One important result of the brush 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
They called Peter the Great White Father, prostrating themselves
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.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 5}
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 spoken.”
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 to
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.
This meal happened to be a make-believe tea, and they sat round
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.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 10}
“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 darling?”
“Not quite empty, mummy,” Slightly said, after looking into an
imaginary mug.
“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.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 15}
John, however, had held up his hand first.
“Well, John?”
“May I sit in Peter’s chair, as he is not here?”
“Sit in father’s chair, John!” Wendy was scandalised. “Certainly
“He is not really our father,” John answered.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 20}
“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, “that I could be
“No, Tootles.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 25}
Once Tootles began, which was not very often, he had a silly way
of going on.
“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, “do
you think I could be a twin?”
“No, indeed,” replied the twins; “it’s awfully difficult to be a
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 30}
“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.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 35}
“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.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 40}
“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 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
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 45}
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
recognise it.
“Children, I hear your father’s step. He likes you to meet him at
the door.”
Above, the redskins crouched before Peter.
“Watch well, braves. I have spoken.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 50}
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
“Peter, you just spoil them, you know,” Wendy simpered.
“Ah, old lady,” said Peter, hanging up his gun.
“It was me told him mothers are called old lady,” Michael
whispered to Curly.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 55}
“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
“But we want you to dance.”
Peter was really the best dancer among them, but he pretended to
be scandalised.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 60}
“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 it.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 65}
“Of course it is Saturday night, Peter,” Wendy said, relenting.
“People of our figure, Wendy!”
“But it is only among our own progeny.”
“True, true.”
So they were told they could dance, but they must put on their
nighties first.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 70}
“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 change me, do you?”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 75}
“No, Wendy.”
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.
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 80}
“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 me?”
“Those of a devoted son, Wendy.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 85}
“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.”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 90}
“Oh, very well,” Peter said, a little nettled. “Perhaps Tinker
Bell will tell me.”
“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 impudent.
“She says she glories in being abandoned,” Peter interpreted.
He had a sudden idea. “Perhaps Tink wants to be my mother?”
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 95}
“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, and the beginning was so fearfully
dull that it appalled not only the others but himself, and he said
“Yes, it is a dull beginning. I say, let us pretend that it is the
{CHAPTER_X ^paragraph 100}
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 happened.