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.


10. Destiny

The sun shone down for nearly a week on the secret garden. The Secret Garden was what Toby called it when he was thinking of it. He liked the name, and he liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut him in no one knew where he was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books he had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and he had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which he had thought must be rather stupid. He had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, he was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite. He was beginning to like to be out of doors; he no longer hated the wind, but enjoyed it. He could run faster, and longer, and he could finally out run the whine up car. The bulbs in the secret garden must have been much astonished. Such nice clear places were made round them that they had all the breathing space they wanted, and really, if Master Toby had known it, they began to cheer up under the dark earth and work tremendously. The sun could get at them and warm them, and when the rain came down it could reach them at once, so they began to feel very much alive.

Toby was an odd, determined little person, and now he had something interesting to be determined about, he was very much absorbed, indeed. He worked and dug and pulled up weeds steadily, only becoming more pleased with his work every hour instead of tiring of it. It seemed to him like a fascinating sort of play. He found many more of the sprouting pale green points than he had ever hoped to find. They seemed to be starting up everywhere and each day he was sure he found tiny new ones, some so tiny that they barely peeped above the earth. There were so many that he remembered what Mark had said about the "snowdrops by the thousands," and about bulbs spreading and making new ones. These had been left to themselves for ten years and perhaps they had spread, like the snowdrops, into thousands. He wondered how long it would be before they showed that they were flowers. Sometimes he stopped digging to look at the garden and try to imagine what it would be like when it was covered with thousands of lovely things in bloom. During that week of sunshine, he became more intimate with Beth Weatherstaff. He surprised her several times by seeming to start up beside her as if he sprang out of the earth. The truth was that he was afraid that she would pick up her tools and go away if she saw him coming, so he always walked toward her as silently as possible. But, in fact, she did not object to him as strongly as she had at first. Perhaps she was secretly rather flattered by his evident desire for het elderly company. Then, also, he was more civil than he had been. She did not know that when he first saw her he spoke to her as he would have spoken to a servant, and had not known that a cross, sturdy old Yorkshire woman was not accustomed to bowing to her masters, and be merely commanded by them to do things.

"Tha'rt like th' robin," she said to him one morning when she lifted her head and saw him standing by her. "I never knows when I shall see thee or which side tha'll come from." 

"He's friends with me now," said Toby.

"That's like him," snapped Beth Weatherstaff. "Makin' up to th' folk just for vanity an' flightiness. There's nothin' he wouldn't do for th' sake o' showin' off an' flirtin' his tail-feathers. He's as full o' pride as an egg's full o' meat."

She very seldom talked much and sometimes did not even answer Toby's questions except by a grunt, but this morning she said more than usual. She stood up and rested one hobnailed boot on the top of her spade while she looked him over.

"How long has tha' been here?" she jerked out.

"I think it's about a month," he answered.

"Tha's beginnin' to do Misselthwaite credit," she said. "Tha's a bit fatter than tha' was an' tha's not quite so pale. Tha' looked like a young plucked crow when tha' first came into this garden. Thinks I to myself I never set eyes on an uglier, sourer faced young 'un."

Toby was not vain and as he had never thought much of his looks he was not greatly disturbed.

"I know I'm fatter," he said. "My pants are getting tighter. They used to make wrinkles. There's the robin, Beth Weatherstaff."

There, indeed, was the robin, and he thought the robin looked nicer than ever. His red waistcoat was as glossy as satin and he flirted his wings and tail and tilted his head and hopped about with all sorts of lively graces. He seemed determined to make Beth Weatherstaff admire him. But Beth was sarcastic.

"Aye, there tha' art!" she said. "Tha' can put up with me for a bit sometimes when tha's got no one better. Tha's been reddenin' up thy waistcoat an' polishin' thy feathers this two weeks. I know what tha's up to. Tha's courtin' some bold young madam somewhere tellin' thy lies to her about bein' th' finest cock robin on Missel Moor an' ready to fight all th' rest of 'em."

"Oh! look at him!" exclaimed Toby.

The robin was evidently in a fascinating, bold mood. He hopped closer and closer and looked at Beth Weatherstaff more and more engagingly. He flew on to the nearest currant bush and tilted his head and sang a little song right at her.

