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chapter ithere is no one left when mary lennox was sent to misselthwaitemanor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking childever seen. it was true, too. she had a little thin face and a littlethin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. her hair was yellow, and her face wasyellow because she had been born in india and had always been ill in one way oranother. her father had held a position under theenglish government and had always been busy
and ill himself, and her mother had been agreat beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. she had not wanted a little girl at all,and when mary was born she handed her over to the care of an ayah, who was made tounderstand that if she wished to please the mem sahib she must keep the child out ofsight as much as possible. so when she was a sickly, fretful, uglylittle baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful,toddling thing she was kept out of the way also. she never remembered seeing familiarlyanything but the dark faces of her ayah and
the other native servants, and as theyalways obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the mem sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by hercrying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a littlepig as ever lived. the young english governess who came toteach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in threemonths, and when other governesses came to try to fill it they always went away in ashorter time than the first one. so if mary had not chosen to really want toknow how to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.
one frightfully hot morning, when she wasabout nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser stillwhen she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her ayah. "why did you come?" she said to the strangewoman. "i will not let you stay.send my ayah to me." the woman looked frightened, but she onlystammered that the ayah could not come and when mary threw herself into a passion andbeat and kicked her, she looked only more frightened and repeated that it was not possible for the ayah to come to missiesahib.
there was something mysterious in the airthat morning. nothing was done in its regular order andseveral of the native servants seemed missing, while those whom mary saw slunk orhurried about with ashy and scared faces. but no one would tell her anything and herayah did not come. she was actually left alone as the morningwent on, and at last she wandered out into the garden and began to play by herselfunder a tree near the veranda. she pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth, allthe time growing more and more angry and muttering to herself the things she would
say and the names she would call saidiewhen she returned. "pig! pig! daughter of pigs!" she said,because to call a native a pig is the worst insult of all. she was grinding her teeth and saying thisover and over again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda with someone. she was with a fair young man and theystood talking together in low strange voices.mary knew the fair young man who looked like a boy. she had heard that he was a very youngofficer who had just come from england.
the child stared at him, but she staredmost at her mother. she always did this when she had a chanceto see her, because the mem sahib--mary used to call her that oftener than anythingelse--was such a tall, slim, pretty person and wore such lovely clothes. her hair was like curly silk and she had adelicate little nose which seemed to be disdaining things, and she had largelaughing eyes. all her clothes were thin and floating, andmary said they were "full of lace." they looked fuller of lace than ever thismorning, but her eyes were not laughing at all.
they were large and scared and liftedimploringly to the fair boy officer's face. "is it so very bad?oh, is it?" mary heard her say. "awfully," the young man answered in atrembling voice. "awfully, mrs. lennox.you ought to have gone to the hills two weeks ago." the mem sahib wrung her hands."oh, i know i ought!" she cried. "i only stayed to go to that silly dinnerparty. what a fool i was!"
at that very moment such a loud sound ofwailing broke out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young man'sarm, and mary stood shivering from head to foot. the wailing grew wilder and wilder."what is it? what is it?"mrs. lennox gasped. "some one has died," answered the boyofficer. "you did not say it had broken out amongyour servants." "i did not know!" the mem sahib cried. "come with me!come with me!" and she turned and ran into
the house. after that, appalling things happened, andthe mysteriousness of the morning was explained to mary. the cholera had broken out in its mostfatal form and people were dying like flies. the ayah had been taken ill in the night,and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts. before the next day three other servantswere dead and others had run away in terror.there was panic on every side, and dying
people in all the bungalows. during the confusion and bewilderment ofthe second day mary hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by everyone. nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her,and strange things happened of which she knew nothing.mary alternately cried and slept through the hours. she only knew that people were ill and thatshe heard mysterious and frightening sounds. once she crept into the dining-room andfound it empty, though a partly finished
meal was on the table and chairs and plateslooked as if they had been hastily pushed back when the diners rose suddenly for somereason. the child ate some fruit and biscuits, andbeing thirsty she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled. it was sweet, and she did not know howstrong it was. very soon it made her intensely drowsy, andshe went back to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries sheheard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet. the wine made her so sleepy that she couldscarcely keep her eyes open and she lay
down on her bed and knew nothing more for along time. many things happened during the hours inwhich she slept so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the sound ofthings being carried in and out of the bungalow. when she awakened she lay and stared at thewall. the house was perfectly still.she had never known it to be so silent before. she heard neither voices nor footsteps, andwondered if everybody had got well of the cholera and all the trouble was over.she wondered also who would take care of
her now her ayah was dead. there would be a new ayah, and perhaps shewould know some new stories. mary had been rather tired of the old ones.she did not cry because her nurse had died. she was not an affectionate child and hadnever cared much for any one. the noise and hurrying about and wailingover the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry because no one seemed toremember that she was alive. everyone was too panic-stricken to think ofa little girl no one was fond of. when people had the cholera it seemed thatthey remembered nothing but themselves. but if everyone had got well again, surelysome one would remember and come to look
for her.but no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed to grow more and more silent. she heard something rustling on the mattingand when she looked down she saw a little snake gliding along and watching her witheyes like jewels. she was not frightened, because he was aharmless little thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry to get out ofthe room. he slipped under the door as she watchedhim. "how queer and quiet it is," she said."it sounds as if there were no one in the bungalow but me and the snake."
almost the next minute she heard footstepsin the compound, and then on the veranda. they were men's footsteps, and the menentered the bungalow and talked in low voices. no one went to meet or speak to them andthey seemed to open doors and look into rooms."what desolation!" she heard one voice say. "that pretty, pretty woman! i suppose the child, too.i heard there was a child, though no one ever saw her." mary was standing in the middle of thenursery when they opened the door a few
minutes later. she looked an ugly, cross little thing andwas frowning because she was beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected. the first man who came in was a largeofficer she had once seen talking to her father. he looked tired and troubled, but when hesaw her he was so startled that he almost jumped back."barney!" he cried out. "there is a child here! a child alone!in a place like this!
mercy on us, who is she!""i am mary lennox," the little girl said, drawing herself up stiffly. she thought the man was very rude to callher father's bungalow "a place like this!" "i fell asleep when everyone had thecholera and i have only just wakened up. why does nobody come?" "it is the child no one ever saw!"exclaimed the man, turning to his companions."she has actually been forgotten!" "why was i forgotten?" mary said, stamping her foot."why does nobody come?"
the young man whose name was barney lookedat her very sadly. mary even thought she saw him wink his eyesas if to wink tears away. "poor little kid!" he said."there is nobody left to come." it was in that strange and sudden way thatmary found out that she had neither father nor mother left; that they had died andbeen carried away in the night, and that the few native servants who had not died also had left the house as quickly as theycould get out of it, none of them even remembering that there was a missie sahib.that was why the place was so quiet. it was true that there was no one in thebungalow but herself and the little
rustling snake. > chapter iimistress mary quite contrary mary had liked to look at her mother from adistance and she had thought her very pretty, but as she knew very little of hershe could scarcely have been expected to love her or to miss her very much when shewas gone. she did not miss her at all, in fact, andas she was a self-absorbed child she gave her entire thought to herself, as she hadalways done. if she had been older she would no doubthave been very anxious at being left alone
in the world, but she was very young, andas she had always been taken care of, she supposed she always would be. what she thought was that she would like toknow if she was going to nice people, who would be polite to her and give her her ownway as her ayah and the other native servants had done. she knew that she was not going to stay atthe english clergyman's house where she was taken at first.she did not want to stay. the english clergyman was poor and he hadfive children nearly all the same age and they wore shabby clothes and were alwaysquarreling and snatching toys from each
other. mary hated their untidy bungalow and was sodisagreeable to them that after the first day or two nobody would play with her.by the second day they had given her a nickname which made her furious. it was basil who thought of it first.basil was a little boy with impudent blue eyes and a turned-up nose, and mary hatedhim. she was playing by herself under a tree,just as she had been playing the day the cholera broke out. she was making heaps of earth and paths fora garden and basil came and stood near to
watch her.presently he got rather interested and suddenly made a suggestion. "why don't you put a heap of stones thereand pretend it is a rockery?" he said. "there in the middle," and he leaned overher to point. "go away!" cried mary. "i don't want boys.go away!" for a moment basil looked angry, and thenhe began to tease. he was always teasing his sisters. he danced round and round her and madefaces and sang and laughed.
"mistress mary, quite contrary,how does your garden grow? with silver bells, and cockle shells,and marigolds all in a row." he sang it until the other children heardand laughed, too; and the crosser mary got, the more they sang "mistress mary, quitecontrary"; and after that as long as she stayed with them they called her "mistress mary quite contrary" when they spoke of herto each other, and often when they spoke to her."you are going to be sent home," basil said to her, "at the end of the week. and we're glad of it.""i am glad of it, too," answered mary.
"where is home?""she doesn't know where home is!" said basil, with seven-year-old scorn. "it's england, of course.our grandmama lives there and our sister mabel was sent to her last year.you are not going to your grandmama. you have none. you are going to your uncle.his name is mr. archibald craven." "i don't know anything about him," snappedmary. "i know you don't," basil answered. "you don't know anything.girls never do.
i heard father and mother talking abouthim. he lives in a great, big, desolate oldhouse in the country and no one goes near him.he's so cross he won't let them, and they wouldn't come if he would let them. he's a hunchback, and he's horrid.""i don't believe you," said mary; and she turned her back and stuck her fingers inher ears, because she would not listen any more. but she thought over it a great dealafterward; and when mrs. crawford told her that night that she was going to sail awayto england in a few days and go to her
uncle, mr. archibald craven, who lived at misselthwaite manor, she looked so stonyand stubbornly uninterested that they did not know what to think about her. they tried to be kind to her, but she onlyturned her face away when mrs. crawford attempted to kiss her, and held herselfstiffly when mr. crawford patted her shoulder. "she is such a plain child," mrs. crawfordsaid pityingly, afterward. "and her mother was such a pretty creature. she had a very pretty manner, too, and maryhas the most unattractive ways i ever saw
in a child. the children call her 'mistress mary quitecontrary,' and though it's naughty of them, one can't help understanding it." "perhaps if her mother had carried herpretty face and her pretty manners oftener into the nursery mary might have learnedsome pretty ways too. it is very sad, now the poor beautifulthing is gone, to remember that many people never even knew that she had a child atall." "i believe she scarcely ever looked ather," sighed mrs. crawford. "when her ayah was dead there was no one togive a thought to the little thing.
think of the servants running away andleaving her all alone in that deserted colonel mcgrew said he nearly jumped out ofhis skin when he opened the door and found her standing by herself in the middle ofthe room." mary made the long voyage to england underthe care of an officer's wife, who was taking her children to leave them in aboarding-school. she was very much absorbed in her ownlittle boy and girl, and was rather glad to hand the child over to the woman mr.archibald craven sent to meet her, in london. the woman was his housekeeper atmisselthwaite manor, and her name was mrs.
medlock.she was a stout woman, with very red cheeks and sharp black eyes. she wore a very purple dress, a black silkmantle with jet fringe on it and a black bonnet with purple velvet flowers whichstuck up and trembled when she moved her head. mary did not like her at all, but as shevery seldom liked people there was nothing remarkable in that; besides which it wasvery evident mrs. medlock did not think much of her. "my word! she's a plain little piece ofgoods!" she said.
"and we'd heard that her mother was abeauty. she hasn't handed much of it down, has she,ma'am?" "perhaps she will improve as she growsolder," the officer's wife said good- naturedly. "if she were not so sallow and had a nicerexpression, her features are rather good. children alter so much.""she'll have to alter a good deal," answered mrs. medlock. "and, there's nothing likely to improvechildren at misselthwaite--if you ask me!" they thought mary was not listening becauseshe was standing a little apart from them
at the window of the private hotel they hadgone to. she was watching the passing buses and cabsand people, but she heard quite well and was made very curious about her uncle andthe place he lived in. what sort of a place was it, and what wouldhe be like? what was a hunchback?she had never seen one. perhaps there were none in india. since she had been living in other people'shouses and had had no ayah, she had begun to feel lonely and to think queer thoughtswhich were new to her. she had begun to wonder why she had neverseemed to belong to anyone even when her
father and mother had been alive. other children seemed to belong to theirfathers and mothers, but she had never seemed to really be anyone's little girl.she had had servants, and food and clothes, but no one had taken any notice of her. she did not know that this was because shewas a disagreeable child; but then, of course, she did not know she wasdisagreeable. she often thought that other people were,but she did not know that she was so herself. she thought mrs. medlock the mostdisagreeable person she had ever seen, with
her common, highly colored face and hercommon fine bonnet. when the next day they set out on theirjourney to yorkshire, she walked through the station to the railway carriage withher head up and trying to keep as far away from her as she could, because she did notwant to seem to belong to her. it would have made her angry to thinkpeople imagined she was her little girl. but mrs. medlock was not in the leastdisturbed by her and her thoughts. she was the kind of woman who would "standno nonsense from young ones." at least, that is what she would have saidif she had been asked. she had not wanted to go to london justwhen her sister maria's daughter was going
to be married, but she had a comfortable,well paid place as housekeeper at misselthwaite manor and the only way in which she could keep it was to do at oncewhat mr. archibald craven told her to do. she never dared even to ask a question. "captain lennox and his wife died of thecholera," mr. craven had said in his short, cold way."captain lennox was my wife's brother and i am their daughter's guardian. the child is to be brought here.you must go to london and bring her yourself."so she packed her small trunk and made the
journey. mary sat in her corner of the railwaycarriage and looked plain and fretful. she had nothing to read or to look at, andshe had folded her thin little black-gloved hands in her lap. her black dress made her look yellower thanever, and her limp light hair straggled from under her black crepe hat."a more marred-looking young one i never saw in my life," mrs. medlock thought. (marred is a yorkshire word and meansspoiled and pettish.) she had never seen a child who sat so stillwithout doing anything; and at last she got
tired of watching her and began to talk ina brisk, hard voice. "i suppose i may as well tell you somethingabout where you are going to," she said. "do you know anything about your uncle?""no," said mary. "never heard your father and mother talkabout him?" "no," said mary frowning. she frowned because she remembered that herfather and mother had never talked to her about anything in particular.certainly they had never told her things. "humph," muttered mrs. medlock, staring ather queer, unresponsive little face. she did not say any more for a few momentsand then she began again.
