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Chapter 14 A young Rajah

  • The moor was hidden in mist when the morning came, and the rain had no_topped pouring down. There could be no going out of doors. Martha was so bus_hat Mary had no opportunity of talking to her, but in the afternoon she aske_er to come and sit with her in the nursery. She came bringing the stockin_he was always knitting when she was doing nothing else.
  • "What's the matter with thee?" she asked as soon as they sat down. "Tha' look_s if tha'd somethin' to say."
  • "I have. I have found out what the crying was," said Mary.
  • Martha let her knitting drop on her knee and gazed at her with startled eyes.
  • "Tha' hasn't!" she exclaimed. "Never!"
  • "I heard it in the night," Mary went on. "And I got up and went to see wher_t came from. It was Colin. I found him."
  • Martha's face became red with fright.
  • "Eh! Miss Mary!" she said half crying. "Tha' shouldn't have done it—tha'
  • shouldn't! Tha'll get me in trouble. I never told thee nothin' about him—bu_ha'll get me in trouble. I shall lose my place and what'll mother do!"
  • "You won't lose your place," said Mary. "He was glad I came. We talked an_alked and he said he was glad I came."
  • "Was he?" cried Martha. "Art tha' sure? Tha' doesn't know what he's like whe_nything vexes him. He's a big lad to cry like a baby, but when he's in _assion he'll fair scream just to frighten us. He knows us daren't call ou_ouls our own."
  • "He wasn't vexed," said Mary. "I asked him if I should go away and he made m_tay. He asked me questions and I sat on a big footstool and talked to hi_bout India and about the robin and gardens. He wouldn't let me go. He let m_ee his mother's picture. Before I left him I sang him to sleep."
  • Martha fairly gasped with amazement.
  • "I can scarcely believe thee!" she protested. "It's as if tha'd walke_traight into a lion's den. If he'd been like he is most times he'd hav_hrowed himself into one of his tantrums and roused th' house. He won't le_trangers look at him."
  • "He let me look at him. I looked at him all the time and he looked at me. W_tared!" said Mary.
  • "I don't know what to do!" cried agitated Martha. "If Mrs. Medlock finds out, she'll think I broke orders and told thee and I shall be packed back t_other."
  • "He is not going to tell Mrs. Medlock anything about it yet. It's to be a sor_f secret just at first," said Mary firmly. "And he says everybody is oblige_o do as he pleases."
  • "Aye, that's true enough—th' bad lad!" sighed Martha, wiping her forehead wit_er apron.
  • "He says Mrs. Medlock must. And he wants me to come and talk to him every day.
  • And you are to tell me when he wants me."
  • "Me!" said Martha; "I shall lose my place—I shall for sure!"
  • "You can't if you are doing what he wants you to do and everybody is ordere_o obey him," Mary argued.
  • "Does tha' mean to say," cried Martha with wide open eyes, "that he was nic_o thee!"
  • "I think he almost liked me," Mary answered.
  • "Then tha' must have bewitched him!" decided Martha, drawing a long breath.
  • "Do you mean Magic?" inquired Mary. "I've heard about Magic in India, but _an't make it. I just went into his room and I was so surprised to see him _tood and stared. And then he turned round and stared at me. And he thought _as a ghost or a dream and I thought perhaps he was. And it was so queer bein_here alone together in the middle of the night and not knowing about eac_ther. And we began to ask each other questions. And when I asked him if _ust go away he said I must not."
  • "Th' world's comin' to a end!" gasped Martha.
  • "What is the matter with him?" asked Mary.
  • "Nobody knows for sure and certain," said Martha. "Mr. Craven went off hi_ead like when he was born. Th' doctors thought he'd have to be put in a
  • 'sylum. It was because Mrs. Craven died like I told you. He wouldn't set eye_n th' baby. He just raved and said it'd be another hunchback like him an_t'd better die."
  • "Is Colin a hunchback?" Mary asked. "He didn't look like one."
  • "He isn't yet," said Martha. "But he began all wrong. Mother said that ther_as enough trouble and raging in th' house to set any child wrong. They wa_fraid his back was weak an' they've always been takin' care of it—keepin' hi_yin' down and not lettin' him walk. Once they made him wear a brace but h_retted so he was downright ill. Then a big doctor came to see him an' mad_hem take it off. He talked to th' other doctor quite rough—in a polite way.
  • He said there'd been too much medicine and too much lettin' him have his ow_ay."
  • "I think he's a very spoiled boy," said Mary.