"Tha' thinks tha'll get over me by doin' that," said Beth, wrinkling her face up in such a way that Toby felt sure she was trying not to look pleased. "Tha' thinks no one can stand out against thee--that's what tha' thinks."

The robin spread his wings--Toby could scarcely believe his eyes. The robin flew right up to the handle of Beth Weatherstaff's spade and alighted on the top of it. Then the old woman's face wrinkled itself slowly into a new expression. She stood still as if she were afraid to breathe--as if she would not have stirred for the world, lest her robin should start away. She spoke quite in a whisper.

"Well, I'm danged!" she said as softly as if she were saying something quite different. "Tha' does know how to get to me--tha' does! Tha's fair unearthly, tha's so knowin'."

And she stood without stirring--almost without drawing her breath--until the robin gave another flirt to his wings and flew away. Then she stood looking at the handle of the spade as if there might be Magic in it, and then she began to dig again and said nothing for several minutes.

But because she kept breaking into a slow grin now and then, Toby was not afraid to talk to her.

"Have you a garden of your own?" he asked.


"If you had one," said Toby, "what would you plant?"

"Cabbages an' 'taters an' onions."

"But if you wanted to make a flower garden," persisted Toby, "what would you plant?"

"Bulbs an' sweet-smellin' things--but mostly roses."

Toby's face lighted up.

"Do you like roses?" he said.

Beth Weatherstaff rooted up a weed and threw it aside before she answered.

"Well, yes, I do. I was learned that by a young man I was gardener to. He had a lot in a place he was fond of, an' he loved 'em like they was children--or robins. She dragged out another weed and scowled at it. "That were as much as ten year' ago."

"Where is he now?" asked Toby, much interested.

"Heaven," she answered, and drove her spade deep into the soil, "'cording to what parson says."

"What happened to the roses?" Toby asked again, more interested than ever.

"They was left to themselves."

Toby was becoming quite excited.

"Did they quite die? Do roses quite die when they are left to themselves?" he ventured.

"Well, I'd got to like 'em--an' I liked him--an' he liked 'em," Beth Weatherstaff admitted reluctantly. "Once or twice a year I'd go an' work at 'em a bit--prune 'em an' dig about th' roots. They run wild, but they was in rich soil, so some of 'em lived."

"When they have no leaves and look gray and brown and dry, how can you tell whether they are dead or alive?" inquired Toby.

"Wait till th' spring gets at 'em--wait till th' sun shines on th' rain and th' rain falls on th' sunshine an' then tha'll find out."

"How--how?" cried Toby, forgetting to be careful. "Look along th' twigs an' branches an' if tha' see a bit of a brown lump swelling here an' there, watch it after th' warm rain an' see what happens." She stopped suddenly and looked curiously at his eager face. "Why does tha' care so much about roses an' such, all of a sudden?" she demanded.

Master Toby felt his face grow red. He was almost afraid to answer.

"I--I want to play that--that I have a garden of my own," he stammered. "I--there is nothing for me to do. I have nothing--and no one."

"Well," said Beth Weatherstaff slowly, as she watched him, "that's true. Tha' hasn't."

She said it in such an odd way that Toby wondered if she was actually a little sorry for him. He had never felt sorry for himself; he had only felt tired and cross, because he disliked people and things so much. But now the world seemed to be changing and getting nicer. If no one found out about the secret garden, he should enjoy himself always.

He stayed with her for ten or fifteen minutes longer and asked her as many questions as he dared. She answered every one of them in her queer grunting way and she did not seem really cross and did not pick up her spade and leave him. She said something about roses just as he was going away and it reminded him of the ones she had said she had been fond of.

"Do you go and see those other roses now?" he asked.

"Not been this year. My rheumatics has made me too stiff in th' joints."

She said it in her grumbling voice, and then quite suddenly she seemed to get angry with him, though he did not see why she should.

"Now look here!" she said sharply. "Don't tha' ask so many questions. Tha'rt th' worst lad for askin' questions I've ever come a cross. Get thee gone an' play thee. I've done talkin' for today."

