The Secret Garden

Chapter 1, Little Miss Mary

Nobody seemed to care about Mary.

She was born in India, where her father was a British official.

He was busy with his work, and her mother, who was very beautiful, spent all her time going to parties.

So an Indian woman, Kamala, was paid to take care of the little girl.

Mary was not a pretty child. She had a thin angry face and thin yellow hair.

She was always giving orders to Kamala, who had to obey.

Mary never thought of other people, but only of herself.

If fact, she was a very selfish, disagreeable, bad-tempered little girl.

One very hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she woke up and saw that instead of Kamala there was a different Indian servant by her bed.

‘What are you doing here?’ She asked crossly. ‘Go away! And send Kamala to me at once!’

The woman looked afraid.’ I’m sorry, Miss Mary, she-she-she can’t come!’

Something strange was happening that day.

Some of the house servants were missing and everybody looked frightened.

But nobody told Mary anything, and Kamala still did not come.

So at last Mary went out into the garden, and played by herself under a tree.

She pretended she was making her own flower garden, and picked large red flowers to push into the ground.

All the time she was saying crossly to herself, ‘I hate Kamala! I’ll hit her when she comes back!’

Just then she saw her mother coming into the garden, with a young Englishman.

They did not notice the child, who listened to their conversation.

‘It’s very bad, is it? Her mother asked the young man in a worried voice.

‘Very bad, ‘he answered seriously. ‘People are dying like flies.

It’s dangerous to stay in this town.

You should go to the hills, where there’s no disease.’

‘Oh, I know! She cried. ‘We must leave soon!’

Suddenly they heard loud cries coming from the servants’ rooms, at the side of the house.

What’s happened? Cried Mary’s mother wildly, ‘I think one of your servants has just died.

You didn’t tell me the disease is here, in your house!’

‘I didn’t know!’ she screamed.’ Quick, come with me!’

And together they ran into the house.

Now Mary understood what was wrong.

The terrible disease had already killed many people in the town, an in all the houses people were dying.

In Mary’s house it was Kamala who had just died.

Later that day three more servants died there.

All through the night and the next day people ran in and out of the house, shouting and crying.

Nobody thought of Mary.

She hid in her bedroom, frightened by the strange and terrible sounds that she heard around her.

Sometimes she cried and sometimes she slept.

When she woke the next day, the house was silent.

‘Perhaps the disease has gone,’ she thought, ‘and everybody is well again.

I wonder who will take care of me instead of Kamala?

Why doesn’t someone bring me some food? It’s strange the house is so quiet.’

But just then she heard men’s voices in the hall.

‘ How sad! ’ said one. That beautiful woman! ’

‘There was a child too, wasn’t there?’ said the other.

‘Although none of us ever saw her.’

Mary was standing in the middle of her room when they opened the door a few minutes later.

The two men jumped back in surprise.

‘My name is Mary Lennox, ‘she said crossly.

‘I was asleep when everyone was ill, and now I’m hungry.’

‘It’s the child, the one nobody ever saw!’ said the older man to the other.

‘They’ve all forgotten her!’

‘Why was I forgotten?’ asked Mary angrily.

‘Why has nobody come to take care of me?’

The younger man looked at her very sadly.

‘Poor child! ‘ he said.

‘You see, there’s nobody left alive in the house. So nobody can come.’

In this strange and sudden way Mary learnt that both her mother and her father had died.

The few servants who had not died had run away in the night.

No one had remembered little Miss Mary. She was all alone.

Because she had never known her parents well, she did not miss them at all.

She only thought of herself, as she had always done.

‘ Where will I live?’ she wondered.

‘I hope I’ll stay with people who’ll let me do what I want.’

At first she was taken to an English family who had known her parents.

She hated their untidy house and noisy children, and preferred playing by herself in the garden.

One day she was playing her favourite game, pretending to make a garden, when one of the children, Basil, offered to help.

‘Go away!’ cried Mary. ‘ I don’t want your help!’

For a moment Basil looked angry, and then he began to laugh.

He danced round and round Mary, and sang a funny little song about Miss Mary and her stupid flowers.

This made Mary very cross indeed. No one had ever laughed at her so unkindly.

‘You’re going home soon, ‘said Basil.

