The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Part 5 out of 6
themselves on what was before him as if he were seeing
a ghost. He gazed and gazed and gulped a lump down his
throat and did not say a word. "Do you know who I am?"
demanded Colin still more imperiously. "Answer!"
Ben Weatherstaff put his gnarled hand up and passed it
over his eyes and over his forehead and then he did
answer in a queer shaky voice.
"Who tha' art?" he said. "Aye, that I do--wi' tha'
mother's eyes starin' at me out o' tha' face. Lord knows
how tha' come here. But tha'rt th' poor cripple."
Colin forgot that he had ever had a back. His face
flushed scarlet and he sat bolt upright.
"I'm not a cripple!" he cried out furiously. "I'm not!"
"He's not!" cried Mary, almost shouting up the wall
in her fierce indignation. "He's not got a lump as big
as a pin! I looked and there was none there--not one!"
Ben Weatherstaff passed his hand over his forehead
again and gazed as if he could never gaze enough.
His hand shook and his mouth shook and his voice shook.
He was an ignorant old man and a tactless old man and he
could only remember the things he had heard.
"Tha'--tha' hasn't got a crooked back?" he said hoarsely.
"No!" shouted Colin.
"Tha'--tha' hasn't got crooked legs?" quavered Ben more
hoarsely yet. It was too much. The strength which Colin
usually threw into his tantrums rushed through him now
in a new way. Never yet had he been accused of crooked
legs--even in whispers--and the perfectly simple belief
in their existence which was revealed by Ben Weatherstaff's
voice was more than Rajah flesh and blood could endure.
His anger and insulted pride made him forget everything
but this one moment and filled him with a power he had
never known before, an almost unnatural strength.
"Come here!" he shouted to Dickon, and he actually
began to tear the coverings off his lower limbs and
disentangle himself. "Come here! Come here! This minute!"
Dickon was by his side in a second. Mary caught her
breath in a short gasp and felt herself turn pale.
"He can do it! He can do it! He can do it! He can!"
she gabbled over to herself under her breath as fast
as ever she could.
There was a brief fierce scramble, the rugs were tossed
on the ground, Dickon held Colin's arm, the thin
legs were out, the thin feet were on the grass.
Colin was standing upright--upright--as straight as an
arrow and looking strangely tall--his head thrown back
and his strange eyes flashing lightning. "Look at me!"
he flung up at Ben Weatherstaff. "Just look at me--you!
Just look at me!"
"He's as straight as I am!" cried Dickon. "He's as
straight as any lad i' Yorkshire!"
What Ben Weatherstaff did Mary thought queer beyond measure.
He choked and gulped and suddenly tears ran down his
weather-wrinkled cheeks as he struck his old hands together.
"Eh!" he burst forth, "th' lies folk tells! Tha'rt
as thin as a lath an' as white as a wraith, but there's
not a knob on thee. Tha'lt make a mon yet. God bless thee!"
Dickon held Colin's arm strongly but the boy had not begun
to falter. He stood straighter and straighter and looked
Ben Weatherstaff in the face.
"I'm your master," he said, "when my father is away.
And you are to obey me. This is my garden. Don't dare
to say a word about it! You get down from that ladder
and go out to the Long Walk and Miss Mary will meet you
and bring you here. I want to talk to you. We did not
want you, but now you will have to be in the secret.
Ben Weatherstaff's crabbed old face was still wet with
that one queer rush of tears. It seemed as if he could
not take his eyes from thin straight Colin standing
on his feet with his head thrown back.
"Eh! lad," he almost whispered. "Eh! my lad!" And then
remembering himself he suddenly touched his hat gardener
fashion and said, "Yes, sir! Yes, sir!" and obediently
disappeared as he descended the ladder.
WHEN THE SUN WENT DOWN
When his head was out of sight Colin turned to Mary.
"Go and meet him," he said; and Mary flew across the grass
to the door under the ivy.
Dickon was watching him with sharp eyes. There were
scarlet spots on his cheeks and he looked amazing,
but he showed no signs of falling.
"I can stand," he said, and his head was still held up
and he said it quite grandly.
"I told thee tha' could as soon as tha' stopped bein'
afraid," answered Dickon. "An' tha's stopped."
"Yes, I've stopped," said Colin.
Then suddenly he remembered something Mary had said.
"Are you making Magic?" he asked sharply.
Dickon's curly mouth spread in a cheerful grin.
"Tha's doin' Magic thysel'," he said. "It's same Magic
as made these 'ere work out o' th' earth," and he touched
with his thick boot a clump of crocuses in the grass.
Colin looked down at them.
"Aye," he said slowly, "there couldna' be bigger Magic
than that there--there couldna' be."
He drew himself up straighter than ever.
"I'm going to walk to that tree," he said, pointing to
one a few feet away from him. "I'm going to be standing
when Weatherstaff comes here. I can rest against the tree
if I like. When I want to sit down I will sit down,
but not before. Bring a rug from the chair."
He walked to the tree and though Dickon held his arm he was
wonderfully steady. When he stood against the tree trunk
it was not too plain that he supported himself against it,
and he still held himself so straight that he looked tall.
When Ben Weatherstaff came through the door in the wall
he saw him standing there and he heard Mary muttering
something under her breath.
"What art sayin'?" he asked rather testily because he
did not want his attention distracted from the long thin
straight boy figure and proud face.
But she did not tell him. What she was saying was this:
"You can do it! You can do it! I told you you could!
You can do it! You can do it! You can!" She was saying
it to Colin because she wanted to make Magic and keep
him on his feet looking like that. She could not bear
that he should give in before Ben Weatherstaff.
He did not give in. She was uplifted by a sudden feeling
that he looked quite beautiful in spite of his thinness.
He fixed his eyes on Ben Weatherstaff in his funny
"Look at me!" he commanded. "Look at me all over! Am I
a hunchback? Have I got crooked legs?"
Ben Weatherstaff had not quite got over his emotion,
but he had recovered a little and answered almost in his
"Not tha'," he said. "Nowt o' th' sort. What's tha'
been doin' with thysel'--hidin' out o' sight an' lettin'
folk think tha' was cripple an' half-witted?"
"Half-witted!" said Colin angrily. "Who thought that?"
"Lots o' fools," said Ben. "Th' world's full o'
jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies.
What did tha' shut thysel' up for?"
"Everyone thought I was going to die," said Colin shortly.
And he said it with such decision Ben Weatherstaff looked
him over, up and down, down and up.
"Tha' die!" he said with dry exultation. "Nowt o' th'
sort! Tha's got too much pluck in thee. When I seed thee
put tha' legs on th' ground in such a hurry I knowed tha'
was all right. Sit thee down on th' rug a bit young
Mester an' give me thy orders."
There was a queer mixture of crabbed tenderness and shrewd
understanding in his manner. Mary had poured out speech
as rapidly as she could as they had come down the Long Walk.
The chief thing to be remembered, she had told him,
was that Colin was getting well--getting well. The garden
was doing it. No one must let him remember about having
humps and dying.
The Rajah condescended to seat himself on a rug under
"What work do you do in the gardens, Weatherstaff?"
"Anythin' I'm told to do," answered old Ben. "I'm kep'
on by favor--because she liked me."
"She?" said Colin.
"Tha' mother," answered Ben Weatherstaff.
"My mother?" said Colin, and he looked about him quietly.
"This was her garden, wasn't it?"
"Aye, it was that!" and Ben Weatherstaff looked about
him too. "She were main fond of it."
"It is my garden now. I am fond of it. I shall come here
every day," announced Colin. "But it is to be a secret.
My orders are that no one is to know that we come here.
Dickon and my cousin have worked and made it come alive.
I shall send for you sometimes to help--but you must come
when no one can see you."
Ben Weatherstaff's face twisted itself in a dry old smile.
"I've come here before when no one saw me," he said.
"What!" exclaimed Colin.
"Th' last time I was here," rubbing his chin
and looking round, "was about two year' ago."
"But no one has been in it for ten years!" cried Colin.
"There was no door!"
"I'm no one," said old Ben dryly. "An' I didn't come
through th' door. I come over th' wall. Th' rheumatics held
me back th' last two year'."
"Tha' come an' did a bit o' prunin'!" cried Dickon.
"I couldn't make out how it had been done."
"She was so fond of it--she was!" said Ben Weatherstaff slowly.
"An' she was such a pretty young thing. She says to me once,
`Ben,' says she laughin', `if ever I'm ill or if I go away
you must take care of my roses.' When she did go away th'
orders was no one was ever to come nigh. But I come,"
with grumpy obstinacy. "Over th' wall I come--until th'
rheumatics stopped me--an' I did a bit o' work once a year.
She'd gave her order first."
"It wouldn't have been as wick as it is if tha'
hadn't done it," said Dickon. "I did wonder."
"I'm glad you did it, Weatherstaff," said Colin.
"You'll know how to keep the secret."