And she said it so crossly that he knew there was not the least use in staying another minute. He went walking slowly down the outside walk, thinking her over and saying to himself that, queer as it was, here was another person whom he liked in spite of her crossness. He liked old Beth Weatherstaff. Yes, he did like her. He always wanted to try to make her talk to him. Also he began to believe that she knew everything in the world about flowers.

There was a laurel-hedged walk which curved round the secret garden and ended at a gate which opened into a wood, in the park. He thought he would slip round this walk and look into the wood and see if there were any rabbits hopping about. He enjoyed the walk very much and when he reached the little gate he opened it and went through because he heard a low, peculiar whistling sound and wanted to find out what it was.

It was a very strange thing indeed. He quite caught his breath as he stopped to look at it. A girl was sitting under a tree, with her back against it, playing on a rough wooden pipe. She was a funny looking girl about twelve. She looked very clean and her nose turned up and her cheeks were as red as poppies and never had Master Toby seen such round and such blue eyes in any girl's face. And on the trunk of the tree she leaned against, a brown squirrel was clinging and watching her, and from behind a bush nearby a cock pheasant was delicately stretching his neck to peep out, and quite near her were two rabbits sitting up and sniffing with tremulous noses--and actually it appeared as if they were all drawing near to watch her and listen to the strange low little call her pipe seemed to make.

When she saw Toby she held up her hand and spoke to him in a voice almost as low as and rather like her piping.

"Don't tha' move," she said. "It'd flight 'em."

 Toby remained motionless. She stopped playing her pipe and began to rise from the ground. She moved so slowly that it scarcely seemed as though she were moving at all, but at last she stood on her feet and then the squirrel scampered back up into the branches of his tree, the pheasant withdrew his head and the rabbits dropped on all fours and began to hop away, though not at all as if they were frightened.

"I'm Destiny," the girl said. "I know tha'rt Mr. Toby."

Then Toby realized that somehow he had known at first that she was Destiny. Who else could have been charming rabbits and pheasants as the natives charm snakes in India that someone had read to him? She had a wide, red, curving mouth and her smile spread all over her face.

"I got up slow," she explained, "because if tha' makes a quick move it startles 'em. A body 'as to move gentle an' speak low when wild things is about."

She did not speak to him as if they had never seen each other before but as if she knew him quite well. Toby knew nothing about girls and he spoke to her a little stiffly because he felt rather shy.

"Did you get Mark's letter?" he asked.

She nodded her curly, rust-colored head. "That's why I come."

She stooped to pick up something which had been lying on the ground beside her when she piped.

"I've got th' garden tools. There's a little spade an' rake an' a fork an' hoe. Eh! they are good 'uns. There's a trowel, too. An' th' woman in th' shop threw in a packet o' white poppy an' one o' blue larkspur when I bought th' other seeds."

"Will you show the seeds to me?" Toby said.

He wished he could talk as she did. Her speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if she liked him and was not the least afraid he would not like her, though she was only a common moor girl, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As he came closer to her he noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about her, almost as if she were made of them. He liked it very much and when he looked into her funny face with the red cheeks and round blue eyes he forgot that he had felt shy.

"Let us sit down on this log and look at them," he said.

They sat down and she took a clumsy little brown paper package out of her coat pocket. She untied the string and inside there were ever so many neater and smaller packages with a picture of a flower on each one.

"There's a lot o' mignonette an' poppies," she said. "Mignonette's th' sweetest smellin' thing as grows, an' it'll grow wherever you cast it, same as poppies will. Them as'll come up an' bloom if you just whistle to 'em, them's th' nicest of all." 

 She stopped and turned her head quickly, her poppy-cheeked face lighting up.

"Where's that robin as is callin' us?" she said.

The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with scarlet berries, and Toby thought he knew whose it was.

"Is it really calling us?" he asked.

"Aye," said Destiny, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, "he's callin' some one he's friends with. That's same as sayin' 'Here I am. Look at me. I wants a bit of a chat.' There he is in the bush. Whose is he?"

"He's Beth Weatherstaff's, but I think he knows me a little," answered Toby.

