Author Topic: The Blot on Peter Pan  (Read 1580 times)

Dani1923

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 301
    • View Profile
The Blot on Peter Pan
« on: April 26, 2022, 09:13:48 PM »
Text from “The Blot on Peter Pan”, a short story by Barrie from another compilation book by Cynthia Asquith called “The Treasure Ship” published in 1926. This story is also based on Michael like “Neil and Tintinnabulum”, and Blot was a sort of sequel to it:

I HAD been asked to keep them quiet for an hour, as it was a
wet day.
"Well, then, you four shrimps," says I, "once upon a time
I was asked by some children to tell them what is the Blot on Peter
Pan. Then once upon another time the children of those children
asked me to tell them what is the Blot on Peter Pan.
Is that
clear?
Then, this brings us to to-day; but still I don't see why I
should tell you what is the Blot, when I have so long kept it secret."
"Because you love us," suggested Billy.
"No, no, Billy," said I, annoyed at being caught out, "there can
be no love without respect.
Jane, either put your shoe definitely
on or take it definitely off.
Lay down those matches,
Sammy.
Sara dear, get off my knee; surely you know by this time that I see
through your cheap blandishments.
I wish you children had not
such leery faces, but I suppose it is your natural expression."
"Peter is rather a leery one," said Sammy.
"You have found that out, have you? Well, when I made
him up he was the noble youth I should like you to be, though
I have given up hoping. He would have scorned then to brag to
that girl whom he took with him to his island, and he was always
obedient, polite and good."
"What changed him?"
"I did, Sara, because I had become a cynic."
"What is a sinsik?"
Here I got in the deadliest thing I have said for years.
"A cynic," says I, "is a person who has dealings with children."
"What made you a sinsik?"
"It was a boy called Neil."
"I don't know any Neil," said Billy.
You could not have known this boy, he was born so long
before you."
"I daresay I could have licked him," said Billy.
"Before you were born?"
"Well, if he had waited."
You could not have licked him in any case," I said rather
hotly.
"No one of his age could have stood up to that boy. He
was a wonder."
"So you were fond of him?"
"On the contrary, this story is to be the exposure of him."
"Funny way to begin," muttered Billy.
"How old was he?)
"At the time he did for me he was seventeen hundred days old."
Sammy whistled.
"That may seem old to the more backward of you," I explained.
"but those who have got out of beads into real counting should be
able to discover his age with a pencil.
If any of you has got out of
pencil into ink you should be able to do it with a pen."
Jane was the quickest to work it out (with a pencil), and she
found that Neil at that time was the same age as Sara is now, which
made Sara simper.
"Before we come, however," I continued, "to the advanced
age at which Neil laid me out, there is a reason why I should
describe his christening, for if it had been a different kind of
christening, P. Pan would be a different kind of boy. In the thirty
days or so before you are christened it scarcely matters whether
you are good or bad, because in the eyes of the law you are only a
bundle without a name, or such name as you have is written thus—
which is easy to write but more difficult to pronounce. A boy
called Mr. Macaulay remembered the day he was born, but if you
are only ordinarily nippy you get a pass by remembering your
christening. Neil could not remember even raising his head at the
christening to catch what his name was.
"I remember raising mine," said Billy.
"Neil, however, remembered something of far greater class»
I said haughtily; "he remembered seeing the fairy godmothers
sitting on the rim of the font."
At this there were exclamations, Billy's being the most offen-
sive.
"I had his word for it," I said.
"But if you had only my word for it-
2 Billy began and
stopped, so we shall never know what he was going to say.
"Did you see them?" asked Jane, speaking like a needle.
"I wasn't there."
"Weren't you invited?"
"Certainly I was invited; I was Neil's godfather. But when
the time came round I could not remember what a godfather wears
at christenings."
"I wouldn't have let that keep me away," said Sammy.
You would have risked going into the wrong waistcoat!" I
shrieked. "No, I consulted the best books of reference-_fairy tales,
of course-_and I made the extraordinary discovery that all a god-
father does at a christening is to stay away. Though these books
are full of godmothers there is not a single godfather in them.
I
offer a shilling for every fairy godfather you can produce."
They made a brief search in the books (during which I had
rather an anxious time), but not a godfather could they find.
