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Link 1The night nursery of the Darling family, which is the scene of our 2opening Act, is at the top of a rather depressed street in Bloomsbury. 3We have a right to place it where we will, and the reason Bloomsbury 4is chosen is that Mr Roget once lived there. So did we in days when 5his Thesaurus was our only companion in London; and we whom he 6has helped to wend our way through life have always wanted to pay 7him a little compliment. The Darlings therefore lived in Bloomsbury.

8It is a corner house whose top window, the important one, looks 9upon a leafy square from which Peter used to fly up to it, to the 10delight of three children and no doubt the irritation of passers-by. 11The street is still there, though the steaming sausage shop has gone; 12and apparently the same cards perch now as then over the doors, 13inviting homeless ones to come and stay with the hospitable inhabit-14ants. Since the days of the Darlings, however, a lick of paint has been 15applied; and our corner house in particular, which has swallowed its 16neighbour, blooms with awful freshness as if the colours had been 17discharged upon it through a hose. Its card now says 'No children,' 18meaning maybe that the goings-on of Wendy and her brothers have 19given the house a bad name. As for ourselves, we have not been in it 20since we went back to reclaim our old Thesaurus.

21That is what we call the Darling house, but you may dump it down 22anywhere you like, and if you think it was your house you are very 23probably right. It wanders about London looking for anybody in need 24of it, like the little house in the Never Land.

25The blind (which is what Peter would have called the theatre 26curtain if he had ever seen one) rises on that top room, a shabby little 27room if Mrs Darling had not made it the hub of creation by her 28certainty that such it was, and adorned it to match with a loving heart 29and all the scrapings of her purse. The door on the right leads into 30the day nursery, which she has no right to have, but she made it 31herself with nails in her mouth and a paste-pot in her hand. This is 32the door the children will come in by. There are three beds and 33(rather oddly) a large dog-kennel; two of these beds, with the kennel, 34being on the left and the other on the right. The coverlets of the 35beds (if visitors are expected) are made out of Mrs Darling's pg 8836wedding-gown, which was such a grand affair that it still keeps them 37pinched. Over each bed is a china house, the size of a linnet's nest, 38containing a night-light. The fire, which is on our right, is burning 39as discreetly as if it were in custody, which in a sense it is, for 40supporting the mantelshelf are two wooden soldiers, home-made, 41begun by Mr Darling, finished by Mrs Darling, repainted (unfortu-42nately) by John Darling. On the fire-guard hang incomplete parts of 43children's night attire. The door the parents will come in by is on the 44left. At the back is the bathroom door, with a cuckoo clock over it; 45and in the centre is the window, which is at present ever so staid and 46respectable, but half an hour hence (namely at 6.30 p.m.) will be able 47to tell a very strange tale to the police.

48The only occupant of the room at present is Nana the nurse, 49reclining, not as you might expect on the one soft chair, but on the 50floor. She is a Newfoundland dog, and though this may shock the 51grandiose, the not exactly affluent will make allowances. The Darlings 52could not afford to have a nurse, they could not afford indeed to have 53children; and now you are beginning to understand how they did it. 54Of course Nana has been trained by Mrs Darling, but like all 55treasures she was born to it. In this play we shall see her chiefly 56inside the house, but she was just as exemplary outside, escorting the 57two elders to school with an umbrella in her mouth, for instance, and 58butting them back into line if they strayed.

59The cuckoo clock strikes six, and Nana springs into life. This first 60moment in the play is tremendously important, for if the actor playing 61Nana does not spring properly we are undone. She will probably be 62played by a boy, if one clever enough can be found, and must never 63be on two legs except on those rare occasions when an ordinary nurse 64would be on four. This Nana must go about all her duties in a most 65ordinary manner, so that you know in your bones that she performs 66them just so every evening at six; naturalness must be her passion; 67indeed, it should be the aim of every one in the play, for which she is 68now setting the pace. All the characters, whether grown-ups or babes, 69must wear a child's outlook on life as their only important adornment. 70If they cannot help being funny they are begged to go away. A good 71motto for all would be 'The little less, and how much it is.'

72Nana, making much use of her mouth, 'turns down' the beds, and 73carries the various articles on the fire-guard across to them. Then 74pushing the bathroom door open, she is seen at work on the taps 75preparing Michael's bath; after which she enters from the day nursery 76with the youngest of the family on her back.

pg 8977

michael (obstreperous) I won't go to bed, I won't, I won't. Nana, it

78isn't six o'clock yet. Two minutes more, please, one minute more?

79Nana, I won't be bathed, I tell you I will not be bathed.