‘And we’re all very pleased you’re leaving!’

‘I’m pleased too, ‘replied Mary. ‘But where’s home?’

‘You’re stupid if you don’t know that!’ laughed Basil.

‘England, of course! You’re going to live with your uncle, Mr Archibald Craven.

‘I’ve never heard of him,’ said Mary coldly.

‘But I know about him because I heard Father and Mother talking, ‘Said Basil.

‘He lives in a big lonely old house, and has no friends, because he’s so bad-tempered.

He’s got a crooked back, and he’s horrid!’

‘I don’t believe you!’ cried Mary.

But the next day Basil’s parents explained that she was going to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, in the north of England.

Mary looked bored and cross and said nothing.

After the long sea journey, she was met in London by Mr Craven’s housekeeper, Mrs Medlock.

Together they travelled north by train.

Mrs Medlock was a large woman, with a very red face and bright black eyes.

Mary did not like her, but that was not surprising, because she did not usually like people.

Mrs Medlock did not like Mary either.

‘What a disagreeable child!’  thought the housekeeper.

‘But perhaps I should talk to her.’

‘ I can tell you a bit about your uncle if you like’ she said aloud.

‘He lives in a big old house, a long way from anywhere.

There are nearly a hundred rooms, but most of them are shut and locked.

There’s a big park round the house, and all kinds of gardens.

Well, what do you think of that?’

‘Nothing, ‘ replied Mary. ‘It doesn’t matter to me.’

Mrs Medlock laughed. ‘ You’re a hard little girl!

Well, if you don’t care, Mr Craven doesn’t either.

He never spends time on anyone.

He’s got a crooked back, you see, and although he’s always been rich, he was never really happy until he married.’

‘Married?’ repeated Mary in surprise.

‘Yes, he married a sweet, pretty girl, and he loved her deeply.

So when she died-‘

‘Oh! Did she die?’ asked Mary, interested.

‘Yes, she did. And now he doesn’t care about anybody.

If he’s at home, he stays in his room and sees nobody.

He won’t want to see you, so you must stay out of his way and do what you’re told.’

Mary stared out of the train window at the grey sky and the rain.

She was not looking forward to life at her uncle’s house.

The train journey lasted all day, and it was dark when they arrived at the station.

Then there was a long drive to get to the house.

It was a cold, windy night, and it was raining heavily.

After a while Mary began to hear a strange, wild noise.

She looked out of the window, but could see nothing except the darkness.

‘What’s that noise?’ she asked Mrs Medlock.

‘It’s - It’s not the sea, is it?’

‘No, that’s the moor. It’s the sound the wind makes, blowing across the moor.’

‘What is a moor?’

‘It’s just miles and miles of wild land, with no trees or houses.

Your uncle’s house is right on the edge of the moor.’

Mary listened to the strange, frightening sound.

‘I don’t like it, ‘ she thought.’ I don’t like it.’

She looked more disagreeable than ever.

Chapter 2, Marry in Yorkshire

They arrived at a very large old house.

It looked dark and unfriendly from the outside.

Inside, Mary looked around the big shadowy hall, and felt very small and lost.

They went straight upstairs.

Mary was shown to a room where there was a warm fire and food on the table.

This is your room, ‘Said Mrs Medlock.

‘Go to bed when you’ve had some supper.

And remember, you must stay in your room!

Mr Craven doesn’t want you to wander all over the house!’

When Mary woke up the next morning, she saw a young servant girl cleaning the fireplace.

The room seemed dark and rather strange, with pictures of dogs and horses and ladies on the walls.

It was not a child’s room at all.

From the window she could not see any trees or houses, only wild land, which looked like a kind of purple sea.

‘Who are you?’ she asked the servant coldly.

‘Martha, miss?’ answered the girl with a smile.

‘And what’s that outside?’Mary continued.

‘That’s the moor’ smiled Martha. ‘Do you like it?’

‘No,’ replied Mary immediately. ‘I hate it.’

‘That’s because you don’t know it. You will like it. I love it.

It’s lovely in spring and summer when there are flowers.

It always smells so sweet.

The air’s so fresh, and the birds sing so beautifully, I never want to leave the moor.

Mary was feeling very bad-tempered. ‘You’re a strange servant,’ she said.