"So I bit my lips," I told them,
"and stayed away.
Among
the carly arrivals at Neil's christening were the clergyman and the
parents and.
himself; and then came the usual rabble of fairy
godmothers, who took up their places in a circle on the rim of the font.”
"So they were really there."
"So Neil did see ther."
"Did the clergyman sce them?'
He is so used to them that if they behave he scarcely looks,
If they misbehave he wipes them off the rim with his sleeve. But I
don't blame you, Billy, for not having seen them at your christening
They cannot be seen clearly now-a-days because of a shocking thing
that happens at their own christenings.
An ogre who hates them
and is called Science-
Why does Sams hate them?"
Same is a better name for him. He hates them because they
prevent children from joining, in the forward movement."
"Golly, what's that?"
"It is Progress, The fairies see to it that the newly-born of to-
day are not a whit more advanced than their predecessors, and so the
latest child is just as likely as the first one (dear little Cain), to ask
a poser that has never been asked before. As a result Sam naturally
hates the fairies, and he goes to their christenings and tries to rub
them out. Don't cry, Sara, he doesn't entirely rub them out; he
leaves quite a pretty blur, He also rubs away at their voices, which
in conseruence have become very faint. If Sara doesn't stop crying
I shall stop the story.
"The christening seemed to those present to be quite un-
eventful. First the clergyman did his dipping and said, 'I name
this child Neil, and if anyone objects let him for ever after hold
his pence.* Then the fairy godmothers gave their gifts, qualities
such as Beanty, each at the same time copying the clergyman (for
they are very imitative) and letting fall one drop of water on Neil's
face, always aiming (if I know anything about them) at the eye.
The people then went home to rejoice with sandwiches, thinking all
was well"
" And wasn't it?"
"Alas, as the years revolved (which they do because the earth
is round) we discovered that the fairies had made a mess of things.
What do fairy godmothers usually do at a christening? You know
the stories better than I do."
"All the godmothers are good," Jane said, "except one whom
the parents forget to invite, so she comes in a rage and mischiefs the
child."
"Exactly, Jane. And it does seem rather dense of parents.
One would think that there must have been here and there in the
history of the ages a father and mother who learned from the
wrecks around them to send an invitation to the bad fairy. Never-
theless, we must admit that she performs in her imperfect way a
public function, for if you were entirely good there would be no
story in you; and the fairies are so fond of stories that they call
giving you one bad quality Putting in the story.
"I daresay the good godmothers meant to do the right thing
by Neil, but on their way to the church there was a block, and the
bad one overtook them, and was so impertinent to the policeman
that he put her in his pocket, meaning to report her later. This
flustered the others, and they got separated. Some of them were
not heard of again till they were quite old (they get old by night-
time) and several swopped qualities with other godmothers and
went to the wrong church and gave Neil's gifts to the wrong child
Oddly enough (not at all) his one valuable quality came from his
bad-godmother, who had been released with a caution and arrived
at the church in a chastened spirit.
"The qualities implanted in Neil by the godmothers who
should have been good were:
The Quality of Beauty
The Quality of Showing Off
The Quality of Sharp Practice
The Quality of Copy Cat
The Quality of Dishing his Godfather.
Of course you are all wanting to know what was the bad god-
mother's gift; but wait, wait. As you will soon hear, P. Pan knows.
"We quickly discovered that Beauty was one of Neil's gifts, but
we never guessed at the others till he was seventeen hundred. Let us
now blow ourselves out for a moment and compate the parents of
past and present in relation to their offspring. The parents of long
ago had a far easier time than the parents of to-day, for they could
hear the godmothers announcing the child's future, and so knew for
certain what he would grow into, and that nothing could possibly
harm him until, say, he plucked a blue rose, when he would be
neatly done for. They had no responsibilities, scarcely needed to
send him to school
"By Bum " eulaimed, Pilléaly when he swallowed father's
watch or came out in spots. How different is the position of the
parents of to-day, who cannot hear the fairies' words, and therefore
can only guess at the gifts which have been given. They don't know
what quality, good or bad, is to pop out of you presently, but they
watch for it unceasingly, ready to water it or to grub it up.
Thus
children who were certainties in the old times have now become
riddles. You, O Sara, though outwardly agreeable if somewhat too
round, are still only a riddle to your mother. The one sure thing she
knows about you is that there you are,
Don't cry, Sara.
