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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 someone.
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. 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.
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.
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 out today. 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.
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. In this queer place one scarcely ever saw anyone at all. Medlock was out of the way. 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.
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? 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. 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 than ever.
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.
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 frightened 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.
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.
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.
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. Medlock at the moment, but she hated her more the next.
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.
The master had better get you a governess, same as he said he would. 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. 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.
Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat upright in bed immediately, and called to Martha.
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. 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.
It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color. Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again.
She was thinking that the small plain face did not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning she saw it. I am glad.
Perhaps she could talk to her. 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.
She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given Mary her breakfast. 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. 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.
Are there ever any roses? She walked away, slowly thinking. 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 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 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.
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.
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 very much. 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.
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.
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.
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 in it. Our Dickon he said our cottage was good enough for a king to live in.
I dare say they would like to hear about riding on elephants and camels, and about the officers going to hunt tigers.
It would be same as a wild beast show like we heard they had in York once. Did Dickon and your mother like to hear you talk about me?
Craven got no governess for her, nor no nurse? Presently Martha went out of the room and came back with something held in her hands under her apron.
How could a cottage full of fourteen hungry people give anyone a present! How much are they? 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. 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. Do you think I could ever skip like that? She was not very clever at it, but she liked it so much that she did not want to stop.
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.
It was your two-pence really. Thank you. Martha gave her hand a clumsy little shake, as if she was not accustomed to this sort of thing either. Then she laughed.
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.
I can only go up to twenty. 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.
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. 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.
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 anyone 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, and delight.
It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone 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.
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.
She moved away from the door, stepping as softly as if she were afraid of awakening someone. 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.
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 leaf-bud anywhere.
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 anyone, 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. She bent very close to them and sniffed the fresh scent of the damp earth.
She liked it very much. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Would they live years and years if no one helped them? No one knows when they was first planted. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Morrison gave me five shillings and Mrs. Medlock gave me some money from Mr. Medlock said I was to have a shilling a week to spend. She gives me one every Saturday.
I know I can print letters if I try. Medlock for a pen and ink and some paper. She ran out of the room, and Mary stood by the fire and twisted her thin little hands together with sheer pleasure.
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:.
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 everyone 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.
I never thought I should see Dickon. I never saw a boy foxes and crows loved. I want to see him very much. Medlock her own self. 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!
She knows what a tidy woman mother is and how clean she keeps the cottage. 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.
And I heard that far-off crying again, just as we heard it the other night. 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 much alive.
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.
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.
He stood up and rested one hobnailed boot on the top of his spade while he looked her over. Mary was not vain and as she had never thought much of her looks she was not greatly disturbed.
They used to make wrinkles. 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. 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. The robin spread his wings—Mary could scarcely believe her eyes.
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. 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. I was learned that by a young lady I was gardener to.
Do roses quite die when they are left to themselves? I have nothing—and no one. 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 everyone 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 fond of. 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.
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. 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 to make.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with scarlet berries, and Mary thought she knew whose it was. Look at me. I wants a bit of a chat.
Whose is he? The robin listened a few seconds, intently, and then answered quite as if he were replying to a question.
She did so want to know. And it really seemed as if it must be true. He so sidled and twittered and tilted as he hopped on his bush.
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.
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.
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. I believe I should die!
Dickon looked more puzzled than ever and even rubbed his hand over his rough head again, but he answered quite good-humoredly.
Aye, I can keep secrets. Nobody wants it, nobody cares for it, nobody ever goes into it. Perhaps everything is dead in it already. I found it myself and I got into it myself.
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.
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.
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.
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 forgot! He stopped and looked round at the lovely gray tangle about him, and his round eyes looked queerly happy.
I thought perhaps they were all dead. 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. 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.
See here! Look at it. 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.
So I made a place for them. I used always to be tired. She had never seen such a funny boy, or such a nice one. He was working all the time he was talking and Mary was following him and helping him with her fork or the trowel.
I can dig and pull up weeds, and do whatever you tell me. What could you do for a boy like that? He began to walk about, looking up in the trees and at the walls and bushes with a thoughtful expression.
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.
I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there were really flowers like silver bells. 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.
Then Mary did a strange thing. She leaned forward and asked him a question she had never dreamed of asking anyone before.
And she tried to ask it in Yorkshire because that was his language, and in India a native was always pleased if you knew his speech.
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.
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. 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.
His poppy-colored cheeks were distended with his first big bite of bread and bacon, but he managed to smile encouragingly. 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. His nose turns up too much.
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. Roach is. Craven lets him do what he likes because he was here when Mrs.
She liked him. 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.
Craven had been to our cottage two or three times. 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. She did not finish the sentence, because the door opened, and Mrs.
Medlock walked in. 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. Martha, help her to slip on her best dress. Craven sent me to bring her to him in his study. 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.
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