The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I THERE IS NO ONE LEFT
II MISTRESS MARY QUITE CONTRARY
III ACROSS THE MOOR
V THE CRY IN THE CORRIDOR
VI "THERE WAS SOME ONE CRYING--THERE WAS!"
VII THE KEY TO THE GARDEN
VIII THE ROBIN WHO SHOWED THE WAY
IX THE STRANGEST HOUSE ANY ONE EVER LIVED IN
XI THE NEST OF THE MISSEL THRUSH
XII "MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH?"
XIII "I AM COLIN"
XIV A YOUNG RAJAH
XV NEST BUILDING
XVI "I WON'T!" SAID MARY
XVII A TANTRUM
XVIII "THA' MUNNOT WASTE NO TIME"
XIX "IT HAS COME!"
XX "I SHALL LIVE FOREVER--AND EVER--AND EVER!"
XXI BEN WEATHERSTAFF
XXII WHEN THE SUN WENT DOWN
XIV "LET THEM LAUGH"
XXV THE CURTAIN
XXVI "IT'S MOTHER!"
XXVII IN THE GARDEN
THE SECRET GARDEN
BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
THERE IS NO ONE LEFT
When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor
to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most
disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too.
She had a little thin face and a little thin body,
thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow,
and her face was yellow because she had been born in
India and had always been ill in one way or another.
Her father had held a position under the English
Government and had always been busy and ill himself,
and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only
to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people.
She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary
was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah,
who was made to understand that if she wished to please
the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much
as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little
baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became
a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of
the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly
anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other
native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave
her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib
would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying,
by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical
and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English
governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked
her so much that she gave up her place in three months,
and when other governesses came to try to fill it they
always went away in a shorter time than the first one.
So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how
to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.
One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine
years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became
crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood
by her bedside was not her Ayah.
"Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman.
"I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me."
The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered
that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself
into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only
more frightened and repeated that it was not possible
for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.
There was something mysterious in the air that morning.
Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the
native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary
saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces.
But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come.
She was actually left alone as the morning went on,
and at last she wandered out into the garden and began
to play by herself under a tree near the veranda.
She pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck
big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth,
all the time growing more and more angry and muttering
to herself the things she would say and the names she
would call Saidie when she returned.
"Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs!" she said, because to call
a native a pig is the worst insult of all.
She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over
again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda
with some one. She was with a fair young man and they stood
talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair
young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he
was a very young officer who had just come from England.
The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother.
She always did this when she had a chance to see her,
because the Mem Sahib--Mary used to call her that oftener
than anything else--was such a tall, slim, pretty person
and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly
silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed
to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes.
All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they
were "full of lace." They looked fuller of lace than ever
this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all.
They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair
boy officer's face.
"Is it so very bad? Oh, is it?" Mary heard her say.
"Awfully," the young man answered in a trembling voice.
"Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills
two weeks ago."
The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.
"Oh, I know I ought!" she cried. "I only stayed to go
to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!"
At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke
out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young
man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot.
The wailing grew wilder and wilder. "What is it? What is it?"
Mrs. Lennox gasped.
"Some one has died," answered the boy officer. "You did
not say it had broken out among your servants."
"I did not know!" the Mem Sahib cried. "Come with me!
Come with me!" and she turned and ran into the house.
After that, appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness
of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had
broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying
like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night,
and it was because she had just died that the servants
had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other
servants were dead and others had run away in terror.
There was panic on every side, and dying people in all
During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary
hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by everyone.
Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things
happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried
and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were
ill and that she heard mysterious and tightening sounds.
Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty,
though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs
and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed
back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason.
The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty
she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled.
It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was.
Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back
to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries
she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet.
The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her
eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more
for a long time.
Many things happened during the hours in which she slept
so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the
sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.
When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall.
The house was perfectly still. She had never known
it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices
nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of
the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered
also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead.
There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would know
some new stories. Mary had been rather tired of the
old ones. She did not cry because her nurse had died.
She was not an affectionate child and had never cared much
for any one. The noise and hurrying about and wailing
over the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry
because no one seemed to remember that she was alive.
Everyone was too panic-stricken to think of a little
girl no one was fond of. When people had the cholera
it seemed that they remembered nothing but themselves.
But if everyone had got well again, surely some one would
remember and come to look for her.
But no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed
to grow more and more silent. She heard something rustling
on the matting and when she looked down she saw a little
snake gliding along and watching her with eyes like jewels.
She was not frightened, because he was a harmless little
thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry
to get out of the room. He slipped under the door as she
"How queer and quiet it is," she said. "It sounds as
if there were no one in the bungalow but me and the snake."
Almost the next minute she heard footsteps in the compound,
and then on the veranda. They were men's footsteps,
and the men entered the bungalow and talked in low voices.
No one went to meet or speak to them and they seemed
to open doors and look into rooms. "What desolation!"
she heard one voice say. "That pretty, pretty woman!
I suppose the child, too. I heard there was a child,
though no one ever saw her."
Mary was standing in the middle of the nursery when they
opened the door a few minutes later. She looked an ugly,
cross little thing and was frowning because she was
beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected.
The first man who came in was a large officer she had once
seen talking to her father. He looked tired and troubled,
but when he saw her he was so startled that he almost
"Barney!" he cried out. "There is a child here! A child
alone! In a place like this! Mercy on us, who is she!"
"I am Mary Lennox," the little girl said, drawing herself
up stiffly. She thought the man was very rude to call her
father's bungalow "A place like this!" "I fell asleep when
everyone had the cholera and I have only just wakened up.
Why does nobody come?"
"It is the child no one ever saw!" exclaimed the man,
turning to his companions. "She has actually been forgotten!"
"Why was I forgotten?" Mary said, stamping her foot.
"Why does nobody come?"
The young man whose name was Barney lookedat her very sadly.
Mary even thought she saw him wink his eyes as if to wink
"Poor little kid!" he said. "There is nobody left to
It was in that strange and sudden way that Mary found
out that she had neither father nor mother left;
that they had died and been carried away in the night,
and that the few native servants who had not died also had
left the house as quickly as they could get out of it,
none of them even remembering that there was a Missie Sahib.
That was why the place was so quiet. It was true that there
was no one in the bungalow but herself and the little
MISTRESS MARY QUITE CONTRARY
Mary had liked to look at her mother from a distance
and she had thought her very pretty, but as she knew
very little of her she could scarcely have been expected
to love her or to miss her very much when she was gone.
She did not miss her at all, in fact, and as she was a
self-absorbed child she gave her entire thought to herself,
as she had always done. If she had been older she would
no doubt have been very anxious at being left alone in
the world, but she was very young, and as she had always
been taken care of, she supposed she always would be.
What she thought was that she would like to know if she was
going to nice people, who would be polite to her and give
her her own way as her Ayah and the other native servants
She knew that she was not going to stay at the English
clergyman's house where she was taken at first. She did
not want to stay. The English clergyman was poor and he
had five children nearly all the same age and they wore
shabby clothes and were always quarreling and snatching
toys from each other. Mary hated their untidy bungalow
and was so disagreeable to them that after the first day
or two nobody would play with her. By the second day
they had given her a nickname which made her furious.
It was Basil who thought of it first. Basil was a little
boy with impudent blue eyes and a turned-up nose, and Mary
hated him. She was playing by herself under a tree,
just as she had been playing the day the cholera broke out.
She was making heaps of earth and paths for a garden
and Basil came and stood near to watch her. Presently he
got rather interested and suddenly made a suggestion.
"Why don't you put a heap of stones there and pretend
it is a rockery?" he said. "There in the middle,"
and he leaned over her to point.
"Go away!" cried Mary. "I don't want boys. Go away!"
For a moment Basil looked angry, and then he began to tease.
He was always teasing his sisters. He danced round
and round her and made faces and sang and laughed.
"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row."
He sang it until the other children heard and laughed, too;
and the crosser Mary got, the more they sang "Mistress Mary,
quite contrary"; and after that as long as she stayed
with them they called her "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary"
when they spoke of her to each other, and often when they
spoke to her.
"You are going to be sent home," Basil said to her,
"at the end of the week. And we're glad of it."
"I am glad of it, too," answered Mary. "Where is home?"
"She doesn't know where home is!" said Basil,
with seven-year-old scorn. "It's England, of course.
Our grandmama lives there and our sister Mabel was sent
to her last year. You are not going to your grandmama.
You have none. You are going to your uncle. His name is
Mr. Archibald Craven."
"I don't know anything about him," snapped Mary.
"I know you don't," Basil answered. "You don't know anything.
Girls never do. I heard father and mother talking about him.
He lives in a great, big, desolate old house in the
country and no one goes near him. He's so cross he won't
let them, and they wouldn't come if he would let them.
He's a hunchback, and he's horrid." "I don't believe you,"
said Mary; and she turned her back and stuck her fingers
in her ears, because she would not listen any more.
But she thought over it a great deal afterward; and when
Mrs. Crawford told her that night that she was going
to sail away to England in a few days and go to her uncle,
Mr. Archibald Craven, who lived at Misselthwaite Manor,
she looked so stony and stubbornly uninterested that
they did not know what to think about her. They tried
to be kind to her, but she only turned her face away
when Mrs. Crawford attempted to kiss her, and held
herself stiffly when Mr. Crawford patted her shoulder.
"She is such a plain child," Mrs. Crawford said pityingly,
afterward. "And her mother was such a pretty creature.
She had a very pretty manner, too, and Mary has the most
unattractive ways I ever saw in a child. The children
call her `Mistress Mary Quite Contrary,' and though
it's naughty of them, one can't help understanding it."
"Perhaps if her mother had carried her pretty face
and her pretty manners oftener into the nursery Mary
might have learned some pretty ways too. It is very sad,
now the poor beautiful thing is gone, to remember that
many people never even knew that she had a child at all."
"I believe she scarcely ever looked at her,"
sighed Mrs. Crawford. "When her Ayah was dead there
was no one to give a thought to the little thing.
Think of the servants running away and leaving her all
alone in that deserted bungalow. Colonel McGrew said he
nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened the door
and found her standing by herself in the middle of the room."
Mary made the long voyage to England under the care of
an officer's wife, who was taking her children to leave
them in a boarding-school. She was very much absorbed
in her own little boy and girl, and was rather glad to hand
the child over to the woman Mr. Archibald Craven sent
to meet her, in London. The woman was his housekeeper
at Misselthwaite Manor, and her name was Mrs. Medlock.
She was a stout woman, with very red cheeks and sharp
black eyes. She wore a very purple dress, a black
silk mantle with jet fringe on it and a black bonnet
with purple velvet flowers which stuck up and trembled
when she moved her head. Mary did not like her at all,
but as she very seldom liked people there was nothing
remarkable in that; besides which it was very evident
Mrs. Medlock did not think much of her.
"My word! she's a plain little piece of goods!" she said.
"And we'd heard that her mother was a beauty. She hasn't
handed much of it down, has she, ma'am?" "Perhaps she
will improve as she grows older," the officer's wife
said good-naturedly. "If she were not so sallow and had
a nicer expression, her features are rather good.
Children alter so much."
"She'll have to alter a good deal," answered Mrs. Medlock.
"And, there's nothing likely to improve children at
Misselthwaite--if you ask me!" They thought Mary was not
listening because she was standing a little apart from them
at the window of the private hotel they had gone to.
She was watching the passing buses and cabs and people,
but she heard quite well and was made very curious about
her uncle and the place he lived in. What sort of a place
was it, and what would he be like? What was a hunchback?
She had never seen one. Perhaps there were none in India.
Since she had been living in other people's houses
and had had no Ayah, she had begun to feel lonely
and to think queer thoughts which were new to her.
She had begun to wonder why she had never seemed to belong
to anyone even when her father and mother had been alive.
Other children seemed to belong to their fathers and mothers,
but she had never seemed to really be anyone's little girl.
She had had servants, and food and clothes, but no one
had taken any notice of her. She did not know that this
was because she was a disagreeable child; but then,
of course, she did not know she was disagreeable.
She often thought that other people were, but she did not
know that she was so herself.
She thought Mrs. Medlock the most disagreeable person
she had ever seen, with her common, highly colored face
and her common fine bonnet. When the next day they set
out on their journey to Yorkshire, she walked through
the station to the railway carriage with her head up
and trying to keep as far away from her as she could,
because she did not want to seem to belong to her.
It would have made her angry to think people imagined she
was her little girl.
But Mrs. Medlock was not in the least disturbed by her
and her thoughts. She was the kind of woman who would
"stand no nonsense from young ones." At least, that is
what she would have said if she had been asked. She had
not wanted to go to London just when her sister Maria's
daughter was going to be married, but she had a comfortable,
well paid place as housekeeper at Misselthwaite Manor
and the only way in which she could keep it was to do
at once what Mr. Archibald Craven told her to do.
She never dared even to ask a question.
"Captain Lennox and his wife died of the cholera,"
Mr. Craven had said in his short, cold way. "Captain Lennox
was my wife's brother and I am their daughter's guardian.
The child is to be brought here. You must go to London
and bring her yourself."
So she packed her small trunk and made the journey.
Mary sat in her corner of the railway carriage and looked
plain and fretful. She had nothing to read or to look at,
and she had folded her thin little black-gloved hands in
her lap. Her black dress made her look yellower than ever,
and her limp light hair straggled from under her black
"A more marred-looking young one I never saw in my life,"
Mrs. Medlock thought. (Marred is a Yorkshire word and
means spoiled and pettish.) She had never seen a child
who sat so still without doing anything; and at last she
got tired of watching her and began to talk in a brisk,
"I suppose I may as well tell you something about where
you are going to," she said. "Do you know anything
about your uncle?"
"No," said Mary.
"Never heard your father and mother talk about him?"
"No," said Mary frowning. She frowned because she
remembered that her father and mother had never talked
to her about anything in particular. Certainly they
had never told her things.
"Humph," muttered Mrs. Medlock, staring at her queer,
unresponsive little face. She did not say any more for
a few moments and then she began again.
"I suppose you might as well be told something--to
prepare you. You are going to a queer place."
Mary said nothing at all, and Mrs. Medlock looked rather
discomfited by her apparent indifference, but, after taking
a breath, she went on.
"Not but that it's a grand big place in a gloomy way,
and Mr. Craven's proud of it in his way--and that's
gloomy enough, too. The house is six hundred years old
and it's on the edge of the moor, and there's near a hundred
rooms in it, though most of them's shut up and locked.
And there's pictures and fine old furniture and things
that's been there for ages, and there's a big park round
it and gardens and trees with branches trailing to the
ground--some of them." She paused and took another breath.
"But there's nothing else," she ended suddenly.
Mary had begun to listen in spite of herself. It all sounded
so unlike India, and anything new rather attracted her.
But she did not intend to look as if she were interested.
That was one of her unhappy, disagreeable ways. So she
"Well," said Mrs. Medlock. "What do you think of it?"
"Nothing," she answered. "I know nothing about such places."
That made Mrs. Medlock laugh a short sort of laugh.
"Eh!" she said, "but you are like an old woman.
Don't you care?"
"It doesn't matter" said Mary, "whether I care or not."
"You are right enough there," said Mrs. Medlock.
"It doesn't. What you're to be kept at Misselthwaite Manor
for I don't know, unless because it's the easiest way.
He's not going to trouble himself about you, that's sure
and certain. He never troubles himself about no one."
She stopped herself as if she had just remembered something
"He's got a crooked back," she said. "That set him wrong.
He was a sour young man and got no good of all his money
and big place till he was married."
Mary's eyes turned toward her in spite of her intention
not to seem to care. She had never thought of the
hunchback's being married and she was a trifle surprised.
Mrs. Medlock saw this, and as she was a talkative woman
she continued with more interest. This was one way
of passing some of the time, at any rate.
"She was a sweet, pretty thing and he'd have walked
the world over to get her a blade o' grass she wanted.
Nobody thought she'd marry him, but she did,
and people said she married him for his money.
But she didn't--she didn't," positively. "When she died--"
Mary gave a little involuntary jump.
"Oh! did she die!" she exclaimed, quite without meaning to.
She had just remembered a French fairy story she had once
read called "Riquet a la Houppe." It had been about a poor
hunchback and a beautiful princess and it had made her
suddenly sorry for Mr. Archibald Craven.
"Yes, she died," Mrs. Medlock answered. "And it
made him queerer than ever. He cares about nobody.
He won't see people. Most of the time he goes away,
and when he is at Misselthwaite he shuts himself up in
the West Wing and won't let any one but Pitcher see him.
Pitcher's an old fellow, but he took care of him when he
was a child and he knows his ways."
It sounded like something in a book and it did not make
Mary feel cheerful. A house with a hundred rooms,
nearly all shut up and with their doors locked--a house on
the edge of a moor--whatsoever a moor was--sounded dreary.
A man with a crooked back who shut himself up also! She
stared out of the window with her lips pinched together,
and it seemed quite natural that the rain should have begun
to pour down in gray slanting lines and splash and stream
down the window-panes. If the pretty wife had been alive
she might have made things cheerful by being something
like her own mother and by running in and out and going
to parties as she had done in frocks "full of lace."
But she was not there any more.
"You needn't expect to see him, because ten to one you won't,"
said Mrs. Medlock. "And you mustn't expect that there
will be people to talk to you. You'll have to play
about and look after yourself. You'll be told what rooms
you can go into and what rooms you're to keep out of.
There's gardens enough. But when you're in the house
don't go wandering and poking about. Mr. Craven won't
"I shall not want to go poking about," said sour little
Mary and just as suddenly as she had begun to be rather
sorry for Mr. Archibald Craven she began to cease to be
sorry and to think he was unpleasant enough to deserve
all that had happened to him.
And she turned her face toward the streaming panes of the
window of the railway carriage and gazed out at the gray
rain-storm which looked as if it would go on forever and ever.
She watched it so long and steadily that the grayness
grew heavier and heavier before her eyes and she fell asleep.
ACROSS THE MOOR
She slept a long time, and when she awakened Mrs. Medlock
had bought a lunchbasket at one of the stations and they
had some chicken and cold beef and bread and butter and
some hot tea. The rain seemed to be streaming down more
heavily than ever and everybody in the station wore wet
and glistening waterproofs. The guard lighted the lamps
in the carriage, and Mrs. Medlock cheered up very much
over her tea and chicken and beef. She ate a great deal
and afterward fell asleep herself, and Mary sat and stared
at her and watched her fine bonnet slip on one side until she
herself fell asleep once more in the corner of the carriage,
lulled by the splashing of the rain against the windows.
It was quite dark when she awakened again. The train
had stopped at a station and Mrs. Medlock was shaking her.
"You have had a sleep!" she said. "It's time to open
your eyes! We're at Thwaite Station and we've got a long
drive before us."
Mary stood up and tried to keep her eyes open while
Mrs. Medlock collected her parcels. The little
girl did not offer to help her, because in India
native servants always picked up or carried things
and it seemed quite proper that other people should wait on one.
The station was a small one and nobody but themselves
seemed to be getting out of the train. The station-master
spoke to Mrs. Medlock in a rough, good-natured way,
pronouncing his words in a queer broad fashion which Mary
found out afterward was Yorkshire.
"I see tha's got back," he said. "An' tha's browt th'
young 'un with thee."
"Aye, that's her," answered Mrs. Medlock, speaking with
a Yorkshire accent herself and jerking her head over
her shoulder toward Mary. "How's thy Missus?"
"Well enow. Th' carriage is waitin' outside for thee."
A brougham stood on the road before the little
outside platform. Mary saw that it was a smart carriage
and that it was a smart footman who helped her in.
His long waterproof coat and the waterproof covering of his
hat were shining and dripping with rain as everything was,
the burly station-master included.
When he shut the door, mounted the box with the coachman,
and they drove off, the little girlfound herself seated
in a comfortably cushioned corner, but she was not inclined
to go to sleep again. She sat and looked out of the window,
curious to see something of the road over which she
was being driven to the queer place Mrs. Medlock had
spoken of. She was not at all a timid child and she was
not exactly frightened, but she felt that there was no
knowing what might happen in a house with a hundred rooms
nearly all shut up--a house standing on the edge of a moor.
"What is a moor?" she said suddenly to Mrs. Medlock.
"Look out of the window in about ten minutes and you'll see,"
the woman answered. "We've got to drive five miles across
Missel Moor before we get to the Manor. You won't see
much because it's a dark night, but you can see something."
Mary asked no more questions but waited in the darkness
of her corner, keeping her eyes on the window. The carriage
lamps cast rays of light a little distance ahead of them
and she caught glimpses of the things they passed.
After they had left the station they had driven through a
tiny village and she had seen whitewashed cottages and the
lights of a public house. Then they had passed a church
and a vicarage and a little shop-window or so in a cottage
with toys and sweets and odd things set our for sale.
Then they were on the highroad and she saw hedges and trees.
After that there seemed nothing different for a long
time--or at least it seemed a long time to her.
At last the horses began to go more slowly, as if they
were climbing up-hill, and presently there seemed to be
no more hedges and no more trees. She could see nothing,
in fact, but a dense darkness on either side. She leaned
forward and pressed her face against the window just
as the carriage gave a big jolt.
"Eh! We're on the moor now sure enough," said Mrs. Medlock.
The carriage lamps shed a yellow light on a rough-looking
road which seemed to be cut through bushes and low-growing
things which ended in the great expanse of dark apparently
spread out before and around them. A wind was rising
and making a singular, wild, low, rushing sound.
"It's--it's not the sea, is it?" said Mary, looking round
at her companion.
"No, not it," answered Mrs. Medlock. "Nor it isn't fields
nor mountains, it's just miles and miles and miles of wild
land that nothing grows on but heather and gorse and broom,
and nothing lives on but wild ponies and sheep."
"I feel as if it might be the sea, if there were water
on it," said Mary. "It sounds like the sea just now."
"That's the wind blowing through the bushes," Mrs. Medlock
"It's a wild, dreary enough place to my mind, though there's
plenty that likes it--particularly when the heather's in bloom."
On and on they drove through the darkness, and though
the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made
strange sounds. The road went up and down, and several
times the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath
which water rushed very fast with a great deal of noise.
Mary felt as if the drive would never come to an end
and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black
ocean through which she was passing on a strip of dry land.
"I don't like it," she said to herself. "I don't like
and she pinched her thin lips more tightly together.
The horses were climbing up a hilly piece of road
when she first caught sight of a light. Mrs. Medlock
saw it as soon as she did and drew a long sigh of relief.
"Eh, I am glad to see that bit o' light twinkling,"
she exclaimed. "It's the light in the lodge window.
We shall get a good cup of tea after a bit, at all events."
It was "after a bit," as she said, for when the carriage
passed through the park gates there was still two miles
of avenue to drive through and the trees (which nearly
met overhead) made it seem as if they were driving
through a long dark vault.
They drove out of the vault into a clear space
and stopped before an immensely long but low-built
house which seemed to ramble round a stone court.
At first Mary thought that there were no lights at all
in the windows, but as she got out of the carriage
she saw that one room in a corner upstairs showed a dull glow.
The entrance door was a huge one made of massive, curiously
shaped panels of oak studded with big iron nails and bound
with great iron bars. It opened into an enormous hall,
which was so dimly lighted that the faces in the portraits
on the walls and the figures in the suits of armor
made Mary feel that she did not want to look at them.
As she stood on the stone floor she looked a very small,
odd little black figure, and she felt as small and lost
and odd as she looked.
A neat, thin old man stood near the manservant who opened
the door for them.
"You are to take her to her room," he said in a husky voice.
"He doesn't want to see her. He's going to London
in the morning."
"Very well, Mr. Pitcher," Mrs. Medlock answered.
"So long as I know what's expected of me, I can manage."
"What's expected of you, Mrs. Medlock," Mr. Pitcher said,
"is that you make sure that he's not disturbed and that he
doesn't see what he doesn't want to see."
And then Mary Lennox was led up a broad staircase
and down a long corridor and up a short flight
of steps and through another corridor and another,
until a door opened in a wall and she found herself
in a room with a fire in it and a supper on a table.
Mrs. Medlock said unceremoniously:
"Well, here you are! This room and the next are where you'll
live--and you must keep to them. Don't you forget that!"
It was in this way Mistress Mary arrived at Misselthwaite
Manor and she had perhaps never felt quite so contrary
in all her life.
When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because
a young housemaid had come into her room to light
the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking
out the cinders noisily. Mary lay and watched her for
a few moments and then began to look about the room.
She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it
curious and gloomy. The walls were covered with tapestry
with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were
fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the
distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle.
There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies.
Mary felt as if she were in the forest with them.
Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing
stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it,
and to look rather like an endless, dull, purplish sea.
"What is that?" she said, pointing out of the window.
Martha, the young housemaid, who had just risen to her feet,
looked and pointed also. "That there?" she said.
"That's th' moor," with a good-natured grin. "Does tha'
"No," answered Mary. "I hate it."
"That's because tha'rt not used to it," Martha said,
going back to her hearth. "Tha' thinks it's too big an'
bare now. But tha' will like it."
"Do you?" inquired Mary.
"Aye, that I do," answered Martha, cheerfully polishing
away at the grate. "I just love it. It's none bare.
It's covered wi' growin' things as smells sweet.
It's fair lovely in spring an' summer when th' gorse an'
broom an' heather's in flower. It smells o' honey an'
there's such a lot o' fresh air--an' th' sky looks
so high an' th' bees an' skylarks makes such a nice
noise hummin' an' singin'. Eh! I wouldn't live away from th'
moor for anythin'."
Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression.
The native servants she had been used to in India
were not in the least like this. They were obsequious
and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters
as if they were their equals. They made salaams and called
them "protector of the poor" and names of that sort.
Indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked.
It was not the custom to say "please" and "thank you"
and Mary had always slapped her Ayah in the face when she
was angry. She wondered a little what this girl would
do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round,
rosy, good-natured-looking creature, but she had a sturdy
way which made Mistress Mary wonder if she might not
even slap back--if the person who slapped her was only a
"You are a strange servant," she said from her pillows,
Martha sat up on her heels, with her blackingbrush in her hand,
and laughed, without seeming the least out of temper.
"Eh! I know that," she said. "If there was a grand Missus
at Misselthwaite I should never have been even one of th'
under house-maids. I might have been let to be scullerymaid
but I'd never have been let upstairs. I'm too common an'
I talk too much Yorkshire. But this is a funny house for
all it's so grand. Seems like there's neither Master nor
Mistress except Mr. Pitcher an' Mrs. Medlock. Mr. Craven,
he won't be troubled about anythin' when he's here, an'
he's nearly always away. Mrs. Medlock gave me th'
place out o' kindness. She told me she could never have
done it if Misselthwaite had been like other big houses."
"Are you going to be my servant?" Mary asked, still in her
imperious little Indian way.
Martha began to rub her grate again.
"I'm Mrs. Medlock's servant," she said stoutly.
"An' she's Mr. Craven's--but I'm to do the housemaid's
work up here an' wait on you a bit. But you won't need
much waitin' on."
"Who is going to dress me?" demanded Mary.
Martha sat up on her heels again and stared. She spoke
in broad Yorkshire in her amazement.
"Canna' tha' dress thysen!" she said.
"What do you mean? I don't understand your language,"
"Eh! I forgot," Martha said. "Mrs. Medlock told me I'd
have to be careful or you wouldn't know what I was sayin'.
I mean can't you put on your own clothes?"
"No," answered Mary, quite indignantly. "I never did
in my life. My Ayah dressed me, of course."
"Well," said Martha, evidently not in the least aware
that she was impudent, "it's time tha' should learn.
Tha' cannot begin younger. It'll do thee good to wait
on thysen a bit. My mother always said she couldn't
see why grand people's children didn't turn out fair
fools--what with nurses an' bein' washed an' dressed an'
took out to walk as if they was puppies!"
"It is different in India," said Mistress Mary disdainfully.
She could scarcely stand this.
But Martha was not at all crushed.
"Eh! I can see it's different," she answered almost
sympathetically. "I dare say it's because there's such
a lot o' blacks there instead o' respectable white people.
When I heard you was comin' from India I thought you was a black too."
Mary sat up in bed furious.
"What!" she said. "What! You thought I was a native.
You--you daughter of a pig!"
Martha stared and looked hot.
"Who are you callin' names?" she said. "You needn't be
so vexed. That's not th' way for a young lady to talk.
I've nothin' against th' blacks. When you read about 'em
in tracts they're always very religious. You always read
as a black's a man an' a brother. I've never seen a black an'
I was fair pleased to think I was goin' to see one close.
When I come in to light your fire this mornin' I crep'
up to your bed an' pulled th' cover back careful to look
at you. An' there you was," disappointedly, "no more black
than me--for all you're so yeller."
Mary did not even try to control her rage and humiliation.
"You thought I was a native! You dared! You don't know
anything about natives! They are not people--they're servants
who must salaam to you. You know nothing about India.
You know nothing about anything!"
She was in such a rage and felt so helpless before the girl's
simple stare, and somehow she suddenly felt so horribly
lonely and far away from everything she understood
and which understood her, that she threw herself face
downward on the pillows and burst into passionate sobbing.
She sobbed so unrestrainedly that good-natured Yorkshire
Martha was a little frightened and quite sorry for her.
She went to the bed and bent over her.
"Eh! you mustn't cry like that there!" she begged.
"You mustn't for sure. I didn't know you'd be vexed.
I don't know anythin' about anythin'--just like you said.
I beg your pardon, Miss. Do stop cryin'."
There was something comforting and really friendly in her
queer Yorkshire speech and sturdy way which had a good effect
on Mary. She gradually ceased crying and became quiet.
Martha looked relieved.
"It's time for thee to get up now," she said.
"Mrs. Medlock said I was to carry tha' breakfast an'
tea an' dinner into th' room next to this. It's been
made into a nursery for thee. I'll help thee on with thy
clothes if tha'll get out o' bed. If th' buttons are at th'
back tha' cannot button them up tha'self."
When Mary at last decided to get up, the clothes Martha
took from the wardrobe were not the ones she had worn
when she arrived the night before with Mrs. Medlock.
"Those are not mine," she said. "Mine are black."
She looked the thick white wool coat and dress over,
and added with cool approval:
"Those are nicer than mine."
"These are th' ones tha' must put on," Martha answered.
"Mr. Craven ordered Mrs. Medlock to get 'em in London.
He said `I won't have a child dressed in black wanderin'
about like a lost soul,' he said. `It'd make the place
sadder than it is. Put color on her.' Mother she said she
knew what he meant. Mother always knows what a body means.
She doesn't hold with black hersel'."
"I hate black things," said Mary.
The dressing process was one which taught them both something.
Martha had "buttoned up" her little sisters and brothers but she
had never seen a child who stood still and waited for another
person to do things for her as if she had neither hands nor feet of her
"Why doesn't tha' put on tha' own shoes?" she said
when Mary quietly held out her foot.
"My Ayah did it," answered Mary, staring. "It was the
She said that very often--"It was the custom." The native
servants were always saying it. If one told them to do
a thing their ancestors had not done for a thousand years
they gazed at one mildly and said, "It is not the custom"
and one knew that was the end of the matter.
It had not been the custom that Mistress Mary should
do anything but stand and allow herself to be dressed
like a doll, but before she was ready for breakfast she
began to suspect that her life at Misselthwaite Manor
would end by teaching her a number of things quite
new to her--things such as putting on her own shoes
and stockings, and picking up things she let fall.
If Martha had been a well-trained fine young lady's maid
she would have been more subservient and respectful and
would have known that it was her business to brush hair,
and button boots, and pick things up and lay them away.
She was, however, only an untrained Yorkshire rustic
who had been brought up in a moorland cottage with a
swarm of little brothers and sisters who had never
dreamed of doing anything but waiting on themselves
and on the younger ones who were either babies in arms
or just learning to totter about and tumble over things.
If Mary Lennox had been a child who was ready to be amused
she would perhaps have laughed at Martha's readiness to talk,
but Mary only listened to her coldly and wondered at her
freedom of manner. At first she was not at all interested,
but gradually, as the girl rattled on in her good-tempered,
homely way, Mary began to notice what she was saying.
"Eh! you should see 'em all," she said. "There's twelve
of us an' my father only gets sixteen shilling a week. I can
tell you my mother's put to it to get porridge for 'em all.
They tumble about on th' moor an' play there all day an'
mother says th' air of th' moor fattens 'em. She says she
believes they eat th' grass same as th' wild ponies do.
Our Dickon, he's twelve years old and he's got a young pony
he calls his own."
"Where did he get it?" asked Mary.
"He found it on th' moor with its mother when it was
a little one an' he began to make friends with it an'
give it bits o' bread an' pluck young grass for it.
And it got to like him so it follows him about an'
it lets him get on its back. Dickon's a kind lad an'
animals likes him."
Mary had never possessed an animal pet of her own
and had always thought she should like one. So she
began to feel a slight interest in Dickon, and as she
had never before been interested in any one but herself,
it was the dawning of a healthy sentiment. When she went
into the room which had been made into a nursery for her,
she found that it was rather like the one she had slept in.
It was not a child's room, but a grown-up person's room,
with gloomy old pictures on the walls and heavy old
oak chairs. A table in the center was set with a good
substantial breakfast. But she had always had a very
small appetite, and she looked with something more than
indifference at the first plate Martha set before her.
"I don't want it," she said.
"Tha' doesn't want thy porridge!" Martha exclaimed incredulously.
"Tha' doesn't know how good it is. Put a bit o'
treacle on it or a bit o' sugar."
"I don't want it," repeated Mary.
"Eh!" said Martha. "I can't abide to see good victuals
go to waste. If our children was at this table they'd
clean it bare in five minutes."
"Why?" said Mary coldly. "Why!" echoed Martha. "Because
scarce ever had their stomachs full in their lives.
They're as hungry as young hawks an' foxes."
"I don't know what it is to be hungry," said Mary,
with the indifference of ignorance.
Martha looked indignant.
"Well, it would do thee good to try it. I can see
that plain enough," she said outspokenly. "I've no
patience with folk as sits an' just stares at good
bread an' meat. My word! don't I wish Dickon and Phil an'
Jane an' th' rest of 'em had what's here under their pinafores."
"Why don't you take it to them?" suggested Mary.
"It's not mine," answered Martha stoutly. "An' this
isn't my day out. I get my day out once a month same
as th' rest. Then I go home an' clean up for mother an'
give her a day's rest."
Mary drank some tea and ate a little toast and some marmalade.
"You wrap up warm an' run out an' play you," said Martha.
"It'll do you good and give you some stomach for your meat."
Mary went to the window. There were gardens and paths
and big trees, but everything looked dull and wintry.
"Out? Why should I go out on a day like this?" "Well,
doesn't go out tha'lt have to stay in, an' what has tha'
got to do?"
Mary glanced about her. There was nothing to do.
When Mrs. Medlock had prepared the nursery she had not
thought of amusement. Perhaps it would be better to go
and see what the gardens were like.
"Who will go with me?" she inquired.
"You'll go by yourself," she answered. "You'll have to
learn to play like other children does when they haven't
got sisters and brothers. Our Dickon goes off on th'
moor by himself an' plays for hours. That's how he made
friends with th' pony. He's got sheep on th' moor that
knows him, an' birds as comes an' eats out of his hand.
However little there is to eat, he always saves a bit o'
his bread to coax his pets."
It was really this mention of Dickon which made Mary decide
to go out, though she was not aware of it. There would be,
birds outside though there would not be ponies or sheep.
They would be different from the birds in India and it
might amuse her to look at them.
Martha found her coat and hat for her and a pair of stout
little boots and she showed her her way downstairs.
"If tha' goes round that way tha'll come to th' gardens,"
she said, pointing to a gate in a wall of shrubbery.
"There's lots o' flowers in summer-time, but there's
nothin' bloomin' now." She seemed to hesitate a second
before she added, "One of th' gardens is locked up.
No one has been in it for ten years."
"Why?" asked Mary in spite of herself. Here was another
locked door added to the hundred in the strange house.
"Mr. Craven had it shut when his wife died so sudden.
He won't let no one go inside. It was her garden.
He locked th' door an' dug a hole and buried th' key.
There's Mrs. Medlock's bell ringing--I must run."
After she was gone Mary turned down the walk which led
to the door in the shrubbery. She could not help thinking
about the garden which no one had been into for ten years.
She wondered what it would look like and whether there
were any flowers still alive in it. When she had passed
through the shrubbery gate she found herself in great gardens,
with wide lawns and winding walks with clipped borders.
There were trees, and flower-beds, and evergreens clipped
into strange shapes, and a large pool with an old gray
fountain in its midst. But the flower-beds were bare
and wintry and the fountain was not playing. This was not
the garden which was shut up. How could a garden be shut
up? You could always walk into a garden.
She was just thinking this when she saw that, at the end
of the path she was following, there seemed to be a
long wall, with ivy growing over it. She was not familiar
enough with England to know that she was coming upon the
kitchen-gardens where the vegetables and fruit were growing.
She went toward the wall and found that there was a green
door in the ivy, and that it stood open. This was
not the closed garden, evidently, and she could go into it.
She went through the door and found that it was a garden
with walls all round it and that it was only one of several
walled gardens which seemed to open into one another.
She saw another open green door, revealing bushes and
pathways between beds containing winter vegetables.
Fruit-trees were trained flat against the wall,
and over some of the beds there were glass frames.
The place was bare and ugly enough, Mary thought, as she
stood and stared about her. It might be nicer in summer
when things were green, but there was nothing pretty about
Presently an old man with a spade over his shoulder walked
through the door leading from the second garden. He looked
startled when he saw Mary, and then touched his cap.
He had a surly old face, and did not seem at all pleased
to see her--but then she was displeased with his garden
and wore her "quite contrary" expression, and certainly
did not seem at all pleased to see him.
"What is this place?" she asked.
"One o' th' kitchen-gardens," he answered.
"What is that?" said Mary, pointing through the other
"Another of 'em," shortly. "There's another on t'other
side o' th' wall an' there's th' orchard t'other side o' that."
"Can I go in them?" asked Mary.
"If tha' likes. But there's nowt to see."
Mary made no response. She went down the path and through
the second green door. There, she found more walls
and winter vegetables and glass frames, but in the second
wall there was another green door and it was not open.
Perhaps it led into the garden which no one had seen for
ten years. As she was not at all a timid child and always
did what she wanted to do, Mary went to the green door
and turned the handle. She hoped the door would not open
because she wanted to be sure she had found the mysterious
garden--but it did open quite easily and she walked
through it and found herself in an orchard. There were
walls all round it also and trees trained against them,
and there were bare fruit-trees growing in the winter-browned
grass--but there was no green door to be seen anywhere.
Mary looked for it, and yet when she had entered the
upper end of the garden she had noticed that the wall
did not seem to end with the orchard but to extend
beyond it as if it enclosed a place at the other side.
She could see the tops of trees above the wall,
and when she stood still she saw a bird with a bright
red breast sitting on the topmost branch of one of them,
and suddenly he burst into his winter song--almost
as if he had caught sight of her and was calling to her.
She stopped and listened to him and somehow his cheerful,
friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling--even
a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed
house and big bare moor and big bare gardens had made this
one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself.
If she had been an affectionate child, who had been
used to being loved, she would have broken her heart,
but even though she was "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary"
she was desolate, and the bright-breasted little bird
brought a look into her sour little face which was almost
a smile. She listened to him until he flew away.
He was not like an Indian bird and she liked him and
wondered if she should ever see him again. Perhaps he
lived in the mysterious garden and knew all about it.
Perhaps it was because she had nothing whatever to do
that she thought so much of the deserted garden. She was
curious about it and wanted to see what it was like.
Why had Mr. Archibald Craven buried the key? If he
had liked his wife so much why did he hate her garden?
She wondered if she should ever see him, but she knew
that if she did she should not like him, and he would
not like her, and that she should only stand and stare
at him and say nothing, though she should be wanting
dreadfully to ask him why he had done such a queer thing.
"People never like me and I never like people," she thought.
"And I never can talk as the Crawford children could.
They were always talking and laughing and making noises."
She thought of the robin and of the way he seemed to sing
his song at her, and as she remembered the tree-top he
perched on she stopped rather suddenly on the path.
"I believe that tree was in the secret garden--I feel sure
it was," she said. "There was a wall round the place
and there was no door."
She walked back into the first kitchen-garden she had entered
and found the old man digging there. She went and stood beside
him and watched him a few moments in her cold little way.
He took no notice of her and so at last she spoke to him.
"I have been into the other gardens," she said.
"There was nothin' to prevent thee," he answered crustily.
"I went into the orchard."
"There was no dog at th' door to bite thee," he answered.
"There was no door there into the other garden,"
"What garden?" he said in a rough voice, stopping his
digging for a moment.
"The one on the other side of the wall," answered Mistress
"There are trees there--I saw the tops of them. A bird
with a red breast was sitting on one of them and he sang."
To her surprise the surly old weather-beaten face
actually changed its expression. A slow smile spread
over it and the gardener looked quite different. It made
her think that it was curious how much nicer a person
looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before.
He turned about to the orchard side of his garden and began
to whistle--a low soft whistle. She could not understand
how such a surly man could make such a coaxing sound.
Almost the next moment a wonderful thing happened.
She heard a soft little rushing flight through the air--and
it was the bird with the red breast flying to them,
and he actually alighted on the big clod of earth quite near
to the gardener's foot.
"Here he is," chuckled the old man, and then he spoke
to the bird as if he were speaking to a child.
"Where has tha' been, tha' cheeky little beggar?"
he said. "I've not seen thee before today. Has tha,
begun tha' courtin' this early in th' season? Tha'rt
The bird put his tiny head on one side and looked up at him
with his soft bright eye which was like a black dewdrop.
He seemed quite familiar and not the least afraid.
He hopped about and pecked the earth briskly, looking for
seeds and insects. It actually gave Mary a queer feeling
in her heart, because he was so pretty and cheerful
and seemed so like a person. He had a tiny plump body
and a delicate beak, and slender delicate legs.
"Will he always come when you call him?" she asked almost
in a whisper.
"Aye, that he will. I've knowed him ever since he was
a fledgling. He come out of th' nest in th' other garden an'
when first he flew over th' wall he was too weak to fly
back for a few days an' we got friendly. When he went
over th' wall again th' rest of th' brood was gone an'
he was lonely an' he come back to me."
"What kind of a bird is he?" Mary asked.
"Doesn't tha' know? He's a robin redbreast an'
they're th' friendliest, curiousest birds alive.
They're almost as friendly as dogs--if you know how to get
on with 'em. Watch him peckin' about there an' lookin'
round at us now an' again. He knows we're talkin' about him."
It was the queerest thing in the world to see the old fellow.
He looked at the plump little scarlet-waistcoated bird
as if he were both proud and fond of him.
"He's a conceited one," he chuckled. "He likes to hear
folk talk about him. An' curious--bless me, there never
was his like for curiosity an' meddlin'. He's always comin'
to see what I'm plantin'. He knows all th' things Mester
Craven never troubles hissel' to find out. He's th'
head gardener, he is."
The robin hopped about busily pecking the soil and now
and then stopped and looked at them a little. Mary thought
his black dewdrop eyes gazed at her with great curiosity.
It really seemed as if he were finding out all about her.
The queer feeling in her heart increased. "Where did the
rest of the brood fly to?" she asked.
"There's no knowin'. The old ones turn 'em out o' their nest an'
make 'em fly an' they're scattered before you know it.
This one was a knowin' one an, he knew he was lonely."
Mistress Mary went a step nearer to the robin and looked
at him very hard.
"I'm lonely," she said.
She had not known before that this was one of the things
which made her feel sour and cross. She seemed to find
it out when the robin looked at her and she looked
at the robin.
