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After they had left the station they had driven through a tiny village and she had seen whitewashed cottages and the lights of a public house.
Then they had passed a church and a vicarage and a little shop-window or so in a cottage with toys and sweets and odd things set out for sale.
Then they were on the highroad and she saw hedges and trees. After that there seemed nothing different for 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 hedges and no more trees.
She could see nothing, in fact, but a dense darkness on either side. She leaned forward and pressed her face against the window just as the carriage gave a big jolt.
The carriage lamps shed a yellow light on a rough-looking road which seemed to be cut through bushes and low-growing things which ended in the great expanse of dark apparently spread out before and around them.
A wind was rising and making a singular, wild, low, rushing sound. Medlock said. On and on they drove through the darkness, and though the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made strange sounds.
The road went up and down, and several times the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath which water rushed very fast with a great deal of noise.
Mary felt as if the drive would never come to an end and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black ocean through which she was passing on a strip of dry land.
The horses were climbing up a hilly piece of road when she first caught sight of a light. Medlock saw it as soon as she did and drew a long sigh of relief.
We shall get a good cup of tea after a bit, at all events. They drove out of the vault into a clear space and stopped before an immensely long but low-built house which seemed to ramble round a stone court.
At first Mary thought that there were no lights at all in the windows, but as she got out of the carriage she saw that one room in a corner upstairs showed a dull glow.
The entrance door was a huge one made of massive, curiously shaped panels of oak studded with big iron nails and bound with great iron bars.
It opened into an enormous hall, which was so dimly lighted that the faces in the portraits on the walls and the figures in the suits of armor made Mary feel that she did not want to look at them.
As she stood on the stone floor she looked a very small, odd little black figure, and she felt as small and lost and odd as she looked. And then Mary Lennox was led up a broad staircase and down a long corridor and up a short flight of steps and through another corridor and another, until a door opened in a wall and she found herself in a room with a fire in it and a supper on a table.
It was in this way Mistress Mary arrived at Misselthwaite Manor and she had perhaps never felt quite so contrary in all her life.
When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because a young housemaid had come into her room to light the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking out the cinders noisily.
Mary lay and watched her for a few moments and then began to look about the room. She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it curious and gloomy.
The walls were covered with tapestry with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the turrets of a castle.
There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies. Mary felt as if she were in the forest with them. Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing stretch of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look rather like an endless, dull, purplish sea.
Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression. The native servants she had been used to in India were not in the least like this.
They were obsequious and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals.
Indian servants were commanded to do things, not asked. She wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round, rosy, good-natured looking creature, but she had a sturdy way which made Mistress Mary wonder if she might not even slap back—if the person who slapped her was only a little girl.
Martha sat up on her heels, with her blacking-brush in her hand, and laughed, without seeming the least out of temper.
She told me she could never have done it if Misselthwaite had been like other big houses. My Ayah dressed me, of course.
She could scarcely stand this. You thought I was a native. You—you daughter of a pig! You dared! You know nothing about India.
You know nothing about anything! 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. I beg your pardon, Miss. There was something comforting and really friendly 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. When Mary at last decided to get up, the clothes Martha took from the wardrobe were not the ones she had worn when she arrived the night before with Mrs.
Craven ordered Mrs. Put color on her. Mother always knows what a body means. The dressing process was one which taught them both something.
It had not been the custom that Mistress Mary should do anything but stand and allow herself to be dressed like a doll, but before she was ready for breakfast she began to suspect that her life at Misselthwaite Manor would end by teaching her a number of things quite new to her—things such as putting on her own shoes and stockings, and picking up things she let fall.
She was, however, only an untrained Yorkshire rustic who had been brought up in a moorland cottage with a swarm of little brothers and sisters who had never dreamed of doing anything but waiting on themselves and on the younger ones who were either babies in arms or just learning to totter about and tumble over things.
At first she was not at all interested, but gradually, as the girl rattled on in her good-tempered, homely way, Mary began to notice what she was saying.