"Aye, I'll know, sir," answered Ben. "An, it'll be easier
for a man wi' rheumatics to come in at th' door."
On the grass near the tree Mary had dropped her trowel.
Colin stretched out his hand and took it up. An odd expression
came into his face and he began to scratch at the earth.
His thin hand was weak enough but presently as they watched
him--Mary with quite breathless interest--he drove the end
of the trowel into the soil and turned some over.
"You can do it! You can do it!" said Mary to herself.
"I tell you, you can!"
Dickon's round eyes were full of eager curiousness but he said
not a word. Ben Weatherstaff looked on with interested face.
Colin persevered. After he had turned a few trowelfuls
of soil he spoke exultantly to Dickon in his best Yorkshire.
"Tha' said as tha'd have me walkin' about here same
as other folk--an' tha' said tha'd have me diggin'. I
thowt tha' was just leein' to please me. This is only th'
first day an' I've walked--an' here I am diggin'."
Ben Weatherstaff's mouth fell open again when he heard him,
but he ended by chuckling.
"Eh!" he said, "that sounds as if tha'd got wits enow.
Tha'rt a Yorkshire lad for sure. An' tha'rt diggin', too.
How'd tha' like to plant a bit o' somethin'? I can get thee
a rose in a pot."
"Go and get it!" said Colin, digging excitedly.
It was done quickly enough indeed. Ben Weatherstaff went
his way forgetting rheumatics. Dickon took his spade
and dug the hole deeper and wider than a new digger
with thin white hands could make it. Mary slipped out
to run and bring back a watering-can. When Dickon had
deepened the hole Colin went on turning the soft earth
over and over. He looked up at the sky, flushed and
glowing with the strangely new exercise, slight as it was.
"I want to do it before the sun goes quite--quite down,"
Mary thought that perhaps the sun held back a few minutes
just on purpose. Ben Weatherstaff brought the rose in
its pot from the greenhouse. He hobbled over the grass
as fast as he could. He had begun to be excited, too.
He knelt down by the hole and broke the pot from the mould.
"Here, lad," he said, handing the plant to Colin.
"Set it in the earth thysel' same as th' king does when he
goes to a new place."
The thin white hands shook a little and Colin's flush
grew deeper as he set the rose in the mould and held
it while old Ben made firm the earth. It was filled
in and pressed down and made steady. Mary was leaning
forward on her hands and knees. Soot had flown down
and marched forward to see what was being done.
Nut and Shell chattered about it from a cherry-tree.
"It's planted!" said Colin at last. "And the sun is only
slipping over the edge. Help me up, Dickon. I want
to be standing when it goes. That's part of the Magic."
And Dickon helped him, and the Magic--or whatever it
was--so gave him strength that when the sun did slip
over the edge and end the strange lovely afternoon
for them there he actually stood on his two feet--laughing.
Dr. Craven had been waiting some time at the house
when they returned to it. He had indeed begun to wonder
if it might not be wise to send some one out to explore
the garden paths. When Colin was brought back to his
room the poor man looked him over seriously.
"You should not have stayed so long," he said. "You must
not overexert yourself."
"I am not tired at all," said Colin. "It has made me well.
Tomorrow I am going out in the morning as well as in
"I am not sure that I can allow it," answered Dr. Craven.
"I am afraid it would not be wise."
"It would not be wise to try to stop me," said Colin
quite seriously. "I am going."
Even Mary had found out that one of Colin's chief peculiarities
was that he did not know in the least what a rude little
brute he was with his way of ordering people about.
He had lived on a sort of desert island all his life
and as he had been the king of it he had made his own
manners and had had no one to compare himself with.
Mary had indeed been rather like him herself and since she
had been at Misselthwaite had gradually discovered that
her own manners had not been of the kind which is usual
or popular. Having made this discovery she naturally
thought it of enough interest to communicate to Colin.
So she sat and looked at him curiously for a few minutes
after Dr. Craven had gone. She wanted to make him ask
her why she was doing it and of course she did.
"What are you looking at me for?" he said.
"I'm thinking that I am rather sorry for Dr. Craven."
"So am I," said Colin calmly, but not without an air
of some satisfaction. "He won't get Misselthwaite
at all now I'm not going to die."
"I'm sorry for him because of that, of course," said Mary,
"but I was thinking just then that it must have been very
horrid to have had to be polite for ten years to a boy
who was always rude. I would never have done it."
"Am I rude?" Colin inquired undisturbedly.
"If you had been his own boy and he had been a slapping
sort of man," said Mary, "he would have slapped you."
"But he daren't," said Colin.
"No, he daren't," answered Mistress Mary, thinking the
thing out quite without prejudice. "Nobody ever dared
to do anything you didn't like--because you were going
to die and things like that. You were such a poor thing."
"But," announced Colin stubbornly, "I am not going
to be a poor thing. I won't let people think I'm one.
I stood on my feet this afternoon."
"It is always having your own way that has made you
so queer," Mary went on, thinking aloud.
Colin turned his head, frowning.
"Am I queer?" he demanded.
"Yes," answered Mary, "very. But you needn't be cross,"
she added impartially, "because so am I queer--and so is
Ben Weatherstaff. But I am not as queer as I was before I
began to like people and before I found the garden."
"I don't want to be queer," said Colin. "I am not going
to be," and he frowned again with determination.
He was a very proud boy. He lay thinking for a while and
then Mary saw his beautiful smile begin and gradually
change his whole face.
"I shall stop being queer," he said, "if I go every day
to the garden. There is Magic in there--good Magic,
you know, Mary. I am sure there is." "So am I,"
"Even if it isn't real Magic," Colin said, "we can pretend
it is. Something is there--something!"
"It's Magic," said Mary, "but not black. It's as white
They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it
in the months that followed--the wonderful months--the
radiant months--the amazing ones. Oh! the things
which happened in that garden! If you have never had
a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had
a garden you will know that it would take a whole book
to describe all that came to pass there. At first it
seemed that green things would never cease pushing
their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds,
even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things
began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and
show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple,
every tint and hue of crimson. In its happy days flowers
had been tucked away into every inch and hole and corner.
Ben Weatherstaff had seen it done and had himself scraped
out mortar from between the bricks of the wall and made
pockets of earth for lovely clinging things to grow on.
Iris and white lilies rose out of the grass in sheaves,
and the green alcoves filled themselves with amazing armies
of the blue and white flower lances of tall delphiniums
or columbines or campanulas.
"She was main fond o' them--she was," Ben Weatherstaff said.
"She liked them things as was allus pointin' up to th'
blue sky, she used to tell. Not as she was one o'
them as looked down on th' earth--not her. She just loved
it but she said as th' blue sky allus looked so joyful."
The seeds Dickon and Mary had planted grew as if fairies
had tended them. Satiny poppies of all tints danced in the
breeze by the score, gaily defying flowers which had lived
in the garden for years and which it might be confessed
seemed rather to wonder how such new people had got there.
And the roses--the roses! Rising out of the grass,
tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks
and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls
and spreading over them with long garlands falling
in cascades--they came alive day by day, hour by hour.
Fair fresh leaves, and buds--and buds--tiny at first but
swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled
into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over
their brims and filling the garden air.
Colin saw it all, watching each change as it took place.
Every morning he was brought out and every hour of each day
when it didn't rain he spent in the garden. Even gray
days pleased him. He would lie on the grass "watching
things growing," he said. If you watched long enough,
he declared, you could see buds unsheath themselves.
Also you could make the acquaintance of strange busy insect
things running about on various unknown but evidently
serious errands, sometimes carrying tiny scraps of straw
or feather or food, or climbing blades of grass as if they
were trees from whose tops one could look out to explore
the country. A mole throwing up its mound at the end of its
burrow and making its way out at last with the long-nailed
paws which looked so like elfish hands, had absorbed him
one whole morning. Ants' ways, beetles' ways, bees'
ways, frogs' ways, birds' ways, plants' ways, gave him
a new world to explore and when Dickon revealed them
all and added foxes' ways, otters' ways, ferrets' ways,
squirrels' ways, and trout' and water-rats' and badgers'
ways, there was no end to the things to talk about and think
And this was not the half of the Magic. The fact that he
had really once stood on his feet had set Colin thinking
tremendously and when Mary told him of the spell she
had worked he was excited and approved of it greatly.
He talked of it constantly.
"Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,"
he said wisely one day, "but people don't know what it is
like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say
nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.
I am going to try and experiment"
The next morning when they went to the secret garden he sent
at once for Ben Weatherstaff. Ben came as quickly as he
could and found the Rajah standing on his feet under a tree
and looking very grand but also very beautifully smiling.
"Good morning, Ben Weatherstaff," he said. "I want you
and Dickon and Miss Mary to stand in a row and listen to me
because I am going to tell you something very important."
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered Ben Weatherstaff, touching
his forehead. (One of the long concealed charms of Ben
Weatherstaff was that in his boyhood he had once run away
to sea and had made voyages. So he could reply like a sailor.)
