The Secret Garden/Boy Version

Author's Note: I decided to have a little fun and twist a story around that I have read a lot when I was little. I've kept some stuff the same but change other stuff around. Hope you enjoy it.


14. A Young Princess

The moor was hidden in mist when the morning came,and the rain had not stopped pouring down. There could be no going out of doors. Mark was so busy that Toby had no opportuniy of talking to him, but in the afternoon he asked him to come and sit with him in the nusery. He came bringing the book he was always reading when he was doing nothing else.

"What's the matter with thee?" he asked as soon as they sat down. "Tha' looks as if tha'd somethin' to say."

"I have. I have found out what the crying was," said Toby.

Mark let his book drop on his knee and gazed at him with startled eyes.

"Tha' hasn't!" he exclaimed."Never!"

"I heard it in the night," Toby went on. "And I got up and went to see where it came from. It was Gwendolen. I found her."

Mark's face became red with fright.

"Eh! Master Toby!" he said half crying. "Tha' shouldn't have done it--tha' shoudn't! Tha'll get me in trouble. I never told thee nothin' about her--but tha'll get me in trouble. I shall lose my place and what'll father do!"

"You won't lose your place," said Toby. "She was glad I came. We talked and talked and she said she was glad I came."

"Was she?" cried Mark. "Art tha'sure? Tha' doesnt' know what she's like when anything vexes her. She's a big lass to cry like a baby, but when she's in a passion she'll fair scream just to frighten us. She knows us daren't call our souls our own."

"She wasn't vexed," said Toby. "I asked her if I should go away and she made me stay. She asked me questions and I sat on a big footstool and talked to her about Antartic and about the robin and gardens. She wouldn't let me go. She let me see her father's picture. Before I left her I sang her to sleep."

Mark fairly gasped with amazement.

"I can scarcely believe thee!" he protested. "It's as if tha'd walked straight into a lion's den. If she'd been like she is most times she'd have throwed herself into one of her tantrums and roused th' house. She won't let strangers looke at her."

"She let me look at her. I looked at her all the time and she looked at me, we stared!" said Toby.

"I don't know what to do!" cried agitated Mark. "If Mr. Medlock finds out, he'll think I broke orders and told thee and I shall be packed back to father."

"She is not going to tell Mr. Medlock anything about it yet. It's to be a sort of secret just at first," said Toby firmly. "And she says everybody is obliged to do as she pleases."

"Ay, that's true enough--th' bad lass!" sighed Mark, wiping his forehead with his hankerchife.

"She says Mr.Medlock must. And she wants me to come and talk to her every day. And you are to tell me when she wants me."

"Me!" said Mark; "I shall lose my place--I shall for sure!"

"You can't if you are doing what she wants you to do and everybody is ordered to obey her," Toby argued.

"Does tha' mean to say," cried Mark with wide open eyes, "that she was nice to thee!"

"I think she almost liked me," Toby answered.

"Then tha' must have bewitched her!" decided Mark, drawing a long breath.

"Do you mean Magic?" inquired Toby. "I've read about Magic in books, but I can't make it. I just went into her room and I was so surprised to see her I stood and stared. And then she turned round and stared at me. And she thought I was a ghost or a dream and I thought perhaps she was. And it was so queer being there alone together in the middle of the night and not knowing about each other. And we began to ask each other questions. And when I asked her if I must go away she said I must not."

"Th' world's comin' to a end!" gasped Mark.

"What is the matter with her?" asked Toby.

"Nobody knows for sure and certain," said Mark. "Mrs. Craven went off her head like when she was born. Th' doctors thought she'd have to be put in a 'sylum. It was because Mr. Craven died like I told you. She wouldn't set eyes on th' baby. She just raved and said it'd be another hunchback like her and it'd better die."

"Is Gwendolen a hunchback?" Toby asked. "She didn't look like one."

"She isn't yet," said Mark. "But she began all wrong. Father said that there was enough trouble and raging in th' house to set any child wrong. They was afraid her back was weak an' they've always been takin' care of it--keepin' her lyin' down and not lettin her walk. Once they made her wear a brace but she fretted so she was downright ill. Then a big doctor came to see her an' made them 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' her have her own way."

