Part 2 - The Secret Garden Audiobook by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Chs 11-19)


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Transcript:
CHAPTER XI THE NEST OF THE MISSEL THRUSH
For two or three minutes he stood looking round him, while Mary watched him, and then
he began to walk about softly, even more lightly than Mary had walked the first time
she had found herself inside the four walls.
His eyes seemed to be taking in everything- -the gray trees with the gray creepers
climbing over them and hanging from their branches, the tangle on the walls and among
the grass, the evergreen alcoves with the
stone seats and tall flower urns standing in them.
"I never thought I'd see this place," he said at last, in a whisper.
"Did you know about it?" asked Mary.
She had spoken aloud and he made a sign to her.
"We must talk low," he said, "or some one'll hear us an' wonder what's to do in
here."
"Oh! I forgot!" said Mary, feeling frightened and putting her hand quickly
against her mouth. "Did you know about the garden?" she asked
again when she had recovered herself.
Dickon nodded. "Martha told me there was one as no one
ever went inside," he answered. "Us used to wonder what it was like."
He stopped and looked round at the lovely gray tangle about him, and his round eyes
looked queerly happy. "Eh! the nests as'll be here come
springtime," he said.
"It'd be th' safest nestin' place in England.
No one never comin' near an' tangles o' trees an' roses to build in.
I wonder all th' birds on th' moor don't build here."
Mistress Mary put her hand on his arm again without knowing it.
"Will there be roses?" she whispered.
"Can you tell? I thought perhaps they were all dead."
"Eh! No! Not them--not all of 'em!" he answered.
"Look here!"
He stepped over to the nearest tree--an old, old one with gray lichen all over its
bark, but upholding a curtain of tangled sprays and branches.
He took a thick knife out of his Pocket and opened one of its blades.
"There's lots o' dead wood as ought to be cut out," he said.
"An' there's a lot o' old wood, but it made some new last year.
This here's a new bit," and he touched a shoot which looked brownish green instead
of hard, dry gray.
Mary touched it herself in an eager, reverent way.
"That one?" she said. "Is that one quite alive quite?"
Dickon curved his wide smiling mouth.
"It's as wick as you or me," he said; and Mary remembered that Martha had told her
that "wick" meant "alive" or "lively." "I'm glad it's wick!" she cried out in her
whisper.
"I want them all to be wick. Let us go round the garden and count how
many wick ones there are." She quite panted with eagerness, and Dickon
was as eager as she was.
They went from tree to tree and from bush to bush.
Dickon carried his knife in his hand and showed her things which she thought
wonderful.
"They've run wild," he said, "but th' strongest ones has fair thrived on it.
The delicatest ones has died out, but th' others has growed an' growed, an' spread
an' spread, till they's a wonder.
See here!" and he pulled down a thick gray, dry-looking branch.
"A body might think this was dead wood, but I don't believe it is--down to th' root.
I'll cut it low down an' see."
He knelt and with his knife cut the lifeless-looking branch through, not far
above the earth. "There!" he said exultantly.
"I told thee so.
There's green in that wood yet. Look at it."
Mary was down on her knees before he spoke, gazing with all her might.
"When it looks a bit greenish an' juicy like that, it's wick," he explained.
"When th' inside is dry an' breaks easy, like this here piece I've cut off, it's
done for.
There's a big root here as all this live wood sprung out of, an' if th' old wood's
cut off an' it's dug round, and took care of there'll be--" he stopped and lifted his
face to look up at the climbing and hanging
sprays above him--"there'll be a fountain o' roses here this summer."
They went from bush to bush and from tree to tree.
He was very strong and clever with his knife and knew how to cut the dry and dead
wood away, and could tell when an unpromising bough or twig had still green
life in it.
In the course of half an hour Mary thought she could tell too, and when he cut through
a lifeless-looking branch she would cry out joyfully under her breath when she caught
sight of the least shade of moist green.
The spade, and hoe, and fork were very useful.
He showed her how to use the fork while he dug about roots with the spade and stirred
the earth and let the air in.
They were working industriously round one of the biggest standard roses when he
caught sight of something which made him utter an exclamation of surprise.
"Why!" he cried, pointing to the grass a few feet away.
"Who did that there?" It was one of Mary's own little clearings
round the pale green points.
"I did it," said Mary. "Why, I thought tha' didn't know nothin'
about gardenin'," he exclaimed.
"I don't," she answered, "but they were so little, and the grass was so thick and
strong, and they looked as if they had no room to breathe.
So I made a place for them.
I don't even know what they are." Dickon went and knelt down by them, smiling
his wide smile. "Tha' was right," he said.
"A gardener couldn't have told thee better.
They'll grow now like Jack's bean-stalk. They're crocuses an' snowdrops, an' these
here is narcissuses," turning to another patch, "an here's daffydowndillys.
Eh! they will be a sight."
He ran from one clearing to another. "Tha' has done a lot o' work for such a
little wench," he said, looking her over. "I'm growing fatter," said Mary, "and I'm
growing stronger.
I used always to be tired. When I dig I'm not tired at all.
I like to smell the earth when it's turned up."
"It's rare good for thee," he said, nodding his head wisely.
"There's naught as nice as th' smell o' good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh
growin' things when th' rain falls on 'em.
I get out on th' moor many a day when it's rainin' an' I lie under a bush an' listen
to th' soft swish o' drops on th' heather an' I just sniff an' sniff.
My nose end fair quivers like a rabbit's, mother says."
"Do you never catch cold?" inquired Mary, gazing at him wonderingly.
She had never seen such a funny boy, or such a nice one.
"Not me," he said, grinning. "I never ketched cold since I was born.
I wasn't brought up nesh enough.
I've chased about th' moor in all weathers same as th' rabbits does.
Mother says I've sniffed up too much fresh air for twelve year' to ever get to
sniffin' with cold.
I'm as tough as a white-thorn knobstick." He was working all the time he was talking
and Mary was following him and helping him with her fork or the trowel.
"There's a lot of work to do here!" he said once, looking about quite exultantly.
"Will you come again and help me to do it?" Mary begged.
"I'm sure I can help, too.
I can dig and pull up weeds, and do whatever you tell me.
Oh! do come, Dickon!" "I'll come every day if tha' wants me, rain
or shine," he answered stoutly.
"It's the best fun I ever had in my life-- shut in here an' wakenin' up a garden."
"If you will come," said Mary, "if you will help me to make it alive I'll--I don't know
what I'll do," she ended helplessly.
What could you do for a boy like that? "I'll tell thee what tha'll do," said
Dickon, with his happy grin.
"Tha'll get fat an' tha'll get as hungry as a young fox an' tha'll learn how to talk to
th' robin same as I do. Eh! we'll have a lot o' fun."
He began to walk about, looking up in the trees and at the walls and bushes with a
thoughtful expression.
"I wouldn't want to make it look like a gardener's garden, all clipped an' spick
an' span, would you?" he said.
"It's nicer like this with things runnin' wild, an' swingin' an' catchin' hold of
each other." "Don't let us make it tidy," said Mary
anxiously.
"It wouldn't seem like a secret garden if it was tidy."
Dickon stood rubbing his rusty-red head with a rather puzzled look.
"It's a secret garden sure enough," he said, "but seems like some one besides th'
robin must have been in it since it was shut up ten year' ago."
"But the door was locked and the key was buried," said Mary.
"No one could get in." "That's true," he answered.
"It's a queer place.
Seems to me as if there'd been a bit o' prunin' done here an' there, later than ten
year' ago." "But how could it have been done?" said
Mary.
He was examining a branch of a standard rose and he shook his head.
"Aye! how could it!" he murmured. "With th' door locked an' th' key buried."
Mistress Mary always felt that however many years she lived she should never forget
that first morning when her garden began to grow.
Of course, it did seem to begin to grow for her that morning.
When Dickon began to clear places to plant seeds, she remembered what Basil had sung
at her when he wanted to tease her.
"Are there any flowers that look like bells?" she inquired.
"Lilies o' th' valley does," he answered, digging away with the trowel, "an' there's
Canterbury bells, an' campanulas."
"Let's plant some," said Mary. "There's lilies o' th, valley here already;
I saw 'em. They'll have growed too close an' we'll
have to separate 'em, but there's plenty.
Th' other ones takes two years to bloom from seed, but I can bring you some bits o'
plants from our cottage garden. Why does tha' want 'em?"
Then Mary told him about Basil and his brothers and sisters in India and of how
she had hated them and of their calling her "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary."
"They used to dance round and sing at me.
They sang--
'Mistress Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells, And marigolds all in a row.'
