter and
recriminations, the noise, as Wendy said, was positively deafening.
To be sure, she did not mind noise, but she simply would not have them
grabbing things, and then excusing themselves by saying that Tootles had
pushed their elbow. There was a fixed rule that they must never hit back
at meals, but should refer the matter of dispute to Wendy by raising
the right arm politely and saying, «I complain of so-and-so;» but what
usually happened was that they forgot to do this or did it too much.
«Silence,» cried Wendy when for the twentieth time she had told them
that they were not all to speak at once. «Is your mug empty, Slightly
«Not quite empty, mummy,» Slightly said, after looking into an imaginary
«He hasn’t even begun to drink his milk,» Nibs interposed.
This was telling, and Slightly seized his chance.
«I complain of Nibs,» he cried promptly.
John, however, had held up his hand first.
«May I sit in Peter’s chair, as he is not here?»
«Sit in father’s chair, John!» Wendy was scandalised. «Certainly not.»
«He is not really our father,» John answered. «He didn’t even know how a
father does till I showed him.»
This was grumbling. «We complain of John,» cried the twins.
Tootles held up his hand. He was so much the humblest of them, indeed he
was the only humble one, that Wendy was specially gentle with him.
«I don’t suppose,» Tootles said diffidently [bashfully or timidly],
«that I could be father.»
Once Tootles began, which was not very often, he had a silly way of
«As I can’t be father,» he said heavily, «I don’t suppose, Michael, you
would let me be baby?»
«No, I won’t,» Michael rapped out. He was already in his basket.
«As I can’t be baby,» Tootles said, getting heavier and heavier and
heavier, «do you think I could be a twin?»
«No, indeed,» replied the twins; «it’s awfully difficult to be a twin.»
«As I can’t be anything important,» said Tootles, «would any of you like
to see me do a trick?»
«No,» they all replied.
Then at last he stopped. «I hadn’t really any hope,» he said.
The hateful telling broke out again.
«Slightly is coughing on the table.»
«The twins began with cheese-cakes.»
«Curly is taking both butter and honey.»
«Nibs is speaking with his mouth full.»
«I complain of the twins.»
«I complain of Curly.»
«I complain of Nibs.»
«Oh dear, oh dear,» cried Wendy, «I’m sure I sometimes think that
spinsters are to be envied.»
She told them to clear away, and sat down to her work-basket, a heavy
load of stockings and every knee with a hole in it as usual.
«Wendy,» remonstrated [scolded] Michael, «I’m too big for a cradle.»
«I must have somebody in a cradle,» she said almost tartly, «and you
are the littlest. A cradle is such a nice homely thing to have about a
While she sewed they played around her; such a group of happy faces
and dancing limbs lit up by that romantic fire. It had become a very
familiar scene, this, in the home under the ground, but we are looking
on it for the last time.
There was a step above, and Wendy, you may be sure, was the first to
«Children, I hear your father’s step. He likes you to meet him at the
Above, the redskins crouched before Peter.
«Watch well, braves. I have spoken.»
And then, as so often before, the gay children dragged him from his
tree. As so often before, but never again.
He had brought nuts for the boys as well as the correct time for Wendy.
«Peter, you just spoil them, you know,» Wendy simpered [exaggerated a
«Ah, old lady,» said Peter, hanging up his gun.
«It was me told him mothers are called old lady,» Michael whispered to
«I complain of Michael,» said Curly instantly.
The first twin came to Peter. «Father, we want to dance.»
«Dance away, my little man,» said Peter, who was in high good humour.
«But we want you to dance.»
Peter was really the best dancer among them, but he pretended to be
«Me! My old bones would rattle!»
«And mummy too.»
«What,» cried Wendy, «the mother of such an armful, dance!»
«But on a Saturday night,» Slightly insinuated.
It was not really Saturday night, at least it may have been, for
they had long lost count of the days; but always if they wanted to do
anything special they said this was Saturday night, and then they did
«Of course it is Saturday night, Peter,» Wendy said, relenting.
«People of our figure, Wendy!»
«But it is only among our own progeny [children].»
So they were told they could dance, but they must put on their nighties
«Ah, old lady,» Peter said aside to Wendy, warming himself by the fire
and looking down at her as she sat turning a heel, «there is nothing
more pleasant of an evening for you and me when the day’s toil is over
than to rest by the fire with the little ones near by.»
«It is sweet, Peter, isn’t it?» Wendy said, frightfully gratified.
«Peter, I think Curly has your nose.»
«Michael takes after you.»
She went to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
«Dear Peter,» she said, «with such a large family, of course, I have now
passed my best, but you don’t want to [ex]change me, do you?»
Certainly he did not want a change, but he looked at her uncomfortably,
blinking, you know, like one not sure whether he was awake or asleep.
«Peter, what is it?»
«I was just thinking,» he said, a little scared. «It is only
make-believe, isn’t it, that I am their father?»
«Oh yes,» Wendy said primly [formally and properly].
«You see,» he continued apologetically, «it would make me seem so old to
be their real father.»
«But they are ours, Peter, yours and mine.»
«But not really, Wendy?» he asked anxiously.
«Not if you don’t wish it,» she replied; and she distinctly heard his
sigh of relief. «Peter,» she asked, trying to speak firmly, «what are
your exact feelings to [about] me?»
«Those of a devoted son, Wendy.»
«I thought so,» she said, and went and sat by herself at the extreme end
of the room.
«You are so queer,» he said, frankly puzzled, «and Tiger Lily is just
the same. There is something she wants to be to me, but she says it is
not my mother.»
«No, indeed, it is not,» Wendy replied with frightful emphasis. Now we
know why she was prejudiced against the redskins.
«Then what is it?»
«It isn’t for a lady to tell.»
«Oh, very well,» Peter said, a little nettled. «Perhaps Tinker Bell will
«Oh yes, Tinker Bell will tell you,» Wendy retorted scornfully. «She is
an abandoned little creature.»
Here Tink, who was in her bedroom, eavesdropping, squeaked out something
«She says she glories in being abandoned,» Peter interpreted.
He had a sudden idea. «Perhaps Tink wants to be my mother?»
«You silly ass!» cried Tinker Bell in a passion.
She had said it so often that Wendy needed no translation.
«I almost agree with her,» Wendy snapped. Fancy Wendy snapping! But she
had been much tried, and she little knew what was to happen before the
night was out. If she had known she would not have snapped.
None of them knew. Perhaps it was best not to know. Their ignorance
gave them one more glad hour; and as it was to be their last hour on the
island, let us rejoice that there were sixty glad minutes in it. They
sang and danced in their night-gowns. Such a deliciously creepy song
it was, in which they pretended to be frightened at their own shadows,
little witting that so soon shadows would close in upon them, from whom
they would shrink in real fear. So uproariously gay was the dance, and
how they buffeted each other on the bed and out of it! It was a pillow
fight rather than a dance, and when it was finished, the pillows
insisted on one bout more, like partners who know that they may never
meet again. The stories they told, before it was time for Wendy’s
good-night story! Even Slightly tried to tell a story that night, but
the beginning was so fearfully dull that it appalled not only the others
but himself, and he said happily:
«Yes, it is a dull beginning. I say, let us pretend that it is the end.»
And then at last they all got into bed for Wendy’s story, the story they
loved best, the story Peter hated. Usually when she began to tell this
story he left the room or put his hands over his ears; and possibly if
he had done either of those things this time they might all still be on
the island. But to-night he remained on his stool; and we shall see what