  • "He's th' worst young nowt as ever was!" said Martha. "I won't say as h_asn't been ill a good bit. He's had coughs an' colds that's nearly killed hi_wo or three times. Once he had rheumatic fever an' once he had typhoid. Eh!
  • Mrs. Medlock did get a fright then. He'd been out of his head an' she wa_alkin' to th' nurse, thinkin' he didn't know nothin', an' she said, 'He'l_ie this time sure enough, an' best thing for him an' for everybody.' An' sh_ooked at him an' there he was with his big eyes open, starin' at her a_ensible as she was herself. She didn't know wha'd happen but he just stare_t her an' says, 'You give me some water an' stop talkin'.'"
  • "Do you think he will die?" asked Mary.
  • "Mother says there's no reason why any child should live that gets no fres_ir an' doesn't do nothin' but lie on his back an' read picture-books an' tak_edicine. He's weak and hates th' trouble o' bein' taken out o' doors, an' h_ets cold so easy he says it makes him ill."
  • Mary sat and looked at the fire. "I wonder," she said slowly, "if it would no_o him good to go out into a garden and watch things growing. It did me good."
  • "One of th' worst fits he ever had," said Martha, "was one time they took hi_ut where the roses is by the fountain. He'd been readin' in a paper abou_eople gettin' somethin' he called 'rose cold' an' he began to sneeze an' sai_e'd got it an' then a new gardener as didn't know th' rules passed by an'
  • looked at him curious. He threw himself into a passion an' he said he'd looke_t him because he was going to be a hunchback. He cried himself into a feve_n' was ill all night."
  • "If he ever gets angry at me, I'll never go and see him again," said Mary.
  • "He'll have thee if he wants thee," said Martha. "Tha' may as well know tha_t th' start."
  • Very soon afterward a bell rang and she rolled up her knitting.
  • "I dare say th' nurse wants me to stay with him a bit," she said. "I hope he'_n a good temper."
  • She was out of the room about ten minutes and then she came back with _uzzled expression.
  • "Well, tha' has bewitched him," she said. "He's up on his sofa with hi_icture-books. He's told the nurse to stay away until six o'clock. I'm to wai_n the next room. Th' minute she was gone he called me to him an' says, '_ant Mary Lennox to come and talk to me, and remember you're not to tell an_ne.' You'd better go as quick as you can."
  • Mary was quite willing to go quickly. She did not want to see Colin as much a_he wanted to see Dickon; but she wanted to see him very much.
  • There was a bright fire on the hearth when she entered his room, and in th_aylight she saw it was a very beautiful room indeed. There were rich color_n the rugs and hangings and pictures and books on the walls which made i_ook glowing and comfortable even in spite of the gray sky and falling rain.
  • Colin looked rather like a picture himself. He was wrapped in a velve_ressing-gown and sat against a big brocaded cushion. He had a red spot o_ach cheek.
  • "Come in," he said. "I've been thinking about you all morning."
  • "I've been thinking about you, too," answered Mary. "You don't know ho_rightened Martha is. She says Mrs. Medlock will think she told me about yo_nd then she will be sent away."
  • He frowned.
  • "Go and tell her to come here," he said. "She is in the next room."
  • Mary went and brought her back. Poor Martha was shaking in her shoes. Coli_as still frowning.
  • "Have you to do what I please or have you not?" he demanded.
  • "I have to do what you please, sir," Martha faltered, turning quite red.
  • "Has Medlock to do what I please?"
  • "Everybody has, sir," said Martha.
  • "Well, then, if I order you to bring Miss Mary to me, how can Medlock send yo_way if she finds it out?"
  • "Please don't let her, sir," pleaded Martha.
  • "I'll send her away if she dares to say a word about such a thing," sai_aster Craven grandly. "She wouldn't like that, I can tell you."
  • "Thank you, sir," bobbing a curtsy, "I want to do my duty, sir."
  • "What I want is your duty" said Colin more grandly still. "I'll take care o_ou. Now go away."
  • When the door closed behind Martha, Colin found Mistress Mary gazing at him a_f he had set her wondering.
  • "Why do you look at me like that?" he asked her. "What are you thinkin_bout?"
  • "I am thinking about two things."
  • "What are they? Sit down and tell me."
  • "This is the first one," said Mary, seating herself on the big stool. "Once i_ndia I saw a boy who was a Rajah. He had rubies and emeralds and diamond_tuck all over him. He spoke to his people just as you spoke to Martha.
  • Everybody had to do everything he told them—in a minute. I think they woul_ave been killed if they hadn't."
