Categories > Books > Peter Pan > Star Mile
The part of evening that flowed seamlessly into night was Smee's favorite time to go ashore. Rowing out, one could enjoy the reflection of the sunset on the water; once on the island, things were quiet, and they were less likely to run into trouble. Smee was no coward, but even pirates didn't want to worry about fighting when they were only trying to gather necessary items. Berries could be easily acquired from shops, but what could be gotten for free is more attractive to pirates than something one must pay for, and The Jolly Roger only went to harbor for amenities they could not easily provide themselves.
As Smee collected the baskets they were taking back, he arranged them according to type in the boat and instructed a fellow crew member to follow suit. He was about to retrieve another basket when he heard the distinct sound of twigs snapping immediately followed by the appearance of a girl, not young like Pan and his gang, but not as old as the youngest pirate. She was nearly his height, thin, and had long hair that would have looked like honey if the sun was out. Her eyes were filled with tears, and she shakily held a bloody bunch of fabric to the left side of her face. She stared wildly around the small group of pirates (four in all) until she found him. What happened next surprised him completely.
Wendy scrambled forward toward the familiar pirate. "Mister Smee," she said, "please help me. Please can you take me to the ship? I think I'm bleeding quite badly." It came out more like a plea than she would have liked, but that is what it was. She shook with fear now that she stood in the presence of four dangerous men, all of whom eyed her curiously, and she was suddenly very aware of how inappropriately she was dressed.
"You know me," Smee said, and it wasn't a question. He eyed her suspiciously with his small eyes before suddenly clapping his hand to his cheek and nearly gasping her name. "Why if it ain't young Miss Wendy! Only less young, I should say!"
"Yes!" Wendy nodded so hard she nearly passed out, but the boatswain caught her by the arm. "Yes," she said. "I am sorry for troubling you, and I know this must seem strange-"
"What 'appened to you, Miss Wendy? Trouble with a native?"
"You might say that, Mister Smee," Wendy said, but she was feeling too overwhelmed with pain and fear, even after his recognition. "Please, if there is anything you can do..." she didn't finish, and Smee had to support her into the small boat.
"Well, I say," he said, "I reckon we'll have to take 'er to the Cap'n, I do. She's bleedin' mightily."
His companions only got in the boat and began rowing, eying the girl with equal parts of curiosity and suspicion. If Wendy could have seen their faces, she might have been afraid of what it was that made them curious, but she was quickly fading, and only the talk of Smee kept her awake. For his part, he had no idea what the Captain would say, but he was fairly certain that the best thing to do was take her to the ship and patch her up. That way, the Captain could do whatever he thought, whereas, if they left the girl alone, that would be that.
Smee's thoughts might have been simple, but they were correct; Hook was near shock with the news, but delighted. He had seen them approaching the ship with the usual assortment of vegetation from the shore, but it was the extra parcel that surprised him. There seemed to be an extra passenger and that extra passenger seemed to be a girl, and that girl seemed to be Wendy Darling. He was waiting on deck when they climbed aboard and personally helped hoist the girl over the railing then carried her into his cabin. He set her limp body down on the most comfortable chair while Smee arranged a bowl of alcohol and some clean cloth on a tray with a small silver box.
"What happened, Smee?" Hook asked as he put a blanket over the girl. She seemed to be in a state of shock.
"I dunno, Cap'n," Smee said. "She wouldn't let go of that cloth for me to check, and I figured it'd be better to wait, anyhow."
Hook reached for the wadded up pillow case in Wendy's hand, tenderly at first, but more forcefully after she tried to hold it tighter on her head. "Dammit, girl," he snapped, "I won't have you acting foolish while we try to help you. Either you let us tend your wound or I throw you overboard." He tugged her arm down with his hook and used his left hand to peel the fabric off of her face and neck where it was stuck with blood. Once it was moved away, the problem of her wound was obvious. On her left ear and below it, there was a deep gash trailing dangerously across her throat, but getting shallower as it did. "What an odd wound," Hook said, and Smee agreed. Wendy was silently crying as air rushed into her open cut. "There, there, my beauty," Hook said, "It's not so bad. I daresay this will hurt much more, though it is necessary." He dipped a cloth into the bowl of alcohol and began patting around the cut then on it.
If Wendy was swooning before, she was wide awake the moment the alcohol hit the laceration. She cried out and tried to push the offending cloth away, but Hook was strong, and Smee was helping him. "Please," she cried, "it hurts too much! Please stop!"
