Each boy, as he climbs up out of his tree, is captured by a pirate, tied, and gagged. Hook displays the tied-up boys to Wendy “with ironical politeness.” Slightly, who is the bulkiest of the boys, is very difficult to tie up, so Hook reasons that Slightly’s tree might accommodate a full-grown man.
Hook’s manner in this scene is mysterious. He seems to be mocking Wendy’s fragility and respectability, and rightly so, for he is a strong and barbaric pirate. But he is a shade too adept at imitating the gentility he scorns.
The pirates put Wendy and the boys in Wendy’s cabin and carry the cabin to the ship. When the pirates and their prisoners are out of sight, Hook slides down into the house through Slightly’s tree. He finds Peter sleeping peacefully. Peter sometimes has terrible long nightmares related somehow to “the riddle of his existence,” but on this night he is sound asleep, and his mouth hangs open to show his pearly teeth. Hook is almost moved to pity by the pretty scene, but as always something arrogant in Peter’s appearance enrages him.
Most children have nightmares at one time or another, but these rarely take their terror from existential mystery. Though initially we too are enchanted by Peter’s baby teeth and angelic insouciance, we can no longer ignore the brief symptoms of his unchildlike, sad, intelligent inner life. The riddle of his existence troubles us too.
Hook is about to attack, but he finds that he can’t undo the latch on Slightly’s door to reach Peter. Instead, he puts a very deadly dose of poison in Peter’s medicine, which is just within his reach. Then he climbs out of the tree and returns to his ship.
The scene shows just how close Hook’s hatred of Peter lies to his love for him. His love is selfless, a door to love of beautiful and innocent things. His hatred is a rebellion against this love.
Soon, Peter is awakened by a tapping on his door. It is Tinker Bell, and she tells Peter that Wendy and the boys have been tied and hauled away. Peter is about to run after them, but first he decides to take his medicine, because he imagines it would have pleased Wendy. Tinker Bell tells Peter it is poisoned: she heard Hook talking to himself about his murderous trick. But Peter doesn’t believe her and prepares to drink it anyway.
Peter’s anger at Wendy and his affection for her also are close together, but this closeness indicates only the intensity of real friendship. Peter’s affectionate gesture cannot be connected to any idea of fairness. It is a sort of penance for his earlier coldness, but a private penance. It’s an emotion with no exterior motive.
To save him, Tinker Bell drinks the whole dose. She begins to die right away, and her light grows fainter and fainter. She will only be saved if many children show that they believe in fairies. Peter asks all the children “who are dreaming of Neverland” to clap their hands if they believe. So many clap that Tinker Bell becomes well again.
Peter and Tinker Bell both tend to hide behind stiff and quarrelsome manners. This manner is a sort of armor, and indicates both a distrust of emotions and some prior injury. But in this scene, the two show their love and friendship without reservation.
Now Peter sets out to rescue the others. He has to walk, because flying close enough to the ground to look out for enemies would mean alarming the birds, whom he gave “such strange names that they are very wild and difficult of approach.” These birds would tip off the pirates that he is on his way. Peter is alert and excited, and he swears into the darkness: “Hook or me this time.”
If Peter named the birds, has he named everything on the island, even the island itself? The name ‘Neverland’ would certainly make it “wild and difficult of approach.” Peter created an island for his home, and gave it a name that meant it never was, and never will be.