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7 aprile 2004

Trovato l'aeroplano del Piccolo Principe

Un tempo lontano, quando avevo sei anni, in un libro sulle foreste primordiali, intitolato “Storie vissute della natura”, vidi un magnifico disegno. Rappresentava un serpente boa nell’atto di inghiottire un animale. Eccovi la copia del disegno. boa C’era scritto: “I boa ingoiano la loro preda tutta intera, senza masticarla. Dopo di che non riescono piu’ a muoversi e dormono durante i sei mesi che la digestione richiede”. Meditai a lungo sulle avventure della jungla. E a mia volta riuscii a tracciare il mio primo disegno. Il mio disegno numero uno. Era cosi’: cappello Mostrai il mio capolavoro alle persone grandi, domandando se il disegno li spaventava. Ma mi risposero: “ Spaventare? Perche’ mai, uno dovrebbe essere spaventato da un cappello?”. Il Piccolo PrincipeI rottami del "Lightning P38" erano al largo di Marsiglia Lo scrittore s'inabissò nel luglio 1944 durante una missione Trovato l'aereo di Saint-Exupery Ma il Piccolo Principe è in cielo La struggente favola per grandi e piccini sul ragazzino che chiede a una volpe d'insegnargli strane magie di MAURIZIO CROSETTI Philippe Castellano: da oltre vent'anni cerca l'aereo Come la sua tenera, romantica e fragile creatura, cioè "Il Piccolo Principe", lo scrittore Antoine de Saint-Exupéry era svanito in volo, evaporato nel nulla il 31 luglio 1944. Ma non era una favola, era la morte in una missione aerea di guerra. Da quel giorno, il tragico e suggestivo mistero del narratore-pilota ha alimentato una delle più tenaci leggende della letteratura mondiale. E' di oggi la notizia che alcune parti del suo aereo sono state ritrovate al largo della costa di Marsiglia: il numero di codice del velivolo, 42-68223, ricavato da un'altra cifra impressa sulla fiancata sinistra del rottame (2734), non lascia spazio al dubbio. Come racconta il Piccolo Principe, "l'essenziale è invisibile agli occhi". Ma il mito di Saint-Exupéry è stato rincorso per sessant'anni alla ricerca di tracce, indizi, segni che potessero dare contorni storici a una vicenda che pareva creata dalla fantasia di un grande autore. Così nel 1998 un pescatore trovò un braccialetto con il nome di Saint-Exupéry: pareva un altro incredibile capitolo del romanzo, al quale non sono mancati personaggi eccezionali. Come Philippe Castellano, tecnico radiologo all'ospedale di Marsiglia che da oltre vent'anni "radiografa" i resti degli aerei Lightning P38 inabissati, lo stesso modello sul quale s'imbarcò Saint-Exupery per il suo ultimo decollo. Certo, per i milioni di bambini e di adulti rimasti un po' bambini, innamorati della personcina che chiede il disegno di una pecora e che si fa insegnare da una volpe la magia dell'essere addomesticati, un pezzo di aeroplano sul fondo del mare non aggiunge nulla. Tutti e due, lo scrittore e la sua creatura, sono apparsi nel mondo brevemente e intensamente, hanno lasciato il loro segno di poesia e poi sono volati altrove. Il Piccolo Principe invita i lettori a cercarlo tra le stelle, la sera. Anche Saint-Exupéry continua il volo, tra le pagine e nei cuori capaci di accoglierlo. Invece tra i pesci, arrugginito, c'è solo qualche pezzo di ferro. (La Repubblica, 7 aprile 2004) Le Petit Prince Saint-Exupery Il Piccolo Principe