The old gardener pushed his cap back on his bald head
and stared at her a minute.
"Art tha' th' little wench from India?" he asked.
"Then no wonder tha'rt lonely. Tha'lt be lonlier before
tha's done," he said.
He began to dig again, driving his spade deep into
the rich black garden soil while the robin hopped
about very busily employed.
"What is your name?" Mary inquired.
He stood up to answer her.
"Ben Weatherstaff," he answered, and then he added with a
surly chuckle, "I'm lonely mysel' except when he's with me,"
and he jerked his thumb toward the robin. "He's th'
only friend I've got."
"I have no friends at all," said Mary. "I never had.
My Ayah didn't like me and I never played with any one."
It is a Yorkshire habit to say what you think with
blunt frankness, and old Ben Weatherstaff was a Yorkshire
"Tha' an' me are a good bit alike," he said.
"We was wove out of th' same cloth. We're neither of us
good lookin' an' we're both of us as sour as we look.
We've got the same nasty tempers, both of us, I'll warrant."
This was plain speaking, and Mary Lennox had never heard
the truth about herself in her life. Native servants
always salaamed and submitted to you, whatever you did.
She had never thought much about her looks, but she wondered
if she was as unattractive as Ben Weatherstaff and she
also wondered if she looked as sour as he had looked
before the robin came. She actually began to wonder
also if she was "nasty tempered." She felt uncomfortable.
Suddenly a clear rippling little sound broke out near
her and she turned round. She was standing a few feet
from a young apple-tree and the robin had flown on to one
of its branches and had burst out into a scrap of a song.
Ben Weatherstaff laughed outright.
"What did he do that for?" asked Mary.
"He's made up his mind to make friends with thee,"
replied Ben. "Dang me if he hasn't took a fancy to thee."
"To me?" said Mary, and she moved toward the little tree
softly and looked up.
"Would you make friends with me?" she said to the robin
just as if she was speaking to a person. "Would you?"
And she did not say it either in her hard little voice
or in her imperious Indian voice, but in a tone so soft
and eager and coaxing that Ben Weatherstaff was as surprised
as she had been when she heard him whistle.
"Why," he cried out, "tha' said that as nice an' human
if tha' was a real child instead of a sharp old woman.
Tha' said it almost like Dickon talks to his wild things on th' moor."
"Do you know Dickon?" Mary asked, turning round rather
in a hurry.
"Everybody knows him. Dickon's wanderin' about everywhere.
Th' very blackberries an' heather-bells knows him.
I warrant th' foxes shows him where their cubs
lies an' th' skylarks doesn't hide their nests from him."
Mary would have liked to ask some more questions.
She was almost as curious about Dickon as she was about
the deserted garden. But just that moment the robin,
who had ended his song, gave a little shake of his wings,
spread them and flew away. He had made his visit and had
other things to do.
"He has flown over the wall!" Mary cried out, watching him.
"He has flown into the orchard--he has flown across the
other wall--into the garden where there is no door!"
"He lives there," said old Ben. "He came out o' th' egg
If he's courtin', he's makin' up to some young madam
of a robin that lives among th' old rose-trees there."
"Rose-trees," said Mary. "Are there rose-trees?"
Ben Weatherstaff took up his spade again and began to dig.
"There was ten year' ago," he mumbled.
"I should like to see them," said Mary. "Where is
the green door? There must be a door somewhere."
Ben drove his spade deep and looked as uncompanionable
as he had looked when she first saw him.
"There was ten year' ago, but there isn't now," he said.
"No door!" cried Mary. "There must be." "None
one can find, an' none as is any one's business.
Don't you be a meddlesome wench an' poke your nose where
it's no cause to go. Here, I must go on with my work.
Get you gone an' play you. I've no more time."
And he actually stopped digging, threw his spade over
his shoulder and walked off, without even glancing
at her or saying good-by.
THE CRY IN THE CORRIDOR
At first each day which passed by for Mary Lennox
was exactly like the others. Every morning she awoke
in her tapestried room and found Martha kneeling upon
the hearth building her fire; every morning she ate her
breakfast in the nursery which had nothing amusing in it;
and after each breakfast she gazed out of the window
across to the huge moor which seemed to spread out on all
sides and climb up to the sky, and after she had stared
for a while she realized that if she did not go out she
would have to stay in and do nothing--and so she went out.
She did not know that this was the best thing she could
have done, and she did not know that, when she began to walk
quickly or even run along the paths and down the avenue,
she was stirring her slow blood and making herself stronger
by fighting with the wind which swept down from the moor.
She ran only to make herself warm, and she hated the wind
which rushed at her face and roared and held her back
as if it were some giant she could not see. But the big
breaths of rough fresh air blown over the heather filled
her lungs with something which was good for her whole
thin body and whipped some red color into her cheeks and
brightened her dull eyes when she did not know anything
But after a few days spent almost entirely out of doors
she wakened one morning knowing what it was to be hungry,
and when she sat down to her breakfast she did not glance
disdainfully at her porridge and push it away, but took
up her spoon and began to eat it and went on eating it
until her bowl was empty.
"Tha' got on well enough with that this mornin', didn't tha'?"
"It tastes nice today," said Mary, feeling a little
surprised her self.
"It's th' air of th' moor that's givin' thee stomach
for tha' victuals," answered Martha. "It's lucky
for thee that tha's got victuals as well as appetite.
There's been twelve in our cottage as had th' stomach an'
nothin' to put in it. You go on playin' you out o'
doors every day an' you'll get some flesh on your bones an'
you won't be so yeller."
"I don't play," said Mary. "I have nothing to play with."
"Nothin' to play with!" exclaimed Martha. "Our children
plays with sticks and stones. They just runs about an'
shouts an' looks at things." Mary did not shout,
but she looked at things. There was nothing else to do.
She walked round and round the gardens and wandered
about the paths in the park. Sometimes she looked for
Ben Weatherstaff, but though several times she saw him
at work he was too busy to look at her or was too surly.
Once when she was walking toward him he picked up his spade
and turned away as if he did it on purpose.
One place she went to oftener than to any other.
It was the long walk outside the gardens with the walls
round them. There were bare flower-beds on either
side of it and against the walls ivy grew thickly.
There was one part of the wall where the creeping dark
green leaves were more bushy than elsewhere. It seemed
as if for a long time that part had been neglected.
The rest of it had been clipped and made to look neat,
but at this lower end of the walk it had not been trimmed
A few days after she had talked to Ben Weatherstaff,
Mary stopped to notice this and wondered why it was so.
She had just paused and was looking up at a long spray of ivy
swinging in the wind when she saw a gleam of scarlet and
heard a brilliant chirp, and there, on the top of the wall,
forward perched Ben Weatherstaff's robin redbreast,
tilting forward to look at her with his small head on
"Oh!" she cried out, "is it you--is it you?" And
did not seem at all queer to her that she spoke to him
as if she were sure that he would understand and answer her.
He did answer. He twittered and chirped and hopped along
the wall as if he were telling her all sorts of things.
It seemed to Mistress Mary as if she understood him, too,
though he was not speaking in words. It was as if he
"Good morning! Isn't the wind nice? Isn't the sun nice? Isn't
everything nice? Let us both chirp and hop and twitter.
Come on! Come on!"
Mary began to laugh, and as he hopped and took little flights
along the wall she ran after him. Poor little thin, sallow,
ugly Mary--she actually looked almost pretty for a moment.
"I like you! I like you!" she cried out, pattering down the
and she chirped and tried to whistle, which last she did
not know how to do in the least. But the robin seemed
to be quite satisfied and chirped and whistled back at her.
At last he spread his wings and made a darting flight
to the top of a tree, where he perched and sang loudly.
That reminded Mary of the first time she had seen him.
He had been swinging on a tree-top then and she had been
standing in the orchard. Now she was on the other side
of the orchard and standing in the path outside a wall--much
lower down--and there was the same tree inside.
"It's in the garden no one can go into," she said to herself.
"It's the garden without a door. He lives in there.
How I wish I could see what it is like!"
She ran up the walk to the green door she had entered
the first morning. Then she ran down the path through
the other door and then into the orchard, and when she
stood and looked up there was the tree on the other side
of the wall, and there was the robin just finishing his
song and, beginning to preen his feathers with his beak.
"It is the garden," she said. "I am sure it is."
She walked round and looked closely at that side of the
orchard wall, but she only found what she had found
before--that there was no door in it. Then she ran
through the kitchen-gardens again and out into the walk
outside the long ivy-covered wall, and she walked to
the end of it and looked at it, but there was no door;
and then she walked to the other end, looking again,
but there was no door.
"It's very queer," she said. "Ben Weatherstaff said
there was no door and there is no door. But there must
have been one ten years ago, because Mr. Craven buried
This gave her so much to think of that she began to be
quite interested and feel that she was not sorry that she
had come to Misselthwaite Manor. In India she had always
felt hot and too languid to care much about anything.
The fact was that the fresh wind from the moor had begun
to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken
her up a little.
She stayed out of doors nearly all day, and when she sat
down to her supper at night she felt hungry and drowsy
and comfortable. She did not feel cross when Martha
chattered away. She felt as if she rather liked to hear her,
and at last she thought she would ask her a question.
She asked it after she had finished her supper and had sat
down on the hearth-rug before the fire.
"Why did Mr. Craven hate the garden?" she said.
She had made Martha stay with her and Martha had not
objected at all. She was very young, and used to a crowded
cottage full of brothers and sisters, and she found it
dull in the great servants' hall downstairs where the
footman and upper-housemaids made fun of her Yorkshire
speech and looked upon her as a common little thing,
and sat and whispered among themselves. Martha liked
to talk, and the strange child who had lived in India,
and been waited upon by "blacks," was novelty enough
to attract her.
She sat down on the hearth herself without waiting
to be asked.
"Art tha' thinkin' about that garden yet?" she said.
"I knew tha' would. That was just the way with me when I
first heard about it."
"Why did he hate it?" Mary persisted.
Martha tucked her feet under her and made herself
"Listen to th' wind wutherin' round the house," she said.
"You could bare stand up on the moor if you was out on
Mary did not know what "wutherin'" meant until she listened,
and then she understood. It must mean that hollow
shuddering sort of roar which rushed round and round the
house as if the giant no one could see were buffeting it
and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in.
But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made
one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red
"But why did he hate it so?" she asked, after she
had listened. She intended to know if Martha did.
Then Martha gave up her store of knowledge.
"Mind," she said, "Mrs. Medlock said it's not to be
talked about. There's lots o' things in this place that's
not to be talked over. That's Mr. Craven's orders.
His troubles are none servants' business, he says.
But for th' garden he wouldn't be like he is. It was
Mrs. Craven's garden that she had made when first they
were married an' she just loved it, an' they used to 'tend
the flowers themselves. An' none o' th' gardeners was
ever let to go in. Him an' her used to go in an'
shut th' door an' stay there hours an' hours, readin'
and talkin'. An, she was just a bit of a girl an'
there was an old tree with a branch bent like a seat
on it. An' she made roses grow over it an' she used
to sit there. But one day when she was sittin' there th'
branch broke an' she fell on th' ground an' was hurt
so bad that next day she died. Th' doctors thought he'd
go out o' his mind an' die, too. That's why he hates it.
No one's never gone in since, an' he won't let any one talk
Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at
the red fire and listened to the wind "wutherin'."
It seemed to be "wutherin'" louder than ever.
At that moment a very good thing was happening to her.
Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she
came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she
had understood a robin and that he had understood her;
she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm;
she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life;
and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one.
But as she was listening to the wind she began to listen
to something else. She did not know what it was,
because at first she could scarcely distinguish it from
the wind itself. It was a curious sound--it seemed almost
as if a child were crying somewhere. Sometimes the wind
sounded rather like a child crying, but presently Mistress
Mary felt quite sure this sound was inside the house,
not outside it. It was far away, but it was inside.
She turned round and looked at Martha.
"Do you hear any one crying?" she said.
Martha suddenly looked confused.
"No," she answered. "It's th' wind. Sometimes it
sounds like as if some one was lost on th' moor an'
wailin'. It's got all sorts o' sounds."
"But listen," said Mary. "It's in the house--down one
of those long corridors."
And at that very moment a door must have been opened
somewhere downstairs; for a great rushing draft blew along
the passage and the door of the room they sat in was blown
open with a crash, and as they both jumped to their feet
the light was blown out and the crying sound was swept down
the far corridor so that it was to be heard more plainly than ever.
"There!" said Mary. "I told you so! It is some one
crying--and it isn't a grown-up person."
Martha ran and shut the door and turned the key, but before
she did it they both heard the sound of a door in some far
passage shutting with a bang, and then everything was quiet,
for even the wind ceased "wutherin'" for a few moments.
"It was th' wind," said Martha stubbornly.
"An' if it wasn't, it was little Betty Butterworth,
th' scullery-maid. She's had th' toothache all day."
But something troubled and awkward in her manner made
Mistress Mary stare very hard at her. She did not believe
she was speaking the truth.
"THERE WAS SOME ONE CRYING--THERE WAS!"
The next day the rain poured down in torrents again,
and when Mary looked out of her window the moor was almost
hidden by gray mist and cloud. There could be no going
"What do you do in your cottage when it rains like this?"
she asked Martha.
"Try to keep from under each other's feet mostly,"
Martha answered. "Eh! there does seem a lot of us then.
Mother's a good-tempered woman but she gets fair moithered.
The biggest ones goes out in th' cow-shed and plays there.
Dickon he doesn't mind th' wet. He goes out just th'
same as if th' sun was shinin'. He says he sees things
on rainy days as doesn't show when it's fair weather.
He once found a little fox cub half drowned in its hole and he
brought it home in th' bosom of his shirt to keep it warm.
Its mother had been killed nearby an' th' hole was swum
out an' th' rest o' th' litter was dead. He's got it at
home now. He found a half-drowned young crow another time an'
he brought it home, too, an' tamed it. It's named Soot
because it's so black, an' it hops an' flies about with
The time had come when Mary had forgotten to resent
Martha's familiar talk. She had even begun to find it
interesting and to be sorry when she stopped or went away.
The stories she had been told by her Ayah when she lived
in India had been quite unlike those Martha had to tell about
the moorland cottage which held fourteen people who lived
in four little rooms and never had quite enough to eat.
The children seemed to tumble about and amuse themselves
like a litter of rough, good-natured collie puppies.
Mary was most attracted by the mother and Dickon.
When Martha told stories of what "mother" said or did they
always sounded comfortable.
"If I had a raven or a fox cub I could play with it,"
said Mary. "But I have nothing."
Martha looked perplexed.
"Can tha' knit?" she asked.
"No," answered Mary.
"Can tha' read?"
"Then why doesn't tha, read somethin', or learn a bit o'
spellin'? Tha'st old enough to be learnin' thy book a good
"I haven't any books," said Mary. "Those I had were left
"That's a pity," said Martha. "If Mrs. Medlock'd let
go into th' library, there's thousands o' books there."
Mary did not ask where the library was, because she was
suddenly inspired by a new idea. She made up her mind
to go and find it herself. She was not troubled about
Mrs. Medlock. Mrs. Medlock seemed always to be in her
comfortable housekeeper's sitting-room downstairs.
In this queer place one scarcely ever saw any one at all.
In fact, there was no one to see but the servants,
and when their master was away they lived a luxurious
life below stairs, where there was a huge kitchen hung
about with shining brass and pewter, and a large servants'
hall where there were four or five abundant meals eaten
every day, and where a great deal of lively romping went on
when Mrs. Medlock was out of the way.
Mary's meals were served regularly, and Martha waited on her,
but no one troubled themselves about her in the least.
Mrs. Medlock came and looked at her every day or two,
but no one inquired what she did or told her what to do.
She supposed that perhaps this was the English way of
treating children. In India she had always been attended
by her Ayah, who had followed her about and waited on her,
hand and foot. She had often been tired of her company.
Now she was followed by nobody and was learning to dress
herself because Martha looked as though she thought she was
silly and stupid when she wanted to have things handed to her
and put on.
"Hasn't tha' got good sense?" she said once, when Mary
had stood waiting for her to put on her gloves for her.
"Our Susan Ann is twice as sharp as thee an' she's only
four year' old. Sometimes tha' looks fair soft in th' head."
Mary had worn her contrary scowl for an hour after that,
but it made her think several entirely new things.
She stood at the window for about ten minutes this morning
after Martha had swept up the hearth for the last time
and gone downstairs. She was thinking over the new idea
which had come to her when she heard of the library.
She did not care very much about the library itself,
because she had read very few books; but to hear of it brought
back to her mind the hundred rooms with closed doors.
She wondered if they were all really locked and what
she would find if she could get into any of them.
Were there a hundred really? Why shouldn't she go and see
how many doors she could count? It would be something
to do on this morning when she could not go out.
She had never been taught to ask permission to do things,
and she knew nothing at all about authority, so she would
not have thought it necessary to ask Mrs. Medlock if she
might walk about the house, even if she had seen her.
She opened the door of the room and went into the corridor,
and then she began her wanderings. It was a long corridor
and it branched into other corridors and it led her up
short flights of steps which mounted to others again.
There were doors and doors, and there were pictures
on the walls. Sometimes they were pictures of dark,
curious landscapes, but oftenest they were portraits
of men and women in queer, grand costumes made of satin
and velvet. She found herself in one long gallery
whose walls were covered with these portraits. She had
never thought there could be so many in any house.
She walked slowly down this place and stared at the faces
which also seemed to stare at her. She felt as if they
were wondering what a little girl from India was doing
in their house. Some were pictures of children--little
girls in thick satin frocks which reached to their feet
and stood out about them, and boys with puffed sleeves
and lace collars and long hair, or with big ruffs around
their necks. She always stopped to look at the children,
and wonder what their names were, and where they had gone,
and why they wore such odd clothes. There was a stiff,
plain little girl rather like herself. She wore a green
brocade dress and held a green parrot on her finger.
Her eyes had a sharp, curious look.
"Where do you live now?" said Mary aloud to her.
"I wish you were here."
Surely no other little girl ever spent such a queer morning.
It seemed as if there was no one in all the huge rambling
house but her own small self, wandering about upstairs
and down, through narrow passages and wide ones, where it
seemed to her that no one but herself had ever walked.
Since so many rooms had been built, people must have lived
in them, but it all seemed so empty that she could not quite
believe it true.
It was not until she climbed to the second floor that she
thought of turning the handle of a door. All the doors
were shut, as Mrs. Medlock had said they were, but at last she
put her hand on the handle of one of them and turned it.
She was almost frightened for a moment when she felt
that it turned without difficulty and that when she pushed
upon the door itself it slowly and heavily opened.
It was a massive door and opened into a big bedroom.
There were embroidered hangings on the wall, and inlaid
furniture such as she had seen in India stood about the room.
A broad window with leaded panes looked out upon the moor;
and over the mantel was another portrait of the stiff,
plain little girl who seemed to stare at her more curiously
"Perhaps she slept here once," said Mary. "She stares
at me so that she makes me feel queer."
After that she opened more doors and more. She saw
so many rooms that she became quite tired and began
to think that there must be a hundred, though she had not
counted them. In all of them there were old pictures
or old tapestries with strange scenes worked on them.
There were curious pieces of furniture and curious
ornaments in nearly all of them.
In one room, which looked like a lady's sitting-room,
the hangings were all embroidered velvet, and in a cabinet
were about a hundred little elephants made of ivory.
They were of different sizes, and some had their mahouts
or palanquins on their backs. Some were much bigger than the
others and some were so tiny that they seemed only babies.
Mary had seen carved ivory in India and she knew all
about elephants. She opened the door of the cabinet
and stood on a footstool and played with these for quite
a long time. When she got tired she set the elephants
in order and shut the door of the cabinet.
In all her wanderings through the long corridors and the
empty rooms, she had seen nothing alive; but in this
room she saw something. Just after she had closed the
cabinet door she heard a tiny rustling sound. It made
her jump and look around at the sofa by the fireplace,
from which it seemed to come. In the corner of the sofa
there was a cushion, and in the velvet which covered
it there was a hole, and out of the hole peeped a tiny
head with a pair of tightened eyes in it.
Mary crept softly across the room to look. The bright eyes
belonged to a little gray mouse, and the mouse had eaten
a hole into the cushion and made a comfortable nest there.
Six baby mice were cuddled up asleep near her. If there
was no one else alive in the hundred rooms there were
seven mice who did not look lonely at all.
"If they wouldn't be so frightened I would take them back
with me," said Mary.
She had wandered about long enough to feel too tired
to wander any farther, and she turned back. Two or three
times she lost her way by turning down the wrong corridor
and was obliged to ramble up and down until she found
the right one; but at last she reached her own floor again,
though she was some distance from her own room and did
not know exactly where she was.
"I believe I have taken a wrong turning again," she said,
standing still at what seemed the end of a short passage
with tapestry on the wall. "I don't know which way to go.
How still everything is!"
It was while she was standing here and just after she
had said this that the stillness was broken by a sound.
It was another cry, but not quite like the one she had heard
last night; it was only a short one, a fretful childish
whine muffled by passing through walls.
"It's nearer than it was," said Mary, her heart beating
rather faster. "And it is crying."
She put her hand accidentally upon the tapestry near her,
and then sprang back, feeling quite startled. The tapestry
was the covering of a door which fell open and showed
her that there was another part of the corridor behind it,
and Mrs. Medlock was coming up it with her bunch of keys
in her hand and a very cross look on her face.
"What are you doing here?" she said, and she took Mary
by the arm and pulled her away. "What did I tell you?"
"I turned round the wrong corner," explained Mary.
"I didn't know which way to go and I heard some one crying."
She quite hated Mrs. Medlock at the moment, but she hated
her more the next.
"You didn't hear anything of the sort," said the housekeeper.
"You come along back to your own nursery or I'll box
And she took her by the arm and half pushed, half pulled
her up one passage and down another until she pushed
her in at the door of her own room.
"Now," she said, "you stay where you're told to stay
or you'll find yourself locked up. The master had
better get you a governess, same as he said he would.
You're one that needs some one to look sharp after you.
I've got enough to do."
She went out of the room and slammed the door after her,
and Mary went and sat on the hearth-rug, pale with rage.
She did not cry, but ground her teeth.
"There was some one crying--there was--there was!"
she said to herself.
She had heard it twice now, and sometime she would find out.
She had found out a great deal this morning. She felt
as if she had been on a long journey, and at any rate
she had had something to amuse her all the time, and she
had played with the ivory elephants and had seen the gray
mouse and its babies in their nest in the velvet cushion.
THE KEY TO THE GARDEN
Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat
upright in bed immediately, and called to Martha.
"Look at the moor! Look at the moor!"
The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds
had been swept away in the night by the wind. The wind
itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky arched
high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed
of a sky so blue. In India skies were hot and blazing;
this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to
sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake,
and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness
floated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reaching
world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead
of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.
"Aye," said Martha with a cheerful grin. "Th' storm's
over for a bit. It does like this at this time o'
th' year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin'
it had never been here an' never meant to come again.
That's because th' springtime's on its way. It's a long
way off yet, but it's comin'."
"I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark
in England," Mary said.
"Eh! no!" said Martha, sitting up on her heels among
her black lead brushes. "Nowt o' th' soart!"
"What does that mean?" asked Mary seriously. In India
the natives spoke different dialects which only a few
people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha
used words she did not know.
Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.
"There now," she said. "I've talked broad Yorkshire again
like Mrs. Medlock said I mustn't. `Nowt o' th' soart'
means `nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly and carefully,
"but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire's th'
sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told thee
tha'd like th' moor after a bit. Just you wait till you
see th' gold-colored gorse blossoms an' th' blossoms o'
th' broom, an' th' heather flowerin', all purple bells, an'
hundreds o' butterflies flutterin' an' bees hummin' an'
skylarks soarin' up an' singin'. You'll want to get out on
it as sunrise an' live out on it all day like Dickon does."
"Could I ever get there?" asked Mary wistfully,
looking through her window at the far-off blue.
It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color.
"I don't know," answered Martha. "Tha's never used tha'
legs since tha' was born, it seems to me. Tha' couldn't walk
five mile. It's five mile to our cottage."
"I should like to see your cottage."
Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took
up her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again.
She was thining that the small plain face did not look quite
as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning
she saw it. It looked just a trifle like little Susan
Ann's when she wanted something very much.
"I'll ask my mother about it," she said. "She's one o'
them that nearly always sees a way to do things.
It's my day out today an' I'm goin' home. Eh! I am glad.
Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o' mother. Perhaps she could talk
"I like your mother," said Mary.
"I should think tha' did," agreed Martha, polishing away.
"I've never seen her," said Mary.
"No, tha' hasn't," replied Martha.
She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her
nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment,
but she ended quite positively.
"Well, she's that sensible an' hard workin' an' goodnatured an'
clean that no one could help likin' her whether they'd
seen her or not. When I'm goin' home to her on my day
out I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor."
"I like Dickon," added Mary. "And I've never seen him."
"Well," said Martha stoutly, "I've told thee that th'
very birds likes him an' th' rabbits an' wild sheep an'
ponies, an' th' foxes themselves. I wonder," staring at
her reflectively, "what Dickon would think of thee?"
"He wouldn't like me," said Mary in her stiff,
cold little way. "No one does."
Martha looked reflective again.
"How does tha' like thysel'?" she inquired, really quite
as if she were curious to know.
Mary hesitated a moment and thought it over.
"Not at all--really," she answered. "But I never thought
of that before."
Martha grinned a little as if at some homely recollection.
"Mother said that to me once," she said. "She was at
wash- tub an' I was in a bad temper an' talkin' ill of folk,
an' she turns round on me an' says: `Tha' young vixen,
tha'! There tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't like this one an'
tha' doesn't like that one. How does tha' like thysel'?'
It made me laugh an' it brought me to my senses in a minute."
She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given
Mary her breakfast. She was going to walk five miles
across the moor to the cottage, and she was going to help
her mother with the washing and do the week's baking
and enjoy herself thoroughly.
Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longer
in the house. She went out into the garden as quickly
as possible, and the first thing she did was to run
round and round the fountain flower garden ten times.
She counted the times carefully and when she had finished
she felt in better spirits. The sunshine made the
whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky
arched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor,
and she kept lifting her face and looking up into it,
trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on
one of the little snow-white clouds and float about.
She went into the first kitchen-garden and found Ben
Weatherstaff working there with two other gardeners.
The change in the weather seemed to have done him good.
He spoke to her of his own accord. "Springtime's comin,'"
he said. "Cannot tha' smell it?"
Mary sniffed and thought she could.
"I smell something nice and fresh and damp," she said.
"That's th' good rich earth," he answered, digging away.
"It's in a good humor makin' ready to grow things.
It's glad when plantin' time comes. It's dull in th'
winter when it's got nowt to do. In th' flower gardens out
there things will be stirrin' down below in th' dark. Th'
sun's warmin' 'em. You'll see bits o' green spikes stickin'
out o' th' black earth after a bit."
"What will they be?" asked Mary.
"Crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys. Has tha'
never seen them?"
"No. Everything is hot, and wet, and green after the
rains in India," said Mary. "And I think things grow
up in a night."
"These won't grow up in a night," said Weatherstaff.
"Tha'll have to wait for 'em. They'll poke up a bit
higher here, an' push out a spike more there, an' uncurl a
leaf this day an' another that. You watch 'em."
"I am going to," answered Mary.
Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings
again and she knew at once that the robin had come again.
He was very pert and lively, and hopped about so close
to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at
her so slyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question.
"Do you think he remembers me?" she said.
"Remembers thee!" said Weatherstaff indignantly.
"He knows every cabbage stump in th' gardens, let
alone th' people. He's never seen a little wench
here before, an' he's bent on findin' out all about thee.
Tha's no need to try to hide anything from him."
"Are things stirring down below in the dark in that garden
where he lives?" Mary inquired.
"What garden?" grunted Weatherstaff, becoming surly again.
"The one where the old rose-trees are." She could
not help asking, because she wanted so much to know.
"Are all the flowers dead, or do some of them come again
in the summer? Are there ever any roses?"
"Ask him," said Ben Weatherstaff, hunching his shoulders
toward the robin. "He's the only one as knows.
No one else has seen inside it for ten year'."
Ten years was a long time, Mary thought. She had been
born ten years ago.
She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun to
like the garden just as she had begun to like the robin
and Dickon and Martha's mother. She was beginning
to like Martha, too. That seemed a good many people
to like--when you were not used to liking. She thought
of the robin as one of the people. She went to her walk
outside the long, ivy-covered wall over which she could
see the tree-tops; and the second time she walked up
and down the most interesting and exciting thing happened
to her, and it was all through Ben Weatherstaff's robin.
She heard a chirp and a twitter, and when she looked
at the bare flower-bed at her left side there he was
hopping about and pretending to peck things out of the
earth to persuade her that he had not followed her.
But she knew he had followed her and the surprise so filled
her with delight that she almost trembled a little.
"You do remember me!" she cried out. "You do! You are
prettier than anything else in the world!"
She chirped, and talked, and coaxed and he hopped,
and flirted his tail and twittered. It was as if he
were talking. His red waistcoat was like satin and he
puffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand
and so pretty that it was really as if he were showing her
how important and like a human person a robin could be.
Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary
in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer
to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something
like robin sounds.
Oh! to think that he should actually let her come as near
to him as that! He knew nothing in the world would make
her put out her hand toward him or startle him in the
least tiniest way. He knew it because he was a real
person--only nicer than any other person in the world.
She was so happy that she scarcely dared to breathe.
The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowers
because the perennial plants had been cut down for their
winter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grew
together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped
about under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshly
turned up earth. He stopped on it to look for a worm.
The earth had been turned up because a dog had been trying
to dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole.
Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there,
and as she looked she saw something almost buried in the
newly-turned soil. It was something like a ring of rusty
iron or brass and when the robin flew up into a tree
nearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up.
It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key
which looked as if it had been buried a long time.
Mistress Mary stood up and looked at it with an almost
frightened face as it hung from her finger.
"Perhaps it has been buried for ten years," she said
in a whisper. "Perhaps it is the key to the garden!"
THE ROBIN WHO SHOWED THE WAY
She looked at the key quite a long time. She turned it
over and over, and thought about it. As I have said before,
she was not a child who had been trained to ask permission
or consult her elders about things. All she thought about
the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden,
and she could find out where the door was, she could
perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls,
and what had happened to the old rose-trees. It was because
it had been shut up so long that she wanted to see it.
It seemed as if it must be different from other places
and that something strange must have happened to it
during ten years. Besides that, if she liked it she
could go into it every day and shut the door behind her,
and she could make up some play of her own and play it
quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was,
but would think the door was still locked and the key
buried in the earth. The thought of that pleased her
Living as it were, all by herself in a house with a hundred
mysteriously closed rooms and having nothing whatever
to do to amuse herself, had set her inactive brain
to working and was actually awakening her imagination.
There is no doubt that the fresh, strong, pure air from the
moor had a great deal to do with it. Just as it had given
her an appetite, and fighting with the wind had stirred
her blood, so the same things had stirred her mind.
In India she had always been too hot and languid and weak
to care much about anything, but in this place she
was beginning to care and to want to do new things.
Already she felt less "contrary," though she did not
She put the key in her pocket and walked up and down
her walk. No one but herself ever seemed to come there,
so she could walk slowly and look at the wall, or, rather,
at the ivy growing on it. The ivy was the baffling thing.
Howsoever carefully she looked she could see nothing
but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves. She was
very much disappointed. Something of her contrariness
came back to her as she paced the walk and looked over it
at the tree-tops inside. It seemed so silly, she said
to herself, to be near it and not be able to get in.
She took the key in her pocket when she went back to
the house, and she made up her mind that she would always
carry it with her when she went out, so that if she ever
should find the hidden door she would be ready.
Mrs. Medlock had allowed Martha to sleep all night at
the cottage, but she was back at her work in the morning
with cheeks redder than ever and in the best of spirits.
"I got up at four o'clock," she said. "Eh! it was pretty
moor with th' birds gettin' up an' th' rabbits scamperin'
about an' th' sun risin'. I didn't walk all th' way. A man
gave me a ride in his cart an' I did enjoy myself."
She was full of stories of the delights of her day out.
Her mother had been glad to see her and they had got the
baking and washing all out of the way. She had even made
each of the children a doughcake with a bit of brown sugar
"I had 'em all pipin' hot when they came in from playin'
on th' moor. An' th' cottage all smelt o' nice, clean hot bakin'
an' there was a good fire, an' they just shouted for joy.
Our Dickon he said our cottage was good enough for a king."
In the evening they had all sat round the fire,
and Martha and her mother had sewed patches on torn
clothes and mended stockings and Martha had told them
about the little girl who had come from India and who had
been waited on all her life by what Martha called "blacks"
until she didn't know how to put on her own stockings.
"Eh! they did like to hear about you," said Martha.
"They wanted to know all about th' blacks an' about th'
ship you came in. I couldn't tell 'em enough."
Mary reflected a little.
"I'll tell you a great deal more before your next day out,"
she said, "so that you will have more to talk about.
I dare say they would like to hear about riding on elephants
and camels, and about the officers going to hunt tigers."
"My word!" cried delighted Martha. "It would set 'em
clean off their heads. Would tha' really do that,
Miss? It would be same as a wild beast show like we heard
they had in York once."
"India is quite different from Yorkshire," Mary said slowly,
as she thought the matter over. "I never thought of that.
Did Dickon and your mother like to hear you talk about me?"
"Why, our Dickon's eyes nearly started out o' his head,
they got that round," answered Martha. "But mother, she was
put out about your seemin' to be all by yourself like.
She said, 'Hasn't Mr. Craven got no governess for her,
nor no nurse?' and I said, 'No, he hasn't, though Mrs. Medlock
says he will when he thinks of it, but she says he mayn't
think of it for two or three years.'"
"I don't want a governess," said Mary sharply.
"But mother says you ought to be learnin' your book by this time
you ought to have a woman to look after you, an' she says:
`Now, Martha, you just think how you'd feel yourself, in a big
place like that, wanderin' about all alone, an' no mother.
You do your best to cheer her up,' she says, an' I said I would."
Mary gave her a long, steady look.
"You do cheer me up," she said. "I like to hear you talk."
Presently Martha went out of the room and came back
with something held in her hands under her apron.
"What does tha' think," she said, with a cheerful grin.
"I've brought thee a present."
"A present!" exclaimed Mistress Mary. How could a cottage
full of fourteen hungry people give any one a present!
"A man was drivin' across the moor peddlin'," Martha explained.
"An' he stopped his cart at our door. He had pots an'
pans an' odds an' ends, but mother had no money to buy
anythin'. Just as he was goin' away our 'Lizabeth Ellen
called out, `Mother, he's got skippin'-ropes with red an'
blue handles.' An' mother she calls out quite sudden,
`Here, stop, mister! How much are they?' An' he says
`Tuppence', an' mother she began fumblin' in her pocket an'
she says to me, `Martha, tha's brought me thy wages like
a good lass, an' I've got four places to put every penny,
but I'm just goin' to take tuppence out of it to buy
that child a skippin'-rope,' an' she bought one an'
here it is."
She brought it out from under her apron and exhibited
it quite proudly. It was a strong, slender rope
with a striped red and blue handle at each end,
but Mary Lennox had never seen a skipping-rope before.
She gazed at it with a mystified expression.
"What is it for?" she asked curiously.
"For!" cried out Martha. "Does tha' mean that they've
got skippin'-ropes in India, for all they've got elephants
and tigers and camels! No wonder most of 'em's black.
This is what it's for; just watch me."
And she ran into the middle of the room and, taking a
handle in each hand, began to skip, and skip, and skip,
while Mary turned in her chair to stare at her, and the
queer faces in the old portraits seemed to stare at her,
too, and wonder what on earth this common little cottager
had the impudence to be doing under their very noses.
But Martha did not even see them. The interest and curiosity
in Mistress Mary's face delighted her, and she went on skipping
and counted as she skipped until she had reached a hundred.
"I could skip longer than that," she said when she stopped.
"I've skipped as much as five hundred when I was twelve,
but I wasn't as fat then as I am now, an' I was in practice."
Mary got up from her chair beginning to feel excited herself.
"It looks nice," she said. "Your mother is a kind woman.
Do you think I could ever skip like that?"
"You just try it," urged Martha, handing her the skipping-
"You can't skip a hundred at first, but if you practice
you'll mount up. That's what mother said. She says,
`Nothin' will do her more good than skippin' rope. It's th'
sensiblest toy a child can have. Let her play out in th'
fresh air skippin' an' it'll stretch her legs an' arms an'
give her some strength in 'em.'"
It was plain that there was not a great deal of strength
in Mistress Mary's arms and legs when she first began
to skip. She was not very clever at it, but she liked
it so much that she did not want to stop.
"Put on tha' things and run an' skip out o' doors,"
said Martha. "Mother said I must tell you to keep out o'
doors as much as you could, even when it rains a bit,
so as tha' wrap up warm."
Mary put on her coat and hat and took her skipping-rope
over her arm. She opened the door to go out, and then
suddenly thought of something and turned back rather slowly.
"Martha," she said, "they were your wages. It was your
two-pence really. Thank you." She said it stiffly
because she was not used to thanking people or noticing
that they did things for her. "Thank you," she said,
and held out her hand because she did not know what else
Martha gave her hand a clumsy little shake, as if she
was not accustomed to this sort of thing either.
Then she laughed.
"Eh! th' art a queer, old-womanish thing," she said.
"If tha'd been our 'Lizabeth Ellen tha'd have given me
Mary looked stiffer than ever.
"Do you want me to kiss you?"
Martha laughed again.
"Nay, not me," she answered. "If tha' was different,
p'raps tha'd want to thysel'. But tha' isn't. Run off
outside an' play with thy rope."
Mistress Mary felt a little awkward as she went out of
the room. Yorkshire people seemed strange, and Martha was
always rather a puzzle to her. At first she had disliked
her very much, but now she did not. The skipping-rope
was a wonderful thing. She counted and skipped,
and skipped and counted, until her cheeks were quite red,
and she was more interested than she had ever been since
she was born. The sun was shining and a little wind was
blowing--not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful
little gusts and brought a fresh scent of newly turned
earth with it. She skipped round the fountain garden,
and up one walk and down another. She skipped at last
into the kitchen-garden and saw Ben Weatherstaff digging
and talking to his robin, which was hopping about him.
She skipped down the walk toward him and he lifted
his head and looked at her with a curious expression.
She had wondered if he would notice her. She wanted him
to see her skip.
"Well!" he exclaimed. "Upon my word. P'raps tha'
art a young 'un, after all, an' p'raps tha's got
child's blood in thy veins instead of sour buttermilk.
Tha's skipped red into thy cheeks as sure as my name's
Ben Weatherstaff. I wouldn't have believed tha'
could do it."
"I never skipped before," Mary said. "I'm just beginning.
I can only go up to twenty."
"Tha' keep on," said Ben. "Tha' shapes well enough at
for a young 'un that's lived with heathen. Just see how
he's watchin' thee," jerking his head toward the robin.
"He followed after thee yesterday. He'll be at it again today.
He'll be bound to find out what th' skippin'-rope is.
He's never seen one. Eh!" shaking his head at the bird,
"tha' curiosity will be th' death of thee sometime if tha'
doesn't look sharp."
Mary skipped round all the gardens and round the orchard,
resting every few minutes. At length she went to her
own special walk and made up her mind to try if she
could skip the whole length of it. It was a good long
skip and she began slowly, but before she had gone
half-way down the path she was so hot and breathless
that she was obliged to stop. She did not mind much,
because she had already counted up to thirty.
She stopped with a little laugh of pleasure, and there,
lo and behold, was the robin swaying on a long branch of ivy.
He had followed her and he greeted her with a chirp.
As Mary had skipped toward him she felt something heavy
in her pocket strike against her at each jump, and when she
saw the robin she laughed again.
"You showed me where the key was yesterday," she said.
"You ought to show me the door today; but I don't believe
The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the
top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud,
lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world
is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows
off--and they are nearly always doing it.
Mary Lennox had heard a great deal about Magic in her
Ayah's stories, and she always said that what happened
almost at that moment was Magic.
One of the nice little gusts of wind rushed down
the walk, and it was a stronger one than the rest.
It was strong enough to wave the branches of the trees,
and it was more than strong enough to sway the trailing
sprays of untrimmed ivy hanging from the wall. Mary had
stepped close to the robin, and suddenly the gust of wind
swung aside some loose ivy trails, and more suddenly
still she jumped toward it and caught it in her hand.
This she did because she had seen something under it--a round
knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it.
It was the knob of a door.
She put her hands under the leaves and began to pull
and push them aside. Thick as the ivy hung, it nearly
all was a loose and swinging curtain, though some had crept
over wood and iron. Mary's heart began to thump and her
hands to shake a little in her delight and excitement.
The robin kept singing and twittering away and tilting
his head on one side, as if he were as excited as she was.
What was this under her hands which was square and made
of iron and which her fingers found a hole in?
It was the lock of the door which had been closed ten
years and she put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key
and found it fitted the keyhole. She put the key in and
turned it. It took two hands to do it, but it did turn.
And then she took a long breath and looked behind
her up the long walk to see if any one was coming.
No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed,
and she took another long breath, because she could not
help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy
and pushed back the door which opened slowly--slowly.
Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her,
and stood with her back against it, looking about her
and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder,
She was standing inside the secret garden.
THE STRANGEST HOUSE ANY ONE EVER LIVED IN
It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place
any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it
in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses
which were so thick that they were matted together.
Mary Lennox knew they were roses because she had seen
a great many roses in India. All the ground was covered
with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps
of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were alive.
There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread
their branches that they were like little trees.
There were other trees in the garden, and one of the
things which made the place look strangest and loveliest
was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung
down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains,
and here and there they had caught at each other or
at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree
to another and made lovely bridges of themselves.
There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary
did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their
thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort
of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees,
and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their
fastenings and run along the ground. It was this hazy tangle
from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious.
Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens
which had not been left all by themselves so long;
and indeed it was different from any other place she had
ever seen in her life.
"How still it is!" she whispered. "How still!"
Then she waited a moment and listened at the stillness.
The robin, who had flown to his treetop, was still
as all the rest. He did not even flutter his wings;
he sat without stirring, and looked at Mary.
"No wonder it is still," she whispered again. "I am
the first person who has spoken in here for ten years."
She moved away from the door, stepping as softly as if she
were afraid of awakening some one. She was glad that there
was grass under her feet and that her steps made no sounds.
She walked under one of the fairy-like gray arches
between the trees and looked up at the sprays and tendrils
which formed them. "I wonder if they are all quite dead,"
she said. "Is it all a quite dead garden? I wish it wasn't."
If she had been Ben Weatherstaff she could have told
whether the wood was alive by looking at it, but she
could only see that there were only gray or brown sprays
and branches and none showed any signs of even a tiny
But she was inside the wonderful garden and she could
come through the door under the ivy any time and she
felt as if she had found a world all her own.
The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch
of blue sky over this particular piece of Misselthwaite
seemed even more brilliant and soft than it was over
the moor. The robin flew down from his tree-top and
hopped about or flew after her from one bush to another.
He chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he
were showing her things. Everything was strange and
silent and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from
any one, but somehow she did not feel lonely at all.
All that troubled her was her wish that she knew whether
all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had
lived and might put out leaves and buds as the weather
got warmer. She did not want it to be a quite dead garden.
If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be,
and what thousands of roses would grow on every side!
Her skipping-rope had hung over her arm when she came
in and after she had walked about for a while she thought
she would skip round the whole garden, stopping when she
wanted to look at things. There seemed to have been
grass paths here and there, and in one or two corners
there were alcoves of evergreen with stone seats or tall
moss-covered flower urns in them.