"i suppose you might as well be toldsomething--to prepare you. you are going to a queer place." mary said nothing at all, and mrs. medlocklooked rather discomfited by her apparent indifference, but, after taking a breath,she went on. "not but that it's a grand big place in agloomy way, and mr. craven's proud of it in his way--and that's gloomy enough, too. the house is six hundred years old and it'son the edge of the moor, and there's near a hundred rooms in it, though most of them'sshut up and locked. and there's pictures and fine old furnitureand things that's been there for ages, and
there's a big park round it and gardens andtrees with branches trailing to the ground- -some of them." she paused and took another breath."but there's nothing else," she ended suddenly.mary had begun to listen in spite of it all sounded so unlike india, andanything new rather attracted her. but she did not intend to look as if shewere interested. that was one of her unhappy, disagreeableways. so she sat still."well," said mrs. medlock. "what do you think of it?"
"nothing," she answered."i know nothing about such places." that made mrs. medlock laugh a short sortof laugh. "eh!" she said, "but you are like an oldwoman. don't you care?""it doesn't matter" said mary, "whether i care or not." "you are right enough there," said mrs.medlock. "it doesn't. what you're to be kept at misselthwaitemanor for i don't know, unless because it's the easiest way.he's not going to trouble himself about
you, that's sure and certain. he never troubles himself about no one."she stopped herself as if she had just remembered something in time."he's got a crooked back," she said. "that set him wrong. he was a sour young man and got no good ofall his money and big place till he was married."mary's eyes turned toward her in spite of her intention not to seem to care. she had never thought of the hunchback'sbeing married and she was a trifle surprised.
mrs. medlock saw this, and as she was atalkative woman she continued with more interest.this was one way of passing some of the time, at any rate. "she was a sweet, pretty thing and he'dhave walked the world over to get her a blade o' grass she wanted. nobody thought she'd marry him, but shedid, and people said she married him for his money.but she didn't--she didn't," positively. "when she died--" mary gave a little involuntary jump."oh! did she die!" she exclaimed, quite
without meaning to. she had just remembered a french fairystory she had once read called "riquet a la houppe." it had been about a poor hunchback and abeautiful princess and it had made her suddenly sorry for mr. archibald craven."yes, she died," mrs. medlock answered. "and it made him queerer than ever. he cares about nobody.he won't see people. most of the time he goes away, and when heis at misselthwaite he shuts himself up in the west wing and won't let any one butpitcher see him.
pitcher's an old fellow, but he took careof him when he was a child and he knows his ways."it sounded like something in a book and it did not make mary feel cheerful. a house with a hundred rooms, nearly allshut up and with their doors locked--a house on the edge of a moor--whatsoever amoor was--sounded dreary. a man with a crooked back who shut himselfup also! she stared out of the window with her lipspinched together, and it seemed quite natural that the rain should have begun topour down in gray slanting lines and splash and stream down the window-panes.
if the pretty wife had been alive she mighthave made things cheerful by being something like her own mother and byrunning in and out and going to parties as she had done in frocks "full of lace." but she was not there any more."you needn't expect to see him, because ten to one you won't," said mrs. medlock."and you mustn't expect that there will be people to talk to you. you'll have to play about and look afteryourself. you'll be told what rooms you can go intoand what rooms you're to keep out of. there's gardens enough.
but when you're in the house don't gowandering and poking about. mr. craven won't have it." "i shall not want to go poking about," saidsour little mary and just as suddenly as she had begun to be rather sorry for mr.archibald craven she began to cease to be sorry and to think he was unpleasant enoughto deserve all that had happened to him. and she turned her face toward thestreaming panes of the window of the railway carriage and gazed out at the grayrain-storm which looked as if it would go on forever and ever. she watched it so long and steadily thatthe grayness grew heavier and heavier
before her eyes and she fell asleep. chapter iiiacross the moor she slept a long time, and when sheawakened mrs. medlock had bought a lunchbasket at one of the stations and theyhad some chicken and cold beef and bread and butter and some hot tea. the rain seemed to be streaming down moreheavily than ever and everybody in the station wore wet and glisteningwaterproofs. the guard lighted the lamps in thecarriage, and mrs. medlock cheered up very much over her tea and chicken and beef.
she ate a great deal and afterward fellasleep herself, and mary sat and stared at her and watched her fine bonnet slip on oneside until she herself fell asleep once more in the corner of the carriage, lulled by the splashing of the rain against thewindows. it was quite dark when she awakened again.the train had stopped at a station and mrs. medlock was shaking her. "you have had a sleep!" she said."it's time to open your eyes! we're at thwaite station and we've got along drive before us." mary stood up and tried to keep her eyesopen while mrs. medlock collected her
parcels. the little girl did not offer to help her,because in india native servants always picked up or carried things and it seemedquite proper that other people should wait on one. the station was a small one and nobody butthemselves seemed to be getting out of the train. the station-master spoke to mrs. medlock ina rough, good-natured way, pronouncing his words in a queer broad fashion which maryfound out afterward was yorkshire. "i see tha's got back," he said.
"an' tha's browt th' young 'un with thee.""aye, that's her," answered mrs. medlock, speaking with a yorkshire accent herselfand jerking her head over her shoulder toward mary. "how's thy missus?""well enow. th' carriage is waitin' outside for thee."a brougham stood on the road before the little outside platform. mary saw that it was a smart carriage andthat it was a smart footman who helped her in. his long waterproof coat and the waterproofcovering of his hat were shining and
dripping with rain as everything was, theburly station-master included. when he shut the door, mounted the box withthe coachman, and they drove off, the little girl found herself seated in acomfortably cushioned corner, but she was not inclined to go to sleep again. she sat and looked out of the window,curious to see something of the road over which she was being driven to the queerplace mrs. medlock had spoken of. she was not at all a timid child and shewas not exactly frightened, but she felt that there was no knowing what might happenin a house with a hundred rooms nearly all shut up--a house standing on the edge of amoor.
"what is a moor?" she said suddenly to mrs.medlock. "look out of the window in about tenminutes and you'll see," the woman answered."we've got to drive five miles across missel moor before we get to the manor. you won't see much because it's a darknight, but you can see something." mary asked no more questions but waited inthe darkness of her corner, keeping her eyes on the window. the carriage lamps cast rays of light alittle distance ahead of them and she caught glimpses of the things they passed.
after they had left the station they haddriven through a tiny village and she had seen whitewashed cottages and the lights ofa public house. then they had passed a church and avicarage and a little shop-window or so in a cottage with toys and sweets and oddthings set out for sale. then they were on the highroad and she sawhedges and trees. after that there seemed nothing differentfor a long time--or at least it seemed a long time to her. at last the horses began to go more slowly,as if they were climbing up-hill, and presently there seemed to be no more hedgesand no more trees.
she could see nothing, in fact, but a densedarkness on either side. she leaned forward and pressed her faceagainst the window just as the carriage gave a big jolt. "eh! we're on the moor now sure enough,"said mrs. medlock. the carriage lamps shed a yellow light on arough-looking road which seemed to be cut through bushes and low-growing things whichended in the great expanse of dark apparently spread out before and aroundthem. a wind was rising and making a singular,wild, low, rushing sound. "it's--it's not the sea, is it?" said mary,looking round at her companion.
"no, not it," answered mrs. medlock. "nor it isn't fields nor mountains, it'sjust miles and miles and miles of wild land that nothing grows on but heather and gorseand broom, and nothing lives on but wild ponies and sheep." "i feel as if it might be the sea, if therewere water on it," said mary. "it sounds like the sea just now.""that's the wind blowing through the bushes," mrs. medlock said. "it's a wild, dreary enough place to mymind, though there's plenty that likes it-- particularly when the heather's in bloom."
on and on they drove through the darkness,and though the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made strangesounds. the road went up and down, and severaltimes the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath which water rushed very fastwith a great deal of noise. mary felt as if the drive would never cometo an end and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black ocean through whichshe was passing on a strip of dry land. "i don't like it," she said to herself. "i don't like it," and she pinched her thinlips more tightly together. the horses were climbing up a hilly pieceof road when she first caught sight of a
light. mrs. medlock saw it as soon as she did anddrew a long sigh of relief. "eh, i am glad to see that bit o' lighttwinkling," she exclaimed. "it's the light in the lodge window. we shall get a good cup of tea after a bit,at all events." it was "after a bit," as she said, for whenthe carriage passed through the park gates there was still two miles of avenue todrive through and the trees (which nearly met overhead) made it seem as if they weredriving through a long dark vault. they drove out of the vault into a clearspace and stopped before an immensely long
but low-built house which seemed to rambleround a stone court. at first mary thought that there were nolights at all in the windows, but as she got out of the carriage she saw that oneroom in a corner upstairs showed a dull glow. the entrance door was a huge one made ofmassive, curiously shaped panels of oak studded with big iron nails and bound withgreat iron bars. it opened into an enormous hall, which wasso dimly lighted that the faces in the portraits on the walls and the figures inthe suits of armor made mary feel that she did not want to look at them.
as she stood on the stone floor she lookeda very small, odd little black figure, and she felt as small and lost and odd as shelooked. a neat, thin old man stood near themanservant who opened the door for them. "you are to take her to her room," he saidin a husky voice. "he doesn't want to see her. he's going to london in the morning.""very well, mr. pitcher," mrs. medlock answered."so long as i know what's expected of me, i can manage." "what's expected of you, mrs. medlock," mr.pitcher said, "is that you make sure that
he's not disturbed and that he doesn't seewhat he doesn't want to see." and then mary lennox was led up a broadstaircase and down a long corridor and up a short flight of steps and through anothercorridor and another, until a door opened in a wall and she found herself in a roomwith a fire in it and a supper on a table. mrs. medlock said unceremoniously:"well, here you are! this room and the next are where you'lllive--and you must keep to them. don't you forget that!" it was in this way mistress mary arrived atmisselthwaite manor and she had perhaps never felt quite so contrary in all herlife.
chapter ivmartha when she opened her eyes in the morning itwas because a young housemaid had come into her room to light the fire and was kneelingon the hearth-rug raking out the cinders noisily. mary lay and watched her for a few momentsand then began to look about the room. she had never seen a room at all like itand thought it curious and gloomy. the walls were covered with tapestry with aforest scene embroidered on it. there were fantastically dressed peopleunder the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle.
there were hunters and horses and dogs andladies. mary felt as if she were in the forest withthem. out of a deep window she could see a greatclimbing stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look ratherlike an endless, dull, purplish sea. "what is that?" she said, pointing out ofthe window. martha, the young housemaid, who had justrisen to her feet, looked and pointed also. "that there?" she said. "yes.""that's th' moor," with a good-natured grin."does tha' like it?"
"no," answered mary. "i hate it.""that's because tha'rt not used to it," martha said, going back to her hearth."tha' thinks it's too big an' bare now. but tha' will like it." "do you?" inquired mary."aye, that i do," answered martha, cheerfully polishing away at the grate."i just love it. it's none bare. it's covered wi' growin' things as smellssweet. it's fair lovely in spring an' summer whenth' gorse an' broom an' heather's in
flower. it smells o' honey an' there's such a loto' fresh air--an' th' sky looks so high an' th' bees an' skylarks makes such a nicenoise hummin' an' singin'. eh! i wouldn't live away from th' moor foranythin'." mary listened to her with a grave, puzzledexpression. the native servants she had been used to inindia were not in the least like this. they were obsequious and servile and didnot presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals. they made salaams and called them"protector of the poor" and names of that
sort.indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked. it was not the custom to say "please" and"thank you" and mary had always slapped her ayah in the face when she was angry.she wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. she was a round, rosy, good-natured-lookingcreature, but she had a sturdy way which made mistress mary wonder if she might noteven slap back--if the person who slapped her was only a little girl. "you are a strange servant," she said fromher pillows, rather haughtily.
martha sat up on her heels, with herblacking-brush in her hand, and laughed, without seeming the least out of temper. "eh! i know that," she said."if there was a grand missus at misselthwaite i should never have been evenone of th' under house-maids. i might have been let to be scullerymaidbut i'd never have been let upstairs. i'm too common an' i talk too muchyorkshire. but this is a funny house for all it's sogrand. seems like there's neither master normistress except mr. pitcher an' mrs. medlock.
mr. craven, he won't be troubled aboutanythin' when he's here, an' he's nearly always away.mrs. medlock gave me th' place out o' kindness. she told me she could never have done it ifmisselthwaite had been like other big houses.""are you going to be my servant?" mary asked, still in her imperious littleindian way. martha began to rub her grate again."i'm mrs. medlock's servant," she said stoutly. "an' she's mr. craven's--but i'm to do thehousemaid's work up here an' wait on you a
bit.but you won't need much waitin' on." "who is going to dress me?" demanded mary. martha sat up on her heels again andstared. she spoke in broad yorkshire in heramazement. "canna' tha' dress thysen!" she said. "what do you mean?i don't understand your language," said mary."eh! i forgot," martha said. "mrs. medlock told me i'd have to becareful or you wouldn't know what i was sayin'.i mean can't you put on your own clothes?"
"no," answered mary, quite indignantly. "i never did in my life.my ayah dressed me, of course." "well," said martha, evidently not in theleast aware that she was impudent, "it's time tha' should learn. tha' cannot begin younger.it'll do thee good to wait on thysen a bit. my mother always said she couldn't see whygrand people's children didn't turn out fair fools--what with nurses an' bein'washed an' dressed an' took out to walk as if they was puppies!" "it is different in india," said mistressmary disdainfully.
she could scarcely stand this.but martha was not at all crushed. "eh! i can see it's different," sheanswered almost sympathetically. "i dare say it's because there's such a loto' blacks there instead o' respectable white people. when i heard you was comin' from india ithought you was a black too." mary sat up in bed furious."what!" she said. "what! you thought i was a native.you--you daughter of a pig!" martha stared and looked hot."who are you callin' names?" she said.