(Here the bathroom door closes on them, and Mrs Darling, who has perhaps heard his cry, enters the nursery. She is the loveliest lady in Bloomsbury, with a sweet mocking mouth, and as she is going out to dinner to-night she is already wearing her evening gown because she knows her children like to see her in it. It is a delicious confection made by herself out of nothing and other people's mistakes. She does not often go out to dinner, preferring when the children are in bed to sit beside them tidying up their minds, just as if they were drawers. If Wendy and the boys could keep awake they might see her repacking into their proper places the many articles of the mind that have strayed during the day, lingering humorously over some of their contents, wondering where on earth they picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When they wake in the morning the naughtinesses with which they went to bed are not, alas, blown away, but they are placed at the bottom of the drawer; and on the top, beautifully aired, are their prettier thoughts ready for the new day. As she enters the room she is startled to see a strange little face outside the window and a hand groping as if it wanted to come in)

mrs darling Who are you? (The unknown disappears; she hurries to

81the window) No one there. And yet I feel sure I saw a face. My

82children! (She throws open the bathroom door and Michael's head

83appears gaily over the bath. He splashes; she throws kisses to him and

84closes the door. 'Wendy, John,' she cries, and gets reassuring answers

85from the day nursery. She sits down, relieved, on Wendy's bed; and

86Wendy and John come in, looking their smallest size, as children tend

87to do to a mother suddenly in fear for them)


john (histrionically) We are doing an act; we are playing at being you

89and father. (He imitates the only father who has come under his

90special notice) A little less noise there.


wendy Now let us pretend we have a baby.


john (good-naturedly) I am happy to inform you, Mrs Darling, that

93you are now a mother. (Wendy gives way to ecstasy) You have

94missed the chief thing; you haven't asked, 'boy or girl?'


wendy I am so glad to have one at all, I don't care which it is.

pg 9096

john (crushingly) That is just the difference between gentlemen and

97ladies. Now you tell me.


wendy I am happy to acquaint you, Mr Darling, you are now a



john Boy or girl?


wendy (presenting herself) Girl.


john Tuts.


wendy You horrid.


john Go on.


wendy I am happy to acquaint you, Mr Darling, you are again a



john Boy or girl?


wendy Boy. (John beams) Mummy, it's hateful of him.

(Michael emerges from the bathroom in John's old pyjamas and giving his face a last wipe with the towel)

michael (expanding) Now, John, have me.


john We don't want any more.


michael (contracting) Am I not to be born at all?


john Two is enough.


michael (wheedling) Come, John: boy, John. (Appalled) Nobody

114wants me!


mrs darling I do.


michael (with a glimmer of hope) Boy or girl?


mrs darling (with one of those happy thoughts of hers) Boy.

(Triumph of Michael; discomfiture of John. Mr Darling arrives, in no mood unfortunately to gloat over this domestic scene. He is really a good man as breadwinners go, and it is hard luck for him to be propelled into the room now, when if we had brought him in a few minutes earlier or later he might have made a fairer impression. In the city where he sits on a stool all day, as fixed as a postage stamp, he is so like all the others on stools that you recognise him not by his face but by his stool, but at home the way to gratify him is to say that he has a distinct personality. He is very conscientious, and in the days when Mrs Darling gave up keeping the house books correctly and drew pictures instead (which he called her guesses), he did all the totting up for her, holding her hand while he calculated whether they could have Wendy or not, and coming down on the right side. It is with regret, therefore, that we introduce him as a tornado, rushing into the nursery in evening dress, but without his coat, and brandishing in his hand a recalcitrant white tie)
pg 91118

mr darling (implying that he has searched for her everywhere and that

119the nursery is a strange place in which to find her) Oh, here you are,



mrs darling (knowing at once what is the matter) What is the

122matter, George dear?


mr darling (as if the word were monstrous) Matter! This tie, it will

124not tie. (He waxes sarcastic) Not round my neck. Round the bed-post,

125oh yes; twenty times have I made it up round the bed-post, but

126round my neck, oh dear no; begs to be excused.


michael (in a joyous transport) Say it again, father, say it again!


mr darling (witheringly) Thank you. (Goaded by a suspiciously

129crooked smile on Mrs Darling's face) I warn you, Mary, that unless

130this tie is round my neck we don't go out to dinner to-night, and

131if I don't go out to dinner to-night I never go to the office again,

132and if I don't go to the office again you and I starve, and our

133children will be thrown into the streets.

(The children blanch as they grasp the gravity of the situation)

mrs darling Let me try, dear.

(In a terrible silence their progeny cluster round them. Will she succeed? Their fate depends on it. She fails—no, she succeeds. In another moment they are wildly gay, romping round the room on each other's shoulders. Father is even a better horse than mother. Michael is dropped upon his bed, Wendy retires to prepare for hers, John runs from Nana, who has reappeared with the bath towel)

john (rebellious) I won't be bathed. You needn't think it.


mr darling (in the grand manner) Go and be bathed at once, sir.

(With bent head John follows Nana into the bathroom. Mr Darling swells)

michael (as he is put between the sheets) Mother, how did you get to

138know me?


mr darling A little less noise there.


michael (growing solemn) At what time was I born, mother?


mrs darling At two o'clock in the night-time, dearest.


michael Oh, mother, I hope I didn't wake you.


mrs darling They are rather sweet, don't you think, George?


mr darling (doting) There is not their equal on earth, and they are

145ours, ours!