As she came near the second of these alcoves she
stopped skipping. There had once been a flowerbed in it,
and she thought she saw something sticking out of the
black earth- -some sharp little pale green points.
She remembered what Ben Weatherstaff had said and she
knelt down to look at them.
"Yes, they are tiny growing things and they might be
crocuses or snowdrops or daffodils," she whispered.
She bent very close to them and sniffed the fresh scent
of the damp earth. She liked it very much.
"Perhaps there are some other ones coming up in other places,"
she said. "I will go all over the garden and look."
She did not skip, but walked. She went slowly and kept
her eyes on the ground. She looked in the old border
beds and among the grass, and after she had gone round,
trying to miss nothing, she had found ever so many more sharp,
pale green points, and she had become quite excited again.
"It isn't a quite dead garden," she cried out softly to herself.
"Even if the roses are dead, there are other things alive."
She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass
seemed so thick in some of the places where the green
points were pushing their way through that she thought
they did not seem to have room enough to grow.
She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece
of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds
and grass until she made nice little clear places around them.
"Now they look as if they could breathe," she said,
after she had finished with the first ones. "I am
going to do ever so many more. I'll do all I can see.
If I haven't time today I can come tomorrow."
She went from place to place, and dug and weeded,
and enjoyed herself so immensely that she was led on
from bed to bed and into the grass under the trees.
The exercise made her so warm that she first threw her
coat off, and then her hat, and without knowing it she
was smiling down on to the grass and the pale green points
all the time.
The robin was tremendously busy. He was very much
pleased to see gardening begun on his own estate.
He had often wondered at Ben Weatherstaff. Where gardening
is done all sorts of delightful things to eat are turned
up with the soil. Now here was this new kind of creature
who was not half Ben's size and yet had had the sense
to come into his garden and begin at once.
Mistress Mary worked in her garden until it was time
to go to her midday dinner. In fact, she was rather
late in remembering, and when she put on her coat
and hat, and picked up her skipping-rope, she could not
believe that she had been working two or three hours.
She had been actually happy all the time; and dozens
and dozens of the tiny, pale green points were to be seen
in cleared places, looking twice as cheerful as they had
looked before when the grass and weeds had been smothering them.
"I shall come back this afternoon," she said, looking all
round at her new kingdom, and speaking to the trees
and the rose-bushes as if they heard her.
Then she ran lightly across the grass, pushed open
the slow old door and slipped through it under the ivy.
She had such red cheeks and such bright eyes and ate such
a dinner that Martha was delighted.
"Two pieces o' meat an' two helps o' rice puddin'!" she said.
"Eh! mother will be pleased when I tell her what th'
skippin'-rope's done for thee."
In the course of her digging with her pointed stick
Mistress Mary had found herself digging up a sort of white
root rather like an onion. She had put it back in its
place and patted the earth carefully down on it and just
now she wondered if Martha could tell her what it was.
"Martha," she said, "what are those white roots that
"They're bulbs," answered Martha. "Lots o' spring flowers
grow from 'em. Th' very little ones are snowdrops an'
crocuses an' th' big ones are narcissuses an' jonquils
and daffydowndillys. Th' biggest of all is lilies an'
purple flags. Eh! they are nice. Dickon's got a whole
lot of 'em planted in our bit o' garden."
"Does Dickon know all about them?" asked Mary, a new idea
taking possession of her.
"Our Dickon can make a flower grow out of a brick walk.
Mother says he just whispers things out o' th' ground."
"Do bulbs live a long time? Would they live years and
years if no one helped them?" inquired Mary anxiously.
"They're things as helps themselves," said Martha. "That's
poor folk can afford to have 'em. If you don't trouble 'em,
most of 'em'll work away underground for a lifetime an'
spread out an' have little 'uns. There's a place in th'
park woods here where there's snowdrops by thousands.
They're the prettiest sight in Yorkshire when th'
spring comes. No one knows when they was first planted."
"I wish the spring was here now," said Mary. "I want
to see all the things that grow in England."
She had finished her dinner and gone to her favorite seat
on the hearth-rug.
"I wish--I wish I had a little spade," she said.
"Whatever does tha' want a spade for?" asked Martha, laughing.
"Art tha' goin' to take to diggin'? I must tell mother that, too."
Mary looked at the fire and pondered a little. She must
be careful if she meant to keep her secret kingdom.
She wasn't doing any harm, but if Mr. Craven found out
about the open door he would be fearfully angry and get
a new key and lock it up forevermore. She really could
not bear that.
"This is such a big lonely place," she said slowly, as if
were turning matters over in her mind. "The house is lonely,
and the park is lonely, and the gardens are lonely.
So many places seem shut up. I never did many things
in India, but there were more people to look at--natives
and soldiers marching by--and sometimes bands playing,
and my Ayah told me stories. There is no one to talk to
here except you and Ben Weatherstaff. And you have to do
your work and Ben Weatherstaff won't speak to me often.
I thought if I had a little spade I could dig somewhere
as he does, and I might make a little garden if he would
give me some seeds."
Martha's face quite lighted up.
"There now!" she exclaimed, "if that wasn't one of th'
things mother said. She says, `There's such a lot o'
room in that big place, why don't they give her a
bit for herself, even if she doesn't plant nothin'
but parsley an' radishes? She'd dig an' rake away an'
be right down happy over it.' Them was the very words
"Were they?" said Mary. "How many things she knows,
"Eh!" said Martha. "It's like she says: `A woman as
brings up twelve children learns something besides her A
B C. Children's as good as 'rithmetic to set you findin'
"How much would a spade cost--a little one?" Mary asked.
"Well," was Martha's reflective answer, "at Thwaite
village there's a shop or so an' I saw little garden sets
with a spade an' a rake an' a fork all tied together for
two shillings. An' they was stout enough to work with, too."
"I've got more than that in my purse," said Mary.
"Mrs. Morrison gave me five shillings and Mrs. Medlock
gave me some money from Mr. Craven."
"Did he remember thee that much?" exclaimed Martha.
"Mrs. Medlock said I was to have a shilling a week to spend.
She gives me one every Saturday. I didn't know what to
spend it on."
"My word! that's riches," said Martha. "Tha' can buy
anything in th' world tha' wants. Th' rent of our
cottage is only one an' threepence an' it's like pullin'
eye-teeth to get it. Now I've just thought of somethin',"
putting her hands on her hips.
"What?" said Mary eagerly.
"In the shop at Thwaite they sell packages o'
flower-seeds for a penny each, and our Dickon he knows
which is th' prettiest ones an, how to make 'em grow.
He walks over to Thwaite many a day just for th' fun of it.
Does tha' know how to print letters?" suddenly.
"I know how to write," Mary answered.
Martha shook her head.
"Our Dickon can only read printin'. If tha' could print we
could write a letter to him an' ask him to go an' buy th'
garden tools an' th' seeds at th' same time."
"Oh! you're a good girl!" Mary cried. "You are, really!
didn't know you were so nice. I know I can print letters
if I try. Let's ask Mrs. Medlock for a pen and ink and some paper."
"I've got some of my own," said Martha. "I bought 'em
so I could print a bit of a letter to mother of a Sunday.
I'll go and get it." She ran out of the room, and Mary stood
by the fire and twisted her thin little hands together
with sheer pleasure.
"If I have a spade," she whispered, "I can make the earth
nice and soft and dig up weeds. If I have seeds and can
make flowers grow the garden won't be dead at all--it
will come alive."
She did not go out again that afternoon because when Martha
returned with her pen and ink and paper she was obliged
to clear the table and carry the plates and dishes
downstairs and when she got into the kitchen Mrs. Medlock
was there and told her to do something, so Mary waited
for what seemed to her a long time before she came back.
Then it was a serious piece of work to write to Dickon.
Mary had been taught very little because her governesses
had disliked her too much to stay with her. She could
not spell particularly well but she found that she could
print letters when she tried. This was the letter Martha
dictated to her: "My Dear Dickon:
This comes hoping to find you well as it leaves me at present.
Miss Mary has plenty of money and will you go to Thwaite
and buy her some flower seeds and a set of garden tools
to make a flower-bed. Pick the prettiest ones and easy
to grow because she has never done it before and lived
in India which is different. Give my love to mother
and every one of you. Miss Mary is going to tell me a lot
more so that on my next day out you can hear about elephants
and camels and gentlemen going hunting lions and tigers.
"Your loving sister,
Martha Phoebe Sowerby."
"We'll put the money in th' envelope an' I'll get th'
butcher boy to take it in his cart. He's a great
friend o' Dickon's," said Martha.
"How shall I get the things when Dickon buys them?"
"He'll bring 'em to you himself. He'll like to walk
over this way."
"Oh!" exclaimed Mary, "then I shall see him! I never
thought I should see Dickon."
"Does tha' want to see him?" asked Martha suddenly,
for Mary had looked so pleased.
"Yes, I do. I never saw a boy foxes and crows loved.
I want to see him very much."
Martha gave a little start, as if she remembered something.
"Now to think," she broke out, "to think o' me forgettin'
that there; an' I thought I was goin' to tell you first
thing this mornin'. I asked mother--and she said she'd ask
Mrs. Medlock her own self."
"Do you mean--" Mary began.
"What I said Tuesday. Ask her if you might be driven over
to our cottage some day and have a bit o' mother's hot
oat cake, an' butter, an' a glass o' milk."
It seemed as if all the interesting things were happening
in one day. To think of going over the moor in the
daylight and when the sky was blue! To think of going
into the cottage which held twelve children!
"Does she think Mrs. Medlock would let me go?" she asked,
"Aye, she thinks she would. She knows what a tidy woman
mother is and how clean she keeps the cottage."
"If I went I should see your mother as well as Dickon,"
said Mary, thinking it over and liking the idea very much.
"She doesn't seem to be like the mothers in India."
Her work in the garden and the excitement of the afternoon
ended by making her feel quiet and thoughtful. Martha stayed
with her until tea-time, but they sat in comfortable
quiet and talked very little. But just before Martha
went downstairs for the tea-tray, Mary asked a question.
"Martha," she said, "has the scullery-maid had the
toothache again today?"
Martha certainly started slightly.
"What makes thee ask that?" she said.
"Because when I waited so long for you to come back I
opened the door and walked down the corridor to see if you
were coming. And I heard that far-off crying again,
just as we heard it the other night. There isn't
a wind today, so you see it couldn't have been the wind."
"Eh!" said Martha restlessly. "Tha' mustn't go walkin'
about in corridors an' listenin'. Mr. Craven would be
that there angry there's no knowin' what he'd do."
"I wasn't listening," said Mary. "I was just waiting
for you--and I heard it. That's three times."
"My word! There's Mrs. Medlock's bell," said Martha,
and she almost ran out of the room.
"It's the strangest house any one ever lived in,"
said Mary drowsily, as she dropped her head on the cushioned
seat of the armchair near her. Fresh air, and digging,
and skipping-rope had made her feel so comfortably tired
that she fell asleep.
The sun shone down for nearly a week on the secret garden.
The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was
thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still
more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut
her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like
being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few
books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books,
and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories.
Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years,
which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no
intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming
wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite.
She was beginning to like to be out of doors; she no longer
hated the wind, but enjoyed it. She could run faster,
and longer, and she could skip up to a hundred. The bulbs
in the secret garden must have been much astonished.
Such nice clear places were made round them that they
had all the breathing space they wanted, and really,
if Mistress Mary had known it, they began to cheer up
under the dark earth and work tremendously. The sun could
get at them and warm them, and when the rain came down
it could reach them at once, so they began to feel very
Mary was an odd, determined little person, and now she
had something interesting to be determined about,
she was very much absorbed, indeed. She worked and dug
and pulled up weeds steadily, only becoming more pleased
with her work every hour instead of tiring of it.
It seemed to her like a fascinating sort of play.
She found many more of the sprouting pale green points than
she had ever hoped to find. They seemed to be starting up
everywhere and each day she was sure she found tiny new ones,
some so tiny that they barely peeped above the earth.
There were so many that she remembered what Martha had
said about the "snowdrops by the thousands," and about
bulbs spreading and making new ones. These had been left
to themselves for ten years and perhaps they had spread,
like the snowdrops, into thousands. She wondered how long
it would be before they showed that they were flowers.
Sometimes she stopped digging to look at the garden and
try to imagine what it would be like when it was covered
with thousands of lovely things in bloom. During that week
of sunshine, she became more intimate with Ben Weatherstaff.
She surprised him several times by seeming to start
up beside him as if she sprang out of the earth.
The truth was that she was afraid that he would pick up
his tools and go away if he saw her coming, so she always
walked toward him as silently as possible. But, in fact,
he did not object to her as strongly as he had at first.
Perhaps he was secretly rather flattered by her evident
desire for his elderly company. Then, also, she was more
civil than she had been. He did not know that when she
first saw him she spoke to him as she would have spoken
to a native, and had not known that a cross, sturdy old
Yorkshire man was not accustomed to salaam to his masters,
and be merely commanded by them to do things.
"Tha'rt like th' robin," he said to her one morning
when he lifted his head and saw her standing by him.
"I never knows when I shall see thee or which side tha'll
"He's friends with me now," said Mary.
"That's like him," snapped Ben Weatherstaff. "Makin'
to th' women folk just for vanity an' flightiness.
There's nothin' he wouldn't do for th' sake o' showin'
off an' flirtin' his tail-feathers. He's as full o'
pride as an egg's full o' meat."
He very seldom talked much and sometimes did not even answer
Mary's questions except by a grunt, but this morning he
said more than usual. He stood up and rested one hobnailed
boot on the top of his spade while he looked her over.
"How long has tha' been here?" he jerked out.
"I think it's about a month," she answered.
"Tha's beginnin' to do Misselthwaite credit," he said.
"Tha's a bit fatter than tha' was an' tha's not quite
so yeller. Tha' looked like a young plucked crow when tha'
first came into this garden. Thinks I to myself I never set
eyes on an uglier, sourer faced young 'un."
Mary was not vain and as she had never thought much
of her looks she was not greatly disturbed.
"I know I'm fatter," she said. "My stockings
are getting tighter. They used to make wrinkles.
There's the robin, Ben Weatherstaff."
There, indeed, was the robin, and she thought he looked
nicer than ever. His red waistcoat was as glossy as satin
and he flirted his wings and tail and tilted his head
and hopped about with all sorts of lively graces.
He seemed determined to make Ben Weatherstaff admire him.
But Ben was sarcastic.
"Aye, there tha' art!" he said. "Tha' can put up with
me for a bit sometimes when tha's got no one better.
Tha's been reddenin' up thy waistcoat an' polishin'
thy feathers this two weeks. I know what tha's up to.
Tha's courtin' some bold young madam somewhere tellin'
thy lies to her about bein' th' finest cock robin on Missel
Moor an' ready to fight all th' rest of 'em."
"Oh! look at him!" exclaimed Mary.
The robin was evidently in a fascinating, bold mood.
He hopped closer and closer and looked at Ben Weatherstaff
more and more engagingly. He flew on to the nearest
currant bush and tilted his head and sang a little song
right at him.
"Tha' thinks tha'll get over me by doin' that," said Ben,
wrinkling his face up in such a way that Mary felt sure he
was trying not to look pleased. "Tha' thinks no one can
stand out against thee--that's what tha' thinks."
The robin spread his wings--Mary could scarcely believe
her eyes. He flew right up to the handle of Ben
Weatherstaff's spade and alighted on the top of it.
Then the old man's face wrinkled itself slowly into
a new expression. He stood still as if he were afraid
to breathe--as if he would not have stirred for the world,
lest his robin should start away. He spoke quite in a whisper.
"Well, I'm danged!" he said as softly as ifhe were saying
something quite different. "Tha' does know how to get at
a chap--tha' does! Tha's fair unearthly, tha's so knowin'."
And he stood without stirring--almost without drawing
his breath--until the robin gave another flirt to his
wings and flew away. Then he stood looking at the handle
of the spade as if there might be Magic in it, and then
he began to dig again and said nothing for several minutes.
But because he kept breaking into a slow grin now and then,
Mary was not afraid to talk to him.
"Have you a garden of your own?" she asked.
"No. I'm bachelder an' lodge with Martin at th' gate."
"If you had one," said Mary, "what would you plant?"
"Cabbages an' 'taters an' onions."
"But if you wanted to make a flower garden," persisted Mary,
"what would you plant?"
"Bulbs an' sweet-smellin' things--but mostly roses."
Mary's face lighted up.
"Do you like roses?" she said.
Ben Weatherstaff rooted up a weed and threw it aside
before he answered.
"Well, yes, I do. I was learned that by a young lady I
was gardener to. She had a lot in a place she was fond
of, an' she loved 'em like they was children--or robins.
I've seen her bend over an' kiss 'em." He dragged out another
weed and scowled at it. "That were as much as ten year' ago."
"Where is she now?" asked Mary, much interested.
"Heaven," he answered, and drove his spade deep into
the soil, "'cording to what parson says."
"What happened to the roses?" Mary asked again,
more interested than ever.
"They was left to themselves."
Mary was becoming quite excited.
"Did they quite die? Do roses quite die when they are
left to themselves?" she ventured.
"Well, I'd got to like 'em--an' I liked her--an'
she liked 'em," Ben Weatherstaff admitted reluctantly.
"Once or twice a year I'd go an' work at 'em a bit--prune
'em an' dig about th' roots. They run wild, but they was
in rich soil, so some of 'em lived."
"When they have no leaves and look gray and brown and dry,
how can you tell whether they are dead or alive?"
"Wait till th' spring gets at 'em--wait till th' sun shines
on th' rain and th' rain falls on th' sunshine an'
then tha'll find out."
"How--how?" cried Mary, forgetting to be careful.
"Look along th' twigs an' branches an' if tha' see a bit
of a brown lump swelling here an' there, watch it after th'
warm rain an' see what happens." He stopped suddenly
and looked curiously at her eager face. "Why does tha'
care so much about roses an' such, all of a sudden?"
Mistress Mary felt her face grow red. She was almost
afraid to answer.
"I--I want to play that--that I have a garden of my own,"
she stammered. "I--there is nothing for me to do.
I have nothing--and no one."
"Well," said Ben Weatherstaff slowly, as he watched her,
"that's true. Tha' hasn't."
He said it in such an odd way that Mary wondered if he
was actually a little sorry for her. She had never felt
sorry for herself; she had only felt tired and cross,
because she disliked people and things so much.
But now the world seemed to be changing and getting nicer.
If no one found out about the secret garden, she should
enjoy herself always.
She stayed with him for ten or fifteen minutes longer and
asked him as many questions as she dared. He answered every
one of them in his queer grunting way and he did not seem
really cross and did not pick up his spade and leave her.
He said something about roses just as she was going away
and it reminded her of the ones he had said he had been
"Do you go and see those other roses now?" she asked.
"Not been this year. My rheumatics has made me too stiff
in th' joints."
He said it in his grumbling voice, and then quite suddenly
he seemed to get angry with her, though she did not see
why he should.
"Now look here!" he said sharply. "Don't tha'
ask so many questions. Tha'rt th' worst wench for askin'
questions I've ever come a cross. Get thee gone an'
play thee. I've done talkin' for today."
And he said it so crossly that she knew there was not
the least use in staying another minute. She went
skipping slowly down the outside walk, thinking him over
and saying to herself that, queer as it was, here was
another person whom she liked in spite of his crossness.
She liked old Ben Weatherstaff. Yes, she did like him.
She always wanted to try to make him talk to her.
Also she began to believe that he knew everything in the
world about flowers.
There was a laurel-hedged walk which curved round the secret
garden and ended at a gate which opened into a wood,
in the park. She thought she would slip round this walk
and look into the wood and see if there were any rabbits
hopping about. She enjoyed the skipping very much and
when she reached the little gate she opened it and went
through because she heard a low, peculiar whistling
sound and wanted to find out what it was.
It was a very strange thing indeed. She quite caught her
breath as she stopped to look at it. A boy was sitting
under a tree, with his back against it, playing on a rough
wooden pipe. He was a funny looking boy about twelve.
He looked very clean and his nose turned up and his
cheeks were as red as poppies and never had Mistress Mary
seen such round and such blue eyes in any boy's face.
And on the trunk of the tree he leaned against, a brown
squirrel was clinging and watching him, and from behind
a bush nearby a cock pheasant was delicately stretching
his neck to peep out, and quite near him were two rabbits
sitting up and sniffing with tremulous noses--and actually
it appeared as if they were all drawing near to watch him
and listen to the strange low little call his pipe seemed
When he saw Mary he held up his hand and spoke to her
in a voice almost as low as and rather like his piping.
"Don't tha' move," he said. "It'd flight 'em." Mary
remained motionless. He stopped playing his pipe and began
to rise from the ground. He moved so slowly that it scarcely
seemed as though he were moving at all, but at last he
stood on his feet and then the squirrel scampered back
up into the branches of his tree, the pheasant withdrew
his head and the rabbits dropped on all fours and began
to hop away, though not at all as if they were frightened.
"I'm Dickon," the boy said. "I know tha'rt Miss Mary."
Then Mary realized that somehow she had known at first that
he was Dickon. Who else could have been charming rabbits
and pheasants as the natives charm snakes in India? He had
a wide, red, curving mouth and his smile spread all over his face.
"I got up slow," he explained, "because if tha' makes
quick move it startles 'em. A body 'as to move gentle an'
speak low when wild things is about."
He did not speak to her as if they had never seen
each other before but as if he knew her quite well.
Mary knew nothing about boys and she spoke to him a little
stiffly because she felt rather shy.
"Did you get Martha's letter?" she asked.
He nodded his curly, rust-colored head. "That's why
He stooped to pick up something which had been lying
on the ground beside him when he piped.
"I've got th' garden tools. There's a little spade an'
rake an' a fork an' hoe. Eh! they are good 'uns. There's
a trowel, too. An' th' woman in th' shop threw in a packet o'
white poppy an' one o' blue larkspur when I bought th'
"Will you show the seeds to me?" Mary said.
She wished she could talk as he did. His speech
was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her
and was not the least afraid she would not like him,
though he was only a common moor boy, in patched clothes
and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head.
As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean
fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him,
almost as if he were made of them. She liked it very much
and when she looked into his funny face with the red
cheeks and round blue eyes she forgot that she had felt shy.
"Let us sit down on this log and look at them," she said.
They sat down and he took a clumsy little brown paper
package out of his coat pocket. He untied the string
and inside there were ever so many neater and smaller
packages with a picture of a flower on each one.
"There's a lot o' mignonette an' poppies," he said.
"Mignonette's th' sweetest smellin' thing as grows, an'
it'll grow wherever you cast it, same as poppies will.
Them as'll come up an' bloom if you just whistle to 'em,
them's th' nicest of all." He stopped and turned his
head quickly, his poppy-cheeked face lighting up.
"Where's that robin as is callin' us?" he said.
The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with
scarlet berries, and Mary thought she knew whose it was.
"Is it really calling us?" she asked.
"Aye," said Dickon, as if it was the most natural thing
in the world, "he's callin' some one he's friends with.
That's same as sayin' `Here I am. Look at me.
I wants a bit of a chat.' There he is in the bush.
Whose is he?"
"He's Ben Weatherstaff's, but I think he knows me a little,"
"Aye, he knows thee," said Dickon in his low voice again.
"An' he likes thee. He's took thee on. He'll tell me all
about thee in a minute."
He moved quite close to the bush with the slow movement Mary
had noticed before, and then he made a sound almost like
the robin's own twitter. The robin listened a few seconds,
intently, and then answered quite as if he were replying to a question.
"Aye, he's a friend o' yours," chuckled Dickon.
"Do you think he is?" cried Mary eagerly. She did so want
to know. "Do you think he really likes me?"
"He wouldn't come near thee if he didn't," answered Dickon.
"Birds is rare choosers an' a robin can flout a body worse
than a man. See, he's making up to thee now. `Cannot tha'
see a chap?' he's sayin'."
And it really seemed as if it must be true. He so sidled
and twittered and tilted as he hopped on his bush.
"Do you understand everything birds say?" said Mary.
Dickon's grin spread until he seemed all wide, red,
curving mouth, and he rubbed his rough head.
"I think I do, and they think I do," he said. "I've lived
moor with 'em so long. I've watched 'em break shell an'
come out an' fledge an' learn to fly an' begin to sing,
till I think I'm one of 'em. Sometimes I think p'raps
I'm a bird, or a fox, or a rabbit, or a squirrel,
or even a beetle, an' I don't know it."
He laughed and came back to the log and began to talk
about the flower seeds again. He told her what they looked
like when they were flowers; he told her how to plant them,
and watch them, and feed and water them.
"See here," he said suddenly, turning round to look at her.
"I'll plant them for thee myself. Where is tha' garden?"
Mary's thin hands clutched each other as they lay on
her lap. She did not know what to say, so for a whole
minute she said nothing. She had never thought of this.
She felt miserable. And she felt as if she went red
and then pale.
"Tha's got a bit o' garden, hasn't tha'?" Dickon said.
It was true that she had turned red and then pale.
Dickon saw her do it, and as she still said nothing,
he began to be puzzled.
"Wouldn't they give thee a bit?" he asked. "Hasn't tha'
got any yet?"
She held her hands tighter and turned her eyes toward him.
"I don't know anything about boys," she said slowly.
"Could you keep a secret, if I told you one? It's a great secret.
I don't know what I should do if any one found it out.
I believe I should die!" She said the last sentence
Dickon looked more puzzled than ever and even rubbed
his hand over his rough head again, but he answered quite
good-humoredly. "I'm keepin' secrets all th' time," he said.
"If I couldn't keep secrets from th' other lads,
secrets about foxes' cubs, an' birds' nests, an' wild things'
holes, there'd be naught safe on th' moor. Aye, I can
Mistress Mary did not mean to put out her hand and clutch
his sleeve but she did it.
"I've stolen a garden," she said very fast. "It isn't
It isn't anybody's. Nobody wants it, nobody cares for it,
nobody ever goes into it. Perhaps everything is dead in
it already. I don't know."
She began to feel hot and as contrary as she had ever
felt in her life.
"I don't care, I don't care! Nobody has any right
to take it from me when I care about it and they
don't. They're letting it die, all shut in by itself,"
she ended passionately, and she threw her arms over
her face and burst out crying-poor little Mistress Mary.
Dickon's curious blue eyes grew rounder and rounder.
"Eh-h-h!" he said, drawing his exclamation out slowly,
and the way he did it meant both wonder and sympathy.
"I've nothing to do," said Mary. "Nothing belongs to
I found it myself and I got into it myself. I was only just
like the robin, and they wouldn't take it from the robin."
"Where is it?" asked Dickon in a dropped voice.
Mistress Mary got up from the log at once. She knew she
felt contrary again, and obstinate, and she did not care
at all. She was imperious and Indian, and at the same
time hot and sorrowful.
"Come with me and I'll show you," she said.
She led him round the laurel path and to the walk where the
ivy grew so thickly. Dickon followed her with a queer,
almost pitying, look on his face. He felt as if he were
being led to look at some strange bird's nest and must
move softly. When she stepped to the wall and lifted
the hanging ivy he started. There was a door and Mary
pushed it slowly open and they passed in together,
and then Mary stood and waved her hand round defiantly.
"It's this," she said. "It's a secret garden, and I'm
the only one in the world who wants it to be alive."
Dickon looked round and round about it, and round
and round again.
"Eh!" he almost whispered, "it is a queer, pretty place!
It's like as if a body was in a dream."
THE NEST OF THE MISSEL THRUSH
For two or three minutes he stood looking round him,
while Mary watched him, and then he began to walk
about softly, even more lightly than Mary had walked the
first time she had found herself inside the four walls.
His eyes seemed to be taking in everything--the gray trees
with the gray creepers climbing over them and hanging
from their branches, the tangle on the walls and among
the grass, the evergreen alcoves with the stone seats
and tall flower urns standing in them.
"I never thought I'd see this place," he said at last,
in a whisper.
"Did you know about it?" asked Mary.
She had spoken aloud and he made a sign to her.
"We must talk low," he said, "or some one'll hear us
wonder what's to do in here."
"Oh! I forgot!" said Mary, feeling frightened and putting
her hand quickly against her mouth. "Did you know about
the garden?" she asked again when she had recovered herself.
"Martha told me there was one as no one ever went inside,"
he answered. "Us used to wonder what it was like."
He stopped and looked round at the lovely gray tangle
about him, and his round eyes looked queerly happy.
"Eh! the nests as'll be here come springtime," he said.
"It'd be th' safest nestin' place in England.
No one never comin' near an' tangles o' trees an'
roses to build in. I wonder all th' birds on th'
moor don't build here."
Mistress Mary put her hand on his arm again without
"Will there be roses?" she whispered. "Can you tell?
thought perhaps they were all dead."
"Eh! No! Not them--not all of 'em!" he answered.
He stepped over to the nearest tree--an old, old one with
gray lichen all over its bark, but upholding a curtain
of tangled sprays and branches. He took a thick knife
out of his Pocket and opened one of its blades.
"There's lots o' dead wood as ought to be cut out," he said.
"An' there's a lot o' old wood, but it made some new
last year. This here's a new bit," and he touched a shoot
which looked brownish green instead of hard, dry gray.
Mary touched it herself in an eager, reverent way.
"That one?" she said. "Is that one quite alive quite?"
Dickon curved his wide smiling mouth.
"It's as wick as you or me," he said; and Mary remembered
that Martha had told her that "wick" meant "alive"
"I'm glad it's wick!" she cried out in her whisper.
"I want them all to be wick. Let us go round the garden
and count how many wick ones there are."
She quite panted with eagerness, and Dickon was as eager
as she was. They went from tree to tree and from bush
to bush. Dickon carried his knife in his hand and showed
her things which she thought wonderful.
"They've run wild," he said, "but th' strongest ones
has fair thrived on it. The delicatest ones has
died out, but th' others has growed an' growed, an'
spread an' spread, till they's a wonder. See here!"
and he pulled down a thick gray, dry-looking branch.
"A body might think this was dead wood, but I don't believe
it is--down to th' root. I'll cut it low down an' see."
He knelt and with his knife cut the lifeless-looking
branch through, not far above the earth.
"There!" he said exultantly. "I told thee so.
There's green in that wood yet. Look at it."
Mary was down on her knees before he spoke, gazing with
all her might.
"When it looks a bit greenish an' juicy like that,
it's wick," he explained. "When th' inside is dry an'
breaks easy, like this here piece I've cut off,
it's done for. There's a big root here as all this live
wood sprung out of, an' if th' old wood's cut off an'
it's dug round, and took care of there'll be--"
he stopped and lifted his face to look up at the climbing
and hanging sprays above him--"there'll be a fountain o'
roses here this summer."
They went from bush to bush and from tree to tree.
He was very strong and clever with his knife and knew
how to cut the dry and dead wood away, and could tell when
an unpromising bough or twig had still green life in it.
In the course of half an hour Mary thought she could tell too,
and when he cut through a lifeless-looking branch she would
cry out joyfully under her breath when she caught sight
of the least shade of moist green. The spade, and hoe,
and fork were very useful. He showed her how to use the
fork while he dug about roots with the spade and stirred
the earth and let the air in.
They were working industriously round one of the biggest
standard roses when he caught sight of something which
made him utter an exclamation of surprise.
"Why!" he cried, pointing to the grass a few feet away.
"Who did that there?"
It was one of Mary's own little clearings round the pale
"I did it," said Mary.
"Why, I thought tha' didn't know nothin' about gardenin',"
"I don't," she answered, "but they were so little, and
grass was so thick and strong, and they looked as if they
had no room to breathe. So I made a place for them.
I don't even know what they are."
Dickon went and knelt down by them, smiling his wide smile.
"Tha' was right," he said. "A gardener couldn't have
thee better. They'll grow now like Jack's bean-stalk. They're
crocuses an' snowdrops, an' these here is narcissuses,"
turning to another patch, "an here's daffydowndillys.
Eh! they will be a sight."
He ran from one clearing to another.
"Tha' has done a lot o' work for such a little wench,"
he said, looking her over.
"I'm growing fatter," said Mary, "and I'm growing stronger.
I used always to be tired. When I dig I'm not tired at all.
I like to smell the earth when it's turned up."
"It's rare good for thee," he said, nodding his
head wisely. "There's naught as nice as th' smell o'
good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh growin'
things when th' rain falls on 'em. I get out on th'
moor many a day when it's rainin' an' I lie under a bush an'
listen to th' soft swish o' drops on th' heather an,
I just sniff an, sniff. My nose end fair quivers like a
rabbit's, mother says."
"Do you never catch cold?" inquired Mary, gazing at
him wonderingly. She had never seen such a funny boy,
or such a nice one.
"Not me," he said, grinning. "I never ketched cold
since I was born. I wasn't brought up nesh enough.
I've chased about th' moor in all weathers same as th'
rabbits does. Mother says I've sniffed up too much fresh
air for twelve year' to ever get to sniffin' with cold.
I'm as tough as a white-thorn knobstick."
He was working all the time he was talking and Mary was
following him and helping him with her fork or the trowel.
"There's a lot of work to do here!" he said once,
looking about quite exultantly.
"Will you come again and help me to do it?" Mary begged.
"I'm sure I can help, too. I can dig and pull up weeds,
and do whatever you tell me. Oh! do come, Dickon!"
"I'll come every day if tha' wants me, rain or shine,"
he answered stoutly. "It's the best fun I ever had in my
life-- shut in here an' wakenin' up a garden."
"If you will come," said Mary, "if you will help me
to make it alive I'll--I don't know what I'll do,"
she ended helplessly. What could you do for a boy like that?
"I'll tell thee what tha'll do," said Dickon, with his
happy grin. "Tha'll get fat an' tha'll get as hungry
as a young fox an' tha'll learn how to talk to th'
robin same as I do. Eh! we'll have a lot o' fun."
He began to walk about, looking up in the trees and at
the walls and bushes with a thoughtful expression.
"I wouldn't want to make it look like a gardener's
garden, all clipped an' spick an' span, would you?"
he said. "It's nicer like this with things runnin'
wild, an' swingin' an' catchin' hold of each other."
"Don't let us make it tidy," said Mary anxiously.
"It wouldn't seem like a secret garden if it was tidy."
Dickon stood rubbing his rusty-red head with a rather
puzzled look. "It's a secret garden sure enough," he said,
"but seems like some one besides th' robin must have been
in it since it was shut up ten year' ago."
"But the door was locked and the key was buried," said Mary.
"No one could get in."
"That's true," he answered. "It's a queer place.
Seems to me as if there'd been a bit o' prunin' done here an'
there, later than ten year' ago."
"But how could it have been done?" said Mary.
He was examining a branch of a standard rose and he shook
"Aye! how could it!" he murmured. "With th'
door locked an' th' key buried."
Mistress Mary always felt that however many years
she lived she should never forget that first morning
when her garden began to grow. Of course, it did seem
to begin to grow for her that morning. When Dickon
began to clear places to plant seeds, she remembered
what Basil had sung at her when he wanted to tease her.
"Are there any flowers that look like bells?" she inquired.
"Lilies o' th' valley does," he answered, digging away
with the trowel, "an' there's Canterbury bells, an' campanulas."
"Let's plant some," said Mary. "There's lilies o' th,
valley here already; I saw 'em. They'll have growed too
close an' we'll have to separate 'em, but there's plenty.
Th' other ones takes two years to bloom from seed, but I
can bring you some bits o' plants from our cottage garden.
Why does tha' want 'em?"
Then Mary told him about Basil and his brothers
and sisters in India and of how she had hated them
and of their calling her "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary."
"They used to dance round and sing at me. They sang--
`Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row.'
I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there
were really flowers like silver bells."
She frowned a little and gave her trowel a rather spiteful
dig into the earth.
"I wasn't as contrary as they were."
But Dickon laughed.
"Eh!" he said, and as he crumbled the rich black soil she
saw he was sniffing up the scent of it. "There doesn't
seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there's
flowers an' such like, an' such lots o' friendly wild
things runnin' about makin' homes for themselves, or buildin'
nests an' singin' an' whistlin', does there?"
Mary, kneeling by him holding the seeds, looked at him
and stopped frowning.
"Dickon," she said, "you are as nice as Martha said
you were. I like you, and you make the fifth person.
I never thought I should like five people."
Dickon sat up on his heels as Martha did when she was
polishing the grate. He did look funny and delightful,
Mary thought, with his round blue eyes and red cheeks
and happy looking turned-up nose.
"Only five folk as tha' likes?" he said. "Who is th'
"Your mother and Martha," Mary checked them off
on her fingers, "and the robin and Ben Weatherstaff."
Dickon laughed so that he was obliged to stifle the sound
by putting his arm over his mouth.
"I know tha' thinks I'm a queer lad," he said, "but I
think tha' art th' queerest little lass I ever saw."
Then Mary did a strange thing. She leaned forward
and asked him a question she had never dreamed of asking
any one before. And she tried to ask it in Yorkshire
because that was his lan- guage, and in India a native
was always pleased if you knew his speech.
"Does tha' like me?" she said.
"Eh!" he answered heartily, "that I does. I likes
thee wonderful, an' so does th' robin, I do believe!"
"That's two, then," said Mary. "That's two for me."
And then they began to work harder than ever and more joyfully.
Mary was startled and sorry when she heard the big clock
in the courtyard strike the hour of her midday dinner.
"I shall have to go," she said mournfully. "And you
will have to go too, won't you?"
"My dinner's easy to carry about with me," he said.
"Mother always lets me put a bit o' somethin' in my pocket."
He picked up his coat from the grass and brought out of
a pocket a lumpy little bundle tied up in a quite clean,
coarse, blue and white handkerchief. It held two thick
pieces of bread with a slice of something laid between them.
"It's oftenest naught but bread," he said, "but I've
a fine slice o' fat bacon with it today."
Mary thought it looked a queer dinner, but he seemed
ready to enjoy it.
"Run on an' get thy victuals," he said. "I'll be done
with mine first. I'll get some more work done before I
start back home."
He sat down with his back against a tree.
"I'll call th' robin up," he said, "and give him th'
rind o' th' bacon to peck at. They likes a bit o'
Mary could scarcely bear to leave him. Suddenly it
seemed as if he might be a sort of wood fairy who
might be gone when she came into the garden again.
He seemed too good to be true. She went slowly half-way
to the door in the wall and then she stopped and went back.
"Whatever happens, you--you never would tell?" she said.
His poppy-colored cheeks were distended with his first big
bite of bread and bacon, but he managed to smile encouragingly.
"If tha' was a missel thrush an' showed me where thy nest was,
does tha' think I'd tell any one? Not me," he said.
"Tha' art as safe as a missel thrush."
And she was quite sure she was.
"MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH?"
Mary ran so fast that she was rather out of breath when she
reached her room. Her hair was ruffled on her forehead
and her cheeks were bright pink. Her dinner was waiting
on the table, and Martha was waiting near it.
"Tha's a bit late," she said. "Where has tha' been?"
"I've seen Dickon!" said Mary. "I've seen Dickon!"
"I knew he'd come," said Martha exultantly. "How does
"I think--I think he's beautiful!" said Mary in a determined
Martha looked rather taken aback but she looked pleased, too.
"Well," she said, "he's th' best lad as ever was born,
but us never thought he was handsome. His nose turns up
"I like it to turn up," said Mary.
"An' his eyes is so round," said Martha, a trifle doubtful.
"Though they're a nice color." "I like them round,"
said Mary. "And they are exactly the color of the sky
over the moor."
Martha beamed with satisfaction.
"Mother says he made 'em that color with always lookin'
up at th' birds an' th' clouds. But he has got a big mouth,
hasn't he, now?"
"I love his big mouth," said Mary obstinately. "I wish
mine were just like it."
Martha chuckled delightedly.
"It'd look rare an' funny in thy bit of a face," she said.
"But I knowed it would be that way when tha' saw him.
How did tha' like th' seeds an' th' garden tools?"
"How did you know he brought them?" asked Mary.
"Eh! I never thought of him not bringin' 'em. He'd
be sure to bring 'em if they was in Yorkshire.
He's such a trusty lad."
Mary was afraid that she might begin to ask
difficult questions, but she did not. She was very
much interested in the seeds and gardening tools,
and there was only one moment when Mary was frightened.
This was when she began to ask where the flowers were to be planted.
"Who did tha' ask about it?" she inquired.
"I haven't asked anybody yet," said Mary, hesitating.
"Well, I wouldn't ask th' head gardener. He's too grand,
Mr. Roach is."
"I've never seen him," said Mary. "I've only seen
undergardeners and Ben Weatherstaff."
"If I was you, I'd ask Ben Weatherstaff," advised Martha.
"He's not half as bad as he looks, for all he's so crabbed.
Mr. Craven lets him do what he likes because he was here
when Mrs. Craven was alive, an' he used to make her laugh.
She liked him. Perhaps he'd find you a corner somewhere out o'
"If it was out of the way and no one wanted it, no one
could mind my having it, could they?" Mary said anxiously.
"There wouldn't be no reason," answered Martha.
"You wouldn't do no harm."
Mary ate her dinner as quickly as she could and when she
rose from the table she was going to run to her room
to put on her hat again, but Martha stopped her.
"I've got somethin' to tell you," she said. "I thought
I'd let you eat your dinner first. Mr. Craven came back
this mornin' and I think he wants to see you."
Mary turned quite pale.
"Oh!" she said. "Why! Why! He didn't want to see me when
I heard Pitcher say he didn't." "Well," explained Martha,
"Mrs. Medlock says it's because o' mother. She was walkin'
to Thwaite village an' she met him. She'd never spoke
to him before, but Mrs. Craven had been to our cottage
two or three times. He'd forgot, but mother hadn't an'
she made bold to stop him. I don't know what she said
to him about you but she said somethin' as put him in th'
mind to see you before he goes away again, tomorrow."
"Oh!" cried Mary, "is he going away tomorrow? I am so
"He's goin' for a long time. He mayn't come back till
autumn or winter. He's goin' to travel in foreign places.
He's always doin' it."
"Oh! I'm so glad--so glad!" said Mary thankfully.
If he did not come back until winter, or even autumn,
there would be time to watch the secret garden come alive.
Even if he found out then and took it away from her she
would have had that much at least.
"When do you think he will want to see--"
She did not finish the sentence, because the door opened,
and Mrs. Medlock walked in. She had on her best black
dress and cap, and her collar was fastened with a
large brooch with a picture of a man's face on it.
It was a colored photograph of Mr. Medlock who had died
years ago, and she always wore it when she was dressed up.
She looked nervous and excited.
"Your hair's rough," she said quickly. "Go and
brush it. Martha, help her to slip on her best dress.
Mr. Craven sent me to bring her to him in his study."
All the pink left Mary's cheeks. Her heart began to
thump and she felt herself changing into a stiff, plain,
silent child again. She did not even answer Mrs. Medlock,
but turned and walked into her bedroom, followed by Martha.
She said nothing while her dress was changed, and her
hair brushed, and after she was quite tidy she followed
Mrs. Medlock down the corridors, in silence. What was there
for her to say? She was obliged to go and see Mr. Craven
and he would not like her, and she would not like him.
She knew what he would think of her.
She was taken to a part of the house she had not been
into before. At last Mrs. Medlock knocked at a door,
and when some one said, "Come in," they entered the
room together. A man was sitting in an armchair before
the fire, and Mrs. Medlock spoke to him.
"This is Miss Mary, sir," she said.
"You can go and leave her here. I will ring for you
when I want you to take her away," said Mr. Craven.
When she went out and closed the door, Mary could only
stand waiting, a plain little thing, twisting her thin
hands together. She could see that the man in the
chair was not so much a hunchback as a man with high,
rather crooked shoulders, and he had black hair streaked
with white. He turned his head over his high shoulders
and spoke to her.