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5 aprile 2004

Se lo spazio-tempo è curvo

allora Contact (Rete4, 4 aprile 2004) non è solo fantascienza, ma una felice intuizione... Sarà perchè il 17 aprile (1948) sono nato io... ma la cosa mi intriga ! Albert EinsteinSarà lanciato il 17 aprile dalla base di Vandenberg Un satellite verificherà le teorie di Einstein L'esperimento si avvale di una delicatissima strumentazione, quattro sfere di quarzo che si muovono dentro campi magnetici Albert Einstein (Ap) LOS ANGELES - Le teorie di Albert Einstein sull'universo saranno testate direttamente nello spazio da un satellite della Nasa che sarà lanciato in orbita il 17 aprile. L'esperimento, organizzato dall'Agenzia spaziale Usa e dall'Università di Stanford, sarà condotto senza la presenza di astronauti a bordo. Il satellite Gravity Probe-B, in partenza dalla base aerea di Vandenberg in California, studierà le defomazioni del tessuto spazio-temporale che, secondo lo scienziato tedesco, sarebbero causate dalla presenza di grandi campi gravitazionali. Per farlo utilizzerà delicatissimi giroscopi, formati da sferette di quarzo grandi come palline da ping pong che ruotano in campi magnetici a una temperatura prossima a quella dello zero assoluto. Alcuni degli effetti previsti da Einstein nel 1916 sono già stati osservati, ma non tutti sono stati ancora verificati sperimentalmente. L'esperimento era stato ideato già nel 1959, ma più volte rinviato per la difficoltà di metterne a punto la delicatissima strumentazione. (, 4 aprile 2004) Satellite to test Einstein theory A satellite that will put Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity to the test is ready to be launched. Nasa hopes Gravity Probe B will lift off from California on 17 April. Since it was first proposed in 1959, the project has been aborted and delayed because of technical hiccups many times. Now it is ready to test two of Einstein's theories about the nature of space and time, and how the Earth distorts them. The unmanned satellite will orbit 640km (400 miles) above Earth, measuring any slight changes in gravity. Perfect spheres The satellite will carry four ping-pong-sized balls made from quartz and sealed in a vacuum. Gravity Probe Gravity Probe B has been planned for 45 years (picture Nasa) The scientists behind the project say they are the most perfect spheres ever made. To ensure accuracy, the balls must be kept chilled to near absolute zero, inside the largest vacuum flask ever flown in space, and isolated from any disturbances in the quietest environment ever produced, said Anne Kinney, director Nasa's division of astronomy and physics. Once in space the balls will be sent spinning. If Einstein is correct, there should be slight changes to the balls' orientation, or 'spin axis'. Scientists will carefully measure the expected tiny changes in the balls' movements. Einstein proposed in 1916 that space and time form a structure that can be curved by the presence of a body. Gravity Probe B will test how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and how the Earth's rotation twists and drags space-time around with it. The warping effect has been measured before, but the twisting effect, called frame-dragging, has never been directly detected. The Nasa mission aims to examine both. Francis Everitt, the principal investigator of the project, said: "Aren't Einstein's theories all established and confirmed? After all it was 50 years ago that Einstein himself died and it's 100 years next year when he developed his first theory of relativity. Don't we already know it all? The answer is no." If there are no more delays, the probe's mission should be completed in 16 months' time. (BBC, Saturday, 3 April, 2004) Contact, Jodie FosterIl viaggio della protagonista (che sin già dalle prime scene sulla rampa di lancio si preannuncia surreale) sposta poi ancora una volta il baricentro della storia. Le cose che succedono in questa fase, rispetto a quelle precedenti, che conservavano una certa credibilità intrinseca, sono chiaramente fantastiche. Tuttavia è proprio a questo punto che il film riprende vigore emotivo. L’incontro con “l’alieno” ci viene presentato in una maniera inusuale e volutamente misteriosa. È però in occasione di questo dialogo che viene esplicitata la domanda “chi siamo”. La protagonista, alla sua domanda “perché ci avete chiamati”, si sente rispondere che noi siamo una “civiltà interessante, capace di bellissimi sogni, ma anche di grandi incubi”. Questo, più che un giudizio sommario sulla nostra civiltà, è una profonda riflessione sul genere umano, e manifesta una domanda che ognuno si pone: “Come siamo?”. Si vorrebbe dunque l’occasione di sentirselo dire; si vorrebbe trovare qualcuno di “esterno” che possa darci una risposta, che possa giudicarci oggettivamente. È forse dunque questo il motivo perché cerchiamo altre forme di vita, e perché non ci accontentiamo di batteri o piante, ma la vogliamo intelligente? (Contact, di Robert Zemeckis, USA 1997, recensione di Luca Berti, da un romanzo di Carl Sagal) Che è come dire: il 'viaggio' nello spazio-tempo avviene 'davvero' o 'solo' nella nostra mente? E se la mente avesse proprietà... einsteniane... ?!!?




