This is the story of the boy who never grew up.
Chapter 3 – Come Away! Come Away!
For a moment after Mr. and Mrs. Darling left the house, the children’s three lamps continued to burn, but soon after the children fell asleep, the lamps went out.
There was another light in the room now. It was much brighter than the lamps. And in the blink of an eye, it zoomed through all the drawers of the bedroom. It was looking for Peter’s shadow. It searched through the closet and turned every pocket inside out.
What was this light? It was difficult to see because it flew around so quickly, but when it stopped for a moment, you could see it. A tiny glowing fairy. It was a girl called Tinker Bell, and she was wearing an exquisite leaf dress. The dress was short and showed off her figure. She was quite proud of her body.
A moment after the fairy’s entrance, the window was blown open by the breath of the little stars, and Peter came in.
He had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still covered in fairy dust.
“Tinker Bell,” he called softly, after making sure that the children were asleep. “Tink, where are you?”
He looked around and saw her in a jug. “Oh, come out of that jug. Tell me, do you know where they put my shadow?”
The loveliest sound answered him. It was a tinkle, like small golden bells. It is the fairy language. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you just didn’t know what it was.
Tink said that the shadow was in ‘the big box’. She meant in the drawers, so Peter jumped at the drawers. With both hands, he flung everything out of the drawers and onto the floor. He soon found his shadow, and he was so delighted that he didn’t realize he shut Tinker Bell in the drawer.
He hadn’t really thought deeply about it, but he assumed that when he found his shadow, it would snap back to his body. But it didn’t snap back. It didn’t stick to his body at all.
“I need some glue,” he said. He searched around, but couldn’t find any glue. He went to the bathroom and found some soap, which he used to stick on his shadow, but it failed.
Peter shuddered. He sat on the floor and cried. His crying woke up Wendy and she sat up in her bed. She was not surprised to see a stranger crying on the bedroom floor. She was only pleasantly interested.
“Boy,” she said politely,” why are you crying?”
Peter also knew how to be polite because he learned it at fairy ceremonies. He stood up and bowed to her beautifully. She was so pleased that she bowed back to him from her bed.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Wendy Moira Angela Darling,” she replied with some satisfaction. “What is your name?”
She was already sure that he must be Peter, but she didn’t realize how short his full name was. “Is that all?”
“Yes,” he said sharply. It was the first time that he felt his name was short.
“I’m so sorry,” said Wendy Moira Angela.
“It doesn’t matter,” Peter said.
She asked where he lived.
“Second to the right,” said Peter, “and then straight until morning.”
“What a strange address!”
Peter’s spirit sank. For the first time, he felt he had a strange address.
“No, it isn’t,” he said.
“I mean,” Wendy said nicely, remembering her manners, “is that what people write on the letters?”
“I don’t get any letters,” he said angrily.
“Well, doesn’t your mother get letters?”
“I don’t have a mother,” he said. He didn’t have a mother, and he had no desire to have one. He thought mothers were overrated. Wendy, however, thought it was a tragedy.
“Oh Peter, it’s no wonder you were crying,” she said, and got out of bed and ran to him.
“I wasn’t crying about mothers,” he said. “I was crying because I can’t get my shadow to stick on. Besides, I wasn’t crying.”
“Your shadow came off?”
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor. It looked so wrinkled and she became very sorry for Peter. “How awful!” she said. But she couldn’t help not smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on with soap. What a foolish boy!
Fortunately, she knew exactly what to do. “It must be sewn on,” she said, sounding like an adult who was talking to a child.
“What does ‘sewn’ mean?” he asked.
“You are dreadfully dumb.”
“No, I’m not.”
But she was enjoying his ignorance. “I will sew it on for you, my little child,” she said, even though he was as tall as Wendy. She got her needle and thread, and sewed the shadow onto Peter’s foot.
“It will hurt a little,” she warned him.
“Oh, I won’t cry,” said Peter, who truly believed that he had never cried in his life. So he clenched his teeth and did not cry. And soon, his shadow was behaving properly, although it was still a little wrinkled.
“Maybe I should have ironed it,” Wendy said thoughtfully. But Peter didn’t care about the appearance, and he was now jumping around with glee. He had even forgotten to thank Wendy. He acted like he had attached the shadow by himself. “I’m so clever!” he said happily. “Oh, the cleverness of me!”
It’s really such a shame that Peter is so overconfident. It’s one of his most fascinating qualities. To be brutally honest, he was the cockiest boy in the world.
Wendy was shocked. “You arrogant boy,” she exclaimed. With as much sarcasm as possible, she said, “Of course, I did nothing!”