"Come here!" he said.
Mary went to him.
He was not ugly. His face would have been handsome if it
had not been so miserable. He looked as if the sight
of her worried and fretted him and as if he did not know
what in the world to do with her.
"Are you well?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Mary.
"Do they take good care of you?"
He rubbed his forehead fretfully as he looked her over.
"You are very thin," he said.
"I am getting fatter," Mary answered in what she knew
was her stiffest way.
What an unhappy face he had! His black eyes seemed as if they
scarcely saw her, as if they were seeing something else,
and he could hardly keep his thoughts upon her.
"I forgot you," he said. "How could I remember you? I
intended to send you a governess or a nurse, or some
one of that sort, but I forgot."
"Please," began Mary. "Please--" and then the lump
in her throat choked her.
"What do you want to say?" he inquired.
"I am--I am too big for a nurse," said Mary.
"And please--please don't make me have a governess yet."
He rubbed his forehead again and stared at her.
"That was what the Sowerby woman said," he muttered absentmindedly.
Then Mary gathered a scrap of courage.
"Is she--is she Martha's mother?" she stammered.
"Yes, I think so," he replied.
"She knows about children," said Mary. "She has twelve.
He seemed to rouse himself.
"What do you want to do?"
"I want to play out of doors," Mary answered, hoping that
her voice did not tremble. "I never liked it in India.
It makes me hungry here, and I am getting fatter."
He was watching her.
"Mrs. Sowerby said it would do you good. Perhaps it will,"
he said. "She thought you had better get stronger before
you had a governess."
"It makes me feel strong when I play and the wind comes
over the moor," argued Mary.
"Where do you play?" he asked next.
"Everywhere," gasped Mary. "Martha's mother sent me
a skipping-rope. I skip and run--and I look about to see
if things are beginning to stick up out of the earth.
I don't do any harm."
"Don't look so frightened," he said in a worried voice.
"You could not do any harm, a child like you! You may do
what you like."
Mary put her hand up to her throat because she was afraid
he might see the excited lump which she felt jump into it.
She came a step nearer to him.
"May I?" she said tremulously.
Her anxious little face seemed to worry him more than ever.
"Don't look so frightened," he exclaimed. "Of course
I am your guardian, though I am a poor one for any child.
I cannot give you time or attention. I am too ill,
and wretched and distracted; but I wish you to be happy
and comfortable. I don't know anything about children,
but Mrs. Medlock is to see that you have all you need.
I sent for you to-day because Mrs. Sowerby said I
ought to see you. Her daughter had talked about you.
She thought you needed fresh air and freedom and running
"She knows all about children," Mary said again in spite
"She ought to," said Mr. Craven. "I thought her rather
bold to stop me on the moor, but she said--Mrs. Craven
had been kind to her." It seemed hard for him to speak
his dead wife's name. "She is a respectable woman.
Now I have seen you I think she said sensible things.
Play out of doors as much as you like. It's a big place
and you may go where you like and amuse yourself as you like.
Is there anything you want?" as if a sudden thought had
struck him. "Do you want toys, books, dolls?"
"Might I," quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?"
In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words
would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant
to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
"Earth!" he repeated. "What do you mean?"
"To plant seeds in--to make things grow--to see them
come alive," Mary faltered.
He gazed at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly
over his eyes.
"Do you--care about gardens so much," he said slowly.
"I didn't know about them in India," said Mary. "I was
always ill and tired and it was too hot. I sometimes
made littlebeds in the sand and stuck flowers in them.
But here it is different."
Mr. Craven got up and began to walk slowly across the room.
"A bit of earth," he said to himself, and Mary thought
that somehow she must have reminded him of something.
When he stopped and spoke to her his dark eyes looked almost
soft and kind.
"You can have as much earth as you want," he said.
"You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and
things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,"
with something like a smile, "take it, child, and make it
"May I take it from anywhere--if it's not wanted?"
"Anywhere," he answered. "There! You must go now,
I am tired." He touched the bell to call Mrs. Medlock.
"Good-by. I shall be away all summer."
Mrs. Medlock came so quickly that Mary thought she must
have been waiting in the corridor.
"Mrs. Medlock," Mr. Craven said to her, "now I have
seen the child I understand what Mrs. Sowerby meant.
She must be less delicate before she begins lessons.
Give her simple, healthy food. Let her run wild in
the garden. Don't look after her too much. She needs
liberty and fresh air and romping about. Mrs. Sowerby
is to come and see her now and then and she may sometimes
go to the cottage."
Mrs. Medlock looked pleased. She was relieved to
hear that she need not "look after" Mary too much.
She had felt her a tiresome charge and had indeed seen
as little of her as she dared. In addition to this
she was fond of Martha's mother.
"Thank you, sir," she said. "Susan Sowerby and me went
school together and she's as sensible and good-hearted a woman
as you'd find in a day's walk. I never had any children
myself and she's had twelve, and there never was healthier
or better ones. Miss Mary can get no harm from them.
I'd always take Susan Sowerby's advice about children myself.
She's what you might call healthy-minded--if you understand me."
"I understand," Mr. Craven answered. "Take Miss Mary
away now and send Pitcher to me."
When Mrs. Medlock left her at the end of her own corridor
Mary flew back to her room. She found Martha waiting there.
Martha had, in fact, hurried back after she had removed
the dinner service.
"I can have my garden!" cried Mary. "I may have it
where I like! I am not going to have a governess
for a long time! Your mother is coming to see me
and I may go to your cottage! He says a little girl
like me could not do any harm and I may do what I like--anywhere!"
"Eh!" said Martha delightedly, "that was nice of him
"Martha," said Mary solemnly, "he is really a nice man,
only his face is so miserable and his forehead is all
She ran as quickly as she could to the garden. She had
been away so much longer than she had thought she should
and she knew Dickon would have to set out early on his
five-mile walk. When she slipped through the door under
the ivy, she saw he was not working where she had left him.
The gardening tools were laid together under a tree.
She ran to them, looking all round the place, but there
was no Dickon to be seen. He had gone away and the secret
garden was empty--except for the robin who had just flown
across the wall and sat on a standard rose-bush watching her.
"He's gone," she said woefully. "Oh! was he--was he--was
he only a wood fairy?"
Something white fastened to the standard rose-bush caught
her eye. It was a piece of paper, in fact, it was a
piece of the letter she had printed for Martha to send
to Dickon. It was fastened on the bush with a long thorn,
and in a minute she knew Dickon had left it there.
There were some roughly printed letters on it and a sort
of picture. At first she could not tell what it was.
Then she saw it was meant for a nest with a bird sitting
on it. Underneath were the printed letters and they
"I will cum bak."
"I AM COLIN"
Mary took the picture back to the house when she went
to her supper and she showed it to Martha.
"Eh!" said Martha with great pride. "I never knew our
Dickon was as clever as that. That there's a picture
of a missel thrush on her nest, as large as life an'
twice as natural."
Then Mary knew Dickon had meant the picture to be a message.
He had meant that she might be sure he would keep her secret.
Her garden was her nest and she was like a missel thrush.
Oh, how she did like that queer, common boy!
She hoped he would come back the very next day and she
fell asleep looking forward to the morning.
But you never know what the weather will do in Yorkshire,
particularly in the springtime. She was awakened in
the night by the sound of rain beating with heavy drops
against her window. It was pouring down in torrents
and the wind was "wuthering" round the corners and in
the chimneys of the huge old house. Mary sat up in bed
and felt miserable and angry.
"The rain is as contrary as I ever was," she said.
"It came because it knew I did not want it."
She threw herself back on her pillow and buried her face.
She did not cry, but she lay and hated the sound of the
heavily beating rain, she hated the wind and its "wuthering."
She could not go to sleep again. The mournful sound kept
her awake because she felt mournful herself. If she had
felt happy it would probably have lulled her to sleep.
How it "wuthered" and how the big raindrops poured down
and beat against the pane!
"It sounds just like a person lost on the moor
and wandering on and on crying," she said.
She had been lying awake turning from side to side
for about an hour, when suddenly something made her sit
up in bed and turn her head toward the door listening.
She listened and she listened.
"It isn't the wind now," she said in a loud whisper.
"That isn't the wind. It is different. It is that crying I
The door of her room was ajar and the sound came down
the corridor, a far-off faint sound of fretful crying.
She listened for a few minutes and each minute she became
more and more sure. She felt as if she must find out
what it was. It seemed even stranger than the secret
garden and the buried key. Perhaps the fact that she
was in a rebellious mood made her bold. She put her foot
out of bed and stood on the floor.
"I am going to find out what it is," she said. "Everybody
in bed and I don't care about Mrs. Medlock--I don't care!"
There was a candle by her bedside and she took it up
and went softly out of the room. The corridor looked
very long and dark, but she was too excited to mind that.
She thought she remembered the corners she must turn
to find the short corridor with the door covered with
tapestry--the one Mrs. Medlock had come through the day
she lost herself. The sound had come up that passage.
So she went on with her dim light, almost feeling her way,
her heart beating so loud that she fancied she could
hear it. The far-off faint crying went on and led her.
Sometimes it stopped for a moment or so and then began again.
Was this the right corner to turn? She stopped and thought.
Yes it was. Down this passage and then to the left,
and then up two broad steps, and then to the right again.
Yes, there was the tapestry door.
She pushed it open very gently and closed it behind her,
and she stood in the corridor and could hear the crying
quite plainly, though it was not loud. It was on the other
side of the wall at her left and a few yards farther on
there was a door. She could see a glimmer of light coming
from beneath it. The Someone was crying in that room,
and it was quite a young Someone.
So she walked to the door and pushed it open, and there
she was standing in the room!
It was a big room with ancient, handsome furniture in it.
There was a low fire glowing faintly on the hearth and a
night light burning by the side of a carved four-posted
bed hung with brocade, and on the bed was lying a boy,
Mary wondered if she was in a real place or if she had
fallen asleep again and was dreaming without knowing it.
The boy had a sharp, delicate face the color of ivory
and he seemed to have eyes too big for it. He had
also a lot of hair which tumbled over his forehead
in heavy locks and made his thin face seem smaller.
He looked like a boy who had been ill, but he was crying
more as if he were tired and cross than as if he were in pain.
Mary stood near the door with her candle in her hand,
holding her breath. Then she crept across the room, and,
as she drew nearer, the light attracted the boy's attention
and he turned his head on his pillow and stared at her,
his gray eyes opening so wide that they seemed immense.
"Who are you?" he said at last in a half-frightened whisper.
"Are you a ghost?"
"No, I am not," Mary answered, her own whisper sounding
half frightened. "Are you one?"
He stared and stared and stared. Mary could not help
noticing what strange eyes he had. They were agate
gray and they looked too big for his face because they
had black lashes all round them.
"No," he replied after waiting a moment or so.
"I am Colin."
"Who is Colin?" she faltered.
"I am Colin Craven. Who are you?"
"I am Mary Lennox. Mr. Craven is my uncle."
"He is my father," said the boy.
"Your father!" gasped Mary. "No one ever told me he
had a boy! Why didn't they?"
"Come here," he said, still keeping his strange eyes
fixed on her with an anxious expression.
She came close to the bed and he put out his hand
and touched her.
"You are real, aren't you?" he said. "I have such real
dreams very often. You might be one of them."
Mary had slipped on a woolen wrapper before she left
her room and she put a piece of it between his fingers.
"Rub that and see how thick and warm it is," she said.
"I will pinch you a little if you like, to show you how real
I am. For a minute I thought you might be a dream too."
"Where did you come from?" he asked.
"From my own room. The wind wuthered so I couldn't go
to sleep and I heard some one crying and wanted to find
out who it was. What were you crying for?"
"Because I couldn't go to sleep either and my head ached.
Tell me your name again."
"Mary Lennox. Did no one ever tell you I had come
to live here?"
He was still fingering the fold of her wrapper, but he
began to look a little more as if he believed in her reality.
"No," he answered. "They daren't."
"Why?" asked Mary.
"Because I should have been afraid you would see me.
I won't let people see me and talk me over."
"Why?" Mary asked again, feeling more mystified every moment.
"Because I am like this always, ill and having to lie down.
My father won't let people talk me over either.
The servants are not allowed to speak about me.
If I live I may be a hunchback, but I shan't live.
My father hates to think I may be like him."
"Oh, what a queer house this is!" Mary said.
"What a queer house! Everything is a kind of secret.
Rooms are locked up and gardens are locked up--and you!
Have you been locked up?"
"No. I stay in this room because I don't want to be moved
out of it. It tires me too much."
"Does your father come and see you?" Mary ventured.
"Sometimes. Generally when I am asleep. He doesn't want
to see me."
"Why?" Mary could not help asking again.
A sort of angry shadow passed over the boy's face.
"My mother died when I was born and it makes him wretched
to look at me. He thinks I don't know, but I've heard
people talking. He almost hates me."
"He hates the garden, because she died," said Mary half
speaking to herself.
"What garden?" the boy asked.
"Oh! just--just a garden she used to like," Mary stammered.
"Have you been here always?" "Nearly always. Sometimes I
have been taken to places at the seaside, but I won't
stay because people stare at me. I used to wear an iron
thing to keep my back straight, but a grand doctor came
from London to see me and said it was stupid. He told
them to take it off and keep me out in the fresh air.
I hate fresh air and I don't want to go out."
"I didn't when first I came here," said Mary. "Why do
you keep looking at me like that?"
"Because of the dreams that are so real," he answered
rather fretfully. "Sometimes when I open my eyes I don't
believe I'm awake."
"We're both awake," said Mary. She glanced round the room
with its high ceiling and shadowy corners and dim fire-light.
"It looks quite like a dream, and it's the middle of the night,
and everybody in the house is asleep--everybody but us.
We are wide awake."
"I don't want it to be a dream," the boy said restlessly.
Mary thought of something all at once.
"If you don't like people to see you," she began,
"do you want me to go away?"
He still held the fold of her wrapper and he gave it
a little pull.
"No," he said. "I should be sure you were a dream if
If you are real, sit down on that big footstool and talk.
I want to hear about you."
Mary put down her candle on the table near the bed
and sat down on the cushioned stool. She did not want
to go away at all. She wanted to stay in the mysterious
hidden-away room and talk to the mysterious boy.
"What do you want me to tell you?" she said.
He wanted to know how long she had been at Misselthwaite;
he wanted to know which corridor her room was on; he wanted
to know what she had been doing; if she disliked the moor
as he disliked it; where she had lived before she came
to Yorkshire. She answered all these questions and many
more and he lay back on his pillow and listened. He made
her tell him a great deal about India and about her voyage
across the ocean. She found out that because he had been
an invalid he had not learned things as other children had.
One of his nurses had taught him to read when he was quite
little and he was always reading and looking at pictures
in splendid books.
Though his father rarely saw him when he was awake, he was
given all sorts of wonderful things to amuse himself with.
He never seemed to have been amused, however. He could have
anything he asked for and was never made to do anything he did
not like to do. "Everyone is obliged to do what pleases me,"
he said indifferently. "It makes me ill to be angry.
No one believes I shall live to grow up."
He said it as if he was so accustomed to the idea that it
had ceased to matter to him at all. He seemed to like
the sound of Mary's voice. As she went on talking he
listened in a drowsy, interested way. Once or twice she
wondered if he were not gradually falling into a doze.
But at last he asked a question which opened up a new subject.
"How old are you?" he asked.
"I am ten," answered Mary, forgetting herself for the moment,
"and so are you."
"How do you know that?" he demanded in a surprised voice.
"Because when you were born the garden door was locked
and the key was buried. And it has been locked for ten years."
Colin half sat up, turning toward her, leaning on his elbows.
"What garden door was locked? Who did it? Where was
the key buried?" he exclaimed as if he were suddenly
very much interested.
"It--it was the garden Mr. Craven hates," said Mary nervously.
"He locked the door. No one--no one knew where he buried
the key." "What sort of a garden is it?" Colin persisted
"No one has been allowed to go into it for ten years,"
was Mary's careful answer.
But it was too late to be careful. He was too much
like herself. He too had had nothing to think about
and the idea of a hidden garden attracted him as it
had attracted her. He asked question after question.
Where was it? Had she never looked for the door? Had she
never asked the gardeners?
"They won't talk about it," said Mary. "I think they
have been told not to answer questions."
"I would make them," said Colin.
"Could you?" Mary faltered, beginning to feel frightened.
If he could make people answer questions, who knew what
"Everyone is obliged to please me. I told you that,"
he said. "If I were to live, this place would sometime
belong to me. They all know that. I would make them
Mary had not known that she herself had been spoiled,
but she could see quite plainly that this mysterious boy
had been. He thought that the whole world belonged to him.
How peculiar he was and how coolly he spoke of not living.
"Do you think you won't live?" she asked, partly because
she was curious and partly in hope of making him forget
"I don't suppose I shall," he answered as indifferently
as he had spoken before. "Ever since I remember anything
I have heard people say I shan't. At first they thought
I was too little to understand and now they think I
don't hear. But I do. My doctor is my father's cousin.
He is quite poor and if I die he will have all Misselthwaite
when my father is dead. I should think he wouldn't want
me to live."
"Do you want to live?" inquired Mary.
"No," he answered, in a cross, tired fashion. "But I
don't want to die. When I feel ill I lie here and think
about it until I cry and cry."
"I have heard you crying three times," Mary said, "but
did not know who it was. Were you crying about that?"
She did so want him to forget the garden.
"I dare say," he answered. "Let us talk about something
Talk about that garden. Don't you want to see it?"
"Yes," answered Mary, in quite a low voice.
"I do," he went on persistently. "I don't think I ever
wanted to see anything before, but I want to see that garden.
I want the key dug up. I want the door unlocked.
I would let them take me there in my chair. That would
be gettingfresh air. I am going to make them open the door."
He had become quite excited and his strange eyes began
to shine like stars and looked more immense than ever.
"They have to please me," he said. "I will make them
take me there and I will let you go, too."
Mary's hands clutched each other. Everything would
be spoiled--everything! Dickon would never come back.
She would never again feel like a missel thrush with a
"Oh, don't--don't--don't--don't do that!" she cried out.
He stared as if he thought she had gone crazy!
"Why?" he exclaimed. "You said you wanted to see it."
"I do," she answered almost with a sob in her throat,
"but if you make them open the door and take you in like
that it will never be a secret again."
He leaned still farther forward.
"A secret," he said. "What do you mean? Tell me."
Mary's words almost tumbled over one another.
"You see--you see," she panted, "if no one knows but
ourselves--if there was a door, hidden somewhere under
the ivy--if there was--and we could find it; and if we
could slip through it together and shut it behind us,
and no one knew any one was inside and we called it our
garden and pretended that--that we were missel thrushes
and it was our nest, and if we played there almost every
day and dug and planted seeds and made it all come alive--"
"Is it dead?" he interrupted her.
"It soon will be if no one cares for it," she went on.
"The bulbs will live but the roses--"
He stopped her again as excited as she was herself.
"What are bulbs?" he put in quickly.
"They are daffodils and lilies and snowdrops. They are
working in the earth now--pushing up pale green points
because the spring is coming."
"Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like? You
don't see it in rooms if you are ill."
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling
on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under
the earth," said Mary. "If the garden was a secret and we
could get into it we could watch the things grow bigger
every day, and see how many roses are alive. Don't you.
see? Oh, don't you see how much nicer it would be if it
was a secret?"
He dropped back on his pillow and lay there with an odd
expression on his face.
"I never had a secret," he said, "except that one about
not living to grow up. They don't know I know that,
so it is a sort of secret. But I like this kind better."
"If you won't make them take you to the garden," pleaded Mary,
"perhaps--I feel almost sure I can find out how to get
in sometime. And then--if the doctor wants you to go out
in your chair, and if you can always do what you want to do,
perhaps--perhaps we might find some boy who would push you,
and we could go alone and it would always be a secret garden."
"I should--like--that," he said very slowly, his eyes
looking dreamy. "I should like that. I should not mind
fresh air in a secret garden."
Mary began to recover her breath and feel safer because
the idea of keeping the secret seemed to please him.
She felt almost sure that if she kept on talking and could
make him see the garden in his mind as she had seen it
he would like it so much that he could not bear to think
that everybody might tramp in to it when they chose.
"I'll tell you what I think it would be like, if we could
go into it," she said. "It has been shut up so long
things have grown into a tangle perhaps."
He lay quite still and listened while she went on talking
about the roses which might have clambered from tree
to tree and hung down--about the many birds which might
have built their nests there because it was so safe.
And then she told him about the robin and Ben Weatherstaff,
and there was so much to tell about the robin and it
was so easy and safe to talk about it that she ceased
to be afraid. The robin pleased him so much that he
smiled until he looked almost beautiful, and at first
Mary had thought that he was even plainer than herself,
with his big eyes and heavy locks of hair.
"I did not know birds could be like that," he said.
"But if you stay in a room you never see things.
What a lot of things you know. I feel as if you had been
inside that garden."
She did not know what to say, so she did not say anything.
He evidently did not expect an answer and the next moment
he gave her a surprise.
"I am going to let you look at something," he said.
"Do you see that rose-colored silk curtain hanging on the
wall over the mantel-piece?"
Mary had not noticed it before, but she looked up and saw it.
It was a curtain of soft silk hanging over what seemed
to be some picture.
"Yes," she answered.
"There is a cord hanging from it," said Colin.
"Go and pull it."
Mary got up, much mystified, and found the cord.
When she pulled it the silk curtain ran back on
rings and when it ran back it uncovered a picture.
It was the picture of a girl with a laughing face.
She had bright hair tied up with a blue ribbon and her gay,
lovely eyes were exactly like Colin's unhappy ones,
agate gray and looking twice as big as they really were
because of the black lashes all round them.
"She is my mother," said Colin complainingly. "I don't
see why she died. Sometimes I hate her for doing it."
"How queer!" said Mary.
"If she had lived I believe I should not have been ill always,"
he grumbled. "I dare say I should have lived, too.
And my father would not have hated to look at me. I dare
say I should have had a strong back. Draw the curtain again."
Mary did as she was told and returned to her footstool.
"She is much prettier than you," she said, "but her eyes
are just like yours--at least they are the same shape
and color. Why is the curtain drawn over her?"
He moved uncomfortably.
"I made them do it," he said. "Sometimes I don't like
see her looking at me. She smiles too much when I am ill
and miserable. Besides, she is mine and I don't want everyone
to see her." There were a few moments of silence and then Mary spoke.
"What would Mrs. Medlock do if she found out that I
had been here?" she inquired.
"She would do as I told her to do," he answered.
"And I should tell her that I wanted you to come here
and talk to me every day. I am glad you came."
"So am I," said Mary. "I will come as often as I can,
but"--she hesitated--"I shall have to look every day
for the garden door."
"Yes, you must," said Colin, "and you can tell me about
He lay thinking a few minutes, as he had done before,
and then he spoke again.
"I think you shall be a secret, too," he said. "I will
tell them until they find out. I can always send the nurse
out of the room and say that I want to be by myself.
Do you know Martha?"
"Yes, I know her very well," said Mary. "She waits on
He nodded his head toward the outer corridor.
"She is the one who is asleep in the other room.
The nurse went away yesterday to stay all night with her
sister and she always makes Martha attend to me when she
wants to go out. Martha shall tell you when to come here."
Then Mary understood Martha's troubled look when she
had asked questions about the crying.
"Martha knew about you all the time?" she said.
"Yes; she often attends to me. The nurse likes to get
away from me and then Martha comes."
"I have been here a long time," said Mary. "Shall I go
away now? Your eyes look sleepy."
"I wish I could go to sleep before you leave me,"
he said rather shyly.
"Shut your eyes," said Mary, drawing her footstool closer,
"and I will do what my Ayah used to do in India.
I will pat your hand and stroke it and sing something
"I should like that perhaps," he said drowsily.
Somehow she was sorry for him and did not want him
to lie awake, so she leaned against the bed and began
to stroke and pat his hand and sing a very low little
chanting song in Hindustani.
"That is nice," he said more drowsily still, and she went
on chanting and stroking, but when she looked at him again
his black lashes were lying close against his cheeks,
for his eyes were shut and he was fast asleep. So she
got up softly, took her candle and crept away without
making a sound.
A YOUNG RAJAH
The moor was hidden in mist when the morning came,
and the rain had not stopped pouring down. There could
be no going out of doors. Martha was so busy that Mary
had no opportunity of talking to her, but in the afternoon
she asked her to come and sit with her in the nursery.
She came bringing the stocking she was always knitting
when she was doing nothing else.
"What's the matter with thee?" she asked as soon as they
sat down. "Tha' looks as if tha'd somethin' to say."
"I have. I have found out what the crying was,"
Martha let her knitting drop on her knee and gazed
at her with startled eyes.
"Tha' hasn't!" she exclaimed. "Never!"
"I heard it in the night," Mary went on. "And I got
up and went to see where it came from. It was Colin.
I found him."
Martha's face became red with fright.
"Eh! Miss Mary!" she said half crying. "Tha' shouldn't
have done it--tha' shouldn't! Tha'll get me in trouble.
I never told thee nothin' about him--but tha'll get me
in trouble. I shall lose my place and what'll mother do!"
"You won't lose your place," said Mary. "He was glad
We talked and talked and he said he was glad I came."
"Was he?" cried Martha. "Art tha' sure? Tha'
doesn't know what he's like when anything vexes him.
He's a big lad to cry like a baby, but when he's
in a passion he'll fair scream just to frighten us.
He knows us daren't call our souls our own."
"He wasn't vexed," said Mary. "I asked him if I should
away and he made me stay. He asked me questions and I
sat on a big footstool and talked to him about India
and about the robin and gardens. He wouldn't let me go.
He let me see his mother's picture. Before I left him I
sang him to sleep."
Martha fairly gasped with amazement.
"I can scarcely believe thee!" she protested.
"It's as if tha'd walked straight into a lion's den.
If he'd been like he is most times he'd have throwed himself
into one of his tantrums and roused th' house. He won't
let strangers look at him."
"He let me look at him. I looked at him all the time
and he looked at me. We stared!" said Mary.
"I don't know what to do!" cried agitated Martha.
"If Mrs. Medlock finds out, she'll think I broke orders
and told thee and I shall be packed back to mother."
"He is not going to tell Mrs. Medlock anything about it yet.
It's to be a sort of secret just at first," said Mary firmly.
"And he says everybody is obliged to do as he pleases."
"Aye, that's true enough--th' bad lad!" sighed Martha,
wiping her forehead with her apron.
"He says Mrs. Medlock must. And he wants me to come and talk
to him every day. And you are to tell me when he wants me."
"Me!" said Martha; "I shall lose my place--I shall for
"You can't if you are doing what he wants you to do
and everybody is ordered to obey him," Mary argued.
"Does tha' mean to say," cried Martha with wide open eyes,
"that he was nice to thee!"
"I think he almost liked me," Mary answered.
"Then tha' must have bewitched him!" decided Martha,
drawing a long breath.
"Do you mean Magic?" inquired Mary. "I've heard about
in India, but I can't make it. I just went into his room
and I was so surprised to see him I stood and stared.
And then he turned round and stared at me. And he thought
I was a ghost or a dream and I thought perhaps he was.
And it was so queer being there alone together in the
middle of the night and not knowing about each other.
And we began to ask each other questions. And when I asked
him if I must go away he said I must not."
"Th' world's comin' to a end!" gasped Martha.
"What is the matter with him?" asked Mary.
"Nobody knows for sure and certain," said Martha.
"Mr. Craven went off his head like when he was born.
Th' doctors thought he'd have to be put in a 'sylum.
It was because Mrs. Craven died like I told you.
He wouldn't set eyes on th' baby. He just raved and said
it'd be another hunchback like him and it'd better die."
"Is Colin a hunchback?" Mary asked. "He didn't look
"He isn't yet," said Martha. "But he began all wrong.
Mother said that there was enough trouble and raging in th'
house to set any child wrong. They was afraid his back
was weak an' they've always been takin' care of it--keepin'
him lyin' down and not lettin' him walk. Once they made
him wear a brace but he fretted so he was downright ill.
Then a big doctor came to see him an' made them take it off.
He talked to th' other doctor quite rough--in a polite way.
He said there'd been too much medicine and too much lettin'
him have his own way."
"I think he's a very spoiled boy," said Mary.
"He's th' worst young nowt as ever was!" said Martha.
"I won't say as he hasn't been ill a good bit.
He's had coughs an' colds that's nearly killed him two
or three times. Once he had rheumatic fever an' once he
had typhoid. Eh! Mrs. Medlock did get a fright then.
He'd been out of his head an' she was talkin' to th'
nurse, thinkin' he didn't know nothin', an' she said,
`He'll die this time sure enough, an' best thing for him an'
for everybody.' An' she looked at him an' there he
was with his big eyes open, starin' at her as sensible
as she was herself. She didn't know wha'd happen but he
just stared at her an' says, `You give me some water an'
"Do you think he will die?" asked Mary.
"Mother says there's no reason why any child should live
that gets no fresh air an' doesn't do nothin' but lie
on his back an' read picture-books an' take medicine.
He's weak and hates th' trouble o' bein' taken out o'
doors, an' he gets cold so easy he says it makes him ill."
Mary sat and looked at the fire. "I wonder," she said slowly,
"if it would not do him good to go out into a garden
and watch things growing. It did me good."
"One of th' worst fits he ever had," said Martha, "was
time they took him out where the roses is by the fountain.
He'd been readin' in a paper about people gettin'
somethin' he called `rose cold' an' he began to sneeze an'
said he'd got it an' then a new gardener as didn't
know th' rules passed by an' looked at him curious.
He threw himself into a passion an' he said he'd
looked at him because he was going to be a hunchback.
He cried himself into a fever an' was ill all night."
"If he ever gets angry at me, I'll never go and see
him again," said Mary.
"He'll have thee if he wants thee," said Martha.
"Tha' may as well know that at th' start."
Very soon afterward a bell rang and she rolled up
"I dare say th' nurse wants me to stay with him a bit,"
she said. "I hope he's in a good temper."
She was out of the room about ten minutes and then she
came back with a puzzled expression.
"Well, tha' has bewitched him," she said. "He's up on
sofa with his picture-books. He's told the nurse to stay
away until six o'clock. I'm to wait in the next room.
Th' minute she was gone he called me to him an' says, `I want
Mary Lennox to come and talk to me, and remember you're
not to tell any one.' You'd better go as quick as you can."
Mary was quite willing to go quickly. She did not want
to see Colin as much as she wanted to see Dickon;
but she wanted to see him very much.
There was a bright fire on the hearth when she entered
his room, and in the daylight she saw it was a very
beautiful room indeed. There were rich colors in the
rugs and hangings and pictures and books on the walls
which made it look glowing and comfortable even in spite
of the gray sky and falling rain. Colin looked rather
like a picture himself. He was wrapped in a velvet
dressing-gown and sat against a big brocaded cushion.
He had a red spot on each cheek.
"Come in," he said. "I've been thinking about you
"I've been thinking about you, too," answered Mary.
"You don't know how frightened Martha is. She says
Mrs. Medlock will think she told me about you and then she
will be sent away."
"Go and tell her to come here," he said. "She is
in the next room."
Mary went and brought her back. Poor Martha was shaking
in her shoes. Colin was still frowning.
"Have you to do what I please or have you not?" he demanded.
"I have to do what you please, sir," Martha faltered,
turning quite red.
"Has Medlock to do what I please?"
"Everybody has, sir," said Martha.
"Well, then, if I order you to bring Miss Mary to me,
how can Medlock send you away if she finds it out?"
"Please don't let her, sir," pleaded Martha.
"I'll send her away if she dares to say a word about such
a thing," said Master Craven grandly. "She wouldn't
like that, I can tell you."
"Thank you, sir," bobbing a curtsy, "I want to do my
"What I want is your duty" said Colin more grandly still.
"I'll take care of you. Now go away."
When the door closed behind Martha, Colin found Mistress
Mary gazing at him as if he had set her wondering.
"Why do you look at me like that?" he asked her.
"What are you thinking about?"
"I am thinking about two things."
"What are they? Sit down and tell me."
"This is the first one," said Mary, seating herself on the
big stool. "Once in India I saw a boy who was a Rajah.
He had rubies and emeralds and diamonds stuck all over him.
He spoke to his people just as you spoke to Martha.
Everybody had to do everything he told them--in a minute.
I think they would have been killed if they hadn't."
"I shall make you tell me about Rajahs presently," he said,
"but first tell me what the second thing was."
"I was thinking," said Mary, "how different you are
"Who is Dickon?" he said. "What a queer name!"
She might as well tell him, she thought she could talk
about Dickon without mentioning the secret garden. She had
liked to hear Martha talk about him. Besides, she longed
to talk about him. It would seem to bring him nearer.
"He is Martha's brother. He is twelve years old,"
she explained. "He is not like any one else in the world.
He can charm foxes and squirrels and birds just as the
natives in India charm snakes. He plays a very soft tune
on a pipe and they come and listen."
There were some big books on a table at his side and he
dragged one suddenly toward him. "There is a picture
of a snake-charmer in this," he exclaimed. "Come and look
The book was a beautiful one with superb colored
illustrations and he turned to one of them.
"Can he do that?" he asked eagerly.
"He played on his pipe and they listened," Mary explained.
"But he doesn't call it Magic. He says it's because he
lives on the moor so much and he knows their ways. He says
he feels sometimes as if he was a bird or a rabbit himself,
he likes them so. I think he asked the robin questions.
It seemed as if they talked to each other in soft chirps."
Colin lay back on his cushion and his eyes grew larger
and larger and the spots on his cheeks burned.
"Tell me some more about him," he said.
"He knows all about eggs and nests," Mary went on.
"And he knows where foxes and badgers and otters live.
He keeps them secret so that other boys won't find their holes
and frighten them. He knows about everything that grows
or lives on the moor."
"Does he like the moor?" said Colin. "How can he
when it's such a great, bare, dreary place?"
"It's the most beautiful place," protested Mary.
"Thousands of lovely things grow on it and there are
thousands of little creatures all busy building nests
and making holes and burrows and chippering or singing
or squeaking to each other. They are so busy and having
such fun under the earth or in the trees or heather.
It's their world."
"How do you know all that?" said Colin, turning on his
elbow to look at her.
"I have never been there once, really," said Mary
suddenly remembering. "I only drove over it in the dark.
I thought it was hideous. Martha told me about it first
and then Dickon. When Dickon talks about it you feel
as if you saw things and heard them and as if you were
standing in the heather with the sun shining and the gorse
smelling like honey--and all full of bees and butterflies."
"You never see anything if you are ill," said
Colin restlessly. He looked like a person listening
to a new sound in the distance and wondering what it was.
"You can't if you stay in a room, " said Mary.
"I couldn't go on the moor" he said in a resentful tone.
Mary was silent for a minute and then she said something bold.
He moved as if he were startled.
"Go on the moor! How could I? I am going to die."
"How do you know?" said Mary unsympathetically.
She didn't like the way he had of talking about dying.
She did not feel very sympathetic. She felt rather as if he
almost boasted about it.
"Oh, I've heard it ever since I remember," he answered crossly.
"They are always whispering about it and thinking
I don't notice. They wish I would, too."
Mistress Mary felt quite contrary. She pinched her
"If they wished I would," she said, "I wouldn't. Who
wishes you would?"
"The servants--and of course Dr. Craven because he would
get Misselthwaite and be rich instead of poor. He daren't
say so, but he always looks cheerful when I am worse.
When I had typhoid fever his face got quite fat. I think
my father wishes it, too."
"I don't believe he does," said Mary quite obstinately.
That made Colin turn and look at her again.
"Don't you?" he said.
And then he lay back on his cushion and was still, as if
he were thinking. And there was quite a long silence.
Perhaps they were both of them thinking strange things
children do not usually think. "I like the grand doctor
from London, because he made them take the iron thing off,"
said Mary at last "Did he say you were going to die?"
"What did he say?"
"He didn't whisper," Colin answered. "Perhaps he knew
hated whispering. I heard him say one thing quite aloud.
He said, 'The lad might live if he would make up his mind
to it. Put him in the humor.' It sounded as if he was
in a temper."
"I'll tell you who would put you in the humor, perhaps,"
said Mary reflecting. She felt as if she would like this
thing to be settled one way or the other. "I believe
Dickon would. He's always talking about live things.
He never talks about dead things or things that are ill.
He's always looking up in the sky to watch birds flying--or
looking down at the earth to see something growing.
He has such round blue eyes and they are so wide open with
looking about. And he laughs such a big laugh with his wide
mouth--and his cheeks are as red--as red as cherries."
She pulled her stool nearer to the sofa and her expression
quite changed at the remembrance of the wide curving mouth
and wide open eyes.
"See here," she said. "Don't let us talk about dying;
I don't like it. Let us talk about living. Let us
talk and talk about Dickon. And then we will look at
It was the best thing she could have said. To talk about
Dickon meant to talk about the moor and about the cottage
and the fourteen people who lived in it on sixteen shillings
a week--and the children who got fat on the moor grass
like the wild ponies. And about Dickon's mother--and
the skipping-rope--and the moor with the sun on it--and
about pale green points sticking up out of the black sod.
And it was all so alive that Mary talked more than she had
ever talked before--and Colin both talked and listened as he
had never done either before. And they both began to laugh
over nothings as children will when they are happy together.
And they laughed so that in the end they were making
as much noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy
natural ten-year-old creatures--instead of a hard, little,
unloving girl and a sickly boy who believed that he was going to die.
They enjoyed themselves so much that they forgot the
pictures and they forgot about the time. They had been
laughing quite loudly over Ben Weatherstaff and his robin,
and Colin was actually sitting up as if he had forgotten
about his weak back, when he suddenly remembered something.
"Do you know there is one thing we have never once
thought of," he said. "We are cousins."
It seemed so queer that they had talked so much and never
remembered this simple thing that they laughed more than ever,
because they had got into the humor to laugh at anything.
And in the midst of the fun the door opened and in walked
Dr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock.
Dr. Craven started in actual alarm and Mrs. Medlock almost
fell back because he had accidentally bumped against her.
"Good Lord!" exclaimed poor Mrs. Medlock with her eyes
almost starting out of her head. "Good Lord!"
"What is this?" said Dr. Craven, coming forward.
"What does it mean?"
Then Mary was reminded of the boy Rajah again.
Colin answered as if neither the doctor's alarm nor
Mrs. Medlock's terror were of the slightest consequence.
He was as little disturbed or frightened as if an elderly
cat and dog had walked into the room.
"This is my cousin, Mary Lennox," he said. "I asked
her to come and talk to me. I like her. She must come
and talk to me whenever I send for her."
Dr. Craven turned reproachfully to Mrs. Medlock.
"Oh, sir" she panted. "I don't know how it's happened.
There's not a servant on the place tha'd dare to talk--they
all have their orders."
"Nobody told her anything," said Colin. "She heard
me crying and found me herself. I am glad she came.
Don't be silly, Medlock."
Mary saw that Dr. Craven did not look pleased, but it
was quite plain that he dare not oppose his patient.
He sat down by Colin and felt his pulse.
"I am afraid there has been too much excitement.
Excitement is not good for you, my boy," he said.
"I should be excited if she kept away," answered Colin,
his eyes beginning to look dangerously sparkling.
"I am better. She makes me better. The nurse must bring up
her tea with mine. We will have tea together."
Mrs. Medlock and Dr. Craven looked at each other in a
troubled way, but there was evidently nothing to be done.
"He does look rather better, sir," ventured Mrs. Medlock.
"But"--thinking the matter over--"he looked better this
morning before she came into the room."
"She came into he room last night. She stayed with me
a long time. She sang a Hindustani song to me and it
made me go to sleep," said Colin. "I was better when I
wakened up. I wanted my breakfast. I want my tea now.
Tell nurse, Medlock."
Dr. Craven did not stay very long. He talked to the nurse
for a few minutes when she came into the room and said a few
words of warning to Colin. He must not talk too much;
he must not forget that he was ill; he must not forget
that he was very easily tired. Mary thought that there
seemed to be a number of uncomfortable things he was not
Colin looked fretful and kept his strange black-lashed
eyes fixed on Dr. Craven's face.
"I want to forget it," he said at last. "She makes me
forget it. That is why I want her."
Dr. Craven did not look happy when he left the room.
He gave a puzzled glance at the little girl sitting on
the large stool. She had become a stiff, silent child
again as soon as he entered and he could not see what
the attraction was. The boy actually did look brighter,
however--and he sighed rather heavily as he went down
"They are always wanting me to eat things when I don't
want to," said Colin, as the nurse brought in the tea
and put it on the table by the sofa. "Now, if you'll
eat I will. Those muffins look so nice and hot.
Tell me about Rajahs."
After another week of rain the high arch of blue sky
appeared again and the sun which poured down was quite hot.
Though there had been no chance to see either the secret
garden or Dickon, Mistress Mary had enjoyed herself
very much. The week had not seemed long. She had spent
hours of every day with Colin in his room, talking about
Rajahs or gardens or Dickon and the cottage on the moor.
They had looked at the splendid books and pictures and
sometimes Mary had read things to Colin, and sometimes he
had read a little to her. When he was amused and interested
she thought he scarcely looked like an invalid at all,
except that his face was so colorless and he was always
on the sofa.
"You are a sly young one to listen and get out of your
bed to go following things up like you did that night,"
Mrs. Medlock said once. "But there's no saying it's
not been a sort of blessing to the lot of us. He's not
had a tantrum or a whining fit since you made friends.
The nurse was just going to give up the case because she
was so sick of him, but she says she doesn't mind staying
now you've gone on duty with her," laughing a little.
In her talks with Colin, Mary had tried to be very cautious
about the secret garden. There were certain things she
wanted to find out from him, but she felt that she must
find them out without asking him direct questions.
In the first place, as she began to like to be with him,
she wanted to discover whether he was the kind of boy you
could tell a secret to. He was not in the least like Dickon,
but he was evidently so pleased with the idea of a garden
no one knew anything about that she thought perhaps he
could be trusted. But she had not known him long enough
to be sure. The second thing she wanted to find out was
this: If he could be trusted--if he really could--wouldn't
it be possible to take him to the garden without having
any one find it out? The grand doctor had said that he must
have fresh air and Colin had said that he would not mind
fresh air in a secret garden. Perhaps if he had a great
deal of fresh air and knew Dickon and the robin and saw
things growing he might not think so much about dying.
Mary had seen herself in the glass sometimes lately when she
had realized that she looked quite a different creature
from the child she had seen when she arrived from India.
This child looked nicer. Even Martha had seen a change
"Th' air from th' moor has done thee good already,"
she had said. "Tha'rt not nigh so yeller and tha'rt not
nigh so scrawny. Even tha' hair doesn't slamp down on tha'
head so flat. It's got some life in it so as it sticks
out a bit."
"It's like me," said Mary. "It's growing stronger
and fatter. I'm sure there's more of it."
"It looks it, for sure," said Martha, ruffling it up
a little round her face. "Tha'rt not half so ugly when
it's that way an' there's a bit o' red in tha' cheeks."
If gardens and fresh air had been good for her perhaps they
would be good for Colin. But then, if he hated people
to look at him, perhaps he would not like to see Dickon.
"Why does it make you angry when you are looked at?"
she inquired one day.
"I always hated it," he answered, "even when I was very
Then when they took me to the seaside and I used to lie
in my carriage everybody used to stare and ladies would
stop and talk to my nurse and then they would begin to
whisper and I knew then they were saying I shouldn't live
to grow up. Then sometimes the ladies would pat my cheeks
and say `Poor child!' Once when a lady did that I screamed
out loud and bit her hand. She was so frightened she ran away."
"She thought you had gone mad like a dog," said Mary,
not at all admiringly.
"I don't care what she thought," said Colin, frowning.
