‘Well!’ said Ben. ‘You’re looking fine and healthy today! Go on skipping. It’s good for you.’

Mary skipped all the way to the secret garden wall. And there was the robin! He had followed her! Mary was very pleased.

‘You showed me where the key was yesterday,’ she laughed. ‘I’ve got it in my pocket. So you ought to show me the door today!’

The robin hopped on to an old climbing plant on the wall, and sang his most beautiful song. Suddenly the wind made the plant move, and Mary saw something under the dark green leaves. The thick, heavy plant was covering a door. Mary’s heart was beating fast and her hands were shaking as she pushed the leaves away and found the keyhole. She took the key out of her pocket, and it fitted the hole. Using both hands, she managed to unlock the door. Then she turned round to see if anyone was watching. But there was no one, so she pushed the door, which opened, slowly, for the first time in ten years. She walked quickly in and shut the door behind her. At last she was inside the secret garden!

It was the loveliest, most exciting place she had ever seen. There were old rose trees everywhere, and the walls were covered with climbing roses. She looked carefully at the grey branches. Were the roses still alive? Ben would know. She hoped they weren’t all dead. But she was inside the wonderful garden, in a world of her own. It seemed very strange and silent, but she did not feel lonely at all. Then she noticed some small green shoots coming up through the grass. So something was growing in the garden after all! When she found a lot more shoots in different places, she decided they needed more air and light, so she began to pull out the thick grass around them. She worked away, clearing the ground, for two or three hours, and had to take her coat off because she got so hot. The robin hopped around, pleased to see someone gardening.

She almost forgot about lunch, and when she arrived back in her room, she was very hungry and ate twice as much as usual. ‘Martha,’ she said as she was eating, ‘I’ve been thinking. This is a big, lonely house, and there isn’t much for me to do. Do you think, if I buy a little spade, I can make my own garden?’

‘That’s just what Mother said,’ replied Martha. ‘You’d enjoy digging and watching plants growing. Dickon can get you a spade, and some seeds to plant, if you like.’

‘Oh, thank you, Martha! I’ve got some money that Mrs Medlock gave me. Will you write and ask Dickon to buy them for me?’

‘I will. And he’ll bring them to you himself.’

‘Oh! Then I’ll see him.’ Mary looked very excited. Then she remembered something. ‘I heard that cry in the house again, Martha. It wasn’t the wind this time. I’ve heard it three times now. Who is it?’

Martha looked uncomfortable. ‘You mustn’t go wandering around the house, you know. Mr Craven wouldn’t like it. Now I must go and help the others downstairs. I’ll see you at tea-time.’

As the door closed behind Martha, Mary thought to herself, ‘This really is the strangest house that anyone ever lived in.’


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