"I am going to try a scientific experiment," explained the Rajah.
"When I grow up I am going to make great scientific
discoveries and I am going to begin now with this experiment"
"Aye, aye, sir!" said Ben Weatherstaff promptly,
though this was the first time he had heard of great
It was the first time Mary had heard of them, either,
but even at this stage she had begun to realize that,
queer as he was, Colin had read about a great many singular
things and was somehow a very convincing sort of boy.
When he held up his head and fixed his strange eyes on you
it seemed as if you believed him almost in spite of yourself
though he was only ten years old--going on eleven.
At this moment he was especially convincing because he
suddenly felt the fascination of actually making a sort
of speech like a grown-up person.
"The great scientific discoveries I am going to make,"
he went on, "will be about Magic. Magic is a great thing
and scarcely any one knows anything about it except a few
people in old books--and Mary a little, because she was
born in India where there are fakirs. I believe Dickon
knows some Magic, but perhaps he doesn't know he knows it.
He charms animals and people. I would never have let him
come to see me if he had not been an animal charmer--which
is a boy charmer, too, because a boy is an animal.
I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not
sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for
us--like electricity and horses and steam."
This sounded so imposing that Ben Weatherstaff became
quite excited and really could not keep still. "Aye, aye,
sir," he said and he began to stand up quite straight.
"When Mary found this garden it looked quite dead,"
the orator proceeded. "Then something began pushing things
up out of the soil and making things out of nothing.
One day things weren't there and another they were.
I had never watched things before and it made me feel
very curious. Scientific people are always curious and I
am going to be scientific. I keep saying to myself,
`What is it? What is it?' It's something. It can't
be nothing! I don't know its name so I call it Magic.
I have never seen the sun rise but Mary and Dickon have
and from what they tell me I am sure that is Magic too.
Something pushes it up and draws it. Sometimes since I've
been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at
the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy
as if something were pushing and drawing in my chest
and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and
drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is
made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds,
badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must
be all around us. In this garden--in all the places.
The Magic in this garden has made me stand up and know
I am going to live to be a man. I am going to make the
scientific experiment of trying to get some and put it
in myself and make it push and draw me and make me strong.
I don't know how to do it but I think that if you keep
thinking about it and calling it perhaps it will come.
Perhaps that is the first baby way to get it.
When I was going to try to stand that first time Mary
kept saying to herself as fast as she could, `You can
do it! You can do it!' and I did. I had to try myself
at the same time, of course, but her Magic helped me--and
so did Dickon's. Every morning and evening and as often
in the daytime as I can remember I am going to say,
'Magic is in me! Magic is making me well! I am going
to be as strong as Dickon, as strong as Dickon!' And you
must all do it, too. That is my experiment Will you help,
"Aye, aye, sir!" said Ben Weatherstaff. "Aye, aye!"
"If you keep doing it every day as regularly as soldiers
go through drill we shall see what will happen and find
out if the experiment succeeds. You learn things
by saying them over and over and thinking about them
until they stay in your mind forever and I think it
will be the same with Magic. If you keep calling it
to come to you and help you it will get to be part
of you and it will stay and do things." "I once heard
an officer in India tell my mother that there were fakirs
who said words over and over thousands of times," said Mary.
"I've heard Jem Fettleworth's wife say th' same thing over
thousands o' times--callin' Jem a drunken brute," said Ben
Weatherstaff dryly. "Summat allus come o' that, sure enough.
He gave her a good hidin' an' went to th' Blue Lion an'
got as drunk as a lord."
Colin drew his brows together and thought a few minutes.
Then he cheered up.
"Well," he said, "you see something did come of it.
She used the wrong Magic until she made him beat her.
If she'd used the right Magic and had said something
nice perhaps he wouldn't have got as drunk as a lord and
perhaps--perhaps he might have bought her a new bonnet."
Ben Weatherstaff chuckled and there was shrewd admiration
in his little old eyes.
"Tha'rt a clever lad as well as a straight-legged one,
Mester Colin," he said. "Next time I see Bess Fettleworth
I'll give her a bit of a hint o' what Magic will do for her.
She'd be rare an' pleased if th' sinetifik 'speriment
worked --an' so 'ud Jem."
Dickon had stood listening to the lecture, his round
eyes shining with curious delight. Nut and Shell were
on his shoulders and he held a long-eared white rabbit
in his arm and stroked and stroked it softly while it
laid its ears along its back and enjoyed itself.
"Do you think the experiment will work?" Colin asked him,
wondering what he was thinking. He so often wondered
what Dickon was thinking when he saw him looking at him
or at one of his "creatures" with his happy wide smile.
He smiled now and his smile was wider than usual.
"Aye," he answered, "that I do. It'll work same as th'
seeds do when th' sun shines on 'em. It'll work for sure.
Shall us begin it now?"
Colin was delighted and so was Mary. Fired by recollections
of fakirs and devotees in illustrations Colin suggested
that they should all sit cross-legged under the tree
which made a canopy.
"It will be like sitting in a sort of temple," said Colin.
"I'm rather tired and I want to sit down."
"Eh!" said Dickon, "tha' mustn't begin by sayin'
tha'rt tired. Tha' might spoil th' Magic."
Colin turned and looked at him--into his innocent round eyes.
"That's true," he said slowly. "I must only think of
the Magic." It all seemed most majestic and mysterious
when they sat down in their circle. Ben Weatherstaff
felt as if he had somehow been led into appearing
at a prayer-meeting. Ordinarily he was very fixed in
being what he called "agen' prayer-meetin's" but this
being the Rajah's affair he did not resent it and was
indeed inclined to be gratified at being called upon
to assist. Mistress Mary felt solemnly enraptured.
Dickon held his rabbit in his arm, and perhaps he made
some charmer's signal no one heard, for when he sat down,
cross-legged like the rest, the crow, the fox, the squirrels
and the lamb slowly drew near and made part of the circle,
settling each into a place of rest as if of their own desire.
"The `creatures' have come," said Colin gravely.
"They want to help us."
Colin really looked quite beautiful, Mary thought.
He held his head high as if he felt like a sort of priest
and his strange eyes had a wonderful look in them.
The light shone on him through the tree canopy.
"Now we will begin," he said. "Shall we sway backward
and forward, Mary, as if we were dervishes?"
"I canna' do no swayin' back'ard and for'ard,"
said Ben Weatherstaff. "I've got th' rheumatics."
"The Magic will take them away," said Colin in a High
Priest tone, "but we won't sway until it has done it.
We will only chant."
"I canna' do no chantin'" said Ben Weatherstaff a
trifle testily. "They turned me out o' th' church choir th'
only time I ever tried it."
No one smiled. They were all too much in earnest.
Colin's face was not even crossed by a shadow. He was
thinking only of the Magic.
"Then I will chant," he said. And he began, looking like
a strange boy spirit. "The sun is shining--the sun
is shining. That is the Magic. The flowers are growing--the
roots are stirring. That is the Magic. Being alive
is the Magic--being strong is the Magic. The Magic is
in me--the Magic is in me. It is in me--it is in me.
It's in every one of us. It's in Ben Weatherstaff's back.
Magic! Magic! Come and help!"
He said it a great many times--not a thousand times
but quite a goodly number. Mary listened entranced.
She felt as if it were at once queer and beautiful and she
wanted him to go on and on. Ben Weatherstaff began to feel
soothed into a sort of dream which was quite agreeable.
The humming of the bees in the blossoms mingled with
the chanting voice and drowsily melted into a doze.
Dickon sat cross-legged with his rabbit asleep
on his arm and a hand resting on the lamb's back.
Soot had pushed away a squirrel and huddled close to him
on his shoulder, the gray film dropped over his eyes.
At last Colin stopped.
"Now I am going to walk round the garden," he announced.
Ben Weatherstaff's head had just dropped forward and he
lifted it with a jerk.
"You have been asleep," said Colin.
"Nowt o' th' sort," mumbled Ben. "Th' sermon was good
enow--but I'm bound to get out afore th' collection."
He was not quite awake yet.
"You're not in church," said Colin.
"Not me," said Ben, straightening himself. "Who said I
were? I heard every bit of it. You said th' Magic was
in my back. Th' doctor calls it rheumatics."
The Rajah waved his hand.
"That was the wrong Magic," he said. "You will get better.
You have my permission to go to your work. But come
"I'd like to see thee walk round the garden," grunted Ben.
It was not an unfriendly grunt, but it was a grunt.
In fact, being a stubborn old party and not having entire
faith in Magic he had made up his mind that if he were sent
away he would climb his ladder and look over the wall
so that he might be ready to hobble back if there were
The Rajah did not object to his staying and so the procession
was formed. It really did look like a procession.
Colin was at its head with Dickon on one side and
Mary on the other. Ben Weatherstaff walked behind,
and the "creatures" trailed after them, the lamb and
the fox cub keeping close to Dickon, the white rabbit
hopping along or stopping to nibble and Soot following
with the solemnity of a person who felt himself in charge.