"I think she's a very spoiled girl," said Toby.

"She's th' worst young nowt as ever was!" said Mark. "I won't say as she hasn't been ill a good bit. She's had coughs an' colds that's nearly killed her two or three times. Once she had rheumatic fever an' once she had typhoid. Eh! Mr. Medlock did get a fright then. She'd been out of her head an' he was talkin' to th' nurse, thinkin'she didn't know nothin', an' he said, 'She'll die this time sure enough, an' best thing for her an' for everybody.' An' he looked at her an' there she was with her big eyes open, starin' at him as sensible as he was himself. He didn't know wha'd happen but she just stared at him an' says, 'You give me some water an' stop talkin'.'"

"Do you think she will die?" asked Toby.

"Father, says ther's no reason why any child should live that gets no fresh air an' doesn't do nothin' but lie on her back an' read picture-books an' take medicine. She's weak and hates th' trouble o' bein' taken out o' doors, an' she gets cold so easy she says it make her ill."

Toby sat and looked at the fire. "I wonder," he said slowly, "if it would not do her good to go out into a garden and watch things growing. It did me good."

"One of th' worst fits she ever had," said Mark, "was one time they took her out where the roses is by the fountain. She'd been readin' in a paper about people gettin' somethin' she called 'rose cold' an' she began to sneeze an' said she'd got it an' then a new gardener as didn't know th' rules passed by an' looked at her curious. She threw herself into a passion an' she said he'd looked at her because she was going to be a hunchback. She cried herself into a fever an' was ill all night."

"If she ever gets angry at me, I'll never go and see her again," said Toby.

"She'll have thee if she wants thee," said Mark. "Tha' may as well know that at th' start."

Very soon afterward a bell rang and he closed his book.

"I dare say th' nurse wants me to stay with her a bit," he said. "I hope she's in a good temper."

He was out of the room about ten minutes and then he came back with a puzzled expression.

"Well, tha' has bewitched her," he said. "She's up on her sofa with her picture-books. She's told the nurse to stay away until six o'clock. I'm to wait in the next room. Th' minute the nurse was gone she called me to her an' says, 'I want Toby Drake to come and talk to me, and remember  you're not to tell any one.' You'd better go as quick as you can."

Toby was quite willing to go quickly. He did not want to see Gwendolen as much as he wanted to see Destiny; but he wanted to see her very much.

There was a bright fire on the hearth when he entered her room, and in the daylight he saw it was a very beautiful room indeed. There were rich colors in the rugs and hangings and pictures and books on the walls which made it look glowing and comfortable even in spite of the gray sky and falling rain. Gwendolen looked rather like a picture herself. She was wrapped in a velvet dressing-gown and sat against a big brocaded cushion. She had a red spot on each cheek.

"Come in," she said. "I've been thinking about you all morning."

"I've been thinking about you, too," answered Toby. "You don't know how frightened Mark is. He says Mr. Medlock will think he told me about you and then he will be sent away."

She frowned.

"Go and tell him to come here," she said. "He is in the next room."

Toby went and brought him back. Poor Mark was shaking in his shoes. Gwendolen was still frowning.

"Have you to do what I please or have you not?" she demanded.

"I have to do what you please, miss," Mark faltered, turning quite red.

"Has Medlock to do what I please?"

"EVerybody has, miss," said Mark.

"Well, then, if I order you to bring Master Toby to me, how can Medlock send you away if he finds it out?"

"Please don't let him, miss," pleaded Mark.

"I'll send him away if he dared to say a word about such a thing," said Mistress Craven grandly. "He wouldn't like that, I can tell you."

"Thank you, miss," given a quick bow, "I want to do my duty, miss."

"What I want is your duty" said Gwendolen more grandly still. "I'll take care of you. Now go away."

When the door closed behind Mark, Gwendolen found Master Toby gazing at her as if she had set him wondering.

"Why do you look at me like that?" she asked him. "What are you thinking about?"

"I am thinking about two things."

"What are they? Sit down and tell me."

"This is the first one," said Toby. seating herself on the big stool. "Once I read in book about a boy was a Rajah. He had rubies and emeralds and diamonds stuck all over him. He spoke to his people just as you spoke to Mark. Everybody had to do everything he told them--in a minute. I think they would have been killed if they hadn't."