"you needn't be so vexed. that's not th' way for a young lady totalk. i've nothin' against th' blacks.when you read about 'em in tracts they're always very religious. you always read as a black's a man an' abrother. i've never seen a black an' i was fairpleased to think i was goin' to see one close. when i come in to light your fire thismornin' i crep' up to your bed an' pulled th' cover back careful to look at you.
an' there you was," disappointedly, "nomore black than me--for all you're so yeller."mary did not even try to control her rage and humiliation. "you thought i was a native!you dared! you don't know anything about natives!they are not people--they're servants who must salaam to you. you know nothing about india.you know nothing about anything!" she was in such a rage and felt so helplessbefore the girl's simple stare, and somehow she suddenly felt so horribly lonely andfar away from everything she understood and
which understood her, that she threw herself face downward on the pillows andburst into passionate sobbing. she sobbed so unrestrainedly that good-natured yorkshire martha was a little frightened and quite sorry for her. she went to the bed and bent over her."eh! you mustn't cry like that there!" she begged."you mustn't for sure. i didn't know you'd be vexed. i don't know anythin' about anythin'--justlike you said. i beg your pardon, miss.do stop cryin'."
there was something comforting and reallyfriendly in her queer yorkshire speech and sturdy way which had a good effect on mary.she gradually ceased crying and became quiet. martha looked relieved."it's time for thee to get up now," she said. "mrs. medlock said i was to carry tha'breakfast an' tea an' dinner into th' room next to this.it's been made into a nursery for thee. i'll help thee on with thy clothes iftha'll get out o' bed. if th' buttons are at th' back tha' cannotbutton them up tha'self."
when mary at last decided to get up, theclothes martha took from the wardrobe were not the ones she had worn when she arrivedthe night before with mrs. medlock. "those are not mine," she said. "mine are black."she looked the thick white wool coat and dress over, and added with cool approval:"those are nicer than mine." "these are th' ones tha' must put on,"martha answered. "mr. craven ordered mrs. medlock to get 'emin london. he said 'i won't have a child dressed inblack wanderin' about like a lost soul,' he said.'it'd make the place sadder than it is.
put color on her.' mother she said she knew what he meant.mother always knows what a body means. she doesn't hold with black hersel'.""i hate black things," said mary. the dressing process was one which taughtthem both something. martha had "buttoned up" her little sistersand brothers but she had never seen a child who stood still and waited for anotherperson to do things for her as if she had neither hands nor feet of her own. "why doesn't tha' put on tha' own shoes?"she said when mary quietly held out her foot."my ayah did it," answered mary, staring.
"it was the custom." she said that very often--"it was thecustom." the native servants were always saying it. if one told them to do a thing theirancestors had not done for a thousand years they gazed at one mildly and said, "it isnot the custom" and one knew that was the end of the matter. it had not been the custom that mistressmary should do anything but stand and allow herself to be dressed like a doll, butbefore she was ready for breakfast she began to suspect that her life at
misselthwaite manor would end by teachingher a number of things quite new to her-- things such as putting on her own shoes andstockings, and picking up things she let fall. if martha had been a well-trained fineyoung lady's maid she would have been more subservient and respectful and would haveknown that it was her business to brush hair, and button boots, and pick things upand lay them away. she was, however, only an untrainedyorkshire rustic who had been brought up in a moorland cottage with a swarm of littlebrothers and sisters who had never dreamed of doing anything but waiting on themselves
and on the younger ones who were eitherbabies in arms or just learning to totter about and tumble over things. if mary lennox had been a child who wasready to be amused she would perhaps have laughed at martha's readiness to talk, butmary only listened to her coldly and wondered at her freedom of manner. at first she was not at all interested, butgradually, as the girl rattled on in her good-tempered, homely way, mary began tonotice what she was saying. "eh! you should see 'em all," she said. "there's twelve of us an' my father onlygets sixteen shilling a week.
i can tell you my mother's put to it to getporridge for 'em all. they tumble about on th' moor an' playthere all day an' mother says th' air of th' moor fattens 'em.she says she believes they eat th' grass same as th' wild ponies do. our dickon, he's twelve years old and he'sgot a young pony he calls his own." "where did he get it?" asked mary. "he found it on th' moor with its motherwhen it was a little one an' he began to make friends with it an' give it bits o'bread an' pluck young grass for it. and it got to like him so it follows himabout an' it lets him get on its back.
dickon's a kind lad an' animals likes him." mary had never possessed an animal pet ofher own and had always thought she should like one. so she began to feel a slight interest indickon, and as she had never before been interested in any one but herself, it wasthe dawning of a healthy sentiment. when she went into the room which had beenmade into a nursery for her, she found that it was rather like the one she had sleptin. it was not a child's room, but a grown-upperson's room, with gloomy old pictures on the walls and heavy old oak chairs.a table in the center was set with a good
substantial breakfast. but she had always had a very smallappetite, and she looked with something more than indifference at the first platemartha set before her. "i don't want it," she said. "tha' doesn't want thy porridge!"martha exclaimed incredulously. "no.""tha' doesn't know how good it is. put a bit o' treacle on it or a bit o'sugar." "i don't want it," repeated mary."eh!" said martha. "i can't abide to see good victuals go towaste.
if our children was at this table they'dclean it bare in five minutes." "why?" said mary coldly. "why!" echoed martha."because they scarce ever had their stomachs full in their lives.they're as hungry as young hawks an' foxes." "i don't know what it is to be hungry,"said mary, with the indifference of ignorance.martha looked indignant. "well, it would do thee good to try it. i can see that plain enough," she saidoutspokenly.
"i've no patience with folk as sits an'just stares at good bread an' meat. my word! don't i wish dickon and phil an'jane an' th' rest of 'em had what's here under their pinafores.""why don't you take it to them?" suggested mary. "it's not mine," answered martha stoutly."an' this isn't my day out. i get my day out once a month same as th'rest. then i go home an' clean up for mother an'give her a day's rest." mary drank some tea and ate a little toastand some marmalade. "you wrap up warm an' run out an' playyou," said martha.
"it'll do you good and give you somestomach for your meat." mary went to the window. there were gardens and paths and big trees,but everything looked dull and wintry. "out? why should i go out on a day likethis?" "well, if tha' doesn't go out tha'lt haveto stay in, an' what has tha' got to do?" mary glanced about her.there was nothing to do. when mrs. medlock had prepared the nurseryshe had not thought of amusement. perhaps it would be better to go and seewhat the gardens were like. "who will go with me?" she inquired.
martha stared."you'll go by yourself," she answered. "you'll have to learn to play like otherchildren does when they haven't got sisters and brothers. our dickon goes off on th' moor by himselfan' plays for hours. that's how he made friends with th' pony. he's got sheep on th' moor that knows him,an' birds as comes an' eats out of his hand.however little there is to eat, he always saves a bit o' his bread to coax his pets." it was really this mention of dickon whichmade mary decide to go out, though she was
not aware of it.there would be, birds outside though there would not be ponies or sheep. they would be different from the birds inindia and it might amuse her to look at them. martha found her coat and hat for her and apair of stout little boots and she showed her her way downstairs. "if tha' goes round that way tha'll come toth' gardens," she said, pointing to a gate in a wall of shrubbery."there's lots o' flowers in summer-time, but there's nothin' bloomin' now."
she seemed to hesitate a second before sheadded, "one of th' gardens is locked up. no one has been in it for ten years.""why?" asked mary in spite of herself. here was another locked door added to thehundred in the strange house. "mr. craven had it shut when his wife diedso sudden. he won't let no one go inside. it was her garden.he locked th' door an' dug a hole and buried th' key.there's mrs. medlock's bell ringing--i must run." after she was gone mary turned down thewalk which led to the door in the
shrubbery. she could not help thinking about thegarden which no one had been into for ten years. she wondered what it would look like andwhether there were any flowers still alive in it. when she had passed through the shrubberygate she found herself in great gardens, with wide lawns and winding walks withclipped borders. there were trees, and flower-beds, andevergreens clipped into strange shapes, and a large pool with an old gray fountain inits midst.
but the flower-beds were bare and wintryand the fountain was not playing. this was not the garden which was shut up.how could a garden be shut up? you could always walk into a garden. she was just thinking this when she sawthat, at the end of the path she was following, there seemed to be a long wall,with ivy growing over it. she was not familiar enough with england toknow that she was coming upon the kitchen- gardens where the vegetables and fruit weregrowing. she went toward the wall and found thatthere was a green door in the ivy, and that it stood open.this was not the closed garden, evidently,
and she could go into it. she went through the door and found that itwas a garden with walls all round it and that it was only one of several walledgardens which seemed to open into one another. she saw another open green door, revealingbushes and pathways between beds containing winter vegetables. fruit-trees were trained flat against thewall, and over some of the beds there were glass frames.the place was bare and ugly enough, mary thought, as she stood and stared about her.
it might be nicer in summer when thingswere green, but there was nothing pretty about it now. presently an old man with a spade over hisshoulder walked through the door leading from the second garden.he looked startled when he saw mary, and then touched his cap. he had a surly old face, and did not seemat all pleased to see her--but then she was displeased with his garden and wore her"quite contrary" expression, and certainly did not seem at all pleased to see him. "what is this place?" she asked."one o' th' kitchen-gardens," he answered.
"what is that?" said mary, pointing throughthe other green door. "another of 'em," shortly. "there's another on t'other side o' th'wall an' there's th' orchard t'other side o' that.""can i go in them?" asked mary. "if tha' likes. but there's nowt to see."mary made no response. she went down the path and through thesecond green door. there, she found more walls and wintervegetables and glass frames, but in the second wall there was another green doorand it was not open.
perhaps it led into the garden which no onehad seen for ten years. as she was not at all a timid child andalways did what she wanted to do, mary went to the green door and turned the handle. she hoped the door would not open becauseshe wanted to be sure she had found the mysterious garden--but it did open quiteeasily and she walked through it and found herself in an orchard. there were walls all round it also andtrees trained against them, and there were bare fruit-trees growing in the winter-browned grass--but there was no green door to be seen anywhere.
mary looked for it, and yet when she hadentered the upper end of the garden she had noticed that the wall did not seem to endwith the orchard but to extend beyond it as if it enclosed a place at the other side. she could see the tops of trees above thewall, and when she stood still she saw a bird with a bright red breast sitting onthe topmost branch of one of them, and suddenly he burst into his winter song-- almost as if he had caught sight of her andwas calling to her. she stopped and listened to him and somehowhis cheerful, friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling--even a disagreeablelittle girl may be lonely, and the big
closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens had made this one feel as if therewas no one left in the world but herself. if she had been an affectionate child, whohad been used to being loved, she would have broken her heart, but even though shewas "mistress mary quite contrary" she was desolate, and the bright-breasted little bird brought a look into her sour littleface which was almost a smile. she listened to him until he flew away. he was not like an indian bird and sheliked him and wondered if she should ever see him again.perhaps he lived in the mysterious garden
and knew all about it. perhaps it was because she had nothingwhatever to do that she thought so much of the deserted garden.she was curious about it and wanted to see what it was like. why had mr. archibald craven buried thekey? if he had liked his wife so much why did hehate her garden? she wondered if she should ever see him,but she knew that if she did she should not like him, and he would not like her, andthat she should only stand and stare at him and say nothing, though she should be
wanting dreadfully to ask him why he haddone such a queer thing. "people never like me and i never likepeople," she thought. "and i never can talk as the crawfordchildren could. they were always talking and laughing andmaking noises." she thought of the robin and of the way heseemed to sing his song at her, and as she remembered the tree-top he perched on shestopped rather suddenly on the path. "i believe that tree was in the secretgarden--i feel sure it was," she said. "there was a wall round the place and therewas no door." she walked back into the first kitchen-garden she had entered and found the old
man digging there.she went and stood beside him and watched him a few moments in her cold little way. he took no notice of her and so at last shespoke to him. "i have been into the other gardens," shesaid. "there was nothin' to prevent thee," heanswered crustily. "i went into the orchard.""there was no dog at th' door to bite thee," he answered. "there was no door there into the othergarden," said mary. "what garden?" he said in a rough voice,stopping his digging for a moment.
"the one on the other side of the wall,"answered mistress mary. "there are trees there--i saw the tops ofthem. a bird with a red breast was sitting on oneof them and he sang." to her surprise the surly old weather-beaten face actually changed its a slow smile spread over it and thegardener looked quite different. it made her think that it was curious howmuch nicer a person looked when he smiled. she had not thought of it before. he turned about to the orchard side of hisgarden and began to whistle--a low soft whistle.she could not understand how such a surly
man could make such a coaxing sound. almost the next moment a wonderful thinghappened. she heard a soft little rushing flightthrough the air--and it was the bird with the red breast flying to them, and heactually alighted on the big clod of earth quite near to the gardener's foot. "here he is," chuckled the old man, andthen he spoke to the bird as if he were speaking to a child."where has tha' been, tha' cheeky little beggar?" he said. "i've not seen thee before today.has tha, begun tha' courtin' this early in
th' season?tha'rt too forrad." the bird put his tiny head on one side andlooked up at him with his soft bright eye which was like a black dewdrop.he seemed quite familiar and not the least afraid. he hopped about and pecked the earthbriskly, looking for seeds and insects. it actually gave mary a queer feeling inher heart, because he was so pretty and cheerful and seemed so like a person. he had a tiny plump body and a delicatebeak, and slender delicate legs. "will he always come when you call him?"she asked almost in a whisper.
