Chapter XIII Do You Believe in Faries?


The more quickly this horror is disposed of the better. The first to
emerge from his tree was Curly. He rose out of it into the arms of
Cecco, who flung him to Smee, who flung him to Starkey, who flung
him to Bill Jukes, who flung him to Noodler, and so he was tossed from
one to another till he fell at the feet of the black pirate. All the
boys were plucked from their trees in this ruthless manner; and
several of them were in the air at a time, like bales of goods flung
from hand to hand.
A different treatment was accorded to Wendy, who came last. With
ironical politeness Hook raised his hat to her, and, offering her
his arm, escorted her to the spot where the others were being
gagged. He did it with such an air, he was so frightfully distingue,
that she was too fascinated to cry out. She was only a little girl.
Perhaps it is tell-tale to divulge that for a moment Hook
entranced her, and we tell on her only because her slip led to strange
results. Had she haughtily unhanded him (and we should have loved to
write it of her), she would have been hurled through the air like
the others, and then Hook would probably not have been present at
the tying of the children; and had he not been at the tying he would
not have discovered Slightly’s secret, and without the secret he could
not presently have made his foul attempt on Peter’s life.
They were tied to prevent their flying away, doubled up with their
knees close to their ears; and for this job the black pirate had cut a
rope into nine equal pieces. All went well with the trussing until
Slightly’s turn came, when he was found to be like those irritating
parcels that use up all the string in going round and leave no tags
with which to tie a knot. The pirates kicked him in their rage, just
as you kick the parcel (though in fairness you should kick the
string); and strange to say it was Hook who told them to belay their
violence. His lip was curled with malicious triumph. While his dogs
were merely sweating because every time they tried to pack the unhappy
lad tight in one part he bulged out in another, Hook’s master mind had
gone far beneath Slightly’s surface, probing not for effects but for
causes; and his exultation showed that he had found them. Slightly,
white to the gills, knew that Hook had surprised his secret, which was
this, that no boy so blown out could use a tree wherein an average man
need stick. Poor Slightly, most wretched of all the children now,
for he was in a panic about Peter, bitterly regretted what he had
done. Madly addicted to the drinking of water when he was hot, he
had swelled in consequence to his present girth, and instead of
reducing himself to fit his tree he had, unknown to the others,
whittled his tree to make it fit him.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 5}
Sufficient of this Hook guessed to persuade him that Peter at last
lay at his mercy, but no word of the dark design that now formed in
the subterranean caverns of his mind crossed his lips; he merely
signed that the captives were to be conveyed to the ship, and that
he would be alone.
How to convey them? Hunched up in their ropes they might indeed be
rolled down hill like barrels, but most of the way lay through a
morass. Again Hook’s genius surmounted difficulties. He indicated that
the little house must be used as a conveyance. The children were flung
into it, four stout pirates raised it on their shoulders, the others
fell in behind, and singing the hateful pirate chorus the strange
procession set off through the wood. I don’t know whether any of the
children were crying; if so, the singing drowned the sound; but as the
little house disappeared in the forest, a brave though tiny jet of
smoke issued from its chimney as if defying Hook.
Hook saw it, and it did Peter a bad service. It dried up any trickle
of pity for him that may have remained in the pirate’s infuriated
The first thing he did on finding himself alone in the fast
falling night was to tiptoe to Slightly’s tree, and make sure that
it provided him with a passage. Then for long he remained brooding;
his hat of ill omen on the sward, so that a gentle breeze which had
arisen might play refreshingly through his hair. Dark as were his
thoughts his blue eyes were as soft as the periwinkle. Intently he
listened for any sound from the nether world, but all was as silent
below as above; the house under the ground seemed to be but one more
empty tenement in the void. Was that boy asleep, or did he stand
waiting at the foot of Slightly’s tree, with his dagger in his hand?
There was no way of knowing, save by going down. Hook let his
cloak slip softly to the ground, and then biting his lips till a
lewd blood stood on them, he stepped into the tree. He was a brave
man, but for a moment he had to stop there and wipe his brow, which
was dripping like a candle. Then silently he let himself go into the
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 10}
He arrived unmolested at the foot of the shaft, and stood still
again, biting at his breath, which had almost left him. As his eyes
became accustomed to the dim light various objects in the home under
the trees took shape; but the only one on which his greedy gaze
rested, long sought for and found at last, was the great bed. On the
bed lay Peter fast asleep.
