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´╗┐Title: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Author: Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Frontispiece: _The Kensington Gardens are in London, where the King
lives_.]



PETER PAN

IN KENSINGTON GARDENS


BY

J. M. BARRIE

(_From 'The Little White Bird'_)



WITH DRAWINGS BY

ARTHUR RACKHAM


[Illustration: Title page art]


NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1910



Copyright, 1902, 1906,

BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

THE GRAND TOUR OF THE GARDENS


CHAPTER II

PETER PAN


CHAPTER III

THE THRUSH'S NEST


CHAPTER IV

LOCK-OUT TIME


CHAPTER V

THE LITTLE HOUSE


CHAPTER VI

PETER'S GOAT



ILLUSTRATIONS


1. 'The Kensington Gardens are in London, where the King
   lives' . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

2. 'The lady with the balloons, who sits just outside'

3. 'Old Mr. Salford was a crab-apple of an old gentleman
   who wandered all day in the Gardens'

4. 'When he heard Peter's voice he popped in alarm behind a tulip'

5. 'Put his strange case before old Solomon Caw'

6. 'After this the birds said that they would help him no more
   in his mad enterprise'

7. 'For years he had been quietly filling his stocking'

8. 'Fairies are all more or less in hiding until dusk'

9. 'These tricky fairies sometimes slyly change the board on
   a ball night'

10. 'When her Majesty wants to know the time'

11. 'Peter Pan is the fairies' orchestra'

12. 'A chrysanthemum heard her, and said pointedly, "Hoity-toity,
    what is this?"'

13. 'Shook his bald head and murmured, "Cold, quite cold."'

14. 'Fairies never say, "We feel happy"; what they say is,
    "We feel _dancey_."'

15. 'Looking very undancey indeed'

16. 'Building the house for Maimie'



PETER PAN

IN KENSINGTON GARDENS


[Illustration: Map of Peter Pan's Kensington Gardens]


I

THE GRAND TOUR OF THE GARDENS

[Illustration: David]

You must see for yourselves that it will be difficult to follow Peter
Pan's adventures unless you are familiar with the Kensington Gardens.
They are in London, where the King lives, and I used to take David
there nearly every day unless he was looking decidedly flushed.  No
child has ever been in the whole of the Gardens, because it is so soon
time to turn back.  The reason it is soon time to turn back is that, if
you are as small as David, you sleep from twelve to one.  If your
mother was not so sure that you sleep from twelve to one, you could
most likely see the whole of them.

[Illustration: Nurse]

The Gardens are bounded on one side by a never-ending line of
omnibuses, over which your nurse has such authority that if she holds
up her finger to any one of them it stops immediately.  She then
crosses with you in safety to the other side.  There are more gates to
the Gardens than one gate, but that is the one you go in at, and before
you go in you speak to the lady with the balloons, who sits just
outside.  This is as near to being inside as she may venture, because,
if she were to let go her hold of the railings for one moment, the
balloons would lift her up, and she would be flown away.  She sits very
squat, for the balloons are always tugging at her, and the strain has
given her quite a red face.  Once she was a new one, because the old
one had let go, and David was very sorry for the old one, but as she
did let go, he wished he had been there to see.

[Illustration: _The lady with the balloons, who sits just outside._]

The Gardens are a tremendous big place, with millions and hundreds of
trees; and first you come to the Figs, but you scorn to loiter there,
for the Figs is the resort of superior little persons, who are
forbidden to mix with the commonalty, and is so named, according to
legend, because they dress in full fig.  These dainty ones are
themselves contemptuously called Figs by David and other heroes, and
you have a key to the manners and customs of this dandiacal section of
the Gardens when I tell you that cricket is called crickets here.
Occasionally a rebel Fig climbs over the fence into the world, and such
a one was Miss Mabel Grey, of whom I shall tell you when we come to
Miss Mabel Grey's gate.  She was the only really celebrated Fig.

We are now in the Broad Walk, and it is as much bigger than the other
walks as your father is bigger than you.  David wondered if it began
little, and grew and grew, until it was quite grown up, and whether the
other walks are its babies, and he drew a picture, which diverted him
very much, of the Broad Walk giving a tiny walk an airing in a
perambulator.  In the Broad Walk you meet all the people who are worth
knowing, and there is usually a grown-up with them to prevent them
going on the damp grass, and to make them stand disgraced at the corner
of a seat if they have been mad-dog or Mary-Annish.  To be Mary-Annish
is to behave like a girl, whimpering because nurse won't carry you, or
simpering with your thumb in your mouth, and it is a hateful quality;
but to be mad-dog is to kick out at everything, and there is some
satisfaction in that.

If I were to point out all the notable places as we pass up the Broad
Walk, it would be time to turn back before we reach them, and I simply
wave my stick at Cecco Hewlett's Tree, that memorable spot where a boy
called Cecco lost his penny, and, looking for it, found twopence.
There has been a good deal of excavation going on there ever since.
Farther up the walk is the little wooden house in which Marmaduke Perry
hid.  There is no more awful story of the Gardens than this of
Marmaduke Perry, who had been Mary-Annish three days in succession, and
was sentenced to appear in the Broad Walk dressed in his sister's
clothes.  He hid in the little wooden house, and refused to emerge
until they brought him knickerbockers with pockets.

You now try to go to the Round Pond, but nurses hate it, because they
are not really manly, and they make you look the other way, at the Big
Penny and the Baby's Palace.  She was the most celebrated baby of the
Gardens, and lived in the palace all alone, with ever so many dolls, so
people rang the bell, and up she got out of her bed, though it was past
six o'clock, and she lighted a candle and opened the door in her
nighty, and then they all cried with great rejoicings, 'Hail, Queen of
England!'  What puzzled David most was how she knew where the matches
were kept.  The Big Penny is a statue about her.

Next we come to the Hump, which is the part of the Broad Walk where all
the big races are run; and even though you had no intention of running
you do run when you come to the Hump, it is such a fascinating,
slide-down kind of place.  Often you stop when you have run about
half-way down it, and then you are lost; but there is another little
wooden house near here, called the Lost House, and so you tell the man
that you are lost and then he finds you.  It is glorious fun racing
down the Hump, but you can't do it on windy days because then you are
not there, but the fallen leaves do it instead of you.  There is almost
nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf.

From the Hump we can see the gate that is called after Miss Mabel Grey,
the Fig I promised to tell you about.  There were always two nurses
with her, or else one mother and one nurse, and for a long time she was
a pattern-child who always coughed off the table and said, 'How do you
do?' to the other Figs, and the only game she played at was flinging a
ball gracefully and letting the nurse bring it back to her.  Then one
day she tired of it all and went mad-dog, and, first, to show that she
really was mad-dog, she unloosened both her boot-laces and put out her
tongue east, west, north, and south.  She then flung her sash into a
puddle and danced on it till dirty water was squirted over her frock,
after which she climbed the fence and had a series of incredible
adventures, one of the least of which was that she kicked off both her
boots.  At last she came to the gate that is now called after her, out
of which she ran into streets David and I have never been in though we
have heard them roaring, and still she ran on and would never again
have been heard of had not her mother jumped into a 'bus and thus
overtaken her.  It all happened, I should say, long ago, and this is
not the Mabel Grey whom David knows.

Returning up the Broad Walk we have on our right the Baby Walk, which
is so full of perambulators that you could cross from side to side
stepping on babies, but the nurses won't let you do it.  From this walk
a passage called Bunting's Thumb, because it is that length, leads into
Picnic Street, where there are real kettles, and chestnut-blossom falls
into your mug as you are drinking.  Quite common children picnic here
also, and the blossom falls into their mugs just the same.

Next comes St. Govor's Well, which was full of water when Malcolm the
Bold fell into it.  He was his mother's favourite, and he let her put
her arm round his neck in public because she was a widow; but he was
also partial to adventures, and liked to play with a chimney-sweep who
had killed a good many bears.  The sweep's name was Sooty, and one day,
when they were playing near the well, Malcolm fell in and would have
been drowned had not Sooty dived in and rescued him; and the water had
washed Sooty clean, and he now stood revealed as Malcolm's long-lost
father.  So Malcolm would not let his mother put her arm round his neck
any more.

Between the well and the Round Pond are the cricket pitches, and
frequently the choosing of sides exhausts so much time that there is
scarcely any cricket.  Everybody wants to bat first, and as soon as he
is out he bowls unless you are the better wrestler, and while you are
wrestling with him the fielders have scattered to play at something
else.  The Gardens are noted for two kinds of cricket: boy cricket,
which is real cricket with a bat, and girl cricket, which is with a
racquet and the governess.  Girls can't really play cricket, and when
you are watching their futile efforts you make funny sounds at them.
Nevertheless, there was a very disagreeable incident one day when some
forward girls challenged David's team, and a disturbing creature called
Angela Clare sent down so many yorkers that--However, instead of
telling you the result of that regrettable match I shall pass on
hurriedly to the Round Pond, which is the wheel that keeps all the
Gardens going.

It is round because it is in the very middle of the Gardens, and when
you are come to it you never want to go any farther.  You can't be good
all the time at the Round Pond, however much you try.  You can be good
in the Broad Walk all the time, but not at the Round Pond, and the
reason is that you forget, and, when you remember, you are so wet that
you may as well be wetter.  There are men who sail boats on the Round
Pond, such big boats that they bring them in barrows, and sometimes in
perambulators, and then the baby has to walk.  The bow-legged children
in the Gardens are those who had to walk too soon because their father
needed the perambulator.

You always want to have a yacht to sail on the Round Pond, and in the
end your uncle gives you one; and to carry it to the pond the first day
is splendid, also to talk about it to boys who have no uncle is
splendid, but soon you like to leave it at home.  For the sweetest
craft that slips her moorings in the Round Pond is what is called a
stick-boat, because she is rather like a stick until she is in the
water and you are holding the string.  Then as you walk round, pulling
her, you see little men running about her deck, and sails rise
magically and catch the breeze, and you put in on dirty nights at snug
harbours which are unknown to the lordly yachts.  Night passes in a
twink, and again your rakish craft noses for the wind, whales spout,
you glide over buried cities, and have brushes with pirates, and cast
anchor on coral isles.  You are a solitary boy while all this is taking
place, for two boys together cannot adventure far upon the Round Pond,
and though you may talk to yourself throughout the voyage, giving
orders and executing them with despatch, you know not, when it is time
to go home, where you have been or what swelled your sails; your
treasure-trove is all locked away in your hold, so to speak, which will
be opened, perhaps, by another little boy many years afterwards.

But those yachts have nothing in their hold.  Does any one return to
this haunt of his youth because of the yachts that used to sail it?  Oh
no.  It is the stick-boat that is freighted with memories.  The yachts
are toys, their owner a fresh-water mariner; they can cross and recross
a pond only while the stick-boat goes to sea.  You yachtsmen with your
wands, who think we are all there to gaze on you, your ships are only
accidents of this place, and were they all to be boarded and sunk by
the ducks, the real business of the Round Pond would be carried on as
usual.

Paths from everywhere crowd like children to the pond.  Some of them
are ordinary paths, which have a rail on each side, and are made by men
with their coats off, but others are vagrants, wide at one spot, and at
another so narrow that you can stand astride them.  They are called
Paths that have Made Themselves, and David did wish he could see them
doing it.  But, like all the most wonderful things that happen in the
Gardens, it is done, we concluded, at night after the gates are closed.
We have also decided that the paths make themselves because it is their
only chance of getting to the Round Pond.

One of these gypsy paths comes from the place where the sheep get their
hair cut.  When David shed his curls at the hair-dressers, I am told,
he said good-bye to them without a tremor, though his mother has never
been quite the same bright creature since; so he despises the sheep as
they run from their shearer, and calls out tauntingly, 'Cowardy,
cowardy custard!'  But when the man grips them between his legs David
shakes a fist at him for using such big scissors.  Another startling
moment is when the man turns back the grimy wool from the sheeps'
shoulders and they look suddenly like ladies in the stalls of a
theatre.  The sheep are so frightened by the shearing that it makes
them quite white and thin, and as soon as they are set free they begin
to nibble the grass at once, quite anxiously, as if they feared that
they would never be worth eating.  David wonders whether they know each
other, now that they are so different, and if it makes them fight with
the wrong ones.  They are great fighters, and thus so unlike country
sheep that every year they give my St. Bernard dog, Porthos, a shock.
He can make a field of country sheep fly by merely announcing his
approach, but these town sheep come toward him with no promise of
gentle entertainment, and then a light from last year breaks upon
Porthos.  He cannot with dignity retreat, but he stops and looks about
him as if lost in admiration of the scenery, and presently he strolls
away with a fine indifference and a glint at me from the corner of his
eye.