(Unfortunately Nana has come from the bathroom for a sponge and she collides with his trousers, the first pair he has ever had with braid on them)
pg 92146

mr darling Mary, it is too bad; just look at this; covered with

147hairs. Clumsy, clumsy!

(Nana goes, a drooping figure)

mrs darling Let me brush you, dear.

(Once more she is successful. They are now by the fire, and Michael is in bed doing idiotic things with a teddy bear)

mr darling (depressed) I sometimes think, Mary, that it is a mistake

150to have a dog for a nurse.


mrs darling George, Nana is a treasure.


mr darling No doubt; but I have an uneasy feeling at times that

153she looks upon the children as puppies.


mrs darling (rather faintly) Oh no, dear one, I am sure she knows

155they have souls.


mr darling (profoundly) I wonder, I wonder.

(The opportunity has come for her to tell him of something that is on her mind)

mrs darling George, we must keep Nana, I will tell you why. (Her

158seriousness impresses him) My dear, when I came into this room

159to-night I saw a face at the window.


mr darling (incredulous) A face at the window, three floors up?



mrs darling It was the face of a little boy; he was trying to get in.

163George, this is not the first time I have seen that boy.


mr darling (beginning to think that this may be a man's job) Oho!


mrs darling (making sure that Michael does not hear) The first time

166was a week ago. It was Nana's night out, and I had been drowsing

167here by the fire when suddenly I felt a draught, as if the window

168were open. I looked round and I saw that boy—in the room.


mr darling In the room?


mrs darling I screamed. Just then Nana came back and she at once

171sprang at him. The boy leapt for the window. She pulled down

172the sash quickly, but was too late to catch him.


mr darling (who knows he would not have been too late) I thought



mrs darling Wait. The boy escaped, but his shadow had not time

176to get out; down came the window and cut it clean off.


mr darling (heavily) Mary, Mary, why didn't you keep that



mrs darling (scoring) I did. I rolled it up, George; and here it is.

(She produces it from a drawer. They unroll and examine the flimsy thing, which is not more material than a puff of smoke, pg 93and if let go would probably float into the ceiling without discolouring it. Yet it has human shape. As they nod their heads over it they present the most satisfying picture on earth, two happy parents conspiring cosily by the fire for the good of their children)

mr darling It is nobody I know, but he does look a scoundrel.


mrs darling I think he comes back to get his shadow, George.


mr darling (meaning that the miscreant has now a father to deal with)

183I dare say. (He sees himself telling the story to the other stools at the

184office) There is money in this, my love. I shall take it to the British

185Museum to-morrow and have it priced.

(The shadow is rolled up and replaced in the drawer)

mrs darling (like a guilty person) George, I have not told you all;

187I am afraid to.


mr darling (who knows exactly the right moment to treat a woman as

189a beloved child) Cowardy, cowardy custard.


mrs darling (pouting) No, I'm not.


mr darling Oh yes, you are.


mrs darling George, I'm not.


mr darling Then why not tell? (Thus cleverly soothed she goes on)


mrs darling The boy was not alone that first time. He was

195accompanied by—I don't know how to describe it; by a ball of

196light, not as big as my fist, but it darted about the room like a

197living thing.


mr darling (though open-minded) That is very unusual. It escaped

199with the boy?


mrs darling Yes. (Sliding her hand into his) George, what can all

201this mean?


mr darling (ever ready) What indeed!

(This intimate scene is broken by the return of Nana with a bottle in her mouth)

mrs darling (at once dissembling) What is that, Nana? Ah, of

204course; Michael, it is your medicine.


michael (promptly) Won't take it.


mr darling (recalling his youth) Be a man, Michael.


michael Won't.


mrs darling (weakly) I'll get you a lovely chocky to take after it.

(She leaves the room, though her husband calls after her)

mr darling Mary, don't pamper him. When I was your age,

210Michael, I took medicine without a murmur. I said 'Thank you,

211kind parents, for giving me bottles to make me well.'

pg 94(Wendy, who has appeared in her night-gown, hears this and believes)

wendy That medicine you sometimes take is much nastier, isn't it,



mr darling (valuing her support) Ever so much nastier. And as an

215example to you, Michael, I would take it now (thankfully) if I

216hadn't lost the bottle.


wendy (always glad to be of service) I know where it is, father. I'll

218fetch it.

(She is gone before he can stop her. He turns for help to John, who has come from the bathroom attired for bed)

mr darling John, it is the most beastly stuff. It is that sticky sweet



john (who is perhaps still playing at parents) Never mind, father, it

222will soon be over.

(A spasm of ill-will to John cuts through Mr Darling, and is gone. Wendy returns panting)

wendy Here it is, father; I have been as quick as I could.


mr darling (with a sarcasm that is completely thrown away on her)

225You have been wonderfully quick, precious quick!