It was a procession which moved slowly but with dignity.
Every few yards it stopped to rest. Colin leaned on Dickon's
arm and privately Ben Weatherstaff kept a sharp lookout,
but now and then Colin took his hand from its support
and walked a few steps alone. His head was held up all
the time and he looked very grand.
"The Magic is in me!" he kept saying. "The Magic
is making me strong! I can feel it! I can feel it!"
It seemed very certain that something was upholding
and uplifting him. He sat on the seats in the alcoves,
and once or twice he sat down on the grass and several
times he paused in the path and leaned on Dickon, but he
would not give up until he had gone all round the garden.
When he returned to the canopy tree his cheeks were flushed
and he looked triumphant.
"I did it! The Magic worked!" he cried. "That is my
first scientific discovery.".
"What will Dr. Craven say?" broke out Mary.
"He won't say anything," Colin answered, "because he will
not be told. This is to be the biggest secret of all.
No one is to know anything about it until I have grown
so strong that I can walk and run like any other boy.
I shall come here every day in my chair and I shall be
taken back in it. I won't have people whispering and
asking questions and I won't let my father hear about it
until the experiment has quite succeeded. Then sometime
when he comes back to Misselthwaite I shall just walk into
his study and say `Here I am; I am like any other boy.
I am quite well and I shall live to be a man. It has been
done by a scientific experiment.'"
"He will think he is in a dream," cried Mary. "He won't
believe his eyes."
Colin flushed triumphantly. He had made himself believe
that he was going to get well, which was really more
than half the battle, if he had been aware of it.
And the thought which stimulated him more than any other
was this imagining what his father would look like when he
saw that he had a son who was as straight and strong as
other fathers' sons. One of his darkest miseries in the
unhealthy morbid past days had been his hatred of being
a sickly weak-backed boy whose father was afraid to look at him.
"He'll be obliged to believe them," he said.
"One of the things I am going to do, after the Magic
works and before I begin to make scientific discoveries,
is to be an athlete."
"We shall have thee takin' to boxin' in a week or so,"
said Ben Weatherstaff. "Tha'lt end wi' winnin' th'
Belt an' bein' champion prize-fighter of all England."
Colin fixed his eyes on him sternly.
"Weatherstaff," he said, "that is disrespectful.
You must not take liberties because you are in the secret.
However much the Magic works I shall not be a prize-fighter.
I shall be a Scientific Discoverer."
"Ax pardon--ax pardon, sir" answered Ben, touching his
forehead in salute. "I ought to have seed it wasn't
a jokin' matter," but his eyes twinkled and secretly he
was immensely pleased. He really did not mind being
snubbed since the snubbing meant that the lad was gaining
strength and spirit.
"LET THEM LAUGH"
The secret garden was not the only one Dickon worked in.
Round the cottage on the moor there was a piece of ground
enclosed by a low wall of rough stones. Early in the morning
and late in the fading twilight and on all the days Colin
and Mary did not see him, Dickon worked there planting
or tending potatoes and cabbages, turnips and carrots and
herbs for his mother. In the company of his "creatures"
he did wonders there and was never tired of doing them,
it seemed. While he dug or weeded he whistled or sang
bits of Yorkshire moor songs or talked to Soot or Captain
or the brothers and sisters he had taught to help him.
"We'd never get on as comfortable as we do," Mrs. Sowerby said,
"if it wasn't for Dickon's garden. Anything'll grow for him.
His 'taters and cabbages is twice th' size of any one
else's an' they've got a flavor with 'em as nobody's has."
When she found a moment to spare she liked to go out
and talk to him. After supper there was still a long
clear twilight to work in and that was her quiet time.
She could sit upon the low rough wall and look on
and hear stories of the day. She loved this time.
There were not only vegetables in this garden.
Dickon had bought penny packages of flower seeds now
and then and sown bright sweet-scented things among
gooseberry bushes and even cabbages and he grew borders
of mignonette and pinks and pansies and things whose
seeds he could save year after year or whose roots would
bloom each spring and spread in time into fine clumps.
The low wall was one of the prettiest things in Yorkshire
because he had tucked moorland foxglove and ferns and
rock-cress and hedgerow flowers into every crevice until
only here and there glimpses of the stones were to be seen.
"All a chap's got to do to make 'em thrive, mother,"
he would say, "is to be friends with 'em for sure.
They're just like th' `creatures.' If they're thirsty give
'em drink and if they're hungry give 'em a bit o' food.
They want to live same as we do. If they died I should feel
as if I'd been a bad lad and somehow treated them heartless."
It was in these twilight hours that Mrs. Sowerby heard of all
that happened at Misselthwaite Manor. At first she was only
told that "Mester Colin" had taken a fancy to going out into
the grounds with Miss Mary and that it was doing him good.
But it was not long before it was agreed between the two
children that Dickon's mother might "come into the secret."
Somehow it was not doubted that she was "safe for sure."
So one beautiful still evening Dickon told the whole story,
with all the thrilling details of the buried key and the
robin and the gray haze which had seemed like deadness
and the secret Mistress Mary had planned never to reveal.
The coming of Dickon and how it had been told to him,
the doubt of Mester Colin and the final drama of his
introduction to the hidden domain, combined with the
incident of Ben Weatherstaff's angry face peering over
the wall and Mester Colin's sudden indignant strength,
made Mrs. Sowerby's nice-looking face quite change color
"My word!" she said. "It was a good thing that little
lass came to th' Manor. It's been th' makin' o' her an'
th' savin, o' him. Standin' on his feet! An' us all thinkin'
he was a poor half-witted lad with not a straight bone in him."
She asked a great many questions and her blue eyes were
full of deep thinking.
"What do they make of it at th' Manor--him being so well an'
cheerful an' never complainin'?" she inquired. "They don't
know what to make of it," answered Dickon. "Every day
as comes round his face looks different. It's fillin'
out and doesn't look so sharp an' th' waxy color is goin'.
But he has to do his bit o' complainin'," with a highly
"What for, i' Mercy's name?" asked Mrs. Sowerby.
"He does it to keep them from guessin' what's happened.
If the doctor knew he'd found out he could stand on
his feet he'd likely write and tell Mester Craven.
Mester Colin's savin' th' secret to tell himself.
He's goin' to practise his Magic on his legs every day
till his father comes back an' then he's goin' to march
into his room an' show him he's as straight as other lads.
But him an' Miss Mary thinks it's best plan to do a
bit o' groanin' an' frettin' now an' then to throw folk
off th' scent."
Mrs. Sowerby was laughing a low comfortable laugh long
before he had finished his last sentence.
"Eh!" she said, "that pair's enjoyin' their-selves I'll warrant.
They'll get a good bit o' actin' out of it an' there's nothin'
children likes as much as play actin'. Let's hear what
they do, Dickon lad." Dickon stopped weeding and sat
up on his heels to tell her. His eyes were twinkling with fun.
"Mester Colin is carried down to his chair every time
he goes out," he explained. "An' he flies out at John,
th' footman, for not carryin' him careful enough. He makes
himself as helpless lookin' as he can an' never lifts his head
until we're out o' sight o' th' house. An' he grunts an'
frets a good bit when he's bein' settled into his chair.
Him an' Miss Mary's both got to enjoyin' it an' when he
groans an' complains she'll say, `Poor Colin! Does it hurt
you so much? Are you so weak as that, poor Colin?'--but th'
trouble is that sometimes they can scarce keep from burstin'
out laughin'. When we get safe into the garden they laugh
till they've no breath left to laugh with. An' they have
to stuff their faces into Mester Colin's cushions to keep
the gardeners from hearin', if any of, 'em's about."
"Th' more they laugh th' better for 'em!" said Mrs. Sowerby,
still laughing herself. "Good healthy child laughin's
better than pills any day o' th' year. That pair'll
plump up for sure."
"They are plumpin' up," said Dickon. "They're that hungry
they don't know how to get enough to eat without makin'
talk. Mester Colin says if he keeps sendin' for more food
they won't believe he's an invalid at all. Miss Mary says
she'll let him eat her share, but he says that if she
goes hungry she'll get thin an' they mun both get fat at once."
Mrs. Sowerby laughed so heartily at the revelation of this
difficulty that she quite rocked backward and forward
in her blue cloak, and Dickon laughed with her.
"I'll tell thee what, lad," Mrs. Sowerby said when she
could speak. "I've thought of a way to help 'em. When tha'
goes to 'em in th' mornin's tha' shall take a pail o'
good new milk an' I'll bake 'em a crusty cottage loaf or
some buns wi' currants in 'em, same as you children like.
Nothin's so good as fresh milk an' bread. Then they could
take off th' edge o' their hunger while they were in their
garden an' th, fine food they get indoors 'ud polish
off th' corners."