"aye, that he will. i've knowed him ever since he was afledgling. he come out of th' nest in th' other gardenan' when first he flew over th' wall he was too weak to fly back for a few days an' wegot friendly. when he went over th' wall again th' restof th' brood was gone an' he was lonely an' he come back to me.""what kind of a bird is he?" mary asked. "doesn't tha' know?he's a robin redbreast an' they're th' friendliest, curiousest birds alive.they're almost as friendly as dogs--if you
know how to get on with 'em. watch him peckin' about there an' lookin'round at us now an' again. he knows we're talkin' about him."it was the queerest thing in the world to see the old fellow. he looked at the plump little scarlet-waistcoated bird as if he were both proud and fond of him."he's a conceited one," he chuckled. "he likes to hear folk talk about him. an' curious--bless me, there never was hislike for curiosity an' meddlin'. he's always comin' to see what i'mplantin'.
he knows all th' things mester craven nevertroubles hissel' to find out. he's th' head gardener, he is." the robin hopped about busily pecking thesoil and now and then stopped and looked at them a little.mary thought his black dewdrop eyes gazed at her with great curiosity. it really seemed as if he were finding outall about her. the queer feeling in her heart increased."where did the rest of the brood fly to?" she asked. "there's no knowin'.the old ones turn 'em out o' their nest an'
make 'em fly an' they're scattered beforeyou know it. this one was a knowin' one an' he knew hewas lonely." mistress mary went a step nearer to therobin and looked at him very hard. "i'm lonely," she said. she had not known before that this was oneof the things which made her feel sour and cross.she seemed to find it out when the robin looked at her and she looked at the robin. the old gardener pushed his cap back on hisbald head and stared at her a minute. "art tha' th' little wench from india?" heasked.
mary nodded. "then no wonder tha'rt lonely.tha'lt be lonlier before tha's done," he he began to dig again, driving his spadedeep into the rich black garden soil while the robin hopped about very busilyemployed. "what is your name?" mary inquired.he stood up to answer her. "ben weatherstaff," he answered, and thenhe added with a surly chuckle, "i'm lonely mysel' except when he's with me," and hejerked his thumb toward the robin. "he's th' only friend i've got."
"i have no friends at all," said mary."i never had. my ayah didn't like me and i never playedwith any one." it is a yorkshire habit to say what youthink with blunt frankness, and old ben weatherstaff was a yorkshire moor man."tha' an' me are a good bit alike," he "we was wove out of th' same cloth.we're neither of us good lookin' an' we're both of us as sour as we look.we've got the same nasty tempers, both of us, i'll warrant." this was plain speaking, and mary lennoxhad never heard the truth about herself in her life.native servants always salaamed and
submitted to you, whatever you did. she had never thought much about her looks,but she wondered if she was as unattractive as ben weatherstaff and she also wonderedif she looked as sour as he had looked before the robin came. she actually began to wonder also if shewas "nasty tempered." she felt uncomfortable.suddenly a clear rippling little sound broke out near her and she turned round. she was standing a few feet from a youngapple-tree and the robin had flown on to one of its branches and had burst out intoa scrap of a song.
ben weatherstaff laughed outright. "what did he do that for?" asked mary."he's made up his mind to make friends with thee," replied ben."dang me if he hasn't took a fancy to thee." "to me?" said mary, and she moved towardthe little tree softly and looked up. "would you make friends with me?" she saidto the robin just as if she was speaking to a person. "would you?" and she did not say it either in her hardlittle voice or in her imperious indian
voice, but in a tone so soft and eager andcoaxing that ben weatherstaff was as surprised as she had been when she heardhim whistle. "why," he cried out, "tha' said that asnice an' human as if tha' was a real child instead of a sharp old woman. tha' said it almost like dickon talks tohis wild things on th' moor." "do you know dickon?"mary asked, turning round rather in a hurry. "everybody knows him.dickon's wanderin' about everywhere. th' very blackberries an' heather-bellsknows him.
i warrant th' foxes shows him where theircubs lies an' th' skylarks doesn't hide their nests from him."mary would have liked to ask some more questions. she was almost as curious about dickon asshe was about the deserted garden. but just that moment the robin, who hadended his song, gave a little shake of his wings, spread them and flew away. he had made his visit and had other thingsto do. "he has flown over the wall!"mary cried out, watching him. "he has flown into the orchard--he hasflown across the other wall--into the
garden where there is no door!""he lives there," said old ben. "he came out o' th' egg there. if he's courtin', he's makin' up to someyoung madam of a robin that lives among th' old rose-trees there.""rose-trees," said mary. "are there rose-trees?" ben weatherstaff took up his spade againand began to dig. "there was ten year' ago," he mumbled."i should like to see them," said mary. "where is the green door? there must be a door somewhere."ben drove his spade deep and looked as
uncompanionable as he had looked when shefirst saw him. "there was ten year' ago, but there isn'tnow," he said. "no door!" cried mary."there must be." "none as any one can find, an' none as isany one's business. don't you be a meddlesome wench an' pokeyour nose where it's no cause to go. here, i must go on with my work. get you gone an' play you.i've no more time." and he actually stopped digging, threw hisspade over his shoulder and walked off, without even glancing at her or sayinggood-by.
chapter vthe cry in the corridor at first each day which passed by for marylennox was exactly like the others. every morning she awoke in her tapestriedroom and found martha kneeling upon the hearth building her fire; every morning sheate her breakfast in the nursery which had nothing amusing in it; and after each breakfast she gazed out of the windowacross to the huge moor which seemed to spread out on all sides and climb up to thesky, and after she had stared for a while she realized that if she did not go out she would have to stay in and do nothing--andso she went out.
she did not know that this was the bestthing she could have done, and she did not know that, when she began to walk quicklyor even run along the paths and down the avenue, she was stirring her slow blood and making herself stronger by fighting withthe wind which swept down from the moor. she ran only to make herself warm, and shehated the wind which rushed at her face and roared and held her back as if it were somegiant she could not see. but the big breaths of rough fresh airblown over the heather filled her lungs with something which was good for her wholethin body and whipped some red color into her cheeks and brightened her dull eyeswhen she did not know anything about it.
but after a few days spent almost entirelyout of doors she wakened one morning knowing what it was to be hungry, and whenshe sat down to her breakfast she did not glance disdainfully at her porridge and push it away, but took up her spoon andbegan to eat it and went on eating it until her bowl was empty."tha' got on well enough with that this mornin', didn't tha'?" said martha. "it tastes nice today," said mary, feelinga little surprised her self. "it's th' air of th' moor that's givin'thee stomach for tha' victuals," answered martha.
"it's lucky for thee that tha's gotvictuals as well as appetite. there's been twelve in our cottage as hadth' stomach an' nothin' to put in it. you go on playin' you out o' doors everyday an' you'll get some flesh on your bones an' you won't be so yeller.""i don't play," said mary. "i have nothing to play with." "nothin' to play with!" exclaimed martha."our children plays with sticks and stones. they just runs about an' shouts an' looksat things." mary did not shout, but she looked atthings. there was nothing else to do.she walked round and round the gardens and
wandered about the paths in the park. sometimes she looked for ben weatherstaff,but though several times she saw him at work he was too busy to look at her or wastoo surly. once when she was walking toward him hepicked up his spade and turned away as if he did it on purpose.one place she went to oftener than to any it was the long walk outside the gardenswith the walls round them. there were bare flower-beds on either sideof it and against the walls ivy grew thickly. there was one part of the wall where thecreeping dark green leaves were more bushy
than elsewhere.it seemed as if for a long time that part had been neglected. the rest of it had been clipped and made tolook neat, but at this lower end of the walk it had not been trimmed at all. a few days after she had talked to benweatherstaff, mary stopped to notice this and wondered why it was so. she had just paused and was looking up at along spray of ivy swinging in the wind when she saw a gleam of scarlet and heard abrilliant chirp, and there, on the top of the wall, forward perched ben
weatherstaff's robin redbreast, tiltingforward to look at her with his small head on one side."oh!" she cried out, "is it you--is it you?" and it did not seem at all queer to herthat she spoke to him as if she were sure that he would understand and answer her.he did answer. he twittered and chirped and hopped alongthe wall as if he were telling her all sorts of things. it seemed to mistress mary as if sheunderstood him, too, though he was not speaking in words.it was as if he said:
"good morning! isn't the wind nice?isn't the sun nice? isn't everything nice?let us both chirp and hop and twitter. come on! come on!"mary began to laugh, and as he hopped and took little flights along the wall she ranafter him. poor little thin, sallow, ugly mary--sheactually looked almost pretty for a moment. "i like you! i like you!" she cried out, pattering downthe walk; and she chirped and tried to
whistle, which last she did not know how todo in the least. but the robin seemed to be quite satisfiedand chirped and whistled back at her. at last he spread his wings and made adarting flight to the top of a tree, where he perched and sang loudly. that reminded mary of the first time shehad seen him. he had been swinging on a tree-top then andshe had been standing in the orchard. now she was on the other side of theorchard and standing in the path outside a wall--much lower down--and there was thesame tree inside. "it's in the garden no one can go into,"she said to herself.
"it's the garden without a door.he lives in there. how i wish i could see what it is like!" she ran up the walk to the green door shehad entered the first morning. then she ran down the path through theother door and then into the orchard, and when she stood and looked up there was thetree on the other side of the wall, and there was the robin just finishing his song and, beginning to preen his feathers withhis beak. "it is the garden," she said."i am sure it is." she walked round and looked closely at thatside of the orchard wall, but she only
found what she had found before--that therewas no door in it. then she ran through the kitchen-gardensagain and out into the walk outside the long ivy-covered wall, and she walked tothe end of it and looked at it, but there was no door; and then she walked to the other end, looking again, but there was nodoor. "it's very queer," she said."ben weatherstaff said there was no door and there is no door. but there must have been one ten years ago,because mr. craven buried the key." this gave her so much to think of that shebegan to be quite interested and feel that
she was not sorry that she had come tomisselthwaite manor. in india she had always felt hot and toolanguid to care much about anything. the fact was that the fresh wind from themoor had begun to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken her up alittle. she stayed out of doors nearly all day, andwhen she sat down to her supper at night she felt hungry and drowsy and comfortable.she did not feel cross when martha chattered away. she felt as if she rather liked to hearher, and at last she thought she would ask her a question.
she asked it after she had finished hersupper and had sat down on the hearth-rug before the fire."why did mr. craven hate the garden?" she she had made martha stay with her andmartha had not objected at all. she was very young, and used to a crowdedcottage full of brothers and sisters, and she found it dull in the great servants'hall downstairs where the footman and upper-housemaids made fun of her yorkshire speech and looked upon her as a commonlittle thing, and sat and whispered among themselves. martha liked to talk, and the strange childwho had lived in india, and been waited
upon by "blacks," was novelty enough toattract her. she sat down on the hearth herself withoutwaiting to be asked. "art tha' thinkin' about that garden yet?"she said. "i knew tha' would. that was just the way with me when i firstheard about it." "why did he hate it?"mary persisted. martha tucked her feet under her and madeherself quite comfortable. "listen to th' wind wutherin' round thehouse," she said. "you could bare stand up on the moor if youwas out on it tonight."
mary did not know what "wutherin'" meantuntil she listened, and then she understood. it must mean that hollow shuddering sort ofroar which rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see werebuffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in. but one knew he could not get in, andsomehow it made one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire."but why did he hate it so?" she asked, after she had listened. she intended to know if martha did.then martha gave up her store of knowledge.
"mind," she said, "mrs. medlock said it'snot to be talked about. there's lots o' things in this place that'snot to be talked over. that's mr. craven's orders.his troubles are none servants' business, he says. but for th' garden he wouldn't be like heis. it was mrs. craven's garden that she hadmade when first they were married an' she just loved it, an' they used to 'tend theflowers themselves. an' none o' th' gardeners was ever let togo in. him an' her used to go in an' shut th' dooran' stay there hours an' hours, readin' and
talkin'. an' she was just a bit of a girl an' therewas an old tree with a branch bent like a seat on it.an' she made roses grow over it an' she used to sit there. but one day when she was sittin' there th'branch broke an' she fell on th' ground an' was hurt so bad that next day she died.th' doctors thought he'd go out o' his mind an' die, too. that's why he hates it.no one's never gone in since, an' he won't let any one talk about it."mary did not ask any more questions.
she looked at the red fire and listened tothe wind "wutherin'." it seemed to be "wutherin'" louder thanever. at that moment a very good thing washappening to her. four good things had happened to her, infact, since she came to misselthwaite manor. she had felt as if she had understood arobin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood hadgrown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for someone.
but as she was listening to the wind shebegan to listen to something else. she did not know what it was, because atfirst she could scarcely distinguish it from the wind itself.it was a curious sound--it seemed almost as if a child were crying somewhere. sometimes the wind sounded rather like achild crying, but presently mistress mary felt quite sure this sound was inside thehouse, not outside it. it was far away, but it was inside. she turned round and looked at martha."do you hear any one crying?" she said. martha suddenly looked confused."no," she answered.
"it's th' wind. sometimes it sounds like as if some one waslost on th' moor an' wailin'. it's got all sorts o' sounds.""but listen," said mary. "it's in the house--down one of those longcorridors." and at that very moment a door must havebeen opened somewhere downstairs; for a great rushing draft blew along the passageand the door of the room they sat in was blown open with a crash, and as they both jumped to their feet the light was blownout and the crying sound was swept down the far corridor so that it was to be heardmore plainly than ever.
"there!" said mary. "i told you so!it is some one crying--and it isn't a grown-up person." martha ran and shut the door and turned thekey, but before she did it they both heard the sound of a door in some far passageshutting with a bang, and then everything was quiet, for even the wind ceased"wutherin'" for a few moments. "it was th' wind," said martha stubbornly."an' if it wasn't, it was little betty butterworth, th' scullery-maid. she's had th' toothache all day."but something troubled and awkward in her
manner made mistress mary stare very hardat her. she did not believe she was speaking thetruth. chapter vi"there was some one crying--there was!" the next day the rain poured down intorrents again, and when mary looked out of her window the moor was almost hidden bygray mist and cloud. there could be no going out today. "what do you do in your cottage when itrains like this?" she asked martha. "try to keep from under each other's feetmostly," martha answered. "eh! there does seem a lot of us then.
mother's a good-tempered woman but she getsfair moithered. the biggest ones goes out in th' cow-shedand plays there. dickon he doesn't mind th' wet. he goes out just th' same as if th' sun wasshinin'. he says he sees things on rainy days asdoesn't show when it's fair weather. he once found a little fox cub half drownedin its hole and he brought it home in th' bosom of his shirt to keep it warm. its mother had been killed nearby an' th'hole was swum out an' th' rest o' th' litter was dead.he's got it at home now.
he found a half-drowned young crow anothertime an' he brought it home, too, an' tamed it. it's named soot because it's so black, an'it hops an' flies about with him everywhere."the time had come when mary had forgotten to resent martha's familiar talk. she had even begun to find it interestingand to be sorry when she stopped or went away. the stories she had been told by her ayahwhen she lived in india had been quite unlike those martha had to tell about themoorland cottage which held fourteen people
who lived in four little rooms and neverhad quite enough to eat. the children seemed to tumble about andamuse themselves like a litter of rough, good-natured collie puppies. mary was most attracted by the mother anddickon. when martha told stories of what "mother"said or did they always sounded comfortable. "if i had a raven or a fox cub i could playwith it," said mary. "but i have nothing."martha looked perplexed. "can tha' knit?" she asked.