[Illustration: Porthos]

The Serpentine begins near here.  It is a lovely lake, and there is a
drowned forest at the bottom of it.  If you peer over the edge you can
see the trees all growing upside down, and they say that at night there
are also drowned stars in it.  If so, Peter Pan sees them when he is
sailing across the lake in the Thrush's Nest.  A small part only of the
Serpentine is in the Gardens, for soon it passes beneath a bridge to
far away where the island is on which all the birds are born that
become baby boys and girls.  No one who is human, except Peter Pan (and
he is only half human), can land on the island, but you may write what
you want (boy or girl, dark or fair) on a piece of paper, and then
twist it into the shape of a boat and slip it into the water, and it
reaches Peter Pan's island after dark.

We are on the way home now, though of course, it is all pretence that
we can go to so many of the places in one day.  I should have had to be
carrying David long ago, and resting on every seat like old Mr.
Salford.  That was what we called him, because he always talked to us
of a lovely place called Salford where he had been born.  He was a
crab-apple of an old gentleman who wandered all day in the Gardens from
seat to seat trying to fall in with somebody who was acquainted with
the town of Salford, and when we had known him for a year or more we
actually did meet another aged solitary who had once spent Saturday to
Monday in Salford.  He was meek and timid, and carried his address
inside his hat, and whatever part of London he was in search of he
always went to Westminster Abbey first as a starting-point.  Him we
carried in triumph to our other friend, with the story of that Saturday
to Monday, and never shall I forget the gloating joy with which Mr.
Salford leapt at him.  They have been cronies ever since, and I noticed
that Mr. Salford, who naturally does most of the talking, keeps tight
grip of the other old man's coat.

[Illustration: _Old Mr. Salford was a crab-apple of an old gentleman
who wandered all day in the Gardens._]

The two last places before you come to our gate are the Dog's Cemetery
and the chaffinches nest, but we pretend not to know what the Dog's
Cemetery is, as Porthos is always with us.  The nest is very sad.  It
is quite white, and the way we found it was wonderful.  We were having
another look among the bushes for David's lost worsted ball, and
instead of the ball we found a lovely nest made of the worsted, and
containing four eggs, with scratches on them very like David's
handwriting, so we think they must have been the mother's love-letters
to the little ones inside.  Every day we were in the Gardens we paid a
call at the nest, taking care that no cruel boy should see us, and we
dropped crumbs, and soon the bird knew us as friends, and sat in the
nest looking at us kindly with her shoulders hunched up.  But one day
when we went there were only two eggs in the nest, and the next time
there were none.  The saddest part of it was that the poor little
chaffinch fluttered about the bushes, looking so reproachfully at us
that we knew she thought we had done it; and though David tried to
explain to her, it was so long since he had spoken the bird language
that I fear she did not understand.  He and I left the Gardens that day
with our knuckles in our eyes.



II

PETER PAN

If you ask your mother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a
little girl, she will say, 'Why, of course I did, child'; and if you
ask her whether he rode on a goat in those days, she will say, 'What a
foolish question to ask; certainly he did.'  Then if you ask your
grandmother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a girl, she
also says, 'Why, of course I did, child,' but if you ask her whether he
rode on a goat in those days, she says she never heard of his having a
goat.  Perhaps she has forgotten, just as she sometimes forgets your
name and calls you Mildred, which is your mother's name.  Still, she
could hardly forget such an important thing as the goat.  Therefore
there was no goat when your grandmother was a little girl.  This shows
that, in telling the story of Peter Pan, to begin with the goat (as
most people do) is as silly as to put on your jacket before your vest.

Of course, it also shows that Peter is ever so old, but he is really
always the same age, so that does not matter in the least.  His age is
one week, and though he was born so long ago he has never had a
birthday, nor is there the slightest chance of his ever having one.
The reason is that he escaped from being a human when he was seven days
old; he escaped by the window and flew back to the Kensington Gardens.

If you think he was the only baby who ever wanted to escape, it shows
how completely you have forgotten your own young days.  When David
heard this story first he was quite certain that he had never tried to
escape, but I told him to think back hard, pressing his hands to his
temples, and when he had done this hard, and even harder, he distinctly
remembered a youthful desire to return to the tree-tops, and with that
memory came others, as that he had lain in bed planning to escape as
soon as his mother was asleep, and how she had once caught him half-way
up the chimney.  All children could have such recollections if they
would press their hands hard to their temples, for, having been birds
before they were human, they are naturally a little wild during the
first few weeks, and very itchy at the shoulders, where their wings
used to be.  So David tells me.

I ought to mention here that the following is our way with a story:
First I tell it to him, and then he tells it to me, the understanding
being that it is quite a different story; and then I retell it with his
additions, and so we go on until no one could say whether it is more
his story or mine.  In this story of Peter Pan, for instance, the bald
narrative and most of the moral reflections are mine, though not all,
for this boy can be a stern moralist; but the interesting bits about
the ways and customs of babies in the bird-stage are mostly
reminiscences of David's, recalled by pressing his hands to his temples
and thinking hard.

Well, Peter Pan got out by the window, which had no bars.  Standing on
the ledge he could see trees far away, which were doubtless the
Kensington Gardens, and the moment he saw them he entirely forgot that
he was now a little boy in a nightgown, and away he flew, right over
the houses to the Gardens.  It is wonderful that he could fly without
wings, but the place itched tremendously, and--and--perhaps we could
all fly if we were as dead-confident-sure of our capacity to do it as
was bold Peter Pan that evening.

He alighted gaily on the open sward, between the Baby's Palace and the
Serpentine, and the first thing he did was to lie on his back and kick.
He was quite unaware already that he had ever been human, and thought
he was a bird, even in appearance, just the same as in his early days,
and when he tried to catch a fly he did not understand that the reason
he missed it was because he had attempted to seize it with his hand,
which, of course, a bird never does.  He saw, however, that it must be
past Lock-out Time, for there were a good many fairies about, all too
busy to notice him; they were getting breakfast ready, milking their
cows, drawing water, and so on, and the sight of the water-pails made
him thirsty, so he flew over to the Round Pond to have a drink.  He
stooped and dipped his beak in the pond; he thought it was his beak,
but, of course, it was only his nose, and therefore, very little water
came up, and that not so refreshing as usual, so next he tried a
puddle, and he fell flop into it.  When a real bird falls in flop, he
spreads out his feathers and pecks them dry, but Peter could not
remember what was the thing to do, and he decided rather sulkily to go
to sleep on the weeping-beech in the Baby Walk.

At first he found some difficulty in balancing himself on a branch, but
presently he remembered the way, and fell asleep.  He awoke long before
morning, shivering, and saying to himself, 'I never was out on such a
cold night'; he had really been out on colder nights when he was a
bird, but, of course, as everybody knows, what seems a warm night to a
bird is a cold night to a boy in a nightgown.  Peter also felt
strangely uncomfortable, as if his head was stuffy; he heard loud
noises that made him look round sharply, though they were really
himself sneezing.  There was something he wanted very much, but, though
he knew he wanted it, he could not think what it was.  What he wanted
so much was his mother to blow his nose, but that never struck him, so
he decided to appeal to the fairies for enlightenment.  They are
reputed to know a good deal.

There were two of them strolling along the Baby Walk, with their arms
round each other's waists, and he hopped down to address them.  The
fairies have their tiffs with the birds, but they usually give a civil
answer to a civil question, and he was quite angry when these two ran
away the moment they saw him.  Another was lolling on a garden chair,
reading a postage-stamp which some human had let fall, and when he
heard Peter's voice he popped in alarm behind a tulip.

[Illustration: _When he heard Peter's voice he popped in alarm behind a
tulip._]

To Peter's bewilderment he discovered that every fairy he met fled from
him.  A band of workmen, who were sawing down a toadstool, rushed away,
leaving their tools behind them.  A milkmaid turned her pail upside
down and hid in it.  Soon the Gardens were in an uproar.  Crowds of
fairies were running this way and that, asking each other stoutly who
was afraid; lights were extinguished, doors barricaded, and from the
grounds of Queen Mab's palace came the rub-a-dub of drums, showing that
the royal guard had been called out.  A regiment of Lancers came
charging down the Broad Walk, armed with holly-leaves, with which they
jag the enemy horribly in passing.  Peter heard the little people
crying everywhere that there was a human in the Gardens after Lock-out
Time, but he never thought for a moment that he was the human.  He was
feeling stuffier and stuffier, and more and more wistful to learn what
he wanted done to his nose, but he pursued them with the vital question
in vain; the timid creatures ran from him, and even the Lancers, when
he approached them up the Hump, turned swiftly into a side-walk, on the
pretence that they saw him there.

Despairing of the fairies, he resolved to consult the birds, but now he
remembered, as an odd thing, that all the birds on the weeping-beech
had flown away when he alighted on it, and though this had not troubled
him at the time, he saw its meaning now.  Every living thing was
shunning him.  Poor little Peter Pan! he sat down and cried, and even
then he did not know that, for a bird, he was sitting on his wrong
part.  It is a blessing that he did not know, for otherwise he would
have lost faith in his power to fly, and the moment you doubt whether
you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.  The reason birds
can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to
have faith is to have wings.

Now, except by flying, no one can reach the island in the Serpentine,
for the boats of humans are forbidden to land there, and there are
stakes round it, standing up in the water, on each of which a
bird-sentinel sits by day and night.  It was to the island that Peter
now flew to put his strange case before old Solomon Caw, and he
alighted on it with relief, much heartened to find himself at last at
home, as the birds call the island.  All of them were asleep, including
the sentinels, except Solomon, who was wide awake on one side, and he
listened quietly to Peter's adventures, and then told him their true
meaning.

[Illustration: _Put his strange case before old Solomon Caw._]

'Look at your nightgown, if you don't believe me,' Solomon said; and
with staring eyes Peter looked at his nightgown, and then at the
sleeping birds.  Not one of them wore anything.

'How many of your toes are thumbs?' said Solomon a little cruelly, and
Peter saw to his consternation, that all his toes were fingers.  The
shock was so great that it drove away his cold.

'Ruffle your feathers,' said that grim old Solomon, and Peter tried
most desperately hard to ruffle his feathers, but he had none.  Then he
rose up, quaking, and for the first time since he stood on the window
ledge, he remembered a lady who had been very fond of him.

'I think I shall go back to mother,' he said timidly.

'Good-bye,' replied Solomon Caw with a queer look.

But Peter hesitated.  'Why don't you go?' the old one asked politely.

'I suppose,' said Peter huskily, 'I suppose I can still fly.'

You see he had lost faith.

'Poor little half-and-half!' said Solomon, who was not really
hard-hearted, 'you will never be able to fly again, not even on windy
days.  You must live here on the island always.'

'And never even go to the Kensington Gardens?' Peter asked tragically.

'How could you get across?' said Solomon.  He promised very kindly,
however, to teach Peter as many of the bird ways as could be learned by
one of such an awkward shape.

'Then I shan't be exactly a human?' Peter asked.

'No.'

'Nor exactly a bird?'

'No.'

'What shall I be?'

'You will be a Betwixt-and-Between,' Solomon said, and certainly he was
a wise old fellow, for that is exactly how it turned out.

The birds on the island never got used to him.  His oddities tickled
them every day, as if they were quite new, though it was really the
birds that were new.  They came out of the eggs daily, and laughed at
him at once; then off they soon flew to be humans, and other birds came
out of other eggs; and so it went on for ever.  The crafty
mother-birds, when they tired of sitting on their eggs, used to get the
young ones to break their shells a day before the right time by
whispering to them that now was their chance to see Peter washing or
drinking or eating.  Thousands gathered round him daily to watch him do
these things, just as you watch the peacocks, and they screamed with
delight when he lifted the crusts they flung him with his hands instead
of in the usual way with the mouth.  All his food was brought to him
from the Gardens at Solomon's orders by the birds.  He would not eat
worms or insects (which they thought very silly of him), so they
brought him bread in their beaks.  Thus, when you cry out, 'Greedy!
Greedy!' to the bird that flies away with the big crust, you know now
that you ought not to do this, for he is very likely taking it to Peter
Pan.