(He is now at the foot of Michael's bed, Nana is by its side, holding the medicine spoon insinuatingly in her mouth)

wendy (proudly, as she pours out Mr Darling's medicine) Michael,

227now you will see how father takes it.


mr darling (hedging) Michael first.


michael (full of unworthy suspicions) Father first.


mr darling It will make me sick, you know.


john (lightly) Come on, father.


mr darling Hold your tongue, sir.


wendy (disturbed) I thought you took it quite easily, father, saying

234'Thank you, kind parents, for——'


mr darling That is not the point; the point is that there is more

236in my glass than in Michael's spoon. It isn't fair, I swear though

237it were with my last breath, it is not fair.


michael (coldly) Father, I'm waiting.


mr darling It's all very well to say you are waiting; so am I



michael Father's a cowardy custard.


mr darling So are you a cowardy custard.

(They are now glaring at each other)

michael I am not frightened.

pg 95244

mr darling Neither am I frightened.


michael Well, then, take it.


mr darling Well, then, you take it.


wendy (butting in again) Why not take it at the same time?


mr darling (haughtily) Certainly. Are you ready, Michael?


wendy (as nothing has happened) One—two—three.

(Michael partakes, but Mr Darling resorts to hanky-panky)

john Father hasn't taken his!

(Michael howls)

wendy (inexpressibly pained) Oh father!


mr darling (who has been hiding the glass behind him) What do you

253mean by 'oh father'? Stop that row, Michael. I meant to take mine

254but I—missed it. (Nana shakes her head sadly over him, and goes into

255the bathroom. They are all looking as if they did not admire him, and

256nothing so dashes a temperamental man) I say, I have just thought of

257a splendid joke. (They brighten) I shall pour my medicine into

258Nana's bowl, and she will drink it thinking it is milk! (The

259pleasantry does not appeal, but he prepares the joke, listening for



wendy Poor darling Nana!


mr darling You silly little things; to your beds every one of you;

263I am ashamed of you.

(They steal to their beds as Mrs Darling returns with the chocolate)

mrs darling Well, is it all over?


michael Father didn't——(Father glares)


mr darling All over, dear, quite satisfactorily. (Nana comes back)

267Nana, good dog, good girl; I have put a little milk into your bowl.

268(The bowl is by the kennel, and Nana begins to lap, only begins. She 269retreats into the kennel)

mrs darling What is the matter, Nana?


mr darling (uneasily) Nothing, nothing.


mrs darling (smelling the bowl) George, it is your medicine!

(The children break into lamentation. He gives his wife an imploring look; he is begging for one smile, but does not get it. In consequence he goes from bad to worse)

mr darling It was only a joke. Much good my wearing myself to

274the bone trying to be funny in this house.


wendy (on her knees by the kennel) Father, Nana is crying.


mr darling Coddle her; nobody coddles me. Oh dear no. I am only

277the breadwinner, why should I be coddled? Why, why, why?

pg 96278

mrs darling George, not so loud; the servants will hear you.

(There is only one maid, absurdly small too, but they have got into the way of calling her the servants)

mr darling (defiant) Let them hear me; bring in the whole world.

280(The desperate man, who has not been in fresh air for days, has now

281lost all self-control) I refuse to allow that dog to lord it in my

282nursery for one hour longer. (Nana supplicates him) In vain, in vain,

283the proper place for you is the yard, and there you go to be tied

284up this instant.

(Nana again retreats into the kennel, and the children add their prayers to hers)

mrs darling (who knows how contrite he will be for this presently)

286George, George, remember what I told you about that boy.


mr darling Am I master in this house or is she? (To Nana fiercely)

288Come along. (He thunders at her, but she indicates that she has reasons

289not worth troubling him with for remaining where she is. He resorts to

290a false bonhomie) There, there, did she think he was angry with her,

291poor Nana? (She wriggles a response in the affirmative) Good Nana,

292pretty Nana. (She has seldom been called pretty, and it has the old

293effect. She plays rub-a-dub with her paws, which is how a dog blushes)

294She will come to her kind master, won't she? won't she? (She

295advances, retreats, waggles her head, her tail, and eventually goes to

296him. He seizes her collar in an iron grip and amid the cries of his

297progeny drags her from the room They listen, for her remonstrances are

298not inaudible)


mrs darling Be brave, my dears.


wendy He is chaining Nana up!

(This unfortunately is what he is doing, though we cannot see him. Let us hope that he then retires to his study, looks up the word 'temper' in his Thesaurus, and under the influence of those benign pages becomes a better man. In the meantime the children have been put to bed in unwonted silence, and Mrs Darling lights the night-lights over the beds)

john (as the barking below goes on) She is awfully unhappy.


wendy That is not Nana's unhappy bark. That is her bark when she

303smells danger.


mrs darling (remembering that boy) Danger! Are you sure, Wendy?


wendy (the one of the family, for there is one in every family, who can

306be trusted to know or not to know) Oh yes.

(Her mother looks this way and that from the window)

john Is anything there?

pg 97308

mrs darling All quite quiet and still. Oh, how I wish I was not

309going out to dinner to-night.


michael Can anything harm us, mother, after the night-lights are



mrs darling Nothing, precious. They are the eyes a mother leaves

313behind her to guard her children.