"Aye, he knows thee," said Destiny in her low voice again. "An' he likes thee. He's took thee on. He'll tell me all about thee in a minute."

She moved quite close to the bush with the slow movement Toby had noticed before, and then she made a sound almost like the robin's own twitter. The robin listened a few seconds, intently, and then answered quite as if he were replying to a question.

"Aye, he's a friend o' yours," chuckled Destiny.

"Do you think he is?" cried Toby eagerly. He did so want to know. "Do you think he really likes me?"

"He wouldn't come near thee if he didn't," answered Destiny. "Birds is rare choosers an' a robin can flout a body worse than a man. See, he's making up to thee now. 'Cannot tha' see a chap?' he's sayin'."

And it really seemed as if it must be true. He so sidled and twittered and tilted as he hopped on his bush.

"Do you understand everything birds say?" said Toby.

Destiny's grin spread until she seemed all wide, red, curving mouth, and she rubbed her rough head.

"I think I do, and they think I do," she said. "I've lived on th' moor with 'em so long. I've watched 'em break shell an' come out an' fledge an' learn to fly an' begin to sing, till I think I'm one of 'em. Sometimes I think p'raps I'm a bird, or a fox, or a rabbit, or a squirrel, or even a beetle, an' I don't know it."

She laughed and came back to the log and began to talk about the flower seeds again. She told him what they looked like when they were flowers; she told him how to plant them, and watch them, and feed and water them.

"See here," she said suddenly, turning round to look at him. "I'll plant them for thee myself. Where is tha' garden?"

Toby's thin hands clutched each other as they lay on his lap. He did not know what to say, so for a whole minute he said nothing. He had never thought of this. He felt miserable. And he felt as if he went red and then pale.

"Tha's got a bit o' garden, hasn't tha'?" Destiny said.

It was true that he had turned red and then pale. Destiny saw him do it, and as he still said nothing, she began to be puzzled.

"Wouldn't they give thee a bit?" she asked. "Hasn't tha' got any yet?"

He held his hands tighter and turned his eyes toward her.

"I don't know anything about girls," he said slowly. "Could you keep a secret, if I told you one? It's a great secret. I don't know what I should do if any one found it out. I believe I should die!" He said the last sentence quite fiercely.

Destiny looked more puzzled than ever and even rubbed her hand over her rough head again, but she answered quite good-humoredly. "I'm keepin' secrets all th' time," she said. "If I couldn't keep secrets from th' other lads, secrets about foxes' cubs, an' birds' nests, an' wild things' holes, there'd be naught safe on th' moor. Aye, I can keep secrets."

Master Toby did not mean to put out his hand and clutch her sleeve but he did it.

"I've stolen a garden," he said very fast. "It isn't mine. It isn't anybody's. Nobody wants it, nobody cares for it, nobody ever goes into it. Perhaps everything is dead in it already. I don't know."

He began to feel hot and as contrary as he had ever felt in his life.

"I don't care, I don't care! Nobody has any right to take it from me when I care about it and they don't. They're letting it die, all shut in by itself," he ended passionately. 

Destiny's curious blue eyes grew rounder and rounder. "Eh-h-h!" she said, drawing her exclamation out slowly, and the way she did it meant both wonder and sympathy.

"I've nothing to do," said Toby. "Nothing belongs to me. I found it myself and I got into it myself. I was only just like the robin, and they wouldn't take it from the robin."

"Where is it?" asked Destiny in a dropped voice.

Master Toby got up from the log at once. He knew he felt contrary again, and obstinate, and he did not care at all. 

"Come with me and I'll show you," he said.

He led her round the laurel path and to the walk where the ivy grew so thickly. Destiny followed him with a queer, almost pitying, look on her face. She felt as if she were being led to look at some strange bird's nest and must move softly. When he stepped to the wall and lifted the hanging ivy she started. There was a door and Toby pushed it slowly open and they passed in together, and then Toby stood and waved his hand round defiantly.

"It's this," he said. "It's a secret garden, and I'm the only one in the world who wants it to be alive."

Destiny looked round and round about it, and round and round again.

"Eh!" she almost whispered, "it is a queer, pretty place! It's like as if a body was in a dream."

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