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 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
then 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 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 a baby, and he was
the littlest, and you know what women are, and the short and the
long of it is that he was hung up in a basket.
{CHAPTER_VII ^paragraph 5}
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 home by a tiny curtain, which Tink, who was most
fastidious, always kept drawn when dressing or undressing. No woman,
however large, could have had a more exquisite boudoir 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 the fairy dealers;
the wash-stand was Pie-crust and reversible, the chest of drawers an
authentic Charming the Sixth, and the carpet and rugs of 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 though 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 just
to feel stodgy, 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 found her out, and they just ran into
each other’s arms. After that it followed her about everywhere.
{CHAPTER_VII ^paragraph 10}
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 Carakters 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 a walk 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.
{CHAPTER_VII ^paragraph 15}
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 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 redskin; 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
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 stone, and was used as a missile, and Hook fell over it in the
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 would accept his challenge.
Which of these adventures shall we choose? The best way will be to
toss for it.
{CHAPTER_VII ^paragraph 20}
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.