"Perhaps I should have ironed it,"

Wendy said thoughtfully, but Peter, boylike, was indifferent to appearances, and he was now jumping about in the wildest glee. Alas, he had already forgotten that he owed his bliss to Wendy. He thought he had attached the shadow himself.

"How clever I am!"

he crowed rapturously,

"oh, the cleverness of me!"

It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal frankness, there never was a cockier boy.

But for the moment Wendy was shocked.

"You conceited boy,"

she exclaimed, with frightful sarcasm;

"of course I did nothing!"

"You did a little,"

Peter said carelessly, and continued to dance.

"A little!"

she replied with hauteur;

"if I am no use I can at least withdraw,"

and she sprang in the most dignified way into bed and covered her face with the blankets.

To induce her to look up he pretended to be going away, and when this failed he sat on the end of the bed and tapped her gently with his foot.


he said,

"don't withdraw. I can't help crowing, Wendy, when I'm pleased with myself."

Still she would not look up, though she was listening eagerly.


he continued, in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist,

"Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys."

Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very many inches, and she peeped out of the bed-clothes.

"Do you really think so, Peter?"

"Yes, I do."

"I think it's perfectly sweet of you,"

she declared,

"and I'll get up again,"

and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did not know what she meant, and he held out his hand expectantly.

"Surely you know what a kiss is?"

she asked, aghast.

"I shall know when you give it to me,"

he replied stiffly, and not to hurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.


said he,

"shall I give you a kiss?"

and she replied with a slight primness,

"If you please."

She made herself rather cheap by inclining her face toward him, but he merely dropped an acorn button into her hand, so she slowly returned her face to where it had been before, and said nicely that she would wear his kiss on the chain around her neck. It was lucky that she did put it on that chain, for it was afterwards to save her life.

When people in our set are introduced, it is customary for them to ask each other's age, and so Wendy, who always liked to do the correct thing, asked Peter how old he was. It was not really a happy question to ask him; it was like an examination paper that asks grammar, when what you want to be asked is Kings of England.

"I don't know,"

he replied uneasily,

"but I am quite young."

He really knew nothing about it, he had merely suspicions, but he said at a venture,

"Wendy, I ran away the day I was born."

Wendy was quite surprised, but interested; and she indicated in the charming drawing-room manner, by a touch on her night-gown, that he could sit nearer her.

"It was because I heard father and mother,"

he explained in a low voice,

"talking about what I was to be when I became a man."

He was extraordinarily agitated now.

"I don't want ever to be a man,"

he said with passion.

"I want always to be a little boy and to have fun. So I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a long long time among the fairies."

She gave him a look of the most intense admiration, and he thought it was because he had run away, but it was really because he knew fairies. Wendy had lived such a home life that to know fairies struck her as quite delightful. She poured out questions about them, to his surprise, for they were rather a nuisance to him, getting in his way and so on, and indeed he sometimes had to give them a hiding. Still, he liked them on the whole, and he told her about the beginning of fairies.

"You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."

Tedious talk this, but being a stay-at-home she liked it.

"And so,"

he went on good-naturedly,

"there ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl."

"Ought to be? Isn't there?"

"No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't believe in fairies, and every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies', there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead."

Really, he thought they had now talked enough about fairies, and it struck him that Tinker Bell was keeping very quiet.

"I can't think where she has gone to,"

he said, rising, and he called Tink by name. Wendy's heart went flutter with a sudden thrill.


she cried, clutching him,

"you don't mean to tell me that there is a fairy in this room!"

"She was here just now,"

he said a little impatiently.

"You don't hear her, do you?" and they both listened.

"The only sound I hear,"

said Wendy,

"is like a tinkle of bells."

"Well, that's Tink, that's the fairy language. I think I hear her too."

The sound come from the chest of drawers, and Peter made a merry face. No one could ever look quite so merry as Peter, and the loveliest of gurgles was his laugh. He had his first laugh still.


he whispered gleefully,

"I do believe I shut her up in the drawer!"

