The Adventures of Peter Pan HTML version
Chapter 15. "Hook Or Me This Time"
Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life without our noticing for a time
that they have happened. Thus, to take an instance, we suddenly discover that we have
been deaf in one ear for we don't know how long, but, say, half an hour. Now such an
experience had come that night to Peter. When last we saw him he was stealing across the
island with one finger to his lips and his dagger at the ready. He had seen the crocodile
pass by without noticing anything peculiar about it, but by and by he remembered that it
had not been ticking. At first he thought this eerie, but soon concluded rightly that the
clock had run down.
Without giving a thought to what might be the feelings of a fellow-creature thus
abruptly deprived of its closest companion, Peter began to consider how he could turn the
catastrophe to his own use; and he decided to tick, so that wild beasts should believe he
was the crocodile and let him pass unmolested. He ticked superbly, but with one
unforeseen result. The crocodile was among those who heard the sound, and it followed
him, though whether with the purpose of regaining what it had lost, or merely as a friend
under the belief that it was again ticking itself, will never be certainly known, for, like
slaves to a fixed idea, it was a stupid beast.
Peter reached the shore without mishap, and went straight on, his legs encountering the
water as if quite unaware that they had entered a new element. Thus many animals pass
from land to water, but no other human of whom I know. As he swam he had but one
thought: "Hook or me this time." He had ticked so long that he now went on ticking
without knowing that he was doing it. Had he known he would have stopped, for to board
the brig by help of the tick, though an ingenious idea, had not occurred to him.
On the contrary, he thought he had scaled her side as noiseless as a mouse; and he was
amazed to see the pirates cowering from him, with Hook in their midst as abject as if he
had heard the crocodile.
The crocodile! No sooner did Peter remember it than he heard the ticking. At first he
thought the sound did come from the crocodile, and he looked behind him swiftly. They
he realised that he was doing it himself, and in a flash he understood the situation. "How
clever of me!" he thought at once, and signed to the boys not to burst into applause.
It was at this moment that Ed Teynte the quartermaster emerged from the forecastle and
came along the deck. Now, reader, time what happened by your watch. Peter struck true
and deep. John clapped his hands on the ill-fated pirate's mouth to stifle the dying groan.
He fell forward. Four boys caught him to prevent the thud. Peter gave the signal, and the
carrion was cast overboard. There was a splash, and then silence. How long has it taken?
"One!" (Slightly had begun to count.)