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.


8. The Robin Who Showed The Way

He looked at the key quite a long time. He turned it over and over, and thought about it. As I have said before, he was not a child who had been trained to ask permission or consult his elders about things. All he thought about the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden, and he could find out where the door was, he could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened to the old rose-trees. It was because it had been shut up so long that he wanted to see it. It seemed as if it must be different from other places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years. Besides that, if he liked it he could go into it every day and shut the door behind him, and he could make up some play of his own and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where he was, but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth. The thought of that pleased him very much.

Living as it were, all by himself in a house with a hundred mysteriously closed rooms and having nothing whatever to do to amuse himself, had set his inactive brain to working and was actually awakening his imagination. There is no doubt that the fresh, strong, pure air from the moor had a great deal to do with it. Just as it had given him an appetite, and fighting with the wind had stirred his blood, so the same things had stirred his mind. In Antarctica he had always been too cold and sleepy and weak to care much about anything, but in this place he was beginning to care and to want to do new things. Already he felt less "contrary," though he did not know why.

He put the key in his pocket and walked up and down his walk. No one but himself ever seemed to come there, so he could walk slowly and look at the wall, or, rather, at the ivy growing on it. The ivy was the baffling thing. Howsoever carefully he looked he could see nothing but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves. He was very much disappointed. Something of his contrariness came back to him as he paced the walk and looked over it at the tree-tops inside. It seemed so silly, he said to himself, to be near it and not be able to get in. He took the key in his pocket when he went back to the house, and he made up his mind that he would always carry it with him when he went out, so that if he ever should find the hidden door he would be ready.

Mr. Medlock had allowed Mark to sleep all night at the cottage, but he was back at his work in the morning with cheeks redder than ever and in the best of spirits.

"I got up at four o'clock," he said. "Eh! it was pretty on th' moor with th' birds gettin' up an' th' rabbits scamperin' about an' th' sun risin'. I didn't walk all th' way. A woman gave me a ride in her cart an' I did enjoy myself."

He was full of stories of the delights of his day out. His father had been glad to see him and they had got the baking and washing all out of the way. He had even made each of the children a doughcake with a bit of brown sugar in it.

"I had 'em all pipin' hot when they came in from playin' on th' moor. An' th' cottage all smelt o' nice, clean hot bakin' an' there was a good fire, an' they just shouted for joy. Our Destiny she said our cottage was good enough for a king."

In the evening they had all sat round the fire, and Mark and his father had sewed patches on torn clothes and mended stockings and Mark had told them about the little boy who had come from Antarctica and who had been waited on all his life by what Mark called "blacks" until he didn't know how to put on his own clothes.

"Eh! they did like to hear about you," said Mark. "They wanted to know all about th' blacks an' about th' ship you came in. I couldn't tell 'em enough."

Toby reflected a little.

"I'll tell you a great deal more before your next day out," he said, "so that you will have more to talk about. 

"My word!" cried delighted Mark. "It would set 'em clean off their heads. Would tha' really do that, Sir? 

"Antarctica is quite different from Yorkshire," Toby said slowly, as he thought the matter over. "I never thought of that. Did Destiny and your father like to hear you talk about me?"

"Why, our Destiny's eyes nearly started out o' her head, they got that round," answered Mark. "But father, he was put out about your seemin' to be all by yourself like. He said, 'Hasn't Mrs. Craven got no governess for him, nor no nurse?' and I said, 'No, she hasn't, though Mr. Medlock says she will when she thinks of it, but he says she mayn't think of it for two or three years."

"I don't want a governess," said Toby sharply

"But father says you ought to be learnin' your book by this time an' you ought to have a woman to look after you, an' he says: 'Now, Mark, you just think how you'd feel yourself, in a big place like that, wanderin' about all alone, an' no mother nor father. You do your best to cheer him up,' he says, an' I said I would."

Toby gave him a long, steady look.

"You do cheer me up," he said. "I like to hear you talk."

Presently Mark went out of the room and came back with something held in his hands. 

"What does tha' think," he said, with a cheerful grin. "I've brought thee a present."

"A present!" exclaimed Master Toby. How could a cottage full of fourteen hungry people give any one a present!

"A man was drivin' across the moor peddlin'," Mark explained. "An' he stopped his cart at our door. He had pots an' pans an' odds an' ends, but father had no money to buy anythin'. Just as he was goin' away our 'Lizabeth Ellen called out, 'Father, he's got whine-up cars that are blue and red .' An' father he calls out quite sudden, 'Here, stop, mister! How much are they?' An' he says 'Tuppence', an' father he began fumblin' in his pocket an' he says to me, 'Mark, tha's brought me thy wages like a good lad, an' I've got four places to put every penny, but I'm just goin' to take tuppence out of it to buy that child a whine-up car,' an' he bought one an' here it is."