"no," answered mary."can tha' sew?" "no.""can tha' read?" "yes." "then why doesn't tha, read somethin', orlearn a bit o' spellin'? tha'st old enough to be learnin' thy book agood bit now." "i haven't any books," said mary. "those i had were left in india.""that's a pity," said martha. "if mrs. medlock'd let thee go into th'library, there's thousands o' books there." mary did not ask where the library was,because she was suddenly inspired by a new
idea.she made up her mind to go and find it she was not troubled about mrs. medlock.mrs. medlock seemed always to be in her comfortable housekeeper's sitting-roomdownstairs. in this queer place one scarcely ever sawany one at all. in fact, there was no one to see but theservants, and when their master was away they lived a luxurious life below stairs,where there was a huge kitchen hung about with shining brass and pewter, and a large servants' hall where there were four orfive abundant meals eaten every day, and where a great deal of lively romping wenton when mrs. medlock was out of the way.
mary's meals were served regularly, andmartha waited on her, but no one troubled themselves about her in the least. mrs. medlock came and looked at her everyday or two, but no one inquired what she did or told her what to do.she supposed that perhaps this was the english way of treating children. in india she had always been attended byher ayah, who had followed her about and waited on her, hand and foot.she had often been tired of her company. now she was followed by nobody and waslearning to dress herself because martha looked as though she thought she was sillyand stupid when she wanted to have things
handed to her and put on. "hasn't tha' got good sense?" she saidonce, when mary had stood waiting for her to put on her gloves for her."our susan ann is twice as sharp as thee an' she's only four year' old. sometimes tha' looks fair soft in th'head." mary had worn her contrary scowl for anhour after that, but it made her think several entirely new things. she stood at the window for about tenminutes this morning after martha had swept up the hearth for the last time and gonedownstairs.
she was thinking over the new idea whichhad come to her when she heard of the library. she did not care very much about thelibrary itself, because she had read very few books; but to hear of it brought backto her mind the hundred rooms with closed doors. she wondered if they were all really lockedand what she would find if she could get into any of them.were there a hundred really? why shouldn't she go and see how many doorsshe could count? it would be something to do on this morningwhen she could not go out.
she had never been taught to ask permissionto do things, and she knew nothing at all about authority, so she would not havethought it necessary to ask mrs. medlock if she might walk about the house, even if shehad seen her. she opened the door of the room and wentinto the corridor, and then she began her wanderings. it was a long corridor and it branched intoother corridors and it led her up short flights of steps which mounted to othersagain. there were doors and doors, and there werepictures on the walls. sometimes they were pictures of dark,curious landscapes, but oftenest they were
portraits of men and women in queer, grandcostumes made of satin and velvet. she found herself in one long gallery whosewalls were covered with these portraits. she had never thought there could be somany in any house. she walked slowly down this place andstared at the faces which also seemed to stare at her. she felt as if they were wondering what alittle girl from india was doing in their house. some were pictures of children--littlegirls in thick satin frocks which reached to their feet and stood out about them, andboys with puffed sleeves and lace collars
and long hair, or with big ruffs aroundtheir necks. she always stopped to look at the children,and wonder what their names were, and where they had gone, and why they wore such oddclothes. there was a stiff, plain little girl ratherlike herself. she wore a green brocade dress and held agreen parrot on her finger. her eyes had a sharp, curious look. "where do you live now?" said mary aloud toher. "i wish you were here."surely no other little girl ever spent such a queer morning.
it seemed as if there was no one in all thehuge rambling house but her own small self, wandering about upstairs and down, throughnarrow passages and wide ones, where it seemed to her that no one but herself hadever walked. since so many rooms had been built, peoplemust have lived in them, but it all seemed so empty that she could not quite believeit true. it was not until she climbed to the secondfloor that she thought of turning the handle of a door. all the doors were shut, as mrs. medlockhad said they were, but at last she put her hand on the handle of one of them andturned it.
she was almost frightened for a moment whenshe felt that it turned without difficulty and that when she pushed upon the dooritself it slowly and heavily opened. it was a massive door and opened into a bigbedroom. there were embroidered hangings on thewall, and inlaid furniture such as she had seen in india stood about the room. a broad window with leaded panes looked outupon the moor; and over the mantel was another portrait of the stiff, plain littlegirl who seemed to stare at her more curiously than ever. "perhaps she slept here once," said mary."she stares at me so that she makes me feel
queer."after that she opened more doors and more. she saw so many rooms that she became quitetired and began to think that there must be a hundred, though she had not counted them. in all of them there were old pictures orold tapestries with strange scenes worked on them.there were curious pieces of furniture and curious ornaments in nearly all of them. in one room, which looked like a lady'ssitting-room, the hangings were all embroidered velvet, and in a cabinet wereabout a hundred little elephants made of ivory.
they were of different sizes, and some hadtheir mahouts or palanquins on their backs. some were much bigger than the others andsome were so tiny that they seemed only babies. mary had seen carved ivory in india and sheknew all about elephants. she opened the door of the cabinet andstood on a footstool and played with these for quite a long time. when she got tired she set the elephants inorder and shut the door of the cabinet. in all her wanderings through the longcorridors and the empty rooms, she had seen nothing alive; but in this room she sawsomething.
just after she had closed the cabinet doorshe heard a tiny rustling sound. it made her jump and look around at thesofa by the fireplace, from which it seemed to come. in the corner of the sofa there was acushion, and in the velvet which covered it there was a hole, and out of the holepeeped a tiny head with a pair of frightened eyes in it. mary crept softly across the room to look.the bright eyes belonged to a little gray mouse, and the mouse had eaten a hole intothe cushion and made a comfortable nest there.
six baby mice were cuddled up asleep nearher. if there was no one else alive in thehundred rooms there were seven mice who did not look lonely at all. "if they wouldn't be so frightened i wouldtake them back with me," said mary. she had wandered about long enough to feeltoo tired to wander any farther, and she turned back. two or three times she lost her way byturning down the wrong corridor and was obliged to ramble up and down until shefound the right one; but at last she reached her own floor again, though she was
some distance from her own room and did notknow exactly where she was. "i believe i have taken a wrong turningagain," she said, standing still at what seemed the end of a short passage withtapestry on the wall. "i don't know which way to go. how still everything is!"it was while she was standing here and just after she had said this that the stillnesswas broken by a sound. it was another cry, but not quite like theone she had heard last night; it was only a short one, a fretful childish whine muffledby passing through walls. "it's nearer than it was," said mary, herheart beating rather faster.
"and it is crying." she put her hand accidentally upon thetapestry near her, and then sprang back, feeling quite startled. the tapestry was the covering of a doorwhich fell open and showed her that there was another part of the corridor behind it,and mrs. medlock was coming up it with her bunch of keys in her hand and a very crosslook on her face. "what are you doing here?" she said, andshe took mary by the arm and pulled her "what did i tell you?""i turned round the wrong corner," explained mary."i didn't know which way to go and i heard
some one crying." she quite hated mrs. medlock at the moment,but she hated her more the next. "you didn't hear anything of the sort,"said the housekeeper. "you come along back to your own nursery ori'll box your ears." and she took her by the arm and halfpushed, half pulled her up one passage and down another until she pushed her in at thedoor of her own room. "now," she said, "you stay where you'retold to stay or you'll find yourself locked up.the master had better get you a governess, same as he said he would.
you're one that needs some one to looksharp after you. i've got enough to do." she went out of the room and slammed thedoor after her, and mary went and sat on the hearth-rug, pale with rage.she did not cry, but ground her teeth. "there was some one crying--there was--there was!" she said to herself. she had heard it twice now, and sometimeshe would find out. she had found out a great deal thismorning. she felt as if she had been on a longjourney, and at any rate she had had something to amuse her all the time, andshe had played with the ivory elephants and
had seen the gray mouse and its babies intheir nest in the velvet cushion. chapter viithe key to the garden two days after this, when mary opened hereyes she sat upright in bed immediately, and called to martha."look at the moor! look at the moor!" the rainstorm had ended and the gray mistand clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind. the wind itself had ceased and a brilliant,deep blue sky arched high over the moorland.never, never had mary dreamed of a sky so
blue. in india skies were hot and blazing; thiswas of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovelybottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated smallclouds of snow-white fleece. the far-reaching world of the moor itselflooked softly blue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray. "aye," said martha with a cheerful grin."th' storm's over for a bit. it does like this at this time o' th' year. it goes off in a night like it waspretendin' it had never been here an' never
meant to come again.that's because th' springtime's on its way. it's a long way off yet, but it's comin'." "i thought perhaps it always rained orlooked dark in england," mary said. "eh! no!" said martha, sitting up on herheels among her black lead brushes. "nowt o' th' soart!" "what does that mean?" asked maryseriously. in india the natives spoke differentdialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised whenmartha used words she did not know. martha laughed as she had done the firstmorning.
"there now," she said."i've talked broad yorkshire again like mrs. medlock said i mustn't. 'nowt o' th' soart' means 'nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly and carefully, "but it takes so long to say it.yorkshire's th' sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. i told thee tha'd like th' moor after abit. just you wait till you see th' gold-coloredgorse blossoms an' th' blossoms o' th' broom, an' th' heather flowerin', allpurple bells, an' hundreds o' butterflies flutterin' an' bees hummin' an' skylarkssoarin' up an' singin'.
you'll want to get out on it as sunrise an'live out on it all day like dickon does." "could i ever get there?" asked marywistfully, looking through her window at the far-off blue.it was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color. "i don't know," answered martha."tha's never used tha' legs since tha' was born, it seems to me.tha' couldn't walk five mile. it's five mile to our cottage." "i should like to see your cottage."martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brush andbegan to rub the grate again.
she was thinking that the small plain facedid not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning she sawit. it looked just a trifle like little susanann's when she wanted something very much. "i'll ask my mother about it," she said."she's one o' them that nearly always sees a way to do things. it's my day out today an' i'm goin' home.eh! i am glad.mrs. medlock thinks a lot o' mother. perhaps she could talk to her." "i like your mother," said mary."i should think tha' did," agreed martha,
polishing away."i've never seen her," said mary. "no, tha' hasn't," replied martha. she sat up on her heels again and rubbedthe end of her nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment, but sheended quite positively. "well, she's that sensible an' hard workin'an' goodnatured an' clean that no one could help likin' her whether they'd seen her ornot. when i'm goin' home to her on my day out ijust jump for joy when i'm crossin' the moor.""i like dickon," added mary. "and i've never seen him."
"well," said martha stoutly, "i've toldthee that th' very birds likes him an' th' rabbits an' wild sheep an' ponies, an' th'foxes themselves. i wonder," staring at her reflectively,"what dickon would think of thee?" "he wouldn't like me," said mary in herstiff, cold little way. "no one does." martha looked reflective again."how does tha' like thysel'?" she inquired, really quite as if she were curious toknow. mary hesitated a moment and thought itover. "not at all--really," she answered."but i never thought of that before."
martha grinned a little as if at somehomely recollection. "mother said that to me once," she said. "she was at her wash-tub an' i was in a badtemper an' talkin' ill of folk, an' she turns round on me an' says: 'tha' youngvixen, tha'! there tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't likethis one an' tha' doesn't like that one. how does tha' like thysel'?'it made me laugh an' it brought me to my senses in a minute." she went away in high spirits as soon asshe had given mary her breakfast. she was going to walk five miles across themoor to the cottage, and she was going to
help her mother with the washing and do theweek's baking and enjoy herself thoroughly. mary felt lonelier than ever when she knewshe was no longer in the house. she went out into the garden as quickly aspossible, and the first thing she did was to run round and round the fountain flowergarden ten times. she counted the times carefully and whenshe had finished she felt in better spirits.the sunshine made the whole place look different. the high, deep, blue sky arched overmisselthwaite as well as over the moor, and she kept lifting her face and looking upinto it, trying to imagine what it would be
like to lie down on one of the little snow-white clouds and float about. she went into the first kitchen-garden andfound ben weatherstaff working there with two other gardeners. the change in the weather seemed to havedone him good. he spoke to her of his own accord."springtime's comin,'" he said. "cannot tha' smell it?" mary sniffed and thought she could."i smell something nice and fresh and damp," she said."that's th' good rich earth," he answered, digging away.
"it's in a good humor makin' ready to growthings. it's glad when plantin' time comes.it's dull in th' winter when it's got nowt to do. in th' flower gardens out there things willbe stirrin' down below in th' dark. th' sun's warmin' 'em.you'll see bits o' green spikes stickin' out o' th' black earth after a bit." "what will they be?" asked mary."crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys.has tha' never seen them?" "no. everything is hot, and wet, and greenafter the rains in india," said mary.
"and i think things grow up in a night.""these won't grow up in a night," said weatherstaff. "tha'll have to wait for 'em.they'll poke up a bit higher here, an' push out a spike more there, an' uncurl a leafthis day an' another that. you watch 'em." "i am going to," answered mary.very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and she knew at oncethat the robin had come again. he was very pert and lively, and hoppedabout so close to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at her so slylythat she asked ben weatherstaff a question.
"do you think he remembers me?" she said. "remembers thee!" said weatherstaffindignantly. "he knows every cabbage stump in th'gardens, let alone th' people. he's never seen a little wench here before,an' he's bent on findin' out all about thee.tha's no need to try to hide anything from him." "are things stirring down below in the darkin that garden where he lives?" mary inquired."what garden?" grunted weatherstaff, becoming surly again.