‘In India we don’t have conversations with servants.

We give orders, and they obey, and that’s that.’

Martha did not seem to mind Mary’s crossness.

‘I know I talk too much!’ she laughed.

‘Are you going to be my servant?’ asked Mary.

‘Well, not really. I work for Mrs Medlock.

I’m going to clean your room and bring you your food, but you won’t need a servant except for those things.’

‘But who’s going to dress me?’

Martha stopped cleaning, and stared at Mary.

‘Tha’ canna ’ dress thysen?’ she asked, shocked.

‘What do you mean? I don’t understand your language!’

‘Oh, I forgot. We  all speak the Yorkshire dialect here, but of course you don’t understand that.

I meant to say, can’t you put on your own clothes?’

‘Of course not! My servant always used to dress me.’

‘Well! I think you should learn to dress yourself.

My mother always says people should be able to take care of themselves, even if they’re rich and important.’

Little Miss Mary was furious with Martha.

‘It’s different in India where I come from!

You don’t know anything about India, or about servants, or about anything! You.. You.. ‘

She could not explain what she meant.

Suddenly she felt very confused and lonely.

She threw herself down on the bed and started crying wildly.

‘Now, now, don’t cry like that’ Martha said gently.

‘I’m very sorry. You’re right, I don’t know anything about anything. Please stop crying, miss.’

She sounded kind and friendly, and Mary began to feel better and soon stopped crying.

Martha went on talking as she finished her cleaning, but Mary looked out of the window in a bored way, and pretended not to listen.

‘I’ve got eleven brothers and sisters, you know, miss.

There’s not much money in our house.

And they all eat so much food!

Mother says it’s the good fresh air on the moor that makes them so hungry.

My brother Dickon, he’s always out on the moor.

He’s twelve, and he’s got a horse which he rides sometimes.’

‘Where did he get it?’ asked Mary.

She had always wanted an animal of her own, and so she began to feel a little interest in Dickon.

‘Oh, it’s a wild horse, but he’s a kind boy, and animals like him, you see.

Now you must have your breakfast, miss. Here it is on the table.’

‘I don’t want it, ‘said Mary. ‘I’m not hungry.’

‘What!’ cried Martha.

‘My little brothers and sisters would eat all this in five minutes!’

‘Why?’ asked Mary coldly.

‘Because they don’t get enough to eat, that’s why, and they’re always hungry.

You’re very lucky to have the food, miss.’

Mary said nothing, but she drank some tea and ate a little bread.

‘Now put a coat on and run outside to play, ‘said Martha.

‘It’ll do you good to be in the fresh air.’

Mary looked out of the window at the cold grey sky.

‘Why should i go out on a day like this?’ she asked.

‘Well, there’s nothing to play with indoors, is there?’

Mary realized Martha was right.

‘But who will go with me?’ she said.

Martha stared at her. ‘Nobody. You’ll have to learn to play by yourself.

Dickon plays by himself on the moors for hours, with the wild birds, and the sheep, and the other animals.’

She looked away for a moment.

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but- but one of the walled gardens is locked up.

Nobody’s been in it for ten years.

It was Mrs craven’s garden, and when she dies so suddenly, Mr Craven locked it and buried the key- Oh, I must go, I can hear Mrs Medlock’s bell ringing for me.’

Mary went downstairs and wandered through the great empty gardens.

Many of the fruit and vegetable gardens had walls round them, but there were no locked doors.

She saw an old man digging in one of the vegetable gardens, but he looked cross and unfriendly, so she walked on.

‘How ugly it all looks in winter!’ she thought.

‘But what a mystery the locked garden is! Why did my uncle bury the key?

If he loved his wife, why did he hate her garden?

Perhaps I’ll never know. I don’t suppose I’ll like him if I ever meet him.

And he won’t like me, so I won’t be able to ask him.’

Just then she noticed a robin singing to her from a tree on the other side of a wall.

‘ I think that tree’s in the secret garden!’ she told herself.

There’s an extra wall here, and there’s no way in.’

She went back to where the gardener was digging, and spoke to him.

At first he answered in a very bad-tempered way, but suddenly the robin flew down hear them, and the old man began to smile.

He looked a different person then, and Mary thought how much nicer people looked when they smiled.