  • "I shall make you tell me about Rajahs presently," he said, "but first tell m_hat the second thing was."
  • "I was thinking," said Mary, "how different you are from Dickon."
  • "Who is Dickon?" he said. "What a queer name!"
  • She might as well tell him, she thought she could talk about Dickon withou_entioning the secret garden. She had liked to hear Martha talk about him.
  • Besides, she longed to talk about him. It would seem to bring him nearer.
  • "He is Martha's brother. He is twelve years old," she explained. "He is no_ike any one else in the world. He can charm foxes and squirrels and bird_ust as the natives in India charm snakes. He plays a very soft tune on a pip_nd they come and listen."
  • There were some big books on a table at his side and he dragged one suddenl_oward him. "There is a picture of a snake-charmer in this," he exclaimed.
  • "Come and look at it."
  • The book was a beautiful one with superb colored illustrations and he turne_o one of them.
  • "Can he do that?" he asked eagerly.
  • "He played on his pipe and they listened," Mary explained. "But he doesn'_all it Magic. He says it's because he lives on the moor so much and he know_heir ways. He says he feels sometimes as if he was a bird or a rabbi_imself, he likes them so. I think he asked the robin questions. It seemed a_f they talked to each other in soft chirps."
  • Colin lay back on his cushion and his eyes grew larger and larger and th_pots on his cheeks burned.
  • "Tell me some more about him," he said.
  • "He knows all about eggs and nests," Mary went on. "And he knows where foxe_nd badgers and otters live. He keeps them secret so that other boys won'_ind their holes and frighten them. He knows about everything that grows o_ives on the moor."
  • "Does he like the moor?" said Colin. "How can he when it's such a great, bare, dreary place?"
  • "It's the most beautiful place," protested Mary. "Thousands of lovely thing_row on it and there are thousands of little creatures all busy building nest_nd making holes and burrows and chippering or singing or squeaking to eac_ther. They are so busy and having such fun under the earth or in the trees o_eather. It's their world."
  • "How do you know all that?" said Colin, turning on his elbow to look at her.
  • "I have never been there once, really," said Mary suddenly remembering. "_nly drove over it in the dark. I thought it was hideous. Martha told me abou_t first and then Dickon. When Dickon talks about it you feel as if you sa_hings and heard them and as if you were standing in the heather with the su_hining and the gorse smelling like honey—and all full of bees an_utterflies."
  • "You never see anything if you are ill," said Colin restlessly. He looked lik_ person listening to a new sound in the distance and wondering what it was.
  • "You can't if you stay in a room," said Mary.
  • "I couldn't go on the moor," he said in a resentful tone.
  • Mary was silent for a minute and then she said something bold.
  • "You might—sometime."
  • He moved as if he were startled.
  • "Go on the moor! How could I? I am going to die." "How do you know?" said Mar_nsympathetically. She didn't like the way he had of talking about dying. Sh_id not feel very sympathetic. She felt rather as if he almost boasted abou_t.
  • "Oh, I've heard it ever since I remember," he answered crossly. "They ar_lways whispering about it and thinking I don't notice. They wish I would, too."
  • Mistress Mary felt quite contrary. She pinched her lips together.
  • "If they wished I would," she said, "I wouldn't. Who wishes you would?"
  • "The servants—and of course Dr. Craven because he would get Misselthwaite an_e rich instead of poor. He daren't say so, but he always looks cheerful whe_ am worse. When I had typhoid fever his face got quite fat. I think my fathe_ishes it, too."
  • "I don't believe he does," said Mary quite obstinately.
  • That made Colin turn and look at her again.
  • "Don't you?" he said.
  • And then he lay back on his cushion and was still, as if he were thinking. An_here was quite a long silence. Perhaps they were both of them thinkin_trange things children do not usually think. "I like the grand doctor fro_ondon, because he made them take the iron thing off," said Mary at last "Di_e say you were going to die?"
  • "No.".
  • "What did he say?"
  • "He didn't whisper," Colin answered. "Perhaps he knew I hated whispering. _eard him say one thing quite aloud. He said, 'The lad might live if he woul_ake up his mind to it. Put him in the humor.' It sounded as if he was in _emper."
  • "I'll tell you who would put you in the humor, perhaps," said Mary reflecting.
  • She felt as if she would like this thing to be settled one way or the other.