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4 aprile 2004

realizzare un supercomputer mettendo in rete 669 PC... è possibile

Bringing ordinary PCs together as a temporary supercomputer isn't an idle college daydream. Modern supercomputers are made by clustering together hundreds or even thousands of the same processors used in PCs, then unleashing the behemoths to work on hugely complicated problems such as weather forecasting, designing new pharmaceuticals and making aerodynamically efficient automobiles. Supercomputers cost millions or tens of millions of dollars, putting them beyond the reach of almost everyone except government agencies and giant corporations. If the FlashMob software can be perfected, a typical mid-size corporation or university could have almost unlimited supercomputing time by tapping its existing PC network on nights and weekends. www.mercurynews.com




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3 aprile 2004

serendippiche... tecniche di sopravvivenza...

...scambiarsi le "tecniche di soppravvivenza" aiuta molto noi poveri perdenti..... Ho trovato questa espressione in un post di liofante sul forum GdV (che sta per 'gioco della vita' e dove scrive gente che parla del proprio 'disagio' o... difficoltà di gioco...) C'è una certa risonanza di quell'espressione con quel che stavo pensando questa mattina ascoltando le varie rassegne stampa per radio e scorrendo i titoli su GoogleNews Bombe di qua, atrocità di là, arresti, rastrellamenti, chi si allarma per il terrorismo incombente (siamo al sesto posto nella lista nera, ci comunica AlQaeda) e chi per l'uso a suo dire strumentale dell'antiterrorismo per scopi inconfessabili, che taluni riducono ai 'soliti' giochi elettorali, USA e di casa nostra mai nessuno però che si chieda o ci chieda come far fronte a tutto questo nel nostro piccolo e spicciolo quotidiano c'è chi invoca più armi per la guerra contro, e chi più intelligence... ora, dico io, se io prendo un autobus, accompagno mio figlio a scuola, e mi scopro che guardo con un po' più di curiosità il bambino arabo che entra a scuola con lui, o ascolto chi mi racconta del tipo con lo zainetto che è entrato in uno scompartimento su un treno, ha mollato lì lo zainetto, e poi è uscito (verosimilmente a fumarsi una sigaretta in attesa che il treno parta)... che faccio? esco col bazooka pronto a far fuoco? chiamo polizia, carabinieri, vigili del fuoco e ambulanze ad ogni sguardo sospetto che colgo nel mio vicino? smetto di uscire di casa e di mandare mio figlio a scuola? quali sono le 'tecniche di sopravvivenza' che ciascuno di noi si accorge - subliminalmente - di mettere in atto da qualche anno a questa parte, e dalle ultime settimane in qua? sono 'intelligenti' ? che non vuol dire 'grande cranio', capoccione o stile da Sherlock Holmes, ma, dicono sia quella che è mancata a Bush prima dell'11 settembre, fantasia, immaginazione... Negli USA questo problema se lo sono posti da tempo: vedi ad esempio Coping with Terrorism, a cura dell'APA (American Psychological Association) o The Phenomenology of Trauma and the Absolutisms of Everyday Life: A Personal Journey, di Robert D. Stolorow, PhD, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles ...