I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there were really flowers like silver
bells." She frowned a little and gave her trowel a
rather spiteful dig into the earth.
"I wasn't as contrary as they were." But Dickon laughed.
"Eh!" he said, and as he crumbled the rich black soil she saw he was sniffing up the
scent of it.
"There doesn't seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there's flowers an'
such like, an' such lots o' friendly wild things runnin' about makin' homes for
themselves, or buildin' nests an' singin' an' whistlin', does there?"
Mary, kneeling by him holding the seeds, looked at him and stopped frowning.
"Dickon," she said, "you are as nice as Martha said you were.
I like you, and you make the fifth person. I never thought I should like five people."
Dickon sat up on his heels as Martha did when she was polishing the grate.
He did look funny and delightful, Mary thought, with his round blue eyes and red
cheeks and happy looking turned-up nose.
"Only five folk as tha' likes?" he said. "Who is th' other four?"
"Your mother and Martha," Mary checked them off on her fingers, "and the robin and Ben
Weatherstaff."
Dickon laughed so that he was obliged to stifle the sound by putting his arm over
his mouth.
"I know tha' thinks I'm a queer lad," he said, "but I think tha' art th' queerest
little lass I ever saw." Then Mary did a strange thing.
She leaned forward and asked him a question she had never dreamed of asking any one
before.
And she tried to ask it in Yorkshire because that was his language, and in India
a native was always pleased if you knew his speech.
"Does tha' like me?" she said.
"Eh!" he answered heartily, "that I does. I likes thee wonderful, an' so does th'
robin, I do believe!" "That's two, then," said Mary.
"That's two for me."
And then they began to work harder than ever and more joyfully.
Mary was startled and sorry when she heard the big clock in the courtyard strike the
hour of her midday dinner.
"I shall have to go," she said mournfully. "And you will have to go too, won't you?"
Dickon grinned. "My dinner's easy to carry about with me,"
he said.
"Mother always lets me put a bit o' somethin' in my pocket."
He picked up his coat from the grass and brought out of a pocket a lumpy little
bundle tied up in a quite clean, coarse, blue and white handkerchief.
It held two thick pieces of bread with a slice of something laid between them.
"It's oftenest naught but bread," he said, "but I've got a fine slice o' fat bacon
with it today."
Mary thought it looked a queer dinner, but he seemed ready to enjoy it.
"Run on an' get thy victuals," he said. "I'll be done with mine first.
I'll get some more work done before I start back home."
He sat down with his back against a tree. "I'll call th' robin up," he said, "and
give him th' rind o' th' bacon to peck at.
They likes a bit o' fat wonderful." Mary could scarcely bear to leave him.
Suddenly it seemed as if he might be a sort of wood fairy who might be gone when she
came into the garden again.
He seemed too good to be true. She went slowly half-way to the door in the
wall and then she stopped and went back. "Whatever happens, you--you never would
tell?" she said.
His poppy-colored cheeks were distended with his first big bite of bread and bacon,
but he managed to smile encouragingly.
"If tha' was a missel thrush an' showed me where thy nest was, does tha' think I'd
tell any one? Not me," he said.
"Tha' art as safe as a missel thrush."
And she was quite sure she was.
>
CHAPTER XII "MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH?"
Mary ran so fast that she was rather out of breath when she reached her room.
Her hair was ruffled on her forehead and her cheeks were bright pink.
Her dinner was waiting on the table, and Martha was waiting near it.
"Tha's a bit late," she said. "Where has tha' been?"
"I've seen Dickon!" said Mary.
"I've seen Dickon!" "I knew he'd come," said Martha exultantly.
"How does tha' like him?" "I think--I think he's beautiful!" said
Mary in a determined voice.
Martha looked rather taken aback but she looked pleased, too.
"Well," she said, "he's th' best lad as ever was born, but us never thought he was
handsome.
His nose turns up too much." "I like it to turn up," said Mary.
"An' his eyes is so round," said Martha, a trifle doubtful.
"Though they're a nice color."
"I like them round," said Mary. "And they are exactly the color of the sky
over the moor." Martha beamed with satisfaction.
"Mother says he made 'em that color with always lookin' up at th' birds an' th'
clouds. But he has got a big mouth, hasn't he,
now?"
"I love his big mouth," said Mary obstinately.
"I wish mine were just like it." Martha chuckled delightedly.
"It'd look rare an' funny in thy bit of a face," she said.
"But I knowed it would be that way when tha' saw him.
How did tha' like th' seeds an' th' garden tools?"
"How did you know he brought them?" asked Mary.
"Eh! I never thought of him not bringin' 'em.
He'd be sure to bring 'em if they was in Yorkshire.
He's such a trusty lad."
Mary was afraid that she might begin to ask difficult questions, but she did not.
She was very much interested in the seeds and gardening tools, and there was only one
moment when Mary was frightened.
This was when she began to ask where the flowers were to be planted.
"Who did tha' ask about it?" she inquired. "I haven't asked anybody yet," said Mary,
hesitating.
"Well, I wouldn't ask th' head gardener. He's too grand, Mr. Roach is."
"I've never seen him," said Mary. "I've only seen undergardeners and Ben
Weatherstaff."
"If I was you, I'd ask Ben Weatherstaff," advised Martha.
"He's not half as bad as he looks, for all he's so crabbed.
Mr. Craven lets him do what he likes because he was here when Mrs. Craven was
alive, an' he used to make her laugh. She liked him.
Perhaps he'd find you a corner somewhere out o' 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?" "Yes."
He rubbed his forehead fretfully as he looked her over.
"You are very thin," he said. "I am getting fatter," Mary answered in
what she knew was her stiffest way.
What an unhappy face he had! His black eyes seemed as if they scarcely
saw her, as if they were seeing something else, and he could hardly keep his thoughts
upon her.
"I forgot you," he said. "How could I remember you?
I intended to send you a governess or a nurse, or some one of that sort, but I
forgot."
"Please," began Mary. "Please--" and then the lump in her throat
choked her. "What do you want to say?" he inquired.
"I am--I am too big for a nurse," said Mary.
"And please--please don't make me have a governess yet."
He rubbed his forehead again and stared at her.
"That was what the Sowerby woman said," he muttered absentmindedly.
Then Mary gathered a scrap of courage.
"Is she--is she Martha's mother?" she stammered.
"Yes, I think so," he replied. "She knows about children," said Mary.
"She has twelve.
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 about." "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 little beds 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 like--
anywhere!" "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 said:
"I will cum bak."
>
CHAPTER XIII "I AM COLIN"
Mary took the picture back to the house when she went to her supper and she showed
it to Martha. "Eh!" said Martha with great pride.
"I never knew our Dickon was as clever as that.
That there's a picture of a missel thrush on her nest, as large as life an' twice as
natural."
Then Mary knew Dickon had meant the picture to be a message.
He had meant that she might be sure he would keep her secret.
Her garden was her nest and she was like a missel thrush.
Oh, how she did like that queer, common boy!
She hoped he would come back the very next day and she fell asleep looking forward to
the morning.
But you never know what the weather will do in Yorkshire, particularly in the
springtime.
She was awakened in the night by the sound of rain beating with heavy drops against
her window.
It was pouring down in torrents and the wind was "wuthering" round the corners and
in the chimneys of the huge old house. Mary sat up in bed and felt miserable and
angry.
"The rain is as contrary as I ever was," she said.
"It came because it knew I did not want it."
She threw herself back on her pillow and buried her face.
She did not cry, but she lay and hated the sound of the heavily beating rain, she
hated the wind and its "wuthering."
She could not go to sleep again. The mournful sound kept her awake because
she felt mournful herself. If she had felt happy it would probably
have lulled her to sleep.
How it "wuthered" and how the big raindrops poured down and beat against the pane!
"It sounds just like a person lost on the moor and wandering on and on crying," she
said.
She had been lying awake turning from side to side for about an hour, when suddenly
something made her sit up in bed and turn her head toward the door listening.
She listened and she listened.
"It isn't the wind now," she said in a loud whisper.
"That isn't the wind. It is different.
It is that crying I 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 spoke.
"What would Mrs. Medlock do if she found out that I had been here?" she inquired.
"She would do as I told her to do," he answered.
"And I should tell her that I wanted you to come here and talk to me every day.
I am glad you came."
"So am I," said Mary. "I will come as often as I can, but"--she
hesitated--"I shall have to look every day for the garden door."
"Yes, you must," said Colin, "and you can tell me about 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.
>
CHAPTER XIV A YOUNG RAJAH
The moor was hidden in mist when the morning came, and the rain had not stopped
pouring down. There could be no going out of doors.