"Eh! mother!" said Dickon admiringly, "what a wonder tha'
art! Tha' always sees a way out o' things. They was
quite in a pother yesterday. They didn't see how they
was to manage without orderin' up more food--they felt
that empty inside."
"They're two young 'uns growin' fast, an' health's comin'
back to both of 'em. Children like that feels like
young wolves an' food's flesh an' blood to 'em," said
Mrs. Sowerby. Then she smiled Dickon's own curving smile.
"Eh! but they're enjoyin' theirselves for sure,"
She was quite right, the comfortable wonderful mother
creature--and she had never been more so than when she said
their "play actin'" would be their joy. Colin and Mary found
it one of their most thrilling sources of entertainment.
The idea of protecting themselves from suspicion had been
unconsciously suggested to them first by the puzzled
nurse and then by Dr. Craven himself.
"Your appetite. Is improving very much, Master Colin,"
the nurse had said one day. "You used to eat nothing,
and so many things disagreed with you."
"Nothing disagrees with me now" replied Colin, and then seeing
the nurse looking at him curiously he suddenly remembered
that perhaps he ought not to appear too well just yet.
"At least things don't so often disagree with me.
It's the fresh air."
"Perhaps it is," said the nurse, still looking at him with
a mystified expression. "But I must talk to Dr. Craven
"How she stared at you!" said Mary when she went away.
"As if she thought there must be something to find out."
"I won't have her finding out things," said Colin.
"No one must begin to find out yet." When Dr. Craven came
that morning he seemed puzzled, also. He asked a number
of questions, to Colin's great annoyance.
"You stay out in the garden a great deal," he suggested.
"Where do you go?"
Colin put on his favorite air of dignified indifference
"I will not let any one know where I go," he answered.
"I go to a place I like. Every one has orders to keep
out of the way. I won't be watched and stared at.
You know that!"
"You seem to be out all day but I do not think it has
done you harm--I do not think so. The nurse says
that you eat much more than you have ever done before."
"Perhaps," said Colin, prompted by a sudden inspiration,
"perhaps it is an unnatural appetite."
"I do not think so, as your food seems to agree with you,"
said Dr. Craven. "You are gaining flesh rapidly and your
color is better."
"Perhaps--perhaps I am bloated and feverish," said Colin,
assuming a discouraging air of gloom. "People who are
not going to live are often--different." Dr. Craven shook
his head. He was holding Colin's wrist and he pushed up
his sleeve and felt his arm.
"You are not feverish," he said thoughtfully, "and such
flesh as you have gained is healthy. If you can keep
this up, my boy, we need not talk of dying. Your father
will be happy to hear of this remarkable improvement."
"I won't have him told!" Colin broke forth fiercely.
"It will only disappoint him if I get worse again--and I
may get worse this very night. I might have a raging fever.
I feel as if I might be beginning to have one now.
I won't have letters written to my father--I won't--I won't!
You are making me angry and you know that is bad for me.
I feel hot already. I hate being written about and being
talked over as much as I hate being stared at!"
"Hush-h! my boy," Dr. Craven soothed him. "Nothing shall
be written without your permission. You are too sensitive
about things. You must not undo the good which has
He said no more about writing to Mr. Craven and when he saw
the nurse he privately warned her that such a possibility
must not be mentioned to the patient.
"The boy is extraordinarily better," he said.
"His advance seems almost abnormal. But of course he
is doing now of his own free will what we could not make
him do before. Still, he excites himself very easily
and nothing must be said to irritate him." Mary and
Colin were much alarmed and talked together anxiously.
From this time dated their plan of "play actin'."
"I may be obliged to have a tantrum," said Colin regretfully.
"I don't want to have one and I'm not miserable enough
now to work myself into a big one. Perhaps I couldn't have
one at all. That lump doesn't come in my throat now and I
keep thinking of nice things instead of horrible ones.
But if they talk about writing to my father I shall have
to do something."
He made up his mind to eat less, but unfortunately it
was not possible to carry out this brilliant idea when he
wakened each morning with an amazing appetite and the
table near his sofa was set with a breakfast of home-made
bread and fresh butter, snow-white eggs, raspberry jam
and clotted cream. Mary always breakfasted with him
and when they found themselves at the table--particularly
if there were delicate slices of sizzling ham sending
forth tempting odors from under a hot silver cover--they
would look into each other's eyes in desperation.
"I think we shall have to eat it all this morning,
Mary," Colin always ended by saying. "We can send
away some of the lunch and a great deal of the dinner."
But they never found they could send away anything
and the highly polished condition of the empty plates
returned to the pantry awakened much comment.
"I do wish," Colin would say also, "I do wish the slices
of ham were thicker, and one muffin each is not enough
for any one."
"It's enough for a person who is going to die," answered Mary
when first she heard this, "but it's not enough for a
person who is going to live. I sometimes feel as if I
could eat three when those nice fresh heather and gorse
smells from the moor come pouring in at the open window."
The morning that Dickon--after they had been enjoying
themselves in the garden for about two hours--went
behind a big rosebush and brought forth two tin pails
and revealed that one was full of rich new milk with cream
on the top of it, and that the other held cottage-made
currant buns folded in a clean blue and white napkin,
buns so carefully tucked in that they were still hot,
there was a riot of surprised joyfulness. What a wonderful
thing for Mrs. Sowerby to think of! What a kind,
clever woman she must be! How good the buns were! And
what delicious fresh milk!
"Magic is in her just as it is in Dickon," said Colin.
"It makes her think of ways to do things--nice things.
She is a Magic person. Tell her we are grateful,
Dickon--extremely grateful." He was given to using rather
grown-up phrases at times. He enjoyed them. He liked this
so much that he improved upon it.
"Tell her she has been most bounteous and our gratitude
And then forgetting his grandeur he fell to and stuffed
himself with buns and drank milk out of the pail in copious
draughts in the manner of any hungry little boy who had
been taking unusual exercise and breathing in moorland
air and whose breakfast was more than two hours behind him.
This was the beginning of many agreeable incidents of the
same kind. They actually awoke to the fact that as Mrs. Sowerby
had fourteen people to provide food for she might not have
enough to satisfy two extra appetites every day. So they
asked her to let them send some of their shillings to buy things.
Dickon made the stimulating discovery that in the wood
in the park outside the garden where Mary had first
found him piping to the wild creatures there was a deep
little hollow where you could build a sort of tiny
oven with stones and roast potatoes and eggs in it.
Roasted eggs were a previously unknown luxury and very hot
potatoes with salt and fresh butter in them were fit for
a woodland king--besides being deliciously satisfying.
You could buy both potatoes and eggs and eat as many
as you liked without feeling as if you were taking food
out of the mouths of fourteen people.
Every beautiful morning the Magic was worked by the mystic
circle under the plum-tree which provided a canopy
of thickening green leaves after its brief blossom-time
was ended. After the ceremony Colin always took his walking
exercise and throughout the day he exercised his newly
found power at intervals. Each day he grew stronger
and could walk more steadily and cover more ground.
And each day his belief in the Magic grew stronger--as
well it might. He tried one experiment after another
as he felt himself gaining strength and it was Dickon
who showed him the best things of all.
"Yesterday," he said one morning after an absence,
"I went to Thwaite for mother an' near th' Blue Cow Inn I
seed Bob Haworth. He's the strongest chap on th' moor.
He's the champion wrestler an' he can jump higher than any
other chap an' throw th' hammer farther. He's gone all th'
way to Scotland for th' sports some years. He's knowed me
ever since I was a little 'un an' he's a friendly sort an'
I axed him some questions. Th' gentry calls him a athlete
and I thought o' thee, Mester Colin, and I says, `How did tha'
make tha' muscles stick out that way, Bob? Did tha'
do anythin' extra to make thysel' so strong?' An' he says
'Well, yes, lad, I did. A strong man in a show that came
to Thwaite once showed me how to exercise my arms an'
legs an' every muscle in my body. An' I says, `Could a
delicate chap make himself stronger with 'em, Bob?' an'
he laughed an' says, 'Art tha' th' delicate chap?' an'
I says, `No, but I knows a young gentleman that's gettin'
well of a long illness an' I wish I knowed some o'
them tricks to tell him about.' I didn't say no names an,
he didn't ask none. He's friendly same as I said an'
he stood up an' showed me good-natured like, an' I imitated
what he did till I knowed it by heart."
Colin had been listening excitedly.
"Can you show me?" he cried. "Will you?"
"Aye, to be sure," Dickon answered, getting up.
"But he says tha' mun do 'em gentle at first an'
be careful not to tire thysel'. Rest in between times an'
take deep breaths an' don't overdo."
"I'll be careful," said Colin. "Show me! Show me! Dickon,
you are the most Magic boy in the world!"
Dickon stood up on the grass and slowly went through a
carefully practical but simple series of muscle exercises.
Colin watched them with widening eyes. He could do a few
while he was sitting down. Presently he did a few gently
while he stood upon his already steadied feet. Mary began
to do them also. Soot, who was watching the performance,
became much disturbed and left his branch and hopped
about restlessly because he could not do them too.