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1 aprile 2004

Seconda stella a destra, e poi dritti fino al mattino

Scrive formichina in Peter Pan un mito?: Per tutte quelle donne che come me hanno amato un Peter Pan nella loro vita... e che non sono mai riuscite a dimenticarlo. tutte quelle donne soltanto? forse anche qualche maschietto ! io mi metto subito nella lista !!!! E poi, la ricerca di Peter e Wendy... non rientra appieno nel concetto di Serendipity ?!? Arriva Peter Pan, un film per volare Per volare servono pensieri felici: parola del baby saggio Peter Pan Cent'anni fa nasceva il bambino 'che non voleva crescere' dalla penna di J. M. Barrie. Dal 2 aprile un kolossal lo celebra. Il film, del regista australiano Hogan, è la prima versione cinematografica dopo il cartoon della Disney del '53 Pensieri felici. Sono quelli che ti permettono di alzarti in volo. D'accordo, anche una spruzzatina di fata, ma l'importante è dimenticare tutto questo. E questo è: il mondo degli adulti, la pesantezza dell'essere vecchi. E' il Peter Pan-pensiero, cent'anni di vita, ma che attualità ancora. La storia del bambino che non voleva crescere, nata dalla penna dello scozzese James Barrie nel 1906 (ma già due anni prima sulle scene teatrali londinesi del Duke of York's Theatre), ha accompagnato generazioni, ispirato scrittori e registi, prestato il proprio nome per definire psicoanaliticamente una sindrome tipica del Novecento e del moderno si dice, ma ancora più calzante a definire il nostro oggi così adolescenziale. Questa storia arriva per la prima volta sul grande schermo (dal 2 aprile, in 230 sale, distribuito da Columbia) col colossal dell'australiano P. J. Hogan (quello del matrimonio del mio migliore amico). La prima volta, è bene ricordare, con attori in carne ossa, visto che celebre fu il cartoon Disney del 1953, Le avventure di Peter Pan diretto da Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson e Hamilton Luske. Il Peter Pan di Hogan, fedele al testo di Barrie ma con una nota più sensuale e, quasi un'eresia a dirsi, più 'adulta', è interpretato dal quattordicenne inglese Jeremy Sumpter. Wendy, la raccontatrice di storie 'rapita' dal folletto, è Rachel Hurd-Wood, mentre Capitan Uncino è Jason Isaacs, il Lucius Malfoy di "Harry Potter e la camera dei segreti" e, come vuole la tradizione teatrale, anche padre di Wendy. Infine Campanellino ha la faccia dispettosa e smorfiosa della rivelazione francese Ludivine Sagnier, quella di "Otto donne" e "Swimming Pool", qui una gelosa ma alla resa dei conti generosa fatina che accompagna Peter Pan nei suoi viaggi tra gli incanti onirici dell'Isola che non c'è e la rigida immobilità dell'Inghilterra edoardiana. Girato in Australia, prodotto da Mohamed Al Fayed, che l'ha dedicato al figlio Dodi, l'ex di Lady D. morto insieme alla principessa, il film è uscito tre mesi fa negli Stati Uniti e per ora ha incassato 50 milioni di dollari. Un successo dovuto anche all'incanto degli effetti speciali, delle scenografie (in gran parte ispirate alle illustrazioni del libro fatte da pre-raffaeliti inglesi come John William Waterhouse e Edward Coley Burne-Jones) e della fotografia (Donald McAlpine, quello di Moulin Rouge), ma forse ancora di più alla 'filosofia' che Peter Pan continua da cent'anni a veicolare: quella più discussa e anche controversa dell'eterna volontà d'adolescenza e del rifiuto delle responsabilità del mondo adulto. Ma anche quella meno dicibile forse perché troppo festiva (e dunque non produttiva in senso capitalistico e meno seria in senso sociale) che solo pensare positivo - direbbe il Poeta rap romano - può rendere leggera la vita. In questo senso il discorso che questo Peter Pan fa sull'amore e sui sentimenti è cruciale: "Quali sono i tuoi veri sentimenti, Peter? - chiede Wendy, innamorata, al folletto - Felicità, tristezza, gelosia, amore?". Lui, mentre riconosce i primi tre associandoli a delle persone, sul quarto si ferma inorridito: "Amore? Non ne ho mai sentito parlare e il solo suono mi offende. Noi ci divertiamo, perché rovinare tutto?". Il piccolo dio dionisiaco (Pan) conoscerà "la cosa potente" che scatena un bacio. Ma ci rinuncia ("la vita potrebbe essere un'avventura meravigliosa" dice congedandosi dalla realtà e dal destino della maturità) perché teme che su un bacio - e vi si legga sull'amore, sulle relazioni, sulla società - si possano costruire lacci e gravezze che non hanno nulla a che fare coi "pensieri felici". Morire soli e senza amore? Peter Pan non ha paura, e questo è un insegnamento meno visibile e forse più importante di questa storia secolare: "La morte può essere un'avventura meravigliosa". (di ALESSANDRA RETICO, 31 marzo 2004 www.repubblica.it)