Martha was so busy that Mary had no opportunity of talking to her, but in the
afternoon she asked her to come and sit with her in the nursery.
She came bringing the stocking she was always knitting when she was doing nothing
else. "What's the matter with thee?" she asked as
soon as they sat down.
"Tha' looks as if tha'd somethin' to say." "I have.
I have found out what the crying was," 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?"
"No.".
"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 die.
They enjoyed themselves so much that they forgot the pictures and they forgot about
the time.
They had been laughing quite loudly over Ben Weatherstaff and his robin, and Colin
was actually sitting up as if he had forgotten about his weak back, when he
suddenly remembered something.
"Do you know there is one thing we have never once thought of," he said.
"We are cousins."
It seemed so queer that they had talked so much and never remembered this simple thing
that they laughed more than ever, because they had got into the humor to laugh at
anything.
And in the midst of the fun the door opened and in walked Dr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock.
Dr. Craven started in actual alarm and Mrs. Medlock almost fell back because he had
accidentally bumped against her.
"Good Lord!" exclaimed poor Mrs. Medlock with her eyes almost starting out of her
head. "Good Lord!"
"What is this?" said Dr. Craven, coming forward.
"What does it mean?" Then Mary was reminded of the boy Rajah
again.
Colin answered as if neither the doctor's alarm nor Mrs. Medlock's terror were of the
slightest consequence.
He was as little disturbed or frightened as if an elderly cat and dog had walked into
the room. "This is my cousin, Mary Lennox," he said.
"I asked her to come and talk to me.
I like her. She must come and talk to me whenever I
send for her." Dr. Craven turned reproachfully to Mrs.
Medlock.
"Oh, sir" she panted. "I don't know how it's happened.
There's not a servant on the place tha'd dare to talk--they all have their orders."
"Nobody told her anything," said Colin.
"She heard me crying and found me herself. I am glad she came.
Don't be silly, Medlock."
Mary saw that Dr. Craven did not look pleased, but it was quite plain that he
dare not oppose his patient. He sat down by Colin and felt his pulse.
"I am afraid there has been too much excitement.
Excitement is not good for you, my boy," he said.
"I should be excited if she kept away," answered Colin, his eyes beginning to look
dangerously sparkling. "I am better.
She makes me better.
The nurse must bring up her tea with mine. We will have tea together."
Mrs. Medlock and Dr. Craven looked at each other in a troubled way, but there was
evidently nothing to be done.
"He does look rather better, sir," ventured Mrs. Medlock.
"But"--thinking the matter over--"he looked better this morning before she came into
the room."
"She came into 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."
>
CHAPTER XV NEST BUILDING
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
curious."
"If we talk about him I can't help looking at him," Mary said as softly as possible.
"We must talk of something else. There is something I want to tell you."
"He'll like it better if us talks o' somethin' else," said Dickon.
"What is it tha's got to tell me?" "Well--do you know about Colin?" she
whispered.
He turned his head to look at her. "What does tha' know about him?" he asked.
"I've seen him. I have been to talk to him every day this
week.
He wants me to come. He says I'm making him forget about being
ill and dying," answered Mary. Dickon looked actually relieved as soon as
the surprise died away from his round face.
"I am glad o' that," he exclaimed. "I'm right down glad.
It makes me easier. I knowed I must say nothin' about him an' I
don't like havin' to hide things."
"Don't you like hiding the garden?" said Mary.
"I'll never tell about it," he answered. "But I says to mother, 'Mother,' I says, 'I
got a secret to keep.
It's not a bad 'un, tha' knows that. It's no worse than hidin' where a bird's
nest is. Tha' doesn't mind it, 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.
>
CHAPTER XVI "I WON'T!"
SAID MARY
They found a great deal to do that morning and Mary was late in returning to the house
and was also in such a hurry to get back to her work that she quite forgot Colin until
the last moment.
"Tell Colin that I can't come and see him yet," she said to Martha.
"I'm very busy in the garden." Martha looked rather frightened.
"Eh! Miss Mary," she said, "it may put him all out of humor when I tell him that."
But Mary was not as afraid of him as other people were and she was not a self-
sacrificing person.
"I can't stay," she answered. "Dickon's waiting for me;" and she ran
away. The afternoon was even lovelier and busier
than the morning had been.
Already nearly all the weeds were cleared out of the garden and most of the roses and
trees had been pruned or dug about.
Dickon had brought a spade of his own and he had taught Mary to use all her tools, so
that by this time it was plain that though the lovely wild place was not likely to
become a "gardener's garden" it would be a
wilderness of growing things before the springtime was over.
"There'll be apple blossoms an' cherry blossoms overhead," Dickon said, working
away with all his might.
"An' there'll be peach an' plum trees in bloom against th' walls, an' th' grass'll
be a carpet o' flowers."
The little fox and the rook were as happy and busy as they were, and the robin and
his mate flew backward and forward like tiny streaks of lightning.
Sometimes the rook flapped his black wings and soared away over the tree-tops in the
park.
Each time he came back and perched near Dickon and cawed several times as if he
were relating his adventures, and Dickon talked to him just as he had talked to the
robin.
Once when Dickon was so busy that he did not answer him at first, Soot flew on to
his shoulders and gently tweaked his ear with his large beak.
When Mary wanted to rest a little Dickon sat down with her under a tree and once he
took his pipe out of his pocket and played the soft strange little notes and two
squirrels appeared on the wall and looked and listened.
"Tha's a good bit stronger than tha' was," Dickon said, looking at her as she was
digging.
"Tha's beginning to look different, for sure."
Mary was glowing with exercise and good spirits.
"I'm getting fatter and fatter every day," she said quite exultantly.
"Mrs. Medlock will have to get me some bigger dresses.
Martha says my hair is growing thicker.
It isn't so flat and stringy." The sun was beginning to set and sending
deep gold-colored rays slanting under the trees when they parted.
"It'll be fine tomorrow," said Dickon.
"I'll be at work by sunrise." "So will I," said Mary.
She ran back to the house as quickly as her feet would carry her.
She wanted to tell Colin about Dickon's fox cub and the rook and about what the
springtime had been doing. She felt sure he would like to hear.
So it was not very pleasant when she opened the door of her room, to see Martha
standing waiting for her with a doleful face.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
"What did Colin say when you told him I couldn't come?"
"Eh!" said Martha, "I wish tha'd gone. He was nigh goin' into one o' his tantrums.
There's been a nice to do all afternoon to keep him quiet.
He would watch the clock all th' time." Mary's lips pinched themselves together.
She was no more used to considering other people than Colin was and she saw no reason
why an ill-tempered boy should interfere with the thing she liked best.
She knew nothing about the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous and who
did not know that they could control their tempers and need not make other people ill
and nervous, too.
When she had had a headache in India she had done her best to see that everybody
else also had a headache or something quite as bad.
And she felt she was quite right; but of course now she felt that Colin was quite
wrong. He was not on his sofa when she went into
his room.
He was lying flat on his back in bed and he did not turn his head toward her as she
came in. This was a bad beginning and Mary marched
up to him with her stiff manner.
"Why didn't you get up?" she said. "I did get up this morning when I thought
you were coming," he answered, without looking at her.
"I made them put me back in bed this afternoon.
My back ached and my head ached and I was tired.
Why didn't you come?"
"I was working in the garden with Dickon," said Mary.
Colin frowned and condescended to look at her.
"I won't let that boy come here if you go and stay with him instead of coming to talk
to me," he said. Mary flew into a fine passion.
She could fly into a passion without making a noise.
She just grew sour and obstinate and did not care what happened.
"If you send Dickon away, I'll never come into this room again!" she retorted.
"You'll have to if I want you," said Colin. "I won't!" said Mary.
"I'll make you," said Colin.
"They shall drag you in." "Shall they, Mr. Rajah!" said Mary
fiercely. "They may drag me in but they can't make me
talk when they get me here.
I'll sit and clench my teeth and never tell you one thing.
I won't even look at you. I'll stare at the floor!"
They were a nice agreeable pair as they glared at each other.
If they had been two little street boys they would have sprung at each other and
had a rough-and-tumble fight.
As it was, they did the next thing to it. "You are a selfish thing!" cried Colin.
"What are you?" said Mary. "Selfish people always say that.
Any one is selfish who doesn't do what they want.
You're more selfish than I am. You're the most selfish boy I ever saw."
"I'm not!" snapped Colin.
"I'm not as selfish as your fine Dickon is! He keeps you playing in the dirt when he
knows I am all by myself. He's selfish, if you like!"