"Ah me, we guessed very wrongly about Neil. His parents
did not extol him in public, but visitors who were equally reticent
were not asked back. We thought his gifts were Sweetness,
Modesty, Goodness and Blazing Intelligence.
We even believed,
Heaven help us, that he had Moral Grandeur. Not being able to
find a bad godmother's handiwork in him we concluded that the
noble little Neil had bitten it in the bud."
"Like I bit off that wart," volunteered Billy, much interested.
"Don't be nasty, Billy, at a time like this," said Jane, obviously
his sister.
I thanked Jane and continued.
"To be present at Neil's
brushing of his teeth when in his fifteen hundreds was regarded
as a treat; he looked at you over the brush as he did it to see whether
you were amazed, and you were. On his first day at school he re-
turned home with a prize. He seemed to like me best. Always to
do the same what godfather does was a motto he invented, and I
little understood its fell significance. Is it any wonder that I was
deceived? We now come to the fatal seventeen hundredth day,
which was also the day of the production of Peter Pan."
A shiversome silence fell upon the room, and Sara was hang-
ing on to my leg.
"Give me air!" I cried hoarsely.
They were all very sorry for me.
"What a beast of a fellow
Neil must have been!" Billy shouted.
"None of that!" says I sternly.
"There you go, sticking up for him again."
"The next one who interrupts unnecessarily," I said, "I shall
ask to spell 'unnecessarily. The original performance of Peter Pan
was not given in a theatre, but in a country house, and then only
the first two acts, the acts that made so small an impression on
you, Billy my boy."
This was a deserved sneer at Billy, who, on being asked in the
theatre at the end of the second act how he was enjoying Peter
Pan, had replied that what he liked best was tearing up the
programme and dropping the bits on people's heads.
"Not so silly as Sara, at any rate," Billy growled, and then it
was Sara's turn to look abashed. Before the performance I had taken
her to a restaurant and discovered later that she thought the meal
was Peter Pan.
For such persons do great minds stoop to folly.
"The performers were incompetent little amateurs like your-
selves, but owing to his youth and other infirmities Neil was not one
of the company, to which indignity he was at first indifferent, but a
change came over him when he discovered that acting was a way of
showing off. He then demonstrated for a part with unmanly
clamour, and one of the mistakes of my life was in not yielding to
him. I let him, instead, sit beside me and watch my interesting
way of conducting rehearsals. Soon he was betraying an unhealthy
interest in the proceedings. He could not read nor write nor spell,
though he did know his letters, but after seeing a few rehearsals he
could have taken my place as producer had I had the luck to fall ill
and be put to bed with a gargle.
"At this time there were thunder and galloping, horses and
the gound of the sea in Peter Pan, though I cut them out after the
performance in that house for reasons which will soon be obvious to
the dullest of you. I am not sure which of you that is. As soon as
Neil saw and heard those marvellous imitations they went straight
to his temperature and his eyes glared and he had to be given a
powder. Our thunder was made with a sheet of tin, and our gal-
loping horses were two halves of a cocoa-nut rubbed together, and
our sca was sago rolled up and down in a tray. Neil daily cut
himself on the thunder, bleeding disgustingly, and every night the
sago had to be plucked out of him like ticks. His nurse, whom I
shall always suspect, despite her denials, of having been his red-
handed accomplice in the affair of the seventeen hundredth day,
told me that it was no longer an actor that he wanted to be but an
author and producer, like his godfather.
"'In his sleep, she said, 'he writes plays in the air and calls
out "Speak my words and not your own, dash youl just as you do, sir,
at rehearsals, and I have to give him the dictionary to hug in bed
instead of his golly-wog, because he saw you getting the words out
of it. If that innocent could spell.'
"I admitted that spelling is the dramatist's big difficulty, but
could not see how Neil was to get round it.
"'If he docan't it will be the first thing he hasn't got
round, she said darkly, so darkly that I should have taken
heed.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, the night of the performance
came round. It wasn't really night, but we helped night alonz
by pulling down the blinds and turning up the lights. All the
chairs and sofas and tables and even the mantelpiece were occupied
by the public, who had first been filled to repletion with cakes and
cyder to as to take away their facultier. I was not present myself.