  • "I believe Dickon would. He's always talking about live things. He never talk_bout dead things or things that are ill. He's always looking up in the sky t_atch birds flying—or looking down at the earth to see something growing. H_as such round blue eyes and they are so wide open with looking about. And h_aughs such a big laugh with his wide mouth—and his cheeks are as red—as re_s cherries." She pulled her stool nearer to the sofa and her expression quit_hanged at the remembrance of the wide curving mouth and wide open eyes.
  • "See here," she said. "Don't let us talk about dying; I don't like it. Let u_alk about living. Let us talk and talk about Dickon. And then we will look a_our pictures."
  • It was the best thing she could have said. To talk about Dickon meant to tal_bout the moor and about the cottage and the fourteen people who lived in i_n sixteen shillings a week—and the children who got fat on the moor gras_ike the wild ponies. And about Dickon's mother—and the skipping-rope—and th_oor with the sun on it—and about pale green points sticking up out of th_lack sod. And it was all so alive that Mary talked more than she had eve_alked before—and Colin both talked and listened as he had never done eithe_efore. And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when the_re happy together. And they laughed so that in the end they were making a_uch noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-ol_reatures—instead of a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy wh_elieved that he was going to die.
  • They enjoyed themselves so much that they forgot the pictures and they forgo_bout the time. They had been laughing quite loudly over Ben Weatherstaff an_is robin, and Colin was actually sitting up as if he had forgotten about hi_eak back, when he suddenly remembered something. "Do you know there is on_hing we have never once thought of," he said. "We are cousins."
  • It seemed so queer that they had talked so much and never remembered thi_imple thing that they laughed more than ever, because they had got into th_umor to laugh at anything. And in the midst of the fun the door opened and i_alked Dr. Craven and Mrs. Medlock.
  • Dr. Craven started in actual alarm and Mrs. Medlock almost fell back becaus_e had accidentally bumped against her.
  • "Good Lord!" exclaimed poor Mrs. Medlock with her eyes almost starting out o_er head. "Good Lord!"
  • "What is this?" said Dr. Craven, coming forward. "What does it mean?"
  • Then Mary was reminded of the boy Rajah again. Colin answered as if neithe_he doctor's alarm nor Mrs. Medlock's terror were of the slightes_onsequence. He was as little disturbed or frightened as if an elderly cat an_og had walked into the room.
  • "This is my cousin, Mary Lennox," he said. "I asked her to come and talk t_e. I like her. She must come and talk to me whenever I send for her."
  • Dr. Craven turned reproachfully to Mrs. Medlock. "Oh, sir" she panted. "_on't know how it's happened. There's not a servant on the place tha'd dare t_alk—they all have their orders."
  • "Nobody told her anything," said Colin. "She heard me crying and found m_erself. I am glad she came. Don't be silly, Medlock."
  • Mary saw that Dr. Craven did not look pleased, but it was quite plain that h_are not oppose his patient. He sat down by Colin and felt his pulse.
  • "I am afraid there has been too much excitement. Excitement is not good fo_ou, my boy," he said.
  • "I should be excited if she kept away," answered Colin, his eyes beginning t_ook dangerously sparkling. "I am better. She makes me better. The nurse mus_ring up her tea with mine. We will have tea together."
  • Mrs. Medlock and Dr. Craven looked at each other in a troubled way, but ther_as evidently nothing to be done.
  • "He does look rather better, sir," ventured Mrs. Medlock. "But"—thinking th_atter over—"he looked better this morning before she came into the room."
  • "She came into the room last night. She stayed with me a long time. She sang _industani song to me and it made me go to sleep," said Colin. "I was bette_hen I wakened up. I wanted my breakfast. I want my tea now. Tell nurse, Medlock."
  • Dr. Craven did not stay very long. He talked to the nurse for a few minute_hen she came into the room and said a few words of warning to Colin. He mus_ot talk too much; he must not forget that he was ill; he must not forget tha_e was very easily tired. Mary thought that there seemed to be a number o_ncomfortable things he was not to forget.
  • Colin looked fretful and kept his strange black-lashed eyes fixed on Dr.
  • Craven's face.
  • "I want to forget it," he said at last. "She makes me forget it. That is why _ant her."
  • Dr. Craven did not look happy when he left the room. He gave a puzzled glanc_t the little girl sitting on the large stool. She had become a stiff, silen_hild again as soon as he entered and he could not see what the attractio_as. The boy actually did look brighter, however—and he sighed rather heavil_s he went down the corridor.
  • "They are always wanting me to eat things when I don't want to," said Colin, as the nurse brought in the tea and put it on the table by the sofa. "Now, i_ou'll eat I will. Those muffins look so nice and hot. Tell me about Rajahs."