"the one where the old rose-trees are."she could not help asking, because she wanted so much to know."are all the flowers dead, or do some of them come again in the summer? are there ever any roses?""ask him," said ben weatherstaff, hunching his shoulders toward the robin."he's the only one as knows. no one else has seen inside it for tenyear'." ten years was a long time, mary thought.she had been born ten years ago. she walked away, slowly thinking. she had begun to like the garden just asshe had begun to like the robin and dickon
and martha's mother.she was beginning to like martha, too. that seemed a good many people to like--when you were not used to liking. she thought of the robin as one of thepeople. she went to her walk outside the long, ivy-covered wall over which she could see the tree-tops; and the second time she walkedup and down the most interesting and exciting thing happened to her, and it wasall through ben weatherstaff's robin. she heard a chirp and a twitter, and whenshe looked at the bare flower-bed at her left side there he was hopping about andpretending to peck things out of the earth to persuade her that he had not followedher.
but she knew he had followed her and thesurprise so filled her with delight that she almost trembled a little. "you do remember me!" she cried out."you do! you are prettier than anything else in theworld!" she chirped, and talked, and coaxed and hehopped, and flirted his tail and twittered. it was as if he were talking. his red waistcoat was like satin and hepuffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand and so pretty that it wasreally as if he were showing her how important and like a human person a robincould be.
mistress mary forgot that she had ever beencontrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and benddown and talk and try to make something like robin sounds. oh! to think that he should actually lether come as near to him as that! he knew nothing in the world would make herput out her hand toward him or startle him in the least tiniest way. he knew it because he was a real person--only nicer than any other person in the world.she was so happy that she scarcely dared to breathe.
the flower-bed was not quite bare. it was bare of flowers because theperennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tallshrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped about under them she saw him hopover a small pile of freshly turned up earth.he stopped on it to look for a worm. the earth had been turned up because a doghad been trying to dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole. mary looked at it, not really knowing whythe hole was there, and as she looked she
saw something almost buried in the newly-turned soil. it was something like a ring of rusty ironor brass and when the robin flew up into a tree nearby she put out her hand and pickedthe ring up. it was more than a ring, however; it was anold key which looked as if it had been buried a long time. mistress mary stood up and looked at itwith an almost frightened face as it hung from her finger."perhaps it has been buried for ten years," she said in a whisper. "perhaps it is the key to the garden!"
chapter viiithe robin who showed the way she looked at the key quite a long time.she turned it over and over, and thought about it. as i have said before, she was not a childwho had been trained to ask permission or consult her elders about things. all she thought about the key was that ifit was the key to the closed garden, and she could find out where the door was, shecould perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened tothe old rose-trees. it was because it had been shut up so longthat she wanted to see it.
it seemed as if it must be different fromother places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years. besides that, if she liked it she could gointo it every day and shut the door behind her, and she could make up some play of herown and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was, but would think the door was still locked and the keyburied in the earth. the thought of that pleased her very much. living as it were, all by herself in ahouse with a hundred mysteriously closed rooms and having nothing whatever to do toamuse herself, had set her inactive brain
to working and was actually awakening herimagination. there is no doubt that the fresh, strong,pure air from the moor had a great deal to do with it. just as it had given her an appetite, andfighting with the wind had stirred her blood, so the same things had stirred hermind. in india she had always been too hot andlanguid and weak to care much about anything, but in this place she wasbeginning to care and to want to do new things. already she felt less "contrary," thoughshe did not know why.
she put the key in her pocket and walked upand down her walk. no one but herself ever seemed to comethere, so she could walk slowly and look at the wall, or, rather, at the ivy growing onit. the ivy was the baffling thing. howsoever carefully she looked she couldsee nothing but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves.she was very much disappointed. something of her contrariness came back toher as she paced the walk and looked over it at the tree-tops inside.it seemed so silly, she said to herself, to be near it and not be able to get in.
she took the key in her pocket when shewent back to the house, and she made up her mind that she would always carry it withher when she went out, so that if she ever should find the hidden door she would beready. mrs. medlock had allowed martha to sleepall night at the cottage, but she was back at her work in the morning with cheeksredder than ever and in the best of spirits. "i got up at four o'clock," she said."eh! it was pretty on th' moor with th' birds gettin' up an' th' rabbits scamperin'about an' th' sun risin'. i didn't walk all th' way.
a man gave me a ride in his cart an' i didenjoy myself." she was full of stories of the delights ofher day out. her mother had been glad to see her andthey had got the baking and washing all out of the way.she had even made each of the children a doughcake with a bit of brown sugar in it. "i had 'em all pipin' hot when they came infrom playin' on th' moor. an' th' cottage all smelt o' nice, cleanhot bakin' an' there was a good fire, an' they just shouted for joy. our dickon he said our cottage was goodenough for a king."
in the evening they had all sat round thefire, and martha and her mother had sewed patches on torn clothes and mendedstockings and martha had told them about the little girl who had come from india and who had been waited on all her life by whatmartha called "blacks" until she didn't know how to put on her own stockings."eh! they did like to hear about you," said "they wanted to know all about th' blacksan' about th' ship you came in. i couldn't tell 'em enough."mary reflected a little. "i'll tell you a great deal more beforeyour next day out," she said, "so that you will have more to talk about.
i dare say they would like to hear aboutriding on elephants and camels, and about the officers going to hunt tigers.""my word!" cried delighted martha. "it would set 'em clean off their heads. would tha' really do that, miss?it would be same as a wild beast show like we heard they had in york once." "india is quite different from yorkshire,"mary said slowly, as she thought the matter over."i never thought of that. did dickon and your mother like to hear youtalk about me?" "why, our dickon's eyes nearly started outo' his head, they got that round," answered
"but mother, she was put out about yourseemin' to be all by yourself like. she said, 'hasn't mr. craven got nogoverness for her, nor no nurse?' and i said, 'no, he hasn't, though mrs. medlocksays he will when he thinks of it, but she says he mayn't think of it for two or threeyears.'" "i don't want a governess," said marysharply. "but mother says you ought to be learnin'your book by this time an' you ought to have a woman to look after you, an' shesays: 'now, martha, you just think how you'd feel yourself, in a big place like that, wanderin' about all alone, an' nomother.
you do your best to cheer her up,' shesays, an' i said i would." mary gave her a long, steady look. "you do cheer me up," she said."i like to hear you talk." presently martha went out of the room andcame back with something held in her hands under her apron. "what does tha' think," she said, with acheerful grin. "i've brought thee a present.""a present!" exclaimed mistress mary. how could a cottage full of fourteen hungrypeople give any one a present! "a man was drivin' across the moorpeddlin'," martha explained.
"an' he stopped his cart at our door. he had pots an' pans an' odds an' ends, butmother had no money to buy anythin'. just as he was goin' away our 'lizabethellen called out, 'mother, he's got skippin'-ropes with red an' blue handles.' an' mother she calls out quite sudden,'here, stop, mister! how much are they?' an' he says 'tuppence', an' mother shebegan fumblin' in her pocket an' she says to me, 'martha, tha's brought me thy wageslike a good lass, an' i've got four places to put every penny, but i'm just goin' to
take tuppence out of it to buy that child askippin'-rope,' an' she bought one an' here it is."she brought it out from under her apron and exhibited it quite proudly. it was a strong, slender rope with astriped red and blue handle at each end, but mary lennox had never seen a skipping-rope before. she gazed at it with a mystifiedexpression. "what is it for?" she asked curiously."for!" cried out martha. "does tha' mean that they've not gotskippin'-ropes in india, for all they've got elephants and tigers and camels!no wonder most of 'em's black.
this is what it's for; just watch me." and she ran into the middle of the roomand, taking a handle in each hand, began to skip, and skip, and skip, while mary turnedin her chair to stare at her, and the queer faces in the old portraits seemed to stare at her, too, and wonder what on earth thiscommon little cottager had the impudence to be doing under their very noses.but martha did not even see them. the interest and curiosity in mistressmary's face delighted her, and she went on skipping and counted as she skipped untilshe had reached a hundred. "i could skip longer than that," she saidwhen she stopped.
"i've skipped as much as five hundred wheni was twelve, but i wasn't as fat then as i am now, an' i was in practice." mary got up from her chair beginning tofeel excited herself. "it looks nice," she said."your mother is a kind woman. do you think i could ever skip like that?" "you just try it," urged martha, handingher the skipping-rope. "you can't skip a hundred at first, but ifyou practice you'll mount up. that's what mother said. she says, 'nothin' will do her more goodthan skippin' rope.
it's th' sensiblest toy a child can have. let her play out in th' fresh air skippin'an' it'll stretch her legs an' arms an' give her some strength in 'em.'" it was plain that there was not a greatdeal of strength in mistress mary's arms and legs when she first began to skip. she was not very clever at it, but sheliked it so much that she did not want to stop."put on tha' things and run an' skip out o' doors," said martha. "mother said i must tell you to keep out o'doors as much as you could, even when it
rains a bit, so as tha' wrap up warm."mary put on her coat and hat and took her skipping-rope over her arm. she opened the door to go out, and thensuddenly thought of something and turned back rather slowly."martha," she said, "they were your wages. it was your two-pence really. thank you."she said it stiffly because she was not used to thanking people or noticing thatthey did things for her. "thank you," she said, and held out herhand because she did not know what else to do.
martha gave her hand a clumsy little shake,as if she was not accustomed to this sort of thing either.then she laughed. "eh! th' art a queer, old-womanish thing,"she said. "if tha'd been our 'lizabeth ellen tha'dhave given me a kiss." mary looked stiffer than ever. "do you want me to kiss you?"martha laughed again. "nay, not me," she answered."if tha' was different, p'raps tha'd want to thysel'. but tha' isn't.run off outside an' play with thy rope."
mistress mary felt a little awkward as shewent out of the room. yorkshire people seemed strange, and marthawas always rather a puzzle to her. at first she had disliked her very much,but now she did not. the skipping-rope was a wonderful thing. she counted and skipped, and skipped andcounted, until her cheeks were quite red, and she was more interested than she hadever been since she was born. the sun was shining and a little wind wasblowing--not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful little gusts and broughta fresh scent of newly turned earth with she skipped round the fountain garden, andup one walk and down another.
she skipped at last into the kitchen-gardenand saw ben weatherstaff digging and talking to his robin, which was hoppingabout him. she skipped down the walk toward him and helifted his head and looked at her with a curious expression.she had wondered if he would notice her. she wanted him to see her skip. "well!" he exclaimed."upon my word. p'raps tha' art a young 'un, after all, an'p'raps tha's got child's blood in thy veins instead of sour buttermilk. tha's skipped red into thy cheeks as sureas my name's ben weatherstaff.
i wouldn't have believed tha' could do it.""i never skipped before," mary said. "i'm just beginning. i can only go up to twenty.""tha' keep on," said ben. "tha' shapes well enough at it for a young'un that's lived with heathen. just see how he's watchin' thee," jerkinghis head toward the robin. "he followed after thee yesterday.he'll be at it again today. he'll be bound to find out what th'skippin'-rope is. he's never seen one. eh!" shaking his head at the bird, "tha'curiosity will be th' death of thee
sometime if tha' doesn't look sharp." mary skipped round all the gardens andround the orchard, resting every few minutes. at length she went to her own special walkand made up her mind to try if she could skip the whole length of it. it was a good long skip and she beganslowly, but before she had gone half-way down the path she was so hot and breathlessthat she was obliged to stop. she did not mind much, because she hadalready counted up to thirty. she stopped with a little laugh ofpleasure, and there, lo and behold, was the
robin swaying on a long branch of ivy. he had followed her and he greeted her witha chirp. as mary had skipped toward him she feltsomething heavy in her pocket strike against her at each jump, and when she sawthe robin she laughed again. "you showed me where the key wasyesterday," she said. "you ought to show me the door today; but idon't believe you know!" the robin flew from his swinging spray ofivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill,merely to show off. nothing in the world is quite as adorablylovely as a robin when he shows off--and
they are nearly always doing it. mary lennox had heard a great deal aboutmagic in her ayah's stories, and she always said that what happened almost at thatmoment was magic. one of the nice little gusts of wind rusheddown the walk, and it was a stronger one than the rest. it was strong enough to wave the branchesof the trees, and it was more than strong enough to sway the trailing sprays ofuntrimmed ivy hanging from the wall. mary had stepped close to the robin, andsuddenly the gust of wind swung aside some loose ivy trails, and more suddenly stillshe jumped toward it and caught it in her
hand. this she did because she had seen somethingunder it--a round knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it.it was the knob of a door. she put her hands under the leaves andbegan to pull and push them aside. thick as the ivy hung, it nearly all was aloose and swinging curtain, though some had crept over wood and iron. mary's heart began to thump and her handsto shake a little in her delight and excitement. the robin kept singing and twittering awayand tilting his head on one side, as if he
were as excited as she was. what was this under her hands which wassquare and made of iron and which her fingers found a hole in? it was the lock of the door which had beenclosed ten years and she put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key and found itfitted the keyhole. she put the key in and turned it. it took two hands to do it, but it didturn. and then she took a long breath and lookedbehind her up the long walk to see if any one was coming.
no one was coming. no one ever did come, it seemed, and shetook another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swingingcurtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly--slowly. then she slipped through it, and shut itbehind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quitefast with excitement, and wonder, and delight. she was standing inside the secret garden. chapter ixthe strangest house any one ever lived in
it was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. the high walls which shut it in werecovered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they werematted together. mary lennox knew they were roses becauseshe had seen a great many roses in india. all the ground was covered with grass of awintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if theywere alive. there were numbers of standard roses whichhad so spread their branches that they were like little trees. there were other trees in the garden, andone of the things which made the place look
strangest and loveliest was that climbingroses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they hadcaught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree toanother and made lovely bridges of there were neither leaves nor roses on themnow and mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brownbranches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass,where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground.it was this hazy tangle from tree to tree
which made it all look so mysterious. mary had thought it must be different fromother gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it wasdifferent from any other place she had ever seen in her life. "how still it is!" she whispered."how still!" then she waited a moment and listened atthe stillness. the robin, who had flown to his treetop,was still as all the rest. he did not even flutter his wings; he satwithout stirring, and looked at mary. "no wonder it is still," she whisperedagain.