I was walking up and down in the garden, listening for approving
sounds and gnawing my moustache.
"Out there in the garden I could not hear the words, but I
could hear the thunder and the galloping of the horses and the lonely
lash of the sca; and, my dear Sara, I could hear the extraordinarily
sweet music that is made by the ecatatic clapping of hands. I had not
expected much enthusiasm so promptly, because, as you all have
often pointed out, Peter Pan opens rather quietly,
"I expect," says Billy, meaning no offence, " they were cheering
the cocoa-nuts.
Was it really like horses?"
"Far more like than horses are. Well, the applause was 50
prodigious that I felt it would be churlish to delay any longer
giving the audience a sight of me, so I slipped in among them
What I saw I wish to describe to you in the simplest words and with
as little emotion as possible, for, after all, it happened many years
ago, Still, hold my hand, Sara,
"The first thing I noticed was that the curtain was down
though the play had been in progress for but a dozen minutes.
Simultaneously I knew that the air was being rent with cries for
*AuthorI Author I must confess that for the moment I presumed
my success to be so epoch-making that the prompter, bowing to the
popular will, had taken the unusual step of deciding to present me
to my kind friends in front in the middle of the first act.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2022, 09:24:15 PM by Dani1923 »

Dani1923

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 301
    • View Profile
Re: The Blot on Peter Pan
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2022, 09:14:46 PM »
"Speedily I was undeceived.
They can't have come to the end
of the first act yet,* I whispered to a neighbour, who happily did not
know me.
"*It was all in one act,' he explained, 'and just lasted a few
minutes, but they were glorious minutes, Author] AuthorI'
"'Are you speaking about Peter Pan?' I asked with the strang
est sinking.
"'No, no, he said, 'we haven't come to that yet. This is
the curtain-raiser that astonishing little chap has written.
Author,
Author, Author, Author.'
"Then the curtain went up and Neil came forward in his kilt
and made his bow amid a hurricane of idolatry. Made his bow
is indeed an inadequate way of expressing it. There was ant
about him a vestige of the affected modesty that at such a moment so
well becomes an author. He carried a toy gun and strutted up and
down the stage, leering shoekingly and stopping occasionally to
join in the applause. I scorn to tell the calls he got. When
the audience's hands were benumbed he came on again and again
without being called, and in the end he had to be carried off the
stage kicking.
"But he hadn't really written it," my listeners exclaimed
incredulously; "you said he could neither write nor spell."
*But I said he knew his
letters, Billy. A miracle had
happened. The boy who was
unable to read, write or spell
on Monday was a dab at them
all by Tweday. You may say
*Oh, rot" but it is truc.
Give me the pencil and I'll
show you."
MACCD
MNO
OSAR
EMMA freS
DE COLD F3 M
"This was a problem in three lines and a glass bowl that I had
given to some youthful onlookers at that luckless Monday's re-
hearsal, and it stumped them as it had stumped me when propounded
to me once by a friend. I see it also stumps you, but debase your-
selves sufficiently and you will find it reads:
Emma gees de Goldfish
Em no goldfish,
Oh ess A are Goldfish,
“You follow? I agree with you that 'tis but a tiny joke, and
at once it passed out of all our minds save one. That mind was the
awful mind of Neil. Though none was in the secret but his
Nannie it was suddenly revealed to him how plays are written;
quick as a lucky one may jump through a paper hoop and come
out on the other side a clown, he had gained access through
that friend of mine to a language which he could read, write
and spell.
With thrills that would have bitten through any
thermometer, and bagging that bowl of goldfish, he evolved a
powerful drama, and he wrote it in ink; he jumped, Sammy,
over Beads and Pencil straight into Ink; indeed, for days, though
I suspected naught, his right hand seemed to be encased in
a torn black mitten. So far as I can recollect, this is an
accurate reproduction of his MS., all of it out of his own
noddle except the first three lines:
MACCD
MNO
OSAR
LMECD
ININOCD
MAYUNOCD
MNO
R
O O QUii I8 D
OG
U8MUI
SSS
OUINTK8
YUgMUNTK&YYY
OLNUCIMTNICMNI&M4T
4RTIRDI
AIDINTFS
TOLOLO
NTK88 MLRDI
LOLOLO
LMEDI
BAUDISA99
9999
TCD
NICD
SNICD
AttW
"Can you stagger your way through it, Jane? Probably not,
and yet the audience understood every word, the acting makes such
a difference.