"I wonder why you didn't scream and bite me when I came
into your room?" said Mary. Then she began to smile slowly.
"I thought you were a ghost or a dream," he said.
"You can't bite a ghost or a dream, and if you scream they
"Would you hate it if--if a boy looked at you?"
Mary asked uncertainly.
He lay back on his cushion and paused thoughtfully.
"There's one boy," he said quite slowly, as if he were thinking
over every word, "there's one boy I believe I shouldn't mind.
It's that boy who knows where the foxes live--Dickon."
"I'm sure you wouldn't mind him," said Mary.
"The birds don't and other animals," he said, still thinking
it over, "perhaps that's why I shouldn't. He's a sort
of animal charmer and I am a boy animal."
Then he laughed and she laughed too; in fact it ended
in their both laughing a great deal and finding the idea
of a boy animal hiding in his hole very funny indeed.
What Mary felt afterward was that she need not fear
On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened
very early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays through
the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight
of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window.
She drew up the blinds and opened the window itself
and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her.
The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something
Magic had happened to it. There were tender little
fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores
of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert.
Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.
"It's warm--warm!" she said. "It will make the green
points push up and up and up, and it will make the bulbs
and roots work and struggle with all their might under
She kneeled down and leaned out of the window as far
as she could, breathing big breaths and sniffing the air
until she laughed because she remembered what Dickon's
mother had said about the end of his nose quivering
like a rabbit's. "It must be very early," she said.
"The little clouds are all pink and I've never seen
the sky look like this. No one is up. I don't even hear
the stable boys."
A sudden thought made her scramble to her feet.
"I can't wait! I am going to see the garden!"
She had learned to dress herself by this time and she put
on her clothes in five minutes. She knew a small side door
which she could unbolt herself and she flew downstairs
in her stocking feet and put on her shoes in the hall.
She unchained and unbolted and unlocked and when the door
was open she sprang across the step with one bound,
and there she was standing on the grass, which seemed
to have turned green, and with the sun pouring down on
her and warm sweet wafts about her and the fluting and
twittering and singing coming from every bush and tree.
She clasped her hands for pure joy and looked up in the sky
and it was so blue and pink and pearly and white and flooded
with springtime light that she felt as if she must flute
and sing aloud herself and knew that thrushes and robins
and skylarks could not possibly help it. She ran around
the shrubs and paths towards the secret garden.
"It is all different already," she said. "The grass is
greener and things are sticking up every- where and things
are uncurling and green buds of leaves are showing.
This afternoon I am sure Dickon will come."
The long warm rain had done strange things to the
herbaceous beds which bordered the walk by the lower wall.
There were things sprouting and pushing out from the
roots of clumps of plants and there were actually here
and there glimpses of royal purple and yellow unfurling
among the stems of crocuses. Six months before Mistress
Mary would not have seen how the world was waking up,
but now she missed nothing.
When she had reached the place where the door hid itself
under the ivy, she was startled by a curious loud sound.
It was the caw--caw of a crow and it came from the top
of the wall, and when she looked up, there sat a big
glossy-plumaged blue-black bird, looking down at her very
wisely indeed. She had never seen a crow so close before
and he made her a little nervous, but the next moment he
spread his wings and flapped away across the garden.
She hoped he was not going to stay inside and she
pushed the door open wondering if he would. When she
got fairly into the garden she saw that he probably
did intend to stay because he had alighted on a dwarf
apple-tree and under the apple-tree was lying a little
reddish animal with a Bushy tail, and both of them were
watching the stooping body and rust-red head of Dickon,
who was kneeling on the grass working hard.
Mary flew across the grass to him.
"Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she cried out. "How could you get
here so early! How could you! The sun has only just got up!"
He got up himself, laughing and glowing, and tousled;
his eyes like a bit of the sky.
"Eh!" he said. "I was up long before him. How could I
have stayed abed! Th' world's all fair begun again this
mornin', it has. An' it's workin' an' hummin' an' scratchin'
an' pipin' an' nest-buildin' an' breathin' out scents,
till you've got to be out on it 'stead o' lyin' on your back.
When th' sun did jump up, th' moor went mad for joy, an'
I was in the midst of th' heather, an' I run like mad
myself, shoutin' an' singin'. An' I come straight here.
I couldn't have stayed away. Why, th' garden was lyin'
Mary put her hands on her chest, panting, as if she
had been running herself.
"Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she said. "I'm so happy I can
Seeing him talking to a stranger, the little bushy-tailed
animal rose from its place under the tree and came to him,
and the rook, cawing once, flew down from its branch
and settled quietly on his shoulder.
"This is th' little fox cub," he said, rubbing the little
reddish animal's head. "It's named Captain. An' this
here's Soot. Soot he flew across th' moor with me an'
Captain he run same as if th' hounds had been after him.
They both felt same as I did."
Neither of the creatures looked as if he were the least
afraid of Mary. When Dickon began to walk about,
Soot stayed on his shoulder and Captain trotted quietly
close to his side.
"See here!" said Dickon. "See how these has
pushed up, an' these an' these! An' Eh! Look at these here!"
He threw himself upon his knees and Mary went
down beside him. They had come upon a whole clump
of crocuses burst into purple and orange and gold.
Mary bent her face down and kissed and kissed them.
"You never kiss a person in that way," she said when she
lifted her head. "Flowers are so different."
He looked puzzled but smiled.
"Eh!" he said, "I've kissed mother many a time that way
when I come in from th' moor after a day's roamin' an'
she stood there at th' door in th' sun, lookin' so glad an'
comfortable." They ran from one part of the garden to
another and found so many wonders that they were obliged
to remind themselves that they must whisper or speak low.
He showed her swelling leafbuds on rose branches which
had seemed dead. He showed her ten thousand new green
points pushing through the mould. They put their eager
young noses close to the earth and sniffed its warmed
springtime breathing; they dug and pulled and laughed low
with rapture until Mistress Mary's hair was as tumbled
as Dickon's and her cheeks were almost as poppy red as his.
There was every joy on earth in the secret garden
that morning, and in the midst of them came a delight
more delightful than all, because it was more wonderful.
Swiftly something flew across the wall and darted through
the trees to a close grown corner, a little flare of
red-breasted bird with something hanging from its beak.
Dickon stood quite still and put his hand on Mary almost
as if they had suddenly found themselves laughing in a church.
"We munnot stir," he whispered in broad Yorkshire.
"We munnot scarce breathe. I knowed he was mate-huntin'
when I seed him last. It's Ben Weatherstaff's robin.
He's buildin' his nest. He'll stay here if us don't fight him."
They settled down softly upon the grass and sat there
"Us mustn't seem as if us was watchin' him too close,"
said Dickon. "He'd be out with us for good if he got th'
notion us was interferin' now. He'll be a good bit different
till all this is over. He's settin' up housekeepin'.
He'll be shyer an' readier to take things ill.
He's got no time for visitin' an' gossipin'. Us must
keep still a bit an' try to look as if us was grass an'
trees an' bushes. Then when he's got used to seein'
us I'll chirp a bit an' he'll know us'll not be in
Mistress Mary was not at all sure that she knew, as Dickon
seemed to, how to try to look like grass and trees and bushes.
But he had said the queer thing as if it were the simplest
and most natural thing in the world, and she felt it must
be quite easy to him, and indeed she watched him for a few
minutes carefully, wondering if it was possible for him
to quietly turn green and put out branches and leaves.
But he only sat wonderfully still, and when he spoke
dropped his voice to such a softness that it was curious
that she could hear him, but she could.
"It's part o' th' springtime, this nest-buildin'
is," he said. "I warrant it's been goin' on in th'
same way every year since th' world was begun.
They've got their way o' thinkin' and doin' things an'
a body had better not meddle. You can lose a friend
in springtime easier than any other season if you're too curious."
"If we talk about him I can't help looking at him," Mary said
as softly as possible. "We must talk of something else.
There is something I want to tell you."
"He'll like it better if us talks o' somethin' else,"
said Dickon. "What is it tha's got to tell me?"
"Well--do you know about Colin?" she whispered.
He turned his head to look at her.
"What does tha' know about him?" he asked.
"I've seen him. I have been to talk to him every day
this week. He wants me to come. He says I'm making him
forget about being ill and dying," answered Mary.
Dickon looked actually relieved as soon as the surprise
died away from his round face.
"I am glad o' that," he exclaimed. "I'm right down glad.
It makes me easier. I knowed I must say nothin' about him an'
I don't like havin' to hide things."
"Don't you like hiding the garden?" said Mary.
"I'll never tell about it," he answered. "But I says
to mother, `Mother,' I says, `I got a secret to keep.
It's not a bad 'un, tha' knows that. It's no worse
than hidin' where a bird's nest is. Tha' doesn't mind it,
Mary always wanted to hear about mother.
"What did she say?" she asked, not at all afraid to hear.
Dickon grinned sweet-temperedly.
"It was just like her, what she said," he answered.
"She give my head a bit of a rub an' laughed an' she says,
'Eh, lad, tha' can have all th' secrets tha' likes.
I've knowed thee twelve year'.'"
"How did you know about Colin?" asked Mary.
"Everybody as knowed about Mester Craven knowed there was
a little lad as was like to be a cripple, an' they knowed
Mester Craven didn't like him to be talked about. Folks is
sorry for Mester Craven because Mrs. Craven was such a pretty
young lady an' they was so fond of each other. Mrs. Medlock
stops in our cottage whenever she goes to Thwaite an'
she doesn't mind talkin' to mother before us children,
because she knows us has been brought up to be trusty.
How did tha' find out about him? Martha was in fine
trouble th' last time she came home. She said tha'd
heard him frettin' an' tha' was askin' questions an'
she didn't know what to say."
Mary told him her story about the midnight wuthering
of the wind which had wakened her and about the faint
far-off sounds of the complaining voice which had led
her down the dark corridors with her candle and had
ended with her opening of the door of the dimly lighted
room with the carven four-posted bed in the corner.
When she described the small ivory-white face and the
strange black-rimmed eyes Dickon shook his head.
"Them's just like his mother's eyes, only hers was
always laughin', they say," he said. "They say as
Mr. Craven can't bear to see him when he's awake an'
it's because his eyes is so like his mother's an'
yet looks so different in his miserable bit of a face."
"Do you think he wants to die?" whispered Mary.
"No, but he wishes he'd never been born. Mother she
says that's th' worst thing on earth for a child.
Them as is not wanted scarce ever thrives. Mester Craven
he'd buy anythin' as money could buy for th' poor lad
but he'd like to forget as he's on earth. For one thing,
he's afraid he'll look at him some day and find he's
"Colin's so afraid of it himself that he won't sit up,"
said Mary. "He says he's always thinking that if he
should feel a lump coming he should go crazy and scream
himself to death."
"Eh! he oughtn't to lie there thinkin' things like that,"
said Dickon. "No lad could get well as thought them
sort o' things."
The fox was lying on the grass close by him, looking up to
ask for a pat now and then, and Dickon bent down and rubbed
his neck softly and thought a few minutes in silence.
Presently he lifted his head and looked round the garden.
"When first we got in here," he said, "it seemed like
everything was gray. Look round now and tell me if tha'
doesn't see a difference."
Mary looked and caught her breath a little.
"Why!" she cried, "the gray wall is changing.
It is as if a green mist were creeping over it.
It's almost like a green gauze veil."
"Aye," said Dickon. "An' it'll be greener and greener
gray's all gone. Can tha' guess what I was thinkin'?"
"I know it was something nice," said Mary eagerly.
"I believe it was something about Colin."
"I was thinkin' that if he was out here he wouldn't be watchin'
for lumps to grow on his back; he'd be watchin' for buds
to break on th' rose-bushes, an' he'd likely be healthier,"
explained Dickon. "I was wonderin' if us could ever
get him in th' humor to come out here an' lie under th'
trees in his carriage."
"I've been wondering that myself. I've thought of it
almost every time I've talked to him," said Mary.
"I've wondered if he could keep a secret and I've wondered
if we could bring him here without any one seeing us.
I thought perhaps you could push his carriage. The doctor
said he must have fresh air and if he wants us to take him
out no one dare disobey him. He won't go out for other people
and perhaps they will be glad if he will go out with us.
He could order the gardeners to keep away so they wouldn't
Dickon was thinking very hard as he scratched Captain's back.
"It'd be good for him, I'll warrant," he said.
"Us'd not be thinkin' he'd better never been born.
Us'd be just two children watchin' a garden grow, an'
he'd be another. Two lads an' a little lass just lookin'
on at th' springtime. I warrant it'd be better than
"He's been lying in his room so long and he's always
been so afraid of his back that it has made him queer,"
said Mary. "He knows a good many things out of books
but he doesn't know anything else. He says he has been
too ill to notice things and he hates going out of doors
and hates gardens and gardeners. But he likes to hear
about this garden because it is a secret. I daren't tell
him much but he said he wanted to see it."
"Us'll have him out here sometime for sure," said Dickon.
"I could push his carriage well enough. Has tha'
noticed how th' robin an' his mate has been workin'
while we've been sittin' here? Look at him perched on that
branch wonderin' where it'd be best to put that twig he's
got in his beak."
He made one of his low whistling calls and the robin turned
his head and looked at him inquiringly, still holding
his twig. Dickon spoke to him as Ben Weatherstaff did,
but Dickon's tone was one of friendly advice.
"Wheres'ever tha' puts it," he said, "it'll be
all right. Tha' knew how to build tha' nest before tha'
came out o' th' egg. Get on with thee, lad. Tha'st got
no time to lose."
"Oh, I do like to hear you talk to him!" Mary said,
laughing delightedly. "Ben Weatherstaff scolds him
and makes fun of him, and he hops about and looks as
if he understood every word, and I know he likes it.
Ben Weatherstaff says he is so conceited he would rather
have stones thrown at him than not be noticed."
Dickon laughed too and went on talking.
"Tha' knows us won't trouble thee," he said to the robin.
"Us is near bein' wild things ourselves. Us is nest-buildin'
too, bless thee. Look out tha' doesn't tell on us."
And though the robin did not answer, because his beak
was occupied, Mary knew that when he flew away with his
twig to his own corner of the garden the darkness of his
dew-bright eye meant that he would not tell their secret
for the world.
"I WON'T!" SAID MARY
They found a great deal to do that morning and Mary
was late in returning to the house and was also in such
a hurry to get back to her work that she quite forgot
Colin until the last moment.
"Tell Colin that I can't come and see him yet," she said
to Martha. "I'm very busy in the garden."
Martha looked rather frightened.
"Eh! Miss Mary," she said, "it may put him all out
of humor when I tell him that."
But Mary was not as afraid of him as other people were
and she was not a self-sacrificing person.
"I can't stay," she answered. "Dickon's waiting for me;"
and she ran away.
The afternoon was even lovelier and busier than the morning
had been. Already nearly all the weeds were cleared
out of the garden and most of the roses and trees had
been pruned or dug about. Dickon had brought a spade
of his own and he had taught Mary to use all her tools,
so that by this time it was plain that though the lovely
wild place was not likely to become a "gardener's garden"
it would be a wilderness of growing things before the
springtime was over.
"There'll be apple blossoms an' cherry blossoms overhead,"
Dickon said, working away with all his might.
"An' there'll be peach an' plum trees in bloom against th'
walls, an' th' grass'll be a carpet o' flowers."
The little fox and the rook were as happy and busy
as they were, and the robin and his mate flew
backward and forward like tiny streaks of lightning.
Sometimes the rook flapped his black wings and soared away
over the tree-tops in the park. Each time he came back
and perched near Dickon and cawed several times as if he
were relating his adventures, and Dickon talked to him
just as he had talked to the robin. Once when Dickon
was so busy that he did not answer him at first, Soot flew
on to his shoulders and gently tweaked his ear with his
large beak. When Mary wanted to rest a little Dickon
sat down with her under a tree and once he took his pipe
out of his pocket and played the soft strange little notes
and two squirrels appeared on the wall and looked and listened.
"Tha's a good bit stronger than tha' was," Dickon said,
looking at her as she was digging. "Tha's beginning
to look different, for sure."
Mary was glowing with exercise and good spirits.
"I'm getting fatter and fatter every day," she said
quite exultantly. "Mrs. Medlock will have to get me some
bigger dresses. Martha says my hair is growing thicker.
It isn't so flat and stringy."
The sun was beginning to set and sending deep gold-colored
rays slanting under the trees when they parted.
"It'll be fine tomorrow," said Dickon. "I'll be at work
"So will I," said Mary.
She ran back to the house as quickly as her feet would
carry her. She wanted to tell Colin about Dickon's fox cub
and the rook and about what the springtime had been doing.
She felt sure he would like to hear. So it was not very
pleasant when she opened the door of her room, to see
Martha standing waiting for her with a doleful face.
"What is the matter?" she asked. "What did Colin say
when you told him I couldn't come?"
"Eh!" said Martha, "I wish tha'd gone. He was nigh goin'
into one o' his tantrums. There's been a nice to do all
afternoon to keep him quiet. He would watch the clock
all th' time."
Mary's lips pinched themselves together. She was no more
used to considering other people than Colin was and she
saw no reason why an ill-tempered boy should interfere
with the thing she liked best. She knew nothing about
the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous
and who did not know that they could control their tempers
and need not make other people ill and nervous, too.
When she had had a headache in India she had done her
best to see that everybody else also had a headache or
something quite as bad. And she felt she was quite right;
but of course now she felt that Colin was quite wrong.
He was not on his sofa when she went into his room.
He was lying flat on his back in bed and he did not turn
his head toward her as she came in. This was a bad beginning
and Mary marched up to him with her stiff manner.
"Why didn't you get up?" she said.
"I did get up this morning when I thought you were coming,"
he answered, without looking at her. "I made them put
me back in bed this afternoon. My back ached and my
head ached and I was tired. Why didn't you come?"
"I was working in the garden with Dickon," said Mary.
Colin frowned and condescended to look at her.
"I won't let that boy come here if you go and stay
with him instead of coming to talk to me," he said.
Mary flew into a fine passion. She could fly into
a passion without making a noise. She just grew sour
and obstinate and did not care what happened.
"If you send Dickon away, I'll never come into this
room again!" she retorted.
"You'll have to if I want you," said Colin.
"I won't!" said Mary.
"I'll make you," said Colin. "They shall drag you in."
"Shall they, Mr. Rajah!" said Mary fiercely. "They may
me in but they can't make me talk when they get me here.
I'll sit and clench my teeth and never tell you one thing.
I won't even look at you. I'll stare at the floor!"
They were a nice agreeable pair as they glared at each other.
If they had been two little street boys they would have
sprung at each other and had a rough-and-tumble fight.
As it was, they did the next thing to it.
"You are a selfish thing!" cried Colin.
"What are you?" said Mary. "Selfish people always say
Any one is selfish who doesn't do what they want.
You're more selfish than I am. You're the most selfish boy
I ever saw."
"I'm not!" snapped Colin. "I'm not as selfish as your
fine Dickon is! He keeps you playing in the dirt when he
knows I am all by myself. He's selfish, if you like!"
Mary's eyes flashed fire.
"He's nicer than any other boy that ever lived!" she said.
"He's--he's like an angel!" It might sound rather silly
to say that but she did not care.
"A nice angel!" Colin sneered ferociously. "He's a common
cottage boy off the moor!"
"He's better than a common Rajah!" retorted Mary.
"He's a thousand times better!"
Because she was the stronger of the two she was beginning
to get the better of him. The truth was that he had
never had a fight with any one like himself in his
life and, upon the whole, it was rather good for him,
though neither he nor Mary knew anything about that.
He turned his head on his pillow and shut his eyes
and a big tear was squeezed out and ran down his cheek.
He was beginning to feel pathetic and sorry for himself--not
for any one else.
"I'm not as selfish as you, because I'm always ill,
and I'm sure there is a lump coming on my back," he said.
"And I am going to die besides."
"You're not!" contradicted Mary unsympathetically.
He opened his eyes quite wide with indignation.
He had never heard such a thing said before. He was at
once furious and slightly pleased, if a person could
be both at one time.
"I'm not?" he cried. "I am! You know I am! Everybody
"I don't believe it!" said Mary sourly. "You just say
that to make people sorry. I believe you're proud of it.
I don't believe it! If you were a nice boy it might be
true--but you're too nasty!"
In spite of his invalid back Colin sat up in bed in quite
a healthy rage.
"Get out of the room!" he shouted and he caught hold
of his pillow and threw it at her. He was not strong
enough to throw it far and it only fell at her feet,
but Mary's face looked as pinched as a nutcracker.
"I'm going," she said. "And I won't come back!"
She walked to the door and when she reached it she turned
round and spoke again.
"I was going to tell you all sorts of nice things,"
she said. "Dickon brought his fox and his rook and I was
going to tell you all about them. Now I won't tell you
a single thing!"
She marched out of the door and closed it behind her,
and there to her great astonishment she found the trained
nurse standing as if she had been listening and, more amazing
still--she was laughing. She was a big handsome young
woman who ought not to have been a trained nurse at all,
as she could not bear invalids and she was always
making excuses to leave Colin to Martha or any one else
who would take her place. Mary had never liked her,
and she simply stood and gazed up at her as she stood
giggling into her handkerchief..
"What are you laughing at?" she asked her.
"At you two young ones," said the nurse. "It's the best
thing that could happen to the sickly pampered thing
to have some one to stand up to him that's as spoiled
as himself;" and she laughed into her handkerchief again.
"If he'd had a young vixen of a sister to fight with it
would have been the saving of him."
"Is he going to die?"
"I don't know and I don't care," said the nurse.
"Hysterics and temper are half what ails him."
"What are hysterics?" asked Mary.
"You'll find out if you work him into a tantrum after
this--but at any rate you've given him something to have
hysterics about, and I'm glad of it."
Mary went back to her room not feeling at all as she
had felt when she had come in from the garden. She was
cross and disappointed but not at all sorry for Colin.
She had looked forward to telling him a great many things
and she had meant to try to make up her mind whether
it would be safe to trust him with the great secret.
She had been beginning to think it would be, but now she
had changed her mind entirely. She would never tell him
and he could stay in his room and never get any fresh
air and die if he liked! It would serve him right! She
felt so sour and unrelenting that for a few minutes she
almost forgot about Dickon and the green veil creeping
over the world and the soft wind blowing down from
Martha was waiting for her and the trouble in her face
had been temporarily replaced by interest and curiosity.
There was a wooden box on the table and its cover had been
removed and revealed that it was full of neat packages.
"Mr. Craven sent it to you," said Martha. "It looks
as if it had picture-books in it."
Mary remembered what he had asked her the day she had gone
to his room. "Do you want anything--dolls--toys --books?"
She opened the package wondering if he had sent a doll,
and also wondering what she should do with it if he had.
But he had not sent one. There were several beautiful
books such as Colin had, and two of them were about gardens
and were full of pictures. There were two or three games
and there was a beautiful little writing-case with a gold
monogram on it and a gold pen and inkstand.
Everything was so nice that her pleasure began to crowd
her anger out of her mind. She had not expected him
to remember her at all and her hard little heart grew
"I can write better than I can print," she said,
"and the first thing I shall write with that pen will
be a letter to tell him I am much obliged."
If she had been friends with Colin she would have run to show
him her presents at once, and they would have looked at the
pictures and read some of the gardening books and perhaps
tried playing the games, and he would have enjoyed himself
so much he would never once have thought he was going
to die or have put his hand on his spine to see if there
was a lump coming. He had a way of doing that which she
could not bear. It gave her an uncomfortable frightened
feeling because he always looked so frightened himself.
He said that if he felt even quite a little lump
some day he should know his hunch had begun to grow.
Something he had heard Mrs. Medlock whispering to the
nurse had given him the idea and he had thought over it
in secret until it was quite firmly fixed in his mind.
Mrs. Medlock had said his father's back had begun to show
its crookedness in that way when he was a child. He had
never told any one but Mary that most of his "tantrums"
as they called them grew out of his hysterical hidden fear.
Mary had been sorry for him when he had told her.
"He always began to think about it when he was cross or tired,"
she said to herself. "And he has been cross today.
Perhaps--perhaps he has been thinking about it all afternoon."
She stood still, looking down at the carpet and thinking.
"I said I would never go back again--" she hesitated,
knitting her brows--"but perhaps, just perhaps,
I will go and see--if he wants me--in the morning.
Perhaps he'll try to throw his pillow at me again,
but--I think--I'll go."
She had got up very early in the morning and had worked
hard in the garden and she was tired and sleepy, so as soon
as Martha had brought her supper and she had eaten it,
she was glad to go to bed. As she laid her head on
the pillow she murmured to herself:
"I'll go out before breakfast and work with Dickon
and then afterward--I believe--I'll go to see him."
She thought it was the middle of the night when she was
awakened by such dreadful sounds that she jumped out of
bed in an instant. What was it--what was it? The next
minute she felt quite sure she knew. Doors were opened
and shut and there were hurrying feet in the corridors
and some one was crying and screaming at the same time,
screaming and crying in a horrible way.
"It's Colin," she said. "He's having one of those tantrums
the nurse called hysterics. How awful it sounds."
As she listened to the sobbing screams she did not
wonder that people were so frightened that they gave
him his own way in everything rather than hear them.
She put her hands over her ears and felt sick and shivering.
"I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do,"
she kept saying. "I can't bear it."
Once she wondered if he would stop if she dared go
to him and then she remembered how he had driven her out
of the room and thought that perhaps the sight of her
might make him worse. Even when she pressed her hands
more tightly over her ears she could not keep the awful
sounds out. She hated them so and was so terrified
by them that suddenly they began to make her angry
and she felt as if she should like to fly into a tantrum
herself and frighten him as he was frightening her.
She was not used to any one's tempers but her own. She took
her hands from her ears and sprang up and stamped her foot.
"He ought to be stopped! Somebody ought to make him stop!
Somebody ought to beat him!" she cried out.
Just then she heard feet almost running down the corridor
and her door opened and the nurse came in. She was not
laughing now by any means. She even looked rather pale.
"He's worked himself into hysterics," she said in a great
"He'll do himself harm. No one can do anything with him.
You come and try, like a good child. He likes you."
"He turned me out of the room this morning," said Mary,
stamping her foot with excitement.
The stamp rather pleased the nurse. The truth was that she
had been afraid she might find Mary crying and hiding
her head under the bed-clothes.
"That's right," she said. "You're in the right humor.
You go and scold him. Give him something new to think of.
Do go, child, as quick as ever you can."
It was not until afterward that Mary realized that the thing
had been funny as well as dreadful--that it was funny that all
the grown-up people were so frightened that they came to a little
girl just because they guessed she was almost as bad as Colin himself.
She flew along the corridor and the nearer she got
to the screams the higher her temper mounted.
She felt quite wicked by the time she reached the door.
She slapped it open with her hand and ran across the room
to the four-posted bed.
"You stop!" she almost shouted. "You stop! I hate you!
Everybody hates you! I wish everybody would run out of the
house and let you scream yourself to death! You will scream
yourself to death in a minute, and I wish you would!"
A nice sympathetic child could neither have thought nor
said such things, but it just happened that the shock of
hearing them was the best possible thing for this hysterical
boy whom no one had ever dared to restrain or contradict.
He had been lying on his face beating his pillow with his
hands and he actually almost jumped around, he turned
so quickly at the sound of the furious little voice.
His face looked dreadful, white and red and swollen,
and he was gasping and choking; but savage little Mary did
not care an atom.
"If you scream another scream," she said, "I'll scream
too --and I can scream louder than you can and I'll
frighten you, I'll frighten you!"
He actually had stopped screaming because she had startled
him so. The scream which had been coming almost choked him.
The tears were streaming down his face and he shook
"I can't stop!" he gasped and sobbed. "I can't--I can't!"
"You can!" shouted Mary. "Half that ails you is hysterics
and temper--just hysterics--hysterics--hysterics!"
and she stamped each time she said it.
"I felt the lump--I felt it," choked out Colin.
"I knew I should. I shall have a hunch on my back and then
I shall die," and he began to writhe again and turned
on his face and sobbed and wailed but he didn't scream.
"You didn't feel a lump!" contradicted Mary fiercely. "If
did it was only a hysterical lump. Hysterics makes lumps.
There's nothing the matter with your horrid back--nothing
but hysterics! Turn over and let me look at it!"
She liked the word "hysterics" and felt somehow as if it
had an effect on him. He was probably like herself
and had never heard it before.
"Nurse," she commanded, "come here and show me his back
The nurse, Mrs. Medlock and Martha had been standing
huddled together near the door staring at her, their mouths
half open. All three had gasped with fright more than once.
The nurse came forward as if she were half afraid.
Colin was heaving with great breathless sobs.
"Perhaps he--he won't let me," she hesitated in a low voice.
Colin heard her, however, and he gasped out between two
"Sh-show her! She-she'll see then!"
It was a poor thin back to look at when it was bared.
Every rib could be counted and every joint of the spine,
though Mistress Mary did not count them as she bent over
and examined them with a solemn savage little face.
She looked so sour and old-fashioned that the nurse turned
her head aside to hide the twitching of her mouth.
There was just a minute's silence, for even Colin tried
to hold his breath while Mary looked up and down his spine,
and down and up, as intently as if she had been the great
doctor from London.
"There's not a single lump there!" she said at last.
"There's not a lump as big as a pin--except backbone lumps,
and you can only feel them because you're thin.
I've got backbone lumps myself, and they used to stick
out as much as yours do, until I began to get fatter,
and I am not fat enough yet to hide them. There's not
a lump as big as a pin! If you ever say there is again,
I shall laugh!"
No one but Colin himself knew what effect those crossly
spoken childish words had on him. If he had ever
had any one to talk to about his secret terrors--if he
had ever dared to let himself ask questions--if he had
had childish companions and had not lain on his back
in the huge closed house, breathing an atmosphere heavy
with the fears of people who were most of them ignorant
and tired of him, he would have found out that most
of his fright and illness was created by himself.
But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches
and weariness for hours and days and months and years.
And now that an angry unsympathetic little girl insisted
obstinately that he was not as ill as he thought he was
he actually felt as if she might be speaking the truth.
"I didn't know," ventured the nurse, "that he thought
had a lump on his spine. His back is weak because he
won't try to sit up. I could have told him there was no
lump there." Colin gulped and turned his face a little
to look at her.
"C-could you?" he said pathetically.
"There!" said Mary, and she gulped too.
Colin turned on his face again and but for his long-drawn
broken breaths, which were the dying down of his storm
of sobbing, he lay still for a minute, though great tears
srteamed down his face and wet the pillow. Actually the
tears meant that a curious great relief had come to him.
Presently he turned and looked at the nurse again and
strangely enough he was not like a Rajah at all as he
spoke to her.
"Do you think--I could--live to grow up?" he said.
The nurse was neither clever nor soft-hearted but she
could repeat some of the London doctor's words.
"You probably will if you will do what you are told
to do and not give way to your temper, and stay
out a great deal in the fresh air."
Colin's tantrum had passed and he was weak and worn
out with crying and this perhaps made him feel gentle.
He put out his hand a little toward Mary, and I am glad
to say that, her own tantum having passed, she was softened
too and met him half-way with her hand, so that it was
a sort of making up.
"I'll--I'll go out with you, Mary," he said. "I shan't
hate fresh air if we can find--" He remembered just
in time to stop himself from saying "if we can find
the secret garden" and he ended, "I shall like to go
out with you if Dickon will come and push my chair.
I do so want to see Dickon and the fox and the crow."
The nurse remade the tumbled bed and shook and straightened
the pillows. Then she made Colin a cup of beef tea
and gave a cup to Mary, who really was very glad to get
it after her excitement. Mrs. Medlock and Martha gladly
slipped away, and after everything was neat and calm
and in order the nurse looked as if she would very gladly
slip away also. She was a healthy young woman who resented
being robbed of her sleep and she yawned quite openly
as she looked at Mary, who had pushed her big footstool
close to the four-posted bed and was holding Colin's hand.
"You must go back and get your sleep out," she said.
"He'll drop off after a while--if he's not too upset.
Then I'll lie down myself in the next room."
"Would you like me to sing you that song I learned from
my Ayah?" Mary whispered to Colin.
His hand pulled hers gently and he turned his tired eyes
on her appealingly.
"Oh, yes!" he answered. "It's such a soft song.
I shall go to sleep in a minute."
"I will put him to sleep," Mary said to the yawning nurse.
"You can go if you like."
"Well," said the nurse, with an attempt at reluctance.
"If he doesn't go to sleep in half an hour you must
"Very well," answered Mary.
The nurse was out of the room in a minute and as soon
as she was gone Colin pulled Mary's hand again.
"I almost told," he said; "but I stopped myself in time.
I won't talk and I'll go to sleep, but you said you had
a whole lot of nice things to tell me. Have you--do you
think you have found out anything at all about the way
into the secret garden?"
Mary looked at his poor little tired face and swollen
eyes and her heart relented.
"Ye-es," she answered, "I think I have. And if you
will go to sleep I will tell you tomorrow." His hand
"Oh, Mary!" he said. "Oh, Mary! If I could get into it
I think I should live to grow up! Do you suppose that
instead of singing the Ayah song--you could just tell
me softly as you did that first day what you imagine it
looks like inside? I am sure it will make me go to sleep."
"Yes," answered Mary. "Shut your eyes."
He closed his eyes and lay quite still and she held his
hand and began to speak very slowly and in a very low voice.
"I think it has been left alone so long--that it has grown
all into a lovely tangle. I think the roses have climbed and
climbed and climbed until they hang from the branches and walls
and creep over the ground--almost like a strange gray mist.
Some of them have died but many--are alive and when the
summer comes there will be curtains and fountains of roses.
I think the ground is full of daffodils and snowdrops
and lilies and iris working their way out of the dark.
Now the spring has begun--perhaps--perhaps--"
The soft drone of her voice was making him stiller
and stiller and she saw it and went on.
"Perhaps they are coming up through the grass--perhaps there
are clusters of purple crocuses and gold ones--even now.
Perhaps the leaves are beginning to break out and uncurl--and
perhaps--the gray is changing and a green gauze veil is
creeping--and creeping over--everything. And the birds are
coming to look at it--because it is--so safe and still.
And perhaps--perhaps--perhaps--" very softly and slowly indeed,
"the robin has found a mate--and is building a nest."
And Colin was asleep.
"THA' MUNNOT WASTE NO TIME"
Of course Mary did not waken early the next morning.
She slept late because she was tired, and when Martha
brought her breakfast she told her that though.
Colin was quite quiet he was ill and feverish as he always
was after he had worn himself out with a fit of crying.
Mary ate her breakfast slowly as she listened.
"He says he wishes tha' would please go and see him as soon
as tha' can," Martha said. "It's queer what a fancy
he's took to thee. Tha' did give it him last night for
sure--didn't tha? Nobody else would have dared to do it.
Eh! poor lad! He's been spoiled till salt won't save him.
Mother says as th' two worst things as can happen to a
child is never to have his own way--or always to have it.
She doesn't know which is th' worst. Tha' was in a fine temper
tha'self, too. But he says to me when I went into his room,
`Please ask Miss Mary if she'll please come an, talk to me?'
Think o' him saying please! Will you go, Miss?" "I'll run
and see Dickon first," said Mary. "No, I'll go and see
Colin first and tell him--I know what I'll tell him,"
with a sudden inspiration.
She had her hat on when she appeared in Colin's room
and for a second he looked disappointed. He was in bed.
His face was pitifully white and there were dark circles
round his eyes.
"I'm glad you came," he said. "My head aches and I ache
all over because I'm so tired. Are you going somewhere?"
Mary went and leaned against his bed.
"I won't be long," she said. "I'm going to Dickon,
but I'll come back. Colin, it's--it's something about
His whole face brightened and a little color came into it.
"Oh! is it?" he cried out. "I dreamed about it all night
I heard you say something about gray changing into green,
and I dreamed I was standing in a place all filled
with trembling little green leaves--and there were birds
on nests everywhere and they looked so soft and still.
I'll lie and think about it until you come back."
In five minutes Mary was with Dickon in their garden.
The fox and the crow were with him again and this time
he had brought two tame squirrels. "I came over on the
pony this mornin', " he said. "Eh! he is a good little
chap--Jump is! I brought these two in my pockets.
This here one he's called Nut an' this here other one's
When he said "Nut" one squirrel leaped on to his right
shoulder and when he said "Shell" the other one leaped
on to his left shoulder.
When they sat down on the grass with Captain curled at
their feet, Soot solemnly listening on a tree and Nut and
Shell nosing about close to them, it seemed to Mary that it
would be scarcely bearable to leave such delightfulness,
but when she began to tell her story somehow the look
in Dickon's funny face gradually changed her mind.
She could see he felt sorrier for Colin than she did.
He looked up at the sky and all about him.
"Just listen to them birds--th' world seems full
of 'em--all whistlin' an' pipin'," he said.
"Look at 'em dartin' about, an' hearken at 'em callin'
to each other. Come springtime seems like as if all th'
world's callin'. The leaves is uncurlin' so you can see
'em--an', my word, th' nice smells there is about!"
sniffing with his happy turned-up nose. "An' that poor
lad lyin' shut up an' seein' so little that he gets
to thinkin' o' things as sets him screamin'. Eh! my!
we mun get him out here--we mun get him watchin'
an listenin' an' sniffin' up th' air an' get him just soaked
through wi' sunshine. An' we munnot lose no time about it."
When he was very much interested he often spoke quite
broad Yorkshire though at other times he tried to modify
his dialect so that Mary could better understand.
But she loved his broad Yorkshire and had in fact been
trying to learn to speak it herself. So she spoke
a little now.
"Aye, that we mun," she said (which meant "Yes, indeed,
we must"). "I'll tell thee what us'll do first," she proceeded,
and Dickon grinned, because when the little wench tried
to twist her tongue into speaking Yorkshire it amused
him very much. "He's took a graidely fancy to thee.
He wants to see thee and he wants to see Soot an' Captain.
When I go back to the house to talk to him I'll ax him
if tha' canna' come an' see him tomorrow mornin'--an'.
bring tha' creatures wi' thee--an' then--in a bit,
when there's more leaves out, an' happen a bud or two,
we'll get him to come out an' tha' shall push him in his
chair an' we'll bring him here an' show him everything."
When she stopped she was quite proud of herself.
She had never made a long speech in Yorkshire before
and she had remembered very well.
"Tha' mun talk a bit o' Yorkshire like that to Mester Colin,"
Dickon chuckled. "Tha'll make him laugh an' there's nowt
as good for ill folk as laughin' is. Mother says she
believes as half a hour's good laugh every mornin'
'ud cure a chap as was makin' ready for typhus fever."
"I'm going to talk Yorkshire to him this very day,"
said Mary, chuckling herself.
The garden had reached the time when every day and every night
it seemed as if Magicians were passing through it drawing
loveliness out of the earth and the boughs with wands.
It was hard to go away and leave it all, particularly as Nut
had actually crept on to her dress and Shell had scrambled
down the trunk of the apple-tree they sat under and stayed
there looking at her with inquiring eyes. But she went back
to the house and when she sat down close to Colin's bed
he began to sniff as Dickon did though not in such an experienced way.
"You smell like flowers and--and fresh things," he cried
out quite joyously. "What is it you smell of? It's cool
and warm and sweet all at the same time."
"It's th' wind from th' moor," said Mary. "It comes o'
on th' grass under a tree wi' Dickon an' wi' Captain an'
Soot an' Nut an' Shell. It's th' springtime an' out o'
doors an' sunshine as smells so graidely."
She said it as broadly as she could, and you do not know
how broadly Yorkshire sounds until you have heard some
one speak it. Colin began to laugh.
"What are you doing?" he said. "I never heard you talk
like that before. How funny it sounds."
"I'm givin' thee a bit o' Yorkshire," answered Mary triumphantly.
`I canna' talk as graidely as Dickon an' Martha can but tha'
sees I can shape a bit. Doesn't tha' understand a bit o'
Yorkshire when tha' hears it? An' tha' a Yorkshire lad thysel'
bred an' born! Eh! I wonder tha'rt not ashamed o'
And then she began to laugh too and they both laughed until
they could not stop themselves and they laughed until
the room echoed and Mrs. Medlock opening the door to come
in drew back into the corridor and stood listening amazed.
"Well, upon my word!" she said, speaking rather broad
Yorkshire herself because there was no one to hear
her and she was so astonished. "Whoever heard th'
like! Whoever on earth would ha' thought it!"
There was so much to talk about. It seemed as if Colin
could never hear enough of Dickon and Captain and Soot
and Nut and Shell and the pony whose name was Jump.
Mary had run round into the wood with Dickon to see Jump.
He was a tiny little shaggy moor pony with thick locks
hanging over his eyes and with a pretty face and a nuzzling
velvet nose. He was rather thin with living on moor
grass but he was as tough and wiry as if the muscle
in his little legs had been made of steel springs.
He had lifted his head and whinnied softly the moment
he saw Dickon and he had trotted up to him and put his
head across his shoulder and then Dickon had talked into
his ear and Jump had talked back in odd little whinnies
and puffs and snorts. Dickon had made him give Mary
his small front hoof and kiss her on her cheek with his
"Does he really understand everything Dickon says?"
"It seems as if he does," answered Mary. "Dickon says
anything will understand if you're friends with it for sure,
but you have to be friends for sure."
Colin lay quiet a little while and his strange gray
eyes seemed to be staring at the wall, but Mary saw
he was thinking.
"I wish I was friends with things," he said at last,
"but I'm not. I never had anything to be friends with,
and I can't bear people."
"Can't you bear me?" asked Mary.
"Yes, I can," he answered. "It's funny but I even like
"Ben Weatherstaff said I was like him," said Mary.
"He said he'd warrant we'd both got the same nasty tempers.
I think you are like him too. We are all three alike--you
and I and Ben Weatherstaff. He said we were neither
of us much to look at and we were as sour as we looked.
But I don't feel as sour as I used to before I knew the robin
"Did you feel as if you hated people?"
"Yes," answered Mary without any affectation.
"I should have detested you if I had seen you before
I saw the robin and Dickon."
Colin put out his thin hand and touched her.
"Mary," he said, "I wish I hadn't said what I did about
sending Dickon away. I hated you when you said he was
like an angel and I laughed at you but--but perhaps he is."
"Well, it was rather funny to say it," she admitted frankly,
"because his nose does turn up and he has a big mouth
and his clothes have patches all over them and he talks
broad Yorkshire, but--but if an angel did come to Yorkshire
and live on the moor--if there was a Yorkshire angel--I
believe he'd understand the green things and know how to
make them grow and he would know how to talk to the wild
creatures as Dickon does and they'd know he was friends for sure."
"I shouldn't mind Dickon looking at me," said Colin;
"I want to see him."
"I'm glad you said that," answered Mary, "because--because--"
Quite suddenly it came into her mind that this was the
minute to tell him. Colin knew something new was coming.
"Because what?" he cried eagerly.
Mary was so anxious that she got up from her stool
and came to him and caught hold of both his hands.
"Can I trust you? I trusted Dickon because birds trusted him.
Can I trust you--for sure--for sure?" she implored.
Her face was so solemn that he almost whispered his answer.
"Well, Dickon will come to see you tomorrow morning,
and he'll bring his creatures with him."
"Oh! Oh!" Colin cried out in delight.
"But that's not all," Mary went on, almost pale with
solemn excitement. "The rest is better. There is a door
into the garden. I found it. It is under the ivy on the wall."
If he had been a strong healthy boy Colin would probably
have shouted "Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!" but he was weak
and rather hysterical; his eyes grew bigger and bigger
and he gasped for breath.
"Oh! Mary!" he cried out with a half sob. "Shall I see
it? Shall I get into it? Shall I live to get into it?"
and he clutched her hands and dragged her toward him.
