THE PIRATE SHIP
The pirate ship was a terribly evil-looking craft with its painted sails, its heavy tarred cordage, and its flag with the skull and crossbones upon it, flapping grimly at the stern. The poor children were at once driven into the dark and dirty hold, while Hook walked the deck, rubbing his hands and chuckling to himself to think that at last he had them in his power.
"Are all the prisoners chained so that they can't fly away?" he asked Smee, who was very busy at his sewing-machine.
"Aye, aye, Captain," answered Smee.
"Then hoist them up," shouted the Captain.
He seated himself on a chair covered with a white bearskin, waiting while the Boys, whose wrists were chained together, were dragged out of the hold and brought before him. Six of them, he said, were to walk the plank at once, but he would save any two who were willing to be cabin boys. The children were not at first sure what walking the plank meant, but Hook soon enlightened them by roaring out a song in explanation.
Yo ho! yo ho! the fris-ky plank, you
walk a-long it
so— Till it goes down and you goes down to too-ral loo-ral lo—
he sang, waving his hook to show how, when the plank tipped, they would be shot into the water and drowned.
Turning towards John Napoleon Darling he shouted: "You look as if you had some pluck in you!" John hesitated. In his schoolboy days he had always thought a pirate's life very attractive, so stepping forward, he said: "Will you call me Red-handed Jack?" The Captain laughed with delight, and promised to give him that name if he joined the crew. Then Michael went up to him and slapped him on the shoulder. "What will you call me if I join?" he asked. "Black-Bearded Joe," answered the Captain, and until another question arose Michael was much pleased. The cabin boys were told that they must of course swear "Down with King George!" and to this neither boy would consent. John and Michael were then pushed on one side and told that their doom was sealed, while Hook shouted, "Bring up their mother."
In a moment Wendy was dragged from the hold, and when the Boys rushed to protect her they were pulled back, leaving her standing alone, looking very frightened but pretty in her brown dress, with a long brown cloak wrapped round her. Hook asked her if she had any last message for her sons who were about to die. Wendy spoke beautifully to the Boys, telling them she was sure their real mothers would wish them to die like English gentlemen. Her courage so inspired the children that they all cried they would do what their mothers wished. Upon this, Wendy was cruelly tied to the mast whilst Hook's orders were being carried out.
But, just as the Boys' fate seemed determined, something happened to change Hook's glee into terror. "Tick! tick! ter-ick, tick, tick!" he heard, and at the dreaded sound he yelled: "The crocodile! hide me, hide me!" In abject fear he rushed to a corner of the ship while his men crowded round him, intent only upon shielding their captain from the jaws of the monster. The Boys, too, waited breathless with horror, until with sudden relief and rapture they saw not the crocodile but their beloved captain Peter Pan appearing over the ship's side. In one hand, at arm's length, he held an alarum clock, the ticking of which had made Hook believe that the crocodile was upon him.
Making a sign to his friends, Peter dashed into the cabin, unseen by the Pirates, and shut the door. The ticking ceased directly, and Hook's terror vanished.
Returning to his dreadful purpose he cried: "Now here's to Johnny Plank!" Again he began to sing, "Yo ho, yo ho, the frisky plank," but the Boys, filled with hope and excitement, drowned his voice by singing "Rule, Britannia," and just as the Pirate was about to vent his rage upon them he was silenced by a shrill and piercing cock's-crow from the cabin.
Struck motionless with terror, the crew looked to their Captain for some explanation, who ordered Gecco, one of his men, to enter the cabin and see what was the matter. Hook waited, but Gecco did not return, and once again was heard the awful mysterious crowing. "Someone must bring me out that doodledoo," roared the Captain, and, as no one volunteered, "I thought I heard Starkey volunteer," he said, pointing his hook at Starkey. Mad with terror of the hook as well as of the uncanny creature in the cabin, Starkey rushed wildly round the deck, and finally, to escape both, flung himself overboard.
Furious at this mutinous behaviour, Hook shouted, "I'll bring that doodledoo out myself," but he had no better success, and came rushing back in a cowardly fashion, saying: "Something blew out the light."
A happy idea now struck him. "Drive the Boys in—let them fight the doodledoo—if they kill him so much the better, if he kills them we're none the worse."
This, of course, was just what the children wanted, but, concealing their delight, they allowed themselves to be driven into the cabin. In the meantime, all the Pirates huddled together, hiding their faces. Sailors, you know, are very superstitious, and they all thought the ship was bewitched. So terrified were they that no one saw Peter steal out, followed by the Boys, who crept silently up the ladder to the higher deck. No one saw Peter cut the ropes which bound Wendy, and take her place at the mast, and cover his face with the brown cloak she had left, while Wendy joined the Boys.
"It's the girl!" cried Hook, "there's never luck on a pirate ship with a woman aboard; let's throw her over." All the men knew that their Captain was right, and one of the Pirates started up and shook his fist at the brown-robed figure at the mast. "There's nothing can save you now, Missy," he cried. "There is one," came a ringing voice, and the brown cloak was flung aside and there stood Peter Pan. "Down, Boys, and at them," he shouted, and with a rush the Boys, armed with weapons which Peter had found and given them in the cabin, swarmed down upon the lower deck. The Pirates believed that all the Boys had been slain by the mysterious doodledoo, and were panic-stricken as they saw them with swords and daggers. Some of the crew rushed to the bulwarks and leapt overboard; others with their knives fell upon the Boys, while Hook backed into the cabin fighting for his life. "Put up your knives, Boys, that man is mine!" cried Peter, pointing to Hook. The Boys turned their attention to the remaining members of the pirate crew, who were one by one forced into the sea, while the two mortal enemies appeared at the cabin door closed in deadly combat. Each was determined to kill the other. Step by step Hook was driven back to the side of the ship. He felt himself weakening. In despair he cried out: "'Tis some fiend fighting me! Who are you, Pan?"
"I'm youth!" cried Peter, "I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg. I'm youth! I'm joy!"
With that he wrenched Hook's sword
and pushed him into the sea, right into the jaws of the waiting crocodile, who caught him at last.
The Boys burst into ringing cheers as they and Wendy crowded round their hero, who stood like a conquering Napoleon while the pirate flag was lowered.
All the pirates save two, Smee and Starkey, jumped into the sea and were drowned.
Smee, the Irish Pirate, who was not so wicked as the rest of the crew, managed to swim ashore, and subsequently became a reformed character and a brave sailor in His Majesty's Fleet.
Starkey, who had never shed blood, but had been guilty of many cruel deeds, was captured by the Redskins and led a miserable life, for Great Big Little White Panther, the Indian chief, compelled him to act as nurse to the papooses of the tribe—a sad come-down for a pirate!