I heard also that Neil was a superbly severe stage-
manager, copying with relish all my ways, including my expletives.
He did not act himself (because the other author did not act), but
from the wings he worked the thunder and the sea and the horses.
The scene was laid in the Peter Pan nursery, thus taking all the
novelty out of it.
As presented by some of his young friends this
was how his play came to life:
[SCENE a nursery with beds in it.
Then a tremen-
dous peal of thunder ending in a clatter as if someone had
dropped the sheet of tin. Then the galloping of a horse.
Then ENTER EMMA, the horse-woman, without her horse.
She examines critically a glass bowl full of water. Then
so much galloping that it seems as if the play can make no
further progress. Then ENTER SUSAN, ELLEN and TOM.
Tom is riding on a dog called Nama.]
Ellen.
[Fondly expectant of a similar treat for herself.]
Emma sees de Goldfish.
Susan.
[Sneering.] 'Em no Goldfish.
Ellen.
Oh, ess A are Goldfish.
Tom. [Riding forward] Lemme see de Goldfish.
Emma. [Breakingit to the m sadly] Ellen, I nosee de Goldfish.
Susan. [Fearing the worst] Emma, why you no see de Gold-
fish?
Emma.
Indicating two breadcrumbs which are the sole oc-
cupants of the water] 'Em no Goldfish,
Tom.
LA defender of the weak] Are Goldfish.
[There is
more thun-
der, a horse is
heard
ap-
LEMME SEE
proaching
and
AUNT
DE GOLD.
-FISH
KATE ENTERS
with a guilty
conscience.
One
glance
around shows
her that they
are
On
her
track. With
bowed head,
for she is not
wholly bad
she makes her
dreadful con-
fession.]
Aunt Kate.
Oh, oh, oh, you four little ones, I ate de Goldfish.
[They draw away from her.]
Tom.[Expressing the general feeling.] Oh, gee.
Emma. [Gasping like a Goldfish] You ate 'em, you big one?
Aunt Kate. [ Covering her face] Ess, ess, ess.
Susan.
Oh, you bad one, Auntie Kate.
Ellen.
[Giving her a last chancel
Why you ate em, you
Auntie Kate, why, why, why?
Aunt Kate.
[Broken] Oh, Ellen, you see I empty 'n I see 'em'n
I ate 'em for tea.
Tom.
C
With a
withering cry]
For
Per tea.
[Sternly]
Le
er die.
Terrific
thunder here
to
intimate
that sentence
has been pro-
nounced, fol-
lowed by the
break of the
surf on some
lonely
shore
to express the
OH OH OH
helplessness
YOU FOUR LITTLE
of the gold-
ONES ATE DE
GOLD-FISH
fish.]
Aunt Kate.
[Waiting patiently for these noises to cease] 'Fore I
die "ant to contess.
LAt this dark moment a horse's hoofs are heard.
ENTER A DOCTOR.]
Doctor
¡[Taking in the situation atap/ance) Hello, hello, hello,
EmmA
[Coldly] Auntie Kate ate em. LePer die,
Doctor.
[4 men of few words] Hello, hella, hello.
Aunt Kate. [Getting into the papers at last] Lemme die.
Doctor.
[Putting his stethoscope to the erring woman's mouth
and pushing her head over the bowl] Before you die,
say 99.
Aunt Kate.
[Without much hope] 99, 99.
[d wondrows thing happens: the gold fish reim doten
the stethoscope into the bowl.]
Emma. I see de goldfish
Ellen. ‘n I see de goldfish,
Tom. Ess, 'n I see de goldfish.
[All are again riotously happy, but none perhaps quite
so happy as the goldfish. The DOCTOR marries AUNT
KATB. The curtain falls and rises, with an enlarged copy
of NEIL's MS. pinned to it. The audience spell it out and
learn how the play was written. The enthusiasm is now
Londer than the thunder.]
"In the meantime, of course, Billy, my play had gone to pot."
*Didn't they act it?" he asked with cheerful brutality.
"Oh yes, they played it, and it was received with mild approval.
