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.


7. The Key To The Garden

Two days after this, when Toby opened his eyes he sat upright in bed immediately, and called to Mark.

"Look at the moor! Look at the moor!"

The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind. The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Toby dreamed of a sky so blue. In Antarctica skies were gray and cold looking; this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.

"Aye," said Mark with a cheerful grin. "Th' storm's over for a bit. It does like this at this time o' th' year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin' it had never been here an' never meant to come again. That's because th' springtime's on its way. It's a long way off yet, but it's comin'."

"I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England," Toby said.

"Eh! no!" said Mark, sitting up on his heels among his black lead brushes. "Nowt o' th' soart!"

"What does that mean?" asked Toby seriously. In Antarctica some of the servants spoke in a different language that only a few knew, so he was not surprised when Mark used words he did not know.

Mark laughed as he had done the first morning.

"There now," he said. "I've talked broad Yorkshire again like Mr. Medlock said I mustn't. 'Nowt o' th' soart' means 'nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly and carefully, "but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire's th' sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told thee tha'd like th' moor after a bit. Just you wait 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 Destiny does." "Could I ever get there?" asked Toby wistfully, looking through his window at the far-off blue. It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color.

"I don't know," answered Mark. "Tha's never used tha' legs since tha' was born, it seems to me. Tha' couldn't walk five mile. It's five mile to our cottage."

"I should like to see your cottage."

Mark stared at him a moment curiously before he took up his polishing brush and began to rub the grate again. He was thinking that the small plain face did not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning he saw it. It looked just a trifle like little Angus when he wanted something very much.

"I'll ask my father about it," he said. "He's one o' them that nearly always sees a way to do things. It's my day out today an' I'm goin' home. Eh! I am glad. Mr. Medlock thinks a lot o' father. Perhaps he could talk to him."

"I like your father," said Toby.

"I should think tha' did," agreed Mark, polishing away.

"I've never seen him," said Toby.

"No, tha' hasn't," replied Mark.

He sat up on his heels again and rubbed the end of his nose with the back of his hand as if puzzled for a moment, but he ended quite positively.

"Well, he's that sensible an' hard workin' an' goodnatured an' clean that no one could help likin' him whether they'd seen him or not. When I'm goin' home to him on my day out I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor."

"I like Destiny," added Toby. "And I've never seen her."

"Well," said Mark stoutly, "I've told thee that th' very birds likes her an' th' rabbits an' wild sheep an' ponies, an' th' foxes themselves. I wonder," staring at him reflectively, "what Destiny would think of thee?"

"She wouldn't like me," said Toby in his stiff, cold little way. "No one does."

Mark looked reflective again.

"How does tha' like thysel'?" he inquired, really quite as if he were curious to know.

Toby hesitated a moment and thought it over.

"Not at all--really," he answered. "But I never thought of that before."

Mark grinned a little as if at some homely recollection.

"Father said that to me once," he said. "He was at his wash- tub an' I was in a bad temper an' talkin' ill of folk, an' he turns round on me an' says: 'Tha' young lad, tha'! There tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't like this one an' tha' doesn't like that one. How does tha' like thysel'?' It made me laugh an' it brought me to my senses in a minute."

He went away in high spirits as soon as he had given Toby his breakfast. He was going to walk five miles across the moor to the cottage, and he was going to help his father with the washing and do the week's baking and enjoy himself thoroughly.

Toby felt lonelier than ever when he knew he was no longer in the house. He went out into the garden as quickly as possible, and the first thing he did was to run round and round the fountain flower garden ten times. He counted the times carefully and when he had finished he felt in better spirits. The sunshine made the whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky arched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor, and he kept lifting his face and looking up into it, trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on one of the little snow-white clouds and float about. He went into the first kitchen-garden and found Beth Weatherstaff working there with two other gardeners. The change in the weather seemed to have done her good. She spoke to him of her own accord. "Springtime's comin,'" she said. "Cannot tha' smell it?"

Toby sniffed and thought he could.

"I smell something nice and fresh and damp," he said.

"That's th' good rich earth," she answered, digging away. "It's in a good humor makin' ready to grow things. It's glad when plantin' time comes. It's dull in th' winter when it's got nowt to do. In th' flower gardens out there things will be stirrin' down below in th' dark. Th' sun's warmin' 'em. You'll see bits o' green spikes stickin' out o' th' black earth after a bit."

"What will they be?" asked Toby.

"Crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys. Has tha' never seen them?"

"No. Everything is cold, and icy in Antarctica," said Toby. "And I read once that things grow up in a night in India."

"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 Toby.

Very soon he heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and he knew at once that the robin had come again. He was very pert and lively, and hopped about so close to his feet, and put his head on one side and looked at him so slyly that he asked Beth Weatherstaff a question.

"Do you think he remembers me?" he said.

"Remembers thee!" said Weatherstaff indignantly. "He knows every cabbage stump in th' gardens, let alone th' people. He's never seen a little lad here before, an' he's bent on findin' out all about thee. Tha's no need to try to hide anything from him."

"Are things stirring down below in the dark in that garden where he lives?" Toby inquired.

"What garden?" grunted Weatherstaff, becoming surly again.

"The one where the old rose-trees are." He could not help asking, because he wanted so much to know. "Are all the flowers dead, or do some of them come again in the summer? Are there ever any roses?"

"Ask him," said Beth Weatherstaff, hunching her 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, Toby thought. He had been born ten years ago.

He walked away, slowly thinking. He had begun to like the garden just as he had begun to like the robin and Destiny and Mark's father. He was beginning to like Mark, too. That seemed a good many people to like--when you were not used to liking. He thought of the robin as one of the people. He went to his walk outside the long, ivy-covered wall over which he could see the tree-tops; and the second time he walked up and down the most interesting and exciting thing happened to him, and it was all through Beth Weatherstaff's robin.

He heard a chirp and a twitter, and when he looked at the bare flower-bed at his left side there he was hopping about and pretending to peck things out of the earth to persuade him that he had not followed him. But he knew he had followed him and the surprise so filled him with delight that he almost trembled a little.

"You do remember me!" he cried out. "You do! You are prettier than anything else in the world!"

He chirped, and talked, and coaxed and the little robin hopped, and flirted his tail and twittered. It was as if he were talking. His red waistcoat was like satin and he puffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand and so pretty that it was really as if he were showing him how important and like a human person a robin could be. Master Toby forgot that he had ever been contrary in his life when the robin allowed him to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.

Oh! to think that robin should actually let him come as near to him as that! He knew nothing in the world would make him put out his hand toward him or startle him in the least tiniest way. He knew it because he was a real person--only nicer than any other person in the world. He was so happy that he scarcely dared to breathe.

The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowers because the perennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped about under them he saw him hop over a small pile of freshly turned up earth. He stopped on it to look for a worm. The earth had been turned up because a dog had been trying to dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole.

Toby looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there, and as he looked he saw something almost buried in the newly-turned soil. It was something like a ring of rusty iron or brass and when the robin flew up into a tree nearby he put out his hand and picked the ring up. It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried a long time.

Master Toby stood up and looked at it with an almost frightened face as it hung from his finger.

"Perhaps it has been buried for ten years," he said in a whisper. "Perhaps it is the key to the garden!"

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