When Wendy Grew Up

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When Wendy Grew Up  (1908) 
by J. M. Barrie

The Scene is the same nursery, with this slight change – Michael's bed is now where Wendy's was and vice versa, and in front of John's bed, hiding the upper part of it from the audience, is a clothes horse on which depend (covering it), a little girl's garments to air at the fire. Time early evening. Lights in.

Wendy emerges from bathroom. She is now a grown-up woman, wearing a pretty dress with train, and she sails forward to fire in an excessively matrony manner. She comes straight to audience, points out to them with pride her long skirt and that her hair is up. Then takes a child's nightgown off fireguard and after pointing it out with rapture to audience exit into bathroom. She comes out with her little daughter Jane, who is in the nightgown. Wendy is drying Jane's hair.

Jane (naughty) Won't go to bed, Mummy, won't go to bed!

Wendy (excessively prim) Jane! When I was a little girl I went to bed the moment I was told. Come at once! (Jane dodges her and after pursuit is caught.) Naughtikins! (sits by fire with Jane on her knee warming toes) to run your poor old Mother out of breath! When she's not so young as she used to be!

Jane How young used you to be, Mummy?

Wendy Quite young. How time flies!

Jane Does it fly the way you flew when you were a little girl?

Wendy The way I flew. Do you know Darling it is all so long ago. I sometimes wonder whether I ever did really fly.

Jane Yes you did.

Wendy Those dear old days.

Jane Why can't you fly now, Mother?

Wendy Because I'm grown up, sweetheart; when people grow up they forget the way.

Jane Why do they forget the way?

Wendy Because they are no longer young and innocent. It is only the young and innocent that can fly.

Jane What is young and innocent? I do wish I were young and innocent! (Wendy suddenly hugs her)

Wendy Come to bed, dearest. (Takes her to bed right, down stage)

Jane Tell me a story. Tell me about Peter Pan.

Wendy (standing at foot of bed) I've told it you so often that I believe you could tell it to me now better than I could tell it to you.

Jane (putting bed clothes round them to suggest a tent) Go on Mother. This is the Little House. What do you see?

Wendy I see – just this nursery.

Jane But what do you see long ago in it?

Wendy I see – little Wendy in her bed.

Jane Yes, and Uncle Michael here and Uncle John over there.

Wendy Heigh ho! and to think that John has a beard now, and that Michael is an engine driver. Lie down, Petty.

Jane But do tell me. Tell me that bit – about how you grew up and Peter didn't. Begin where he promised to come for you every year, and take you to the Tree Tops to do his Spring Cleaning. Lucky you!

Wendy Well then! (now on bed behind Jane) On the conclusion of the adventures described in our last chapter which left our heroine Wendy, in her Mummy's arms, she was very quickly packed off to school again – a day school.

Jane And so were the boys.

Wendy Yes – Mummy adopted them. They were fearfully anxious because John had said to them that, if they didn't fit in, they would all have to be sent to the Dogs' Home. However they all fitted in, and they went to school in a bus every day, but sometimes they were very naughty, for when the conductor clambered up to collect the fares they flew off, so as not to have to pay their pennies. You should have seen Nana taking them to church. It was like a Collie herding sheep.

Jane Did they ever wish they were back in the Never Never Land?

Wendy (hesitating) I – I don't know.

Jane (with conviction) I know.

Wendy Of course they missed the fun. Even Wendy sometimes couldn't help flying, the littlest thing lifted her up in the air. The sight of a hat blown off a gentleman's head for instance. If it flew off, so did she! So a year passed, and the first Spring Cleaning time came round, when Peter was to come and take her to the Tree Tops.

Jane OO! OO!

Wendy How she prepared for him! How she sat at that window in her going-away frock – and he came – and away they flew to his Spring Cleaning – and he was exactly the same, and he never noticed that she was any different.

Jane How was she different?

Wendy She had to let the frock down two inches! She was so terrified that he might notice it, for she had promised him never to have growing pains. However, he never noticed, he was so full of lovely talk about himself.

Jane (gleefully) He was always awful cocky.

Wendy I think ladies rather love cocky gentlemen.

Jane So do I love them.

Wendy There was one sad thing I noticed. He had forgotten a lot. He had even forgotten Tinker Bell. I think she was no more.

Jane Oh dear!

Wendy You see Darling, a fairy only lives as long a time as a feather is blown about the air on a windy day. But fairies are so little that a short time seems a good while to them. As the feather flutters they have quite an enjoyable life, with time to be born respectably and have a look round, and to dance once and to cry once and to bring up their children – just as one can go a long way quickly in a motor car. And so motor cars help us to understand fairies.