What they seemed to admire far more, however, was Neil's clever.
ness in prigging so much from me. At every fresh proof of this
they guffawed crudely."
Did vou wallop him?" asked Billy, whose thoughts fre-
quently run in this direction.
"Ah me, I was deprived of
that gratification, because, you
MELLO
ABLLO
HELLO
sec, Neil was unconscious of evil-
doing, he had kept his play a
secret from me in order to give
me a lovely surprise, andhecame
running to me for praise, Always
Is do the same enhat godfatker
does, you remember. I was un-
fortunately his favourite, and he
was so confident of my praise,
whoever elsemight fail him, One
may rob or kill, Billy my boy, and
yet not be so hard-hearted as to
destroy the confidence of a child."
You don't mean to say
you praised him?"
"I had to be civil to him."
"It looks to me as if
instead of hating him you were
just beastly fond of him."
"That's right, Billy," says I, "strike a man while he's down
No doubt I should have taken some of the stuffing out of Neil
next day, but another misfortune happened then; mumps or
measles, or some other trick of childhood jumped out of the box,
and I had to rush him away from infection."
"Couldn't his father and mother have took him?" asked Jane,
who has gometimes a tendency to pertness.
"You don't any of you understand the law about godfathers,"
I explained with infinite patience.
"I took Neil to a country inn.
Of course I would not have taken him if I hadn't thought I could
trust to his honour."
"What was he up to this time?" enquired Billy, licking his
lips.
"He was so fond," I said, "of his thunder and horses and
hoary ocean that he would not be parted from them, and, to my
horror, I found them in his box when I unpacked at the inn.
was in such a fury that I nearly threw them into the road."
"Why didn't you?"
"That foolish question just shows, Billy, how little thought
you have given to the position of a gentleman left alone in a country
inn, with a boy who refuses to undress without the accom-
paniment of thunder and the galloping of horses.
I couldn't
undress him; his garments were so unexpected.
What was
worse, nothing could lull him to sleep but the break of waves upon
some desolate shore.
I had to use a drawer from the wardrobe
to roll the sago in, and a heavy drawer it was.
Once at break-
fast in the inn I heard a man at the next table telling a lady that,
though we were so far inland, he had distinctly heard the sound
of the sea from his bedroom.
I was afraid there might be an
inquiry, so of nights, when Neil was at last asleep, I spent æons of time searching the cracks in the drawer for sago, before I could get to work on Peter Pan."'
"What were you doing to Peter?"
"In the burglarious silence I was altering him, making him
more like Neil.”
"Gosh.”
"You may well use that terrible word, Billy; but it was evident
that Neil was the kind of boy the public wants. I see that the
weather has cleared, so I now release you, begging you to reflect
at your leisure on the not untragic picture of an author who wanted
to do better but had to give in to circumstances. To save the life of
my young hero I was compelled to abstract the humility from
him and thus make room for the bad fairy's gift with which Neil had witched humanity. The boy who doesn't have it might as well be a man."
"Oh, do tell us what it is!" they cried, knowing quite well.
but wondering whether an adult had found out.
"Of course it is Cockines," I answered.
"One must admit,
Billy (however reluctantly), that there is to children a rapture in
being cocky which is what keeps this old world smiling."
They leered.
"And is cockiness the Blot on Peter Pan?" asks Billy.
"Alas," said I.
"But you gave it to him.
Hello, are you Peter's bad fairy?"
I hung my head. Sara at any rate felt for me.
"And when you were blotting Peter was Neil lying asleep in
his bed?" she enquired.
Sometimes in his bed, Sara, and sometimes in the drawer,
dreaming children's plays that were far beyond my compass."
They thanked me primly for my story, as instructed by their
wretched mothers, and then all scooted away into the open except
Sara. Sara is the very last baggage I shall bother with.
"Is it all true?" she asked.
"No, it is not all true, Sara, but some of it, here and there."
"Do you love me?"
"Yes, Sara."
"But you love Neil more, don't you?"
*A hundred thousand million times more, Sara."
"Is he a man now?"
"No, he is not a man."
"Where is he?"
"Be off with you into the sunshine, Sara, and bring me some
butter-cups at one o'clock.
I bet you'll forget,"
"I bet I won't."
She very nearly forgot, but she ran back for them.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2022, 09:18:40 PM by Dani1923 »