Unaware of the tragedy being enacted above, Peter had continued, for
a little time after the children left, to play gaily on his pipes:
no doubt rather a forlorn attempt to prove to himself that he did
not care. Then he decided not to take his medicine, so as to grieve
Wendy. Then he lay down on the bed outside the coverlet, to vex her
still more; for she had always tucked them inside it, because you
never know that you may not grow chilly at the turn of the night. Then
he nearly cried; but it struck him how indignant she would be if he
laughed instead; so he laughed a haughty laugh and fell asleep in
the middle of it.
Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more
painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be
separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them.
They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence. At such
times it had been Wendy’s custom to take him out of bed and sit with
him on her lap, soothing him in dear ways of her own invention, and
when he grew calmer to put him back to bed before he quite woke up, so
that he should not know of the indignity to which she had subjected
him. But on this occasion he had fallen at once into a dreamless
sleep. One arm dropped over the edge of the bed, one leg was arched,
and the unfinished part of his laugh was stranded on his mouth,
which was open, showing the little pearls.
Thus defenceless Hook found him. He stood silent at the foot of
the tree looking across the chamber at his enemy. Did no feeling of
compassion stir his sombre breast? The man was not wholly evil; he
loved flowers (I have been told) and sweet music (he was himself no
mean performer on the harpsichord); and, let it be frankly admitted,
the idyllic nature of the scene shook him profoundly. Mastered by
his better self he would have returned reluctantly up the tree, but
for one thing.
What stayed him was Peter’s impertinent appearance as he slept.
The open mouth, the drooping arm, the arched knee: they were such a
personification of cockiness as, taken together, will never again
one may hope be presented to eyes so sensitive to their offensiveness.
They steeled Hook’s heart. If his rage had broken him into a hundred
pieces every one of them would have disregarded the incident, and
leapt at the sleeper.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 15}
Though a light from the one lamp shone dimly on the bed Hook stood
in darkness himself, and at the first stealthy step forward he
discovered an obstacle, the door of Slightly’s tree. It did not
entirely fill the aperture, and he had been looking over it. Feeling
for the catch, he found to his fury that it was low down, beyond his
reach. To his disordered brain it seemed then that the irritating
quality in Peter’s face and figure visibly increased, and he rattled
the door and flung himself against it. Was his enemy to escape him
after all?
But what was that? The red in his eye had caught sight of Peter’s
medicine standing on a ledge within easy reach. He fathomed what it
was straightway, and immediately he knew that the sleeper was in his
Lest he should be taken alive, Hook always carried about his
person a dreadful drug, blended by himself of all the death-dealing
rings that had come into his possession. These he had boiled down into
a yellow liquid quite unknown to science, which was probably the
most virulent poison in existence.
Five drops of this he now added to Peter’s cup. His hand shook,
but it was in exultation rather than in shame. As he did it he avoided
glancing at the sleeper, but not lest pity should unnerve him;
merely to avoid spilling. Then one long gloating look he cast upon his
victim, and turning, wormed his way with difficulty up the tree. As he
emerged at the top he looked the very spirit of evil breaking from its
hole. Donning his hat at its most rakish angle, he wound his cloak
around him, holding one end in front as if to conceal his person
from the night, of which it was the blackest part, and muttering
strangely to himself stole away through the trees.
Peter slept on. The light guttered and went out, leaving the
tenement in darkness; but still he slept. It must have been not less
than ten o’clock by the crocodile, when he suddenly sat up in his bed,
wakened by he knew not what. It was a soft cautious tapping on the
door of his tree.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 20}
Soft and cautious, but in that stillness it was sinister. Peter felt
for his dagger till his hand gripped it. Then he spoke.
“Who is that?”
For long there was no answer: then again the knock.
“Who are you?”
No answer.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 25}
He was thrilled, and he loved being thrilled. In two strides he
reached his door. Unlike Slightly’s door it filled the aperture, so
that he could not see beyond it, nor could the one knocking see him.
“I won’t open unless you speak,” Peter cried.
Then at last the visitor spoke, in a lovely bell-like voice.
“Let me in, Peter.”