Mary had never possessed an animal pet of her own and had always thought she should like one. So she began to feel a slight interest in Dickon, and as she had never before been interested in anyone but herself, it was the dawning of a healthy sentiment.
When she went into the room which had been made into a nursery for her, she found that it was rather like the one she had slept in. A table in the center was set with a good substantial breakfast.
But she had always had a very small appetite, and she looked with something more than indifference at the first plate Martha set before her.
My word! Mary went to the window. There were gardens and paths and big trees, but everything looked dull and wintry. Mary glanced about her.
There was nothing to do. When Mrs. Medlock had prepared the nursery she had not thought of amusement. Perhaps it would be better to go and see what the gardens were like.
It was really this mention of Dickon which made 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 in India and it might amuse her to look at them. Martha found her coat and hat for her and a pair of stout little boots and she showed her her way downstairs.
No one has been in it for ten years. Here was another locked door added to the hundred in the strange house. Craven had it shut when his wife died so sudden.
It was her garden. After she was gone Mary turned down the walk which led to the door in the shrubbery. She could not help thinking about the garden which no one had been into for ten years.
She wondered what it would look like and whether there were any flowers still alive in it. When she had passed through the shrubbery gate she found herself in great gardens, with wide lawns and winding walks with clipped borders.
There were trees, and flower-beds, and evergreens clipped into strange shapes, and a large pool with an old gray fountain in its midst.
But the flower-beds were bare and wintry and 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 saw that, 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 to know that she was coming upon the kitchen-gardens where the vegetables and fruit were growing.
She went toward the wall and found that there 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 it was a garden with walls all round it and that it was only one of several walled gardens which seemed to open into one another.
She saw another open green door, revealing bushes and pathways between beds containing winter vegetables. Fruit-trees were trained flat against the wall, 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 things were green, but there was nothing pretty about it now.
Presently an old man with a spade over his shoulder walked through the door leading from the second garden. He looked startled when he saw Mary, and then touched his cap.
Mary made no response. She went down the path and through the second green door. There, she found more walls and winter vegetables and glass frames, but in the second wall there was another green door and it was not open.
Perhaps it led into the garden which no one had seen for ten years. As she was not at all a timid child and always did what she wanted to do, Mary went to the green door and turned the handle.
She hoped the door would not open because she wanted to be sure she had found the mysterious garden—but it did open quite easily and she walked through it and found herself in an orchard.
There were walls all round it also and trees 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 had entered the upper end of the garden she had noticed that the wall did not seem to end with 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 the wall, and when she stood still she saw a bird with a bright red breast sitting on the topmost branch of one of them, and suddenly he burst into his winter song—almost as if he had caught sight of her and was calling to her.
She stopped and listened to him and somehow his cheerful, friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling—even a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens had made this one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself.
She listened to him until he flew away. He was not like an Indian bird and she liked 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 nothing whatever 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 the key? If he had liked his wife so much why did he hate 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, and that she should only stand and stare at him and say nothing, though she should be wanting dreadfully to ask him why he had done such a queer thing.
They were always talking and laughing and making noises. She thought of the robin and of the way he seemed to sing his song at her, and as she remembered the tree-top he perched on she stopped rather suddenly on the path.
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 she spoke to him. A bird with a red breast was sitting on one of them and he sang.
To her surprise the surly old weather-beaten face actually changed its expression. A slow smile spread over it and the gardener looked quite different.
It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before. He turned about to the orchard side of his garden 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 thing happened.
The bird put his tiny head on one side and looked 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 earth briskly, looking for seeds and insects. It actually gave Mary a queer feeling in her heart, because he was so pretty and cheerful and seemed so like a person.
He had a tiny plump body and a delicate beak, and slender delicate legs. 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. The robin hopped about busily pecking the soil 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 out all about her.