(Nevertheless we may be sure she means to tell Liza, the little maid, to look in on them frequently till she comes home. She goes from bed to bed, after her custom, tucking them in and crooning a lullaby)

michael (drowsily) Mother, I'm glad of you.


mrs darling (with a last look round, her hand on the switch) Dear

316night-lights that protect my sleeping babes, burn clear and stead-

317fast to-night.

(The nursery darkens and she is gone, intentionally leaving the door ajar. Something uncanny is going to happen, we expect, for a quiver has passed through the room, just sufficient to touch the night-lights. They blink three times one after the other and go out, precisely as children (whom familiarity has made them resemble) fall asleep. There is another light in the room now, no larger than Mrs Darling's fist, and in the time we have taken to say this it has been into the drawers and wardrobe and searched pockets, as it darts about looking for a certain shadow. Then the window is blown open, probably by the smallest and therefore most mischievous star, and Peter Pan flies into the room. In so far as he is dressed at all it is in autumn leaves and cobwebs)

peter (in a whisper) Tinker Bell, Tink, are you there? (A jug lights

319up) Oh, do come out of that jug. (Tink flashes hither and thither)

320Do you know where they put it? (The answer comes as of a tinkle of

321bells; it is the fairy language. Peter can speak it, but it bores him)

322Which big box? This one? But which drawer? Yes, do show me.

323(Tink pops into the drawer where the shadow is, but before Peter can

324reach it, Wendy moves in her sleep. He flies on to the mantelshelf as a

325hiding-place. Then, as she has not waked, he flutters over the beds as

326an easy way to observe the occupants, closes the window softly, wafts

327himself to the drawer and scatters its contents to the floor, as kings on

328their wedding day toss ha 'pence to the crowd. In his joy at finding his

329shadow he forgets that he has shut up Tink in the drawer. He sits on

330the floor with the shadow, confident that he and it will join like drops

331of water. Then he tries to stick it on with soap from the bathroom, and

pg 98332this failing also, he subsides dejectedly on the floor. This wakens

333Wendy, who sits up, and is pleasantly interested to see a stranger)


wendy (courteously) Boy, why are you crying?

(He jumps up, and crossing to the foot of the bed bows to her in the fairy way. Wendy, impressed, bows to him from the bed)

peter What is your name?


wendy (well satisfied) Wendy Moira Angela Darling. What is yours?


peter (finding it lamentably brief) Peter Pan.


wendy Is that all?


peter (biting his lip) Yes.


wendy (politely) I am so sorry.


peter It doesn't matter.


wendy Where do you live?


peter Second to the right and then straight on till morning.


wendy What a funny address!


peter No, it isn't.


wendy I mean, is that what they put on the letters?


peter Don't get any letters.


wendy But your mother gets letters?


peter Don't have a mother.


wendy Peter!

(She leaps out of bed to put her arms round him, but he draws back; he does not know why, but he knows he must draw back)

peter You mustn't touch me.


wendy Why?


peter No one must ever touch me.


wendy Why?


peter I don't know.

(He is never touched by any one in the play)

wendy No wonder you were crying.


peter I wasn't crying. But I can't get my shadow to stick on.


wendy It has come off! How awful. (Looking at the spot where he had

359lain) Peter, you have been trying to stick it on with soap!


peter (snappily) Well then?


wendy It must be sewn on.


peter What is 'sewn'?


wendy You are dreadfully ignorant.


peter No, I'm not.


wendy I will sew it on for you, my little man. But we must have

366more light. (She touches something, and to his astonishment the room

367is illuminated) Sit here. I dare say it will hurt a little.

pg 99368

peter (a recent remark of hers rankling) I never cry. (She seems to

369attach the shadow. He tests the combination) It isn't quite itself yet.


wendy Perhaps I should have ironed it. (It awakes and is as glad to

371be back with him as he to have it. He and his shadow dance together.

372He is showing off now. He crows like a cock. He would fly in order to

373impress Wendy further if he knew that there is anything unusual in



peter Wendy, look, look; oh the cleverness of me!


wendy You conceit; of course I did nothing!


peter You did a little.


wendy (wounded) A little! If I am no use I can at least withdraw.

(With one haughty leap she is again in bed with the sheet over her face. Popping on to the end of the bed the artful one appeals)

peter Wendy, don't withdraw. I can't help crowing, Wendy, when

380I'm pleased with myself. Wendy, one girl is worth more than

381twenty boys.


wendy (peeping over the sheet) You really think so, Peter?


peter Yes, I do.


wendy I think it's perfectly sweet of you, and I shall get up again.

