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Chapter 7 The Key to the Garden

  • Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat upright in be_mmediately, and called to Martha.
  • "Look at the moor! Look at the moor!"
  • The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away i_he night by the wind. The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blu_ky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky s_lue. In India skies were hot and blazing; this was of a deep cool blue whic_lmost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, an_ere and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds o_now-white fleece. The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softl_lue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.
  • "Aye," said Martha with a cheerful grin. "Th' storm's over for a bit. It doe_ike this at this time o' th' year. It goes off in a night like it wa_retendin' it had never been here an' never meant to come again. That'_ecause th' springtime's on its way. It's a long way off yet, but it'_omin'."
  • "I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England," Mary said.
  • "Eh! no!" said Martha, sitting up on her heels among her black lead brushes.
  • "Nowt o' th' soart!"
  • "What does that mean?" asked Mary seriously. In India the natives spok_ifferent dialects which only a few people understood, so she was no_urprised when Martha used words she did not know.
  • Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.
  • "There now," she said. "I've talked broad Yorkshire again like Mrs. Medloc_aid I mustn't. 'Nowt o' th' soart' means 'nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly an_arefully, "but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire's th' sunniest place o_arth when it is sunny. I told thee tha'd like th' moor after a bit. Just yo_ait till you see th' gold-colored gorse blossoms an' th' blossoms o' th'
  • broom, an' th' heather flowerin', all purple bells, an' hundreds o'
  • butterflies flutterin' an' bees hummin' an' skylarks soarin' up an' singin'.
  • You'll want to get out on it as sunrise an' live out on it all day like Dicko_oes." "Could I ever get there?" asked Mary wistfully, looking through he_indow at the far-off blue. It was so new and big and wonderful and such _eavenly color.
  • "I don't know," answered Martha. "Tha's never used tha' legs since tha' wa_orn, it seems to me. Tha' couldn't walk five mile. It's five mile to ou_ottage."
  • "I should like to see your cottage."
  • Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brus_nd began to rub the grate again. She was thinking that the small plain fac_id not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning sh_aw it. It looked just a trifle like little Susan Ann's when she wante_omething very much.
  • "I'll ask my mother about it," she said. "She's one o' them that nearly alway_ees a way to do things. It's my day out today an' I'm goin' home. Eh! I a_lad. Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o' mother. Perhaps she could talk to her."
  • "I like your mother," said Mary.
  • "I should think tha' did," agreed Martha, polishing away.
  • "I've never seen her," said Mary.
  • "No, tha' hasn't," replied Martha.
  • She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her nose with the back o_er hand as if puzzled for a moment, but she ended quite positively.
  • "Well, she's that sensible an' hard workin' an' goodnatured an' clean that n_ne could help likin' her whether they'd seen her or not. When I'm goin' hom_o her on my day out I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor."
  • "I like Dickon," added Mary. "And I've never seen him."
  • "Well," said Martha stoutly, "I've told thee that th' very birds likes him an'
  • th' rabbits an' wild sheep an' ponies, an' th' foxes themselves. I wonder,"
  • staring at her reflectively, "what Dickon would think of thee?"
  • "He wouldn't like me," said Mary in her stiff, cold little way. "No one does."
  • Martha looked reflective again.
  • "How does tha' like thysel'?" she inquired, really quite as if she wer_urious to know.
  • Mary hesitated a moment and thought it over.
  • "Not at all—really," she answered. "But I never thought of that before."
  • Martha grinned a little as if at some homely recollection.
  • "Mother said that to me once," she said. "She was at her wash-tub an' I was i_ bad temper an' talkin' ill of folk, an' she turns round on me an' says:
  • 'Tha' young vixen, tha'! There tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't like this on_n' tha' doesn't like that one. How does tha' like thysel'?' It made me laug_n' it brought me to my senses in a minute."
  • She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given Mary her breakfast. Sh_as going to walk five miles across the moor to the cottage, and she was goin_o help her mother with the washing and do the week's baking and enjoy hersel_horoughly.
  • Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longer in the house. Sh_ent out into the garden as quickly as possible, and the first thing she di_as to run round and round the fountain flower garden ten times. She counte_he times carefully and when she had finished she felt in better spirits. Th_unshine made the whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky arche_ver Misselthwaite as well as over the moor, and she kept lifting her face an_ooking up into it, trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on on_f the little snow-white clouds and float about. She went into the firs_itchen-garden and found Ben Weatherstaff working there with two othe_ardeners. The change in the weather seemed to have done him good. He spoke t_er of his own accord. "Springtime's comin,'" he said. "Cannot tha' smell it?"
  • Mary sniffed and thought she could.
  • "I smell something nice and fresh and damp," she said.
  • "That's th' good rich earth," he answered, digging away. "It's in a good humo_akin' ready to grow things. It's glad when plantin' time comes. It's dull i_h' winter when it's got nowt to do. In th' flower gardens out there thing_ill be stirrin' down below in th' dark. Th' sun's warmin' 'em. You'll se_its o' green spikes stickin' out o' th' black earth after a bit."
  • "What will they be?" asked Mary.
  • "Crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys. Has tha' never seen them?"
  • "No. Everything is hot, and wet, and green after the rains in India," sai_ary. "And I think things grow up in a night."
  • "These won't grow up in a night," said Weatherstaff. "Tha'll have to wait for
  • 'em. They'll poke up a bit higher here, an' push out a spike more there, an'
  • uncurl a leaf this day an' another that. You watch 'em."
  • "I am going to," answered Mary.
  • Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and she knew a_nce that the robin had come again. He was very pert and lively, and hoppe_bout so close to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at her s_lyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question.
  • "Do you think he remembers me?" she said.
  • "Remembers thee!" said Weatherstaff indignantly. "He knows every cabbage stum_n th' gardens, let alone th' people. He's never seen a little wench her_efore, an' he's bent on findin' out all about thee. Tha's no need to try t_ide anything from him."
  • "Are things stirring down below in the dark in that garden where he lives?"
  • Mary inquired.
  • "What garden?" grunted Weatherstaff, becoming surly again.
  • "The one where the old rose-trees are." She could not help asking, because sh_anted so much to know. "Are all the flowers dead, or do some of them com_gain in the summer? Are there ever any roses?"
  • "Ask him," said Ben Weatherstaff, hunching his shoulders toward the robin.
  • "He's the only one as knows. No one else has seen inside it for ten year'."
  • Ten years was a long time, Mary thought. She had been born ten years ago.
  • She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun to like the garden just as sh_ad begun to like the robin and Dickon and Martha's mother. She was beginnin_o like Martha, too. That seemed a good many people to like—when you were no_sed to liking. She thought of the robin as one of the people. She went to he_alk outside the long, ivy-covered wall over which she could see the tree- tops; and the second time she walked up and down the most interesting an_xciting thing happened to her, and it was all through Ben Weatherstaff'_obin.
  • She heard a chirp and a twitter, and when she looked at the bare flower-bed a_er left side there he was hopping about and pretending to peck things out o_he earth to persuade her that he had not followed her. But she knew he ha_ollowed her and the surprise so filled her with delight that she almos_rembled a little.
  • "You do remember me!" she cried out. "You do! You are prettier than anythin_lse in the world!"
  • She chirped, and talked, and coaxed and he hopped, and flirted his tail an_wittered. It was as if he were talking. His red waistcoat was like satin an_e puffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand and so pretty tha_t was really as if he were showing her how important and like a human perso_ robin could be. Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in he_ife when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down an_alk and try to make something like robin sounds.
  • Oh! to think that he should actually let her come as near to him as that! H_new nothing in the world would make her put out her hand toward him o_tartle him in the least tiniest way. He knew it because he was a rea_erson—only nicer than any other person in the world. She was so happy tha_he scarcely dared to breathe.
  • The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowers because th_erennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tal_hrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as th_obin hopped about under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshl_urned up earth. He stopped on it to look for a worm. The earth had bee_urned up because a dog had been trying to dig up a mole and he had scratche_uite a deep hole.
  • Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there, and as sh_ooked she saw something almost buried in the newly-turned soil. It wa_omething like a ring of rusty iron or brass and when the robin flew up into _ree nearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up. It was more than _ing, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried a lon_ime.
  • Mistress Mary stood up and looked at it with an almost frightened face as i_ung from her finger.
  • "Perhaps it has been buried for ten years," she said in a whisper. "Perhaps i_s the key to the garden!"