"i am the first person who has spoken inhere for ten years." she moved away from the door, stepping assoftly as if she were afraid of awakening some one.she was glad that there was grass under her feet and that her steps made no sounds. she walked under one of the fairy-like grayarches between the trees and looked up at the sprays and tendrils which formed them."i wonder if they are all quite dead," she "is it all a quite dead garden?i wish it wasn't." if she had been ben weatherstaff she couldhave told whether the wood was alive by looking at it, but she could only see thatthere were only gray or brown sprays and
branches and none showed any signs of evena tiny leaf-bud anywhere. but she was inside the wonderful garden andshe could come through the door under the ivy any time and she felt as if she hadfound a world all her own. the sun was shining inside the four wallsand the high arch of blue sky over this particular piece of misselthwaite seemedeven more brilliant and soft than it was over the moor. the robin flew down from his tree-top andhopped about or flew after her from one bush to another.he chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he were showing her things.
everything was strange and silent and sheseemed to be hundreds of miles away from any one, but somehow she did not feellonely at all. all that troubled her was her wish that sheknew whether all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had lived and mightput out leaves and buds as the weather got warmer. she did not want it to be a quite deadgarden. if it were a quite alive garden, howwonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side! her skipping-rope had hung over her armwhen she came in and after she had walked
about for a while she thought she wouldskip round the whole garden, stopping when she wanted to look at things. there seemed to have been grass paths hereand there, and in one or two corners there were alcoves of evergreen with stone seatsor tall moss-covered flower urns in them. as she came near the second of thesealcoves she stopped skipping. there had once been a flowerbed in it, andshe thought she saw something sticking out of the black earth--some sharp little palegreen points. she remembered what ben weatherstaff hadsaid and she knelt down to look at them. "yes, they are tiny growing things and theymight be crocuses or snowdrops or
daffodils," she whispered. she bent very close to them and sniffed thefresh scent of the damp earth. she liked it very much."perhaps there are some other ones coming up in other places," she said. "i will go all over the garden and look."she did not skip, but walked. she went slowly and kept her eyes on theground. she looked in the old border beds and amongthe grass, and after she had gone round, trying to miss nothing, she had found everso many more sharp, pale green points, and she had become quite excited again.
"it isn't a quite dead garden," she criedout softly to herself. "even if the roses are dead, there areother things alive." she did not know anything about gardening,but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points werepushing their way through that she thought they did not seem to have room enough togrow. she searched about until she found a rathersharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass untilshe made nice little clear places around "now they look as if they could breathe,"she said, after she had finished with the first ones."i am going to do ever so many more.
i'll do all i can see. if i haven't time today i can cometomorrow." she went from place to place, and dug andweeded, and enjoyed herself so immensely that she was led on from bed to bed andinto the grass under the trees. the exercise made her so warm that shefirst threw her coat off, and then her hat, and without knowing it she was smiling downon to the grass and the pale green points all the time. the robin was tremendously busy.he was very much pleased to see gardening begun on his own estate.he had often wondered at ben weatherstaff.
where gardening is done all sorts ofdelightful things to eat are turned up with the soil. now here was this new kind of creature whowas not half ben's size and yet had had the sense to come into his garden and begin atonce. mistress mary worked in her garden until itwas time to go to her midday dinner. in fact, she was rather late inremembering, and when she put on her coat and hat, and picked up her skipping-rope,she could not believe that she had been working two or three hours. she had been actually happy all the time;and dozens and dozens of the tiny, pale
green points were to be seen in clearedplaces, looking twice as cheerful as they had looked before when the grass and weedshad been smothering them. "i shall come back this afternoon," shesaid, looking all round at her new kingdom, and speaking to the trees and the rose-bushes as if they heard her. then she ran lightly across the grass,pushed open the slow old door and slipped through it under the ivy. she had such red cheeks and such brighteyes and ate such a dinner that martha was delighted."two pieces o' meat an' two helps o' rice puddin'!" she said.
"eh! mother will be pleased when i tell herwhat th' skippin'-rope's done for thee." in the course of her digging with herpointed stick mistress mary had found herself digging up a sort of white rootrather like an onion. she had put it back in its place and pattedthe earth carefully down on it and just now she wondered if martha could tell her whatit was. "martha," she said, "what are those whiteroots that look like onions?" "they're bulbs," answered martha."lots o' spring flowers grow from 'em. th' very little ones are snowdrops an'crocuses an' th' big ones are narcissuses an' jonquils and daffydowndillys.th' biggest of all is lilies an' purple
flags. eh! they are nice.dickon's got a whole lot of 'em planted in our bit o' garden.""does dickon know all about them?" asked mary, a new idea taking possession of her. "our dickon can make a flower grow out of abrick walk. mother says he just whispers things out o'th' ground." "do bulbs live a long time? would they live years and years if no onehelped them?" inquired mary anxiously. "they're things as helps themselves," saidmartha.
"that's why poor folk can afford to have'em. if you don't trouble 'em, most of 'em'llwork away underground for a lifetime an' spread out an' have little 'uns. there's a place in th' park woods herewhere there's snowdrops by thousands. they're the prettiest sight in yorkshirewhen th' spring comes. no one knows when they was first planted." "i wish the spring was here now," saidmary. "i want to see all the things that grow inengland." she had finished her dinner and gone to herfavorite seat on the hearth-rug.
"i wish--i wish i had a little spade," shesaid. "whatever does tha' want a spade for?"asked martha, laughing. "art tha' goin' to take to diggin'?i must tell mother that, too." mary looked at the fire and pondered alittle. she must be careful if she meant to keepher secret kingdom. she wasn't doing any harm, but if mr.craven found out about the open door he would be fearfully angry and get a new keyand lock it up forevermore. she really could not bear that. "this is such a big lonely place," she saidslowly, as if she were turning matters over
in her mind."the house is lonely, and the park is lonely, and the gardens are lonely. so many places seem shut up.i never did many things in india, but there were more people to look at--natives andsoldiers marching by--and sometimes bands playing, and my ayah told me stories. there is no one to talk to here except youand ben weatherstaff. and you have to do your work and benweatherstaff won't speak to me often. i thought if i had a little spade i coulddig somewhere as he does, and i might make a little garden if he would give me someseeds."
martha's face quite lighted up. "there now!" she exclaimed, "if that wasn'tone of th' things mother said. she says, 'there's such a lot o' room inthat big place, why don't they give her a bit for herself, even if she doesn't plantnothin' but parsley an' radishes? she'd dig an' rake away an' be right downhappy over it.' them was the very words she said.""were they?" said mary. "how many things she knows, doesn't she?" "eh!" said martha."it's like she says: 'a woman as brings up twelve children learns something besidesher a b c.
children's as good as 'rithmetic to set youfindin' out things.'" "how much would a spade cost--a littleone?" "well," was martha's reflective answer, "atthwaite village there's a shop or so an' i saw little garden sets with a spade an' arake an' a fork all tied together for two shillings. an' they was stout enough to work with,too." "i've got more than that in my purse," saidmary. "mrs. morrison gave me five shillings andmrs. medlock gave me some money from mr. craven.""did he remember thee that much?" exclaimed
"mrs. medlock said i was to have a shillinga week to spend. she gives me one every saturday.i didn't know what to spend it on." "my word! that's riches," said martha. "tha' can buy anything in th' world tha'wants. th' rent of our cottage is only one an'threepence an' it's like pullin' eye-teeth to get it. now i've just thought of somethin',"putting her hands on her hips. "what?" said mary eagerly. "in the shop at thwaite they sell packageso' flower-seeds for a penny each, and our
dickon he knows which is th' prettiest onesan' how to make 'em grow. he walks over to thwaite many a day justfor th' fun of it. does tha' know how to print letters?"suddenly. "i know how to write," mary answered. martha shook her head."our dickon can only read printin'. if tha' could print we could write a letterto him an' ask him to go an' buy th' garden tools an' th' seeds at th' same time." "oh! you're a good girl!"mary cried. "you are, really!i didn't know you were so nice.
i know i can print letters if i try. let's ask mrs. medlock for a pen and inkand some paper." "i've got some of my own," said martha."i bought 'em so i could print a bit of a letter to mother of a sunday. i'll go and get it."she ran out of the room, and mary stood by the fire and twisted her thin little handstogether with sheer pleasure. "if i have a spade," she whispered, "i canmake the earth nice and soft and dig up weeds. if i have seeds and can make flowers growthe garden won't be dead at all--it will
come alive." she did not go out again that afternoonbecause when martha returned with her pen and ink and paper she was obliged to clearthe table and carry the plates and dishes downstairs and when she got into the kitchen mrs. medlock was there and told herto do something, so mary waited for what seemed to her a long time before she cameback. then it was a serious piece of work towrite to dickon. mary had been taught very little becauseher governesses had disliked her too much to stay with her.
she could not spell particularly well butshe found that she could print letters when she tried.this was the letter martha dictated to her: "my dear dickon: this comes hoping to find you well as itleaves me at present. miss mary has plenty of money and will yougo to thwaite and buy her some flower seeds and a set of garden tools to make a flower-bed. pick the prettiest ones and easy to growbecause she has never done it before and lived in india which is different.give my love to mother and every one of you.
miss mary is going to tell me a lot more sothat on my next day out you can hear about elephants and camels and gentlemen goinghunting lions and tigers. "your loving sister, martha phoebesowerby." "we'll put the money in th' envelope an'i'll get th' butcher boy to take it in his cart. he's a great friend o' dickon's," saidmartha. "how shall i get the things when dickonbuys them?" "he'll bring 'em to you himself. he'll like to walk over this way.""oh!" exclaimed mary, "then i shall see
him!i never thought i should see dickon." "does tha' want to see him?" asked marthasuddenly, for mary had looked so pleased. "yes, i do.i never saw a boy foxes and crows loved. i want to see him very much." martha gave a little start, as if sheremembered something. "now to think," she broke out, "to think o'me forgettin' that there; an' i thought i was goin' to tell you first thing thismornin'. i asked mother--and she said she'd ask mrs.medlock her own self." "do you mean--" mary began."what i said tuesday.
ask her if you might be driven over to ourcottage some day and have a bit o' mother's hot oat cake, an' butter, an' a glass o'milk." it seemed as if all the interesting thingswere happening in one day. to think of going over the moor in thedaylight and when the sky was blue! to think of going into the cottage whichheld twelve children! "does she think mrs. medlock would let mego?" she asked, quite anxiously. "aye, she thinks she would. she knows what a tidy woman mother is andhow clean she keeps the cottage." "if i went i should see your mother as wellas dickon," said mary, thinking it over and
liking the idea very much. "she doesn't seem to be like the mothers inindia." her work in the garden and the excitementof the afternoon ended by making her feel quiet and thoughtful. martha stayed with her until tea-time, butthey sat in comfortable quiet and talked very little.but just before martha went downstairs for the tea-tray, mary asked a question. "martha," she said, "has the scullery-maidhad the toothache again today?" martha certainly started slightly."what makes thee ask that?" she said.
"because when i waited so long for you tocome back i opened the door and walked down the corridor to see if you were coming.and i heard that far-off crying again, just as we heard it the other night. there isn't a wind today, so you see itcouldn't have been the wind." "eh!" said martha restlessly."tha' mustn't go walkin' about in corridors an' listenin'. mr. craven would be that there angrythere's no knowin' what he'd do." "i wasn't listening," said mary."i was just waiting for you--and i heard that's three times.""my word!
there's mrs. medlock's bell," said martha,and she almost ran out of the room. "it's the strangest house any one everlived in," said mary drowsily, as she dropped her head on the cushioned seat ofthe armchair near her. fresh air, and digging, and skipping-ropehad made her feel so comfortably tired that she fell asleep. chapter xdickon the sun shone down for nearly a week on thesecret garden. the secret garden was what mary called itwhen she was thinking of it. she liked the name, and she liked stillmore the feeling that when its beautiful
old walls shut her in no one knew where shewas. it seemed almost like being shut out of theworld in some fairy place. the few books she had read and liked hadbeen fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. sometimes people went to sleep in them fora hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. she had no intention of going to sleep,and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at misselthwaite. she was beginning to like to be out ofdoors; she no longer hated the wind, but
enjoyed it.she could run faster, and longer, and she could skip up to a hundred. the bulbs in the secret garden must havebeen much astonished. such nice clear places were made round themthat they had all the breathing space they wanted, and really, if mistress mary hadknown it, they began to cheer up under the dark earth and work tremendously. the sun could get at them and warm them,and when the rain came down it could reach them at once, so they began to feel verymuch alive. mary was an odd, determined little person,and now she had something interesting to be
determined about, she was very muchabsorbed, indeed. she worked and dug and pulled up weedssteadily, only becoming more pleased with her work every hour instead of tiring ofit. it seemed to her like a fascinating sort ofplay. she found many more of the sprouting palegreen points than she had ever hoped to find. they seemed to be starting up everywhereand each day she was sure she found tiny new ones, some so tiny that they barelypeeped above the earth. there were so many that she remembered whatmartha had said about the "snowdrops by the
thousands," and about bulbs spreading andmaking new ones. these had been left to themselves for tenyears and perhaps they had spread, like the snowdrops, into thousands.she wondered how long it would be before they showed that they were flowers. sometimes she stopped digging to look atthe garden and try to imagine what it would be like when it was covered with thousandsof lovely things in bloom. during that week of sunshine, she becamemore intimate with ben weatherstaff. she surprised him several times by seemingto start up beside him as if she sprang out of the earth.
the truth was that she was afraid that hewould pick up his tools and go away if he saw her coming, so she always walked towardhim as silently as possible. but, in fact, he did not object to her asstrongly as he had at first. perhaps he was secretly rather flattered byher evident desire for his elderly company. then, also, she was more civil than she hadbeen. he did not know that when she first saw himshe spoke to him as she would have spoken to a native, and had not known that across, sturdy old yorkshire man was not accustomed to salaam to his masters, and bemerely commanded by them to do things. "tha'rt like th' robin," he said to her onemorning when he lifted his head and saw her
standing by him. "i never knows when i shall see thee orwhich side tha'll come from." "he's friends with me now," said mary."that's like him," snapped ben "makin' up to th' women folk just forvanity an' flightiness. there's nothin' he wouldn't do for th' sakeo' showin' off an' flirtin' his tail- feathers. he's as full o' pride as an egg's full o'meat." he very seldom talked much and sometimesdid not even answer mary's questions except by a grunt, but this morning he said morethan usual.
he stood up and rested one hobnailed booton the top of his spade while he looked her over."how long has tha' been here?" he jerked out. "i think it's about a month," she answered."tha's beginnin' to do misselthwaite credit," he said."tha's a bit fatter than tha' was an' tha's not quite so yeller. tha' looked like a young plucked crow whentha' first came into this garden. thinks i to myself i never set eyes on anuglier, sourer faced young 'un." mary was not vain and as she had neverthought much of her looks she was not
greatly disturbed."i know i'm fatter," she said. "my stockings are getting tighter. they used to make wrinkles.there's the robin, ben weatherstaff." there, indeed, was the robin, and shethought he looked nicer than ever. his red waistcoat was as glossy as satinand he flirted his wings and tail and tilted his head and hopped about with allsorts of lively graces. he seemed determined to make benweatherstaff admire him. but ben was sarcastic."aye, there tha' art!" he said. "tha' can put up with me for a bitsometimes when tha's got no one better.
tha's been reddenin' up thy waistcoat an'polishin' thy feathers this two weeks. i know what tha's up to. tha's courtin' some bold young madamsomewhere tellin' thy lies to her about bein' th' finest cock robin on missel mooran' ready to fight all th' rest of 'em." "oh! look at him!" exclaimed mary. the robin was evidently in a fascinating,bold mood. he hopped closer and closer and looked atben weatherstaff more and more engagingly. he flew on to the nearest currant bush andtilted his head and sang a little song right at him.