Peter wore no nightgown now.  You see, the birds were always begging
him for bits of it to line their nests with, and, being very
good-natured, he could not refuse, so by Solomon's advice he had hidden
what was left of it.  But, though he was now quite naked, you must not
think that he was cold or unhappy.  He was usually very happy and gay,
and the reason was that Solomon had kept his promise and taught him
many of the bird ways.  To be easily pleased, for instance, and always
to be really doing something, and to think that whatever he was doing
was a thing of vast importance.  Peter became very clever at helping
the birds to build their nests; soon he could build better than a
wood-pigeon, and nearly as well as a blackbird, though never did he
satisfy the finches, and he made nice little water-troughs near the
nests and dug up worms for the young ones with his fingers.  He also
became very learned in bird-lore, and knew an east wind from a west
wind by its smell, and he could see the grass growing and hear the
insects walking about inside the tree-trunks.  But the best thing
Solomon had done was to teach him to have a glad heart.  All birds have
glad hearts unless you rob their nests, and so as they were the only
kind of heart Solomon knew about, it was easy to him to teach Peter how
to have one.

Peter's heart was so glad that he felt he must sing all day long, just
as the birds sing for joy, but, being partly human, he needed an
instrument, so he made a pipe of reeds, and he used to sit by the shore
of the island of an evening, practising the sough of the wind and the
ripple of the water, and catching handfuls of the shine of the moon,
and he put them all in his pipe and played them so beautifully that
even the birds were deceived, and they would say to each other, 'Was
that a fish leaping in the water or was it Peter playing leaping fish
on his pipe?'  And sometimes he played the birth of birds, and then the
mothers would turn round in their nests to see whether they had laid an
egg.  If you are a child of the Gardens you must know the chestnut-tree
near the bridge, which comes out in flower first of all the chestnuts,
but perhaps you have not heard why this tree leads the way.  It is
because Peter wearies for summer and plays that it has come, and the
chestnut being so near, hears him and is cheated.

But as Peter sat by the shore tootling divinely on his pipe he
sometimes fell into sad thoughts, and then the music became sad also,
and the reason of all this sadness was that he could not reach the
Gardens, though he could see them through the arch of the bridge.  He
knew he could never be a real human again, and scarcely wanted to be
one, but oh! how he longed to play as other children play, and of
course there is no such lovely place to play in as the Gardens.  The
birds brought him news of how boys and girls play, and wistful tears
started in Peter's eyes.

Perhaps you wonder why he did not swim across.  The reason was that he
could not swim.  He wanted to know how to swim, but no one on the
island knew the way except the ducks, and they are so stupid.  They
were quite willing to teach him, but all they could say about it was,
'You sit down on the top of the water in this way, and then you kick
out like that.'  Peter tried it often, but always before he could kick
out he sank.  What he really needed to know was how you sit on the
water without sinking, and they said it was quite impossible to explain
such an easy thing as that.  Occasionally swans touched on the island,
and he would give them all his day's food and then ask them how they
sat on the water, but as soon as he had no more to give them the
hateful things hissed at him and sailed away.

Once he really thought he had discovered a way of reaching the Gardens.
A wonderful white thing, like a runaway newspaper, floated high over
the island and then tumbled, rolling over and over after the manner of
a bird that has broken its wing.  Peter was so frightened that he hid,
but the birds told him it was only a kite, and what a kite is, and that
it must have tugged its string out of a boy's hand, and soared away.
After that they laughed at Peter for being so fond of the kite; he
loved it so much that he even slept with one hand on it, and I think
this was pathetic and pretty, for the reason he loved it was because it
had belonged to a real boy.

To the birds this was a very poor reason, but the older ones felt
grateful to him at this time because he had nursed a number of
fledglings through the German measles, and they offered to show him how
birds fly a kite.  So six of them took the end of the string in their
beaks and flew away with it; and to his amazement it flew after them
and went even higher than they.

Peter screamed out, 'Do it again!' and with great good-nature they did
it several times, and always instead of thanking them he cried, 'Do it
again!' which shows that even now he had not quite forgotten what it
was to be a boy.

At last, with a grand design burning within his brave heart, he begged
them to do it once more with him clinging to the tail, and now a
hundred flew off with the string, and Peter clung to the tail, meaning
to drop off when he was over the Gardens.  But the kite broke to pieces
in the air, and he would have been drowned in the Serpentine had he not
caught hold of two indignant swans and made them carry him to the
island.  After this the birds said that they would help him no more in
his mad enterprise.

[Illustration: _After this the birds said that they would help him no
more in his mad enterprise._]

Nevertheless, Peter did reach the Gardens at last by the help of
Shelley's boat, as I am now to tell you.



III

THE THRUSH'S NEST

Shelley was a young gentleman and as grown-up as he need ever expect to
be.  He was a poet; and they are never exactly grown-up.  They are
people who despise money except what you need for to-day, and he had
all that and five pounds over.  So, when he was walking in the
Kensington Gardens, he made a paper boat of his bank-note, and sent it
sailing on the Serpentine.

It reached the island at night; and the look-out brought it to Solomon
Caw, who thought at first that it was the usual thing, a message from a
lady, saying she would be obliged if he could let her have a good one.
They always ask for the best one he has, and if he likes the letter he
sends one from Class A, but if it ruffles him he sends very funny ones
indeed.  Sometimes he sends none at all, and at another time he sends a
nestful; it all depends on the mood you catch him in.  He likes you to
leave it all to him, and if you mention particularly that you hope he
will see his way to making it _a boy this time_, he is almost sure to
send another girl.  And whether you are a lady or only a little boy who
wants a baby-sister, always take pains to write your address clearly.
You can't think what a lot of babies Solomon has sent to the wrong
house.

Shelley's boat, when opened, completely puzzled Solomon, and he took
counsel of his assistants, who having walked over it twice, first with
their toes pointed out, and then with their toes pointed in, decided
that it came from some greedy person who wanted five.  They thought
this because there was a large five printed on it.  'Preposterous!'
cried Solomon in a rage, and he presented it to Peter; anything useless
which drifted upon the island was usually given to Peter as a plaything.

But he did not play with his precious bank-note, for he knew what it
was at once, having been very observant during the week when he was an
ordinary boy.  With so much money, he reflected, he could surely at
last contrive to reach the Gardens, and he considered all the possible
ways, and decided (wisely, I think) to choose the best way.  But,
first, he had to tell the birds of the value of Shelley's boat; and
though they were too honest to demand it back, he saw that they were
galled, and they cast such black looks at Solomon, who was rather vain
of his cleverness, that he flew away to the end of the island, and sat
there very depressed with his head buried in his wings.  Now Peter knew
that unless Solomon was on your side, you never got anything done for
you in the island, so he followed him and tried to hearten him.

Nor was this all that Peter did to gain the powerful old fellow's
good-will.  You must know that Solomon had no intention of remaining in
office all his life.  He looked forward to retiring by and by, and
devoting his green old age to a life of pleasure on a certain yew-stump
in the Figs which had taken his fancy, and for years he had been
quietly filling his stocking.  It was a stocking belonging to some
bathing person which had been cast upon the island, and at the time I
speak of it contained a hundred and eighty crumbs, thirty-four nuts,
sixteen crusts, a pen-wiper, and a boot-lace.  When his stocking was
full, Solomon calculated that he would be able to retire on a
competency.  Peter now gave him a pound.  He cut it off his bank-note
with a sharp stick.

[Illustration: _For years he had been quietly filling his stocking._]

This made Solomon his friend for ever, and after the two had consulted
together they called a meeting of the thrushes.  You will see presently
why thrushes only were invited.

The scheme to be put before them was really Peter's, but Solomon did
most of the talking, because he soon became irritable if other people
talked.  He began by saying that he had been much impressed by the
superior ingenuity shown by the thrushes in nest-building, and this put
them into good-humour at once, as it was meant to do; for all the
quarrels between birds are about the best way of building nests.  Other
birds, said Solomon, omitted to line their nests with mud, and as a
result they did not hold water.  Here he cocked his head as if he had
used an unanswerable argument; but, unfortunately, a Mrs. Finch had
come to the meeting uninvited, and she squeaked out, 'We don't build
nests to hold water, but to hold eggs,' and then the thrushes stopped
cheering, and Solomon was so perplexed that he took several sips of
water.

'Consider,' he said at last, 'how warm the mud makes the nest.'

'Consider,' cried Mrs. Finch, 'that when water gets into the nest it
remains there and your little ones are drowned.'

The thrushes begged Solomon with a look to say something crushing in
reply to this, but again he was perplexed.

'Try another drink,' suggested Mrs. Finch pertly.  Kate was her name,
and all Kates are saucy.

Solomon did try another drink, and it inspired him.  'If,' said he, 'a
finch's nest is placed on the Serpentine it fills and breaks to pieces,
but a thrush's nest is still as dry as the cup of a swan's back.'

How the thrushes applauded!  Now they knew why they lined their nests
with mud, and when Mrs. Finch called out, 'We don't place our nests on
the Serpentine,' they did what they should have done at first--chased
her from the meeting.  After this it was most orderly.  What they had
been brought together to hear, said Solomon, was this: their young
friend, Peter Pan, as they well knew, wanted very much to be able to
cross to the Gardens, and he now proposed, with their help, to build a
boat.

At this the thrushes began to fidget, which made Peter tremble for his
scheme.

Solomon explained hastily that what he meant was not one of the
cumbrous boats that humans use; the proposed boat was to be simply a
thrush's nest large enough to hold Peter.

But still, to Peter's agony, the thrushes were sulky.  'We are very
busy people,' they grumbled, 'and this would be a big job.'

'Quite so,' said Solomon, 'and, of course, Peter would not allow you to
work for nothing.  You must remember that he is now in comfortable
circumstances, and he will pay you such wages as you have never been
paid before.  Peter Pan authorises me to say that you shall all be paid
sixpence a day.'

Then all the thrushes hopped for joy, and that very day was begun the
celebrated Building of the Boat.  All their ordinary business fell into
arrears.  It was the time of the year when they should have been
pairing, but not a thrush's nest was built except this big one, and so
Solomon soon ran short of thrushes with which to supply the demand from
the mainland.  The stout, rather greedy children, who look so well in
perambulators but get puffed easily when they walk, were all young
thrushes once, and ladies often ask specially for them.  What do you
think Solomon did?  He sent over to the house-tops for a lot of
sparrows and ordered them to lay their eggs in old thrushes' nests, and
sent their young to the ladies and swore they were all thrushes!  It
was known afterwards on the island as the Sparrow's Year; and so, when
you meet grown-up people in the Gardens who puff and blow as if they
thought themselves bigger than they are, very likely they belong to
that year.  You ask them.

Peter was a just master, and paid his workpeople every evening.  They
stood in rows on the branches, waiting politely while he cut the paper
sixpences out of his bank-note, and presently he called the roll, and
then each bird, as the names were mentioned, flew down and got
sixpence.  It must have been a fine sight.

And at last, after months of labour, the boat was finished.  O the
glory of Peter as he saw it growing more and more like a great thrushes
nest!  From the very beginning of the building of it he slept by its
side, and often woke up to say sweet things to it, and after it was
lined with mud and the mud had dried he always slept in it.  He sleeps
in his nest still, and has a fascinating way of curling round in it,
for it is just large enough to hold him comfortably when he curls round
like a kitten.  It is brown inside, of course, but outside it is mostly
green, being woven of grass and twigs, and when these wither or snap
the walls are thatched afresh.  There are also a few feathers here and
there, which came off the thrushes while they were building.

The other birds were extremely jealous, and said that the boat would
not balance on the water, but it lay most beautifully steady; they said
the water would come into it, but no water came into it.  Next they
said that Peter had no oars, and this caused the thrushes to look at
each other in dismay; but Peter replied that he had no need of oars,
for he had a sail, and with such a proud, happy face he produced a sail
which he had fashioned out of his nightgown, and though it was still
rather like a nightgown it made a lovely sail.  And that night, the
moon being full, and all the birds asleep, he did enter his coracle (as
Master Francis Pretty would have said) and depart out of the island.
And first, he knew not why, he looked upward, with his hands clasped,
and from that moment his eyes were pinned to the west.

He had promised the thrushes to begin by making short voyages, with
them as his guides, but far away he saw the Kensington Gardens
beckoning to him beneath the bridge, and he could not wait.  His face
was flushed, but he never looked back; there was an exultation in his
little breast that drove out fear.  Was Peter the least gallant of the
English mariners who have sailed westward to meet the Unknown?