The queer feeling in her heart increased. She had not known before that this was one of 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. He began to dig again, driving his spade deep into the rich black garden soil while the robin hopped about very busily employed.
It is a Yorkshire habit to say what you think with blunt frankness, and old Ben Weatherstaff was a Yorkshire moor man.
This was plain speaking, and Mary Lennox had 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 wondered if she looked as sour as he had looked before the robin came.
Suddenly a clear rippling little sound broke out near her and she turned round. She was standing a few feet from a young apple-tree and the robin had flown on to one of its branches and had burst out into a scrap of a song.
Ben Weatherstaff laughed outright. Mary would have liked to ask some more questions. She was almost as curious about Dickon as she was about the deserted garden.
But just that moment the robin, who had ended his song, gave a little shake of his wings, spread them and flew away. He had made his visit and had other things to do.
There must be a door somewhere. Ben drove his spade deep and looked as uncompanionable as he had looked when she first saw him.
Here, I must go on with my work. And he actually stopped digging, threw his spade over his shoulder and walked off, without even glancing at her or saying good-by.
At first each day which passed by for Mary Lennox was exactly like the others. Every morning she awoke in her tapestried room and found Martha kneeling upon the hearth building her fire; every morning she ate her breakfast in the nursery which had nothing amusing in it; and after each breakfast she gazed out of the window across to the huge moor which seemed to spread out on all sides and climb up to the sky, 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—and so she went out.
She did not know that this was the best thing she could have done, and she did not know that, when she began to walk quickly or even run along the paths and down the avenue, she was stirring her slow blood and making herself stronger by fighting with the wind which swept down from the moor.
She ran only to make herself warm, and she hated the wind which rushed at her face and roared and held her back as if it were some giant she could not see.
But the big breaths of rough fresh air blown over the heather filled her lungs with something which was good for her whole thin body and whipped some red color into her cheeks and brightened her dull eyes when she did not know anything about it.
But after a few days spent almost entirely out of doors she wakened one morning knowing what it was to be hungry, and when she sat down to her breakfast she did not glance disdainfully at her porridge and push it away, but took up her spoon and began to eat it and went on eating it until her bowl was empty.
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 was too surly.
Once when she was walking toward him he picked up his spade and turned away as if he did it on purpose. One place she went to oftener than to any other.
It was the long walk outside the gardens with the walls round them. There were bare flower-beds on either side of it and against the walls ivy grew thickly.
There was one part of the wall where the creeping 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 to look neat, but at this lower end of the walk it had not been trimmed at all. A few days after she had talked to Ben Weatherstaff, Mary stopped to notice this and wondered why it was so.
He did answer. He twittered and chirped and hopped along the wall as if he were telling her all sorts of things. It seemed to Mistress Mary as if she understood him, too, though he was not speaking in words.
It was as if he said:. Let us both chirp and hop and twitter. Come on! Mary began to laugh, and as he hopped and took little flights along the wall she ran after him.
Poor little thin, sallow, ugly Mary—she actually looked almost pretty for a moment. I like you! But the robin seemed to be quite satisfied and chirped and whistled back at her.
At last he spread his wings and made a darting flight to the top of a tree, where he perched and sang loudly. That reminded Mary of the first time she had seen him.
He had been swinging on a tree-top then and she had been standing in the orchard. Now she was on the other side of the orchard and standing in the path outside a wall—much lower down—and there was the same tree inside.
He lives in there. How I wish I could see what it is like! She ran up the walk to the green door she had entered the first morning.
Then she ran down the path through the other door and then into the orchard, and when she stood and looked up there was the tree on the other side of the wall, and there was the robin just finishing his song and beginning to preen his feathers with his beak.
She walked round and looked closely at that side of the orchard wall, but she only found what she had found before—that there was no door in it.
Then she ran through the kitchen-gardens again and out into the walk outside the long ivy-covered wall, and she walked to the 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 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 she began to be quite interested and feel that she was not sorry that she had come to Misselthwaite Manor.