Mary's eyes flashed fire.
"He's nicer than any other boy that ever lived!" she said.
"He's--he's like an angel!" It might sound rather silly to say that but
she did not care.
"A nice angel!" Colin sneered ferociously.
"He's a common cottage boy off the moor!" "He's better than a common Rajah!" retorted
Mary.
"He's a thousand times better!" Because she was the stronger of the two she
was beginning to get the better of him.
The truth was that he had never had a fight with any one like himself in his life and,
upon the whole, it was rather good for him, though neither he nor Mary knew anything
about that.
He turned his head on his pillow and shut his eyes and a big tear was squeezed out
and ran down his cheek. He was beginning to feel pathetic and sorry
for himself--not for any one else.
"I'm not as selfish as you, because I'm always ill, and I'm sure there is a lump
coming on my back," he said. "And I am going to die besides."
"You're not!" contradicted Mary unsympathetically.
He opened his eyes quite wide with indignation.
He had never heard such a thing said before.
He was at once furious and slightly pleased, if a person could be both at one
time.
"I'm not?" he cried. "I am!
You know I am! Everybody says so."
"I don't believe it!" said Mary sourly.
"You just say that to make people sorry. I believe you're proud of it.
I don't believe it! If you were a nice boy it might be true--
but you're too nasty!"
In spite of his invalid back Colin sat up in bed in quite a healthy rage.
"Get out of the room!" he shouted and he caught hold of his pillow and threw it at
her.
He was not strong enough to throw it far and it only fell at her feet, but Mary's
face looked as pinched as a nutcracker. "I'm going," she said.
"And I won't come back!"
She walked to the door and when she reached it she turned round and spoke again.
"I was going to tell you all sorts of nice things," she said.
"Dickon brought his fox and his rook and I was going to tell you all about them.
Now I won't tell you a single thing!"
She marched out of the door and closed it behind her, and there to her great
astonishment she found the trained nurse standing as if she had been listening and,
more amazing still--she was laughing.
She was a big handsome young woman who ought not to have been a trained nurse at
all, as she could not bear invalids and she was always making excuses to leave Colin to
Martha or any one else who would take her place.
Mary had never liked her, and she simply stood and gazed up at her as she stood
giggling into her handkerchief..
"What are you laughing at?" she asked her. "At you two young ones," said the nurse.
"It's the best thing that could happen to the sickly pampered thing to have some one
to stand up to him that's as spoiled as himself;" and she laughed into her
handkerchief again.
"If he'd had a young vixen of a sister to fight with it would have been the saving of
him." "Is he going to die?"
"I don't know and I don't care," said the nurse.
"Hysterics and temper are half what ails him."
"What are hysterics?" asked Mary.
"You'll find out if you work him into a tantrum after this--but at any rate you've
given him something to have hysterics about, and I'm glad of it."
Mary went back to her room not feeling at all as she had felt when she had come in
from the garden. She was cross and disappointed but not at
all sorry for Colin.
She had looked forward to telling him a great many things and she had meant to try
to make up her mind whether it would be safe to trust him with the great secret.
She had been beginning to think it would be, but now she had changed her mind
entirely.
She would never tell him and he could stay in his room and never get any fresh air and
die if he liked! It would serve him right!
She felt so sour and unrelenting that for a few minutes she almost forgot about Dickon
and the green veil creeping over the world and the soft wind blowing down from the
moor.
Martha was waiting for her and the trouble in her face had been temporarily replaced
by interest and curiosity.
There was a wooden box on the table and its cover had been removed and revealed that it
was full of neat packages. "Mr. Craven sent it to you," said Martha.
"It looks as if it had picture-books in it."
Mary remembered what he had asked her the day she had gone to his room.
"Do you want anything--dolls--toys--books?"
She opened the package wondering if he had sent a doll, and also wondering what she
should do with it if he had. But he had not sent one.
There were several beautiful books such as Colin had, and two of them were about
gardens and were full of pictures.
There were two or three games and there was a beautiful little writing-case with a gold
monogram on it and a gold pen and inkstand. Everything was so nice that her pleasure
began to crowd her anger out of her mind.
She had not expected him to remember her at all and her hard little heart grew quite
warm.
"I can write better than I can print," she said, "and the first thing I shall write
with that pen will be a letter to tell him I am much obliged."
If she had been friends with Colin she would have run to show him her presents at
once, and they would have looked at the pictures and read some of the gardening
books and perhaps tried playing the games,
and he would have enjoyed himself so much he would never once have thought he was
going to die or have put his hand on his spine to see if there was a lump coming.
He had a way of doing that which she could not bear.
It gave her an uncomfortable frightened feeling because he always looked so
frightened himself.
He said that if he felt even quite a little lump some day he should know his hunch had
begun to grow.
Something he had heard Mrs. Medlock whispering to the nurse had given him the
idea and he had thought over it in secret until it was quite firmly fixed in his
mind.
Mrs. Medlock had said his father's back had begun to show its crookedness in that way
when he was a child.
He had never told any one but Mary that most of his "tantrums" as they called them
grew out of his hysterical hidden fear. Mary had been sorry for him when he had
told her.
"He always began to think about it when he was cross or tired," she said to herself.
"And he has been cross today. Perhaps--perhaps he has been thinking about
it all afternoon."
She stood still, looking down at the carpet and thinking.
"I said I would never go back again--" she hesitated, knitting her brows--"but
perhaps, just perhaps, I will go and see-- if he wants me--in the morning.
Perhaps he'll try to throw his pillow at me again, but--I think--I'll go."
>
CHAPTER XVII A TANTRUM
She had got up very early in the morning and had worked hard in the garden and she
was tired and sleepy, so as soon as Martha had brought her supper and she had eaten
it, she was glad to go to bed.
As she laid her head on the pillow she murmured to herself:
"I'll go out before breakfast and work with Dickon and then afterward--I believe--I'll
go to see him."
She thought it was the middle of the night when she was awakened by such dreadful
sounds that she jumped out of bed in an instant.
What was it--what was it?
The next minute she felt quite sure she knew.
Doors were opened and shut and there were hurrying feet in the corridors and some one
was crying and screaming at the same time, screaming and crying in a horrible way.
"It's Colin," she said.
"He's having one of those tantrums the nurse called hysterics.
How awful it sounds."
As she listened to the sobbing screams she did not wonder that people were so
frightened that they gave him his own way in everything rather than hear them.
She put her hands over her ears and felt sick and shivering.
"I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do," she kept saying.
"I can't bear it."
Once she wondered if he would stop if she dared go to him and then she remembered how
he had driven her out of the room and thought that perhaps the sight of her might
make him worse.
Even when she pressed her hands more tightly over her ears she could not keep
the awful sounds out.
She hated them so and was so terrified by them that suddenly they began to make her
angry and she felt as if she should like to fly into a tantrum herself and frighten him
as he was frightening her.
She was not used to any one's tempers but her own.
She took her hands from her ears and sprang up and stamped her foot.
"He ought to be stopped!
Somebody ought to make him stop! Somebody ought to beat him!" she cried out.
Just then she heard feet almost running down the corridor and her door opened and
the nurse came in.
She was not laughing now by any means. She even looked rather pale.
"He's worked himself into hysterics," she said in a great hurry.
"He'll do himself harm.
No one can do anything with him. You come and try, like a good child.
He likes you."
"He turned me out of the room this morning," said Mary, stamping her foot with
excitement. The stamp rather pleased the nurse.
The truth was that she had been afraid she might find Mary crying and hiding her head
under the bed-clothes. "That's right," she said.
"You're in the right humor.
You go and scold him. Give him something new to think of.
Do go, child, as quick as ever you can."
It was not until afterward that Mary realized that the thing had been funny as
well as dreadful--that it was funny that all the grown-up people were so frightened
that they came to a little girl just
because they guessed she was almost as bad as Colin himself.
She flew along the corridor and the nearer she got to the screams the higher her
temper mounted.
She felt quite wicked by the time she reached the door.
She slapped it open with her hand and ran across the room to the four-posted bed.
"You stop!" she almost shouted.
"You stop! I hate you!
Everybody hates you! I wish everybody would run out of the house
and let you scream yourself to death!
You will scream yourself to death in a minute, and I wish you would!"
A nice sympathetic child could neither have thought nor said such things, but it just
happened that the shock of hearing them was the best possible thing for this hysterical
boy whom no one had ever dared to restrain or contradict.
He had been lying on his face beating his pillow with his hands and he actually
almost jumped around, he turned so quickly at the sound of the furious little voice.