At first, his boat turned round and round, and he was driven back to
the place of his starting, whereupon he shortened sail, by removing one
of the sleeves, and was forthwith carried backwards by a contrary
breeze, to his no small peril.  He now let go the sail, with the result
that he was drifted towards the far shore, where are black shadows he
knew not the dangers of, but suspected them, and so once more hoisted
his nightgown and went roomer of the shadows until he caught a
favouring wind, which bore him westward, but at so great a speed that
he was like to be broke against the bridge.  Which, having avoided, he
passed under the bridge and came, to his great rejoicing, within full
sight of the delectable Gardens.  But having tried to cast anchor,
which was a stone at the end of a piece of the kite-string, he found no
bottom, and was fain to hold off, seeking for moorage; and, feeling his
way, he buffeted against a sunken reef that cast him overboard by the
greatness of the shock, and he was near to being drowned, but clambered
back into the vessel.  There now arose a mighty storm, accompanied by
roaring of waters, such as he had never heard the like, and he was
tossed this way and that, and his hands so numbed with the cold that he
could not close them.  Having escaped the danger of which, he was
mercifully carried into a small bay, where his boat rode at peace.

Nevertheless, he was not yet in safety; for, on pretending to
disembark, he found a multitude of small people drawn up on the shore
to contest his landing, and shouting shrilly to him to be off, for it
was long past Lock-out Time.  This, with much brandishing of their
holly-leaves, and also a company of them carried an arrow which some
boy had left in the Gardens, and this they were prepared to use as a
battering-ram.

Then Peter, who knew them for the fairies, called out that he was not
an ordinary human and had no desire to do them displeasure, but to be
their friend; nevertheless, having found a jolly harbour, he was in no
temper to draw off therefrom, and he warned them if they sought to
mischief him to stand to their harms.

So saying, he boldly leapt ashore, and they gathered around him with
intent to slay him, but there then arose a great cry among the women,
and it was because they had now observed that his sail was a baby's
nightgown.  Whereupon, they straightway loved him, and grieved that
their laps were too small, the which I cannot explain, except by saying
that such is the way of women.  The men-fairies now sheathed their
weapons on observing the behaviour of their women, on whose
intelligence they set great store, and they led him civilly to their
queen, who conferred upon him the courtesy of the Gardens after
Lock-out Time, and henceforth Peter could go whither he chose, and the
fairies had orders to put him in comfort.

Such was his first voyage to the Gardens, and you may gather from the
antiquity of the language that it took place a long time ago.  But
Peter never grows any older, and if we could be watching for him under
the bridge to-night (but, of course, we can't), I dare say we should
see him hoisting his nightgown and sailing or paddling towards us in
the Thrushes Nest.  When he sails, he sits down, but he stands up to
paddle.  I shall tell you presently how he got his paddle.

Long before the time for the opening of the gates comes he steals back
to the island, for people must not see him (he is not so human as all
that), but this gives him hours for play, and he plays exactly as real
children play.  At least he thinks so, and it is one of the pathetic
things about him that he often plays quite wrongly.

You see, he had no one to tell him how children really play, for the
fairies are all more or less in hiding until dusk, and so know nothing,
and though the birds pretended that they could tell him a great deal,
when the time for telling came, it was wonderful how little they really
knew.  They told him the truth about hide-and-seek, and he often plays
it by himself, but even the ducks on the Round Pond could not explain
to him what it is that makes the pond so fascinating to boys.  Every
night the ducks have forgotten all the events of the day, except the
number of pieces of cake thrown to them.  They are gloomy creatures,
and say that cake is not what it was in their young days.

[Illustration: _Fairies are all more or less in hiding until dusk._]

So Peter had to find out many things for himself.  He often played
ships at the Round Pond, but his ship was only a hoop which he had
found on the grass.  Of course, he had never seen a hoop, and he
wondered what you play at with them, and decided that you play at
pretending they are boats.  This hoop always sank at once, but he waded
in for it, and sometimes he dragged it gleefully round the rim of the
pond, and he was quite proud to think that he had discovered what boys
do with hoops.

Another time, when he found a child's pail, he thought it was for
sitting in, and he sat so hard in it that he could scarcely get out of
it.  Also he found a balloon.  It was bobbing about on the Hump, quite
as if it was having a game by itself, and he caught it after an
exciting chase.  But he thought it was a ball, and Jenny Wren had told
him that boys kick balls, so he kicked it; and after that he could not
find it anywhere.

Perhaps the most surprising thing he found was a perambulator.  It was
under a lime-tree, near the entrance to the Fairy Queen's Winter Palace
(which is within the circle of the seven Spanish chestnuts), and Peter
approached it warily, for the birds had never mentioned such things to
him.  Lest it was alive, he addressed it politely; and then, as it gave
no answer, he went nearer and felt it cautiously.  He gave it a little
push, and it ran from him, which made him think it must be alive after
all; but, as it had run from him, he was not afraid.  So he stretched
out his hand to pull it to him, but this time it ran at him, and he was
so alarmed that he leapt the railing and scudded away to his boat.  You
must not think, however, that he was a coward, for he came back next
night with a crust in one hand and a stick in the other, but the
perambulator had gone, and he never saw any other one.  I have promised
to tell you also about his paddle.  It was a child's spade which he had
found near St. Govor's Well, and he thought it was a paddle.

Do you pity Peter Pan for making these mistakes?  If so, I think it
rather silly of you.  What I mean is that, of course, one must pity him
now and then, but to pity him all the time would be impertinence.  He
thought he had the most splendid time in the Gardens, and to think you
have it is almost quite as good as really to have it.  He played
without ceasing, while you often waste time by being mad-dog or
Mary-Annish.  He could be neither of these things, for he had never
heard of them, but do you think he is to be pitied for that?

Oh, he was merry!  He was as much merrier than you, for instance, as
you are merrier than your father.  Sometimes he fell, like a
spinning-top, and from sheer merriment.  Have you seen a greyhound
leaping the fences of the Gardens?  That is how Peter leaps them.

And think of the music of his pipe.  Gentlemen who walk home at night
write to the papers to say they heard a nightingale in the Gardens, but
it is really Peter's pipe they hear.  Of course, he had no mother--at
least, what use was she to him!  You can be sorry for him for that, but
don't be too sorry, for the next thing I mean to tell you is how he
revisited her.  It was the fairies who gave him the chance.



IV

LOCK-OUT TIME

It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost
the only thing known for certain is that there are fairies wherever
there are children.  Long ago children were forbidden the Gardens, and
at that time there was not a fairy in the place; then the children were
admitted, and the fairies came trooping in that very evening.  They
can't resist following the children, but you seldom see them, partly
because they live in the daytime behind the railings, where you are not
allowed to go, and also partly because they are so cunning.  They are
not a bit cunning after Lock-out, but until Lock-out, my word!

When you were a bird you knew the fairies pretty well, and you remember
a good deal about them in your babyhood, which it is a great pity you
can't write down, for gradually you forget, and I have heard of
children who declared that they had never once seen a fairy.  Very
likely if they said this in the Kensington Gardens, they were standing
looking at a fairy all the time.  The reason they were cheated was that
she pretended to be something else.  This is one of their best tricks.
They usually pretend to be flowers, because the court sits in the
Fairies' Basin, and there are so many flowers there, and all along the
Baby Walk, that a flower is the thing least likely to attract
attention.  They dress exactly like flowers, and change with the
seasons, putting on white when lilies are in and blue for bluebells,
and so on.  They like crocus and hyacinth time best of all, as they are
partial to a bit of colour, but tulips (except white ones, which are
the fairy cradles) they consider garish, and they sometimes put off
dressing like tulips for days, so that the beginning of the tulip weeks
is almost the best time to catch them.

When they think you are not looking they skip along pretty lively, but
if you look, and they fear there is no time to hide, they stand quite
still pretending to be flowers.  Then, after you have passed without
knowing that they were fairies, they rush home and tell their mothers
they have had such an adventure.  The Fairy Basin, you remember, is all
covered with ground-ivy (from which they make their castor oil), with
flowers growing in it here and there.  Most of them really are flowers,
but some of them are fairies.  You never can be sure of them, but a
good plan is to walk by looking the other way, and then turn round
sharply.  Another good plan, which David and I sometimes follow, is to
stare them down.  After a long time they can't help winking, and then
you know for certain that they are fairies.

There are also numbers of them along the Baby Walk, which is a famous
gentle place, as spots frequented by fairies are called.  Once
twenty-four of them had an extraordinary adventure.  They were a girls'
school out for a walk with the governess, and all wearing hyacinth
gowns, when she suddenly put her finger to her mouth, and then they all
stood still on an empty bed and pretended to be hyacinths.
Unfortunately what the governess had heard was two gardeners coming to
plant new flowers in that very bed.  They were wheeling a hand-cart
with the flowers in it, and were quite surprised to find the bed
occupied.  'Pity to lift them hyacinths,'  said the one man.  'Duke's
orders,' replied the other, and, having emptied the cart, they dug up
the boarding school and put the poor, terrified things in it in five
rows.  Of course, neither the governess nor the girls dare let on that
they were fairies, so they were carted far away to a potting-shed, out
of which they escaped in the night without their shoes, but there was a
great row about it among the parents, and the school was ruined.

As for their houses, it is no use looking for them, because they are
the exact opposite of our houses.  You can see our houses by day but
you can't see them by dark.  Well, you can see their houses by dark,
but you can't see them by day, for they are the colour of night, and I
never heard of any one yet who could see night in the daytime.  This
does not mean that they are black, for night has its colours just as
day has, but ever so much brighter.  Their blues and reds and greens
are like ours with a light behind them.  The palace is entirely built
of many-coloured glasses, and it is quite the loveliest of all royal
residences, but the queen sometimes complains because the common people
will peep in to see what she is doing.  They are very inquisitive folk,
and press quite hard against the glass, and that is why their noses are
mostly snubby.  The streets are miles long and very twisty, and have
paths on each side made of bright worsted.  The birds used to steal the
worsted for their nests, but a policeman has been appointed to hold on
at the other end.

One of the great differences between the fairies and us is that they
never do anything useful.  When the first baby laughed for the first
time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping
about.  That was the beginning of fairies.  They look tremendously
busy, you know, as if they had not a moment to spare, but if you were
to ask them what they are doing, they could not tell you in the least.
They are frightfully ignorant, and everything they do is make-believe.
They have a postman, but he never calls except at Christmas with his
little box, and though they have beautiful schools, nothing is taught
in them; the youngest child being chief person is always elected
mistress, and when she has called the roll, they all go out for a walk
and never come back.  It is a very noticeable thing that, in fairy
families, the youngest is always chief person, and usually becomes a
prince or princess; and children remember this, and think it must be so
among humans also; and that is why they are often made uneasy when they
come upon their mother furtively putting new frills on the basinette.

You have probably observed that your baby-sister wants to do all sorts
of things that your mother and her nurse want her not to do--to stand
up at sitting-down time, and to sit down at stand-up time, for
instance, or to wake up when she should fall asleep, or to crawl on the
floor when she is wearing her best frock, and so on, and perhaps you
put this down to naughtiness.  But it is not; it simply means that she
is doing as she has seen the fairies do; she begins by following their
ways, and it takes about two years to get her into the human ways.  Her
fits of passion, which are awful to behold, and are usually called
teething, are no such thing; they are her natural exasperation, because
we don't understand her, though she is talking an intelligible
language.  She is talking fairy.  The reason mothers and nurses know
what her remarks mean, before other people know, as that 'Guch' means
'Give it to me at once,' while 'Wa' is 'Why do you wear such a funny
hat?' is because, mixing so much with babies, they have picked up a
little of the fairy language.

Of late David has been thinking back hard about the fairy tongue, with
his hands clutching his temples, and he has remembered a number of
their phrases which I shall tell you some day if I don't forget.  He
had heard them in the days when he was a thrush, and though I suggested
to him that perhaps it is really bird language he is remembering, he
says not, for these phrases are about fun and adventures, and the birds
talked of nothing but nest-building.  He distinctly remembers that the
birds used to go from spot to spot like ladies at shop windows, looking
at the different nests and saying, 'Not my colour, my dear,' and 'How
would that do with a soft lining?' and 'But will it wear?' and 'What
hideous trimming!' and so on.