Mi piace molto questa recensione, che si limita all'essenziale, anzi lo cattura, evitando le facili e fin troppo familiari trappole dell'interpretazione pseudo-psicoanalitica o di una lettura 'adulta' di una storia (anzi un testo teatrale, alle origini) che è tutta azione, azione dell'immaginario e dentro l'immaginario, dove tutto muta e tramuta, e cambia senso, un po' come nei mondi di Alice, un testo che prelude al mondo magico di Harry Potter, in qualche modo sua premessa necessaria: chi riuscirebbe a godersi davvero il piccolo Harry se non avesse in mente Peter Pan ? o la piccola Hermione se non avesse in mente Wendy?
Il testo integrale in lingua inglese è qui The Adventures of Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie) The Adventures of Peter Pan J. M. Barrie Chapter 4 - The Flight "Second to the right, and straight on till morning." That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners, could not have sighted it with these instructions. Peter, you see, just said anything that came into his head. At first his companions trusted him implicitly, and so great were the delights of flying that they wasted time circling round church spires or any other tall objects on the way that took their fancy. John and Michael raced, Michael getting a start. They recalled with contempt that not so long ago they had thought themselves fine fellows for being able to fly round a room. Not long ago. But how long ago? They were flying over the sea before this thought began to disturb Wendy seriously. John thought it was their second sea and their third night. Sometimes it was dark and sometimes light, and now they were very cold and again too warm. Did they really feel hungry at times, or were they merely pretending, because Peter had such a jolly new way of feeding them? His way was to pursue birds who had food in their mouths suitable for humans and snatch it from them; then the birds would follow and snatch it back; and they would all go chasing each other gaily for miles, parting at last with mutual expressions of good-will. But Wendy noticed with gentle concern that Peter did not seem to know that this was rather an odd way of getting your bread and butter, nor even that there are other ways. Certainly they did not pretend to be sleepy, they were sleepy; and that was a danger, for the moment they popped off, down they fell. The awful thing was that Peter thought this funny. "There he goes again!" he would cry gleefully, as Michael suddenly dropped like a stone. "Save him, save him!" cried Wendy, looking with horror at the cruel sea far below. Eventually Peter would dive through the air, and catch Michael just before he could strike the sea, and it was lovely the way he did it; but he always waited till the last moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life. Also he was fond of variety, and the sport that engrossed him one moment would suddenly cease to engage him, so there was always the possibility that the next time you fell he would let you go. He could sleep in the air without falling, by merely lying on his back and floating, but this was, partly at least, because he was so light that if you got behind him and blew he went faster. "Do be more polite to him," Wendy whispered to John, when they were playing "Follow my Leader." "Then tell him to stop showing off," said John. When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the water and touch each shark's tail in passing, just as in the street you may run your finger along an iron railing. They could not follow him in this with much success, so perhaps it was rather like showing off, especially as he kept looking behind to see how many tails they missed. "You must be nice to him," Wendy impressed on her brothers. "What could we do if he were to leave us!" "We could go back," Michael said. "How could we ever find our way back without him?" "Well, then, we could go on," said John. "That is the awful thing, John. We should have to go on, for we don't know how to stop." This was true, Peter had forgotten to show them how to stop. John said that if the worst came to the worst, all they had to do was to go straight on, for the world was round, and so in time they must come back to their own window. "And who is to get food for us, John?" "I nipped a bit out of that eagle's mouth pretty neatly, Wendy." "After the twentieth try," Wendy reminded him. "And even though we became good a picking up food, see how we bump against clouds and things if he is not near to give us a hand." Indeed they were constantly bumping. They could now fly strongly, though they still kicked far too much; but if they saw a cloud in front of them, the more they tried to avoid it, the more certainly did they bump into it. If Nana had been with them, she would have had a bandage round Michael's forehead by this time. Peter was not with them for the moment, and they felt rather lonely up there by themselves. He could go so much faster than they that he would suddenly shoot out of sight, to have some adventure in which they had no share. He would come down laughing over something fearfully funny he had been saying to a star, but he had already forgotten what it was, or he would come up with mermaid scales still sticking to him, and yet not be able to say for certain what had been happening. It was