"tha' thinks tha'll get over me by doin'that," said ben, wrinkling his face up in such a way that mary felt sure he wastrying not to look pleased. "tha' thinks no one can stand out againstthee--that's what tha' thinks." the robin spread his wings--mary couldscarcely believe her eyes. he flew right up to the handle of benweatherstaff's spade and alighted on the top of it.then the old man's face wrinkled itself slowly into a new expression. he stood still as if he were afraid tobreathe--as if he would not have stirred for the world, lest his robin should startaway.
he spoke quite in a whisper. "well, i'm danged!" he said as softly as ifhe were saying something quite different. "tha' does know how to get at a chap--tha'does! tha's fair unearthly, tha's so knowin'." and he stood without stirring--almostwithout drawing his breath--until the robin gave another flirt to his wings and flewaway. then he stood looking at the handle of thespade as if there might be magic in it, and then he began to dig again and said nothingfor several minutes. but because he kept breaking into a slowgrin now and then, mary was not afraid to
talk to him."have you a garden of your own?" she asked. "no. i'm bachelder an' lodge with martin atth' gate." "if you had one," said mary, "what wouldyou plant?" "cabbages an' 'taters an' onions." "but if you wanted to make a flowergarden," persisted mary, "what would you plant?""bulbs an' sweet-smellin' things--but mostly roses." mary's face lighted up."do you like roses?" she said. ben weatherstaff rooted up a weed and threwit aside before he answered.
"well, yes, i do. i was learned that by a young lady i wasgardener to. she had a lot in a place she was fond of,an' she loved 'em like they was children-- or robins. i've seen her bend over an' kiss 'em."he dragged out another weed and scowled at it."that were as much as ten year' ago." "where is she now?" asked mary, muchinterested. "heaven," he answered, and drove his spadedeep into the soil, "'cording to what parson says."
"what happened to the roses?"mary asked again, more interested than ever."they was left to themselves." mary was becoming quite excited. "did they quite die?do roses quite die when they are left to themselves?" she ventured. "well, i'd got to like 'em--an' i likedher--an' she liked 'em," ben weatherstaff admitted reluctantly. "once or twice a year i'd go an' work at'em a bit--prune 'em an' dig about th' roots.they run wild, but they was in rich soil,
so some of 'em lived." "when they have no leaves and look gray andbrown and dry, how can you tell whether they are dead or alive?" inquired mary. "wait till th' spring gets at 'em--waittill th' sun shines on th' rain and th' rain falls on th' sunshine an' then tha'llfind out." "how--how?" cried mary, forgetting to becareful. "look along th' twigs an' branches an' iftha' see a bit of a brown lump swelling here an' there, watch it after th' warmrain an' see what happens." he stopped suddenly and looked curiously ather eager face.
"why does tha' care so much about roses an'such, all of a sudden?" he demanded. mistress mary felt her face grow red. she was almost afraid to answer."i--i want to play that--that i have a garden of my own," she stammered."i--there is nothing for me to do. i have nothing--and no one." "well," said ben weatherstaff slowly, as hewatched her, "that's true. tha' hasn't." he said it in such an odd way that marywondered if he was actually a little sorry for her.
she had never felt sorry for herself; shehad only felt tired and cross, because she disliked people and things so much.but now the world seemed to be changing and getting nicer. if no one found out about the secretgarden, she should enjoy herself always. she stayed with him for ten or fifteenminutes longer and asked him as many questions as she dared. he answered every one of them in his queergrunting way and he did not seem really cross and did not pick up his spade andleave her. he said something about roses just as shewas going away and it reminded her of the
ones he had said he had been fond of."do you go and see those other roses now?" "not been this year.my rheumatics has made me too stiff in th' joints." he said it in his grumbling voice, and thenquite suddenly he seemed to get angry with her, though she did not see why he should."now look here!" he said sharply. "don't tha' ask so many questions. tha'rt th' worst wench for askin' questionsi've ever come a cross. get thee gone an' play thee.i've done talkin' for today." and he said it so crossly that she knewthere was not the least use in staying
another minute. she went skipping slowly down the outsidewalk, thinking him over and saying to herself that, queer as it was, here wasanother person whom she liked in spite of his crossness. she liked old ben weatherstaff.yes, she did like him. she always wanted to try to make him talkto her. also she began to believe that he kneweverything in the world about flowers. there was a laurel-hedged walk which curvedround the secret garden and ended at a gate which opened into a wood, in the park.
she thought she would slip round this walkand look into the wood and see if there were any rabbits hopping about. she enjoyed the skipping very much and whenshe reached the little gate she opened it and went through because she heard a low,peculiar whistling sound and wanted to find out what it was. it was a very strange thing indeed.she quite caught her breath as she stopped to look at it. a boy was sitting under a tree, with hisback against it, playing on a rough wooden pipe.he was a funny looking boy about twelve.
he looked very clean and his nose turned upand his cheeks were as red as poppies and never had mistress mary seen such round andsuch blue eyes in any boy's face. and on the trunk of the tree he leanedagainst, a brown squirrel was clinging and watching him, and from behind a bush nearbya cock pheasant was delicately stretching his neck to peep out, and quite near him were two rabbits sitting up and sniffingwith tremulous noses--and actually it appeared as if they were all drawing nearto watch him and listen to the strange low little call his pipe seemed to make. when he saw mary he held up his hand andspoke to her in a voice almost as low as
and rather like his piping."don't tha' move," he said. "it'd flight 'em." mary remained motionless.he stopped playing his pipe and began to rise from the ground. he moved so slowly that it scarcely seemedas though he were moving at all, but at last he stood on his feet and then thesquirrel scampered back up into the branches of his tree, the pheasant withdrew his head and the rabbits dropped on allfours and began to hop away, though not at all as if they were frightened."i'm dickon," the boy said.
"i know tha'rt miss mary." then mary realized that somehow she hadknown at first that he was dickon. who else could have been charming rabbitsand pheasants as the natives charm snakes in india? he had a wide, red, curving mouth and hissmile spread all over his face. "i got up slow," he explained, "because iftha' makes a quick move it startles 'em. a body 'as to move gentle an' speak lowwhen wild things is about." he did not speak to her as if they hadnever seen each other before but as if he knew her quite well.
mary knew nothing about boys and she spoketo him a little stiffly because she felt rather shy."did you get martha's letter?" she asked. he nodded his curly, rust-colored head. "that's why i come."he stooped to pick up something which had been lying on the ground beside him when hepiped. "i've got th' garden tools. there's a little spade an' rake an' a forkan' hoe. eh! they are good 'uns.there's a trowel, too. an' th' woman in th' shop threw in a packeto' white poppy an' one o' blue larkspur
when i bought th' other seeds.""will you show the seeds to me?" mary said. she wished she could talk as he did.his speech was so quick and easy. it sounded as if he liked her and was notthe least afraid she would not like him, though he was only a common moor boy, inpatched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. as she came closer to him she noticed thatthere was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost asif he were made of them. she liked it very much and when she lookedinto his funny face with the red cheeks and
round blue eyes she forgot that she hadfelt shy. "let us sit down on this log and look atthem," she said. they sat down and he took a clumsy littlebrown paper package out of his coat pocket. he untied the string and inside there wereever so many neater and smaller packages with a picture of a flower on each one."there's a lot o' mignonette an' poppies," he said. "mignonette's th' sweetest smellin' thingas grows, an' it'll grow wherever you cast it, same as poppies will.them as'll come up an' bloom if you just whistle to 'em, them's th' nicest of all."
he stopped and turned his head quickly, hispoppy-cheeked face lighting up. "where's that robin as is callin' us?" hesaid. the chirp came from a thick holly bush,bright with scarlet berries, and mary thought she knew whose it was."is it really calling us?" she asked. "aye," said dickon, as if it was the mostnatural thing in the world, "he's callin' some one he's friends with.that's same as sayin' 'here i am. look at me. i wants a bit of a chat.'there he is in the bush. whose is he?""he's ben weatherstaff's, but i think he
knows me a little," answered mary. "aye, he knows thee," said dickon in hislow voice again. "an' he likes thee.he's took thee on. he'll tell me all about thee in a minute." he moved quite close to the bush with theslow movement mary had noticed before, and then he made a sound almost like therobin's own twitter. the robin listened a few seconds, intently,and then answered quite as if he were replying to a question."aye, he's a friend o' yours," chuckled dickon.
"do you think he is?" cried mary eagerly.she did so want to know. "do you think he really likes me?""he wouldn't come near thee if he didn't," answered dickon. "birds is rare choosers an' a robin canflout a body worse than a man. see, he's making up to thee now.'cannot tha' see a chap?' he's sayin'." and it really seemed as if it must be true. he so sidled and twittered and tilted as hehopped on his bush. "do you understand everything birds say?"said mary. dickon's grin spread until he seemed allwide, red, curving mouth, and he rubbed his
rough head."i think i do, and they think i do," he "i've lived on th' moor with 'em so long.i've watched 'em break shell an' come out an' fledge an' learn to fly an' begin tosing, till i think i'm one of 'em. sometimes i think p'raps i'm a bird, or afox, or a rabbit, or a squirrel, or even a beetle, an' i don't know it."he laughed and came back to the log and began to talk about the flower seeds again. he told her what they looked like when theywere flowers; he told her how to plant them, and watch them, and feed and waterthem. "see here," he said suddenly, turning roundto look at her.
"i'll plant them for thee myself.where is tha' garden?" mary's thin hands clutched each other asthey lay on her lap. she did not know what to say, so for awhole minute she said nothing. she had never thought of this. she felt miserable.and she felt as if she went red and then pale."tha's got a bit o' garden, hasn't tha'?" dickon said. it was true that she had turned red andthen pale. dickon saw her do it, and as she still saidnothing, he began to be puzzled.
"wouldn't they give thee a bit?" he asked. "hasn't tha' got any yet?"she held her hands tighter and turned her eyes toward him."i don't know anything about boys," she said slowly. "could you keep a secret, if i told youone? it's a great secret.i don't know what i should do if any one found it out. i believe i should die!"she said the last sentence quite fiercely. dickon looked more puzzled than ever andeven rubbed his hand over his rough head
again, but he answered quite good-humoredly. "i'm keepin' secrets all th' time," hesaid. "if i couldn't keep secrets from th' otherlads, secrets about foxes' cubs, an' birds' nests, an' wild things' holes, there'd benaught safe on th' moor. aye, i can keep secrets." mistress mary did not mean to put out herhand and clutch his sleeve but she did it. "i've stolen a garden," she said very fast."it isn't mine. it isn't anybody's. nobody wants it, nobody cares for it,nobody ever goes into it.
perhaps everything is dead in it already.i don't know." she began to feel hot and as contrary asshe had ever felt in her life. "i don't care, i don't care!nobody has any right to take it from me when i care about it and they don't. they're letting it die, all shut in byitself," she ended passionately, and she threw her arms over her face and burst outcrying-poor little mistress mary. dickon's curious blue eyes grew rounder androunder. "eh-h-h!" he said, drawing his exclamationout slowly, and the way he did it meant both wonder and sympathy.
"i've nothing to do," said mary."nothing belongs to me. i found it myself and i got into it myself.i was only just like the robin, and they wouldn't take it from the robin." "where is it?" asked dickon in a droppedvoice. mistress mary got up from the log at once.she knew she felt contrary again, and obstinate, and she did not care at all. she was imperious and indian, and at thesame time hot and sorrowful. "come with me and i'll show you," she said.she led him round the laurel path and to the walk where the ivy grew so thickly.
dickon followed her with a queer, almostpitying, look on his face. he felt as if he were being led to look atsome strange bird's nest and must move softly. when she stepped to the wall and lifted thehanging ivy he started. there was a door and mary pushed it slowlyopen and they passed in together, and then mary stood and waved her hand rounddefiantly. "it's this," she said. "it's a secret garden, and i'm the only onein the world who wants it to be alive." dickon looked round and round about it, andround and round again.
"eh!" he almost whispered, "it is a queer,pretty place! it's like as if a body was in a dream."