“You helped a little,” Peter said carelessly, and continued to dance.
“A little!” she snapped. “If I am no use to you, then I’ll go back to bed.” And she walked in a dignified way back to her bed and covered her face with the blankets.
Peter tried to get her to look up by pretending to go away. When that failed, he sat on the end of her bed and tapped her gently with his foot.
“Wendy,” he said, “don’t hide. I can’t help but be glad. I’m just so happy with myself.”
She still wouldn’t look up (although she was listening eagerly).
“Wendy,” he continued, in a voice that girls can’t resist. “Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”
“Do you really think so, Peter?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I think it’s so sweet of you to say that,” she declared. “And I’ll get up again.” She sat with him on the side of the bed. “And, I’ll give you a kiss if you like.”
But Peter didn’t understand what she meant, so he held out his hand and waited for a gift.
“Don’t you know what a kiss is?” she asked, surprised.
“I’ll know what it is when you give it to me,” he replied stiffly.
Wendy didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so she gave him a thimble from her sewing kit.
“Now,” he said, “can I give you a kiss?”
And she replied shyly, “If you want to.” She leaned her face toward him. But he simply dropped a button into her hand. She kindly told him that she would wear his kiss on a necklace. It was lucky that she put the button on a chain around her neck. She didn’t know that it would save her life in the future.
When children first meet, it’s customary to ask each other’s age. And so Wendy, who always liked to do the proper thing, asked Peter how old he was. He really hated that question.
“I don’t know,” he replied uneasily, “But I’m young.”
He really didn’t know how old he was. He only could guess. He said, “Wendy, I ran away the day I was born.”
Wendy was quite surprised, but interested. She gestured for him to sit closer.
“It was because I heard father and mother,” he explained in a low voice, “talking about what they wanted me to be when I became a man.” He seemed agitated now. “I don’t ever want to be a man. I want to stay a little boy and have fun. So I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a long, long time with the fairies.”
She gave him a look of intense admiration. Peter thought it was because he had run away, but it was actually because he knew fairies. Wendy had always lived a city life, so fairies seemed so magical. She poured out questions about them. This surprised him because fairies were annoying to him. They always got in his way and all. Overall though, he liked fairies, and he told Wendy about their origin.
“You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh turned into a million pieces. They all went skipping around and that’s when fairies started appearing.
Wendy loved stories, so she was listening attentively.
“And so,” he went on, “there should be one fairy for each boy and girl.”
“Should be? Is there?”
“No. You see, children know a lot about science now, so they soon stop believing in fairies. And every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”
Soon, Peter started to get tired of talking about fairies, and he realized that Tinker Bell was keeping very quiet. He stood up and called out to her, “Tink?”
Wendy’s heart fluttered. “Peter,” she cried, clutching him, “do you mean that there is a fairy in this room!”
“She was here a moment ago,” he said a little impatiently. “You don’t hear her, do you?” and they both listened.
“I don’t hear anything except a tinkling bell,” said Wendy.
“Well, that’s Tink. That’s the fairy language. I think I hear her, too.”
The sound came from the chest of drawers, and Peter made a merry face. No one could look as happy as Peter. And he had the loveliest laugh. It sounded just like a sweet baby’s laugh.
“Wendy,” he whispered with glee, “I think I shut her inside the drawer!”
He let poor Tinker Bell out of the drawer and she flew around the bedroom screaming with fury. “You shouldn’t say such things!” said Peter. “Of course I’m very sorry, but how could I know you were in the drawer?”
Wendy wasn’t listening to him. “Oh, Peter,” she cried, “I wish she would stand still so I could see her!”
“Fairies don’t like to stand still,” he said, but for one moment, Wendy saw the glowing figure rest on the cuckoo clock.
“Oh, how lovely!” she cried, even though Tinker Bell’s face was crumpled with anger.
“Tink,” said Peter kindly, “this lady says she wants to have a fairy.”
Tinker Bell answered harshly.
“What does she say, Peter?”
He had to translate. “She is not very polite… she says you are a big, ugly girl, and she doesn’t want to be your fairy.”
He tried to argue with Tink, but she disappeared angrily into the bathroom.
Peter and Wendy sat on the armchair. Peter explained apologetically, “She isn’t very polite because she wasn’t taught manners. She’s called Tinker Bell because she fixes pots and kettles.”
Wendy kept asking questions. “If you don’t live in Kensington Gardens now—“
“Sometimes, I do.”
“But where do you usually live?”
“With the lost boys.”
“The lost boys? Who are they?”
“They are the children who fall out of their strollers when the nanny is looking the other way. If their parents can’t find them within seven days, they are sent far away to Neverland. I’m captain.”