385(They sit together on the side of the bed) I shall give you a kiss if you



peter Thank you. (He holds out his hand)


wendy (aghast) Don't you know what a kiss is?


peter I shall know when you give it me. (Not to hurt his feelings she

390gives him her thimble) Now shall I give you a kiss?


wendy (primly) If you please. (He pulls an acorn button off his person

392and bestows it on her. She is shocked but considerate) I will wear it on

393this chain round my neck. Peter, how old are you?


peter (blithely) I don't know, but quite young, Wendy. I ran away

395the day I was born.


wendy Ran away, why?


peter Because I heard father and mother talking of what I was to be

398when I became a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have

399fun; so I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a long time

400among the fairies.


wendy (with great eyes) You know fairies, Peter!


peter (surprised that this should be a recommendation) Yes, but they

403are nearly all dead now. (Baldly) You see, Wendy, when the first

404baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand

405pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the

406beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first

pg 100407laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy

408or girl.


wendy (breathlessly) Ought to be? Isn't there?


peter Oh no. Children know such a lot now. Soon they don't believe

411in fairies, and every time a child says 'I don't believe in fairies' there

412is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead. (He skips about heartlessly)


wendy Poor things!


peter (to whom this statement recalls a forgotten friend) I can't think

415where she has gone. Tinker Bell, Tink, where are you?


wendy (thrilling) Peter, you don't mean to tell me that there is a

417fairy in this room!


peter (flitting about in search) She came with me. You don't hear

419anything, do you?


wendy I hear—the only sound I hear is like a tinkle of bells.


peter That is the fairy language. I hear it too.


wendy It seems to come from over there.


peter (with shameless glee) Wendy, I believe I shut her up in that


(He releases Tink, who darts about in a fury using language it is perhaps as well we don't understand)

425You needn't say that; I'm very sorry, but how could I know you

426were in the drawer?


wendy (her eyes dancing in pursuit of the delicious creature) Oh, Peter,

428if only she would stand still and let me see her!


peter (indifferently) They hardly ever stand still.

(To show that she can do even this Tink pauses between two ticks of the cuckoo clock.)

wendy I see her, the lovely! where is she now?


peter She is behind the clock. Tink, this lady wishes you were her

432fairy. (The answer comes immediately)


wendy What does she say?


peter She is not very polite. She says you are a great ugly girl, and

435that she is my fairy. You know, Tink, you can't be my fairy

436because I am a gentleman and you are a lady.

(Tink replies)

wendy What did she say?


peter She said 'You silly ass.' She is quite a common girl, you

439know. She is called Tinker Bell because she mends the fairy pots

440and kettles.

(They have reached a chair, Wendy in the ordinary way and Peter through a hole in the back)
pg 101441

wendy Where do you live now?


peter With the lost boys.


wendy Who are they?


peter They are the children who fall out of their prams when the

445nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven

446days they are sent far away to the Never Land. I'm captain.


wendy What fun it must be.


peter (craftily) Yes, but we are rather lonely. You see, Wendy, we

449have no female companionship.


wendy Are none of the other children girls?


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



wendy Peter, it is perfectly lovely the way you talk about girls. John

454there just despises us.

(Peter, for the first time, has a good look at John. He then neatly tumbles him out of bed)

455You wicked! you are not captain here. (She bends over her brother

456who is prone on the floor) After all he hasn't wakened, and you

457meant to be kind. (Having now done her duty she forgets John, who

458blissfully sleeps on) Peter, you may give me a kiss.


peter (cynically) I thought you would want it back.

(He offers her the thimble)

wendy (artfully) Oh dear, I didn't mean a kiss, Peter. I meant a



peter (only half placated) What is that?


wendy It is like this. (She leans forward to give a demonstration, but

464something prevents the meeting of their faces)


peter (satisfied) Now shall I give you a thimble?


wendy If you please. (Before he can even draw near she screams)


peter What is it?


wendy It was exactly as if some one were pulling my hair!


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


(Tink speaks. She is in the jug again)

wendy What does she say?


peter She says she will do that every time I give you a thimble.


wendy But why?


peter (equally nonplussed) Why, Tink? (He has to translate the

475answer) She said 'You silly ass' again.


wendy She is very impertinent. (They are sitting on the floor now)

477Peter, why did you come to our nursery window?

pg 102478

peter To try to hear stories. None of us knows any stories.


wendy How perfectly awful!


peter Do you know why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It

481is to listen to the stories. Wendy, your mother was telling you such

482a lovely story.


wendy Which story was it?


peter About the prince, and he couldn't find the lady who wore the

485glass slipper.


wendy That was Cinderella. Peter, he found her and they were

487happy ever after.


peter I am glad. (They have worked their way along the floor close to

489each other, but he now jumps up)


wendy Where are you going?


peter (already on his way to the window) To tell the other boys.


wendy Don't go, Peter. I know lots of stories. The stories I could

493tell to the boys!


peter (gleaming) Come on! We'll fly.


wendy Fly? You can fly!

(How he would like to rip those stories out of her; he is dangerous now)

peter Wendy, come with me.


wendy Oh dear, I mustn't. Think of mother. Besides, I can't fly.


peter I'll teach you.


wendy How lovely to fly!


peter I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back and then away

501we go. Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might

502be flying about with me, saying funny things to the stars. There

503are mermaids, Wendy, with long tails. (She just succeeds in remain-

504ing on the nursery floor) Wendy, how we should all respect you.

(At this she strikes her colours)

wendy Of course it's awfully fas-cin-a-ting! Would you teach John

506and Michael to fly too?


peter (indifferently) If you like.


wendy (playing rum-tum on John) John, wake up; there is a boy here

509who is to teach us to fly.


john Is there? Then I shall get up. (He raises his head from the floor)

511Hullo, I am up!


wendy Michael, open your eyes. This boy is to teach us to fly.