From that time the exercises were part of the day's duties
as much as the Magic was. It became possible for both
Colin and Mary to do more of them each time they tried,
and such appetites were the results that but for the basket
Dickon put down behind the bush each morning when he
arrived they would have been lost. But the little oven
in the hollow and Mrs. Sowerby's bounties were so satisfying
that Mrs. Medlock and the nurse and Dr. Craven became
mystified again. You can trifle with your breakfast and
seem to disdain your dinner if you are full to the brim
with roasted eggs and potatoes and richly frothed new
milk and oatcakes and buns and heather honey and clotted cream.
"They are eating next to nothing," said the nurse.
"They'll die of starvation if they can't be persuaded
to take some nourishment. And yet see how they look."
"Look!" exclaimed Mrs. Medlock indignantly. "Eh! I'm moithered
to death with them. They're a pair of young Satans.
Bursting their jackets one day and the next turning up
their noses at the best meals Cook can tempt them with.
Not a mouthful of that lovely young fowl and bread sauce
did they set a fork into yesterday--and the poor woman
fair invented a pudding for them--and back it's sent.
She almost cried. She's afraid she'll be blamed if they
starve themselves into their graves."
Dr. Craven came and looked at Colin long and carefully,
He wore an extremely worried expression when the nurse
talked with him and showed him the almost untouched
tray of breakfast she had saved for him to look at--but
it was even more worried when he sat down by Colin's
sofa and examined him. He had been called to London on
business and had not seen the boy for nearly two weeks.
When young things begin to gain health they gain it rapidly.
The waxen tinge had left, Colins skin and a warm rose showed
through it; his beautiful eyes were clear and the hollows
under them and in his cheeks and temples had filled out.
His once dark, heavy locks had begun to look as if they
sprang healthily from his forehead and were soft and warm
with life. His lips were fuller and of a normal color.
In fact as an imitation of a boy who was a confirmed invalid
he was a disgraceful sight. Dr. Craven held his chin in his
hand and thought him over.
"I am sorry to hear that you do not eat anything,"
he said. "That will not do. You will lose all you have
gained --and you have gained amazingly. You ate so well
a short time ago."
"I told you it was an unnatural appetite," answered Colin.
Mary was sitting on her stool nearby and she suddenly
made a very queer sound which she tried so violently
to repress that she ended by almost choking.
"What is the matter?" said Dr. Craven, turning to look
Mary became quite severe in her manner.
"It was something between a sneeze and a cough," she replied
with reproachful dignity, "and it got into my throat."
"But," she said afterward to Colin, "I couldn't stop myself.
It just burst out because all at once I couldn't help
remembering that last big potato you ate and the way
your mouth stretched when you bit through that thick
lovely crust with jam and clotted cream on it."
"Is there any way in which those children can get
food secretly?" Dr. Craven inquired of Mrs. Medlock.
"There's no way unless they dig it out of the earth or pick
it off the trees," Mrs. Medlock answered. "They stay
out in the grounds all day and see no one but each other.
And if they want anything different to eat from what's
sent up to them they need only ask for it."
"Well," said Dr. Craven, "so long as going without
food agrees with them we need not disturb ourselves.
The boy is a new creature."
"So is the girl," said Mrs. Medlock. "She's begun to be
downright pretty since she's filled out and lost her ugly
little sour look. Her hair's grown thick and healthy
looking and she's got a bright color. The glummest,
ill-natured little thing she used to be and now her and Master
Colin laugh together like a pair of crazy young ones.
Perhaps they're growing fat on that."
"Perhaps they are," said Dr. Craven. "Let them laugh."
And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every
morning revealed new miracles. In the robin's nest there
were Eggs and the robin's mate sat upon them keeping them
warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings.
At first she was very nervous and the robin himself
was indignantly watchful. Even Dickon did not go
near the close-grown corner in those days, but waited
until by the quiet working of some mysterious spell he
seemed to have conveyed to the soul of the little pair
that in the garden there was nothing which was not quite
like themselves--nothing which did not understand the
wonderfulness of what was happening to them--the immense,
tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity
of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden
who had not known through all his or her innermost being
that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world
would whirl round and crash through space and come to
an end--if there had been even one who did not feel it
and act accordingly there could have been no happiness
even in that golden springtime air. But they all knew
it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it.
At first the robin watched Mary and Colin with sharp anxiety.
For some mysterious reason he knew he need not watch Dickon.
The first moment he set his dew-bright black eye on Dickon
he knew he was not a stranger but a sort of robin without
beak or feathers. He could speak robin (which is a quite
distinct language not to be mistaken for any other). To speak
robin to a robin is like speaking French to a Frenchman.
Dickon always spoke it to the robin himself, so the queer
gibberish he used when he spoke to humans did not matter
in the least. The robin thought he spoke this gibberish
to them because they were not intelligent enough to
understand feathered speech. His movements also were robin.
They never startled one by being sudden enough to seem
dangerous or threatening. Any robin could understand Dickon,
so his presence was not even disturbing.
But at the outset it seemed necessary to be on guard
against the other two. In the first place the boy
creature did not come into the garden on his legs.
He was pushed in on a thing with wheels and the skins
of wild animals were thrown over him. That in itself
was doubtful. Then when he began to stand up and move
about he did it in a queer unaccustomed way and the
others seemed to have to help him. The robin used
to secrete himself in a bush and watch this anxiously,
his head tilted first on one side and then on the other.
He thought that the slow movements might mean that he was
preparing to pounce, as cats do. When cats are preparing
to pounce they creep over the ground very slowly.
The robin talked this over with his mate a great deal
for a few days but after that he decided not to speak
of the subject because her terror was so great that he
was afraid it might be injurious to the Eggs.
When the boy began to walk by himself and even to move more
quickly it was an immense relief. But for a long time--or it
seemed a long time to the robin--he was a source of some anxiety.
He did not act as the other humans did. He seemed very
fond of walking but he had a way of sitting or lying down
for a while and then getting up in a disconcerting manner to
One day the robin remembered that when he himself had
been made to learn to fly by his parents he had done
much the same sort of thing. He had taken short flights
of a few yards and then had been obliged to rest.
So it occurred to him that this boy was learning to fly--or
rather to walk. He mentioned this to his mate and when he
told her that the Eggs would probably conduct themselves
in the same way after they were fledged she was quite
comforted and even became eagerly interested and derived
great pleasure from watching the boy over the edge of her
nest--though she always thought that the Eggs would be
much cleverer and learn more quickly. But then she said
indulgently that humans were always more clumsy and slow
than Eggs and most of them never seemed really to learn
to fly at all. You never met them in the air or on tree-tops.
After a while the boy began to move about as the others did,
but all three of the children at times did unusual things.
They would stand under the trees and move their arms and legs
and heads about in a way which was neither walking nor
running nor sitting down. They went through these movements
at intervals every day and the robin was never able to
explain to his mate what they were doing or tying to do.
He could only say that he was sure that the Eggs would
never flap about in such a manner; but as the boy who could
speak robin so fluently was doing the thing with them,
birds could be quite sure that the actions were not
of a dangerous nature. Of course neither the robin
nor his mate had ever heard of the champion wrestler,
Bob Haworth, and his exercises for making the muscles
stand out like lumps. Robins are not like human beings;
their muscles are always exercised from the first
and so they develop themselves in a natural manner.
If you have to fly about to find every meal you eat,
your muscles do not become atrophied (atrophied means wasted
away through want of use).
When the boy was walking and running about and digging
and weeding like the others, the nest in the corner was
brooded over by a great peace and content. Fears for
the Eggs became things of the past. Knowing that your
Eggs were as safe as if they were locked in a bank vault
and the fact that you could watch so many curious things
going on made setting a most entertaining occupation.
On wet days the Eggs' mother sometimes felt even a little
dull because the children did not come into the garden.
But even on wet days it could not be said that Mary and
Colin were dull. One morning when the rain streamed down
unceasingly and Colin was beginning to feel a little restive,
as he was obliged to remain on his sofa because it was
not safe to get up and walk about, Mary had an inspiration.
"Now that I am a real boy," Colin had said, "my legs and arms
and all my body are so full of Magic that I can't keep
them still. They want to be doing things all the time.
Do you know that when I waken in the morning, Mary,
when it's quite early and the birds are just shouting
outside and everything seems just shouting for joy--even
the trees and things we can't really hear--I feel as if I
must jump out of bed and shout myself. If I did it,
just think what would happen!"
Mary giggled inordinately.
"The nurse would come running and Mrs. Medlock would
come running and they would be sure you had gone crazy
and they'd send for the doctor," she said.
Colin giggled himself. He could see how they would
all look--how horrified by his outbreak and how amazed
to see him standing upright.
"I wish my father would come home," he said. "I want
to tell him myself. I'm always thinking about it--but we
couldn't go on like this much longer. I can't stand lying
still and pretending, and besides I look too different.