His face looked dreadful, white and red and swollen, and he was gasping and choking;
but savage little Mary did not care an atom.
"If you scream another scream," she said, "I'll scream too--and I can scream louder
than you can and I'll frighten you, I'll frighten you!"
He actually had stopped screaming because she had startled him so.
The scream which had been coming almost choked him.
The tears were streaming down his face and he shook all over.
"I can't stop!" he gasped and sobbed. "I can't--I can't!"
"You can!" shouted Mary.
"Half that ails you is hysterics and temper--just hysterics--hysterics--
hysterics!" and she stamped each time she said it.
"I felt the lump--I felt it," choked out Colin.
"I knew I should.
I shall have a hunch on my back and then I shall die," and he began to writhe again
and turned on his face and sobbed and wailed but he didn't scream.
"You didn't feel a lump!" contradicted Mary fiercely.
"If you did it was only a hysterical lump. Hysterics makes lumps.
There's nothing the matter with your horrid back--nothing but hysterics!
Turn over and let me look at it!" She liked the word "hysterics" and felt
somehow as if it had an effect on him.
He was probably like herself and had never heard it before.
"Nurse," she commanded, "come here and show me his back this minute!"
The nurse, Mrs. Medlock and Martha had been standing huddled together near the door
staring at her, their mouths half open. All three had gasped with fright more than
once.
The nurse came forward as if she were half afraid.
Colin was heaving with great breathless sobs.
"Perhaps he--he won't let me," she hesitated in a low voice.
Colin heard her, however, and he gasped out between two sobs:
"Sh-show her!
She-she'll see then!" It was a poor thin back to look at when it
was bared.
Every rib could be counted and every joint of the spine, though Mistress Mary did not
count them as she bent over and examined them with a solemn savage little face.
She looked so sour and old-fashioned that the nurse turned her head aside to hide the
twitching of her mouth.
There was just a minute's silence, for even Colin tried to hold his breath while Mary
looked up and down his spine, and down and up, as intently as if she had been the
great doctor from London.
"There's not a single lump there!" she said at last.
"There's not a lump as big as a pin--except backbone lumps, and you can only feel them
because you're thin.
I've got backbone lumps myself, and they used to stick out as much as yours do,
until I began to get fatter, and I am not fat enough yet to hide them.
There's not a lump as big as a pin!
If you ever say there is again, I shall laugh!"
No one but Colin himself knew what effect those crossly spoken childish words had on
him.
If he had ever had any one to talk to about his secret terrors--if he had ever dared to
let himself ask questions--if he had had childish companions and had not lain on his
back in the huge closed house, breathing an
atmosphere heavy with the fears of people who were most of them ignorant and tired of
him, he would have found out that most of his fright and illness was created by
himself.
But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches and weariness for hours and days
and months and years.
And now that an angry unsympathetic little girl insisted obstinately that he was not
as ill as he thought he was he actually felt as if she might be speaking the truth.
"I didn't know," ventured the nurse, "that he thought he had a lump on his spine.
His back is weak because he won't try to sit up.
I could have told him there was no lump there."
Colin gulped and turned his face a little to look at her.
"C-could you?" he said pathetically.
"Yes, sir." "There!" said Mary, and she gulped too.
Colin turned on his face again and but for his long-drawn broken breaths, which were
the dying down of his storm of sobbing, he lay still for a minute, though great tears
streamed down his face and wet the pillow.
Actually the tears meant that a curious great relief had come to him.
Presently he turned and looked at the nurse again and strangely enough he was not like
a Rajah at all as he spoke to her.
"Do you think--I could--live to grow up?" he said.
The nurse was neither clever nor soft- hearted but she could repeat some of the
London doctor's words.
"You probably will if you will do what you are told to do and not give way to your
temper, and stay out a great deal in the fresh air."
Colin's tantrum had passed and he was weak and worn out with crying and this perhaps
made him feel gentle.
He put out his hand a little toward Mary, and I am glad to say that, her own tantum
having passed, she was softened too and met him half-way with her hand, so that it was
a sort of making up.
"I'll--I'll go out with you, Mary," he said.
"I shan't hate fresh air if we can find--" He remembered just in time to stop himself
from saying "if we can find the secret garden" and he ended, "I shall like to go
out with you if Dickon will come and push my chair.
I do so want to see Dickon and the fox and the crow."
The nurse remade the tumbled bed and shook and straightened the pillows.
Then she made Colin a cup of beef tea and gave a cup to Mary, who really was very
glad to get it after her excitement.
Mrs. Medlock and Martha gladly slipped away, and after everything was neat and
calm and in order the nurse looked as if she would very gladly slip away also.
She was a healthy young woman who resented being robbed of her sleep and she yawned
quite openly as she looked at Mary, who had pushed her big footstool close to the four-
posted bed and was holding Colin's hand.
"You must go back and get your sleep out," she said.
"He'll drop off after a while--if he's not too upset.
Then I'll lie down myself in the next room."
"Would you like me to sing you that song I learned from my Ayah?"
Mary whispered to Colin.
His hand pulled hers gently and he turned his tired eyes on her appealingly.
"Oh, yes!" he answered. "It's such a soft song.
I shall go to sleep in a minute."
"I will put him to sleep," Mary said to the yawning nurse.
"You can go if you like." "Well," said the nurse, with an attempt at
reluctance.
"If he doesn't go to sleep in half an hour you must call me."
"Very well," answered Mary.
The nurse was out of the room in a minute and as soon as she was gone Colin pulled
Mary's hand again. "I almost told," he said; "but I stopped
myself in time.
I won't talk and I'll go to sleep, but you said you had a whole lot of nice things to
tell me.
Have you--do you think you have found out anything at all about the way into the
secret garden?" Mary looked at his poor little tired face
and swollen eyes and her heart relented.
"Ye-es," she answered, "I think I have. And if you will go to sleep I will tell you
tomorrow." His hand quite trembled.
"Oh, Mary!" he said.
"Oh, Mary! If I could get into it I think I should
live to grow up!
Do you suppose that instead of singing the Ayah song--you could just tell me softly as
you did that first day what you imagine it looks like inside?
I am sure it will make me go to sleep."
"Yes," answered Mary. "Shut your eyes."
He closed his eyes and lay quite still and she held his hand and began to speak very
slowly and in a very low voice.
"I think it has been left alone so long-- that it has grown all into a lovely tangle.
I think the roses have climbed and climbed and climbed until they hang from the
branches and walls and creep over the ground--almost like a strange gray mist.
Some of them have died but many--are alive and when the summer comes there will be
curtains and fountains of roses.
I think the ground is full of daffodils and snowdrops and lilies and iris working their
way out of the dark. Now the spring has begun--perhaps--perhaps-
-"
The soft drone of her voice was making him stiller and stiller and she saw it and went
on.
"Perhaps they are coming up through the grass--perhaps there are clusters of purple
crocuses and gold ones--even now.
Perhaps the leaves are beginning to break out and uncurl--and perhaps--the gray is
changing and a green gauze veil is creeping--and creeping over--everything.
And the birds are coming to look at it-- because it is--so safe and still.
And perhaps--perhaps--perhaps--" very softly and slowly indeed, "the robin has
found a mate--and is building a nest."
And Colin was asleep.
>
CHAPTER XVIII "THA' MUNNOT WASTE NO TIME"
Of course Mary did not waken early the next morning.
She slept late because she was tired, and when Martha brought her breakfast she told
her that though.
Colin was quite quiet he was ill and feverish as he always was after he had worn
himself out with a fit of crying. Mary ate her breakfast slowly as she
listened.
"He says he wishes tha' would please go and see him as soon as tha' can," Martha said.
"It's queer what a fancy he's took to thee. Tha' did give it him last night for sure--
didn't tha?
Nobody else would have dared to do it. Eh! poor lad!
He's been spoiled till salt won't save him.
Mother says as th' two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own
way--or always to have it. She doesn't know which is th' worst.
Tha' was in a fine temper tha'self, too.
But he says to me when I went into his room, 'Please ask Miss Mary if she'll
please come an' talk to me?' Think o' him saying please!
Will you go, Miss?"
"I'll run and see Dickon first," said Mary. "No, I'll go and see Colin first and tell
him--I know what I'll tell him," with a sudden inspiration.
She had her hat on when she appeared in Colin's room and for a second he looked
disappointed. He was in bed.
His face was pitifully white and there were dark circles round his eyes.
"I'm glad you came," he said. "My head aches and I ache all over because
I'm so tired.
Are you going somewhere?" Mary went and leaned against his bed.