The fairies are exquisite dancers, and that is why one of the first
things the baby does is to sign to you to dance to him and then to cry
when you do it.  They hold their great balls in the open air, in what
is called a fairy ring.  For weeks afterwards you can see the ring on
the grass.  It is not there when they begin, but they make it by
waltzing round and round.  Sometimes you will find mushrooms inside the
ring, and these are fairy chairs that the servants have forgotten to
clear away.  The chairs and the rings are the only tell-tale marks
these little people leave behind them, and they would remove even these
were they not so fond of dancing that they toe it till the very moment
of the opening of the gates.  David and I once found a fairy ring quite
warm.

But there is also a way of finding out about the ball before it takes
place.  You know the boards which tell at what time the Gardens are to
close to-day.  Well, these tricky fairies sometimes slyly change the
board on a ball night, so that it says the Gardens are to close at
six-thirty, for instance, instead of at seven.  This enables them to
get begun half an hour earlier.

[Illustration: _These tricky fairies sometimes change the board on a
ball night._]

If on such a night we could remain behind in the Gardens, as the famous
Maimie Mannering did, we might see delicious sights; hundreds of lovely
fairies hastening to the ball, the married ones wearing their wedding
rings round their waists; the gentlemen, all in uniform, holding up the
ladies' trains, and linkmen running in front carrying winter cherries,
which are the fairy-lanterns; the cloakroom where they put on their
silver slippers and get a ticket for their wraps; the flowers streaming
up from the Baby Walk to look on, and always welcome because they can
lend a pin; the supper-table, with Queen Mab at the head of it, and
behind her chair the Lord Chamberlain, who carries a dandelion on which
he blows when her Majesty wants to know the time.

[Illustration: _When her Majesty wants to know the time._]

The table-cloth varies according to the seasons, and in May it is made
of chestnut blossom.  The way the fairy servants do is this: The men,
scores of them, climb up the trees and shake the branches, and the
blossom falls like snow.  Then the lady servants sweep it together by
whisking their skirts until it is exactly like a tablecloth, and that
is how they get their tablecloth.

They have real glasses and real wine of three kinds, namely, blackthorn
wine, berberris wine, and cowslip wine, and the Queen pours out, but
the bottles are so heavy that she just pretends to pour out.  There is
bread-and-butter to begin with, of the size of a threepenny bit; and
cakes to end with, and they are so small that they have no crumbs.  The
fairies sit round on mushrooms, and at first they are well-behaved and
always cough off the table, and so on, but after a bit they are not so
well-behaved and stick their fingers into the butter, which is got from
the roots of old trees, and the really horrid ones crawl over the
tablecloth chasing sugar or other delicacies with their tongues.  When
the Queen sees them doing this she signs to the servants to wash up and
put away, and then everybody adjourns to the dance, the Queen walking
in front while the Lord Chamberlain walks behind her, carrying two
little pots, one of which contains the juice of wallflower and the
other the juice of Solomon's seals.  Wallflower juice is good for
reviving dancers who fall to the ground in a fit, and Solomon's seals
juice is for bruises.  They bruise very easily, and when Peter plays
faster and faster they foot it till they fall down in fits.  For, as
you know without my telling you, Peter Pan is the fairies' orchestra.
He sits in the middle of the ring, and they would never dream of having
a smart dance nowadays without him.  'P. P.' is written on the corner
of the invitation-cards sent out by all really good families.  They are
grateful little people, too, and at the princesses coming-of-age ball
(they come of age on their second birthday and have a birthday every
month) they gave him the wish of his heart.

[Illustration: _Peter Pan is the fairies' orchestra._]

The way it was done was this.  The Queen ordered him to kneel, and then
said that for playing so beautifully she would give him the wish of his
heart.  Then they all gathered round Peter to hear what was the wish of
his heart, but for a long time he hesitated, not being certain what it
was himself.

'If I chose to go back to mother,' he asked at last, 'could you give me
that wish?'

Now this question vexed them, for were he to return to his mother they
should lose his music, so the Queen tilted her nose contemptuously and
said, 'Pooh! ask for a much bigger wish than that.'

'Is that quite a little wish?' he inquired.

'As little as this,' the Queen answered, putting her hands near each
other.

'What size is a big wish?' he asked.

She measured it off on her skirt and it was a very handsome length.

Then Peter reflected and said, 'Well, then, I think I shall have two
little wishes instead of one big one.'

Of course, the fairies had to agree, though his cleverness rather
shocked them, and he said that his first wish was to go to his mother,
but with the right to return to the Gardens if he found her
disappointing.  His second wish he would hold in reserve.

They tried to dissuade him, and even put obstacles in the way.

'I can give you the power to fly to her house,' the Queen said, 'but I
can't open the door for you.'

'The window I flew out at will be open,' Peter said confidently.
'Mother always keeps it open in the hope that I may fly back.'

'How do you know?' they asked, quite surprised, and, really, Peter
could not explain how he knew.

'I just do know,' he said.

So as he persisted in his wish, they had to grant it.  The way they
gave him power to fly was this: They all tickled him on the shoulder,
and soon he felt a funny itching in that part, and then up he rose
higher and higher, and flew away out of the Gardens and over the
housetops.

It was so delicious that instead of flying straight to his own home he
skimmed away over St. Paul's to the Crystal Palace and back by the
river and Regent's Park, and by the time he reached his mother's window
he had quite made up his mind that his second wish should be to become
a bird.

The window was wide open, just as he knew it would be, and in he
fluttered, and there was his mother lying asleep.  Peter alighted
softly on the wooden rail at the foot of the bed and had a good look at
her.  She lay with her head on her hand, and the hollow in the pillow
was like a nest lined with her brown wavy hair.  He remembered, though
he had long forgotten it, that she always gave her hair a holiday at
night.  How sweet the frills of her nightgown were!  He was very glad
she was such a pretty mother.

But she looked sad, and he knew why she looked sad.  One of her arms
moved as if it wanted to go round something, and he knew what it wanted
to go round.

'O mother!' said Peter to himself, 'if you just knew who is sitting on
the rail at the foot of the bed.'

Very gently he patted the little mound that her feet made, and he could
see by her face that she liked it.  He knew he had but to say 'Mother'
ever so softly, and she would wake up.  They always wake up at once if
it is you that says their name.  Then she would give such a joyous cry
and squeeze him tight.  How nice that would be to him, but oh! how
exquisitely delicious it would be to her.  That, I am afraid, is how
Peter regarded it.  In returning to his mother he never doubted that he
was giving her the greatest treat a woman can have.  Nothing can be
more splendid, he thought, than to have a little boy of your own.  How
proud of him they are! and very right and proper, too.

But why does Peter sit so long on the rail; why does he not tell his
mother that he has come back?

I quite shrink from the truth, which is that he sat there in two minds.
Sometimes he looked longingly at his mother, and sometimes he looked
longingly at the window.  Certainly it would be pleasant to be her boy
again, but on the other hand, what times those had been in the Gardens!
Was he so sure that he should enjoy wearing clothes again?  He popped
off the bed and opened some drawers to have a look at his old garments.
They were still there, but he could not remember how you put them on.
The socks, for instance, were they worn on the hands or on the feet?
He was about to try one of them on his hand, when he had a great
adventure.  Perhaps the drawer had creaked; at any rate, his mother
woke up, for he heard her say 'Peter,' as if it was the most lovely
word in the language.  He remained sitting on the floor and held his
breath, wondering how she knew that he had come back.  If she said
'Peter' again, he meant to cry 'Mother' and run to her.  But she spoke
no more, she made little moans only, and when he next peeped at her she
was once more asleep, with tears on her face.

It made Peter very miserable, and what do you think was the first thing
he did?  Sitting on the rail at the foot of the bed, he played a
beautiful lullaby to his mother on his pipe.  He had made it up himself
out of the way she said 'Peter,' and he never stopped playing until she
looked happy.

He thought this so clever of him that he could scarcely resist wakening
her to hear her say, 'O Peter, how exquisitely you play!'  However, as
she now seemed comfortable, he again cast looks at the window.  You
must not think that he meditated flying away and never coming back.  He
had quite decided to be his mother's boy, but hesitated about beginning
to-night.  It was the second wish which troubled him.  He no longer
meant to make it a wish to be a bird, but not to ask for a second wish
seemed wasteful, and, of course, he could not ask for it without
returning to the fairies.  Also, if he put off asking for his wish too
long it might go bad.  He asked himself if he had not been hard-hearted
to fly away without saying good-bye to Solomon.  'I should like awfully
to sail in my boat just once more,' he said wistfully to his sleeping
mother.  He quite argued with her as if she could hear him.  'It would
be so splendid to tell the birds of this adventure,' he said coaxingly.
'I promise to come back,' he said solemnly, and meant it, too.

And in the end, you know, he flew away.  Twice he came back from the
window, wanting to kiss his mother, but he feared the delight of it
might waken her, so at last he played her a lovely kiss on his pipe,
and then he flew back to the Gardens.

Many nights, and even months, passed before he asked the fairies for
his second wish; and I am not sure that I quite know why he delayed so
long.  One reason was that he had so many good-byes to say, not only to
his particular friends, but to a hundred favourite spots.  Then he had
his last sail, and his very last sail, and his last sail of all, and so
on.  Again, a number of farewell feasts were given in his honour; and
another comfortable reason was that, after all, there was no hurry, for
his mother would never weary of waiting for him.  This last reason
displeased old Solomon, for it was an encouragement to the birds to
procrastinate.  Solomon had several excellent mottoes for keeping them
at their work, such as 'Never put off laying to-day because you can lay
to-morrow,' and 'In this world there are no second chances,' and yet
here was Peter gaily putting off and none the worse for it.  The birds
pointed this out to each other, and fell into lazy habits.

But, mind you, though Peter was so slow in going back to his mother, he
was quite decided to go back.  The best proof of this was his caution
with the fairies.  They were most anxious that he should remain in the
Gardens to play to them, and to bring this to pass they tried to trick
him into making such a remark as 'I wish the grass was not so wet,' and
some of them danced out of time in the hope that he might cry, 'I do
wish you would keep time!'  Then they would have said that this was his
second wish.  But he smoked their design, and though on occasions he
began, 'I wish----' he always stopped in time.  So when at last he said
to them bravely, 'I wish now to go back to mother for ever and always,'
they had to tickle his shoulders and let him go.

He went in a hurry in the end, because he had dreamt that his mother
was crying, and he knew what was the great thing she cried for, and
that a hug from her splendid Peter would quickly make her to smile.
Oh! he felt sure of it, and so eager was he to be nestling in her arms
that this time he flew straight to the window, which was always to be
open for him.

But the window was closed, and there were iron bars on it, and peering
inside he saw his mother sleeping peacefully with her arm around
another little boy.

Peter called, 'Mother! mother!' but she heard him not; in vain he beat
his little limbs against the iron bars.  He had to fly back, sobbing,
to the Gardens, and he never saw his dear again.  What a glorious boy
he had meant to be to her!  Ah, Peter! we who have made the great
mistake, how differently we should all act at the second chance.  But
Solomon was right--there is no second chance, not for most of us.  When
we reach the window it is Lock-out Time.  The iron bars are up for life.



V

THE LITTLE HOUSE

Everybody has heard of the Little House in the Kensington Gardens,
which is the only house in the whole world that the fairies have built
for humans.  But no one has really seen it, except just three or four,
and they have not only seen it but slept in it, and unless you sleep in
it you never see it.  This is because it is not there when you lie
down, but it is there when you wake up and step outside.

In a kind of way every one may see it, but what you see is not really
it, but only the light in the windows.  You see the light after
Lock-out Time.  David, for instance, saw it quite distinctly far away
among the trees as we were going home from the pantomime, and Oliver
Bailey saw it the night he stayed so late at the Temple, which is the
name of his father's office.  Angela Clare, who loves to have a tooth
extracted because then she is treated to tea in a shop, saw more than
one light, she saw hundreds of them all together; and this must have
been the fairies building the house, for they build it every night, and
always in a different part of the Gardens.  She thought one of the
lights was bigger than the others, though she was not quite sure, for
they jumped about so, and it might have been another one that was
bigger.  But if it was the same one, it was Peter Pan's light.  Heaps
of children have seen the light, so that is nothing.  But Maimie
Mannering was the famous one for whom the house was first built.

Maimie was always rather a strange girl, and it was at night that she
was strange.  She was four years of age, and in the daytime she was the
ordinary kind.  She was pleased when her brother Tony, who was a
magnificent fellow of six, took notice of her, and she looked up to him
in the right way, and tried in vain to imitate him, and was flattered
rather than annoyed when he shoved her about.  Also, when she was
batting, she would pause though the ball was in the air to point out to
you that she was wearing new shoes.  She was quite the ordinary kind in
the daytime.

