The Adventures of Peter Pan HTML version
Chapter 16. The Return Home
By three bells that morning they were all stirring their stumps [legs]; for there was a big
sea running; and Tootles, the bo'sun, was among them, with a rope's end in his hand and
chewing tobacco. They all donned pirate clothes cut off at the knee, shaved smartly, and
tumbled up, with the true nautical roll and hitching their trousers.
It need not be said who was the captain. Nibs and John were first and second mate.
There was a woman aboard. The rest were tars [sailors] before the mast, and lived in the
fo'c'sle. Peter had already lashed himself to the wheel; but he piped all hands and
delivered a short address to them; said he hoped they would do their duty like gallant
hearties, but that he knew they were the scum of Rio and the Gold Coast, and if they
snapped at him he would tear them. The bluff strident words struck the note sailors
understood, and they cheered him lustily. Then a few sharp orders were given, and they
turned the ship round, and nosed her for the mainland.
Captain Pan calculated, after consulting the ship's chart, that if this weather lasted they
should strike the Azores about the 21st of June, after which it would save time to fly.
Some of them wanted it to be an honest ship and others were in favour of keeping it a
pirate; but the captain treated them as dogs, and they dared not express their wishes to
him even in a round robin [one person after another, as they had to Cpt. Hook]. Instant
obedience was the only safe thing. Slightly got a dozen for looking perplexed when told
to take soundings. The general feeling was that Peter was honest just now to lull Wendy's
suspicions, but that there might be a change when the new suit was ready, which, against
her will, she was making for him out of some of Hook's wickedest garments. It was
afterwards whispered among them that on the first night he wore this suit he sat long in
the cabin with Hook's cigar-holder in his mouth and one hand clenched, all but for the
forefinger, which he bent and held threateningly aloft like a hook.
Instead of watching the ship, however, we must now return to that desolate home from
which three of our characters had taken heartless flight so long ago. It seems a shame to
have neglected No. 14 all this time; and yet we may be sure that Mrs. Darling does not
blame us. If we had returned sooner to look with sorrowful sympathy at her, she would
probably have cried, "Don't be silly; what do I matter? Do go back and keep an eye on the
children." So long as mothers are like this their children will take advantage of them; and
they may lay to [bet on] that.
Even now we venture into that familiar nursery only because its lawful occupants are on
their way home; we are merely hurrying on in advance of them to see that their beds are
properly aired and that Mr. and Mrs. Darling do not go out for the evening. We are no
more than servants. Why on earth should their beds be properly aired, seeing that they
left them in such a thankless hurry? Would it not serve them jolly well right if they came
back and found that their parents were spending the week-end in the country? It would be