really rather irritating to children who had never seen a mermaid. "And if he forgets them so quickly," Wendy argued, "how can we expect that he will go on remembering us?" Indeed, sometimes when he returned he did not remember them, at least not well. Wendy was sure of it. She saw recognition come into his eyes as he was about to pass them the time of day and go on; once even she had to call him by name. "I'm Wendy," she said agitatedly. He was very sorry. "I say, Wendy," he whispered to her, "always if you see me forgetting you, just keep on saying `I'm Wendy,' and then I'll remember." Of course this was rather unsatisfactory. However, to make amends he showed them how to lie out flat on a strong wind that was going their way, and this was such a pleasant change that they tried it several times and found that they could sleep thus with security. Indeed they would have slept longer, but Peter tired quickly of sleeping, and soon he would cry in his captain voice, "We get off here." So with occasional tiffs, but on the whole rollicking, they drew near the Neverland; for after many moons they did reach it, and, what is more, they had been going pretty straight all the time, not perhaps so much owing to the guidance of Peter or Tink as because the island was looking for them. It is only thus that any one may sight those magic shores. "There it is," said Peter calmly. "Where, where?" "Where all the arrows are pointing." Indeed a million golden arrows were pointing it out to the children, all directed by their friend the sun, who wanted them to be sure of their way before leaving them for the night. Wendy and John and Michael stood on tip-toe in the air to get their first sight of the island. Strange to say, they all recognized it at once, and until fear fell upon them they hailed it, not as something long dreamt of and seen at last, but as a familiar friend to whom they were returning home for the holidays. "John, there's the lagoon." "Wendy, look at the turtles burying their eggs in the sand." "I say, John, I see your flamingo with the broken leg!" "Look, Michael, there's your cave!" "John, what's that in the brushwood?" "It's a wolf with her whelps. Wendy, I do believe that's your little whelp!" "There's my boat, John, with her sides stove in!" "No, it isn't. Why, we burned your boat." "That's her, at any rate. I say, John, I see the smoke of the redskin camp!" "Where? Show me, and I'll tell you by the way smoke curls whether they are on the war-path." "There, just across the Mysterious River." "I see now. Yes, they are on the war-path right enough." Peter was a little annoyed with them for knowing so much, but if he wanted to lord it over them his triumph was at hand, for have I not told you that anon fear fell upon them? It came as the arrows went, leaving the island in gloom. In the old days at home the Neverland had always begun to look a little dark and threatening by bedtime. Then unexplored patches arose in it and spread, black shadows moved about in them, the roar of the beasts of prey was quite different now, and above all, you lost the certainty that you would win. You were quite glad that the night-lights were on. You even liked Nana to say that this was just the mantelpiece over here, and that the Neverland was all make-believe. Of course the Neverland had been make-believe in those days, but it was real now, and there were no night-lights, and it was getting darker every moment, and where was Nana? They had been flying apart, but they huddled close to Peter now. His careless manner had gone at last, his eyes were sparkling, and a tingle went through them every time they touched his body. They were now over the fearsome island, flying so low that sometimes a tree grazed their feet. Nothing horrid was visible in the air, yet their progress had become slow and laboured, exactly as if they were pushing their way through hostile forces. Sometimes they hung in the air until Peter had beaten on it with his fists. "They don't want us to land," he explained. "Who are they?" Wendy whispered, shuddering. But he could not or would not say. Tinker Bell had been asleep on his shoulder, but now he wakened her and sent her on in front. Sometimes he poised himself in the air, listening intently, with his hand to his ear, and again he would stare down with eyes so bright that they seemed to bore two holes to earth. Having done these things, he went on again. His courage was almost appalling. "Would you like an adventure now," he said casually to John, "or would you like to have your tea first?" Wendy said "tea first" quickly, and Michael pressed her hand in gratitude, but the braver John hesitated. "What kind of adventure?" he asked cautiously. "There's a pirate asleep in the pampas just beneath us," Peter told him. "If you like, we'll go down and kill him." "I don't see him," John said after a long pause. "I do." "Suppose," John said, a little huskily, "he were to wake up." Peter spoke indignantly. "You don't think I would kill him while he was sleeping! I would wake him first, and then kill him. That's the way I always do." "I say! Do you kill many?" "Tons." John said "How ripping," but decided to have tea first. He asked if there were many pirates on the island just now, and Peter said he had never known so many. "Who is captain now?" "Hook," answered