Chapter XI: Wendy’s Story


“Listen then,” said Wendy, settling down to her story, with
Michael at her feet and seven boys in the bed. “There was once a
“I had rather he had been a lady,” Curly said.
“I wish he had been a white rat,” said Nibs.
“Quiet,” their mother admonished them. “There was a lady also, and-”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 5}
“O mummy,” cried the first twin, “you mean that there is a lady
also, don’t you? She is not dead, is she?”
“Oh no.”
“I am awfully glad she isn’t dead,” said Tootles. “Are you glad,
“Of course I am.”
“Are you glad, Nibs?”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 10}
“Are you glad, Twins?”
“We are just glad.”
“Oh dear,” sighed Wendy.
“Little less noise there,” Peter called out, determined that she
should have fair play, however beastly a story it might be in his
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 15}
“The gentleman’s name,” Wendy continued, “was Mr. Darling, and her
name was Mrs. Darling.”
“I knew them,” John said, to annoy the others.
“I think I knew them,” said Michael rather doubtfully.
“They were married, you know,” explained Wendy, “and what do you
think they had?”
“White rats!” cried Nibs, inspired.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 20}
“It’s awfully puzzling,” said Tootles, who knew the story by heart.
“Quiet, Tootles. They had three descendants.”
“What is descendants?”
“Well, you are one, Twin.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 25}
“Do you hear that, John? I am a descendant.”
“Descendants are only children,” said John.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” sighed Wendy. “Now these three children had a
faithful nurse called Nana; but Mr. Darling was angry with her and
chained her up in the yard, and so all the children flew away.”
“It’s an awfully good story,” said Nibs.
“They flew away,” Wendy continued, “to the Neverland, where the lost
children are.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 30}
“I just thought they did,” Curly broke in excitedly. “I don’t know
how it is, but I just thought they did!”
“O Wendy,” cried Tootles, “was one of the lost children called
“Yes, he was.”
“I am in a story, Hurrah, I am in a story, Nibs.”
“Hush. Now I want you to consider the feelings of the unhappy
parents with all their children flown away.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 35}
“Oo!” they all moaned, though they were not really considering the
feelings of the unhappy parents one jot.
“Think of the empty beds!”
“It’s awfully sad,” the first twin said cheerfully.
“I don’t see how it can have a happy ending,” said the second
twin. “Do you, Nibs?”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 40}
“I’m frightfully anxious.”
“If you knew how great is a mother’s love,” Wendy told them
triumphantly, “you would have no fear.” She had now come to the part
that Peter hated.
“I do like a mother’s love,” said Tootles, hitting Nibs with a
pillow. “Do you like a mother’s love, Nibs?”
“I do just,” said Nibs, hitting back.
“You see,” Wendy said complacently, “our heroine knew that the
mother would always leave the window open for her children to fly back
by; so they stayed away for years and had a lovely time.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 45}
“Did they ever go back?”
“Let us now,” said Wendy, bracing herself up for her finest
effort, “take a peep into the future”; and they all gave themselves
the twist that makes peeps into the future easier. “Years have
rolled by, and who is this elegant lady of uncertain age alighting
at London Station?”
“O Wendy, who is she?” cried Nibs, every bit as excited as if he
didn’t know.
“Can it be- yes- no- it is- the fair Wendy!”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 50}
“And who are the two noble portly figures accompanying her, now
grown to man’s estate? Can they be John and Michael? They are!”
“See, dear brothers,” says Wendy, pointing upwards, “there is the
window still standing open. Ah, now we are rewarded for our sublime
faith in a mother’s love. So up they flew to their mummy and daddy,
and pen cannot describe the happy scene, over which we draw a veil.”
That was the story, and they were as pleased with it as the fair
narrator herself. Everything just as it should be, you see. Off we
skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what
children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time,
and then when we have need of special attention we nobly return for
it, confident that we shall be rewarded instead of smacked.