I wish it wasn't raining today."
It was then Mistress Mary had her inspiration.
"Colin," she began mysteriously, "do you know how many
rooms there are in this house?"
"About a thousand, I suppose," he answered.
"There's about a hundred no one ever goes into," said Mary.
"And one rainy day I went and looked into ever so many of them.
No one ever knew, though Mrs. Medlock nearly found me out.
I lost my way when I was coming back and I stopped at
the end of your corridor. That was the second time I
heard you crying."
Colin started up on his sofa.
"A hundred rooms no one goes into," he said. "It sounds
almost like a secret garden. Suppose we go and look at them.
wheel me in my chair and nobody would know we went"
"That's what I was thinking," said Mary. "No one would dare
to follow us. There are galleries where you could run.
We could do our exercises. There is a little Indian
room where there is a cabinet full of ivory elephants.
There are all sorts of rooms."
"Ring the bell," said Colin.
When the nurse came in he gave his orders.
"I want my chair," he said. "Miss Mary and I are going
to look at the part of the house which is not used.
John can push me as far as the picture-gallery because there
are some stairs. Then he must go away and leave us alone
until I send for him again."
Rainy days lost their terrors that morning. When the
footman had wheeled the chair into the picture-gallery
and left the two together in obedience to orders,
Colin and Mary looked at each other delighted. As soon
as Mary had made sure that John was really on his way back
to his own quarters below stairs, Colin got out of his chair.
"I am going to run from one end of the gallery to the other,"
he said, "and then I am going to jump and then we will
do Bob Haworth's exercises."
And they did all these things and many others. They looked
at the portraits and found the plain little girl dressed
in green brocade and holding the parrot on her finger.
"All these," said Colin, "must be my relations.
They lived a long time ago. That parrot one, I believe,
is one of my great, great, great, great aunts. She looks
rather like you, Mary--not as you look now but as you
looked when you came here. Now you are a great deal
fatter and better looking."
"So are you," said Mary, and they both laughed.
They went to the Indian room and amused themselves with
the ivory elephants. They found the rose-colored brocade
boudoir and the hole in the cushion the mouse had left,
but the mice had grown up and run away and the hole was empty.
They saw more rooms and made more discoveries than Mary
had made on her first pilgrimage. They found new corridors
and corners and flights of steps and new old pictures they
liked and weird old things they did not know the use of.
It was a curiously entertaining morning and the feeling
of wandering about in the same house with other people
but at the same time feeling as if one were miles away
from them was a fascinating thing.
"I'm glad we came," Colin said. "I never knew I
lived in such a big queer old place. I like it.
We will ramble about every rainy day. We shall always
be finding new queer corners and things."
That morning they had found among other things such
good appetites that when they returned to Colin's room
it was not possible to send the luncheon away untouched.
When the nurse carried the tray down-stairs she slapped it
down on the kitchen dresser so that Mrs. Loomis, the cook,
could see the highly polished dishes and plates.
"Look at that!" she said. "This is a house of mystery,
and those two children are the greatest mysteries in it."
"If they keep that up every day," said the strong
young footman John, "there'd be small wonder that he
weighs twice as much to-day as he did a month ago.
I should have to give up my place in time, for fear
of doing my muscles an injury."
That afternoon Mary noticed that something new had happened
in Colin's room. She had noticed it the day before but
had said nothing because she thought the change might
have been made by chance. She said nothing today but she
sat and looked fixedly at the picture over the mantel.
She could look at it because the curtain had been drawn aside.
That was the change she noticed.
"I know what you want me to tell you," said Colin,
after she had stared a few minutes. "I always know when
you want me to tell you something. You are wondering why
the curtain is drawn back. I am going to keep it like that."
"Why?" asked Mary.
"Because it doesn't make me angry any more to see her laughing.
I wakened when it was bright moonlight two nights ago
and felt as if the Magic was filling the room and making
everything so splendid that I couldn't lie still.
I got up and looked out of the window. The room was quite
light and there was a patch of moonlight on the curtain
and somehow that made me go and pull the cord. She looked
right down at me as if she were laughing because she was glad
I was standing there. It made me like to look at her.
I want to see her laughing like that all the time.
I think she must have been a sort of Magic person perhaps."
"You are so like her now," said Mary, "that sometimes I
think perhaps you are her ghost made into a boy."
That idea seemed to impress Colin. He thought it over
and then answered her slowly.
"If I were her ghost--my father would be fond of me."
"Do you want him to be fond of you?" inquired Mary.
"I used to hate it because he was not fond of me. If he
grew fond of me I think I should tell him about the Magic.
It might make him more cheerful."
Their belief in the Magic was an abiding thing.
After the morning's incantations Colin sometimes gave
them Magic lectures.
"I like to do it," he explained, "because when I grow
up and make great scientific discoveries I shall be
obliged to lecture about them and so this is practise.
I can only give short lectures now because I am very young,
and besides Ben Weatherstaff would feel as if he were in
church and he would go to sleep."
"Th' best thing about lecturin'," said Ben, "is that a chap can
get up an' say aught he pleases an' no other chap can answer
him back. I wouldn't be agen' lecturin' a bit mysel' sometimes."
But when Colin held forth under his tree old Ben fixed
devouring eyes on him and kept them there. He looked
him over with critical affection. It was not so much
the lecture which interested him as the legs which looked
straighter and stronger each day, the boyish head which held
itself up so well, the once sharp chin and hollow cheeks
which had filled and rounded out and the eyes which had
begun to hold the light he remembered in another pair.
Sometimes when Colin felt Ben's earnest gaze meant that he
was much impressed he wondered what he was reflecting on
and once when he had seemed quite entranced he questioned him.
"What are you thinking about, Ben Weatherstaff?" he asked.
"I was thinkin'" answered Ben, "as I'd warrant tha's,
gone up three or four pound this week. I was lookin'
at tha' calves an' tha' shoulders. I'd like to get thee
on a pair o' scales."
"It's the Magic and--and Mrs. Sowerby's buns and milk
and things," said Colin. "You see the scientific
experiment has succeeded."
That morning Dickon was too late to hear the lecture.
When he came he was ruddy with running and his funny face
looked more twinkling than usual. As they had a good deal
of weeding to do after the rains they fell to work.
They always had plenty to do after a warm deep sinking rain.
The moisture which was good for the flowers was also good
for the weeds which thrust up tiny blades of grass and points
of leaves which must be pulled up before their roots took
too firm hold. Colin was as good at weeding as any one
in these days and he could lecture while he was doing it.
"The Magic works best when you work, yourself," he said
this morning. "You can feel it in your bones and muscles.
I am going to read books about bones and muscles, but I am
going to write a book about Magic. I am making it up now.
I keep finding out things."
It was not very long after he had said this that he
laid down his trowel and stood up on his feet.
He had been silent for several minutes and they had seen
that he was thinking out lectures, as he often did.
When he dropped his trowel and stood upright it seemed
to Mary and Dickon as if a sudden strong thought had made
him do it. He stretched himself out to his tallest height
and he threw out his arms exultantly. Color glowed in
his face and his strange eyes widened with joyfulness.
All at once he had realized something to the full.
"Mary! Dickon!" he cried. "Just look at me!"
They stopped their weeding and looked at him.
"Do you remember that first morning you brought me in here?"
Dickon was looking at him very hard. Being an animal
charmer he could see more things than most people could
and many of them were things he never talked about.
He saw some of them now in this boy. "Aye, that we do,"
Mary looked hard too, but she said nothing.
"Just this minute," said Colin, "all at once I remembered
it myself--when I looked at my hand digging with the
trowel--and I had to stand up on my feet to see if it
was real. And it is real! I'm well--I'm well!"
"Aye, that th' art!" said Dickon.
"I'm well! I'm well!" said Colin again, and his face went
quite red all over.
He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt
it and thought about it, but just at that minute something
had rushed all through him--a sort of rapturous belief
and realization and it had been so strong that he could
not help calling out.
"I shall live forever and ever and ever!" he cried grandly.
"I shall find out thousands and thousands of things.
I shall find out about people and creatures and everything
that grows--like Dickon--and I shall never stop making Magic.
I'm well! I'm well! I feel--I feel as if I want to shout
out something--something thankful, joyful!"
Ben Weatherstaff, who had been working near a rose-bush,
glanced round at him.
"Tha' might sing th' Doxology," he suggested in his
dryest grunt. He had no opinion of the Doxology and he
did not make the suggestion with any particular reverence.
But Colin was of an exploring mind and he knew nothing
about the Doxology.
"What is that?" he inquired.
"Dickon can sing it for thee, I'll warrant,"
replied Ben Weatherstaff.
Dickon answered with his all-perceiving animal charmer's smile.
"They sing it i' church," he said. "Mother says she
believes th' skylarks sings it when they gets up i' th' mornin'."
"If she says that, it must be a nice song," Colin answered.