Peter, and his face became very stern as he said that hated word. "Jas. Hook?" "Ay." Then indeed Michael began to cry, and even John could speak in gulps only, for they knew Hook's reputation. "He was Blackbeard's bo'sun," John whispered huskily. "He is the worst of them all. He is the only man of whom Barbecue was afraid." "That's him," said Peter. "What is he like? Is he big?" "He is not so big as he was." "How do you mean?" "I cut off a bit of him." "You!" "Yes, me," said Peter sharply. "I wasn't meaning to be disrespectful." "Oh, all right." "But, I say, what bit?" "His right hand." "Then he can't fight now?" "Oh, can't he just!" "Left-hander?" "He has an iron hook instead of a right hand, and he claws with it." "Claws!" "I say, John," said Peter. "Yes." "Say, `Ay, ay, sir.'" "Ay, ay, sir." "There is one thing," Peter continued, "that every boy who serves under me has to promise, and so must you." John paled. "It is this, if we meet Hook in open fight, you must leave him to me." "I promise," John said loyally. For the moment they were feeling less eerie, because Tink was flying with them, and in her light they could distinguish each other. Unfortunately she could not fly so slowly as they, and so she had to go round and round them in a circle in which they moved as in a halo. Wendy quite liked it, until Peter pointed out the drawbacks. "She tells me," he said, "that the pirates sighted us before the darkness came, and got Long Tom out." "The big gun?" "Yes. And of course they must see her light, and if they guess we are near it they are sure to let fly." "Wendy!" "John!" "Michael!" "Tell her to go away at once, Peter," the three cried simultaneously, but he refused. "She thinks we have lost the way," he replied stiffly, "and she is rather frightened. You don't think I would send her away all by herself when she is frightened!" For a moment the circle of light was broken, and something gave Peter a loving little pinch. "Then tell her," Wendy begged, "to put out her light." "She can't put it out. That is about the only thing fairies can't do. It just goes out of itself when she falls asleep, same as the stars." "Then tell her to sleep at once," John almost ordered. "She can't sleep except when she's sleepy. It is the only other thing fairies can't do." "Seems to me," growled John, "these are the only two things worth doing." Here he got a pinch, but not a loving one. "If only one of us had a pocket," Peter said, "we could carry her in it." However, they had set off in such a hurry that there was not a pocket between the four of them. He had a happy idea. John's hat! Tink agreed to travel by hat if it was carried in the hand. John carried it, though she had hoped to be carried by Peter. Presently Wendy took the hat, because John said it struck against his knee as he flew; and this, as we shall see, led to mischief, for Tinker Bell hated to be under an obligation to Wendy. In the black topper the light was completely hidden, and they flew on in silence. It was the stillest silence they had ever known, broken once by a distant lapping, which Peter explained was the wild beasts drinking at the ford, and again by a rasping sound that might have been the branches of trees rubbing together, but he said it was the redskins sharpening their knives. Even these noises ceased. To Michael the loneliness was dreadful. "If only something would make a sound!" he cried. As if in answer to his request, the air was rent by the most tremendous crash he had ever heard. The pirates had fired Long Tom at them. The roar of it echoed through the mountains, and the echoes seemed to cry savagely, "Where are they, where are they, where are they?" Thus sharply did the terrified three learn the difference between an island of make-believe and the same island come true. When at last the heavens were steady again, John and Michael found themselves alone in the darkness. John was treading the air mechanically, and Michael without knowing how to float was floating. "Are you shot?" John whispered tremulously. "I haven't tried [myself out] yet," Michael whispered back. We know now that no one had been hit. Peter, however, had been carried by the wind of the shot far out to sea, while Wendy was blown upwards with no companion but Tinker Bell. It would have been well for Wendy if at that moment she had dropped the hat. I don't know whether the idea came suddenly to Tink, or whether she had planned it on the way, but she at once popped out of the hat and began to lure Wendy to her destruction. Tink was not all bad; or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change. At present she was full of jealousy of Wendy. What she said in her lovely tinkle Wendy could not of course understand, and I believe some of it was bad words, but it sounded kind, and she flew back and forward, plainly meaning "Follow me, and all will be well." What else could poor Wendy do? She called to Peter and John and Michael, and got only mocking echoes in reply. She did not yet know that Tink hated her with the fierce hatred of a very woman. And so, bewildered, and now staggering in her flight, she followed Tink to her doom. This Online Literature Library is sponsored by Knowledge Matters Ltd Last updated Tuesday, 29-Jun-1999 13:56:17 UTC




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