But as the shades of night fell, Tony, the swaggerer, lost his contempt
for Maimie and eyed her fearfully; and no wonder, for with dark there
came into her face a look that I can describe only as a leary look.  It
was also a serene look that contrasted grandly with Tony's uneasy
glances.  Then he would make her presents of his favourite toys (which
he always took away from her next morning), and she accepted them with
a disturbing smile.  The reason he was now become so wheedling and she
so mysterious was (in brief) that they knew they were about to be sent
to bed.  It was then that Maimie was terrible.  Tony entreated her not
to do it to-night, and the mother and their coloured nurse threatened
her, but Maimie merely smiled her agitating smile.  And by and by when
they were alone with their night-light she would start up in bed crying
'Hsh! what was that?'  Tony beseeches her, 'It was nothing--don't,
Maimie, don't' and pulls the sheet over his head.  'It is coming
nearer!' she cries.  'Oh, look at it, Tony!  It is feeling your bed
with its horns--it is boring for you, O Tony, oh!' and she desists not
until he rushes downstairs in his combinations, screeching.  When they
came up to whip Maimie they usually found her sleeping tranquilly--not
shamming, you know, but really sleeping, and looking like the sweetest
little angel, which seems to me to make it almost worse.

But of course it was daytime when they were in the Gardens, and then
Tony did most of the talking.  You could gather from his talk that he
was a very brave boy, and no one was so proud of it as Maimie.  She
would have loved to have a ticket on her saying that she was his
sister.  And at no time did she admire him more than when he told her,
as he often did with splendid firmness, that one day he meant to remain
behind in the Gardens after the gates were closed.

'O Tony,' she would say with awful respect, 'but the fairies will be so
angry!'

'I dare say,' replied Tony carelessly.

'Perhaps,' she said, thrilling, 'Peter Pan will give you a sail in his
boat!'

'I shall make him,' replied Tony; no wonder she was proud of him.

But they should not have talked so loudly, for one day they were
overheard by a fairy who had been gathering skeleton leaves, from which
the little people weave their summer curtains, and after that Tony was
a marked boy.  They loosened the rails before he sat on them, so that
down he came on the back of his head; they tripped him up by catching
his bootlace, and bribed the ducks to sink his boat.  Nearly all the
nasty accidents you meet with in the Gardens occur because the fairies
have taken an ill-will to you, and so it behoves you to be careful what
you say about them.

Maimie was one of the kind who like to fix a day for doing things, but
Tony was not that kind, and when she asked him which day he was to
remain behind in the Gardens after Lock-out he merely replied, 'Just
some day'; he was quite vague about which day except when she asked,
'Will it be to-day?' and then he could always say for certain that it
would not be to-day.  So she saw that he was waiting for a real good
chance.

This brings us to an afternoon when the Gardens were white with snow,
and there was ice on the Round Pond; not thick enough to skate on, but
at least you could spoil it for to-morrow by flinging stones, and many
bright little boys and girls were doing that.

When Tony and his sister arrived they wanted to go straight to the
pond, but their ayah said they must take a sharp walk first, and as she
said this she glanced at the time-board to see when the Gardens closed
that night.  It read half-past five.  Poor ayah! she is the one who
laughs continuously because there are so many white children in the
world, but she was not to laugh much more that day.

Well, they went up the Baby Walk and back, and when they returned to
the time-board she was surprised to see that it now read five o'clock
for closing-time.  But she was unacquainted with the tricky ways of the
fairies, and so did not see (as Maimie and Tony saw at once) that they
had changed the hour because there was to be a ball to-night.  She said
there was only time now to walk to the top of the Hump and back, and as
they trotted along with her she little guessed what was thrilling their
little breasts.  You see the chance had come of seeing a fairy ball.
Never, Tony felt, could he hope for a better chance.

He had to feel this for Maimie so plainly felt it for him.  Her eager
eyes asked the question, 'Is it to-day?' and he gasped and then nodded.
Maimie slipped her hand into Tony's, and hers was hot, but his was
cold.  She did a very kind thing; she took off her scarf and gave it to
him.  'In case you should feel cold,' she whispered.  Her face was
aglow, but Tony's was very gloomy.

As they turned on the top of the Hump he whispered to her, 'I'm afraid
nurse would see me, so I shan't be able to do it.'

Maimie admired him more than ever for being afraid of nothing but their
ayah, when there were so many unknown terrors to fear, and she said
aloud, 'Tony, I shall race you to the gate,' and in a whisper, 'Then
you can hide,' and off they ran.

Tony could always outdistance her easily, but never had she known him
speed away so quickly as now, and she was sure he hurried that he might
have more time to hide.  'Brave, brave!' her doting eyes were crying
when she got a dreadful shock; instead of hiding, her hero had run out
at the gate!  At this bitter sight Maimie stopped blankly, as if all
her lapful of darling treasures were suddenly spilled, and then for
very disdain she could not sob; in a swell of protest against all
puling cowards she ran to St. Govor's Well and hid in Tony's stead.

When the ayah reached the gate and saw Tony far in front she thought
her other charge was with him and passed out.  Twilight crept over the
Gardens, and hundreds of people passed out, including the last one, who
always has to run for it, but Maimie saw them not.  She had shut her
eyes tight and glued them with passionate tears.  When she opened them
something very cold ran up her legs and up her arms and dropped into
her heart.  It was the stillness of the Gardens.  Then she heard
_clang_, then from another part _clang_, then _clang, clang_ far away.
It was the Closing of the Gates.

Immediately the last clang had died away Maimie distinctly heard a
voice say, 'So that's all right.'  It had a wooden sound and seemed to
come from above, and she looked up in time to see an elm-tree
stretching out its arms and yawning.

She was about to say, 'I never knew you could speak!' when a metallic
voice that seemed to come from the ladle at the well remarked to the
elm, 'I suppose it is a bit coldish up there?' and the elm replied,
'Not particularly, but you do get numb standing so long on one leg,'
and he flapped his arms vigorously just as the cab-men do before they
drive off.  Maimie was quite surprised to see that a number of other
tall trees were doing the same sort of thing, and she stole away to the
Baby Walk and crouched observantly under a Minorca holly which shrugged
its shoulders but did not seem to mind her.

She was not in the least cold.  She was wearing a russet-coloured
pelisse and had the hood over her head, so that nothing of her showed
except her dear little face and her curls.  The rest of her real self
was hidden far away inside so many warm garments that in shape she
seemed rather like a ball.  She was about forty round the waist.

There was a good deal going on in the Baby Walk, where Maimie arrived
in time to see a magnolia and a Persian lilac step over the railing and
set off for a smart walk.  They moved in a jerky sort of way certainly,
but that was because they used crutches.  An elderberry hobbled across
the walk, and stood chatting with some young quinces, and they all had
crutches.  The crutches were the sticks that are tied to young trees
and shrubs.  They were quite familiar objects to Maimie, but she had
never known what they were for until to-night.

She peeped up the walk and saw her first fairy.  He was a street boy
fairy who was running up the walk closing the weeping trees.  The way
he did it was this: he pressed a spring in the trunks and they shut
like umbrellas, deluging the little plants beneath with snow.  'O you
naughty, naughty child!' Maimie cried indignantly, for she knew what it
was to have a dripping umbrella about your ears.

Fortunately the mischievous fellow was out of earshot, but a
chrysanthemum heard her, and said so pointedly, 'Hoity-toity, what is
this?' that she had to come out and show herself.  Then the whole
vegetable kingdom was rather puzzled what to do.

[Illustration: _A chrysanthemum heard her, and said pointedly,
"Hoity-toity, what is this?"_]

'Of course it is no affair of ours,' a spindle-tree said after they had
whispered together, 'but you know quite well you ought not to be here,
and perhaps our duty is to report you to the fairies; what do you think
yourself?'

'I think you should not,' Maimie replied, which so perplexed them that
they said petulantly there was no arguing with her.  'I wouldn't ask it
of you,' she assured them, 'if I thought it was wrong,' and of course
after this they could not well carry tales.  They then said,
'Well-a-day,' and 'Such is life,' for they can be frightfully
sarcastic; but she felt sorry for those of them who had no crutches,
and she said good-naturedly, 'Before I go to the fairies' ball, I
should like to take you for a walk one at a time; you can lean on me,
you know.'

At this they clapped their hands, and she escorted them up the Baby
Walk and back again, one at a time, putting an arm or a finger round
the very frail, setting their leg right when it got too ridiculous, and
treating the foreign ones quite as courteously as the English, though
she could not understand a word they said.

They behaved well on the whole, though some whimpered that she had not
taken them as far as she took Nancy or Grace or Dorothy, and others
jagged her, but it was quite unintentional, and she was too much of a
lady to cry out.  So much walking tired her, and she was anxious to be
off to the ball, but she no longer felt afraid.  The reason she felt no
more fear was that it was now night-time, and in the dark, you
remember, Maimie was always rather strange.

They were now loth to let her go, for, 'If the fairies see you,' they
warned her, 'they will mischief you--stab you to death, or compel you
to nurse their children, or turn you into something tedious, like an
evergreen oak.'  As they said this they looked with affected pity at an
evergreen oak, for in winter they are very envious of the evergreens.

'Oh, la!' replied the oak bitingly, 'how deliciously cosy it is to
stand here buttoned to the neck and watch you poor naked creatures
shivering.'

This made them sulky, though they had really brought it on themselves,
and they drew for Maimie a very gloomy picture of the perils that would
face her if she insisted on going to the ball.

She learned from a purple filbert that the court was not in its usual
good temper at present, the cause being the tantalising heart of the
Duke of Christmas Daisies.  He was an Oriental fairy, very poorly of a
dreadful complaint, namely, inability to love, and though he had tried
many ladies in many lands he could not fall in love with one of them.
Queen Mab, who rules in the Gardens, had been confident that her girls
would bewitch him, but alas! his heart, the doctor said, remained cold.
This rather irritating doctor, who was his private physician, felt the
Duke's heart immediately after any lady was presented, and then always
shook his bald head and murmured, 'Cold, quite cold.'  Naturally Queen
Mab felt disgraced, and first she tried the effect of ordering the
court into tears for nine minutes, and then she blamed the Cupids and
decreed that they should wear fools' caps until they thawed the Duke's
frozen heart.

[Illustration: _Shook his bald head and murmured, "Cold, quite cold."_]

'How I should love to see the Cupids in their dear little fools' caps!'
Maimie cried, and away she ran to look for them very recklessly, for
the Cupids hate to be laughed at.

It is always easy to discover where a fairies' ball is being held, as
ribbons are stretched between it and all the populous parts of the
Gardens, on which those invited may walk to the dance without wetting
their pumps.  This night the ribbons were red, and looked very pretty
on the snow.

Maimie walked alongside one of them for some distance without meeting
anybody, but at last she saw a fairy cavalcade approaching.  To her
surprise they seemed to be returning from the ball, and she had just
time to hide from them by bending her knees and holding out her arms
and pretending to be a garden chair.  There were six horsemen in front
and six behind; in the middle walked a prim lady wearing a long train
held up by two pages, and on the train, as if it were a couch, reclined
a lovely girl, for in this way do aristocratic fairies travel about.
She was dressed in golden rain, but the most enviable part of her was
her neck, which was blue in colour and of a velvet texture, and of
course showed off her diamond necklace as no white throat could have
glorified it.  The high-born fairies obtain this admired effect by
pricking their skin, which lets the blue blood come through and dye
them, and you cannot imagine anything so dazzling unless you have seen
the ladies' busts in the jewellers' windows.

Maimie also noticed that the whole cavalcade seemed to be in a passion,
tilting their noses higher than it can be safe for even fairies to tilt
them, and she concluded that this must be another case in which the
doctor had said 'Cold, quite cold.'

Well, she followed the ribbon to a place where it became a bridge over
a dry puddle into which another fairy had fallen and been unable to
climb out.  At first this little damsel was afraid of Maimie, who most
kindly went to her aid, but soon she sat in her hand chatting gaily and
explaining that her name was Brownie, and that though only a poor
street singer she was on her way to the ball to see if the Duke would
have her.

'Of course,' she said, 'I am rather plain,' and this made Maimie
uncomfortable, for indeed the simple little creature was almost quite
plain for a fairy.

It was difficult to know what to reply.

'I see you think I have no chance,' Brownie said falteringly.