"Of course you'll see it!" snapped Mary indignantly.
"Of course you'll live to get into it! Don't be silly!"
And she was so un-hysterical and natural and childish
that she brought him to his senses and he began to laugh
at himself and a few minutes afterward she was sitting
on her stool again telling him not what she imagined
the secret garden to be like but what it really was,
and Colin's aches and tiredness were forgotten and he
was listening enraptured.
"It is just what you thought it would be," he said at last.
"It sounds just as if you had really seen it. You know I
said that when you told me first."
Mary hesitated about two minutes and then boldly spoke
"I had seen it--and I had been in," she said. "I found
the key and got in weeks ago. But I daren't tell you--I
daren't because I was so afraid I couldn't trust you--for sure!"
"IT HAS COME!"
Of course Dr. Craven had been sent for the morning after
Colin had had his tantrum. He was always sent for at
once when such a thing occurred and he always found,
when he arrived, a white shaken boy lying on his bed,
sulky and still so hysterical that he was ready to break
into fresh sobbing at the least word. In fact, Dr. Craven
dreaded and detested the difficulties of these visits.
On this occasion he was away from Misselthwaite Manor
"How is he?" he asked Mrs. Medlock rather irritably when he
"He will break a blood-vessel in one of those fits some day.
The boy is half insane with hysteria and self-indulgence."
"Well, sir," answered Mrs. Medlock, "you'll scarcely
your eyes when you see him. That plain sour-faced child
that's almost as bad as himself has just bewitched him.
How she's done it there's no telling. The Lord knows
she's nothing to look at and you scarcely ever hear
her speak, but she did what none of us dare do.
She just flew at him like a little cat last night,
and stamped her feet and ordered him to stop screaming,
and somehow she startled him so that he actually did stop,
and this afternoon--well just come up and see, sir.
It's past crediting."
The scene which Dr. Craven beheld when he entered his
patient's room was indeed rather astonishing to him.
As Mrs. Medlock opened the door he heard laughing
and chattering. Colin was on his sofa in his dressing-gown
and he was sitting up quite straight looking at a picture
in one of the garden books and talking to the plain
child who at that moment could scarcely be called plain
at all because her face was so glowing with enjoyment.
"Those long spires of blue ones--we'll have a lot of those,"
Colin was announcing. "They're called Del-phin-iums."
"Dickon says they're larkspurs made big and grand,"
cried Mistress Mary. "There are clumps there already."
Then they saw Dr. Craven and stopped. Mary became quite
still and Colin looked fretful.
"I am sorry to hear you were ill last night, my boy,"
Dr. Craven said a trifle nervously. He was rather a
"I'm better now--much better," Colin answered,
rather like a Rajah. "I'm going out in my chair
in a day or two if it is fine. I want some fresh air."
Dr. Craven sat down by him and felt his pulse and looked
at him curiously.
"It must be a very fine day," he said, "and you must
be very careful not to tire yourself."
"Fresh air won't tire me," said the young Rajah.
As there had been occasions when this same young gentleman
had shrieked aloud with rage and had insisted that fresh
air would give him cold and kill him, it is not to be
wondered at that his doctor felt somewhat startled.
"I thought you did not like fresh air," he said.
"I don't when I am by myself," replied the Rajah;
"but my cousin is going out with me."
"And the nurse, of course?" suggested Dr. Craven.
"No, I will not have the nurse," so magnificently that Mary
could not help remembering how the young native Prince
had looked with his diamonds and emeralds and pearls
stuck all over him and the great rubies on the small dark
hand he had waved to command his servants to approach
with salaams and receive his orders.
"My cousin knows how to take care of me. I am always better
when she is with me. She made me better last night.
A very strong boy I know will push my carriage."
Dr. Craven felt rather alarmed. If this tiresome
hysterical boy should chance to get well he himself would
lose all chance of inheriting Misselthwaite; but he
was not an unscrupulous man, though he was a weak one,
and he did not intend to let him run into actual danger.
"He must be a strong boy and a steady boy," he said.
"And I must know something about him. Who is he? What is
"It's Dickon," Mary spoke up suddenly. She felt somehow
that everybody who knew the moor must know Dickon.
And she was right, too. She saw that in a moment
Dr. Craven's serious face relaxed into a relieved smile.
"Oh, Dickon," he said. "If it is Dickon you will be
safe enough. He's as strong as a moor pony, is Dickon."
"And he's trusty," said Mary. "He's th' trustiest lad
Yorkshire." She had been talking Yorkshire to Colin
and she forgot herself.
"Did Dickon teach you that?" asked Dr. Craven,
"I'm learning it as if it was French," said Mary rather coldly.
"It's like a native dialect in India. Very clever
people try to learn them. I like it and so does Colin."
"Well, well," he said. "If it amuses you perhaps it won't
do you any harm. Did you take your bromide last night, Colin?"
"No," Colin answered. "I wouldn't take it at first
and after Mary made me quiet she talked me to sleep--in
a low voice--about the spring creeping into a garden."
"That sounds soothing," said Dr. Craven, more perplexed
than ever and glancing sideways at Mistress Mary sitting
on her stool and looking down silently at the carpet.
"You are evidently better, but you must remember--"
"I don't want to remember," interrupted the Rajah,
appearing again. "When I lie by myself and remember I
begin to have pains everywhere and I think of things
that make me begin to scream because I hate them so.
If there was a doctor anywhere who could make you forget
you were ill instead of remembering it I would have him
brought here." And he waved a thin hand which ought really
to have been covered with royal signet rings made of rubies.
"It is because my cousin makes me forget that she makes
Dr. Craven had never made such a short stay after a
"tantrum"; usually he was obliged to remain a very long
time and do a great many things. This afternoon he did
not give any medicine or leave any new orders and he was
spared any disagreeable scenes. When he went downstairs he
looked very thoughtful and when he talked to Mrs. Medlock
in the library she felt that he was a much puzzled man.
"Well, sir," she ventured, "could you have believed it?"
"It is certainly a new state of affairs," said the doctor.
"And there's no denying it is better than the old one."
"I believe Susan Sowerby's right--I do that," said Mrs. Medlock.
"I stopped in her cottage on my way to Thwaite yesterday
and had a bit of talk with her. And she says to me,
'Well, Sarah Ann, she mayn't be a good child, an' she mayn't
be a pretty one, but she's a child, an' children needs
children.' We went to school together, Susan Sowerby and me."
"She's the best sick nurse I know," said Dr. Craven.
"When I find her in a cottage I know the chances are that I
shall save my patient."
Mrs. Medlock smiled. She was fond of Susan Sowerby.
"She's got a way with her, has Susan," she went on
quite volubly. "I've been thinking all morning of one
thing she said yesterday. She says, `Once when I
was givin' th' children a bit of a preach after they'd
been fightin' I ses to 'em all, "When I was at school my
jography told as th' world was shaped like a orange an'
I found out before I was ten that th' whole orange
doesn't belong to nobody. No one owns more than his bit
of a quarter an' there's times it seems like there's
not enow quarters to go round. But don't you--none o'
you--think as you own th' whole orange or you'll find
out you're mistaken, an' you won't find it out without
hard knocks." `What children learns from children,'
she says, 'is that there's no sense in grabbin' at th'
whole orange--peel an' all. If you do you'll likely
not get even th' pips, an' them's too bitter to eat.'"
"She's a shrewd woman," said Dr. Craven, putting on his coat.
"Well, she's got a way of saying things," ended Mrs. Medlock,
much pleased. "Sometimes I've said to her, 'Eh! Susan,
if you was a different woman an' didn't talk such broad
Yorkshire I've seen the times when I should have said you
That night Colin slept without once awakening and
when he opened his eyes in the morning he lay still
and smiled without knowing it--smiled because he felt so
curiously comfortable. It was actually nice to be awake,
and he turned over and stretched his limbs luxuriously.
He felt as if tight strings which had held him had
loosened themselves and let him go. He did not know that
Dr. Craven would have said that his nerves had relaxed
and rested themselves. Instead of lying and staring at
the wall and wishing he had not awakened, his mind was full
of the plans he and Mary had made yesterday, of pictures
of the garden and of Dickon and his wild creatures.
It was so nice to have things to think about. And he
had not been awake more than ten minutes when he heard
feet running along the corridor and Mary was at the door.
The next minute she was in the room and had run across
to his bed, bringing with her a waft of fresh air full
of the scent of the morning.
"You've been out! You've been out! There's that nice
smell of leaves!" he cried.
She had been running and her hair was loose and blown
and she was bright with the air and pink-cheeked, though
he could not see it.
"It's so beautiful!" she said, a little breathless
with her speed. "You never saw anything so beautiful!
It has come! I thought it had come that other morning,
but it was only coming. It is here now! It has come,
the Spring! Dickon says so!"
"Has it?" cried Colin, and though he really knew nothing
about it he felt his heart beat. He actually sat up
"Open the window!" he added, laughing half with joyful
excitement and half at his own fancy. "Perhaps we may
hear golden trumpets!"
And though he laughed, Mary was at the window in a moment
and in a moment more it was opened wide and freshness and
softness and scents and birds' songs were pouring through.
"That's fresh air," she said. "Lie on your back and draw
in long breaths of it. That's what Dickon does when he's
lying on the moor. He says he feels it in his veins
and it makes him strong and he feels as if he could
live forever and ever. Breathe it and breathe it."
She was only repeating what Dickon had told her, but she
caught Colin's fancy.
"`Forever and ever'! Does it make him feel like that?"
he said, and he did as she told him, drawing in long deep
breaths over and over again until he felt that something
quite new and delightful was happening to him.
Mary was at his bedside again.
"Things are crowding up out of the earth," she ran on
in a hurry. "And there are flowers uncurling and buds
on everything and the green veil has covered nearly all
the gray and the birds are in such a hurry about their
nests for fear they may be too late that some of them
are even fighting for places in the secret garden.
And the rose-bushes look as wick as wick can be,
and there are primroses in the lanes and woods,
and the seeds we planted are up, and Dickon has brought
the fox and the crow and the squirrels and a new-born lamb."
And then she paused for breath. The new-born lamb Dickon
had found three days before lying by its dead mother
among the gorse bushes on the moor. It was not the first
motherless lamb he had found and he knew what to do with it.
He had taken it to the cottage wrapped in his jacket and he
had let it lie near the fire and had fed it with warm milk.
It was a soft thing with a darling silly baby face
and legs rather long for its body. Dickon had carried
it over the moor in his arms and its feeding bottle
was in his pocket with a squirrel, and when Mary had sat
under a tree with its limp warmness huddled on her lap she
had felt as if she were too full of strange joy to speak.
A lamb--a lamb! A living lamb who lay on your lap like a baby!
She was describing it with great joy and Colin was listening
and drawing in long breaths of air when the nurse entered.
She started a little at the sight of the open window.
She had sat stifling in the room many a warm day because her
patient was sure that open windows gave people cold.
"Are you sure you are not chilly, Master Colin?"
"No," was the answer. "I am breathing long breaths
of fresh air. It makes you strong. I am going to get up
to the sofa for breakfast. My cousin will have breakfast
The nurse went away, concealing a smile, to give
the order for two breakfasts. She found the servants'
hall a more amusing place than the invalid's chamber and
just now everybody wanted to hear the news from upstairs.
There was a great deal of joking about the unpopular young
recluse who, as the cook said, "had found his master,
and good for him." The servants' hall had been very tired
of the tantrums, and the butler, who was a man with a family,
had more than once expressed his opinion that the invalid
would be all the better "for a good hiding."
When Colin was on his sofa and the breakfast for two was
put upon the table he made an announcement to the nurse
in his most Rajah-like manner.
"A boy, and a fox, and a crow, and two squirrels,
and a new-born lamb, are coming to see me this morning.
I want them brought upstairs as soon as they come,"
he said. "You are not to begin playing with the animals
in the servants' hall and keep them there. I want them here."
The nurse gave a slight gasp and tried to conceal it with
"Yes, sir," she answered.
"I'll tell you what you can do," added Colin, waving
his hand. "You can tell Martha to bring them here.
The boy is Martha's brother. His name is Dickon and he
is an animal charmer."
"I hope the animals won't bite, Master Colin," said the nurse.
"I told you he was a charmer," said Colin austerely.
"Charmers' animals never bite."
"There are snake-charmers in India," said Mary.
"and they can put their snakes' heads in their mouths."
"Goodness!" shuddered the nurse.
They ate their breakfast with the morning air pouring
in upon them. Colin's breakfast was a very good one
and Mary watched him with serious interest.
"You will begin to get fatter just as I did," she said.
"I never wanted my breakfast when I was in India and now I
always want it."
"I wanted mine this morning," said Colin. "Perhaps it
was the fresh air. When do you think Dickon will come?"
He was not long in coming. In about ten minutes Mary
held up her hand.
"Listen!" she said. "Did you hear a caw?"
Colin listened and heard it, the oddest sound in the world
to hear inside a house, a hoarse "caw-caw."
"Yes," he answered.
"That's Soot," said Mary. "Listen again. Do you hear
a bleat--a tiny one?"
"Oh, yes!" cried Colin, quite flushing.
"That's the new-born lamb," said Mary. "He's coming."
Dickon's moorland boots were thick and clumsy and though
he tried to walk quietly they made a clumping sound as he
walked through the long corridors. Mary and Colin heard him
marching--marching, until he passed through the tapestry
door on to the soft carpet of Colin's own passage.
"If you please, sir," announced Martha, opening the door,
"if you please, sir, here's Dickon an' his creatures."
Dickon came in smiling his nicest wide smile.
The new- born lamb was in his arms and the little red
fox trotted by his side. Nut sat on his left shoulder
and Soot on his right and Shell's head and paws peeped
out of his coat pocket.
Colin slowly sat up and stared and stared--as he had stared
when he first saw Mary; but this was a stare of wonder
and delight. The truth was that in spite of all he had
heard he had not in the least understood what this boy would
be like and that his fox and his crow and his squirrels
and his lamb were so near to him and his friendliness
that they seemed almost to be part of himself. Colin had
never talked to a boy in his life and he was so overwhelmed
by his own pleasure and curiosity that he did not even think of speaking.
But Dickon did not feel the least shy or awkward.
He had not felt embarrassed because the crow had not
known his language and had only stared and had not
spoken to him the first time they met. Creatures were
always like that until they found out about you.
He walked over to Colin's sofa and put the new-born
lamb quietly on his lap, and immediately the little
creature turned to the warm velvet dressing-gown and
began to nuzzle and nuzzle into its folds and butt its
tight-curled head with soft impatience against his side.
Of course no boy could have helped speaking then.
"What is it doing?" cried Colin. "What does it want?"
"It wants its mother," said Dickon, smiling more and more.
"I brought it to thee a bit hungry because I knowed tha'd
like to see it feed."
He knelt down by the sofa and took a feeding-bottle
from his pocket.
"Come on, little 'un," he said, turning the small
woolly white head with a gentle brown hand. "This is
what tha's after. Tha'll get more out o' this than tha'
will out o' silk velvet coats. There now," and he pushed
the rubber tip of the bottle into the nuzzling mouth
and the lamb began to suck it with ravenous ecstasy.
After that there was no wondering what to say.
By the time the lamb fell asleep questions poured forth
and Dickon answered them all. He told them how he had found
the lamb just as the sun was rising three mornings ago.
He had been standing on the moor listening to a skylark
and watching him swing higher and higher into the sky
until he was only a speck in the heights of blue.
"I'd almost lost him but for his song an' I was wonderin'
how a chap could hear it when it seemed as if he'd
get out o' th' world in a minute--an' just then I
heard somethin' else far off among th' gorse bushes.
It was a weak bleatin' an' I knowed it was a new lamb
as was hungry an' I knowed it wouldn't be hungry if it
hadn't lost its mother somehow, so I set off searchin'.
Eh! I did have a look for it. I went in an' out among th'
gorse bushes an' round an' round an' I always seemed
to take th' wrong turnin'. But at last I seed a bit o'
white by a rock on top o' th' moor an' I climbed up an'
found th' little 'un half dead wi' cold an' clemmin'."
While he talked, Soot flew solemnly in and out of the open
window and cawed remarks about the scenery while Nut
and Shell made excursions into the big trees outside
and ran up and down trunks and explored branches.
Captain curled up near Dickon, who sat on the hearth-rug
They looked at the pictures in the gardening books and
Dickon knew all the flowers by their country names and knew
exactly which ones were already growing in the secret garden.
"I couldna' say that there name," he said, pointing to one
under which was written "Aquilegia," "but us calls that
a columbine, an' that there one it's a snapdragon and they
both grow wild in hedges, but these is garden ones an'
they're bigger an' grander. There's some big clumps o'
columbine in th' garden. They'll look like a bed o' blue an'
white butterflies flutterin' when they're out."
"I'm going to see them," cried Colin. "I am going
to see them!"
"Aye, that tha' mun," said Mary quite seriously. "An'
munnot lose no time about it."
"I SHALL LIVE FOREVER--AND EVER--AND EVER!"
But they were obliged to wait more than a week because
first there came some very windy days and then Colin
was threatened with a cold, which two things happening
one after the other would no doubt have thrown him into
a rage but that there was so much careful and mysterious
planning to do and almost every day Dickon came in,
if only for a few minutes, to talk about what was happening
on the moor and in the lanes and hedges and on the borders
of streams. The things he had to tell about otters'
and badgers' and water-rats' houses, not to mention birds'
nests and field-mice and their burrows, were enough
to make you almost tremble with excitement when you
heard all the intimate details from an animal charmer
and realized with what thrilling eagerness and anxiety
the whole busy underworld was working.
"They're same as us," said Dickon, "only they have to
build their homes every year. An' it keeps 'em so busy
they fair scuffle to get 'em done."
The most absorbing thing, however, was the preparations
to be made before Colin could be transported with sufficient
secrecy to the garden. No one must see the chair-carriage
and Dickon and Mary after they turned a certain corner
of the shrubbery and entered upon the walk outside
the ivied walls. As each day passed, Colin had become
more and more fixed in his feeling that the mystery
surrounding the garden was one of its greatest charms.
Nothing must spoil that. No one must ever suspect
that they had a secret. People must think that he
was simply going out with Mary and Dickon because he
liked them and did not object to their looking at him.
They had long and quite delightful talks about their route.
They would go up this path and down that one and cross
the other and go round among the fountain flower-beds
as if they were looking at the "bedding-out plants"
the head gardener, Mr. Roach, had been having arranged.
That would seem such a rational thing to do that no one
would think it at all mysterious. They would turn into
the shrubbery walks and lose themselves until they came
to the long walls. It was almost as serious and elaborately
thought out as the plans of march made by geat generals
in time of war.
Rumors of the new and curious things which were occurring
in the invalid's apartments had of course filtered
through the servants' hall into the stable yards
and out among the gardeners, but notwithstanding this,
Mr. Roach was startled one day when he received orders
from Master Colin's room to the effect that he must report
himself in the apartment no outsider had ever seen,
as the invalid himself desired to speak to him.
"Well, well," he said to himself as he hurriedly changed
his coat, "what's to do now? His Royal Highness that wasn't
to be looked at calling up a man he's never set eyes on."
Mr. Roach was not without curiosity. He had never
caught even a glimpse of the boy and had heard a dozen
exaggerated stories about his uncanny looks and ways
and his insane tempers. The thing he had heard
oftenest was that he might die at any moment and there
had been numerous fanciful descriptions of a humped
back and helpless limbs, given by people who had never seen him.
"Things are changing in this house, Mr. Roach,"
said Mrs. Medlock, as she led him up the back staircase
to the corridor on to which opened the hitherto mysterious chamber.
"Let's hope they're changing for the better, Mrs. Medlock,"
"They couldn't well change for the worse," she continued;
"and queer as it all is there's them as finds their
duties made a lot easier to stand up under. Don't you
be surprised, Mr. Roach, if you find yourself in the middle
of a menagerie and Martha Sowerby's Dickon more at home
than you or me could ever be."
There really was a sort of Magic about Dickon, as Mary
always privately believed. When Mr. Roach heard his name
he smiled quite leniently.
"He'd be at home in Buckingham Palace or at the bottom
of a coal mine," he said. "And yet it's not impudence,
either. He's just fine, is that lad."
It was perhaps well he had been prepared or he might
have been startled. When the bedroom door was opened
a large crow, which seemed quite at home perched on
the high back of a carven chair, announced the entrance
of a visitor by saying "Caw--Caw" quite loudly.
In spite of Mrs. Medlock's warning, Mr. Roach only just
escaped being sufficiently undignified to jump backward.
The young Rajah was neither in bed nor on his sofa.
He was sitting in an armchair and a young lamb was standing
by him shaking its tail in feeding-lamb fashion as Dickon
knelt giving it milk from its bottle. A squirrel was
perched on Dickon's bent back attentively nibbling a nut.
The little girl from India was sitting on a big footstool
"Here is Mr. Roach, Master Colin," said Mrs. Medlock.
The young Rajah turned and looked his servitor over--at
least that was what the head gardener felt happened.
"Oh, you are Roach, are you?" he said. "I sent for you
to give you some very important orders."
"Very good, sir," answered Roach, wondering if he was
to receive instructions to fell all the oaks in the park
or to transform the orchards into water-gardens.
"I am going out in my chair this afternoon," said Colin.
"If the fresh air agrees with me I may go out every day.
When I go, none of the gardeners are to be anywhere near
the Long Walk by the garden walls. No one is to be there.
I shall go out about two o'clock and everyone must
keep away until I send word that they may go back to
"Very good, sir," replied Mr. Roach, much relieved to hear
that the oaks might remain and that the orchards were safe.
"Mary," said Colin, turning to her, "what is that thing
you say in India when you have finished talking and want
people to go?"
"You say, `You have my permission to go,'" answered Mary.
The Rajah waved his hand.
"You have my permission to go, Roach," he said.
"But, remember, this is very important."
"Caw--Caw!" remarked the crow hoarsely but not impolitely.
"Very good, sir. Thank you, sir," said Mr. Roach,
and Mrs. Medlock took him out of the room.
Outside in the corridor, being a rather good-natured man,
he smiled until he almost laughed.
"My word!" he said, "he's got a fine lordly way with
hasn't he? You'd think he was a whole Royal Family rolled
into one--Prince Consort and all.".
"Eh!" protested Mrs. Medlock, "we've had to let him
trample all over every one of us ever since he had feet
and he thinks that's what folks was born for."
"Perhaps he'll grow out of it, if he lives," suggested Mr.
"Well, there's one thing pretty sure," said Mrs. Medlock.
"If he does live and that Indian child stays here I'll
warrant she teaches him that thewhole orange does not
belong to him, as Susan Sowerby says. And he'll be likely
to find out the size of his own quarter."
Inside the room Colin was leaning back on his cushions.
"It's all safe now," he said. "And this afternoon I
shall see it--this afternoon I shall be in it!"
Dickon went back to the garden with his creatures and Mary
stayed with Colin. She did not think he looked tired
but he was very quiet before their lunch came and he
was quiet while they were eating it. She wondered why
and asked him about it.
"What big eyes you've got, Colin," she said. "When you
are thinking they get as big as saucers. What are you
thinking about now?"
"I can't help thinking about what it will look like,"
"The garden?" asked Mary.
"The springtime," he said. "I was thinking that I've
never seen it before. I scarcely ever went out and when I
did go I never looked at it. I didn't even think about it."
"I never saw it in India because there wasn't any,"
Shut in and morbid as his life had been, Colin had more
imagination than she had and at least he had spent a good
deal of time looking at wonderful books and pictures.
"That morning when you ran in and said `It's come! It's
come!, you made me feel quite queer. It sounded as if
things were coming with a great procession and big bursts
and wafts of music. I've a picture like it in one of my
books--crowds of lovely people and children with garlands
and branches with blossoms on them, everyone laughing
and dancing and crowding and playing on pipes. That was
why I said, `Perhaps we shall hear golden trumpets'
and told you to throw open the window."
"How funny!" said Mary. "That's really just what it
feels like. And if all the flowers and leaves and green
things and birds and wild creatures danced past at once,
what a crowd it would be! I'm sure they'd dance and sing
and flute and that would be the wafts of music."
They both laughed but it was not because the idea was
laughable but because they both so liked it.
A little later the nurse made Colin ready. She noticed
that instead of lying like a log while his clothes were
put on he sat up and made some efforts to help himself,
and he talked and laughed with Mary all the time.
"This is one of his good days, sir," she said to Dr. Craven,
who dropped in to inspect him. "He's in such good spirits
that it makes him stronger."
"I'll call in again later in the afternoon, after he has
come in," said Dr. Craven. "I must see how the going
out agrees with him. I wish," in a very low voice,
"that he would let you go with him."
"I'd rather give up the case this moment, sir, than even
stay here while it's suggested," answered the nurse.
With sudden firmness.
"I hadn't really decided to suggest it," said the doctor,
with his slight nervousness. "We'll try the experiment.
Dickon's a lad I'd trust with a new-born child."
The strongest footman in the house carried Colin down
stairs and put him in his wheeled chair near which Dickon
waited outside. After the manservant had arranged
his rugs and cushions the Rajah waved his hand to him
and to the nurse.
"You have my permission to go," he said, and they both
disappeared quickly and it must be confessed giggled
when they were safely inside the house.
Dickon began to push the wheeled chair slowly and steadily.
Mistress Mary walked beside it and Colin leaned back
and lifted his face to the sky. The arch of it looked
very high and the small snowy clouds seemed like white birds
floating on outspread wings below its crystal blueness.
The wind swept in soft big breaths down from the moor
and was strange with a wild clear scented sweetness.
Colin kept lifting his thin chest to draw it in,
and his big eyes looked as if it were they which were
listening--listening, instead of his ears.
"There are so many sounds of singing and humming and
calling out," he said. "What is that scent the puffs
of wind bring?"
"It's gorse on th' moor that's openin' out," answered Dickon.
"Eh! th' bees are at it wonderful today."
Not a human creature was to be caught sight of in the
paths they took. In fact every gardener or gardener's
lad had been witched away. But they wound in and out
among the shrubbery and out and round the fountain beds,
following their carefully planned route for the mere
mysterious pleasure of it. But when at last they turned
into the Long Walk by the ivied walls the excited sense
of an approaching thrill made them, for some curious reason
they could not have explained, begin to speak in whispers.
"This is it," breathed Mary. "This is where I used
to walk up and down and wonder and wonder." "Is it?"
cried Colin, and his eyes began to search the ivy with
eager curiousness. "But I can see nothing," he whispered.
"There is no door."
"That's what I thought," said Mary.
Then there was a lovely breathless silence and the chair
"That is the garden where Ben Weatherstaff works,"
"Is it?" said Colin.
A few yards more and Mary whispered again.
"This is where the robin flew over the wall," she said.
"Is it?" cried Colin. "Oh! I wish he'd come again!"
"And that," said Mary with solemn delight, pointing under
a big lilac bush, "is where he perched on the little
heap of earth and showed me the key."
Then Colin sat up.
"Where? Where? There?" he cried, and his eyes were as big
as the wolf's in Red Riding-Hood, when Red Riding-Hood
felt called upon to remark on them. Dickon stood still
and the wheeled chair stopped.
"And this," said Mary, stepping on to the bed close to the
"is where I went to talk to him when he chirped at me
from the top of the wall. And this is the ivy the wind
blew back," and she took hold of the hanging green curtain.
"Oh! is it--is it!" gasped Colin.
"And here is the handle, and here is the door.
Dickon push him in--push him in quickly!"
And Dickon did it with one strong, steady, splendid push.
But Colin had actually dropped back against his cushions,
even though he gasped with delight, and he had covered
his eyes with his hands and held them there shutting
out everything until they were inside and the chair
stopped as if by magic and the door was closed.
Not till then did he take them away and look round
and round and round as Dickon and Mary had done.
And over walls and earth and trees and swinging sprays
and tendrils the fair green veil of tender little leaves
had crept, and in the grass under the trees and the gray
urns in the alcoves and here and there everywhere
were touches or splashes of gold and purple and white
and the trees were showing pink and snow above his head
and there were fluttering of wings and faint sweet pipes
and humming and scents and scents. And the sun fell
warm upon his face like a hand with a lovely touch.
And in wonder Mary and Dickon stood and stared at him.
He looked so strange and different because a pink glow
of color had actually crept all over him--ivory face
and neck and hands and all.
"I shall get well! I shall get well!" he cried out.
"Mary! Dickon! I shall get well! And I shall live forever
and ever and ever!"
One of the strange things about living in the world is
that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is
going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it
sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time
and goes out and stands alone and throws one's head far
back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly
changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening
until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart
stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the
rising of the sun--which has been happening every morning
for thousands and thousands and thousands of years.
One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it
sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset
and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and
under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again
something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries.
Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night
with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure;
and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true;
and sometimes a look in some one's eyes.
And it was like that with Colin when he first saw and
heard and felt the Springtime inside the four high walls
of a hidden garden. That afternoon the whole world
seemed to devote itself to being perfect and radiantly
beautiful and kind to one boy. Perhaps out of pure
heavenly goodness the spring came and crowned everything
it possibly could into that one place. More than once
Dickon paused in what he was doing and stood still with
a sort of growing wonder in his eyes, shaking his head softly.
"Eh! it is graidely," he said. "I'm twelve goin'
on thirteen an' there's a lot o' afternoons in thirteen years,
but seems to me like I never seed one as graidely as this
"Aye, it is a graidely one," said Mary, and she sighed
for mere joy. "I'll warrant it's the graidelest one
as ever was in this world."
"Does tha' think," said Colin with dreamy carefulness,
"as happen it was made loike this 'ere all o' purpose for me?"
"My word!" cried Mary admiringly, "that there is a bit
good Yorkshire. Tha'rt shapin' first-rate--that tha' art."
And delight reigned. They drew the chair under the plum-tree,
which was snow-white with blossoms and musical with bees.
It was like a king's canopy, a fairy king's. There were
flowering cherry-trees near and apple-trees whose buds
were pink and white, and here and there one had burst
open wide. Between the blossoming branches of the canopy
bits of blue sky looked down like wonderful eyes.
Mary and Dickon worked a litle here and there and Colin
watched them. They brought him things to look at--buds
which were opening, buds which were tight closed,
bits of twig whose leaves were just showing green,
the feather of a woodpecker which had dropped on
the grass, the empty shell of some bird early hatched.
Dickon pushed the chair slowly round and round the garden,
stopping every other moment to let him look at wonders
springing out of the earth or trailing down from trees.
It was like being taken in state round the country of a
magic king and queen and shown all the mysterious riches
"I wonder if we shall see the robin?" said Colin.
"Tha'll see him often enow after a bit," answered Dickon.
"When th' eggs hatches out th' little chap he'll be kep'
so busy it'll make his head swim. Tha'll see him flyin'
backward an' for'ard carryin' worms nigh as big as himsel'
an' that much noise goin' on in th' nest when he gets
there as fair flusters him so as he scarce knows which big
mouth to drop th' first piece in. An' gapin' beaks an'
squawks on every side. Mother says as when she sees th'
work a robin has to keep them gapin' beaks filled,
she feels like she was a lady with nothin, to do.
She says she's seen th' little chaps when it seemed like th'
sweat must be droppin' off 'em, though folk can't see
This made them giggle so delightedly that they were obliged
to cover their mouths with their hands, remembering that
they must not be heard. Colin had been instructed as to
the law of whispers and low voices several days before.
He liked the mysteriousness of it and did his best,
but in the midst of excited enjoyment it is rather
difficult never to laugh above a whisper.
Every moment of the afternoon was full of new things
and every hour the sunshine grew more golden. The wheeled
chair had been drawn back under the canopy and Dickon
had sat down on the grass and had just drawn out his pipe
when Colin saw something he had not had time to notice before.
"That's a very old tree over there, isn't it?" he said.
Dickon looked across the grass at the tree and Mary looked
and there was a brief moment of stillness.
"Yes," answered Dickon, after it, and his low voice
had a very gentle sound.
Mary gazed at the tree and thought.
"The branches are quite gray and there's not a single
leaf anywhere," Colin went on. "It's quite dead,
"Aye," admitted Dickon. "But them roses as has climbed
all over it will near hide every bit o' th' dead wood
when they're full o' leaves an' flowers. It won't look
dead then. It'll be th' prettiest of all."
Mary still gazed at the tree and thought.
"It looks as if a big branch had been broken off,"
said Colin. "I wonder how it was done."
"It's been done many a year," answered Dickon. "Eh!"
a sudden relieved start and laying his hand on Colin.
"Look at that robin! There he is! He's been foragin'
for his mate."
Colin was almost too late but he just caught sight of him,
the flash of red-breasted bird with something in his beak.
He darted through the greenness and into the close-grown
corner and was out of sight. Colin leaned back on his
cushion again, laughing a little. "He's taking her tea
to her. Perhaps it's five o'clock. I think I'd like some
And so they were safe.
"It was Magic which sent the robin," said Mary secretly
to Dickon afterward. "I know it was Magic." For both she
and Dickon had been afraid Colin might ask something
about the tree whose branch had broken off ten years
ago and they had talked it over together and Dickon
had stood and rubbed his head in a troubled way.
"We mun look as if it wasn't no different from th'
other trees," he had said. "We couldn't never tell him
how it broke, poor lad. If he says anything about it we
mun--we mun try to look cheerful."
"Aye, that we mun," had answered Mary.
But she had not felt as if she looked cheerful when she gazed
at the tree. She wondered and wondered in those few moments
if there was any reality in that other thing Dickon had said.
He had gone on rubbing his rust-red hair in a puzzled way,
but a nice comforted look had begun to grow in his blue eyes.
"Mrs. Craven was a very lovely young lady," he had
gone on rather hesitatingly. "An' mother she thinks
maybe she's about Misselthwaite many a time lookin'
after Mester Colin, same as all mothers do when they're
took out o' th' world. They have to come back,
tha' sees. Happen she's been in the garden an'
happen it was her set us to work, an' told us to bring him here."
Mary had thought he meant something about Magic.
She was a great believer in Magic. Secretly she quite
believed that Dickon worked Magic, of course good Magic,
on everything near him and that was why people liked him
so much and wild creatures knew he was their friend.
She wondered, indeed, if it were not possible that his
gift had brought the robin just at the right moment
when Colin asked that dangerous question. She felt
that his Magic was working all the afternoon and making
Colin look like an entirely different boy. It did not
seem possible that he could be the crazy creature who had
screamed and beaten and bitten his pillow. Even his ivory
whiteness seemed to change. The faint glow of color
which had shown on his face and neck and hands when he
first got inside the garden really never quite died away.
He looked as if he were made of flesh instead of ivory
They saw the robin carry food to his mate two or three times,
and it was so suggestive of afternoon tea that Colin
felt they must have some.
"Go and make one of the men servants bring some in a
basket to the rhododendron walk," he said. "And then
you and Dickon can bring it here."
It was an agreeable idea, easily carried out, and when
the white cloth was spread upon the grass, with hot tea
and buttered toast and crumpets, a delightfully hungry
meal was eaten, and several birds on domestic errands
paused to inquire what was going on and were led into
investigating crumbs with great activity. Nut and Shell
whisked up trees with pieces of cake and Soot took the
entire half of a buttered crumpet into a corner and pecked
at and examined and turned it over and made hoarse remarks
about it until he decided to swallow it all joyfully in one gulp.
The afternoon was dragging towards its mellow hour.
The sun was deepening the gold of its lances, the bees
were going home and the birds were flying past less often.
Dickon and Mary were sitting on the grass, the tea-basket
was repacked ready to be taken back to the house, and Colin
was lying against his cushions with his heavy locks
pushed back from his forehead and his face looking quite
a natural color.
"I don't want this afternoon to go," he said; "but I
come back tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after,
and the day after."
"You'll get plenty of fresh air, won't you?" said Mary.
"I'm going to get nothing else," he answered.
"I've seen the spring now and I'm going to see the summer.
I'm going to see everything grow here. I'm going to grow
"That tha' will," said Dickon. "Us'll have thee walkin'
about here an' diggin' same as other folk afore long."
Colin flushed tremendously.
"Walk!" he said. "Dig! Shall I?"
Dickon's glance at him was delicately cautious.
Neither he nor Mary had ever asked if anything was
the matter with his legs.
"For sure tha' will," he said stoutly. "Tha--tha's got
legs o' thine own, same as other folks!"
Mary was rather frightened until she heard Colin's answer.
"Nothing really ails them," he said, "but they are so
and weak. They shake so that I'm afraid to try to stand
Both Mary and Dickon drew a relieved breath.
"When tha' stops bein' afraid tha'lt stand on 'em,"
Dickon said with renewed cheer. "An' tha'lt stop bein'
afraid in a bit."
"I shall?" said Colin, and he lay still as if he were
wondering about things.
They were really very quiet for a little while.
The sun was dropping lower. It was that hour when
everything stills itself, and they really had had a busy
and exciting afternoon. Colin looked as if he were
resting luxuriously. Even the creatures had ceased moving
about and had drawn together and were resting near them.
Soot had perched on a low branch and drawn up one leg
and dropped the gray film drowsily over his eyes.
Mary privately thought he looked as if he might snore
in a minute.
In the midst of this stillness it was rather startling
when Colin half lifted his head and exclaimed in a loud
suddenly alarmed whisper:
"Who is that man?" Dickon and Mary scrambled to their feet.
"Man!" they both cried in low quick voices.
Colin pointed to the high wall. "Look!" he whispered excitedly.
Mary and Dickon wheeled about and looked. There was Ben
Weatherstaff's indignant face glaring at them over the wall
from the top of a ladder! He actually shook his fist at Mary.
"If I wasn't a bachelder, an' tha' was a wench o'
mine," he cried, "I'd give thee a hidin'!"
He mounted another step threateningly as if it were his
energetic intention to jump down and deal with her;
but as she came toward him he evidently thought better
of it and stood on the top step of his ladder shaking
his fist down at her.
"I never thowt much o' thee!" he harangued. "I couldna'
abide thee th' first time I set eyes on thee. A scrawny
buttermilk-faced young besom, allus askin' questions an'
pokin' tha' nose where it wasna, wanted. I never knowed
how tha' got so thick wi' me. If it hadna' been for th'
robin-- Drat him--"
"Ben Weatherstaff," called out Mary, finding her breath.
She stood below him and called up to him with a sort
of gasp. "Ben Weatherstaff, it was the robin who showed me
Then it did seem as if Ben really would scramble down
on her side of the wall, he was so outraged.
"Tha' young bad 'un!" he called down at her. "Layin'
badness on a robin--not but what he's impidint enow
for anythin'. Him showin' thee th' way! Him! Eh! tha'
young nowt"--she could see his next words burst out
because he was overpowered by curiosity-- "however i'
this world did tha' get in?"
"It was the robin who showed me the way," she protested
obstinately. "He didn't know he was doing it but he did.
And I can't tell you from here while you're shaking
your fist at me."
He stopped shaking his fist very suddenly at that very
moment and his jaw actually dropped as he stared over her
head at something he saw coming over the grass toward him.
At the first sound of his torrent of words Colin had
been so surprised that he had only sat up and listened
as if he were spellbound. But in the midst of it he
had recovered himself and beckoned imperiously to Dickon.
"Wheel me over there!" he commanded. "Wheel me quite
close and stop right in front of him!"
And this, if you please, this is what Ben Weatherstaff beheld
and which made his jaw drop. A wheeled chair with luxurious
cushions and robes which came toward him looking rather
like some sort of State Coach because a young Rajah leaned
back in it with royal command in his great black-rimmed
eyes and a thin white hand extended haughtily toward him.
And it stopped right under Ben Weatherstaff's nose.
It was really no wonder his mouth dropped open.
"Do you know who I am?" demanded the Rajah.
How Ben Weatherstaff stared! His red old eyes fixed
themselves on what was before him as if he were seeing
a ghost. He gazed and gazed and gulped a lump down his
throat and did not say a word. "Do you know who I am?"
demanded Colin still more imperiously. "Answer!"
Ben Weatherstaff put his gnarled hand up and passed it
over his eyes and over his forehead and then he did
answer in a queer shaky voice.
"Who tha' art?" he said. "Aye, that I do--wi' tha'
mother's eyes starin' at me out o' tha' face. Lord knows
how tha' come here. But tha'rt th' poor cripple."
Colin forgot that he had ever had a back. His face
flushed scarlet and he sat bolt upright.
"I'm not a cripple!" he cried out furiously. "I'm not!"
"He's not!" cried Mary, almost shouting up the wall
in her fierce indignation. "He's not got a lump as big
as a pin! I looked and there was none there--not one!"
Ben Weatherstaff passed his hand over his forehead
again and gazed as if he could never gaze enough.
His hand shook and his mouth shook and his voice shook.
He was an ignorant old man and a tactless old man and he
could only remember the things he had heard.
"Tha'--tha' hasn't got a crooked back?" he said hoarsely.
"No!" shouted Colin.
"Tha'--tha' hasn't got crooked legs?" quavered Ben more
hoarsely yet. It was too much. The strength which Colin
usually threw into his tantrums rushed through him now
in a new way. Never yet had he been accused of crooked
legs--even in whispers--and the perfectly simple belief
in their existence which was revealed by Ben Weatherstaff's
voice was more than Rajah flesh and blood could endure.
His anger and insulted pride made him forget everything
but this one moment and filled him with a power he had
never known before, an almost unnatural strength.
"Come here!" he shouted to Dickon, and he actually
began to tear the coverings off his lower limbs and
disentangle himself. "Come here! Come here! This minute!"
Dickon was by his side in a second. Mary caught her
breath in a short gasp and felt herself turn pale.
"He can do it! He can do it! He can do it! He can!"
she gabbled over to herself under her breath as fast
as ever she could.
There was a brief fierce scramble, the rugs were tossed
on the ground, Dickon held Colin's arm, the thin
legs were out, the thin feet were on the grass.
Colin was standing upright--upright--as straight as an
arrow and looking strangely tall--his head thrown back
and his strange eyes flashing lightning. "Look at me!"
he flung up at Ben Weatherstaff. "Just look at me--you!
Just look at me!"
"He's as straight as I am!" cried Dickon. "He's as
straight as any lad i' Yorkshire!"
What Ben Weatherstaff did Mary thought queer beyond measure.
He choked and gulped and suddenly tears ran down his
weather-wrinkled cheeks as he struck his old hands together.
"Eh!" he burst forth, "th' lies folk tells! Tha'rt
as thin as a lath an' as white as a wraith, but there's
not a knob on thee. Tha'lt make a mon yet. God bless thee!"
Dickon held Colin's arm strongly but the boy had not begun
to falter. He stood straighter and straighter and looked
Ben Weatherstaff in the face.
"I'm your master," he said, "when my father is away.
And you are to obey me. This is my garden. Don't dare
to say a word about it! You get down from that ladder
and go out to the Long Walk and Miss Mary will meet you
and bring you here. I want to talk to you. We did not
want you, but now you will have to be in the secret.
Ben Weatherstaff's crabbed old face was still wet with
that one queer rush of tears. It seemed as if he could
not take his eyes from thin straight Colin standing
on his feet with his head thrown back.
"Eh! lad," he almost whispered. "Eh! my lad!" And
remembering himself he suddenly touched his hat gardener
fashion and said, "Yes, sir! Yes, sir!" and obediently
disappeared as he descended the ladder.
WHEN THE SUN WENT DOWN
When his head was out of sight Colin turned to Mary.
"Go and meet him," he said; and Mary flew across the grass
to the door under the ivy.
Dickon was watching him with sharp eyes. There were
scarlet spots on his cheeks and he looked amazing,
but he showed no signs of falling.
"I can stand," he said, and his head was still held up
and he said it quite grandly.
"I told thee tha' could as soon as tha' stopped bein'
afraid," answered Dickon. "An' tha's stopped."