So great indeed was their faith in a mother’s love that they felt
they could afford to be callous for a bit longer.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 55}
But there was one there who knew better, and when Wendy finished
he uttered a hollow groan.
“What is it, Peter?” she cried, running to him, thinking he was ill.
She felt him solicitously, lower down than his chest. “Where is it,
“It isn’t that kind of pain,” Peter replied darkly.
“Then what kind is it?”
“Wendy, you are wrong about mothers.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 60}
They all gathered round him in affright, so alarming was his
agitation; and with a fine candour he told them what he had hitherto
“Long ago,” he said, “I thought like you that my mother would always
keep the window open for me, so I stayed away for moons, and moons and
moons, and then flew back; but the window was barred, for mother had
forgotten all about me, and there was another little boy sleeping in
my bed.”
I am not sure that this was true, but Peter thought it was true; and
it scared them.
“Are you sure mothers are like that?”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 65}
So this was the truth about mothers. The toads!
Still it is best to be careful; and no one knows so quickly as a
child when he should give in. “Wendy, let us go home,” cried John
and Michael together.
“Yes,” she said, clutching them.
“Not to-night?” asked the lost boys bewildered. They knew in what
they called their hearts that one can get on quite well without a
mother, and that it is only the mothers who think you can’t.
“At once,” Wendy replied resolutely, for the horrible thought had
come to her: “Perhaps mother is in half mourning by this time.”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 70}
This dread made her forgetful of what must be Peter’s feelings,
and she said to him rather sharply, “Peter, will you make the
necessary arrangements?”
“If you wish it,” he replied, as coolly as if she had asked him to
pass the nuts.
Not so much as a sorry-to-lose-you between them! If she did not mind
the parting, he was going to show her, was Peter, that neither did he.
But of course he cared very much; and he was so full of wrath
against grown-ups, who, as usual, were spoiling everything, that as
soon as he got inside his tree he breathed intentionally quick short
breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this because
there is a saying in the Neverland that, every time you breathe, a
grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast
as possible.
Then having given the necessary instructions to the redskins he
returned to the home, where an unworthy scene had been enacted in
his absence. Panic-stricken at the thought of losing Wendy the lost
boys had advanced upon her threateningly.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 75}
“It will be worse than before she came,” they cried.
“We shan’t let her go.”
“Let’s keep her prisoner.”
“Ay, chain her up.”
In her extremity an instinct told her to which of them to turn.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 80}
“Tootles,” she cried, “I appeal to you.”
Was it not strange? she appealed to Tootles, quite the silliest one.
Grandly, however, did Tootles respond. For that one moment he
dropped his silliness and spoke with dignity.
“I am just Tootles,” he said, “and nobody minds me. But the first
who does not behave to Wendy like an English gentleman I will blood
him severely.”
He drew his hanger; and for that instant his sun was at noon. The
others held back uneasily. Then Peter returned, and they saw at once
that they would get no support from him. He would keep no girl in
the Neverland against her will.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 85}
“Wendy,” he said, striding up and down, “I have asked the redskins
to guide you through the wood, as flying tires you so.”
“Thank you, Peter.”
“Then,” he continued, in the short sharp voice of one accustomed
to be obeyed, “Tinker Bell will take you across the sea. Wake her,
Nibs had to knock twice before he got an answer, though Tink had
really been sitting up in bed listening for some time.
“Who are you? How dare you? Go away,” she cried.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 90}
“You are to get up, Tink,” Nibs called, “and take Wendy on a
Of course Tink had been delighted to hear that Wendy was going;
but she was jolly well determined not to be her courier, and she
said so in still more offensive language. Then she pretended to be
asleep again.
“She says she won’t!” Nibs exclaimed, aghast at such
insubordination, whereupon Peter went sternly toward the young
lady’s chamber.
“Tink,” he rapped out, “if you don’t get up and dress at once I will
open the curtains, and then we shall all see you in your negligee.”
