This is the story of the boy who never grew up.
Chapter 9 – The Neverbird
Before Peter was alone, the last thing he heard was the mermaids retiring one by one to their bedrooms under the sea.
The water steadily rose until it was nibbling at his feet. To pass the time until his death, Peter watched the only thing on the lagoon. From afar, it looked like a piece of floating paper, and he wondered how long it would take to drift ashore. But as he watched it, he noticed that the floating paper seemed to be fighting against the waves, and sometimes winning. And when the paper won, Peter, who is always sympathetic to the weaker side, started clapping. It was such a brave piece of paper.
It was not really a piece of paper. It was the Never bird, and it was desperately trying to reach Peter on the nest. By flapping her wings, she steered the nest like a boat. But by the time Peter recognized her, she was very exhausted.
She had come to save him and to give him her nest (even though there were eggs in it).
I always wonder about that bird. Peter had been nice to her, but he had also sometimes teased her. I can imagine that the bird forgave him because he was still a little boy.
She called out to him and explained why she was coming. And he called out to her and asked why she was coming.
You see, they couldn’t understand each other’s language. In fantasy stories, people can usually talk to birds freely. I wish that this story was the same way, but it’s not. Peter couldn’t reply to the Never bird, and the Never bird couldn’t explain to Peter. I wish I could change the story and make it fancy, but this is the truth. Not only could they not understand each other, but they also forgot their manners.
“I—want—you—to—get—into—the—nest,” the bird called, speaking as slowly and distinctly as possible, “and—then—you—can—drift—ashore, but—I—am—too—tired—to—bring—it—any—nearer—so—you—must—try to—swim—to—it.”
“What are you quacking about?” Peter answered. “Why are you struggling in the water?”
“I—want—you—” the bird said, and repeated it all over.
Then Peter tried slow and distinct.
“What—are—you—quacking—about?” and so on.
The Never bird became irritated. They have very short tempers.
“You dumb little bird!” she screamed, “Why don’t you do what I tell you?”
Peter felt that she was calling him names, so he yelled back:
“So are you!”
Then, funny enough, they both shouted the same remark:
Nevertheless, the bird was determined to save him if she could. With one last mighty effort, she propelled the nest toward the rock. Then, she flew up, deserting her eggs so that the meaning would be clear.
Then, at last, he understood. He clutched the nest and waved his hand in thanks to the bird as she fluttered overhead. She hung in the sky, not to receive his thanks or watch him get into the nest, but to see what he did with her eggs.
There were two large white eggs, and Peter lifted them up. The bird covered her face with her wings, afraid that he would toss them into the sea. But she peeked from between the feathers.
Peter did not toss them into the sea. On the rock, Starkey had left his hat behind. The hat was large and waterproof. Peter put the eggs into the wide hat and set it on the lagoon. It floated beautifully.
The Never bird saw what he did, and she screamed in admiration of him. And Peter crowed back. Then, he got into the nest, pulled up a stick, and hung his shirt as a sail.
The bird flew down and sat snuggly on the hat. She drifted in one direction, and Peter drifted in the other direction, both cheering.
When Peter landed, he put the nest in a place where the bird could easily find it. But the hat was such a great success that she abandoned the nest. From that day on, Starkey often came to the shore of the lagoon and bitterly watched the bird sitting on his hat.
On Peter’s return home, everyone rejoiced. Just moments before, Wendy had arrived by kite. Every boy had adventures to tell, but the thing that they were most excited about was the fact that they were several hours late for bed. This made them so happy that they kept doing sneaky things to stay up even longer, such as demanding bandages. But Wendy, after celebrating everyone’s safe return, was scandalized by how late it was. She cried, “To bed! To bed!” in her strict motherly voice.
The next day, however, she was very tender, and she gave out bandages to everyone. And they played until bedtime came again.