"I won't be long," she said. "I'm going to Dickon, but I'll come back.
Colin, it's--it's something about the garden."
His whole face brightened and a little color came into it.
"Oh! is it?" he cried out.
"I dreamed about it all night I heard you say something about gray changing into
green, and I dreamed I was standing in a place all filled with trembling little
green leaves--and there were birds on nests
everywhere and they looked so soft and still.
I'll lie and think about it until you come back."
In five minutes Mary was with Dickon in their garden.
The fox and the crow were with him again and this time he had brought two tame
squirrels.
"I came over on the pony this mornin'," he said.
"Eh! he is a good little chap--Jump is! I brought these two in my pockets.
This here one he's called Nut an' this here other one's called Shell."
When he said "Nut" one squirrel leaped on to his right shoulder and when he said
"Shell" the other one leaped on to his left shoulder.
When they sat down on the grass with Captain curled at their feet, Soot solemnly
listening on a tree and Nut and Shell nosing about close to them, it seemed to
Mary that it would be scarcely bearable to
leave such delightfulness, but when she began to tell her story somehow the look in
Dickon's funny face gradually changed her mind.
She could see he felt sorrier for Colin than she did.
He looked up at the sky and all about him.
"Just listen to them birds--th' world seems full of 'em--all whistlin' an' pipin'," he
said. "Look at 'em dartin' about, an' hearken at
'em callin' to each other.
Come springtime seems like as if all th' world's callin'.
The leaves is uncurlin' so you can see 'em- -an', my word, th' nice smells there is
about!" sniffing with his happy turned-up nose.
"An' that poor lad lyin' shut up an' seein' so little that he gets to thinkin' o'
things as sets him screamin'.
Eh! my! we mun get him out here--we mun get him watchin' an listenin' an' sniffin' up
th' air an' get him just soaked through wi' sunshine.
An' we munnot lose no time about it."
When he was very much interested he often spoke quite broad Yorkshire though at other
times he tried to modify his dialect so that Mary could better understand.
But she loved his broad Yorkshire and had in fact been trying to learn to speak it
herself. So she spoke a little now.
"Aye, that we mun," she said (which meant "Yes, indeed, we must").
"I'll tell thee what us'll do first," she proceeded, and Dickon grinned, because when
the little wench tried to twist her tongue into speaking Yorkshire it amused him very
much.
"He's took a graidely fancy to thee. He wants to see thee and he wants to see
Soot an' Captain.
When I go back to the house to talk to him I'll ax him if tha' canna' come an' see him
tomorrow mornin'--an'. bring tha' creatures wi' thee--an' then--in a bit, when there's
more leaves out, an' happen a bud or two,
we'll get him to come out an' tha' shall push him in his chair an' we'll bring him
here an' show him everything." When she stopped she was quite proud of
herself.
She had never made a long speech in Yorkshire before and she had remembered
very well. "Tha' mun talk a bit o' Yorkshire like that
to Mester Colin," Dickon chuckled.
"Tha'll make him laugh an' there's nowt as good for ill folk as laughin' is.
Mother says she believes as half a hour's good laugh every mornin' 'ud cure a chap as
was makin' ready for typhus fever."
"I'm going to talk Yorkshire to him this very day," said Mary, chuckling herself.
The garden had reached the time when every day and every night it seemed as if
Magicians were passing through it drawing loveliness out of the earth and the boughs
with wands.
It was hard to go away and leave it all, particularly as Nut had actually crept on
to her dress and Shell had scrambled down the trunk of the apple-tree they sat under
and stayed there looking at her with inquiring eyes.
But she went back to the house and when she sat down close to Colin's bed he began to
sniff as Dickon did though not in such an experienced way.
"You smell like flowers and--and fresh things," he cried out quite joyously.
"What is it you smell of? It's cool and warm and sweet all at the
same time."
"It's th' wind from th' moor," said Mary. "It comes o' sittin' on th' grass under a
tree wi' Dickon an' wi' Captain an' Soot an' Nut an' Shell.
It's th' springtime an' out o' doors an' sunshine as smells so graidely."
She said it as broadly as she could, and you do not know how broadly Yorkshire
sounds until you have heard some one speak it.
Colin began to laugh.
"What are you doing?" he said. "I never heard you talk like that before.
How funny it sounds." "I'm givin' thee a bit o' Yorkshire,"
answered Mary triumphantly.
"I canna' talk as graidely as Dickon an' Martha can but tha' sees I can shape a bit.
Doesn't tha' understand a bit o' Yorkshire when tha' hears it?
An' tha' a Yorkshire lad thysel' bred an' born!
Eh! I wonder tha'rt not ashamed o' thy face."
And then she began to laugh too and they both laughed until they could not stop
themselves and they laughed until the room echoed and Mrs. Medlock opening the door to
come in drew back into the corridor and stood listening amazed.
"Well, upon my word!" she said, speaking rather broad Yorkshire herself because
there was no one to hear her and she was so astonished.
"Whoever heard th' like!
Whoever on earth would ha' thought it!" There was so much to talk about.
It seemed as if Colin could never hear enough of Dickon and Captain and Soot and
Nut and Shell and the pony whose name was Jump.
Mary had run round into the wood with Dickon to see Jump.
He was a tiny little shaggy moor pony with thick locks hanging over his eyes and with
a pretty face and a nuzzling velvet nose.
He was rather thin with living on moor grass but he was as tough and wiry as if
the muscle in his little legs had been made of steel springs.
He had lifted his head and whinnied softly the moment he saw Dickon and he had trotted
up to him and put his head across his shoulder and then Dickon had talked into
his ear and Jump had talked back in odd little whinnies and puffs and snorts.
Dickon had made him give Mary his small front hoof and kiss her on her cheek with
his velvet muzzle.
"Does he really understand everything Dickon says?"
Colin asked. "It seems as if he does," answered Mary.
"Dickon says anything will understand if you're friends with it for sure, but you
have to be friends for sure."
Colin lay quiet a little while and his strange gray eyes seemed to be staring at
the wall, but Mary saw he was thinking. "I wish I was friends with things," he said
at last, "but I'm not.
I never had anything to be friends with, and I can't bear people."
"Can't you bear me?" asked Mary. "Yes, I can," he answered.
"It's funny but I even like you."
"Ben Weatherstaff said I was like him," said Mary.
"He said he'd warrant we'd both got the same nasty tempers.
I think you are like him too.
We are all three alike--you and I and Ben Weatherstaff.
He said we were neither of us much to look at and we were as sour as we looked.
But I don't feel as sour as I used to before I knew the robin and Dickon."
"Did you feel as if you hated people?" "Yes," answered Mary without any
affectation.
"I should have detested you if I had seen you before I saw the robin and Dickon."
Colin put out his thin hand and touched her.
"Mary," he said, "I wish I hadn't said what I did about sending Dickon away.
I hated you when you said he was like an angel and I laughed at you but--but perhaps
he is."
"Well, it was rather funny to say it," she admitted frankly, "because his nose does
turn up and he has a big mouth and his clothes have patches all over them and he
talks broad Yorkshire, but--but if an angel
did come to Yorkshire and live on the moor- -if there was a Yorkshire angel--I believe
he'd understand the green things and know how to make them grow and he would know how
to talk to the wild creatures as Dickon
does and they'd know he was friends for sure."
"I shouldn't mind Dickon looking at me," said Colin; "I want to see him."
"I'm glad you said that," answered Mary, "because--because--"
Quite suddenly it came into her mind that this was the minute to tell him.
Colin knew something new was coming.
"Because what?" he cried eagerly. Mary was so anxious that she got up from
her stool and came to him and caught hold of both his hands.
"Can I trust you?
I trusted Dickon because birds trusted him. Can I trust you--for sure--for sure?" she
implored. Her face was so solemn that he almost
whispered his answer.
"Yes--yes!" "Well, Dickon will come to see you tomorrow
morning, and he'll bring his creatures with him."
"Oh! Oh!"
Colin cried out in delight. "But that's not all," Mary went on, almost
pale with solemn excitement. "The rest is better.
There is a door into the garden.
I found it. It is under the ivy on the wall."
If he had been a strong healthy boy Colin would probably have shouted "Hooray!
Hooray!
Hooray!" but he was weak and rather hysterical; his eyes grew bigger and bigger
and he gasped for breath. "Oh! Mary!" he cried out with a half sob.
"Shall I see it?
Shall I get into it? Shall I live to get into it?" and he
clutched her hands and dragged her toward him.
"Of course you'll see it!" snapped Mary indignantly.
"Of course you'll live to get into it! Don't be silly!"