In India she had always felt hot and too languid to care much about anything. The fact was that the fresh wind from the moor had begun to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken her up a little.
She stayed out of doors nearly all day, and when 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 hear her, and at last she thought she would ask her a question. She asked it after she had finished her supper and had sat down on the hearth-rug before the fire.
She had made Martha stay with her and Martha had not objected at all. That was just the way with me when I first heard about it.
It must mean that hollow shuddering sort of roar which rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see were buffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in.
But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire.
She intended to know if Martha did. It was Mrs. Mary did not ask any more questions. At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor.
She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for someone.
But as she was listening to the wind she began to listen to something else. She did not know what it was, because at first she could scarcely distinguish it from the wind itself.
It was a curious sound—it seemed almost as if a child were crying somewhere. Sometimes the wind sounded rather like a child crying, but presently Mistress Mary felt quite sure this sound was inside the house, not outside it.
It was far away, but it was inside. She turned round and looked at Martha. And at that very moment a door must have been opened somewhere downstairs; for a great rushing draft blew along the passage and the door of the room they sat in was blown open with a crash, and as they both jumped to their feet the light was blown out and the crying sound was swept down the far corridor so that it was to be heard more plainly than ever.
But something troubled and awkward in her manner made Mistress Mary stare very hard at her. She did not believe she was speaking the truth.
The next day the rain poured down in torrents again, and when Mary looked out of her window the moor was almost hidden by gray mist and cloud.
There could be no going out today. She had even begun to find it interesting and to be sorry when she stopped or went away. The stories she had been told by her Ayah when she lived in India had been quite unlike those Martha had to tell about the moorland cottage which held fourteen people who lived in four little rooms and never had quite enough to eat.
The children seemed to tumble about and amuse themselves like a litter of rough, good-natured collie puppies.
Mary was most attracted by the mother and Dickon. Mary did not ask where the library was, because she was suddenly inspired by a new idea.
She made up her mind to go and find it herself. She was not troubled about Mrs. In this queer place one scarcely ever saw anyone at all.
Medlock was out of the way. Medlock came and looked at her every day or two, but no one inquired what she did or told her what to do.
She supposed that perhaps this was the English way of treating children. In India she had always been attended by her Ayah, who had followed her about and waited on her, hand and foot.
She had often been tired of her company. Now she was followed by nobody and was learning to dress herself because Martha looked as though she thought she was silly and stupid when she wanted to have things handed to her and put on.
Mary had worn her contrary scowl for an hour after that, but it made her think several entirely new things. She stood at the window for about ten minutes this morning after Martha had swept up the hearth for the last time and gone downstairs.
She was thinking over the new idea which had come to her when she heard of the library. She did not care very much about the library itself, because she had read very few books; but to hear of it brought back to her mind the hundred rooms with closed doors.
She wondered if they were all really locked and what she would find if she could get into any of them. Were there a hundred really? It would be something to do on this morning when she could not go out.
She had never been taught to ask permission to do things, and she knew nothing at all about authority, so she would not have thought it necessary to ask Mrs.
Medlock if she might walk about the house, even if she had seen her. She opened the door of the room and went into the corridor, and then she began her wanderings.
It was a long corridor and it branched into other corridors and it led her up short flights of steps which mounted to others again.
There were doors and doors, and there were pictures on the walls. Sometimes they were pictures of dark, curious landscapes, but oftenest they were portraits of men and women in queer, grand costumes made of satin and velvet.
She found herself in one long gallery whose walls were covered with these portraits. She had never thought there could be so many in any house.
She walked slowly down this place and stared at the faces which also seemed to stare at her. She felt as if they were wondering what a little girl from India was doing in their house.
Some were pictures of children—little girls in thick satin frocks which reached to their feet and stood out about them, and boys with puffed sleeves and lace collars and long hair, or with big ruffs around their necks.
She always stopped to look at the children, and wonder what their names were, and where they had gone, and why they wore such odd clothes.