'I don't say that,' Maimie answered politely; 'of course your face is
just a tiny bit homely, but----'  Really it was quite awkward for her.

Fortunately she remembered about her father and the bazaar.  He had
gone to a fashionable bazaar where all the most beautiful ladies in
London were on view for half a crown the second day, but on his return
home, instead of being dissatisfied with Maimie's mother, he had said,
'You can't think, my dear, what a relief it is to see a homely face
again.'

Maimie repeated this story, and it fortified Brownie tremendously,
indeed she had no longer the slightest doubt that the Duke would choose
her.  So she scudded away up the ribbon, calling out to Maimie not to
follow lest the Queen should mischief her.

But Maimie's curiosity tugged her forward, and presently at the seven
Spanish chestnuts she saw a wonderful light.  She crept forward until
she was quite near it, and then she peeped from behind a tree.

The light, which was as high as your head above the ground, was
composed of myriads of glow-worms all holding on to each other, and so
forming a dazzling canopy over the fairy ring.  There were thousands of
little people looking on, but they were in shadow and drab in colour
compared to the glorious creatures within that luminous circle, who
were so bewilderingly bright that Maimie had to wink hard all the time
she looked at them.

It was amazing and even irritating to her that the Duke of Christmas
Daisies should be able to keep out of love for a moment: yet out of
love his dusky grace still was: you could see it by the shamed looks of
the Queen and court (though they pretended not to care), by the way
darling ladies brought forward for his approval burst into tears as
they were told to pass on, and by his own most dreary face.

Maimie could also see the pompous doctor feeling the Duke's heart and
hear him give utterance to his parrot cry, and she was particularly
sorry for the Cupids, who stood in their fools' caps in obscure places
and, every time they heard that 'Cold, quite cold,' bowed their
disgraced little heads.

She was disappointed not to see Peter Pan, and I may as well tell you
now why he was so late that night.  It was because his boat had got
wedged on the Serpentine between fields of floating ice, through which
he had to break a perilous passage with his trusty paddle.

The fairies had as yet scarcely missed him, for they could not dance,
so heavy were their hearts.  They forget all the steps when they are
sad, and remember them again when they are merry.  David tells me that
fairies never say, 'We feel happy': what they say is, 'We feel
_dancey_.'

[Illustration: _Fairies never say, "We feel happy"; what they say is,
"We feel_ dancey_."_]

Well, they were looking very undancey indeed, when sudden laughter
broke out among the onlookers, caused by Brownie, who had just arrived
and was insisting on her right to be presented to the Duke.

[Illustration: _Looking very undancey indeed._]

Maimie craned forward eagerly to see how her friend fared, though she
had really no hope; no one seemed to have the least hope except Brownie
herself, who, however, was absolutely confident.  She was led before
his grace, and the doctor putting a finger carelessly on the ducal
heart, which for convenience' sake was reached by a little trap-door in
his diamond shirt, had begun to say mechanically, 'Cold, qui--,' when
he stopped abruptly.

'What's this,' he cried, and first he shook the heart like a watch, and
then he put his ear to it.

'Bless my soul!' cried the doctor, and by this time of course the
excitement among the spectators was tremendous, fairies fainting right
and left.

Everybody stared breathlessly at the Duke, who was very much startled,
and looked as if he would like to run away.  'Good gracious me!' the
doctor was heard muttering, and now the heart was evidently on fire,
for he had to jerk his fingers away from it and put them in his mouth.

The suspense was awful.

Then in a loud voice, and bowing low, 'My Lord Duke,' said the
physician elatedly, 'I have the honour to inform your excellency that
your grace is in love.'

You can't conceive the effect of it.  Brownie held out her arms to the
Duke and he flung himself into them, the Queen leapt into the arms of
the Lord Chamberlain, and the ladies of the court leapt into the arms
of her gentlemen, for it is etiquette to follow her example in
everything.  Thus in a single moment about fifty marriages took place,
for if you leap into each other's arms it is a fairy wedding.  Of
course a clergyman has to be present.

How the crowd cheered and leapt!  Trumpets brayed, the moon came out,
and immediately a thousand couples seized hold of its rays as if they
were ribbons in a May dance and waltzed in wild abandon round the fairy
ring.  Most gladsome sight of all, the Cupids plucked the hated fools'
caps from their heads and cast them high in the air.  And then Maimie
went and spoiled everything.

She could n't help it.  She was crazy with delight over her little
friend's good fortune, so she took several steps forward and cried in
an ecstasy, 'O Brownie, how splendid!'

Everybody stood still, the music ceased, the lights went out, and all
in the time you may take to say, 'Oh dear!'  An awful sense of her
peril came upon Maimie; too late she remembered that she was a lost
child in a place where no human must be between the locking and the
opening of the gates; she heard the murmur of an angry multitude; she
saw a thousand swords flashing for her blood, and she uttered a cry of
terror and fled.

How she ran! and all the time her eyes were starting out of her head.
Many times she lay down, and then quickly jumped up and ran on again.
Her little mind was so entangled in terrors that she no longer knew she
was in the Gardens.  The one thing she was sure of was that she must
never cease to run, and she thought she was still running long after
she had dropped in the Figs and gone to sleep.  She thought the
snowflakes falling on her face were her mother kissing her good-night.
She thought her coverlet of snow was a warm blanket, and tried to pull
it over her head.  And when she heard talking through her dreams she
thought it was mother bringing father to the nursery door to look at
her as she slept.  But it was the fairies.

I am very glad to be able to say that they no longer desired to
mischief her.  When she rushed away they had rent the air with such
cries as 'Slay her!' 'Turn her into something extremely unpleasant!'
and so on, but the pursuit was delayed while they discussed who should
march in front, and this gave Duchess Brownie time to cast herself
before the Queen and demand a boon.

Every bride has a right to a boon, and what she asked for was Maimie's
life.  'Anything except that,' replied Queen Mab sternly, and all the
fairies echoed, 'Anything except that.'  But when they learned how
Maimie had befriended Brownie and so enabled her to attend the ball to
their great glory and renown, they gave three huzzas for the little
human, and set off, like an army, to thank her, the court advancing in
front and the canopy keeping step with it.  They traced Maimie easily
by her footprints in the snow.

But though they found her deep in snow in the Figs, it seemed
impossible to thank Maimie, for they could not waken her.  They went
through the form of thanking her--that is to say, the new King stood on
her body and read her a long address of welcome, but she heard not a
word of it.  They also cleared the snow off her, but soon she was
covered again, and they saw she was in danger of perishing of cold.

'Turn her into something that does not mind the cold,' seemed a good
suggestion of the doctors, but the only thing they could think of that
does not mind cold was a snowflake.  'And it might melt,' the Queen
pointed out, so that idea had to be given up.

A magnificent attempt was made to carry her to a sheltered spot, but
though there were so many of them she was too heavy.  By this time all
the ladies were crying in their handkerchiefs, but presently the Cupids
had a lovely idea.  'Build a house round her,' they cried, and at once
everybody perceived that this was the thing to do; in a moment a
hundred fairy sawyers were among the branches, architects were running
round Maimie, measuring her; a bricklayer's yard sprang up at her feet,
seventy-five masons rushed up with the foundation-stone, and the Queen
laid it, overseers were appointed to keep the boys off, scaffoldings
were run up, the whole place rang with hammers and chisels and
turning-lathes, and by this time the roof was on and the glaziers were
putting in the windows.

[Illustration: _Building the house for Maimie._]

The house was exactly the size of Maimie, and perfectly lovely.  One of
her arms was extended, and this had bothered them for a second, but
they built a verandah round it leading to the front door.  The windows
were the size of a coloured picture-book and the door rather smaller,
but it would be easy for her to get out by taking off the roof.  The
fairies, as is their custom, clapped their hands with delight over
their cleverness, and they were so madly in love with the little house
that they could not bear to think they had finished it.  So they gave
it ever so many little extra touches, and even then they added more
extra touches.

For instance, two of them ran up a ladder and put on a chimney.

'Now we fear it is quite finished,' they sighed.

But no, for another two ran up the ladder, and tied some smoke to the
chimney.

'That certainly finishes it,' they said reluctantly.

'Not at all,' cried a glow-worm; 'if she were to wake without seeing a
night-light she might be frightened, so I shall be her night-light.'

'Wait one moment,' said a china merchant, 'and I shall make you a
saucer.'

Now, alas! it was absolutely finished.

Oh, dear no!

'Gracious me!' cried a brass manufacturer, 'there's no handle on the
door,' and he put one on.

An ironmonger added a scraper, and an old lady ran up with a door-mat.
Carpenters arrived with a water-butt, and the painters insisted on
painting it.

Finished at last!

'Finished!  How can it be finished,' the plumber demanded scornfully,
'before hot and cold are put in,' and he put in hot and cold.  Then an
army of gardeners arrived with fairy carts and spades and seeds and
bulbs and forcing-houses, and soon they had a flower-garden to the
right of the verandah, and a vegetable garden to the left, and roses
and clematis on the walls of the house, and in less time than five
minutes all these dear things were in full bloom.

Oh, how beautiful the little house was now!  But it was at last
finished true as true, and they had to leave it and return to the
dance.  They all kissed their hands to it as they went away, and the
last to go was Brownie.  She stayed a moment behind the others to drop
a pleasant dream down the chimney.

All through the night the exquisite little house stood there in the
Figs taking care of Maimie, and she never knew.  She slept until the
dream was quite finished, and woke feeling deliciously cosy just as
morning was breaking from its egg, and then she almost fell asleep
again, and then she called out, 'Tony,' for she thought she was at home
in the nursery.  As Tony made no answer she sat up, whereupon her head
hit the roof, and it opened like the lid of a box, and to her
bewilderment she saw all around her the Kensington Gardens lying deep
in snow.  As she was not in the nursery she wondered whether this was
really herself, so she pinched her cheeks, and then she knew it was
herself, and this reminded her that she was in the middle of a great
adventure.  She remembered now everything that had happened to her from
the closing of the gates up to her running away from the fairies, but
however, she asked herself, had she got into this funny place?  She
stepped out by the roof, right over the garden, and then she saw the
dear house in which she had passed the night.  It so entranced her that
she could think of nothing else.

'O you darling!  O you sweet!  O you love!' she cried.

Perhaps a human voice frightened the little house, or maybe it now knew
that its work was done, for no sooner had Maimie spoken than it began
to grow smaller; it shrank so slowly that she could scarce believe it
was shrinking, yet she soon knew that it could not contain her now.  It
always remained as complete as ever, but it became smaller and smaller,
and the garden dwindled at the same time, and the snow crept closer,
lapping house and garden up.  Now the house was the size of a little
dog's kennel, and now of a Noah's Ark, but still you could see the
smoke and the door-handle and the roses on the wall, every one
complete.  The glow-worm light was waning too, but it was still there.
'Darling, loveliest, don't go!' Maimie cried, falling on her knees, for
the little house was now the size of a reel of thread, but still quite
complete.  But as she stretched out her arms imploringly the snow crept
up on all sides until it met itself, and where the little house had
been was now one unbroken expanse of snow.

Maimie stamped her foot naughtily, and was putting her fingers to her
eyes, when she heard a kind voice say, 'Don't cry, pretty human, don't
cry,' and then she turned round and saw a beautiful little naked boy
regarding her wistfully.  She knew at once that he must be Peter Pan.



VI

PETER'S GOAT

Maimie felt quite shy, but Peter knew not what shy was.

'I hope you have had a good night,' he said earnestly.

'Thank you,' she replied, 'I was so cosy and warm.  But you'--and she
looked at his nakedness awkwardly--'don't you feel the least bit cold?'

Now cold was another word Peter had forgotten, so he answered, 'I think
not, but I may be wrong: you see I am rather ignorant.  I am not
exactly a boy; Solomon says I am a Betwixt-and-Between.'

'So that is what it is called,' said Maimie thoughtfully.

'That's not my name,' he explained, 'my name is Peter Pan.'

'Yes, of course,' she said, 'I know, everybody knows.'

You can't think how pleased Peter was to learn that all the people
outside the gates knew about him.  He begged Maimie to tell him what
they knew and what they said, and she did so.  They were sitting by
this time on a fallen tree; Peter had cleared off the snow for Maimie,
but he sat on a snowy bit himself.

'Squeeze closer,' Maimie said.

'What is that?' he asked, and she showed him, and then he did it.  They
talked together and he found that people knew a great deal about him,
but not everything, not that he had gone back to his mother and been
barred out, for instance, and he said nothing of this to Maimie, for it
still humiliated him.