And she was so un-hysterical and natural and childish that she brought him to his
senses and he began to laugh at himself and a few minutes afterward she was sitting on
her stool again telling him not what she
imagined the secret garden to be like but what it really was, and Colin's aches and
tiredness were forgotten and he was listening enraptured.
"It is just what you thought it would be," he said at last.
"It sounds just as if you had really seen it.
You know I said that when you told me first."
Mary hesitated about two minutes and then boldly spoke the truth.
"I had seen it--and I had been in," she said.
"I found the key and got in weeks ago.
But I daren't tell you--I daren't because I was so afraid I couldn't trust you--for
sure!"
>
CHAPTER XIX "IT HAS COME!"
Of course Dr. Craven had been sent for the morning after Colin had had his tantrum.
He was always sent for at once when such a thing occurred and he always found, when he
arrived, a white shaken boy lying on his bed, sulky and still so hysterical that he
was ready to break into fresh sobbing at the least word.
In fact, Dr. Craven dreaded and detested the difficulties of these visits.
On this occasion he was away from Misselthwaite Manor until afternoon.
"How is he?" he asked Mrs. Medlock rather irritably when he arrived.
"He will break a blood-vessel in one of those fits some day.
The boy is half insane with hysteria and self-indulgence."
"Well, sir," answered Mrs. Medlock, "you'll scarcely believe your eyes when you see
him. That plain sour-faced child that's almost
as bad as himself has just bewitched him.
How she's done it there's no telling. The Lord knows she's nothing to look at and
you scarcely ever hear her speak, but she did what none of us dare do.
She just flew at him like a little cat last night, and stamped her feet and ordered him
to stop screaming, and somehow she startled him so that he actually did stop, and this
afternoon--well just come up and see, sir.
It's past crediting." The scene which Dr. Craven beheld when he
entered his patient's room was indeed rather astonishing to him.
As Mrs. Medlock opened the door he heard laughing and chattering.
Colin was on his sofa in his dressing-gown and he was sitting up quite straight
looking at a picture in one of the garden books and talking to the plain child who at
that moment could scarcely be called plain
at all because her face was so glowing with enjoyment.
"Those long spires of blue ones--we'll have a lot of those," Colin was announcing.
"They're called Del-phin-iums."
"Dickon says they're larkspurs made big and grand," cried Mistress Mary.
"There are clumps there already." Then they saw Dr. Craven and stopped.
Mary became quite still and Colin looked fretful.
"I am sorry to hear you were ill last night, my boy," Dr. Craven said a trifle
nervously.
He was rather a nervous man. "I'm better now--much better," Colin
answered, rather like a Rajah. "I'm going out in my chair in a day or two
if it is fine.
I want some fresh air." Dr. Craven sat down by him and felt his
pulse and looked at him curiously.
"It must be a very fine day," he said, "and you must be very careful not to tire
yourself." "Fresh air won't tire me," said the young
Rajah.
As there had been occasions when this same young gentleman had shrieked aloud with
rage and had insisted that fresh air would give him cold and kill him, it is not to be
wondered at that his doctor felt somewhat startled.
"I thought you did not like fresh air," he said.
"I don't when I am by myself," replied the Rajah; "but my cousin is going out with
me." "And the nurse, of course?" suggested Dr.
Craven.
"No, I will not have the nurse," so magnificently that Mary could not help
remembering how the young native Prince had looked with his diamonds and emeralds and
pearls stuck all over him and the great
rubies on the small dark hand he had waved to command his servants to approach with
salaams and receive his orders. "My cousin knows how to take care of me.
I am always better when she is with me.
She made me better last night. A very strong boy I know will push my
carriage." Dr. Craven felt rather alarmed.
If this tiresome hysterical boy should chance to get well he himself would lose
all chance of inheriting Misselthwaite; but he was not an unscrupulous man, though he
was a weak one, and he did not intend to let him run into actual danger.
"He must be a strong boy and a steady boy," he said.
"And I must know something about him.
Who is he? What is his name?"
"It's Dickon," Mary spoke up suddenly. She felt somehow that everybody who knew
the moor must know Dickon.
And she was right, too. She saw that in a moment Dr. Craven's
serious face relaxed into a relieved smile. "Oh, Dickon," he said.
"If it is Dickon you will be safe enough.
He's as strong as a moor pony, is Dickon." "And he's trusty," said Mary.
"He's th' trustiest lad i' Yorkshire." She had been talking Yorkshire to Colin and
she forgot herself.
"Did Dickon teach you that?" asked Dr. Craven, laughing outright.
"I'm learning it as if it was French," said Mary rather coldly.
"It's like a native dialect in India.
Very clever people try to learn them. I like it and so does Colin."
"Well, well," he said. "If it amuses you perhaps it won't do you
any harm.
Did you take your bromide last night, Colin?"
"No," Colin answered.
"I wouldn't take it at first and after Mary made me quiet she talked me to sleep--in a
low voice--about the spring creeping into a garden."
"That sounds soothing," said Dr. Craven, more perplexed than ever and glancing
sideways at Mistress Mary sitting on her stool and looking down silently at the
carpet.
"You are evidently better, but you must remember--"
"I don't want to remember," interrupted the Rajah, appearing again.
"When I lie by myself and remember I begin to have pains everywhere and I think of
things that make me begin to scream because I hate them so.
If there was a doctor anywhere who could make you forget you were ill instead of
remembering it I would have him brought here."
And he waved a thin hand which ought really to have been covered with royal signet
rings made of rubies. "It is because my cousin makes me forget
that she makes me better."
Dr. Craven had never made such a short stay after a "tantrum"; usually he was obliged
to remain a very long time and do a great many things.
This afternoon he did not give any medicine or leave any new orders and he was spared
any disagreeable scenes.
When he went downstairs he looked very thoughtful and when he talked to Mrs.
Medlock in the library she felt that he was a much puzzled man.
"Well, sir," she ventured, "could you have believed it?"
"It is certainly a new state of affairs," said the doctor.
"And there's no denying it is better than the old one."
"I believe Susan Sowerby's right--I do that," said Mrs. Medlock.
"I stopped in her cottage on my way to Thwaite yesterday and had a bit of talk
with her.
And she says to me, 'Well, Sarah Ann, she mayn't be a good child, an' she mayn't be a
pretty one, but she's a child, an' children needs children.'
We went to school together, Susan Sowerby and me."
"She's the best sick nurse I know," said Dr. Craven.
"When I find her in a cottage I know the chances are that I shall save my patient."
Mrs. Medlock smiled. She was fond of Susan Sowerby.
"She's got a way with her, has Susan," she went on quite volubly.
"I've been thinking all morning of one thing she said yesterday.
She says, 'Once when I was givin' th' children a bit of a preach after they'd
been fightin' I ses to 'em all, "When I was at school my jography told as th' world was
shaped like a orange an' I found out before
I was ten that th' whole orange doesn't belong to nobody.
No one owns more than his bit of a quarter an' there's times it seems like there's not
enow quarters to go round.
But don't you--none o' you--think as you own th' whole orange or you'll find out
you're mistaken, an' you won't find it out without hard knocks."
'What children learns from children,' she says, 'is that there's no sense in grabbin'
at th' whole orange--peel an' all. If you do you'll likely not get even th'
pips, an' them's too bitter to eat.'"
"She's a shrewd woman," said Dr. Craven, putting on his coat.
"Well, she's got a way of saying things," ended Mrs. Medlock, much pleased.
"Sometimes I've said to her, 'Eh! Susan, if you was a different woman an' didn't talk
such broad Yorkshire I've seen the times when I should have said you was clever.'"
That night Colin slept without once awakening and when he opened his eyes in
the morning he lay still and smiled without knowing it--smiled because he felt so
curiously comfortable.
It was actually nice to be awake, and he turned over and stretched his limbs
luxuriously. He felt as if tight strings which had held
him had loosened themselves and let him go.
He did not know that Dr. Craven would have said that his nerves had relaxed and rested
themselves.
Instead of lying and staring at the wall and wishing he had not awakened, his mind
was full of the plans he and Mary had made yesterday, of pictures of the garden and of
Dickon and his wild creatures.
It was so nice to have things to think about.
And he had not been awake more than ten minutes when he heard feet running along
the corridor and Mary was at the door.
The next minute she was in the room and had run across to his bed, bringing with her a
waft of fresh air full of the scent of the morning.
"You've been out!
You've been out! There's that nice smell of leaves!" he
cried.
She had been running and her hair was loose and blown and she was bright with the air
and pink-cheeked, though he could not see it.