There was a stiff, plain little girl rather like herself. She wore a green brocade dress and held a green parrot on her finger.
Her eyes had a sharp, curious look. Surely no other little girl ever spent such a queer morning. It seemed as if there was no one in all the huge rambling house but her own small self, wandering about upstairs and down, through narrow passages and wide ones, where it seemed to her that no one but herself had ever walked.
Since so many rooms had been built, people must have lived in them, but it all seemed so empty that she could not quite believe it true.
It was not until she climbed to the second floor that she thought of turning the handle of a door.
All the doors were shut, as Mrs. Medlock had said they were, but at last she put her hand on the handle of one of them and turned it.
She was almost frightened for a moment when she felt that it turned without difficulty and that when she pushed upon the door itself it slowly and heavily opened.
It was a massive door and opened into a big bedroom. There were embroidered hangings on the wall, and inlaid furniture such as she had seen in India stood about the room.
A broad window with leaded panes looked out upon the moor; and over the mantel was another portrait of the stiff, plain little girl who seemed to stare at her more curiously than ever.
After that she opened more doors and more. She saw so many rooms that she became quite tired and began to think that there must be a hundred, though she had not counted them.
In all of them there were old pictures or old tapestries with strange scenes worked on them. There were curious pieces of furniture and curious ornaments in nearly all of them.
They were of different sizes, and some had their mahouts or palanquins on their backs. Some were much bigger than the others and some were so tiny that they seemed only babies.
Mary had seen carved ivory in India and she knew all about elephants. She opened the door of the cabinet and stood on a footstool and played with these for quite a long time.
When she got tired she set the elephants in order and shut the door of the cabinet. In all her wanderings through the long corridors and the empty rooms, she had seen nothing alive; but in this room she saw something.
Just after she had closed the cabinet door she heard a tiny rustling sound. It made her jump and look around at the sofa by the fireplace, from which it seemed to come.
In the corner of the sofa there was a cushion, and in the velvet which covered it there was a hole, and out of the hole peeped a tiny head with a pair of frightened eyes in it.
Mary crept softly across the room to look. The bright eyes belonged to a little gray mouse, and the mouse had eaten a hole into the cushion and made a comfortable nest there.
Six baby mice were cuddled up asleep near her. If there was no one else alive in the hundred rooms there were seven mice who did not look lonely at all.
She had wandered about long enough to feel too tired to wander any farther, and she turned back. Two or three times she lost her way by turning down the wrong corridor and was obliged to ramble up and down until she found the right one; but at last she reached her own floor again, though she was some distance from her own room and did not know exactly where she was.
How still everything is! It was while she was standing here and just after she had said this that the stillness was broken by a sound. It was another cry, but not quite like the one she had heard last night; it was only a short one, a fretful childish whine muffled by passing through walls.
She put her hand accidentally upon the tapestry near her, and then sprang back, feeling quite startled. The tapestry was the covering of a door which fell open and showed her that there was another part of the corridor behind it, and Mrs.
Medlock was coming up it with her bunch of keys in her hand and a very cross look on her face. Medlock at the moment, but she hated her more the next.
And she took her by the arm and half pushed, half pulled her up one passage and down another until she pushed her in at the door of her own room.
The master had better get you a governess, same as he said he would. She went out of the room and slammed the door after her, and Mary went and sat on the hearth-rug, pale with rage.
She did not cry, but ground her teeth. She had heard it twice now, and sometime she would find out. She had found out a great deal this morning.
She felt as if she had been on a long journey, and at any rate she had had something to amuse her all the time, and she had played with the ivory elephants and had seen the gray mouse and its babies in their nest in the velvet cushion.
Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat upright in bed immediately, and called to Martha. The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind.
The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky so blue.
In India skies were hot and blazing; this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds of snow-white fleece.
The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.
In India the natives spoke different dialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha used words she did not know. It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color.
Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again.