'Do they know that I play games exactly like real boys?' he asked very
proudly.  'O Maimie, please tell them!'  But when he revealed how he
played, by sailing his hoop on the Round Pond, and so on, she was
simply horrified.

'All your ways of playing,' she said with her big eyes on him, 'are
quite, quite wrong, and not in the least like how boys play.'

Poor Peter uttered a little moan at this, and he cried for the first
time for I know not how long.  Maimie was extremely sorry for him, and
lent him her handkerchief, but he didn't know in the least what to do
with it, so she showed him, that is to say, she wiped her eyes, and
then gave it back to him, saying, 'Now you do it,' but instead of
wiping his own eyes he wiped hers, and she thought it best to pretend
that this was what she had meant.

She said out of pity for him, 'I shall give you a kiss if you like,'
but though he once knew, he had long forgotten what kisses are, and he
replied, 'Thank you,' and held out his hand, thinking she had offered
to put something into it.  This was a great shock to her, but she felt
she could not explain without shaming him, so with charming delicacy
she gave Peter a thimble which happened to be in her pocket, and
pretended that it was a kiss.  Poor little boy! he quite believed her,
and to this day he wears it on his finger, though there can be scarcely
any one who needs a thimble so little.  You see, though still a tiny
child, it was really years and years since he had seen his mother, and
I dare say the baby who had supplanted him was now a man with whiskers.

But you must not think that Peter Pan was a boy to pity rather than to
admire; if Maimie began by thinking this, she soon found she was very
much mistaken.  Her eyes glistened with admiration when he told her of
his adventures, especially of how he went to and fro between the island
and the Gardens in the Thrush's Nest:

'How romantic!' Maimie exclaimed, but this was another unknown word,
and he hung his head thinking she was despising him.

'I suppose Tony would not have done that?' he said very humbly.

'Never, never!' she answered with conviction, 'he would have been
afraid.'

'What is afraid?' asked Peter longingly.  He thought it must be some
splendid thing.  'I do wish you would teach me how to be afraid,
Maimie,' he said.

'I believe no one could teach that to you,' she answered adoringly, but
Peter thought she meant that he was stupid.  She had told him about
Tony and of the wicked thing she did in the dark to frighten him (she
knew quite well that it was wicked), but Peter misunderstood her
meaning and said, 'Oh, how I wish I was as brave as Tony!'

It quite irritated her.  'You are twenty thousand times braver than
Tony,' she said; 'you are ever so much the bravest boy I ever knew.'

He could scarcely believe she meant it, but when he did believe he
screamed with joy.

'And if you want very much to give me a kiss,' Maimie said, 'you can do
it.'

Very reluctantly Peter began to take the thimble off his finger.  He
thought she wanted it back.

'I don't mean a kiss,' she said hurriedly, 'I mean a thimble.'

'What's that?' Peter asked.

'It's like this,' she said, and kissed him.

'I should love to give you a thimble,' Peter said gravely, so he gave
her one.  He gave her quite a number of thimbles, and then a delightful
idea came into his head.  'Maimie,' he said, 'will you marry me?'

Now, strange to tell, the same idea had come at exactly the same time
into Maimie's head.  'I should like to,' she answered, 'but will there
be room in your boat for two?'

'If you squeeze close,' he said eagerly.

'Perhaps the birds would be angry?'

He assured her that the birds would love to have her, though I am not
so certain of it myself.  Also that there were very few birds in
winter.  'Of course they might want your clothes,' he had to admit
rather falteringly.

She was somewhat indignant at this.

'They are always thinking of their nests,' he said apologetically, 'and
there are some bits of you'--he stroked the fur on her pelisse--'that
would excite them very much.'

'They shan't have my fur,' she said sharply.

'No,' he said, still fondling it, however, 'no.  O Maimie,' he said
rapturously, 'do you know why I love you?  It is because you are like a
beautiful nest.'

Somehow this made her uneasy.  'I think you are speaking more like a
bird than a boy now,' she said, holding back, and indeed he was even
looking rather like a bird.  'After all,' she said, 'you are only a
Betwixt-and-Between.'  But it hurt him so much that she immediately
added, 'It must be a delicious thing to be.'

'Come and be one, then, dear Maimie,' he implored her, and they set off
for the boat, for it was now very near Open-Gate time.  'And you are
not a bit like a nest,' he whispered to please her.

'But I think it is rather nice to be like one,' she said in a woman's
contradictory way.  'And, Peter, dear, though I can't give them my fur,
I wouldn't mind their building in it.  Fancy a nest in my neck with
little spotty eggs in it!  O Peter, how perfectly lovely!'

But as they drew near the Serpentine, she shivered a little, and said,
'Of course I shall go and see mother often, quite often.  It is not as
if I was saying good-bye for ever to mother, it is not in the least
like that.'

'Oh no,' answered Peter, but in his heart he knew it was very like
that, and he would have told her so had he not been in a quaking fear
of losing her.  He was so fond of her, he felt he could not live
without her.  'She will forget her mother in time, and be happy with
me,' he kept saying to himself, and he hurried her on, giving her
thimbles by the way.

But even when she had seen the boat and exclaimed ecstatically over its
loveliness, she still talked tremblingly about her mother.  'You know
quite well, Peter, don't you,' she said, 'that I wouldn't come unless I
knew for certain I could go back to mother whenever I want to?  Peter,
say it.'

He said it, but he could no longer look her in the face.

'If you are sure your mother will always want you,' he added rather
sourly.

'The idea of mother's not always wanting me!' Maimie cried, and her
face glistened.

'If she doesn't bar you out,' said Peter huskily.

'The door,' replied Maimie, 'will always, always be open, and mother
will always be waiting at it for me.'

'Then,' said Peter, not without grimness, 'step in, if you feel so sure
of her,' and he helped Maimie into the Thrush's Nest.

'But why don't you look at me?' she asked, taking him by the arm.

Peter tried hard not to look, he tried to push off, then he gave a
great gulp and jumped ashore and sat down miserably in the snow.

She went to him.  'What is it, dear, dear Peter?' she said, wondering.

'O Maimie,' he cried, 'it isn't fair to take you with me if you think
you can go back!  Your mother'--he gulped again--'you don't know them
as well as I do.'

And then he told her the woeful story of how he had been barred out,
and she gasped all the time.  'But my mother,' she said, '_my_
mother----'

'Yes, she would,' said Peter, 'they are all the same.  I dare say she
is looking for another one already.'

Maimie said aghast, 'I can't believe it.  You see, when you went away
your mother had none, but my mother has Tony, and surely they are
satisfied when they have one.'

Peter replied bitterly, 'You should see the letters Solomon gets from
ladies who have six.'

Just then they heard a grating creak, followed by _creak, creak_, all
round the Gardens.  It was the Opening of the Gates, and Peter jumped
nervously into his boat.  He knew Maimie would not come with him now,
and he was trying bravely not to cry.  But Maimie was sobbing painfully.

'If I should be too late,' she said in agony, 'O Peter, if she has got
another one already!'

Again he sprang ashore as if she had called him back.  'I shall come
and look for you to-night,' he said, squeezing close, 'but if you hurry
away I think you will be in time.'

Then he pressed a last thimble on her sweet little mouth, and covered
his face with his hands so that he might not see her go.

'Dear Peter!' she cried.

'Dear Maimie!' cried the tragic boy.

She leapt into his arms, so that it was a sort of fairy wedding, and
then she hurried away.  Oh, how she hastened to the gates!  Peter, you
may be sure, was back in the Gardens that night as soon as Lock-out
sounded, but he found no Maimie, and so he knew she had been in time.
For long he hoped that some night she would come back to him; often he
thought he saw her waiting for him by the shore of the Serpentine as
his bark drew to land, but Maimie never went back.  She wanted to, but
she was afraid that if she saw her dear Betwixt-and-Between again she
would linger with him too long, and besides the ayah now kept a sharp
eye on her.  But she often talked lovingly of Peter, and she knitted a
kettle-holder for him, and one day when she was wondering what Easter
present he would like, her mother made a suggestion.

'Nothing,' she said thoughtfully, 'would be so useful to him as a goat.'

'He could ride on it,' cried Maimie, 'and play on his pipe at the same
time.'

'Then,' her mother asked, 'won't you give him your goat, the one you
frighten Tony with at night?'

'But it isn't a real goat,' Maimie said.

'It seems very real to Tony,' replied her mother.

'It seems frightfully real to me too,' Maimie admitted, 'but how could
I give it to Peter?'

Her mother knew a way, and next day, accompanied by Tony (who was
really quite a nice boy, though of course he could not compare), they
went to the Gardens, and Maimie stood alone within a fairy ring, and
then her mother, who was a rather gifted lady, said--

  _'My daughter, tell me, if you can,
  What have you got for Peter Pan?'_

To which Maimie replied--

  _'I have a goat for him to ride,
  Observe me cast it far and wide.'_

She then flung her arms about as if she were sowing seed, and turned
round three times.

Next Tony said--

  _'If P. doth find it waiting here,
  Wilt ne'er again make me to fear?'_

And Maimie answered--

  _'By dark or light I fondly swear
  Never to see goats anywhere.'_


She also left a letter to Peter in a likely place, explaining what she
had done, and begging him to ask the fairies to turn the goat into one
convenient for riding on.  Well, it all happened just as she hoped, for
Peter found the letter, and of course nothing could be easier for the
fairies than to turn the goat into a real one, and so that is how Peter
got the goat on which he now rides round the Gardens every night
playing sublimely on his pipe.  And Maimie kept her promise, and never
frightened Tony with a goat again, though I have heard that she created
another animal.  Until she was quite a big girl she continued to leave
presents for Peter in the Gardens (with letters explaining how humans
play with them), and she is not the only one who has done this.  David
does it, for instance, and he and I know the likeliest place for
leaving them in, and we shall tell you if you like, but for mercy's
sake don't ask us before Porthos, for he is so fond of toys that, were
he to find out the place, he would take every one of them.

Though Peter still remembers Maimie he is become as gay as ever, and
often in sheer happiness he jumps off his goat and lies kicking merrily
on the grass.  Oh, he has a joyful time!  But he has still a vague
memory that he was a human once, and it makes him especially kind to
the house-swallows when they visit the island, for house-swallows are
the spirits of little children who have died.  They always build in the
eaves of the houses where they lived when they were humans, and
sometimes they try to fly in at a nursery window, and perhaps that is
why Peter loves them best of all the birds.

And the little house?  Every lawful night (that is to say, every night
except ball nights) the fairies now build the little house lest there
should be a human child lost in the Gardens, and Peter rides the
marches looking for lost ones, and if he finds them he carries them on
his goat to the little house, and when they wake up they are in it, and
when they step out they see it.  The fairies build the house merely
because it is so pretty, but Peter rides round in memory of Maimie, and
because he still loves to do just as he believes real boys would do.

But you must not think that, because somewhere among the trees the
little house is twinkling, it is a safe thing to remain in the Gardens
after Lock-out time.  If the bad ones among the fairies happen to be
out that night they will certainly mischief you, and even though they
are not, you may perish of cold and dark before Peter Pan comes round.
He has been too late several times, and when he sees he is too late he
runs back to the Thrush's Nest for his paddle, of which Maimie had told
him the true use, and he digs a grave for the child and erects a little
tombstone, and carves the poor thing's initials on it.  He does this at
once because he thinks it is what real boys would do, and you must have
noticed the little stones, and that there are always two together.  He
puts them in twos because they seem less lonely.  I think that quite
the most touching sight in the Gardens is the two tombstones of Walter
Stephen Matthews and Phoebe Phelps.  They stand together at the spot
where the parish of Westminster St. Mary's is said to meet the Parish
of Paddington.  Here Peter found the two babes, who had fallen
unnoticed from their perambulators, Phoebe aged thirteen months and
Walter probably still younger, for Peter seems to have felt a delicacy
about putting any age on his stone.  They lie side by side, and the
simple inscriptions read

    +---------+       +---------+
    |   W.    |       |   13a   |
    | St. M.  |  and  |  P. P.  |
    |         |       |  1841.  |
    +---------+       +---------+


David sometimes places white flowers on these two innocent graves.

But how strange for parents, when they hurry into the Gardens at the
opening of the gates looking for their lost one, to find the sweetest
little tombstone instead.  I do hope that Peter is not too ready with
his spade.  It is all rather sad.



[Illustration: Rear cover art]





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