It was Tink, and quickly he unbarred to her. She flew in
excitedly, her face flushed and her dress stained with mud.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 30}
“What is it?”
“Oh, you could never guess!” she cried, and offered him three
guesses. “Out with it!” he shouted, and in one ungrammatical sentence,
as long as the ribbons conjurers pull from their mouths, she told of
the capture of Wendy and the boys.
Peter’s heart bobbed up and down as he listened. Wendy bound, and on
the pirate ship; she who loved everything to be just so!
“I’ll rescue her!” he cried, leaping at his weapons. As he leapt
he thought of something he could do to please her. He could take his
His hand closed on the fatal draught.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 35}
“No!” shrieked Tinker Bell, who had heard Hook muttering about his
deed as he sped through the forest.
“Why not?”
“It is poisoned.”
“Poisoned! Who could have poisoned it?”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 40}
“Don’t be silly. How could Hook have got down here?”
Alas, Tinker Bell could not explain this, for even she did not
know the dark secret of Slightly’s tree. Nevertheless Hook’s words had
left no room for doubt. The cup was poisoned.
“Besides,” said Peter, quite believing himself, “I never fell
He raised the cup. No time for words now; time for deeds, and with
one of her lightning movements Tink got between his lips and the
draught, and drained it to the dregs.
“Why, Tink, how dare you drink my medicine?”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 45}
But she did not answer. Already she was reeling in the air.
“What is the matter with you?” cried Peter, suddenly afraid.
“It was poisoned, Peter,” she told him softly; “and now I am going
to be dead.”
“O Tink, did you drink it to save me?”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 50}
“But why, Tink?”
Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she alighted on
his shoulder and gave his nose a loving bite. She whispered in his ear
“you silly ass,” and then, tottering to her chamber, lay down on the
His head almost filled the fourth wall of her little room as he
knelt near her in distress. Every moment her light was growing
fainter; and he knew that if it went out she would be no more. She
liked his tears so much that she put out her beautiful finger and
let them run over it.
Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she
said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could
get well again if children believed in fairies.
Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was
night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the
Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys
and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets
hung from trees.
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 55}
“Do you believe?” he cried.
Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.
She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then again she
wasn’t sure.
“What do you think?” she asked Peter.
“If you believe,” he shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let
Tink die.”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 60}
Many clapped.
Some didn’t.
A few little beasts hissed.
The clapping stopped suddenly; as if countless mothers had rushed to
their nurseries to see what on earth was happening; but already Tink
was saved. First her voice grew strong, then she popped out of bed,
then she was flashing through the room more merry and impudent than
ever. She never thought of thanking those who believed, but she
would have liked to get at the ones who had hissed.
“And now to rescue Wendy!”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 65}
The moon was riding in a cloudy heaven when Peter rose from his
tree, begirt with weapons and wearing little else, to set out upon his
perilous quest. It was not such a night as he would have chosen. He
had hoped to fly, keeping not far from the ground so that nothing
unwonted should escape his eyes; but in that fitful light to have
flown low would have meant trailing his shadow through the trees, thus
disturbing the birds and acquainting a watchful foe that he was astir.
He regretted now that he had given the birds of the island such
strange names that they are very wild and difficult of approach.
There was no other course but to press forward in redskin fashion,
at which happily he was an adept. But in what direction, for he
could not be sure that the children had been taken to the ship? A
slight fall of snow had obliterated all footmarks; and a deathly
silence pervaded the island, as if for a space Nature stood still in
horror of the recent carnage. He had taught the children something
of the forest lore that he had himself learned from Tiger Lily and
Tinker Bell, and knew that in their dire hour they were not likely
to forget it. Slightly, if he had an opportunity, would blaze the
trees, for instance, Curly would drop seeds, and Wendy would leave her
handkerchief at some important place. But morning was needed to search
for such guidance, and he could not wait. The upper world had called
him, but would give no help.
The crocodile passed him, but not another living thing, not a sound,
not a movement; and yet he knew well that sudden death might be at the
next tree, or stalking him from behind.
He swore this terrible oath: “Hook or me this time.”
{CHAPTER_XIII ^paragraph 70}
Now he crawled forward like a snake; and again, erect, he darted
across a space on which the moonlight played, one finger on his lip
and his dagger at the ready. He was frightfully happy.