She was thinking that the small plain face did not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning she saw it. I am glad.
Perhaps she could talk to her. She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment, but she ended quite positively.
She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given Mary her breakfast. Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longer in the house.
She went out into the garden as quickly as possible, and the first thing she did was to run round and round the fountain flower garden ten times. She counted the times carefully and when she had finished she felt in better spirits.
The sunshine made the whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky arched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor, and she kept lifting her face and looking up into it, trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on one of the little snow-white clouds and float about.
She went into the first kitchen-garden and found Ben Weatherstaff working there with two other gardeners.
The change in the weather seemed to have done him good. He spoke to her of his own accord. Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and she knew at once that the robin had come again.
He was very pert and lively, and hopped about so close to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at her so slyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question.
Are there ever any roses? She walked away, slowly thinking. She was beginning to like Martha, too. That seemed a good many people to like—when you were not used to liking.
She thought of the robin as one of the people. She heard a chirp and a twitter, and when she looked at the bare flower-bed at her left side there he was hopping about and pretending to peck things out of the earth to persuade her that he had not followed her.
But she knew he had followed her and the surprise so filled her with delight that she almost trembled a little. You are prettier than anything else in the world!
She chirped, and talked, and coaxed and he hopped, and flirted his tail and twittered. It was as if he were talking. His red waistcoat was like satin and he puffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand and so pretty that it was really as if he were showing her how important and like a human person a robin could be.
Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.
He knew nothing in the world would make her put out her hand toward him or startle him in the least tiniest way. He knew it because he was a real person—only nicer than any other person in the world.
She was so happy that she scarcely dared to breathe. The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowers because the perennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped about under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshly turned up earth.
He stopped on it to look for a worm. The earth had been turned up because a dog had been trying to dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole.
Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there, and as she looked she saw something almost buried in the newly-turned soil.
It was something like a ring of rusty iron or brass and when the robin flew up into a tree nearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up.
It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried a long time. Mistress Mary stood up and looked at it with an almost frightened face as it hung from her finger.
She looked at the key quite a long time. She turned it over and over, and thought about it. As I have said before, she was not a child who had been trained to ask permission or consult her elders about things.
All she thought about the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden, and she could find out where the door was, she could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened to the old rose-trees.
It was because it had been shut up so long that she wanted to see it. It seemed as if it must be different from other places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years.
Besides that, if she liked it she could go into it every day and shut the door behind her, and she could make up some play of her own and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was, but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth.
The thought of that pleased her very much. Living as it were, all by herself in a house with a hundred mysteriously closed rooms and having nothing whatever to do to amuse herself, had set her inactive brain to working and was actually awakening her imagination.
There is no doubt that the fresh, strong, pure air from the moor had a great deal to do with it. Just as it had given her an appetite, and fighting with the wind had stirred her blood, so the same things had stirred her mind.
In India she had always been too hot and languid and weak to care much about anything, but in this place she was beginning to care and to want to do new things.
She put the key in her pocket and walked up and down her walk. No one but herself ever seemed to come there, so she could walk slowly and look at the wall, or, rather, at the ivy growing on it.
The ivy was the baffling thing. Howsoever carefully she looked she could see nothing but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves. She was very much disappointed.
Something of her contrariness came back to her as she paced the walk and looked over it at the tree-tops inside. It seemed so silly, she said to herself, to be near it and not be able to get in.
She took the key in her pocket when she went back to the house, and she made up her mind that she would always carry it with her when she went out, so that if she ever should find the hidden door she would be ready.
Medlock had allowed Martha to sleep all night at the cottage, but she was back at her work in the morning with cheeks redder than ever and in the best of spirits.
She was full of stories of the delights of her day out. Her mother had been glad to see her and they had got the baking and washing all out of the way.
She had even made each of the children a doughcake with a bit of brown sugar in it. Our Dickon he said our cottage was good enough for a king to live in.