Jane Everybody grows up and dies except Peter, doesn't they?

Wendy Yes, you see he had no sense of time. He thought all the past was just yesterday. He spoke as if it was just yesterday that he and I had parted – and it was a whole year.

Jane Oh dearie Dear!

Wendy We had a lovely time, but soon I had to go back home, and another year passed, and Spring Cleaning time came again. And oh the terror of me sitting waiting for him – for I was another two niches round the waist! But he never came. How I cried! Another year passed, and still I got into my little frock somehow, and that year he came – and the strangest thing was that he never knew that he had missed a year. I didn't tell him. I meant to, but I saod to him 'What am I to you Peter?' and he said 'You are my mother' – so of course after that I couldn't tell him. But that was the last. Many Spring Cleaning times came round, but never Peter any more. 'Just always be waiting for me' he said, 'and then some time you will hear me crow', but I never heard him crow again. It's just as well Sweetie for you see he would think all the past was yesterday, and he would expect to find me a little girl still – and that would be too tragic. And now you must sleep. (Rises)

Jane I am fearfully awake. Tell me about Nana.

Wendy (at foot of bed) Of course I see now that Nana wasn't a perfect nurse. She was rather old-fashioned in her ideas – she had too much faith in your stocking round your throat, and so on – and two or three times she became just an ordinary dog, and stayed out so late at night with bad companions that father had to get up at two in the morning in his pyjamas to let her in. But she was so fond of children that her favourite way of spending her afternoons off was to go to Kensington Gardens, and follow careless nurses to their homes and report them to their mistresses. As she's old now I have to coddle her a good deal and that's why we give her John's bed to sleep in. (Looking left) Dear Nana! (Flings kiss to the hidden bed)

Jane Now tell me about being married in white with a pink sash.

Wendy Most of the boys married their favourite heroines in fiction and Slightly married a lady of title and so he became a lord.

Jane And one of them married Wendy and so he became my Papa!

Wendy Yes and we bought this house at 3 per cents from Grand-Papa because he felt the stairs. And Papa is very clever, and knows all about Stocks and Shares. Of course he doesn't really know about them, nobody really knows, but in the mornings when he wakes up fresh he says 'Stocks are up and Shares are down' in a way that makes Mummy very, very proud of him.

Jane Now tell me about me.

Wendy At last there came to our heroine a little daughter. I don't know how it is but I just always thought that some day Wendy would have a little daughter.

Jane So did I, mother, so did I! Tell me what she's like.

Wendy Pen cannot describe her, she would have to be written with a golden splash! (Hugs her) That's the end. You must sleep.

Jane I am not a bit sleepy.

Wendy (leaving her) Hsh!

Jane Mother, I think – (pause)

Wendy Well dear, what do you think? (Pause again – Wendy goes and looks and sees that Jane has suddenly fallen asleep) Asleep! (Tucks her in bed, removes the clothes on screen, leisurely, folds and puts them away and then Nana is revealed lying asleep in John's bed beneath the coverlet. She puts down light and sits by fire to sew. Pause – then the night-light over Jane's bed quivers and goes out. Then Peter's crow is heard – Wendy starts up breatheless – then the window opens and Peter flies into the room. He is not a day altered. He is gay. Wendy gasps, sinks back in chair. He sees Nana in bed and is startled. Nana moans, he comes forward avoiding Nana's bed, sees Wendy's dress, thinks she's playing a trick on him)

Peter (gaily jumping in front of her) Hulloh Wendy! (She turns lamplight away from her) Thimbles! (He leaps on to her knee and kisses her)

Wendy (not knowing what to do) Peter! Peter, do you know how long it is since you were here before?

Peter It was yesterday.

Wendy Oh! (He feels her cheek)

Peter Why is there wet on your face? (She can't answer) I know! It's 'cos you are so glad I've come for you. (Suddenly remembers Nana – jumps up) Why is Nana in John's bed?

Wendy (quivering) John – doesn't sleep here now.

Peter Oh the cheek! (Looking carelessly at Jane's bed) Is Michael asleep?

Wendy (after hesitating) Yes. (Horrified at herself) That isn't Michael! (Peter peeps curiously)

Peter (going) Hullo, it's a new one!

Wendy Yes.

Peter Boy or girl?

Wendy Girl.

Peter Do you like her?

Wendy Yes! (Desperate) Peter, don't you see whose child she is?