"Yes, I've stopped," said Colin.
Then suddenly he remembered something Mary had said.
"Are you making Magic?" he asked sharply.
Dickon's curly mouth spread in a cheerful grin.
"Tha's doin' Magic thysel'," he said. "It's same Magic
as made these 'ere work out o' th' earth," and he touched
with his thick boot a clump of crocuses in the grass.
Colin looked down at them.
"Aye," he said slowly, "there couldna' be bigger Magic
than that there--there couldna' be."
He drew himself up straighter than ever.
"I'm going to walk to that tree," he said, pointing to
one a few feet away from him. "I'm going to be standing
when Weatherstaff comes here. I can rest against the tree
if I like. When I want to sit down I will sit down,
but not before. Bring a rug from the chair."
He walked to the tree and though Dickon held his arm he was
wonderfully steady. When he stood against the tree trunk
it was not too plain that he supported himself against it,
and he still held himself so straight that he looked tall.
When Ben Weatherstaff came through the door in the wall
he saw him standing there and he heard Mary muttering
something under her breath.
"What art sayin'?" he asked rather testily because he
did not want his attention distracted from the long thin
straight boy figure and proud face.
But she did not tell him. What she was saying was this:
"You can do it! You can do it! I told you you could!
You can do it! You can do it! You can!" She was saying
it to Colin because she wanted to make Magic and keep
him on his feet looking like that. She could not bear
that he should give in before Ben Weatherstaff.
He did not give in. She was uplifted by a sudden feeling
that he looked quite beautiful in spite of his thinness.
He fixed his eyes on Ben Weatherstaff in his funny
"Look at me!" he commanded. "Look at me all over! Am
a hunchback? Have I got crooked legs?"
Ben Weatherstaff had not quite got over his emotion,
but he had recovered a little and answered almost in his
"Not tha'," he said. "Nowt o' th' sort. What's tha'
been doin' with thysel'--hidin' out o' sight an' lettin'
folk think tha' was cripple an' half-witted?"
"Half-witted!" said Colin angrily. "Who thought that?"
"Lots o' fools," said Ben. "Th' world's full o'
jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies.
What did tha' shut thysel' up for?"
"Everyone thought I was going to die," said Colin shortly.
And he said it with such decision Ben Weatherstaff looked
him over, up and down, down and up.
"Tha' die!" he said with dry exultation. "Nowt o' th'
sort! Tha's got too much pluck in thee. When I seed thee
put tha' legs on th' ground in such a hurry I knowed tha'
was all right. Sit thee down on th' rug a bit young
Mester an' give me thy orders."
There was a queer mixture of crabbed tenderness and shrewd
understanding in his manner. Mary had poured out speech
as rapidly as she could as they had come down the Long Walk.
The chief thing to be remembered, she had told him,
was that Colin was getting well--getting well. The garden
was doing it. No one must let him remember about having
humps and dying.
The Rajah condescended to seat himself on a rug under
"What work do you do in the gardens, Weatherstaff?"
"Anythin' I'm told to do," answered old Ben. "I'm kep'
on by favor--because she liked me."
"She?" said Colin.
"Tha' mother," answered Ben Weatherstaff.
"My mother?" said Colin, and he looked about him quietly.
"This was her garden, wasn't it?"
"Aye, it was that!" and Ben Weatherstaff looked about
him too. "She were main fond of it."
"It is my garden now. I am fond of it. I shall come here
every day," announced Colin. "But it is to be a secret.
My orders are that no one is to know that we come here.
Dickon and my cousin have worked and made it come alive.
I shall send for you sometimes to help--but you must come
when no one can see you."
Ben Weatherstaff's face twisted itself in a dry old smile.
"I've come here before when no one saw me," he said.
"What!" exclaimed Colin.
"Th' last time I was here," rubbing his chin
and looking round, "was about two year' ago."
"But no one has been in it for ten years!" cried Colin.
"There was no door!"
"I'm no one," said old Ben dryly. "An' I didn't come
through th' door. I come over th' wall. Th' rheumatics held
me back th' last two year'."
"Tha' come an' did a bit o' prunin'!" cried Dickon.
"I couldn't make out how it had been done."
"She was so fond of it--she was!" said Ben Weatherstaff slowly.
"An' she was such a pretty young thing. She says to me once,
`Ben,' says she laughin', `if ever I'm ill or if I go away
you must take care of my roses.' When she did go away th'
orders was no one was ever to come nigh. But I come,"
with grumpy obstinacy. "Over th' wall I come--until th'
rheumatics stopped me--an' I did a bit o' work once a year.
She'd gave her order first."
"It wouldn't have been as wick as it is if tha'
hadn't done it," said Dickon. "I did wonder."
"I'm glad you did it, Weatherstaff," said Colin.
"You'll know how to keep the secret."
"Aye, I'll know, sir," answered Ben. "An, it'll be easier
for a man wi' rheumatics to come in at th' door."
On the grass near the tree Mary had dropped her trowel.
Colin stretched out his hand and took it up. An odd expression
came into his face and he began to scratch at the earth.
His thin hand was weak enough but presently as they watched
him--Mary with quite breathless interest--he drove the end
of the trowel into the soil and turned some over.
"You can do it! You can do it!" said Mary to herself.
"I tell you, you can!"
Dickon's round eyes were full of eager curiousness but he said
not a word. Ben Weatherstaff looked on with interested face.
Colin persevered. After he had turned a few trowelfuls
of soil he spoke exultantly to Dickon in his best Yorkshire.
"Tha' said as tha'd have me walkin' about here same
as other folk--an' tha' said tha'd have me diggin'. I
thowt tha' was just leein' to please me. This is only th'
first day an' I've walked--an' here I am diggin'."
Ben Weatherstaff's mouth fell open again when he heard him,
but he ended by chuckling.
"Eh!" he said, "that sounds as if tha'd got wits enow.
Tha'rt a Yorkshire lad for sure. An' tha'rt diggin', too.
How'd tha' like to plant a bit o' somethin'? I can get thee
a rose in a pot."
"Go and get it!" said Colin, digging excitedly.
It was done quickly enough indeed. Ben Weatherstaff went
his way forgetting rheumatics. Dickon took his spade
and dug the hole deeper and wider than a new digger
with thin white hands could make it. Mary slipped out
to run and bring back a watering-can. When Dickon had
deepened the hole Colin went on turning the soft earth
over and over. He looked up at the sky, flushed and
glowing with the strangely new exercise, slight as it was.
"I want to do it before the sun goes quite--quite down,"
Mary thought that perhaps the sun held back a few minutes
just on purpose. Ben Weatherstaff brought the rose in
its pot from the greenhouse. He hobbled over the grass
as fast as he could. He had begun to be excited, too.
He knelt down by the hole and broke the pot from the mould.
"Here, lad," he said, handing the plant to Colin.
"Set it in the earth thysel' same as th' king does when he
goes to a new place."
The thin white hands shook a little and Colin's flush
grew deeper as he set the rose in the mould and held
it while old Ben made firm the earth. It was filled
in and pressed down and made steady. Mary was leaning
forward on her hands and knees. Soot had flown down
and marched forward to see what was being done.
Nut and Shell chattered about it from a cherry-tree.
"It's planted!" said Colin at last. "And the sun is only
slipping over the edge. Help me up, Dickon. I want
to be standing when it goes. That's part of the Magic."
And Dickon helped him, and the Magic--or whatever it
was--so gave him strength that when the sun did slip
over the edge and end the strange lovely afternoon
for them there he actually stood on his two feet--laughing.
Dr. Craven had been waiting some time at the house
when they returned to it. He had indeed begun to wonder
if it might not be wise to send some one out to explore
the garden paths. When Colin was brought back to his
room the poor man looked him over seriously.
"You should not have stayed so long," he said. "You must
not overexert yourself."
"I am not tired at all," said Colin. "It has made me
Tomorrow I am going out in the morning as well as in
"I am not sure that I can allow it," answered Dr. Craven.
"I am afraid it would not be wise."
"It would not be wise to try to stop me," said Colin
quite seriously. "I am going."
Even Mary had found out that one of Colin's chief peculiarities
was that he did not know in the least what a rude little
brute he was with his way of ordering people about.
He had lived on a sort of desert island all his life
and as he had been the king of it he had made his own
manners and had had no one to compare himself with.
Mary had indeed been rather like him herself and since she
had been at Misselthwaite had gradually discovered that
her own manners had not been of the kind which is usual
or popular. Having made this discovery she naturally
thought it of enough interest to communicate to Colin.
So she sat and looked at him curiously for a few minutes
after Dr. Craven had gone. She wanted to make him ask
her why she was doing it and of course she did.
"What are you looking at me for?" he said.
"I'm thinking that I am rather sorry for Dr. Craven."
"So am I," said Colin calmly, but not without an air
of some satisfaction. "He won't get Misselthwaite
at all now I'm not going to die."
"I'm sorry for him because of that, of course," said Mary,
"but I was thinking just then that it must have been very
horrid to have had to be polite for ten years to a boy
who was always rude. I would never have done it."
"Am I rude?" Colin inquired undisturbedly.
"If you had been his own boy and he had been a slapping
sort of man," said Mary, "he would have slapped you."
"But he daren't," said Colin.
"No, he daren't," answered Mistress Mary, thinking the
thing out quite without prejudice. "Nobody ever dared
to do anything you didn't like--because you were going
to die and things like that. You were such a poor thing."
"But," announced Colin stubbornly, "I am not going
to be a poor thing. I won't let people think I'm one.
I stood on my feet this afternoon."
"It is always having your own way that has made you
so queer," Mary went on, thinking aloud.
Colin turned his head, frowning.
"Am I queer?" he demanded.
"Yes," answered Mary, "very. But you needn't be cross,"
she added impartially, "because so am I queer--and so is
Ben Weatherstaff. But I am not as queer as I was before I
began to like people and before I found the garden."
"I don't want to be queer," said Colin. "I am not going
to be," and he frowned again with determination.
He was a very proud boy. He lay thinking for a while and
then Mary saw his beautiful smile begin and gradually
change his whole face.
"I shall stop being queer," he said, "if I go every day
to the garden. There is Magic in there--good Magic,
you know, Mary. I am sure there is." "So am I,"
"Even if it isn't real Magic," Colin said, "we can pretend
it is. Something is there--something!"
"It's Magic," said Mary, "but not black. It's as white
They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it
in the months that followed--the wonderful months--the
radiant months--the amazing ones. Oh! the things
which happened in that garden! If you have never had
a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had
a garden you will know that it would take a whole book
to describe all that came to pass there. At first it
seemed that green things would never cease pushing
their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds,
even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things
began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and
show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple,
every tint and hue of crimson. In its happy days flowers
had been tucked away into every inch and hole and corner.
Ben Weatherstaff had seen it done and had himself scraped
out mortar from between the bricks of the wall and made
pockets of earth for lovely clinging things to grow on.
Iris and white lilies rose out of the grass in sheaves,
and the green alcoves filled themselves with amazing armies
of the blue and white flower lances of tall delphiniums
or columbines or campanulas.
"She was main fond o' them--she was," Ben Weatherstaff said.
"She liked them things as was allus pointin' up to th'
blue sky, she used to tell. Not as she was one o'
them as looked down on th' earth--not her. She just loved
it but she said as th' blue sky allus looked so joyful."
The seeds Dickon and Mary had planted grew as if fairies
had tended them. Satiny poppies of all tints danced in the
breeze by the score, gaily defying flowers which had lived
in the garden for years and which it might be confessed
seemed rather to wonder how such new people had got there.
And the roses--the roses! Rising out of the grass,
tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks
and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls
and spreading over them with long garlands falling
in cascades --they came alive day by day, hour by hour.
Fair fresh leaves, and buds--and buds--tiny at first but
swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled
into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over
their brims and filling the garden air.
Colin saw it all, watching each change as it took place.
Every morning he was brought out and every hour of each day
when it didn't rain he spent in the garden. Even gray
days pleased him. He would lie on the grass "watching
things growing," he said. If you watched long enough,
he declared, you could see buds unsheath themselves.
Also you could make the acquaintance of strange busy insect
things running about on various unknown but evidently
serious errands, sometimes carrying tiny scraps of straw
or feather or food, or climbing blades of grass as if they
were trees from whose tops one could look out to explore
the country. A mole throwing up its mound at the end of its
burrow and making its way out at last with the long-nailed
paws which looked so like elfish hands, had absorbed him
one whole morning. Ants' ways, beetles' ways, bees'
ways, frogs' ways, birds' ways, plants' ways, gave him
a new world to explore and when Dickon revealed them
all and added foxes' ways, otters' ways, ferrets' ways,
squirrels' ways, and trout' and water-rats' and badgers'
ways, there was no end to the things to talk about and think over.
And this was not the half of the Magic. The fact that he
had really once stood on his feet had set Colin thinking
tremendously and when Mary told him of the spell she
had worked he was excited and approved of it greatly.
He talked of it constantly.
"Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,"
he said wisely one day, "but people don't know what it is
like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say
nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.
I am going to try and experiment"
The next morning when they went to the secret garden he sent
at once for Ben Weatherstaff. Ben came as quickly as he
could and found the Rajah standing on his feet under a tree
and looking very grand but also very beautifully smiling.
"Good morning, Ben Weatherstaff," he said. "I want you
and Dickon and Miss Mary to stand in a row and listen to me
because I am going to tell you something very important."
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered Ben Weatherstaff, touching
his forehead. (One of the long concealed charms of Ben
Weatherstaff was that in his boyhood he had once run away
to sea and had made voyages. So he could reply like a sailor.)
"I am going to try a scientific experiment," explained the
"When I grow up I am going to make great scientific
discoveries and I am going to begin now with this experiment"
"Aye, aye, sir!" said Ben Weatherstaff promptly,
though this was the first time he had heard of great
It was the first time Mary had heard of them, either,
but even at this stage she had begun to realize that,
queer as he was, Colin had read about a great many singular
things and was somehow a very convincing sort of boy.
When he held up his head and fixed his strange eyes on you
it seemed as if you believed him almost in spite of yourself
though he was only ten years old--going on eleven.
At this moment he was especially convincing because he
suddenly felt the fascination of actually making a sort
of speech like a grown-up person.
"The great scientific discoveries I am going to make,"
he went on, "will be about Magic. Magic is a great thing
and scarcely any one knows anything about it except a few
people in old books--and Mary a little, because she was
born in India where there are fakirs. I believe Dickon
knows some Magic, but perhaps he doesn't know he knows it.
He charms animals and people. I would never have let him
come to see me if he had not been an animal charmer--which
is a boy charmer, too, because a boy is an animal.
I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not
sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for
us--like electricity and horses and steam."
This sounded so imposing that Ben Weatherstaff became
quite excited and really could not keep still. "Aye, aye,
sir," he said and he began to stand up quite straight.
"When Mary found this garden it looked quite dead,"
the orator proceeded. "Then something began pushing things
up out of the soil and making things out of nothing.
One day things weren't there and another they were.
I had never watched things before and it made me feel
very curious. Scientific people are always curious and I
am going to be scientific. I keep saying to myself,
`What is it? What is it?' It's something. It can't
be nothing! I don't know its name so I call it Magic.
I have never seen the sun rise but Mary and Dickon have
and from what they tell me I am sure that is Magic too.
Something pushes it up and draws it. Sometimes since I've
been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at
the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy
as if something were pushing and drawing in my chest
and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and
drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is
made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds,
badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must
be all around us. In this garden--in all the places.
The Magic in this garden has made me stand up and know
I am going to live to be a man. I am going to makethe
scientific experiment of trying to get some and put it
in myself and make it push and draw me and make me strong.
I don't know how to do it but I think that if you keep
thinking about it and calling it perhaps it will come.
Perhaps that is the first baby way to get it.
When I was going to try to stand that first time Mary
kept saying to herself as fast as she could, `You can
do it! You can do it!' and I did. I had to try myself
at the same time, of course, but her Magic helped me--and
so did Dickon's. Every morning and evening and as often
in the daytime as I can remember I am going to say,
'Magic is in me! Magic is making me well! I am going
to be as strong as Dickon, as strong as Dickon!' And you
must all do it, too. That is my experiment Will you help,
"Aye, aye, sir!" said Ben Weatherstaff. "Aye, aye!"
"If you keep doing it every day as regularly as soldiers
go through drill we shall see what will happen and find
out if the experiment succeeds. You learn things
by saying them over and over and thinking about them
until they stay in your mind forever and I think it
will be the same with Magic. If you keep calling it
to come to you and help you it will get to be part
of you and it will stay and do things." "I once heard
an officer in India tell my mother that there were fakirs
who said words over and over thousands of times," said Mary.
"I've heard Jem Fettleworth's wife say th' same thing over
thousands o' times--callin' Jem a drunken brute," said Ben
Weatherstaff dryly. "Summat allus come o' that, sure enough.
He gave her a good hidin' an' went to th' Blue Lion an'
got as drunk as a lord."
Colin drew his brows together and thought a few minutes.
Then he cheered up.
"Well," he said, "you see something did come of it.
She used the wrong Magic until she made him beat her.
If she'd used the right Magic and had said something
nice perhaps he wouldn't have got as drunk as a lord and
perhaps--perhaps he might have bought her a new bonnet."
Ben Weatherstaff chuckled and there was shrewd admiration
in his little old eyes.
"Tha'rt a clever lad as well as a straight-legged one,
Mester Colin," he said. "Next time I see Bess Fettleworth
I'll give her a bit of a hint o' what Magic will do for her.
She'd be rare an' pleased if th' sinetifik 'speriment
worked --an' so 'ud Jem."
Dickon had stood listening to the lecture, his round
eyes shining with curious delight. Nut and Shell were
on his shoulders and he held a long-eared white rabbit
in his arm and stroked and stroked it softly while it
laid its ears along its back and enjoyed itself.
"Do you think the experiment will work?" Colin asked him,
wondering what he was thinking. He so often wondered
what Dickon was thinking when he saw him looking at him
or at one of his "creatures" with his happy wide smile.
He smiled now and his smile was wider than usual.
"Aye," he answered, "that I do. It'll work same as th'
seeds do when th' sun shines on 'em. It'll work for sure.
Shall us begin it now?"
Colin was delighted and so was Mary. Fired by recollections
of fakirs and devotees in illustrations Colin suggested
that they should all sit cross-legged under the tree
which made a canopy.
"It will be like sitting in a sort of temple," said Colin.
"I'm rather tired and I want to sit down."
"Eh!" said Dickon, "tha' mustn't begin by sayin'
tha'rt tired. Tha' might spoil th' Magic."
Colin turned and looked at him--into his innocent round eyes.
"That's true," he said slowly. "I must only think of
the Magic." It all seemed most majestic and mysterious
when they sat down in their circle. Ben Weatherstaff
felt as if he had somehow been led into appearing
at a prayer-meeting. Ordinarily he was very fixed in
being what he called "agen' prayer-meetin's" but this
being the Rajah's affair he did not resent it and was
indeed inclined to be gratified at being called upon
to assist. Mistress Mary felt solemnly enraptured.
Dickon held his rabbit in his arm, and perhaps he made
some charmer's signal no one heard, for when he sat down,
cross-legged like the rest, the crow, the fox, the squirrels
and the lamb slowly drew near and made part of the circle,
settling each into a place of rest as if of their own desire.
"The `creatures' have come," said Colin gravely.
"They want to help us."
Colin really looked quite beautiful, Mary thought.
He held his head high as if he felt like a sort of priest
and his strange eyes had a wonderful look in them.
The light shone on him through the tree canopy.
"Now we will begin," he said. "Shall we sway backward
and forward, Mary, as if we were dervishes?"
"I canna' do no swayin' back'ard and for'ard,"
said Ben Weatherstaff. "I've got th' rheumatics."
"The Magic will take them away," said Colin in a High
Priest tone, "but we won't sway until it has done it.
We will only chant."
"I canna' do no chantin'" said Ben Weatherstaff a
trifle testily. "They turned me out o' th' church choir th'
only time I ever tried it."
No one smiled. They were all too much in earnest.
Colin's face was not even crossed by a shadow. He was
thinking only of the Magic.
"Then I will chant," he said. And he began, looking like
a strange boy spirit. "The sun is shining--the sun
is shining. That is the Magic. The flowers are growing--the
roots are stirring. That is the Magic. Being alive
is the Magic--being strong is the Magic. The Magic is
in me--the Magic is in me. It is in me--it is in me.
It's in every one of us. It's in Ben Weatherstaff's back.
Magic! Magic! Come and help!"
He said it a great many times--not a thousand times
but quite a goodly number. Mary listened entranced.
She felt as if it were at once queer and beautiful and she
wanted him to go on and on. Ben Weatherstaff began to feel
soothed into a sort of dream which was quite agreeable.
The humming of the bees in the blossoms mingled with
the chanting voice and drowsily melted into a doze.
Dickon sat cross-legged with his rabbit asleep
on his arm and a hand resting on the lamb's back.
Soot had pushed away a squirrel and huddled close to him
on his shoulder, the gray film dropped over his eyes.
At last Colin stopped.
"Now I am going to walk round the garden," he announced.
Ben Weatherstaff's head had just dropped forward and he
lifted it with a jerk.
"You have been asleep," said Colin.
"Nowt o' th' sort," mumbled Ben. "Th' sermon was good
enow--but I'm bound to get out afore th' collection."
He was not quite awake yet.
"You're not in church," said Colin.
"Not me," said Ben, straightening himself. "Who said
were? I heard every bit of it. You said th' Magic was
in my back. Th' doctor calls it rheumatics."
The Rajah waved his hand.
"That was the wrong Magic," he said. "You will get better.
You have my permission to go to your work. But come
"I'd like to see thee walk round the garden," grunted Ben.
It was not an unfriendly grunt, but it was a grunt.
In fact, being a stubborn old party and not having entire
faith in Magic he had made up his mind that if he were sent
away he would climb his ladder and look over the wall
so that he might be ready to hobble back if there were
The Rajah did not object to his staying and so the procession
was formed. It really did look like a procession.
Colin was at its head with Dickon on one side and
Mary on the other. Ben Weatherstaff walked behind,
and the "creatures" trailed after them, the lamb and
the fox cub keeping close to Dickon, the white rabbit
hopping along or stopping to nibble and Soot following
with the solemnity of a person who felt himself in charge.
It was a procession which moved slowly but with dignity.
Every few yards it stopped to rest. Colin leaned on Dickon's
arm and privately Ben Weatherstaff kept a sharp lookout,
but now and then Colin took his hand from its support
and walked a few steps alone. His head was held up all
the time and he looked very grand.
"The Magic is in me!" he kept saying. "The Magic
is making me strong! I can feel it! I can feel it!"
It seemed very certain that something was upholding
and uplifting him. He sat on the seats in the alcoves,
and once or twice he sat down on the grass and several
times he paused in the path and leaned on Dickon, but he
would not give up until he had gone all round the garden.
When he returned to the canopy tree his cheeks were flushed
and he looked triumphant.
"I did it! The Magic worked!" he cried. "That is my
first scientific discovery.".
"What will Dr. Craven say?" broke out Mary.
"He won't say anything," Colin answered, "because he
not be told. This is to be the biggest secret of all.
No one is to know anything about it until I have grown
so strong that I can walk and run like any other boy.
I shall come here every day in my chair and I shall be
taken back in it. I won't have people whispering and
asking questions and I won't let my father hear about it
until the experiment has quite succeeded. Then sometime
when he comes back to Misselthwaite I shall just walk into
his study and say `Here I am; I am like any other boy.
I am quite well and I shall live to be a man. It has been
done by a scientific experiment.'"
"He will think he is in a dream," cried Mary. "He won't
believe his eyes."
Colin flushed triumphantly. He had made himself believe
that he was going to get well, which was really more
than half the battle, if he had been aware of it.
And the thought which stimulated him more than any other
was this imagining what his father would look like when he
saw that he had a son who was as straight and strong as
other fathers' sons. One of his darkest miseries in the
unhealthy morbid past days had been his hatred of being
a sickly weak-backed boy whose father was afraid to look at him.
"He'll be obliged to believe them," he said.
"One of the things I am going to do, after the Magic
works and before I begin to make scientific discoveries,
is to be an athlete."
"We shall have thee takin' to boxin' in a week or so,"
said Ben Weatherstaff. "Tha'lt end wi' winnin' th'
Belt an' bein' champion prize-fighter of all England."
Colin fixed his eyes on him sternly.
"Weatherstaff," he said, "that is disrespectful.
You must not take liberties because you are in the secret.
However much the Magic works I shall not be a prize-fighter.
I shall be a Scientific Discoverer."
"Ax pardon--ax pardon, sir" answered Ben, touching his
forehead in salute. "I ought to have seed it wasn't
a jokin' matter," but his eyes twinkled and secretly he
was immensely pleased. He really did not mind being
snubbed since the snubbing meant that the lad was gaining
strength and spirit.
"LET THEM LAUGH"
The secret garden was not the only one Dickon worked in.
Round the cottage on the moor there was a piece of ground
enclosed by a low wall of rough stones. Early in the morning
and late in the fading twilight and on all the days Colin
and Mary did not see him, Dickon worked there planting
or tending potatoes and cabbages, turnips and carrots and
herbs for his mother. In the company of his "creatures"
he did wonders there and was never tired of doing them,
it seemed. While he dug or weeded he whistled or sang
bits of Yorkshire moor songs or talked to Soot or Captain
or the brothers and sisters he had taught to help him.
"We'd never get on as comfortable as we do," Mrs. Sowerby
"if it wasn't for Dickon's garden. Anything'll grow for him.
His 'taters and cabbages is twice th' size of any one
else's an' they've got a flavor with 'em as nobody's has."
When she found a moment to spare she liked to go out
and talk to him. After supper there was still a long
clear twilight to work in and that was her quiet time.
She could sit upon the low rough wall and look on
and hear stories of the day. She loved this time.
There were not only vegetables in this garden.
Dickon had bought penny packages of flower seeds now
and then and sown bright sweet-scented things among
gooseberry bushes and even cabbages and he grew borders
of mignonette and pinks and pansies and things whose
seeds he could save year after year or whose roots would
bloom each spring and spread in time into fine clumps.
The low wall was one of the prettiest things in Yorkshire
because he had tucked moorland foxglove and ferns and
rock-cress and hedgerow flowers into every crevice until
only here and there glimpses of the stones were to be seen.
"All a chap's got to do to make 'em thrive, mother,"
he would say, "is to be friends with 'em for sure.
They're just like th' `creatures.' If they're thirsty give
'em drink and if they're hungry give 'em a bit o' food.
They want to live same as we do. If they died I should feel
as if I'd been a bad lad and somehow treated them heartless."
It was in these twilight hours that Mrs. Sowerby heard of all
that happened at Misselthwaite Manor. At first she was only
told that "Mester Colin" had taken a fancy to going out into
the grounds with Miss Mary and that it was doing him good.
But it was not long before it was agreed between the two
children that Dickon's mother might "come into the secret."
Somehow it was not doubted that she was "safe for sure."
So one beautiful still evening Dickon told the whole story,
with all the thrilling details of the buried key and the
robin and the gray haze which had seemed like deadness
and the secret Mistress Mary had planned never to reveal.
The coming of Dickon and how it had been told to him,
the doubt of Mester Colin and the final drama of his
introduction to the hidden domain, combined with the
incident of Ben Weatherstaff's angry face peering over
the wall and Mester Colin's sudden indignant strength,
made Mrs. Sowerby's nice-looking face quite change color
"My word!" she said. "It was a good thing that little
lass came to th' Manor. It's been th' makin' o' her an'
th' savin, o' him. Standin' on his feet! An' us all thinkin'
he was a poor half-witted lad with not a straight bone in him."
She asked a great many questions and her blue eyes were
full of deep thinking.
"What do they make of it at th' Manor--him being so well an'
cheerful an' never complainin'?" she inquired. "They don't
know what to make of it," answered Dickon. "Every day
as comes round his face looks different. It's fillin'
out and doesn't look so sharp an' th' waxy color is goin'.
But he has to do his bit o' complainin'," with a highly
"What for, i' Mercy's name?" asked Mrs. Sowerby.
"He does it to keep them from guessin' what's happened.
If the doctor knew he'd found out he could stand on
his feet he'd likely write and tell Mester Craven.
Mester Colin's savin' th' secret to tell himself.
He's goin' to practise his Magic on his legs every day
till his father comes back an' then he's goin' to march
into his room an' show him he's as straight as other lads.
But him an' Miss Mary thinks it's best plan to do a
bit o' groanin' an' frettin' now an' then to throw folk
off th' scent."
Mrs. Sowerby was laughing a low comfortable laugh long
before he had finished his last sentence.
"Eh!" she said, "that pair's enjoyin' their-selves I'll
They'll get a good bit o' actin' out of it an' there's nothin'
children likes as much as play actin'. Let's hear what
they do, Dickon lad." Dickon stopped weeding and sat
up on his heels to tell her. His eyes were twinkling with fun.
"Mester Colin is carried down to his chair every time
he goes out," he explained. "An' he flies out at John,
th' footman, for not carryin' him careful enough. He makes
himself as helpless lookin' as he can an' never lifts his head
until we're out o' sight o' th' house. An' he grunts an'
frets a good bit when he's bein' settled into his chair.
Him an' Miss Mary's both got to enjoyin' it an' when he
groans an' complains she'll say, `Poor Colin! Does it hurt
you so much? Are you so weak as that, poor Colin?'--but th'
trouble is that sometimes they can scarce keep from burstin'
out laughin'. When we get safe into the garden they laugh
till they've no breath left to laugh with. An' they have
to stuff their faces into Mester Colin's cushions to keep
the gardeners from hearin', if any of, 'em's about."
"Th' more they laugh th' better for 'em!" said Mrs. Sowerby,
still laughing herself. "Good healthy child laughin's
better than pills any day o' th' year. That pair'll
plump up for sure."
"They are plumpin' up," said Dickon. "They're that hungry
they don't know how to get enough to eat without makin'
talk. Mester Colin says if he keeps sendin' for more food
they won't believe he's an invalid at all. Miss Mary says
she'll let him eat her share, but he says that if she
goes hungry she'll get thin an' they mun both get fat at once."
Mrs. Sowerby laughed so heartily at the revelation of this
difficulty that she quite rocked backward and forward
in her blue cloak, and Dickon laughed with her.
"I'll tell thee what, lad," Mrs. Sowerby said when she
could speak. "I've thought of a way to help 'em. When tha'
goes to 'em in th' mornin's tha' shall take a pail o'
good new milk an' I'll bake 'em a crusty cottage loaf or
some buns wi' currants in 'em, same as you children like.
Nothin's so good as fresh milk an' bread. Then they could
take off th' edge o' their hunger while they were in their
garden an' th, fine food they get indoors 'ud polish
off th' corners."
"Eh! mother!" said Dickon admiringly, "what a wonder
art! Tha' always sees a way out o' things. They was
quite in a pother yesterday. They didn't see how they
was to manage without orderin' up more food--they felt
that empty inside."
"They're two young 'uns growin' fast, an' health's comin'
back to both of 'em. Children like that feels like
young wolves an' food's flesh an, blood to 'em," said
Mrs. Sowerby. Then she smiled Dickon's own curving smile.
"Eh! but they're enjoyin' theirselves for sure,"
She was quite right, the comfortable wonderful mother
creature--and she had never been more so than when she said
their "play actin'" would be their joy. Colin and Mary found
it one of their most thrilling sources of entertainment.
The idea of protecting themselves from suspicion had been
unconsciously suggested to them first by the puzzled
nurse and then by Dr. Craven himself.
"Your appetite. Is improving very much, Master Colin,"
the nurse had said one day. "You used to eat nothing,
and so many things disagreed with you."
"Nothing disagrees with me now" replied Colin, and then seeing
the nurse looking at him curiously he suddenly remembered
that perhaps he ought not to appear too well just yet.
"At least things don't so often disagree with me.
It's the fresh air."
"Perhaps it is," said the nurse, still looking at him with
a mystified expression. "But I must talk to Dr. Craven
"How she stared at you!" said Mary when she went away.
"As if she thought there must be something to find out."
"I won't have her finding out things," said Colin.
"No one must begin to find out yet." When Dr. Craven came
that morning he seemed puzzled, also. He asked a number
of questions, to Colin's great annoyance.
"You stay out in the garden a great deal," he suggested.
"Where do you go?"
Colin put on his favorite air of dignified indifference
"I will not let any one know where I go," he answered.
"I go to a place I like. Every one has orders to keep
out of the way. I won't be watched and stared at.
You know that!"
"You seem to be out all day but I do not think it has
done you harm--I do not think so. The nurse says
that you eat much more than you have ever done before."
"Perhaps," said Colin, prompted by a sudden inspiration,
"perhaps it is an unnatural appetite."
"I do not think so, as your food seems to agree with you,"
said Dr. Craven. "You are gaining flesh rapidly and your
color is better."
"Perhaps--perhaps I am bloated and feverish," said Colin,
assuming a discouraging air of gloom. "People who are
not going to live are often--different." Dr. Craven shook
his head. He was holding Colin's wrist and he pushed up
his sleeve and felt his arm.
"You are not feverish," he said thoughtfully, "and such
flesh as you have gained is healthy. If you can keep
this up, my boy, we need not talk of dying. Your father
will be happy to hear of this remarkable improvement."
"I won't have him told!" Colin broke forth fiercely.
"It will only disappoint him if I get worse again--and I
may get worse this very night. I might have a raging fever.
I feel as if I might be beginning to have one now.
I won't have letters written to my father--I won't--I won't!
You are making me angry and you know that is bad for me.
I feel hot already. I hate being written about and being
talked over as much as I hate being stared at!"
"Hush-h! my boy," Dr. Craven soothed him. "Nothing shall
be written without your permission. You are too sensitive
about things. You must not undo the good which has
He said no more about writing to Mr. Craven and when he saw
the nurse he privately warned her that such a possibility
must not be mentioned to the patient.
"The boy is extraordinarily better," he said.
"His advance seems almost abnormal. But of course he
is doing now of his own free will what we could not make
him do before. Still, he excites himself very easily
and nothing must be said to irritate him." Mary and
Colin were much alarmed and talked together anxiously.
From this time dated their plan of "play actin'."
"I may be obliged to have a tantrum," said Colin regretfully.
"I don't want to have one and I'm not miserable enough
now to work myself into a big one. Perhaps I couldn't have
one at all. That lump doesn't come in my throat now and I
keep thinking of nice things instead of horrible ones.
But if they talk about writing to my father I shall have
to do something."
He made up his mind to eat less, but unfortunately it
was not possible to carry out this brilliant idea when he
wakened each morning with an amazing appetite and the
table near his sofa was set with a breakfast of home-made
bread and fresh butter, snow-white eggs, raspberry jam
and clotted cream. Mary always breakfasted with him
and when they found themselves at the table--particularly
if there were delicate slices of sizzling ham sending
forth tempting odors from under a hot silver cover--they
would look into each other's eyes in desperation.
"I think we shall have to eat it all this morning,
Mary," Colin always ended by saying. "We can send
away some of the lunch and a great deal of the dinner."
But they never found they could send away anything
and the highly polished condition of the empty plates
returned to the pantry awakened much comment.
"I do wish," Colin would say also, "I do wish the slices
of ham were thicker, and one muffin each is not enough
for any one."
"It's enough for a person who is going to die," answered Mary
when first she heard this, "but it's not enough for a
person who is going to live. I sometimes feel as if I
could eat three when those nice fresh heather and gorse
smells from the moor come pouring in at the open window."
The morning that Dickon--after they had been enjoying
themselves in the garden for about two hours--went
behind a big rosebush and brought forth two tin pails
and revealed that one was full of rich new milk with cream
on the top of it, and that the other held cottage-made
currant buns folded in a clean blue and white napkin,
buns so carefully tucked in that they were still hot,
there was a riot of surprised joyfulness. What a wonderful
thing for Mrs. Sowerby to think of! What a kind,
clever woman she must be! How good the buns were! And
what delicious fresh milk!
"Magic is in her just as it is in Dickon," said Colin.
"It makes her think of ways to do things--nice things.
She is a Magic person. Tell her we are grateful,
Dickon--extremely grateful." He was given to using rather
grown-up phrases at times. He enjoyed them. He liked this
so much that he improved upon it.
"Tell her she has been most bounteous and our gratitude
And then forgetting his grandeur he fell to and stuffed
himself with buns and drank milk out of the pail in copious
draughts in the manner of any hungry little boy who had
been taking unusual exercise and breathing in moorland
air and whose breakfast was more than two hours behind him.
This was the beginning of many agreeable incidents of the
same kind. They actually awoke to the fact that as Mrs. Sowerby
had fourteen people to provide food for she might not have
enough to satisfy two extra appetites every day. So they
asked her to let them send some of their shillings to buy things.
Dickon made the stimulating discovery that in the wood
in the park outside the garden where Mary had first
found him piping to the wild creatures there was a deep
little hollow where you could build a sort of tiny
oven with stones and roast potatoes and eggs in it.
Roasted eggs were a previously unknown luxury and very hot
potatoes with salt and fresh butter in them were fit for
a woodland king --besides being deliciously satisfying.
You could buy both potatoes and eggs and eat as many
as you liked without feeling as if you were taking food
out of the mouths of fourteen people.
Every beautiful morning the Magic was worked by the mystic
circle under the plum-tree which provided a canopy
of thickening green leaves after its brief blossom-time
was ended. After the ceremony Colin always took his walking
exercise and throughout the day he exercised his newly
found power at intervals. Each day he grew stronger
and could walk more steadily and cover more ground.
And each day his belief in the Magic grew stronger--as
well it might. He tried one experiment after another
as he felt himself gaining strength and it was Dickon
who showed him the best things of all.
"Yesterday," he said one morning after an absence,
"I went to Thwaite for mother an' near th' Blue Cow Inn I
seed Bob Haworth. He's the strongest chap on th' moor.
He's the champion wrestler an' he can jump higher than any
other chap an' throw th' hammer farther. He's gone all th'
way to Scotland for th' sports some years. He's knowed me
ever since I was a little 'un an' he's a friendly sort an'
I axed him some questions. Th' gentry calls him a athlete
and I thought o' thee, Mester Colin, and I says, `How did tha'
make tha' muscles stick out that way, Bob? Did tha'
do anythin' extra to make thysel' so strong?' An' he says
'Well, yes, lad, I did. A strong man in a show that came
to Thwaite once showed me how to exercise my arms an'
legs an' every muscle in my body. An' I says, `Could a
delicate chap make himself stronger with 'em, Bob?' an'
he laughed an' says, 'Art tha' th' delicate chap?' an'
I says, `No, but I knows a young gentleman that's gettin'
well of a long illness an' I wish I knowed some o'
them tricks to tell him about.' I didn't say no names an,
he didn't ask none. He's friendly same as I said an'
he stood up an' showed me good-natured like, an' I imitated
what he did till I knowed it by heart."
Colin had been listening excitedly.
"Can you show me?" he cried. "Will you?"
"Aye, to be sure," Dickon answered, getting up.
"But he says tha' mun do 'em gentle at first an'
be careful not to tire thysel'. Rest in between times an'
take deep breaths an' don't overdo."
"I'll be careful," said Colin. "Show me! Show me! Dickon,
you are the most Magic boy in the world!"
Dickon stood up on the grass and slowly went through a
carefully practical but simple series of muscle exercises.
Colin watched them with widening eyes. He could do a few
while he was sitting down. Presently he did a few gently
while he stood upon his already steadied feet. Mary began
to do them also. Soot, who was watching the performance,
became much disturbed and left his branch and hopped
about restlessly because he could not do them too.
From that time the exercises were part of the day's duties
as much as the Magic was. It became possible for both
Colin and Mary to do more of them each time they tried,
and such appetites were the results that but for the basket
Dickon put down behind the bush each morning when he
arrived they would have been lost. But the little oven
in the hollow and Mrs. Sowerby's bounties were so satisfying
that Mrs. Medlock and the nurse and Dr. Craven became
mystified again. You can trifle with your breakfast and
seem to disdain your dinner if you are full to the brim
with roasted eggs and potatoes and richly frothed new
milk and oatcakes and buns and heather honey and clotted cream.
"They are eating next to nothing," said the nurse.
"They'll die of starvation if they can't be persuaded
to take some nourishment. And yet see how they look."
"Look!" exclaimed Mrs. Medlock indignantly. "Eh! I'm
to death with them. They're a pair of young Satans.
Bursting their jackets one day and the next turning up
their noses at the best meals Cook can tempt them with.
Not a mouthful of that lovely young fowl and bread sauce
did they set a fork into yesterday--and the poor woman
fair invented a pudding for them--and back it's sent.
She almost cried. She's afraid she'll be blamed if they
starve themselves into their graves."
Dr. Craven came and looked at Colin long and carefully,
He wore an extremely worried expression when the nurse
talked with him and showed him the almost untouched
tray of breakfast she had saved for him to look at--but
it was even more worried when he sat down by Colin's
sofa and examined him. He had been called to London on
business and had not seen the boy for nearly two weeks.
When young things begin to gain health they gain it rapidly.
The waxen tinge had left, Colins skin and a warm rose showed
through it; his beautiful eyes were clear and the hollows
under them and in his cheeks and temples had filled out.
His once dark, heavy locks had begun to look as if they
sprang healthily from his forehead and were soft and warm
with life. His lips were fuller and of a normal color.
In fact as an imitation of a boy who was a confirmed invalid
he was a disgraceful sight. Dr. Craven held his chin in his
hand and thought him over.
"I am sorry to hear that you do not eat any- thing,"
he said. "That will not do. You will lose all you have
gained --and you have gained amazingly. You ate so well
a short time ago."
"I told you it was an unnatural appetite," answered Colin.
Mary was sitting on her stool nearby and she suddenly
made a very queer sound which she tried so violently
to repress that she ended by almost choking.
"What is the matter?" said Dr. Craven, turning to look
Mary became quite severe in her manner.
"It was something between a sneeze and a cough," she replied
with reproachful dignity, "and it got into my throat."
"But," she said afterward to Colin, "I couldn't stop
It just burst out because all at once I couldn't help
remembering that last big potato you ate and the way
your mouth stretched when you bit through that thick
lovely crust with jam and clotted cream on it."
"Is there any way in which those children can get
food secretly?" Dr. Craven inquired of Mrs. Medlock.
"There's no way unless they dig it out of the earth or pick
it off the trees," Mrs. Medlock answered. "They stay
out in the grounds all day and see no one but each other.
And if they want anything different to eat from what's
sent up to them they need only ask for it."
"Well," said Dr. Craven, "so long as going without
food agrees with them we need not disturb ourselves.
The boy is a new creature."
"So is the girl," said Mrs. Medlock. "She's begun to
downright pretty since she's filled out and lost her ugly
little sour look. Her hair's grown thick and healthy
looking and she's got a bright color. The glummest,
ill-natured little thing she used to be and now her and Master
Colin laugh together like a pair of crazy young ones.
Perhaps they're. growing fat on that."
"Perhaps they are," said Dr. Craven. "Let them laugh."
And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every
morning revealed new miracles. In the robin's nest there
were Eggs and the robin's mate sat upon them keeping them
warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings.
At first she was very nervous and the robin himself
was indignantly watchful. Even Dickon did not go
near the close-grown corner in those days, but waited
until by the quiet working of some mysterious spell he
seemed to have conveyed to the soul of the little pair
that in the garden there was nothing which was not quite
like themselves--nothing which did not understand the
wonderfulness of what was happening to them--the immense,
tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity
of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden
who had not known through all his or her innermost being
that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world
would whirl round and crash through space and come to
an end--if there had been even one who did not feel it
and act accordingly there could have been no happiness
even in that golden springtime air. But they all knew
it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it.