I dare say they would like to hear about riding on elephants and camels, and about the officers going to hunt tigers. It would be same as a wild beast show like we heard they had in York once.
Did Dickon and your mother like to hear you talk about me? Craven got no governess for her, nor no nurse?
Presently Martha went out of the room and came back with something held in her hands under her apron.
How could a cottage full of fourteen hungry people give anyone a present! How much are they? She brought it out from under her apron and exhibited it quite proudly.
It was a strong, slender rope with a striped red and blue handle at each end, but Mary Lennox had never seen a skipping-rope before.
She gazed at it with a mystified expression. And she ran into the middle of the room and, taking a handle in each hand, began to skip, and skip, and skip, while Mary turned in her chair to stare at her, and the queer faces in the old portraits seemed to stare at her, too, and wonder what on earth this common little cottager had the impudence to be doing under their very noses.
But Martha did not even see them. Do you think I could ever skip like that? She was not very clever at it, but she liked it so much that she did not want to stop.
Mary put on her coat and hat and took her skipping-rope over her arm. She opened the door to go out, and then suddenly thought of something and turned back rather slowly.
It was your two-pence really. Thank you. Martha gave her hand a clumsy little shake, as if she was not accustomed to this sort of thing either. Then she laughed.
Mistress Mary felt a little awkward as she went out of the room. Yorkshire people seemed strange, and Martha was always rather a puzzle to her. At first she had disliked her very much, but now she did not.
The skipping-rope was a wonderful thing. She counted and skipped, and skipped and counted, until her cheeks were quite red, and she was more interested than she had ever been since she was born.
The sun was shining and a little wind was blowing—not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful little gusts and brought a fresh scent of newly turned earth with it.
She skipped round the fountain garden, and up one walk and down another. She skipped at last into the kitchen-garden and saw Ben Weatherstaff digging and talking to his robin, which was hopping about him.
She skipped down the walk toward him and he lifted his head and looked at her with a curious expression. She had wondered if he would notice her.
She wanted him to see her skip. I can only go up to twenty. Mary skipped round all the gardens and round the orchard, resting every few minutes.
At length she went to her own special walk and made up her mind to try if she could skip the whole length of it.
It was a good long skip and she began slowly, but before she had gone half-way down the path she was so hot and breathless that she was obliged to stop.
She did not mind much, because she had already counted up to thirty. She stopped with a little laugh of pleasure, and there, lo and behold, was the robin swaying on a long branch of ivy.
He had followed her and he greeted her with a chirp. As Mary had skipped toward him she felt something heavy in her pocket strike against her at each jump, and when she saw the robin she laughed again.
The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off.
Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off—and they are nearly always doing it. One of the nice little gusts of wind rushed down the walk, and it was a stronger one than the rest.
It was strong enough to wave the branches of the trees, and it was more than strong enough to sway the trailing sprays of untrimmed ivy hanging from the wall.
Mary had stepped close to the robin, and suddenly the gust of wind swung aside some loose ivy trails, and more suddenly still she jumped toward it and caught it in her hand.
This she did because she had seen something under it—a round knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it. It was the knob of a door.
She put her hands under the leaves and began to pull and push them aside. Thick as the ivy hung, it nearly all was a loose and swinging curtain, though some had crept over wood and iron.
The robin kept singing and twittering away and tilting his head on one side, as if he were as excited as she was. What was this under her hands which was square and made of iron and which her fingers found a hole in?
It was the lock of the door which had been closed ten years and she put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key and found it fitted the keyhole.
She put the key in and turned it. It took two hands to do it, but it did turn. And then she took a long breath and looked behind her up the long walk to see if anyone was coming.
No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed, and she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly—slowly.
Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight.
It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together.
Mary Lennox knew they were roses because she had seen a great many roses in India. All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were alive.
There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees.
There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselves.
There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground.
It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious. Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had ever seen in her life.
Then she waited a moment and listened at the stillness. The robin, who had flown to his treetop, was still as all the rest.