Peter Of course I do. She's your mother's child. I say, I like her too!

Wendy (crying) Why?

Peter 'Cos now your mother can let you stay longer with me for Spring Cleaning. (Agony of Wendy)

Wendy Peter. I – I have something to tell you.

Peter (running to her gaily) Is it a secret?

Wendy Oh! Peter, when Captain Hook carried us away –

Peter Who's Captain Hook? Is it a story? Tell it me.

Wendy (aghast) Do you mean to say you've even forgotten Captain Hook, and how you killed him and saved all our lives?

Peter (fidgeting) I forget them after I kill them.

Wendy Oh, Peter, your forget everything!

Peter Everything except mother Wendy. (hugs her)

Wendy Oh!

Peter Come on Wendy.

Wendy (miserably) Where to?

Peter To the Little House. (A little strong) Have you forgotten it is Spring Cleaning time – it's you that forgets.

Wendy Peter, Peter! by this time the little house must have rotted all away.

Peter So it has, but there are new ones, even littler.

Wendy Did you build them yourself?

Peter Oh no, I just found them. You see the little house was a Mother and it has young ones.

Wendy You sweet.

Peter So come on. ('Pulling her) I'm Captain.

Wendy I can't come, Peter – I have forgotten how to fly.

Peter I'll soon teach you again. (Blows fairy dust on her)

Wendy Peter, Peter, you are wasting the fairy dust.

Peter (At last alarmed) What is it, Wendy? Is something wrong? Don't cheat me mother Wendy, – I'm only a little boy.

Wendy I can't come with you, Peter – because I'm no longer young and innocent.

Peter (with a cry) Yes you are.

Wendy I'm going to turn up the light, and then you will see for yourself.

Peter (frightened – hastily) Wendy, don't turn up the light.

Wendy Yes. But first I want to say to you for the last time something I said often and often in the dear Never Never Land. Peter, what are your exact feelings for me?

Peter Those of a devoted son, Wendy. (Silently she lets her hand play with his hair – she caresses his face, smiling through her tears – then she turns lamp up near the fire and faces him – a bewildered understanding comes to him – she puts out her arms – but he shrinks back) What is it? What is it?

Wendy Peter, I'm grown up – I couldn't help it! (He backs again) I'm a married woman Peter – and that little girl is my baby.

Peter (after pause – fiercely) What does she call you?

Wendy (softly, after pause) Mother.

Peter Mother! (He takes step toward the child with a little dagger in his hand upraised, then is about to fly away, then flings self on floor and sobs)

Wendy Peter, Peter! Oh! (Knows not what to do, rushes in agony from the room – long pause in which nothing is heard but Peter's sobs. Nana is restless. Peter is on the same spot as when crying about his Shadow in Act I. Presently his sobbing wakes Jane. She sits up.)

Jane Boy, why are you crying?

(Peter rises – they bow as in Act I.)

Jane What's your name?

Peter Peter Pan.

Jane I just thought it would be you.

Peter I came for my mother to take her to the Never Never Land to do my Spring Cleaning.

Jane Yes I know, I've been waiting for you.

Peter Will you be my mother?

Jane Oh, yes. (Simply)

(She gets out of bed and stands beside him, arms round him in a child's conception of a mother – Peter very happy. The lamp flickers and goes out as night-light did)

Peter I hear Wendy coming – Hide!

(They hide. Then Peter is seen teaching Jane to fly. They are very gay. Wendy enters and stands right, taking in situation and much more. They don't see her.)

Peter Hooray! Hooray!

Jane (flying) Oh! Lucky me!

Peter And you'll come with me?

Jane If Mummy says I may.

Wendy Oh!

Jane May I, Mummy?

Wendy May I come too?

Peter You can't fly.

Jane It's just for a week.

Peter And I do so need a mother.

Wendy (nobly yielding) Yes my love, you may go. (Kisses and squeals of rapture, Wendy puts slippers and cloak on Jane and suddenly Peter and Jane fly out hand in hand right in to the night, Wendy waving to them – Nana wakens, rises, is weak on legs, barks feebly – Wendy comes and gets on her knees beside Nana.)

Wendy Don't be anxious Nana. This is how I planned it if he ever came back. Every Spring Cleaning, except when he forgets, I'll let Jane fly away with him to the darling Never Never Land, and when she grows up I hope she will have a little daughter, who will fly away with him in turn – and in this way may I go on for ever and ever, dear Nana, so long as children are young and innocent.

(Gradual darkness – then two little lights seen moving slowly through the heavens)


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1937, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 85 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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