He let poor Tink out of the drawer, and she flew about the nursery screaming with fury.

"You shouldn't say such things,"

Peter retorted.

"Of course I'm very sorry, but how could I know you were in the drawer?"

Wendy was not listening to him.

"O Peter,"

she cried,

"if she would only stand still and let me see her!"

"They hardly ever stand still,"

he said, but for one moment Wendy saw the romantic figure come to rest on the cuckoo clock.

"O the lovely!"

she cried, though Tink's face was still distorted with passion.


said Peter amiably,

"this lady says she wishes you were her fairy."

Tinker Bell answered insolently.

"What does she say, Peter?"

He had to translate.

"She is not very polite. She says you are a great ugly girl, and that she is my fairy.

He tried to argue with Tink.

"You know you can't be my fairy, Tink, because I am an gentleman and you are a lady."

To this Tink replied in these words,

"You silly ass,"

and disappeared into the bathroom.

"She is quite a common fairy,"

Peter explained apologetically,

"she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the pots and kettles."

They were together in the armchair by this time, and Wendy plied him with more questions.

"If you don't live in Kensington Gardens now"

"Sometimes I do still."

"But where do you live mostly now?"

"With the lost boys."

"Who are they?"

"They are the children who fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses. I'm captain."

"What fun it must be!"


said cunning Peter,

"but we are rather lonely. You see we have no female companionship."

"Are none of the others girls?"

"Oh, no; girls, you know, are much too clever to fall out of their prams."

This flattered Wendy immensely.

"I think,"

she said,

"it is perfectly lovely the way you talk about girls; John there just despises us."

For reply Peter rose and kicked John out of bed, blankets and all; one kick. This seemed to Wendy rather forward for a first meeting, and she told him with spirit that he was not captain in her house. However, John continued to sleep so placidly on the floor that she allowed him to remain there.

"And I know you meant to be kind,"

she said, relenting,

"so you may give me a kiss."

For the moment she had forgotten his ignorance about kisses.

"I thought you would want it back,"

he said a little bitterly, and offered to return her the thimble.

"Oh dear,"

said the nice Wendy,

"I don't mean a kiss, I mean a thimble."

"What's that?"

"It's like this."

She kissed him.


said Peter gravely.

"Now shall I give you a thimble?"

"If you wish to,"

said Wendy, keeping her head erect this time. Peter thimbled her, and almost immediately she screeched.

"What is it, Wendy?"

"It was exactly as if someone were pulling my hair."

"That must have been Tink. I never knew her so naughty before."

And indeed Tink was darting about again, using offensive language.

"She says she will do that to you, Wendy, every time I give you a thimble."

"But why?"

"Why, Tink?"

Again Tink replied,

"You silly ass."

Peter could not understand why, but Wendy understood, and she was just slightly disappointed when he admitted that he came to the nursery window not to see her but to listen to stories.

"You see, I don't know any stories. None of the lost boys knows any stories."

"How perfectly awful,"

Wendy said.

"Do you know,"

Peter asked

"why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories. O Wendy, your mother was telling you such a lovely story."

"Which story was it?"

"About the prince who couldn't find the lady who wore the glass slipper."


said Wendy excitedly,

"that was Cinderella, and he found her, and they lived happily ever after."

Peter was so glad that he rose from the floor, where they had been sitting, and hurried to the window.

"Where are you going?"

she cried with misgiving.

"To tell the other boys."

"Don't go Peter,"

she entreated,

"I know such lots of stories."

Those were her precise words, so there can be no denying that it was she who first tempted him.

He came back, and there was a greedy look in his eyes now which ought to have alarmed her, but did not.

"Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys!"

she cried, and then Peter gripped her and began to draw her toward the window.

"Let me go!"

she ordered him.

"Wendy, do come with me and tell the other boys."

Of course she was very pleased to be asked, but she said,

"Oh dear, I can't. Think of mummy!
Besides, I can't fly."

"I'll teach you."

"Oh, how lovely to fly."

"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go."

"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.

"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."