He did not even flutter his wings; he sat without stirring, and looked at Mary. She moved away from the door, stepping as softly as if she were afraid of awakening someone.
She was glad that there was grass under her feet and that her steps made no sounds. She walked under one of the fairy-like gray arches between the trees and looked up at the sprays and tendrils which formed them.
If she had been Ben Weatherstaff she could have told whether the wood was alive by looking at it, but she could only see that there were only gray or brown sprays and branches and none showed any signs of even a tiny leaf-bud anywhere.
But she was inside the wonderful garden and she could come through the door under the ivy any time and she felt as if she had found a world all her own.
The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch of blue sky over this particular piece of Misselthwaite seemed even more brilliant and soft than it was over the moor.
The robin flew down from his tree-top and hopped about or flew after her from one bush to another. He chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he were showing her things.
Everything was strange and silent and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from anyone, but somehow she did not feel lonely at all.
All that troubled her was her wish that she knew whether all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had lived and might put out leaves and buds as the weather got warmer.
She did not want it to be a quite dead garden. If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side!
Her skipping-rope had hung over her arm when she came in and after she had walked about for a while she thought she would skip round the whole garden, stopping when she wanted to look at things.
There seemed to have been grass paths here and there, and in one or two corners there were alcoves of evergreen with stone seats or tall moss-covered flower urns in them.
As she came near the second of these alcoves she stopped skipping. There had once been a flowerbed in it, and she thought she saw something sticking out of the black earth—some sharp little pale green points.
She remembered what Ben Weatherstaff had said and she knelt down to look at them. She bent very close to them and sniffed the fresh scent of the damp earth.
She liked it very much. She did not skip, but walked. She went slowly and kept her eyes on the ground. She looked in the old border beds and among the grass, and after she had gone round, trying to miss nothing, she had found ever so many more sharp, pale green points, and she had become quite excited again.
She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points were pushing their way through that she thought they did not seem to have room enough to grow.
She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass until she made nice little clear places around them.
She went from place to place, and dug and weeded, and enjoyed herself so immensely that she was led on from bed to bed and into the grass under the trees.
The exercise made her so warm that she first threw her coat off, and then her hat, and without knowing it she was smiling down on to the grass and the pale green points all the time.
The robin was tremendously busy. He was very much pleased to see gardening begun on his own estate. He had often wondered at Ben Weatherstaff.
Where gardening is done all sorts of delightful things to eat are turned up with the soil. Mistress Mary worked in her garden until it was time to go to her midday dinner.
In fact, she was rather late in remembering, and when she put on her coat and hat, and picked up her skipping-rope, she could not believe that she had been working two or three hours.
She had been actually happy all the time; and dozens and dozens of the tiny, pale green points were to be seen in cleared places, looking twice as cheerful as they had looked before when the grass and weeds had been smothering them.
Then she ran lightly across the grass, pushed open the slow old door and slipped through it under the ivy. She had such red cheeks and such bright eyes and ate such a dinner that Martha was delighted.
In the course of her digging with her pointed stick Mistress Mary had found herself digging up a sort of white root rather like an onion.
She had put it back in its place and patted the earth carefully down on it and just now she wondered if Martha could tell her what it was.
Would they live years and years if no one helped them? No one knows when they was first planted. I must tell mother that, too.
Mary looked at the fire and pondered a little. She must be careful if she meant to keep her secret kingdom. Craven found out about the open door he would be fearfully angry and get a new key and lock it up forevermore.
She really could not bear that. So many places seem shut up. I never did many things in India, but there were more people to look at—natives and soldiers marching by—and sometimes bands playing, and my Ayah told me stories.
There is no one to talk to here except you and Ben Weatherstaff. I thought if I had a little spade I could dig somewhere as he does, and I might make a little garden if he would give me some seeds.
Morrison gave me five shillings and Mrs. Medlock gave me some money from Mr.