(The sleepers are at once as awake as their father's razor; but before a question can be asked Nana's bark is heard)

john Out with the light, quick, hide!

pg 103(When the maid Liza, who is so small that when she says she will never see ten again one can scarcely believe her, enters with a firm hand on the troubled Nana's chain the room is in comparative darkness)

liza There, you suspicious brute, they are perfectly safe, aren't they?

515Every one of the little angels sound asleep in bed. Listen to their

516gentle breathing. (Nana's sense of smell here helps to her undoing

517instead of hindering it. She knows that they are in the room. Michael,

518who is behind the curtain window, is so encouraged by Liza's last

519remark that he breathes too loudly. Nana knows that kind of breathing

520and tries to break from her keeper's control) No more of it, Nana.

521(Wagging a finger at her) I warn you if you bark again I shall go

522straight for master and missus and bring them home from the

523party, and then won't master whip you just! Come along, you

524naughty dog.

(The unhappy Nana is led away. The children emerge exulting from their various hiding-places. In their brief absence from the scene strange things have been done to them; but it is not for us to reveal a mysterious secret of the stage. They look just the same)

john I say, can you really fly?


peter Look! (He is now over their heads)


wendy Oh, how sweet!


peter I'm sweet, oh, I am sweet!

(It looks so easy that they try it first from the floor and then from their beds, without encouraging results)

john (rubbing his knees) How do you do it?


peter (descending) You just think lovely wonderful thoughts and

531they lift you up in the air. (He is off again)


john You are so nippy at it; couldn't you do it very slowly once?

533(Peter does it slowly) I've got it now, Wendy. (He tries; no, he has

534not got it, poor stay-at-home, though he knows the names of all the

535counties in England and Peter does not know one)


peter I must blow the fairy dust on you first. (Fortunately his

537garments are smeared with it and he blows some dust on each) Now,

538try; try from the bed. Just wriggle your shoulders this way, and

539then let go.

(The gallant Michael is the first to let go, and is borne across the room)

michael (with a yell that should have disturbed Liza) I flewed!

(John lets go, and meets Wendy near the bathroom door though they had both aimed in an opposite direction)
pg 104541

wendy Oh, lovely!


john (tending to be upside down) How ripping!


michael (playing whack on a chair) I do like it!


the three Look at me, look at me, look at me!

(They are not nearly so elegant in the air as Peter, but their heads have bumped the ceiling, and there is nothing more delicious than that)

john (who can even go backwards) I say, why shouldn't we go out?


peter There are pirates.


john Pirates! (He grabs his tall Sunday hat) Let us go at once!

(Tink does not like it. She darts at their hair. From down below in the street the lighted window must present an unwonted spectacle; the shadows of children revolving in the room like a merry-go-round. This is perhaps what Mr and Mrs Darling see as they come hurrying home from the party, brought by Nana who, you may be sure, has broken her chain. Peter's accomplice, the little star, has seen them coming, and again the window blows open)

peter (as if he had heard the star whisper 'Cave') Now come!

(Breaking the circle he flies out of the window over the trees of the square and over the house-tops, and the others follow like a flight of birds. The broken-hearted father and mother arrive just in time to get a nip from Tink as she too sets out for the Never Land)