"I shall make you tell me about Rajahs presently," she said, "but first tell me what the second thing was."

"I was thinking," said Toby, "how different you are from Destiny."

"Who is Destiny?" she said. "What a queer name!"

He might as well tell her, he thought he could talk about Destiny without mentioning the secret garden. He had liked to hear Mark talk about her.

Besides, he longed to talk about her. It would seem to bring her nearer.

"She is Mark's sister, she is twelve years old," he explained. "She is not like any one else in the world. She can charm foxes and squirrels and birds just as the natives in India charm snakes. She plays a very soft tune on a pipe and they come and listen."

There were some big books on a table at her side and she dragged one suddenly toward her. "There is a picture of a snake-charmer in this," she exclaimed. "Come and look at it."

The book was a beautiful one with superb colored illustrations and she turned to one of them.

"Can she do that?' she asked eagerly.

"She played on her pipe and they listened," Toby explained. "But she doesn't call it Magic. She says it's because she lives on the moor so much and she knows their ways. She says she feels sometimes as if she was a bird or a rabbit herself, she likes them so. I think she asked the robin questions. It seemed to as if they talked to each other in soft chirps."

Gwendolen lay back on her cushion and her eyes grew larger and larger and the spots on her cheeks burned.

"Tell me some more about her," she said.

"She knows all about eggs and nests," Mary went on. "And she knows where foxes and badgers and otters live. She keeps them secret so that other boys won't find their holes and frighten them. She knows about everything that grows or lives on the moor."

"Does she like the moor?" said Gwendolen. "How can she when it's such a great, bare, dreary place?"

"It's the most beautiful place," protested Toby. "Thousands of lovely things grow on it and there are thousands of little creatures all busy building nests and making holes and burrows and chippering or singing or squeaking to each other. They are so busy and having such fun under the earth or in the trees or heather. It's their world."

"How do you know all that?" said Gwendolen, turning on her elbow to look at him.

"I have never been there once, really," said Toby suddenly remembering. "I only drove over it in the dark. I thought it was hideous. Mark told me about it first and then Destiny. When Destiny talks about it you feel as if you saw things and heard them and as if you were standing in the heather with the sun shining and the gorse smelling like honey--and all full of bees and butterflies."

"You never see anything if you are ill," said Gwendolen restlessly. She looked like a person listening to a new sound in the distance and wondering what it was.

"You can't if you stay in a room," said Toby.

"I couldn't go on the moor" she said in a resentful tone.

Toby was silent for a minute and then he said something bold.

"You might--sometimes."

She moved as she were startled.

"Go on the moor! How could I? I am going to die."

"How do you know"? said Toby unsympathetically.

He didn't like the way she had of talking about dying. He did not feel very sympathetic. He felt rather as if she almost boasted about it.

"Oh, I've heard it ever since I remember," she answered crossly. "They are always whispering about it and thinking I don't notice. They wish I would, too."

Master Toby felt quite contrary. He pinched his lips together.

"If they wished I would," he said, "I wouldn't. Who wishes you would?"

"The servants--and of course Dr. Craven because he would get Misselthwaite and be rich instead of poor. He doesnt' say so, but he always looks cheerful when I am worse. When I had typhoid fever his face got quite fat. I think my mother wishes it, too."

"I don't believe she does," said Toby quite obstinately.

That made Gwendolen turn and look at him again.

"Don't you?" she said.

And then she lay back on her cushion and was still,as if she were thinking. And there was a quite a long silence. Perhaps they were both of them thinking strange things children do not usually think.

"I like the grand doctor from London, because he made the take the iron thing off," said Toby at last. "Did he say you were going to die?"


"What did he say?"

"He didn't whisper," Gwendolen answered. "Perhaps he knew I hated whispering. I heard him say one thing quite aloud. He said, 'The lass might live if she would make up her mind to it. Put her in the humor.' It sounded as if he was in a temper."

"I'll tell you who would put you in the humor, perhaps," said Toby reflecting.

He felt as if he would like this thing to be settled one way or the other.

