The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Part 3 out of 6

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

"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'
the way."

"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 came.
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 glad!"

"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

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.
She knows."

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 you may.
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
of herself.

"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
come alive."

"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 to
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

"Eh!" said Martha delightedly, "that was nice of him
wasn't it?"

"Martha," said Mary solemnly, "he is really a nice man,
only his face is so miserable and his forehead is all
drawn together."

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."



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
heard before."

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 is
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,
crying fretfully.

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 you went.
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 eagerly.

"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
might happen!

"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
tell me."

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
the garden.

"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 I
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 else.
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 really
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 getting fresh 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
safe-hidden nest.

"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 to
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

"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
it afterward."

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 not
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 me."

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
quite low."

"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.



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,"
said Mary.

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 I came.
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 go
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 sure!"

"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 Magic
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
like one."

"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'
stop talkin'.'"

"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 one
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
her knitting.

"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 his
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
all morning."

"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."

He frowned.

"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 duty, sir."

"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
from Dickon."

"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
at it"

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.

"You might--sometime."

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
lips together.

"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 I
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
your pictures."

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

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 the 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
to forget.

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
the corridor.

"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
in her.

"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 little.
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
don't care."

"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
about Dickon.

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
the earth."

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 everywhere 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'
here waitin'!"

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
scarcely breathe!"

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
without moving.

"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
his way."

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

"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,
does tha'?'"

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
growed hunchback."

"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 till th'
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
find out."

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
doctor's stuff."

"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.



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."


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