“Oh, that sounds like fun!”
“Yes,” said Peter, “but we are rather lonely. You see, we have no females.”
“Are there no girls?”
“Oh, no. You see, girls are too smart to fall out of their strollers.”
This flattered Wendy. “I think,” she said, “I like the way you talk about girls. John just despises us.” She pointed to John in his bed.
Without saying anything, Peter stood up and kicked John out of bed. In one kick, John and all his blankets fell off.
Wendy was surprised at such an introduction. She told Peter that he was not the captain in her house. However, John continued to sleep so deeply on the floor that she just left him there.
“And I know you meant to be kind toward me,” she said, “so you may give me a kiss.”
Again, Wendy had forgotten that Peter didn’t know what kisses were.
“I thought you might want it back,” he said bitterly, and he held out the thimble.
“Oh dear,” said Wendy. How could she explain that a thimble wasn’t a kiss? Perhaps the only thing she could do was to say that a kiss was a thimble.
Wendy pushed the thimble away. “I don’t mean a kiss, I mean a thimble.”
“It’s like this.” And she kissed him.
“Weird!” said Peter seriously. “Now, should I give you a thimble?”
“If you want to,” said Wendy, leaning toward him again.
Peter thimbled her on the lips, and Wendy immediately screamed.
“What is it, Wendy?”
“It felt like someone pulled my hair.”
“That must have been Tink. She’s usually not this naughty!”
Tinker Bell was darting around the room again, screaming out offensive language.
“She says she will pull your hair again, Wendy, every time I give you a thimble.”
Tink replied and Peter translated. “She said I was stupid.” Peter couldn’t understand why, but Wendy understood.
Peter admitted that he sometimes came to the bedroom window at night to listen to their mother’s bedtime stories.
“You see, I don’t know any stories. None of the lost boys knows any stories.”
“How awful,” Wendy said.
“Oh, Wendy, your mother was telling you such a lovely story the other night.”
“Which story was it?”
“About the prince who couldn’t find the lady who wore the glass slipper.”
“Peter,” said Wendy excitedly, “that was Cinderella, and he found her, and they lived happily ever after.”
Peter was so happy that he jumped up and hurried to the window.
“Where are you going?” she cried in surprise.
“To tell the other boys.”
“Don’t go, Peter,” she begged. “I can tell you so many more stories.”
That is exactly what Wendy said. It is a fact that Wendy was the one who tempted Peter.
He came back, and there was such a greedy look in his eyes now.
“Oh, the stories I could tell the boys!” she cried. And then, Peter grabbed her and began to pull her toward the window.
“Let me go!” she ordered him.
“Wendy, you have to come with me and tell the other boys.”
Of course, she was very happy to be asked, but she said, “Oh dear, I can’t. I would miss my mother! And besides, I can’t fly.”
“I’ll teach you.”
“Oh, I would love to fly.”
“I’ll teach you how to jump on the wind’s back.”
“Oo!” she exclaimed.
“Wendy, don’t go back to bed. You can fly around with me and talk to the stars.”
“And, Wendy, there are mermaids.”
“Mermaids! With tails?”
“Such long tails.”
“Oh,” cried Wendy, “I want to see a mermaid!”
Peter was being very cunning. “Wendy,” he said, “We all would respect you so much.”
Her body was wriggling. It was like she had difficulty staying on the floor.
“Wendy,” he said smoothly, “you could tuck us in at night.”
“None of us has ever been tucked in at night.”
“Oo,” and her arms went out toward him.
“And you could stitch up our clothes, and make pockets for us. None of us has any pockets.”
How could she resist? “Of course, it’s very fascinating!” she cried. “Peter, would you teach John and Michael how to fly, too?”
“If you want,” he said indifferently.
She ran to John and Michael and shook them. “Wake up,” she cried, “Peter Pan has come and he is going to teach us how to fly!”
John rubbed his eyes. “I’ll get up,” he said. Of course, he was on the floor already. “Hello,” he said, “I am up!” Michael also got up, looking alert.
But Peter suddenly put his hand up and gestured for them to be quiet. They all fell silent and they listened intently.
All was silent. Everything was fine. No! Everything was not right! It was too quiet. Something was wrong!
Nana, who had been barking all evening was quiet now. They were listening to her silence.
“Turn off the light! Hide! Quick!” cried John.
Liza, the neighbor, was outside. She was picking up Nana and bringing her inside the house.
“That’s enough of your barking, you beast,” she said, harshly. “The children are perfectly safe. Here I’ll show you!”
The three children jumped into their beds and pretended to be asleep.