"Now, now" Smee soothed, "you asked for 'elp and 'ere it is, Miss. The wound 'as to be cleaned." He patted her cheek. "It gets worse before it gets better, but it will get better."
She found that Hook was surprisingly gentle in his task, though his tenderness was more than she knew by his suggestion to Smee that he fetch a glass of rum for her. She made a face and began to say that she would not like any, thank you, but he smiled and shook his head. "Tut, tut, my dear, I think it is best to do as we suggest, in this instance, else you will provide yourself with more pain than necessary." Smee returned with the rum, and Wendy managed a sip, which she immediately regretted. The taste wasn't bad as much as it was confusing for her, but she did not want it. Hook looked away impatiently, but signaled to Smee to start another task.
"Miss, you ah, might want to be rethinkin' the rum in a moment, I reckon," he said as he fumbled with the silver box on the tray. It contained bright, clean needles in varying sizes and a spool of strong thread.
If she was a little less disoriented from pain, Wendy might have realized what they were for and screamed. She was dazed, though, and only looked lazily at the pirate's fingers as he threaded the needle. What was he going to sew? The question hurt her head, so she turned her attention elsewhere to Hook, who was patiently holding a piece of cloth against her wound and watching Smee. His hook was against her right arm, now, holding it down. She wondered at this, but not much. She saw that he had not aged or changed in any way. His hair was dark and long, some slipping over his shoulders as he leaned and some rolling down his finely clothed back. The neatness of him did not seem out of place as it did when she was a child.
She might have continued thinking idly about him if red waves of pain hadn't suddenly overcome her. Without her notice, Hook's hand had moved to her left arm and held it tightly; he had also leaned most of his weight into his arms to keep her in the chair while Smee came in with his shining needle and pierced Wendy's very tender skin. She screamed and tried to twist away from the needle, but Hook was too fast and strong. In an instant, he was up and had his bent leg over her lap to hold her straight in the chair; his left arm curled around her neck to hold her head still, and his hooked arm and torso kept her arms locked. She was effectively immobilized, and Smee finished his first stitch.
In agony, Wendy cried out, "Please stop!"
"Wendy, my dear," Hook began, "you have been bleeding quite a lot for what seems to have been a fair time. The wound will not stop bleeding if it is not closed, and I'm afraid this is the only way to close it until it can properly heal." He stared down at her eyes, so full of tears they were overflowing, and though he felt irritated with the difficulty of helping her, he was moved to pity. He spoke as softly as he knew how when he asked, "If I promise I know a way to ease your pain, will you accept it?"
Wendy nodded as much as she could with his hand steadfastly clamped to her hair. Hook nodded at something as an indication to Smee, who then held the glass of rum in front of her. She frowned, but took the glass with her right hand when Hook released her arms. Now having felt the pain of a needle piercing her skin, she found very little trouble in gulping down her first glass of rum. She looked at Hook over her empty glass. "Will I need more?"
Smee stifled a laugh, and Hook's eyebrows rose as he smiled. "Oh, I think that will be quite enough for one of your size, presuming, of course, that you do not already have a strong habit." He was right, of course, and she was already feeling the effects as he again pinned her arms and fastened his hand around her forehead to hold her steady. Smee tentatively began his work. She felt the stitches as they happened, but it was dulled, and she only cried a little more. Mostly, she looked up into the only thing she could see clearly as slight drunkenness and pain overtook her. There, above her, were two eyes that could not be forgotten. He was not looking back, but she was glad of it; something inside her knew that if he did, she would be unable to stop from saying "I'm sorry" a thousand times. She longed for it; she wanted to tell him that she didn't mean it, whatever it was she said so long ago. She needed him to know how she understood.
Wendy's eyes blinked furiously as tears continued to be born and die on her cheeks, but she never looked away from his eyes. She searched them over and over to find something she couldn't name, not noticing that they were gone from her sight as Smee finished the procedure and did his best to wrap soft strips of cloth around her neck and chin. When they carried her to a large sofa and laid her on it, when they pushed large pillows behind her back to keep her from rolling over and disturbing her wound, when they covered her in blankets, she still saw his eyes. As she lay half awake, completely dazed, she realized she would never find was she was looking for without his help. Her world had tumbled into a new pattern, one she couldn't read. Peter left her to suffer, and Hook took her in. She made no mistake that the pirate might have ulterior motives, but he was kind enough to help her when she asked. Why? This new lack of familiarity, the absence of her childhood belief that he was completely evil, was terrifying, and she was more afraid of him than ever.
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