"I believe Destiny would. She's always talking about live things. She never talks about dead things or things that are ill. She's always looking up in the sky to watch birds flying--or looking down at the earth to see something growing. She has such round blue eyes and they are so wide open with looking about. And she laughs such a big laugh with her wide mouth--and her cheeks are as red--as red as cherries."

He pulled his stool nearer to the sofa and his expression quite changed 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 us talk about living. Let us talk and talk about Destiny. And then we will look at your pictures."

It was the best thing he could have said. To talk aobut Destiny meant to talk about the moor and about the cottage and the fourteen people who lived in it on sixteen shillings a week--and the children who got fat on the moor grass like the wild ponies.

And about Destiny's father--and the whine up car-- and the moor with the sun on it--and about pale green points sticking up out of the black sod. And it was all so alive that Toby talked more than he had ever talked before--and Gwendolen both talked and listened as she had never done either before.

And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so that in the end they were making as much noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-old creatures--instead of a hard, little, unloving boy and a sickly girl who believed that she was going to die.

They enjoyed themselves so much that they forgot the pictures and they forgot about the time. They had been laughing quite loudly over Beth Weatherstaff and her robin, and Gwendolen was actually sitting up as if she had forgotten about her weak back, when she suddenly remembered something.

"Do you know there is one thing we have never once thought of," she said. "We are cousins."

It seemed so queer that they had talked so much and never remembered this simple thing that they laughed more than ever, because they had got into the humor to laugh at anything. ADn in the midst of the fun the door opened and in walked Dr. Craven and Mr.Medlock.

Dr. Craven started in actual alarm and Mr. Medlock almost fell back because the doctor had accidentally bumped against him.

"Good Lord!" exclaimed poor Mr. Medlock with his eyes almost starting out of his head. "Good Lord!"

"What is this?" said Dr.Craven, coming forward. "What does it mean?"

Then Toby was reminded of the boy Rajah again. Gwendolen answered as if neither the doctor's alarm nor Mr.Medlock's terror were of the slightest consequence. She was as little disturbed or frightened as if an elderly cat and dog and walked into the room.

"This is my cousin, Toby Drake," she said. "I asked him to come and talk to me. I like him. He must come and talk to me whenever I send for him."

Dr.Craven turned reproachfully to Mr.Medlock.

"Oh, sir" he panted. "I don't know how it's happend. There's not a servant on the place tha'd dare to talk--they all have their orders."

"Nobody told her anything," said Gwendolen. "He heard me crying and found me himself. I am glad he came. Don't be silly, Medlock."

Toby saw that Dr.Craven did not look pleased, but it was quite plain that he dare not oppose his patient. He sat down by Gwendolen and felt her pulse.

"I am afraid there has been too much excitement. Excitement is not good for you, my girl," he said.

"I should be excited if he kept away," answered Gwendolen, her eyes beginning to look dangerously sparking. "I am better. He makes me better. The nurse must bring up his tea with mine. We will have tea together."

Mr.Medlock and Dr.Craven looked at each other in a troubled way, but there was evidently nothing to be done.

"She does look rather better, sir," ventured Mr.Medlock. "But"--thinking the matter over--"she looked better this morning before he came into the room."

"He came into the room last night. He stayed with me a long time. He hummed a song to me and it made me got to sleep," said Gwendolen. "I was better when 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 mintues when she came into the room and said a few words of warning to Gwendolen. She must not talk too much; she must not forget that she was ill; she must not forget that she was very easily tired. Toby thought that there seemed to be a number of uncomfortable things he was not to forget.

Gwendolen looked fretful and kept her strange black-lashed eyes fixed on Dr.Craven's face.

"I want to forget it," she said at last. "He makes me forget it. That is way I want him."

Dr.Craven did not look happy when he left the room. He gave a puzzled glance at the little boy sitting on the large stool. Toby had become a stiff, silent child again as soon as he entered and he could not see what the attraction was. The girl actually did look brighter, however--and he sighed rather heavily as he went down the corridor.

"They are always wanting me to eat things when I dont' want to," said Gwendolen, as the nurse brought in the tea and put it on the table by the sofa. "Now, if you'll eat I will. Those muffins looks so nice and hot. Tell me about Rajahs."

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