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1.4  s.d. Mr Roget: Peter Roget was a Swiss doctor, the first draft of whose classic dictionary of synonyms, Roget's Thesaurus, was completed in 1806. R. D. S. Jack observes: 'One of the truly remarkable gaps in Barrie studies is the failure to see either how closely Roget's life paralleled Barrie's own or to relate Roget's thinking to Peter Pan.' For Jack's own discussion of the relationship, see The Road to the Never Land, 223–5.
Editor’s Note
24  s.d. Never Land: Peter Pan's island was called the Never, Never, Never Land in the first draft of the play, the Never Never Land in the play as performed (and also in When Wendy Grew Up), the Never Land in the play as published, and the Neverland in Peter and Wendy.
Editor’s Note
37  s.d. pinched: short of money.
Editor’s Note
55  s.d. treasures: valued servants.
Editor’s Note
66  s.d. a most ordinary manner … naturalness must be her passion: this could serve as a direction for the required acting style of the whole play. The language and behaviour of characters constantly involve extravagance and the striking of attitudes, but theatrical mannerisms and overplaying should not be superimposed on what the text itself demands. Rather, the actors should be constantly seeking to convey their sense that these many extravagances and oddities are perfectly natural ways of going about one's daily business.
Editor’s Note
71  s.d. 'The little less, and how much it is': this cryptic motto is Barrie's instruction for underplaying.
Editor’s Note
79  s.d. tidying up their minds: this unactable whimsy is one of the (relatively few) occasions when Barrie's extended stage directions for the published play entirely part company with the theatrical experience. (The passage derives from an unsuccessful section of Peter and Wendy.)
Editor’s Note
89  we are playing at being you and father: with the first child-speaker's first remark the play introduces its pattern of intricate role-playing, especially the interchange of pretences between child and adult, adult and child. Secure adulthood is (literally) a no-man's land in the play, though not a no-woman's land. (Mrs Darling is arguably the only adult, the only non-player, in the play.)
Editor’s Note
139  A little less noise there: compare with John's opening speech (1.90) and Peter in Act 4. The phrase is thus common to all three characters who play at fathers in the drama.
Editor’s Note
175  his shadow: Lancelyn Green cites an earlier instance of independent shadows, in Barrie's Sentimental Tommy: 'Twice they rushed home for hasty meals and were back so quickly that Tommy's shadow strained a muscle in turning with him' (Fifty Years of 'Peter Pan', 33).
Editor’s Note
221  Never mind, father: another role-reversal, the son adopting fatherly tones for a parent who speaks and acts childishly. The male Darlings are equalized (in childishness) by the subsequent dialogue.
Editor’s Note
317  s.d. The nursery darkens: the technical demands of the play are considerable, and this is the first of many times when Barrie skilfully contrives moments of darkness both for Tinker Bell's appearances and for occasions when characters must be attached to or detached from their wires for flying.
Editor’s Note
322  do show me: after this line there is a lengthy pause, occupied by movement, before Wendy sits up and speaks to Peter. The stage effect of the play is largely achieved by such episodes of wordless movement and tableau, and not only the narrative element of the stage directions, but their precise indications of mood, enable Barrie to achieve in his printed text some of the impact he most sought for in the theatre.
Editor’s Note
336  Wendy Moira Angela Darling: the name 'Wendy' was Barrie's invention. It recalled Margaret Henley, daughter of the poet W. E. Henley, who had died at the age of 5. She had told Barrie that he was her 'friendy' but could not pronounce the letter 'r', and the word became 'fwendy'. 'Moira' is the name of the girl heroine of Barrie's Little Mary, a play contemporaneous with Peter Pan, and she is another of his 'little mother' figures. 'Angela' was taken from Angela du Maurier, daughter of Gerald du Maurier (the first Captain Hook), and a cousin of the Davies boys.
Editor’s Note
337  Peter Pan: 'Peter' was the third of the Davies boys, and 'Pan' is the goat-footed god of nature in Greek mythology. (All the Davies names were somehow included. Mr Darling is 'George', John is Jack, and Michael is two-in-one, being Michael Nicholas.)
Editor’s Note
351  You mustn't touch me: this line (and accompanying stage direction) was introduced by Barrie in the 1928 text, supposedly for Jean Forbes-Robertson, whom Lancelyn Green describes as 'the most eerie and unearthly of all Peters'. The revision has been generally regretted, though it is hard to see why. A Peter resistant to actual physical contact, always insulated from the mortal, is wholly in keeping with the role and gives ample opportunities for visually effective and meaningful 'close encounters' later in the play.
Editor’s Note
390  s.d. gives him her thimble: cf. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (the 'Peter Pan' chapters of Barrie's novel The Little White Bird), in which Peter and Maimie Mannering (who has erred grievously by staying in the Gardens after Lock-out Time) have the identical misunderstanding.
Editor’s Note
399  I want always … have fun: cf. 5.2.135. The child-adult Tommy Sandys, in Barrie's novel Tommy and Grizel, plots a story called 'The Wandering Child': 'It is but a reverie about a little boy who was lost. His parents find him in a wood singing joyfully to himself because he thinks he can now be a boy for ever; and he fears that if they catch him they will compel him to grow into a man, so he runs farther from them into the wood and is running still, singing to himself because he is always to be a boy' (Tommy and Grizel, 1900 edn., 399).
Editor’s Note
403  they are nearly all dead now: despite the naked appeal to audience feeling when Tink's life is at risk in Act 4, the note of deadpan ruthlessness which is struck here on the subject of death is more essentially characteristic of the play.
Editor’s Note
436  You can't be my fairy … lady: this introduces the recurrent theme of Peter's sexual ignorance and imperviousness, and the sexual feeling he arouses in others: a topic much more conspicuous in the play as first drafted and performed (see pp. xi–xii) but still important in the 1928 text.
Editor’s Note
444  children who fall out of their prams: this idea also is taken from Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (where it is associated with death, the stones which mark parish boundaries being fancifully presented as the tombstones of lost children).
Editor’s Note
482  a lovely story: Peter's belief in the literal truth of stories is part of a general concern with the interplay between story and truth and the lack of fixed boundaries between them (so that Wendy in Act 4 narrates the 'truth' about the Darling home as if it were a story, and then constructs an imaginary story from it which accords with her preferred 'truth').
Editor’s Note
504  s.d. strikes her colours: surrenders.
Editor’s Note
513  s.d. the maid Liza: in the first production Liza was played by a child actress, Ela Q. May, who was advertised on the programme as 'author of the play'.
Editor’s Note
524  s.d. strange things have been done to them: i.e. they have been wired up for flying.
Editor’s Note
548  s.d. Cave: beware (Lat. cavere).
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