"I've never been in a church myself. I was always too ill.
Sing it, Dickon. I want to hear it."
Dickon was quite simple and unaffected about it.
He understood what Colin felt better than Colin did himself.
He understood by a sort of instinct so natural that he
did not know it was understanding. He pulled off his cap
and looked round still smiling.
"Tha' must take off tha' cap," he said to Colin,"
an' so mun tha', Ben--an' tha' mun stand up, tha' knows."
Colin took off his cap and the sun shone on and warmed his
thick hair as he watched Dickon intently. Ben Weatherstaff
scrambled up from his knees and bared his head too with
a sort of puzzled half-resentful look on his old face
as if he didn't know exactly why he was doing this remarkable
Dickon stood out among the trees and rose-bushes
and began to sing in quite a simple matter-of-fact
way and in a nice strong boy voice:
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
When he had finished, Ben Weatherstaff was standing
quite still with his jaws set obstinately but with a
disturbed look in his eyes fixed on Colin. Colin's face
was thoughtful and appreciative.
"It is a very nice song," he said. "I like it. Perhaps it
means just what I mean when I want to shout out that I am
thankful to the Magic." He stopped and thought in a puzzled way.
"Perhaps they are both the same thing. How can we know
the exact names of everything? Sing it again, Dickon.
Let us try, Mary. I want to sing it, too. It's my song.
How does it begin? `Praise God from whom all blessings flow'?"
And they sang it again, and Mary and Colin lifted their
voices as musically as they could and Dickon's swelled quite
loud and beautiful--and at the second line Ben Weatherstaff
raspingly cleared his throat and at the third line he joined
in with such vigor that it seemed almost savage and when
the "Amen" came to an end Mary observed that the very same
thing had happened to him which had happened when he found
out that Colin was not a cripple--his chin was twitching
and he was staring and winking and his leathery old cheeks were
"I never seed no sense in th' Doxology afore," he said hoarsely,
"but I may change my mind i' time. I should say tha'd
gone up five pound this week Mester Colin--five on 'em!"
Colin was looking across the garden at something attracting
his attention and his expression had become a startled one.
"Who is coming in here?" he said quickly. "Who is it?"
The door in the ivied wall had been pushed gently open
and a woman had entered. She had come in with the last
line of their song and she had stood still listening and
looking at them. With the ivy behind her, the sunlight
drifting through the trees and dappling her long blue cloak,
and her nice fresh face smiling across the greenery
she was rather like a softly colored illustration in
one of Colin's books. She had wonderful affectionate
eyes which seemed to take everything in--all of them,
even Ben Weatherstaff and the "creatures" and every flower
that was in bloom. Unexpectedly as she had appeared,
not one of them felt that she was an intruder at all.
Dickon's eyes lighted like lamps.
"It's mother--that's who it is!" he cried and went across
the grass at a run.
Colin began to move toward her, too, and Mary went with him.
They both felt their pulses beat faster.
"It's mother!" Dickon said again when they met halfway.
"I knowed tha' wanted to see her an' I told her where th'
door was hid."
Colin held out his hand with a sort of flushed royal
shyness but his eyes quite devoured her face.
"Even when I was ill I wanted to see you," he said,
"you and Dickon and the secret garden. I'd never wanted
to see any one or anything before."
The sight of his uplifted face brought about a sudden
change in her own. She flushed and the corners of her
mouth shook and a mist seemed to sweep over her eyes.
"Eh! dear lad!" she broke out tremulously. "Eh! dear lad!"
as if she had not known she were going to say it. She did
not say, "Mester Colin," but just "dear lad" quite suddenly.
She might have said it to Dickon in the same way if she
had seen something in his face which touched her.
Colin liked it.
"Are you surprised because I am so well?" he asked.
She put her hand on his shoulder and smiled the mist
out of her eyes. "Aye, that I am!" she said; "but tha'rt
so like thy mother tha' made my heart jump."
"Do you think," said Colin a little awkwardly, "that will
make my father like me?"
"Aye, for sure, dear lad," she answered and she gave
his shoulder a soft quick pat. "He mun come home--he
mun come home."
"Susan Sowerby," said Ben Weatherstaff, getting close
to her. "Look at th' lad's legs, wilt tha'? They was
like drumsticks i' stockin' two month' ago--an' I heard
folk tell as they was bandy an' knock-kneed both at th'
same time. Look at 'em now!"
Susan Sowerby laughed a comfortable laugh.
"They're goin' to be fine strong lad's legs in a bit,"
she said. "Let him go on playin' an' workin' in the garden an'
eatin' hearty an' drinkin' plenty o' good sweet milk an'
there'll not be a finer pair i' Yorkshire, thank God for it."
She put both hands on Mistress Mary's shoulders and looked
her little face over in a motherly fashion.
"An' thee, too!" she said. "Tha'rt grown near as hearty
as our 'Lisabeth Ellen. I'll warrant tha'rt like thy
mother too. Our Martha told me as Mrs. Medlock heard she
was a pretty woman. Tha'lt be like a blush rose when tha'
grows up, my little lass, bless thee."
She did not mention that when Martha came home on her
"day out" and described the plain sallow child she had said
that she had no confidence whatever in what Mrs. Medlock
had heard. "It doesn't stand to reason that a pretty
woman could be th' mother o' such a fou' little lass,"
she had added obstinately.
Mary had not had time to pay much attention to her
changing face. She had only known that she looked
"different" and seemed to have a great deal more hair
and that it was growing very fast. But remembering
her pleasure in looking at the Mem Sahib in the past
she was glad to hear that she might some day look like her.
Susan Sowerby went round their garden with them and was
told the whole story of it and shown every bush and tree
which had come alive. Colin walked on one side of her
and Mary on the other. Each of them kept looking up
at her comfortable rosy face, secretly curious about
the delightful feeling she gave them--a sort of warm,
supported feeling. It seemed as if she understood them
as Dickon understood his "creatures." She stooped over the
flowers and talked about them as if they were children.
Soot followed her and once or twice cawed at her and flew
upon her shoulder as if it were Dickon's. When they told
her about the robin and the first flight of the young ones
she laughed a motherly little mellow laugh in her throat.
"I suppose learnin' 'em to fly is like learnin'
children to walk, but I'm feared I should be all
in a worrit if mine had wings instead o' legs," she said.
It was because she seemed such a wonderful woman in her
nice moorland cottage way that at last she was told
about the Magic.
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin after he had
explained about Indian fakirs. "I do hope you do."
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by
that name but what does th' name matter? I warrant they
call it a different name i' France an' a different one i'
Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th'
sun shinin' made thee a well lad an' it's th' Good Thing.
It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is
called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop
to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th'
million--worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th'
Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it--an'
call it what tha' likes. Tha' wert singin' to it when I
come into th' garden."
"I felt so joyful," said Colin, opening his beautiful
strange eyes at her. "Suddenly I felt how different I
was--how strong my arms and legs were, you know--and
how I could dig and stand--and I jumped up and wanted
to shout out something to anything that would listen."
"Th' Magic listened when tha' sung th' Doxology.
It would ha' listened to anything tha'd sung. It was th'
joy that mattered. Eh! lad, lad--what's names to th'
Joy Maker," and she gave his shoulders a quick soft
She had packed a basket which held a regular feast
this morning, and when the hungry hour came and Dickon
brought it out from its hiding place, she sat down with
them under their tree and watched them devour their food,
laughing and quite gloating over their appetites. She was
full of fun and made them laugh at all sorts of odd things.
She told them stories in broad Yorkshire and taught them
new words. She laughed as if she could not help it
when they told her of the increasing difficulty there
was in pretending that Colin was still a fretful invalid.
"You see we can't help laughing nearly all the time
when we are together," explained Colin. "And it
doesn't sound ill at all. We try to choke it back
but it will burst out and that sounds worse than ever."
"There's one thing that comes into my mind so often,"
said Mary, "and I can scarcely ever hold in when I think
of it suddenly. I keep thinking suppose Colin's face
should get to look like a full moon. It isn't like one
yet but he gets a tiny bit fatter every day--and suppose
some morning it should look like one--what should we do!"
"Bless us all, I can see tha' has a good bit o' play actin'
to do," said Susan Sowerby. "But tha' won't have to keep
it up much longer. Mester Craven'll come home."
"Do you think he will?" asked Colin. "Why?"
Susan Sowerby chuckled softly.
"I suppose it 'ud nigh break thy heart if he found
out before tha' told him in tha' own way," she said.
"Tha's laid awake nights plannin' it."
"I couldn't bear any one else to tell him," said Colin.
"I think about different ways every day, I think now I
just want to run into his room." "That'd be a fine
start for him," said Susan Sowerby. "I'd like to see
his face, lad. I would that! He mun come back--that
One of the things they talked of was the visit they
were to make to her cottage. They planned it all.
They were to drive over the moor and lunch out of doors
among the heather. They would see all the twelve children
and Dickon's garden and would not come back until they
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