"It's so beautiful!" she said, a little breathless with her speed.
"You never saw anything so beautiful! It has come!
I thought it had come that other morning, but it was only coming.
It is here now! It has come, the Spring!
Dickon says so!"
"Has it?" cried Colin, and though he really knew nothing about it he felt his heart
beat. He actually sat up in bed.
"Open the window!" he added, laughing half with joyful excitement and half at his own
fancy. "Perhaps we may hear golden trumpets!"
And though he laughed, Mary was at the window in a moment and in a moment more it
was opened wide and freshness and softness and scents and birds' songs were pouring
through.
"That's fresh air," she said. "Lie on your back and draw in long breaths
of it. That's what Dickon does when he's lying on
the moor.
He says he feels it in his veins and it makes him strong and he feels as if he
could live forever and ever. Breathe it and breathe it."
She was only repeating what Dickon had told her, but she caught Colin's fancy.
"'Forever and ever'!
Does it make him feel like that?" he said, and he did as she told him, drawing in long
deep breaths over and over again until he felt that something quite new and
delightful was happening to him.
Mary was at his bedside again. "Things are crowding up out of the earth,"
she ran on in a hurry.
"And there are flowers uncurling and buds on everything and the green veil has
covered nearly all the gray and the birds are in such a hurry about their nests for
fear they may be too late that some of them
are even fighting for places in the secret garden.
And the rose-bushes look as wick as wick can be, and there are primroses in the
lanes and woods, and the seeds we planted are up, and Dickon has brought the fox and
the crow and the squirrels and a new-born lamb."
And then she paused for breath.
The new-born lamb Dickon had found three days before lying by its dead mother among
the gorse bushes on the moor. It was not the first motherless lamb he had
found and he knew what to do with it.
He had taken it to the cottage wrapped in his jacket and he had let it lie near the
fire and had fed it with warm milk.
It was a soft thing with a darling silly baby face and legs rather long for its
body.
Dickon had carried it over the moor in his arms and its feeding bottle was in his
pocket with a squirrel, and when Mary had sat under a tree with its limp warmness
huddled on her lap she had felt as if she were too full of strange joy to speak.
A lamb--a lamb! A living lamb who lay on your lap like a
baby!
She was describing it with great joy and Colin was listening and drawing in long
breaths of air when the nurse entered. She started a little at the sight of the
open window.
She had sat stifling in the room many a warm day because her patient was sure that
open windows gave people cold. "Are you sure you are not chilly, Master
Colin?" she inquired.
"No," was the answer. "I am breathing long breaths of fresh air.
It makes you strong. I am going to get up to the sofa for
breakfast.
My cousin will have breakfast with me." The nurse went away, concealing a smile, to
give the order for two breakfasts.
She found the servants' hall a more amusing place than the invalid's chamber and just
now everybody wanted to hear the news from upstairs.
There was a great deal of joking about the unpopular young recluse who, as the cook
said, "had found his master, and good for him."
The servants' hall had been very tired of the tantrums, and the butler, who was a man
with a family, had more than once expressed his opinion that the invalid would be all
the better "for a good hiding."
When Colin was on his sofa and the breakfast for two was put upon the table he
made an announcement to the nurse in his most Rajah-like manner.
"A boy, and a fox, and a crow, and two squirrels, and a new-born lamb, are coming
to see me this morning. I want them brought upstairs as soon as
they come," he said.
"You are not to begin playing with the animals in the servants' hall and keep them
there. I want them here."
The nurse gave a slight gasp and tried to conceal it with a cough.
"Yes, sir," she answered. "I'll tell you what you can do," added
Colin, waving his hand.
"You can tell Martha to bring them here. The boy is Martha's brother.
His name is Dickon and he is an animal charmer."
"I hope the animals won't bite, Master Colin," said the nurse.
"I told you he was a charmer," said Colin austerely.
"Charmers' animals never bite."
"There are snake-charmers in India," said Mary.
"And they can put their snakes' heads in their mouths."
"Goodness!" shuddered the nurse.
They ate their breakfast with the morning air pouring in upon them.
Colin's breakfast was a very good one and Mary watched him with serious interest.
"You will begin to get fatter just as I did," she said.
"I never wanted my breakfast when I was in India and now I always want it."
"I wanted mine this morning," said Colin.
"Perhaps it was the fresh air. When do you think Dickon will come?"
He was not long in coming. In about ten minutes Mary held up her hand.
"Listen!" she said.
"Did you hear a caw?" Colin listened and heard it, the oddest
sound in the world to hear inside a house, a hoarse "caw-caw."
"Yes," he answered.
"That's Soot," said Mary. "Listen again.
Do you hear a bleat--a tiny one?" "Oh, yes!" cried Colin, quite flushing.
"That's the new-born lamb," said Mary.
"He's coming." Dickon's moorland boots were thick and
clumsy and though he tried to walk quietly they made a clumping sound as he walked
through the long corridors.
Mary and Colin heard him marching-- marching, until he passed through the
tapestry door on to the soft carpet of Colin's own passage.
"If you please, sir," announced Martha, opening the door, "if you please, sir,
here's Dickon an' his creatures." Dickon came in smiling his nicest wide
smile.
The new-born lamb was in his arms and the little red fox trotted by his side.
Nut sat on his left shoulder and Soot on his right and Shell's head and paws peeped
out of his coat pocket.
Colin slowly sat up and stared and stared-- as he had stared when he first saw Mary;
but this was a stare of wonder and delight.
The truth was that in spite of all he had heard he had not in the least understood
what this boy would be like and that his fox and his crow and his squirrels and his
lamb were so near to him and his
friendliness that they seemed almost to be part of himself.
Colin had never talked to a boy in his life and he was so overwhelmed by his own
pleasure and curiosity that he did not even think of speaking.
But Dickon did not feel the least shy or awkward.
He had not felt embarrassed because the crow had not known his language and had
only stared and had not spoken to him the first time they met.
Creatures were always like that until they found out about you.
He walked over to Colin's sofa and put the new-born lamb quietly on his lap, and
immediately the little creature turned to the warm velvet dressing-gown and began to
nuzzle and nuzzle into its folds and butt
its tight-curled head with soft impatience against his side.
Of course no boy could have helped speaking then.
"What is it doing?" cried Colin.
"What does it want?" "It wants its mother," said Dickon, smiling
more and more. "I brought it to thee a bit hungry because
I knowed tha'd like to see it feed."
He knelt down by the sofa and took a feeding-bottle from his pocket.
"Come on, little 'un," he said, turning the small woolly white head with a gentle brown
hand.
"This is what tha's after. Tha'll get more out o' this than tha' will
out o' silk velvet coats.
There now," and he pushed the rubber tip of the bottle into the nuzzling mouth and the
lamb began to suck it with ravenous ecstasy.
After that there was no wondering what to say.
By the time the lamb fell asleep questions poured forth and Dickon answered them all.
He told them how he had found the lamb just as the sun was rising three mornings ago.
He had been standing on the moor listening to a skylark and watching him swing higher
and higher into the sky until he was only a speck in the heights of blue.
"I'd almost lost him but for his song an' I was wonderin' how a chap could hear it when
it seemed as if he'd get out o' th' world in a minute--an' just then I heard
somethin' else far off among th' gorse bushes.
It was a weak bleatin' an' I knowed it was a new lamb as was hungry an' I knowed it
wouldn't be hungry if it hadn't lost its mother somehow, so I set off searchin'.
Eh! I did have a look for it.
I went in an' out among th' gorse bushes an' round an' round an' I always seemed to
take th' wrong turnin'.
But at last I seed a bit o' white by a rock on top o' th' moor an' I climbed up an'
found th' little 'un half dead wi' cold an' clemmin'."
While he talked, Soot flew solemnly in and out of the open window and cawed remarks
about the scenery while Nut and Shell made excursions into the big trees outside and
ran up and down trunks and explored branches.
Captain curled up near Dickon, who sat on the hearth-rug from preference.
They looked at the pictures in the gardening books and Dickon knew all the
flowers by their country names and knew exactly which ones were already growing in
the secret garden.
"I couldna' say that there name," he said, pointing to one under which was written
"Aquilegia," "but us calls that a columbine, an' that there one it's a
snapdragon and they both grow wild in
hedges, but these is garden ones an' they're bigger an' grander.
There's some big clumps o' columbine in th' garden.
They'll look like a bed o' blue an' white butterflies flutterin' when they're out."
"I'm going to see them," cried Colin. "I am going to see them!"
"Aye, that tha' mun," said Mary quite seriously.
"An' tha' munnot lose no time about it."
>