‘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 near 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 flown 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 fresh 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 favorite 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 hates 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.

Just then Mrs Medlock appeared.

‘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.


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