This made her leap to the floor. “Who said I wasn’t getting up?” she
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 95}
In the meantime the boys were gazing very forlornly at Wendy, now
equipped with John and Michael for the journey. By this time they were
dejected, not merely because they were about to lose her, but also
because they felt that she was going off to something nice to which
they had not been invited. Novelty was beckoning to them as usual.
Crediting them with a nobler feeling, Wendy melted.
“Dear ones,” she said, “if you will all come with me I feel almost
sure I can get my father and mother to adopt you.”
The invitation was meant specially for Peter, but each of the boys
was thinking exclusively of himself, and at once they jumped with joy.
“But won’t they think us rather a handful?” Nibs asked in the middle
of his jump.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 100}
“Oh no,” said Wendy, rapidly thinking it out, “it will only mean
having a few beds in the drawing-room; they can be hidden behind
screens on first Thursdays.”
“Peter, can we go?” they all cried imploringly. They took it for
granted that if they went he would go also, but really they scarcely
cared. Thus children are ever ready, when novelty knocks, to desert
their dearest ones.
“All right,” Peter replied with a bitter smile, and immediately they
rushed to get their things.
“And now, Peter,” Wendy said, thinking she had put everything right,
“I am going to give you your medicine before you go.” She loved to
give them medicine, and undoubtedly gave them too much. Of course it
was only water, but it was out of a bottle, and she always shook the
bottle and counted the drops, which gave it a certain medicinal
quality. On this occasion, however, she did not give Peter his
draught, for just as she had prepared it, she saw a look on his face
that made her heart sink.
“Get your things, Peter,” she cried, shaking.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 105}
“No,” he answered, pretending indifference, “I am not going with
you, Wendy.”
“Yes, Peter.”
To show that her departure would leave him unmoved, he skipped up
and down the room, playing gaily on his heartless pipes. She had to
run about after him, though it was rather undignified.
“To find your mother,” she coaxed.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 110}
Now, if Peter had ever quite had a mother, he no longer missed
her. He could do very well without one. He had thought them out, and
remembered only their bad points.
“No, no,” he told Wendy decisively; “perhaps she would say I was
old, and I just want always to be a little boy and to have fun.”
“But, Peter-”
And so the others had to be told.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 115}
“Peter isn’t coming.”
Peter not coming! They gazed blankly at him, their sticks over their
backs, and on each stick a bundle. Their first thought was that if
Peter was not going he had probably changed his mind about letting
them go.
But he was far too proud for that. “If you find your mothers,” he
said darkly, “I hope you will like them.”
The awful cynicism of this made an uncomfortable impression, and
most of them began to look rather doubtful. After all, their faces
said, were they not noodles to want to go?
“Now then,” cried Peter, “no fuss, no blubbering; good-bye,
Wendy”; and he held out his hand cheerily, quite as if they must
really go now, for he had something important to do.
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 120}
She had to take his hand, as there was no indication that he would
prefer a thimble.
“You will remember about changing your flannels, Peter?” she said,
lingering over him. She was always so particular about their flannels.
“And you will take your medicine?”
{CHAPTER_XI ^paragraph 125}
That seemed to be everything, and an awkward pause followed.
Peter, however, was not the kind that breaks down before people.
“Are you ready, Tinker Bell?” he called out.
“Ay! ay!”
“Then lead the way.”
Tink darted up the nearest tree; but no one followed her, for it was
at this moment that the pirates made their dreadful attack upon the
redskins. Above, where all had been so still, the air was rent with
shrieks and the clash of steel. Below, there was dead silence.
Mouths opened and remained open. Wendy fell on her knees, but her arms
were extended toward Peter. All arms were extended to him, as if
suddenly blown in his direction; they were beseeching him mutely not
to desert them. As for Peter, he seized his sword, the same he thought
he had slain Barbecue with, and the lust of battle was in his eye.