Liza was in a bad mood. She had been baking and she had some chocolate on her cheek. She couldn’t stand Nana’s barking so she decided to bring Nana inside the house and show her that the children were safe.
She came into the bedroom, carrying Nana roughly. “There, you see! Every child is sleeping like an angel in their bed. Do you hear their gentle breathing?”
Hearing this, Michael was encouraged by his success. He started breathing so loudly that Liza almost became suspicious. Nana realized that Michael was only pretending, so she tried to escape from Liza’s arms.
But Liza just held on tighter. “Stop that, Nana,” she said, and pulled her out of the room. “I warn you, if you bark again, I will go find Mr. and Mrs. Darling at that party and tell them to whip you!”
She tied the unhappy dog outside again. But what do you think? Do you think Nana stopped barking? Was she scared that Liza would go and get Mr. and Mrs. Darling from the park? No! That’s exactly what she hoped for! She wanted Mr. and Mrs. Darling to come home right away!
Unfortunately, Liza returned home and continued baking. Nana, realizing that Liza wouldn’t help, strained and strained at the chain. At last, she broke free. In another moment, she ran down the street and burst into the house with the dinner party. She barked and stood up on her back legs, trying to communicate what happened. Mr. and Mrs. Darling knew at once that something terrible was happening at home. Without a goodbye to their hostess, they rushed into the street.
But already, ten minutes had passed since the three children pretended to be asleep. And Peter Pan can do a lot in ten minutes.
“It’s alright,” John announced, getting out of bed. “Peter, can you really fly?”
Instead of answering him, Peter demonstrated. He flew around the room, knocking over a small table.
“How amazing!” said John and Michael.
“How sweet!” cried Wendy.
“Yes, I’m amazing. I’m sweet!” Peter said, forgetting his manners again.
It looked easy. The children tried flying, too. They got on their beds and jumped off. But they all went down instead of up.
“Hey, how do you do it?” John asked, rubbing his painful knee.
“You just think lovely, wonderful thoughts,” Peter explained, “and the thoughts lift you up in the air.”
He showed them again.
“You’re so quick,” John said. “Couldn’t you do it very slowly once?”
Peter did it both slowly and quickly. “I’ve got it now!” John cried, but soon he found that he had not. None of them could fly—not even an inch. It didn’t matter that Michael had been to school and could read long words, and Peter didn’t even know the ABCs. No… it wasn’t about smarts.
Of course, Peter was only playing with them. He knew why they couldn’t fly: No one can fly without the magical fairy dust.
Fortunately, Peter’s hand was covered in fairy dust from holding Tinker Bell. He lifted his hand to his mouth and blew the fairy dust on Wendy, John, and Michael.
“Now, just wiggle your shoulders like this,” he said, “and let go.”
They were all on their beds and Michael let go first. He didn’t actually mean to let go, but he did it. Immediately, he was flying across the room.
“I flew!” he screamed while still in mid-air.
John let go. And then Wendy let go.
“Look at me!”
“Look at me!”
“Look at me!”
They were not nearly as elegant as Peter. Peter flew smoothly, but the children kicked in the air like they were desperately swimming, and their heads were bobbing against the ceiling. But still, they were flying!
Peter gave Wendy his hand at first, but had to let go when Tinker Bell tried to attack.
Up and down, Wendy, John, and Michael all flew. Wendy said it felt heavenly.
“Hey,” John cried, “why don’t we all go outside?”
Of course, this was exactly what Peter wanted.
Michael was ready. He wanted to see how long it took to fly a billion miles. But Wendy hesitated.
“Mermaids!” Peter said again.
“And there are pirates.”
“Pirates,” cried John, grabbing his Sunday hat, “let’s go now!”
It was just at this moment that Mr. and Mrs. Darling reached the front of their house. They looked up toward the bedroom window, and, yes, it was still shut. But the lights were on. And! They gripped their hearts when they saw the shadows on the curtain. Three little figures were circling around and around, not on the floor, but in the air.
No! Not three figures. Four!
Hands trembling, they opened the front door. Mr. Darling wanted to rush upstairs, but Mrs. Darling stopped him. She gestured to go quietly. She even tried to make her heart beat quietly.
Did they reach the bedroom in time? If they did, that would be great! They would be happy parents with safe children and this would be the end of the story.
But, the little stars were watching them.
Once again, the stars blew the window open, and that smallest star of all called out:
“Come away, Peter!”
Then, Peter knew that they couldn’t waste any time. “Come,” he cried out to the children, and he soared out into the night. John, Michael, and Wendy followed.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana rushed into the bedroom. Too late! Their three little birds had flown.