At first the robin watched Mary and Colin with sharp anxiety.
For some mysterious reason he knew he need not watch Dickon.
The first moment he set his dew-bright black eye on Dickon
he knew he was not a stranger but a sort of robin without
beak or feathers. He could speak robin (which is a quite
distinct language not to be mistaken for any other). To speak
robin to a robin is like speaking French to a Frenchman.
Dickon always spoke it to the robin himself, so the queer
gibberish he used when he spoke to humans did not matter
in the least. The robin thought he spoke this gibberish
to them because they were not intelligent enough to
understand feathered speech. His movements also were robin.
They never startled one by being sudden enough to seem
dangerous or threatening. Any robin could understand Dickon,
so his presence was not even disturbing.
But at the outset it seemed necessary to be on guard
against the other two. In the first place the boy
creature did not come into the garden on his legs.
He was pushed in on a thing with wheels and the skins
of wild animals were thrown over him. That in itself
was doubtful. Then when he began to stand up and move
about he did it in a queer unaccustomed way and the
others seemed to have to help him. The robin used
to secrete himself in a bush and watch this anxiously,
his head tilted first on one side and then on the other.
He thought that the slow movements might mean that he was
preparing to pounce, as cats do. When cats are preparing
to pounce they creep over the ground very slowly.
The robin talked this over with his mate a great deal
for a few days but after that he decided not to speak
of the subject because her terror was so great that he
was afraid it might be injurious to the Eggs.
When the boy began to walk by himself and even to move more
quickly it was an immense relief. But for a long time--or it
seemed a long time to the robin--he was a source of some anxiety.
He did not act as the other humans did. He seemed very
fond of walking but he had a way of sitting or lying down
for a while and then getting up in a disconcerting manner to begin again.
One day the robin remembered that when he himself had
been made to learn to fly by his parents he had done
much the same sort of thing. He had taken short flights
of a few yards and then had been obliged to rest.
So it occurred to him that this boy was learning to fly--or
rather to walk. He mentioned this to his mate and when he
told her that the Eggs would probably conduct themselves
in the same way after they were fledged she was quite
comforted and even became eagerly interested and derived
great pleasure from watching the boy over the edge of her
nest--though she always thought that the Eggs would be
much cleverer and learn more quickly. But then she said
indulgently that humans were always more clumsy and slow
than Eggs and most of them never seemed really to learn
to fly at all. You never met them in the air or on tree-tops.
After a while the boy began to move about as the others did,
but all three of the children at times did unusual things.
They would stand under the trees and move their arms and legs
and heads about in a way which was neither walking nor
running nor sitting down. They went through these movements
at intervals every day and the robin was never able to
explain to his mate what they were doing or tying to do.
He could only say that he was sure that the Eggs would
never flap about in such a manner; but as the boy who could
speak robin so fluently was doing the thing with them,
birds could be quite sure that the actions were not
of a dangerous nature. Of course neither the robin
nor his mate had ever heard of the champion wrestler,
Bob Haworth, and his exercises for making the muscles
stand out like lumps. Robins are not like human beings;
their muscles are always exercised from the first
and so they develop themselves in a natural manner.
If you have to fly about to find every meal you eat,
your muscles do not become atrophied (atrophied means wasted
away through want of use).
When the boy was walking and running about and digging
and weeding like the others, the nest in the corner was
brooded over by a great peace and content. Fears for
the Eggs became things of the past. Knowing that your
Eggs were as safe as if they were locked in a bank vault
and the fact that you could watch so many curious things
going on made setting a most entertaining occupation.
On wet days the Eggs' mother sometimes felt even a little
dull because the children did not come into the garden.
But even on wet days it could not be said that Mary and
Colin were dull. One morning when the rain streamed down
unceasingly and Colin was beginning to feel a little restive,
as he was obliged to remain on his sofa because it was
not safe to get up and walk about, Mary had an inspiration.
"Now that I am a real boy," Colin had said, "my legs
and all my body are so full of Magic that I can't keep
them still. They want to be doing things all the time.
Do you know that when I waken in the morning, Mary,
when it's quite early and the birds are just shouting
outside and everything seems just shouting for joy--even
the trees and things we can't really hear--I feel as if I
must jump out of bed and shout myself. If I did it,
just think what would happen!"
Mary giggled inordinately.
"The nurse would come running and Mrs. Medlock would
come running and they would be sure you had gone crazy
and they'd send for the doctor," she said.
Colin giggled himself. He could see how they would
all look--how horrified by his outbreak and how amazed
to see him standing upright.
"I wish my father would come home," he said. "I want
to tell him myself. I'm always thinking about it--but we
couldn't go on like this much longer. I can't stand lying
still and pretending, and besides I look too different.
I wish it wasn't raining today."
It was then Mistress Mary had her inspiration.
"Colin," she began mysteriously, "do you know how many
rooms there are in this house?"
"About a thousand, I suppose," he answered.
"There's about a hundred no one ever goes into," said Mary.
"And one rainy day I went and looked into ever so many of them.
No one ever knew, though Mrs. Medlock nearly found me out.
I lost my way when I was coming back and I stopped at
the end of your corridor. That was the second time I
heard you crying."
Colin started up on his sofa.
"A hundred rooms no one goes into," he said. "It sounds
almost like a secret garden. Suppose we go and look at them.
wheel me in my chair and nobody would know we went"
"That's what I was thinking," said Mary. "No one would
to follow us. There are galleries where you could run.
We could do our exercises. There is a little Indian
room where there is a cabinet full of ivory elephants.
There are all sorts of rooms."
"Ring the bell," said Colin.
When the nurse came in he gave his orders.
"I want my chair," he said. "Miss Mary and I are going
to look at the part of the house which is not used.
John can push me as far as the picture-gallery because there
are some stairs. Then he must go away and leave us alone
until I send for him again."
Rainy days lost their terrors that morning. When the
footman had wheeled the chair into the picture-gallery
and left the two together in obedience to orders,
Colin and Mary looked at each other delighted. As soon
as Mary had made sure that John was really on his way back
to his own quarters below stairs, Colin got out of his chair.
"I am going to run from one end of the gallery to the other,"
he said, "and then I am going to jump and then we will
do Bob Haworth's exercises."
And they did all these things and many others. They looked
at the portraits and found the plain little girl dressed
in green brocade and holding the parrot on her finger.
"All these," said Colin, "must be my relations.
They lived a long time ago. That parrot one, I believe,
is one of my great, great, great, great aunts. She looks
rather like you, Mary--not as you look now but as you
looked when you came here. Now you are a great deal
fatter and better looking."
"So are you," said Mary, and they both laughed.
They went to the Indian room and amused themselves with
the ivory elephants. They found the rose-colored brocade
boudoir and the hole in the cushion the mouse had left,
but the mice had grown up and run away and the hole was empty.
They saw more rooms and made more discoveries than Mary
had made on her first pilgrimage. They found new corridors
and corners and flights of steps and new old pictures they
liked and weird old things they did not know the use of.
It was a curiously entertaining morning and the feeling
of wandering about in the same house with other people
but at the same time feeling as if one were miles away
from them was a fascinating thing.
"I'm glad we came," Colin said. "I never knew I
lived in such a big queer old place. I like it.
We will ramble about every rainy day. We shall always
be finding new queer corners and things."
That morning they had found among other things such
good appetites that when they returned to Colin's room
it was not possible to send the luncheon away untouched.
When the nurse carried the tray down-stairs she slapped it
down on the kitchen dresser so that Mrs. Loomis, the cook,
could see the highly polished dishes and plates.
"Look at that!" she said. "This is a house of mystery,
and those two children are the greatest mysteries in it."
"If they keep that up every day," said the strong
young footman John, "there'd be small wonder that he
weighs twice as much to-day as he did a month ago.
I should have to give up my place in time, for fear
of doing my muscles an injury."
That afternoon Mary noticed that something new had happened
in Colin's room. She had noticed it the day before but
had said nothing because she thought the change might
have been made by chance. She said nothing today but she
sat and looked fixedly at the picture over the mantel.
She could look at it because the curtain had been drawn aside.
That was the change she noticed.
"I know what you want me to tell you," said Colin,
after she had stared a few minutes. "I always know when
you want me to tell you something. You are wondering why
the curtain is drawn back. I am going to keep it like that."
"Why?" asked Mary.
"Because it doesn't make me angry any more to see her laughing.
I wakened when it was bright moonlight two nights ago
and felt as if the Magic was filling the room and making
everything so splendid that I couldn't lie still.
I got up and looked out of the window. The room was quite
light and there was a patch of moonlight on the curtain
and somehow that made me go and pull the cord. She looked
right down at me as if she were laughing because she was glad
I was standing there. It made me like to look at her.
I want to see her laughing like that all the time.
I think she must have been a sort of Magic person perhaps."
"You are so like her now," said Mary, "that sometimes
think perhaps you are her ghost made into a boy."
That idea seemed to impress Colin. He thought it over
and then answered her slowly.
"If I were her ghost--my father would be fond of me."
"Do you want him to be fond of you?" inquired Mary.
"I used to hate it because he was not fond of me. If he
grew fond of me I think I should tell him about the Magic.
It might make him more cheerful."
Their belief in the Magic was an abiding thing.
After the morning's incantations Colin sometimes gave
them Magic lectures.
"I like to do it," he explained, "because when I grow
up and make great scientific discoveries I shall be
obliged to lecture about them and so this is practise.
I can only give short lectures now because I am very young,
and besides Ben Weatherstaff would feel as if he were in
church and he would go to sleep."
"Th' best thing about lecturin'," said Ben, "is that
a chap can
get up an' say aught he pleases an' no other chap can answer
him back. I wouldn't be agen' lecturin' a bit mysel' sometimes."
But when Colin held forth under his tree old Ben fixed
devouring eyes on him and kept them there. He looked
him over with critical affection. It was not so much
the lecture which interested him as the legs which looked
straighter and stronger each day, the boyish head which held
itself up so well, the once sharp chin and hollow cheeks
which had filled and rounded out and the eyes which had
begun to hold the light he remembered in another pair.
Sometimes when Colin felt Ben's earnest gaze meant that he
was much impressed he wondered what he was reflecting on
and once when he had seemed quite entranced he questioned him.
"What are you thinking about, Ben Weatherstaff?" he asked.
"I was thinkin'" answered Ben, "as I'd warrant tha's,
gone up three or four pound this week. I was lookin'
at tha' calves an' tha' shoulders. I'd like to get thee
on a pair o' scales."
"It's the Magic and--and Mrs. Sowerby's buns and milk
and things," said Colin. "You see the scientific
experiment has succeeded."
That morning Dickon was too late to hear the lecture.
When he came he was ruddy with running and his funny face
looked more twinkling than usual. As they had a good deal
of weeding to do after the rains they fell to work.
They always had plenty to do after a warm deep sinking rain.
The moisture which was good for the flowers was also good
for the weeds which thrust up tiny blades of grass and points
of leaves which must be pulled up before their roots took
too firm hold. Colin was as good at weeding as any one
in these days and he could lecture while he was doing it.
"The Magic works best when you work, yourself," he said
this morning. "You can feel it in your bones and muscles.
I am going to read books about bones and muscles, but I am
going to write a book about Magic. I am making it up now.
I keep finding out things."
It was not very long after he had said this that he
laid down his trowel and stood up on his feet.
He had been silent for several minutes and they had seen
that he was thinking out lectures, as he often did.
When he dropped his trowel and stood upright it seemed
to Mary and Dickon as if a sudden strong thought had made
him do it. He stretched himself out to his tallest height
and he threw out his arms exultantly. Color glowed in
his face and his strange eyes widened with joyfulness.
All at once he had realized something to the full.
"Mary! Dickon!" he cried. "Just look at me!"
They stopped their weeding and looked at him.
"Do you remember that first morning you brought me in here?"
Dickon was looking at him very hard. Being an animal
charmer he could see more things than most people could
and many of them were things he never talked about.
He saw some of them now in this boy. "Aye, that we do,"
Mary looked hard too, but she said nothing.
"Just this minute," said Colin, "all at once I remembered
it myself--when I looked at my hand digging with the
trowel--and I had to stand up on my feet to see if it
was real. And it is real! I'm well--I'm well!"
"Aye, that th' art!" said Dickon.
"I'm well! I'm well!" said Colin again, and his face went
quite red all over.
He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt
it and thought about it, but just at that minute something
had rushed all through him--a sort of rapturous belief
and realization and it had been so strong that he could
not help calling out.
"I shall live forever and ever and ever!" he cried grandly.
"I shall find out thousands and thousands of things.
I shall find out about people and creatures and everything
that grows--like Dickon--and I shall never stop making Magic.
I'm well! I'm well! I feel--I feel as if I want to shout
out something--something thankful, joyful!"
Ben Weatherstaff, who had been working near a rose-bush,
glanced round at him.
"Tha' might sing th' Doxology," he suggested in his
dryest grunt. He had no opinion of the Doxology and he
did not make the suggestion with any particular reverence.
But Colin was of an exploring mind and he knew nothing
about the Doxology.
"What is that?" he inquired.
"Dickon can sing it for thee, I'll warrant,"
replied Ben Weatherstaff.
Dickon answered with his all-perceiving animal charmer's smile.
"They sing it i' church," he said. "Mother says she
believes th' skylarks sings it when they gets up i' th' mornin'."
"If she says that, it must be a nice song," Colin answered.
"I've never been in a church myself. I was always too ill.
Sing it, Dickon. I want to hear it."
Dickon was quite simple and unaffected about it.
He understood what Colin felt better than Colin did himself.
He understood by a sort of instinct so natural that he
did not know it was understanding. He pulled off his cap
and looked round still smiling.
"Tha' must take off tha' cap," he said to Colin,"
an' so mun tha', Ben--an' tha' mun stand up, tha' knows."
Colin took off his cap and the sun shone on and warmed his
thick hair as he watched Dickon intently. Ben Weatherstaff
scrambled up from his knees and bared his head too with
a sort of puzzled half-resentful look on his old face
as if he didn't know exactly why he was doing this remarkable thing.
Dickon stood out among the trees and rose-bushes
and began to sing in quite a simple matter-of-fact
way and in a nice strong boy voice:
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
When he had finished, Ben Weatherstaff was standing
quite still with his jaws set obstinately but with a
disturbed look in his eyes fixed on Colin. Colin's face
was thoughtful and appreciative.
"It is a very nice song," he said. "I like it. Perhaps
means just what I mean when I want to shout out that I am
thankful to the Magic." He stopped and thought in a puzzled way.
"Perhaps they are both the same thing. How can we know
the exact names of everything? Sing it again, Dickon.
Let us try, Mary. I want to sing it, too. It's my song.
How does it begin? `Praise God from whom all blessings flow'?"
And they sang it again, and Mary and Colin lifted their
voices as musically as they could and Dickon's swelled quite
loud and beautiful--and at the second line Ben Weatherstaff
raspingly cleared his throat and at the third line he joined
in with such vigor that it seemed almost savage and when
the "Amen" came to an end Mary observed that the very same
thing had happened to him which had happened when he found
out that Colin was not a cripple--his chin was twitching
and he was staring and winking and his leathery old cheeks were wet.
"I never seed no sense in th' Doxology afore," he said hoarsely,
"but I may change my mind i' time. I should say tha'd
gone up five pound this week Mester Colin--five on 'em!"
Colin was looking across the garden at something attracting
his attention and his expression had become a startled one.
"Who is coming in here?" he said quickly. "Who is it?"
The door in the ivied wall had been pushed gently open
and a woman had entered. She had come in with the last
line of their song and she had stood still listening and
looking at them. With the ivy behind her, the sunlight
drifting through the trees and dappling her long blue cloak,
and her nice fresh face smiling across the greenery
she was rather like a softly colored illustration in
one of Colin'S books. She had wonderful affectionate
eyes which seemed to take everything in--all of them,
even Ben Weatherstaff and the "creatures" and every flower
that was in bloom. Unexpectedly as she had appeared,
not one of them felt that she was an intruder at all.
Dickon's eyes lighted like lamps.
"It's mother--that's who it is!" he cried and went across
the grass at a run.
Colin began to move toward her, too, and Mary went with him.
They both felt their pulses beat faster.
"It's mother!" Dickon said again when they met halfway.
"I knowed tha' wanted to see her an' I told her where th'
door was hid."
Colin held out his hand with a sort of flushed royal
shyness but his eyes quite devoured her face.
"Even when I was ill I wanted to see you," he said,
"you and Dickon and the secret garden. I'd never wanted
to see any one or anything before."
The sight of his uplifted face brought about a sudden
change in her own. She flushed and the corners of her
mouth shook and a mist seemed to sweep over her eyes.
"Eh! dear lad!" she broke out tremulously. "Eh! dear
as if she had not known she were going to say it. She did
not say, "Mester Colin," but just "dear lad" quite suddenly.
She might have said it to Dickon in the same way if she
had seen something in his face which touched her.
Colin liked it.
"Are you surprised because I am so well?" he asked.
She put her hand on his shoulder and smiled the mist
out of her eyes. "Aye, that I am!" she said; "but tha'rt
so like thy mother tha' made my heart jump."
"Do you think," said Colin a little awkwardly, "that
make my father like me?"
"Aye, for sure, dear lad," she answered and she gave
his shoulder a soft quick pat. "He mun come home--he
mun come home."
"Susan Sowerby," said Ben Weatherstaff, getting close
to her. "Look at th' lad's legs, wilt tha'? They was
like drumsticks i' stockin' two month' ago--an' I heard
folk tell as they was bandy an' knock-kneed both at th'
same time. Look at 'em now!"
Susan Sowerby laughed a comfortable laugh.
"They're goin' to be fine strong lad's legs in a bit,"
she said. "Let him go on playin' an' workin' in the garden an'
eatin' hearty an' drinkin' plenty o' good sweet milk an'
there'll not be a finer pair i' Yorkshire, thank God for it."
She put both hands on Mistress Mary's shoulders and looked
her little face over in a motherly fashion.
"An' thee, too!" she said. "Tha'rt grown near as hearty
as our 'Lisabeth Ellen. I'll warrant tha'rt like thy
mother too. Our Martha told me as Mrs. Medlock heard she
was a pretty woman. Tha'lt be like a blush rose when tha'
grows up, my little lass, bless thee."
She did not mention that when Martha came home on her
"day out" and described the plain sallow child she had said
that she had no confidence whatever in what Mrs. Medlock
had heard. "It doesn't stand to reason that a pretty
woman could be th' mother o' such a fou' little lass,"
she had added obstinately.
Mary had not had time to pay much attention to her
changing face. She had only known that she looked
"different" and seemed to have a great deal more hair
and that it was growing very fast. But remembering
her pleasure in looking at the Mem Sahib in the past
she was glad to hear that she might some day look like her.
Susan Sowerby went round their garden with them and was
told the whole story of it and shown every bush and tree
which had come alive. Colin walked on one side of her
and Mary on the other. Each of them kept looking up
at her comfortable rosy face, secretly curious about
the delightful feeling she gave them--a sort of warm,
supported feeling. It seemed as if she understood them
as Dickon understood his "creatures." She stooped over the
flowers and talked about them as if they were children.
Soot followed her and once or twice cawed at her and flew
upon her shoulder as if it were Dickon's. When they told
her about the robin and the first flight of the young ones
she laughed a motherly little mellow laugh in her throat.
"I suppose learnin' 'em to fly is like learnin'
children to walk, but I'm feared I should be all
in a worrit if mine had wings instead o' legs," she said.
It was because she seemed such a wonderful woman in her
nice moorland cottage way that at last she was told
about the Magic.
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin after he had
explained about Indian fakirs. "I do hope you do."
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by
that name but what does th' name matter? I warrant they
call it a different name i' France an' a different one i'
Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th'
sun shinin' made thee a well lad an' it's th' Good Thing.
It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is
called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop
to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th'
million--worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th'
Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it--an'
call it what tha' likes. Tha' wert singin' to it when I
come into th' garden."
"I felt so joyful," said Colin, opening his beautiful
strange eyes at her. "Suddenly I felt how different I
was--how strong my arms and legs were, you know--and
how I could dig and stand--and I jumped up and wanted
to shout out something to anything that would listen."
"Th' Magic listened when tha' sung th' Doxology.
It would ha' listened to anything tha'd sung. It was th'
joy that mattered. Eh! lad, lad--what's names to th'
Joy Maker," and she gave his shoulders a quick soft
She had packed a basket which held a regular feast
this morning, and when the hungry hour came and Dickon
brought it out from its hiding place, she sat down with
them under their tree and watched them devour their food,
laughing and quite gloating over their appetites. She was
full of fun and made them laugh at all sorts of odd things.
She told them stories in broad Yorkshire and taught them
new words. She laughed as if she could not help it
when they told her of the in- creasing difficulty there
was in pretending that Colin was still a fretful invalid.
"You see we can't help laughing nearly all the time
when we are together," explained Colin. "And it
doesn't sound ill at all. We try to choke it back
but it will burst out and that sounds worse than ever."
"There's one thing that comes into my mind so often,"
said Mary, "and I can scarcely ever hold in when I think
of it suddenly. I keep thinking suppose Colin's face
should get to look like a full moon. It isn't like one
yet but he gets a tiny bit fatter every day--and suppose
some morning it should look like one--what should we do!"
"Bless us all, I can see tha' has a good bit o' play actin'
to do," said Susan Sowerby. "But tha' won't have to keep
it up much longer. Mester Craven'll come home."
"Do you think he will?" asked Colin. "Why?"
Susan Sowerby chuckled softly.
"I suppose it 'ud nigh break thy heart if he found
out before tha' told him in tha' own way," she said.
"Tha's laid awake nights plannin' it."
"I couldn't bear any one else to tell him," said Colin.
"I think about different ways every day, I think now I
just want to run into his room." "That'd be a fine
start for him," said Susan Sowerby. "I'd like to see
his face, lad. I would that! He mun come back --that
One of the things they talked of was the visit they
were to make to her cottage. They planned it all.
They were to drive over the moor and lunch out of doors
among the heather. They would see all the twelve children
and Dickon's garden and would not come back until they
Susan Sowerby got up at last to return to the house
and Mrs. Medlock. It was time for Colin to be wheeled
back also. But before he got into his chair he stood
quite close to Susan and fixed his eyes on her with a
kind of bewildered adoration and he suddenly caught
hold of the fold of her blue cloak and held it fast.
"You are just what I--what I wanted," he said. "I wish
you were my mother--as well as Dickon's!"
All at once Susan Sowerby bent down and drew him
with her warm arms close against the bosom under
the blue cloak--as if he had been Dickon's brother.
The quick mist swept over her eyes.
"Eh! dear lad!" she said. "Thy own mother's in this 'ere
very garden, I do believe. She couldna' keep out of it.
Thy father mun come back to thee--he mun!"
IN THE GARDEN
In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful
things have been discovered. In the last century more
amazing things were found out than in any century before.
In this new century hundreds of things still more
astounding will be brought to light. At first people
refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it
can be done--then it is done and all the world wonders
why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things
people began to find out in the last century was that
thoughts--just mere thoughts--are as powerful as electric
batteries--as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad
for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get
into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever
germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after
it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.
So long as Mistress Mary's mind was full of disagreeable
thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people
and her determination not to be pleased by or interested
in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored and
wretched child. Circumstances, however, were very
kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it.
They began to push her about for her own good. When her
mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland
cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed
old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids,
with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day
by day, and also with a moor boy and his "creatures," there
was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affected
her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired.
So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thought
only of his fears and weakness and his detestation
of people who looked at him and reflected hourly on
humps and early death, he was a hysterical half-crazy
little hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshine
and the spring and also did not know that he could get
well and could stand upon his feet if he tried to do it.
When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old
hideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ran
healthily through his veins and strength poured into him
like a flood. His scientific experiment was quite practical
and simple and there was nothing weird about it at all.
Much more surprising things can happen to any one who,
when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind,
just has the sense to remember in time and push it out
by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one.
Two things cannot be in one place.
"Where, you tend a rose, my lad,
A thistle cannot grow."
While the secret garden was coming alive and two children
were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about
certain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiords
and the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he was
a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark
and heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous;
he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of
the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them;
he had lain on mountain-sides with sheets of deep blue
gentians blooming all about him and flower breaths filling
all the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrow
had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had
let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused
obstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through.
He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties.
When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him that
the sight of him was a wrong done to other people because
it was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom.
Most strangers thought he must be either half mad or a man
with some hidden crime on his soul. He, was a tall man
with a drawn face and crooked shoulders and the name he
always entered on hotel registers was, "Archibald Craven,
Misselthwaite Manor, Yorkshire, England."
He had traveled far and wide since the day he saw Mistress
Mary in his study and told her she might have her "bit
of earth." He had been in the most beautiful places in Europe,
though he had remained nowhere more than a few days.
He had chosen the quietest and remotest spots.
He had been on the tops of mountains whose heads were
in the clouds and had looked down on other mountains
when the sun rose and touched them with such light
as made it seem as if the world were just being born.
But the light had never seemed to touch himself until
one day when he realized that for the first time in ten
years a strange thing had happened. He was in a wonderful
valley in the Austrian Tyrol and he had been walking alone
through such beauty as might have lifted, any man's soul
out of shadow. He had walked a long way and it had not
lifted his. But at last he had felt tired and had thrown
himself down to rest on a carpet of moss by a stream.
It was a clear little stream which ran quite merrily along
on its narrow way through the luscious damp greenness.
Sometimes it made a sound rather like very low laughter
as it bubbled over and round stones. He saw birds
come and dip their heads to drink in it and then flick
their wings and fly away. It seemed like a thing alive
and yet its tiny voice made the stillness seem deeper.
The valley was very, very still.
As he sat gazing into the clear running of the water,
Archibald Craven gradually felt his mind and body
both grow quiet, as quiet as the valley itself.
He wondered if he were going to sleep, but he was not.
He sat and gazed at the sunlit water and his eyes began
to see things growing at its edge. There was one lovely
mass of blue forget-me-nots growing so close to the stream
that its leaves were wet and at these he found himself looking
as he remembered he had looked at such things years ago.
He was actually thinking tenderly how lovely it was and
what wonders of blue its hundreds of little blossoms were.
He did not know that just that simple thought was slowly
filling his mind--filling and filling it until other things
were softly pushed aside. It was as if a sweet clear
spring had begun to rise in a stagnant pool and had risen
and risen until at last it sweptthe dark water away.
But of course he did not think of this himself. He only
knew that the valley seemed to grow quieter and quieter
as he sat and stared at the bright delicate blueness.
He did not know how long he sat there or what was happening
to him, but at last he moved as if he were awakening
and he got up slowly and stood on the moss carpet,
drawing a long, deep, soft breath and wondering at himself.
Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him,
"What is it?" he said, almost in a whisper, and he passed
his hand over his forehead. "I almost feel as if--I
I do not know enough about the wonderfulness of undiscovered
things to be able to explain how this had happened to him.
Neither does any one else yet. He did not understand
at all himself--but he remembered this strange hour
months afterward when he was at Misselthwaite again
and he found out quite by accident that on this very day
Colin had cried out as he went into the secret garden:
"I am going to live forever and ever and ever!"
The singular calmness remained with him the rest of the
evening and he slept a new reposeful sleep; but it was
not with him very long. He did not know that it could
be kept. By the next night he had opened the doors
wide to his dark thoughts and they had come trooping
and rushing back. He left the valley and went on his
wandering way again. But, strange as it seemed to him,
there were minutes--sometimes half-hours--when, without
his knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itself
again and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one.
Slowly--slowly--for no reason that he knew of--he was
"coming alive" with the garden.
As the golden summer changed into the deep golden autumn he
went to the Lake of Como. There he found the loveliness
of a dream. He spent his days upon the crystal blueness
of the lake or he walked back into the soft thick verdure
of the hills and tramped until he was tired so that he
might sleep. But by this time he had begun to sleep better,
he knew, and his dreams had ceased to be a terror to him.
"Perhaps," he thought, "my body is growing stronger."
It was growing stronger but--because of the rare
peaceful hours when his thoughts were changed--his soul
was slowly growing stronger, too. He began to think
of Misselthwaite and wonder if he should not go home.
Now and then he wondered vaguely about his boy and asked
himself what he should feel when he went and stood
by the carved four-posted bed again and looked down at
the sharply chiseled ivory-white face while it slept and,
the black lashes rimmed so startlingly the close-shut eyes.
He shrank from it.
One marvel of a day he had walked so far that when he
returned the moon was high and full and all the world
was purple shadow and silver. The stillness of lake
and shore and wood was so wonderful that he did not go
into the villa he lived in. He walked down to a little
bowered terrace at the water's edge and sat upon a seat
and breathed in all the heavenly scents of the night.
He felt the strange calmness stealing over him and it grew
deeper and deeper until he fell asleep.
He did not know when he fell asleep and when he began
to dream; his dream was so real that he did not feel
as if he were dreaming. He remembered afterward how
intensely wide awake and alert he had thought he was.
He thought that as he sat and breathed in the scent of
the late roses and listened to the lapping of the water
at his feet he heard a voice calling. It was sweet
and clear and happy and far away. It seemed very far,
but he heard it as distinctly as if it had been at his
"Archie! Archie! Archie!" it said, and then again,
sweeter and clearer than before, "Archie! Archie!"
He thought he sprang to his feet not even startled.
It was such a real voice and it seemed so natural that he
should hear it.
"Lilias! Lilias!" he answered. "Lilias! where are you?"
"In the garden," it came back like a sound from
a golden flute. "In the garden!"
And then the dream ended. But he did not awaken.
He slept soundly and sweetly all through the lovely night.
When he did awake at last it was brilliant morning and a
servant was standing staring at him. He was an Italian
servant and was accustomed, as all the servants of the
villa were, to accepting without question any strange thing
his foreign master might do. No one ever knew when he
would go out or come in or where he would choose to sleep
or if he would roam about the garden or lie in the boat
on the lake all night. The man held a salver with some
letters on it and he waited quietly until Mr. Craven
took them. When he had gone away Mr. Craven sat a few
moments holding them in his hand and looking at the lake.
His strange calm was still upon him and something more--a
lightness as if the cruel thing which had been done had
not happened as he thought--as if something had changed.
He was remembering the dream--the real--real dream.
"In the garden!" he said, wondering at himself. "In the
garden! But the door is locked and the key is buried deep."
When he glanced at the letters a few minutes later he
saw that the one lying at the top of the rest was an
English letter and came from Yorkshire. It was directed
in a plain woman's hand but it was not a hand he knew.
He opened it, scarcely thinking of the writer, but the
first words attracted his attention at once.
I am Susan Sowerby that made bold to speak to you
once on the moor. It was about Miss Mary I spoke.
I will make bold to speak again. Please, sir, I would
come home if I was you. I think you would be glad to come
and--if you will excuse me, sir--I think your lady would
ask you to come if she was here.
Your obedient servant,
Mr. Craven read the letter twice before he put it back
in its envelope. He kept thinking about the dream.
"I will go back to Misselthwaite," he said. "Yes, I'll
go at once."
And he went through the garden to the villa and ordered
Pitcher to prepare for his return to England.
In a few days he was in Yorkshire again, and on his long
railroad journey he found himself thinking of his boy
as he had never thought in all the ten years past.
During those years he had only wished to forget him.
Now, though he did not intend to think about him,
memories of him constantly drifted into his mind.
He remembered the black days when he had raved like a madman
because the child was alive and the mother was dead.
He had refused to see it, and when he had gone to look
at it at last it had been, such a weak wretched thing
that everyone had been sure it would die in a few days.
But to the surprise of those who took care of it the days
passed and it lived and then everyone believed it would be a
deformed and crippled creature.
He had not meant to be a bad father, but he had not felt
like a father at all. He had supplied doctors and nurses
and luxuries, but he had shrunk from the mere thought
of the boy and had buried himself in his own misery.
The first time after a year's absence he returned
to Misselthwaite and the small miserable looking thing
languidly and indifferently lifted to his face the great
gray eyes with black lashes round them, so like and yet
so horribly unlike the happy eyes he had adored, he could
not bear the sight of them and turned away pale as death.
After that he scarcely ever saw him except when he was asleep,
and all he knew of him was that he was a confirmed invalid,
with a vicious, hysterical, half-insane temper. He could
only be kept from furies dangerous to himself by being
given his own way in every detail.
All this was not an uplifting thing to recall, but as
the train whirled him through mountain passes and golden
plains the man who was "coming alive" began to think
in a new way and he thought long and steadily and deeply.
"Perhaps I have been all wrong for ten years,"
he said to himself. "Ten years is a long time.
It may be too late to do anything--quite too late.
What have I been thinking of!"
Of course this was the wrong Magic--to begin by saying
"too late." Even Colin could have told him that.
But he knew nothing of Magic--either black or white.
This he had yet to learn. He wondered if Susan Sowerby
had taken courage and written to him only because the
motherly creature had realized that the boy was much
worse--was fatally ill. If he had not been under the
spell of the curious calmness which had taken possession
of him he would have been more wretched than ever.
But the calm had brought a sort of courage and hope with it.
Instead of giving way to thoughts of the worst he actually
found he was trying to believe in better things.
"Could it be possible that she sees that I may be able
to do him good and control him? " he thought. "I will go
and see her on my way to Misselthwaite."
But when on his way across the moor he stopped the carriage
at the cottage, seven or eight children who were playing
about gathered in a group and bobbing seven or eight
friendly and polite curtsies told him that their mother
had gone to the other side of the moor early in the morning
to help a woman who had a new baby. "Our Dickon,"
they volunteered, was over at the Manor working in one
of the gardens where he went several days each week.
Mr. Craven looked over the collection of sturdy little
bodies and round red-cheeked faces, each one grinning
in its own particular way, and he awoke to the fact
that they were a healthy likable lot. He smiled at their
friendly grins and took a golden sovereign from his pocket
and gave it to "our 'Lizabeth Ellen" who was the oldest.
"If you divide that into eight parts there will be half
a crown for each of, you," he said.
Then amid grins and chuckles and bobbing of curtsies he
drove away, leaving ecstasy and nudging elbows and little
jumps of joy behind.
The drive across the wonderfulness of the moor was
a soothing thing. Why did it seem to give him a sense
of homecoming which he had been sure he could never feel
again--that sense of the beauty of land and sky and purple
bloom of distance and a warming of the heart at drawing,
nearer to the great old house which had held those of
his blood for six hundred years? How he had driven
away from it the last time, shuddering to think of its
closed rooms and the boy lying in the four-posted bed
with the brocaded hangings. Was it possible that perhaps
he might find him changed a little for the better
and that he might overcome his shrinking from him?
How real that dream had been--how wonderful and clear
the voice which called back to him, "In the garden--In the garden!"
"I will try to find the key," he said. "I will try
to open the door. I must--though I don't know why."
When he arrived at the Manor the servants who
received him with the usual ceremony noticed that he
looked better and that he did not go to the remote
rooms where he usually lived attended by Pitcher.
He went into the library and sent for Mrs. Medlock.
She came to him somewhat excited and curious and flustered.
"How is Master Colin, Medlock?" he inquired. "Well, sir,"
Mrs. Medlock answered, "he's--he's different, in a manner
"Worse?" he suggested.
Mrs. Medlock really was flushed.
"Well, you see, sir," she tried to explain, "neither
Dr. Craven, nor the nurse, nor me can exactly make him out."
"Why is that?"
"To tell the truth, sir, Master Colin might be better
and he might be changing for the worse. His appetite,
sir, is past understanding--and his ways--"
"Has he become more--more peculiar?" her master, asked,
knitting his brows anxiously.
"That's it, sir. He's growing very peculiar--when you
compare him with what he used to be. He used to eat nothing
and then suddenly he began to eat something enormous --and
then he stopped again all at once and the meals were sent
back just as they used to be. You never knew, sir, perhaps,
that out of doors he never would let himself be taken.
The things we've gone through to get him to go out in
his chair would leave a body trembling like a leaf.
He'd throw himself into such a state that Dr. Craven said
he couldn't be responsible for forcing him. Well, sir,
just without warning--not long after one of his worst
tantrums he suddenly insisted on being taken out every day
by Miss Mary and Susan Sowerby's boy Dickon that could push
his chair. He took a fancy to both Miss Mary and Dickon,
and Dickon brought his tame animals, and, if you'll
credit it, sir, out of doors he will stay from morning until night."
"How does he look?" was the next question.
"If he took his food natural, sir, you'd think he was putting
on flesh--but we're afraid it may be a sort of bloat.
He laughs sometimes in a queer way when he's alone with
Miss Mary. He never used to laugh at all. Dr. Craven
is coming to see you at once, if you'll allow him.
He never was as puzzled in his life."
"Where is Master Colin now?" Mr. Craven asked.
"In the garden, sir. He's always in the garden--though
not a human creature is allowed to go near for fear
they'll look at him."
Mr. Craven scarcely heard her last words.
"In the garden," he said, and after he had sent Mrs. Medlock
away he stood and repeated it again and again.
"In the garden!"
He had to make an effort to bring himself back to
the place he was standing in and when he felt he was
on earth again he turned and went out of the room.
He took his way, as Mary had done, through the door in the
shrubbery and among the laurels and the fountain beds.
The fountain was playing now and was encircled by beds
of brilliant autumn flowers. He crossed the lawn and
turned into the Long Walk by the ivied walls. He did not
walk quickly, but slowly, and his eyes were on the path.
He felt as if he were being drawn back to the place
he had so long forsaken, and he did not know why.
As he drew near to it his step became still more slow.
He knew where the door was even though the ivy hung thick
over it--but he did not know exactly where it lay--that
So he stopped and stood still, looking about him,
and almost the moment after he had paused he started
and listened--asking himself if he were walking in a dream.
The ivy hung thick over the door, the key was buried
under the shrubs, no human being had passed that portal
for ten lonely years--and yet inside the garden there
were sounds. They were the sounds of running scuffling
feet seeming to chase round and round under the trees,
they were strange sounds of lowered suppressed
voices--exclamations and smothered joyous cries.
It seemed actually like the laughter of young things,
the uncontrollable laughter of children who were trying not
to be heard but who in a moment or so--as their excitement
mounted--would burst forth. What in heaven's name was he
dreaming of--what in heaven's name did he hear? Was he
losing his reason and thinking he heard things which were
not for human ears? Was it that the far clear voice had meant?
And then the moment came, the uncontrollable moment
when the sounds forgot to hush themselves. The feet ran
faster and faster--they were nearing the garden door--there
was quick strong young breathing and a wild outbreak
of laughing shows which could not be contained--and the
door in the wall was flung wide open, the sheet of ivy
swinging back, and a boy burst through it at full speed and,
without seeing the outsider, dashed almost into his arms.
Mr. Craven had extended them just in time to save him
from falling as a result of his unseeing dash against him,
and when he held him away to look at him in amazement
at his being there he truly gasped for breath.
He was a tall boy and a handsome one. He was glowing
with life and his running had sent splendid color leaping
to his face. He threw the thick hair back from his forehead
and lifted a pair of strange gray eyes--eyes full of boyish
laughter and rimmed with black lashes like a fringe.
It was the eyes which made Mr. Craven gasp for breath.
"Who--What? Who!" he stammered.
This was not what Colin had expected--this was not what he
had planned. He had never thought of such a meeting.
And yet to come dashing out--winning a race--perhaps it
was even better. He drew himself up to his very tallest.
Mary, who had been running with him and had dashed through
the door too, believed that he managed to make himself
look taller than he had ever looked before--inches taller.
"Father," he said, "I'm Colin. You can't believe it.
I scarcely can myself. I'm Colin."
Like Mrs. Medlock, he did not understand what his father
meant when he said hurriedly:
"In the garden! In the garden!"
"Yes," hurried on Colin. "It was the garden that did
it--and Mary and Dickon and the creatures--and the Magic.
No one knows. We kept it to tell you when you came.
I'm well, I can beat Mary in a race. I'm going to be
He said it all so like a healthy boy--his face flushed,
his words tumbling over each other in his eagerness--that
Mr. Craven's soul shook with unbelieving joy.
Colin put out his hand and laid it on his father's arm.
"Aren't you glad, Father?" he ended. "Aren't you glad?
I'm going to live forever and ever and ever!"
Mr. Craven put his hands on both the boy's shoulders
and held him still. He knew he dared not even try
to speak for a moment.
"Take me into the garden, my boy," he said at last.
"And tell me all about it."
And so they led him in.
The place was a wilderness of autumn gold and purple
and violet blue and flaming scarlet and on every side were
sheaves of late lilies standing together--lilies which were
white or white and ruby. He remembered well when the
first of them had been planted that just at this season
of the year their late glories should reveal themselves.
Late roses climbed and hung and clustered and the sunshine
deepening the hue of the yellowing trees made one feel
that one, stood in an embowered temple of gold.
The newcomer stood silent just as the children had done
when they came into its grayness. He looked round and round.
"I thought it would be dead," he said."
"Mary thought so at first," said Colin. "But it came
Then they sat down under their tree--all but Colin,
who wanted to stand while he told the story.
It was the strangest thing he had ever heard, Archibald Craven
thought, as it was poured forth in headlong boy fashion.
Mystery and Magic and wild creatures, the weird midnight
meeting--the coming of the spring--the passion of insulted
pride which had dragged the young Rajah to his feet to defy
old Ben Weatherstaff to his face. The odd companionship,
the play acting, the great secret so carefully kept.
The listener laughed until tears came into his eyes and
sometimes tears came into his eyes when he was not laughing.
The Athlete, the Lecturer, the Scientific Discoverer
was a laughable, lovable, healthy young human thing.
"Now," he said at the end of the story, "it need not
a secret any more. I dare say it will frighten them
nearly into fits when they see me--but I am never going
to get into the chair again. I shall walk back with you,
Father--to the house."
Ben Weatherstaff's duties rarely took him away from the gardens,
but on this occasion he made an excuse to carry some
vegetables to the kitchen and being invited into the servants'
hall by Mrs. Medlock to drink a glass of beer he was on
the spot--as he had hoped to be--when the most dramatic
event Misselthwaite Manor had seen during the present
generation actually took place. One of the windows looking
upon the courtyard gave also a glimpse of the lawn.
Mrs. Medlock, knowing Ben had come from the gardens,
hoped that he might have caught sight of his master
and even by chance of his meeting with Master Colin.
"Did you see either of them, Weatherstaff?" she asked.
Ben took his beer-mug from his mouth and wiped his lips
with the back of his hand.
"Aye, that I did," he answered with a shrewdly significant
"Both of them?" suggested Mrs. Medlock.
"Both of 'em," returned Ben Weatherstaff. "Thank ye kindly,
ma'am, I could sup up another mug of it."
"Together?" said Mrs. Medlock, hastily overfilling his
beer-mug in her excitement.
"Together, ma'am," and Ben gulped down half of his new
mug at one gulp.
"Where was Master Colin? How did he look? What did they
say to each other?"
"I didna' hear that," said Ben, "along o' only bein'
stepladder lookin, over th' wall. But I'll tell thee this.
There's been things goin' on outside as you house people
knows nowt about. An' what tha'll find out tha'll find
And it was not two minutes before he swallowed the last
of his beer and waved his mug solemnly toward the window
which took in through the shrubbery a piece of the lawn.
"Look there," he said, "if tha's curious. Look what's
across th' grass."
When Mrs. Medlock looked she threw up her hands and gave
a little shriek and every man and woman servant within hearing
bolted across the servants' hall and stood looking through
the window with their eyes almost starting out of their heads.
Across the lawn came the Master of Misselthwaite and he
looked as many of them had never seen him. And by his,
side with his head up in the air and his eyes full
of laughter walked as strongly and steadily as any boy
in Yorkshire--Master Colin.