The gardener spoke gently to the robin, and the pretty little bird hopped on the ground near them.

‘He’s my friend, he is, ‘said the old man.

‘There aren’t any other robins in the garden, so he’s a bit lonely.’

He spoke in strong Yorkshire dialect, so Mary had to listen carefully to understand him.

She looked very hard at the robin.

‘I’m lonely too, ‘she said. She had not realized this before.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked the gardener.

‘Ben Weatherstaff. I’m lonely myself. The robin’s my only friend, you see.’

‘I haven’t got any friends at all, ‘said Mary.

Yorkshire people always say what they are thinking, and old Ben was a Yorkshire moor man.

‘We’re alike, you and me,’ He told Mary.

‘We’re not pretty to look at, and we’re both very disagreeable.

Nobody had ever said this to Mary before.

‘Am I really as ugly and disagreeable as Ben?’ she wondered.

Suddenly the robin flew to a tree near Mary and started singing to her, Ben laughed loudly.

‘Well!’ he said. ‘He wants to be your friend!’

‘Oh! Would you please be my friend?’ she whispered to the robin.

She spoke in a soft, quiet voice and old Ben looked at her in surprise.

‘You said that really nicely!’ he said.

‘You sound like Dickon, when he talks to animals on the moor.

‘Do you know Dickon?’ asked Mary. But just then the robin flew away.

‘Oh look, he’s flow into the garden with no door!

Please, Ben, how can I get into it?’

Ben stopped smiling and picked up his spade.

‘You can’t, and that’s that. It’s not your business. Nobody can find the door.

Run away and play, will you? I must get on with my work.’

And he walked away. He did not even say goodbye.

In the next few days Mary spent almost all her time in the gardens.

The first air from the moor made her hungry, and she was becoming stronger and healthier.

One day she noticed the robin again. He was on top of a wall, singing to her.

‘Good morning! Isn’t this fun! Come this way!’

He seemed to say, as he hopped along the wall Mary began to laugh as she danced along beside him.

‘I know the secret garden’s on the other side of this wall!’ she thought excitedly.

‘And the robin lives there! But where’s the door?’

That evening she asked Martha to stay and talk to her beside the fire after supper.

They could hear the wind blowing round the old house, but the room was warm and comfortable.

Mary only had one idea in her head.

Tell me about the secret garden’ she said.

‘Well, all right then, miss, but we aren’t supposed to talk about it, you know.

It was Mrs Craven’s favourite garden, and she and Mr Craven used to take care of it themselves.

They spent hours there, reading and talking. Very happy, they were.

They used the branch of an old tree as a seat.

But one day when she was sitting on the branch, it broke, and she fell.

She was very badly hurt and the next day she died.

That’s why he hated the garden so much, and won’t let anyone go in there.

‘How sad!’ said Mary. ‘Poor Mr Craven!’

It was the first time that she had ever felt sorry for anyone.

Just then, as she was listening to the wind outside, she heard another noise, in the house.

‘Can you hear a child crying? ‘she asked Martha. Martha looked confused.

‘Er- no, ‘she replied. ‘No, I think.. it must be the wind.’

But at that moment the wind blew open their door and they heard the crying very clearly.

‘ I told you !’ cried Mary.

At once Martha shut the door, ‘It was the wind, ‘ She repeated.

But she did not speak in her usual natural way, and Mary did not believe her.

The next day it was very rainy, so Mary did not go out.

Instead she decided to wander round the house.

Looking into some of the hundred rooms that Mrs Medlock had told her about.

She spent all morning going in and out of dark, silent rooms, which were full of heavy furniture and old pictures.

She saw no servants at all, and was on her way back to her room for lunch, when she heard a cry.

It’s a bit like the cry that I heard last night!? She thought.

Just then the housekeeper, Mrs Medlock, appeared, with her keys in her hand.

‘What are you doing here?’ she asked crossly.

‘I didn’t know which way to go, and I heard someone crying, ‘answered Mary.

‘You didn’t hear anything! Go back to your room now.

And if you don’t stay there, I’ll lock you in!’

Mary hated Mrs Medlock for this.

‘There was someone crying, I know there was!’ she said to herself.

‘But I’ll discover who it is soon!?

She was almost beginning to enjoy herself in Yorkshire.