He brought it out from under a cloth that he had put over it before bringing it in and exhibited it quite proudly. It was bright blue with a little red inside the wheels, but Toby Drake had never seen a wind-up car before. He gazed at it with a mystified expression. 

"What is it for?" he asked curiously.

"For!" cried out Mark. "Does tha' mean that they've not got wind-up toys in Antarctica? Just watch me."

And he ran into the middle of the room and, taking a small key out of his pocket he began to wind up the car and then he set down, off the car shot across the room. It hit the wall and bounce back. Toby turned in his chair to watch Mark and the toy car, and the queer faces in the old portraits seemed to stare at him, too, and wonder what on earth this common little cottager had the impudence to be doing under their very noses. But Mark did not even see them. The interest and curiosity in Master Toby's face delighted him, and he wind-up the car again and let go across the floor. He did that a couple of times.

Toby got up from his chair beginning to feel excited himself.

"It looks nice," he said. "Your father is a kind man. Can you show me how to wind it up?"

"Of course," said Mark with a smile, he handed him the car and showed him how to put the key in and wind it up. "Be careful not to wind to tight or you'll break it. Put on tha' things and run an' play out o' doors, Father said I must tell you to keep out o' doors as much as you could, even when it rains a bit, so as tha' wrap up warm."

Toby put on his coat and hat and pick up the car from the floor.  He opened the door to go out, and then suddenly thought of something and turned back rather slowly.

"Mark," he said, "they were your wages. It was your two-pence really. Thank you." He said it stiffly because he was not used to thanking people or noticing that they did things for him. "Thank you," he said, and held out his hand because he did not know what else to do.

Mark gave his hand a clumsy little shake, as if he was not accustomed to this sort of thing either. Then he laughed.

"Eh! th' art a bit queer,get the gone and play outside he said. 

Master Toby felt a little awkward as he went out of the room. Yorkshire people seemed strange, and Mark was always rather a puzzle to him. At first he had disliked him very much, but now he did not. The wind-up car was a wonderful thing. He counted the many times that he race the car up and down the path, until his cheeks were quite red, and he was more interested than he had ever been since he was born. The sun was shining and a little wind was blowing--not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful little gusts and brought a fresh scent of newly turned earth with it. He chased the car round the fountain garden, and up one walk and down another. He chased the car at last into the kitchen-garden and saw Beth Weatherstaff digging and talking to her robin, which was hopping about her. He chased the car down the walk toward her and she lifted her head and looked at him with a curious expression. He had wondered if she would notice him. He wanted her to see him playing with his new toy.

"Well!" she exclaimed. "Upon my word. P'raps tha' art a young 'un, after all, an' p'raps tha's got child's blood in thy veins instead of sour buttermilk. Tha's run red into thy cheeks as sure as my name's Beth Weatherstaff. I wouldn't have believed tha' could do it."

"I never played before," Toby said. "I can't out run it just yet, but I will someday."

"Tha' keep on," said Beth. "Tha' shapes well enough at it for a young 'un that's lived with heathen. Just see how he's watchin' thee," jerking his head toward the robin. "He followed after thee yesterday. He'll be at it again today. He'll be bound to find out what th' wind-up is. He's never seen one. Eh!" shaking her head at the bird, "tha' curiosity will be th' death of thee sometime if tha' doesn't look sharp."

Toby chased the car round all the gardens and round the orchard, resting every few minutes. At length he went to his own special walk and made up his mind to try if he could out run the car down the whole length of it. It was a good run and he began slowly, but before he had gone half-way down the path he was so hot and breathless that he was obliged to stop. He did not mind much. 

He stopped with a little laugh of pleasure, and there, lo and behold, was the robin swaying on a long branch of ivy. The robin had followed him and he greeted him with a chirp. As Toby walked toward him he felt something heavy in his pocket strike against him at each step, and when he saw the robin he laughed again.

"You showed me where the key was yesterday," he said. "You ought to show me the door today; but I don't believe you know!"

The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off--and they are nearly always doing it.

Toby Drake had heard a great deal about Magic in his nurse's stories, and he always said that what happened almost at that moment was Magic. One of the nice little gusts of wind rushed down the walk, and it was a stronger one than the rest. It was strong enough to wave the branches of the trees, and it was more than strong enough to sway the trailing sprays of untrimmed ivy hanging from the wall. Toby had stepped close to the robin, and suddenly the gust of wind swung aside some loose ivy trails, and more suddenly still he jumped toward it and caught it in his hand. This he did because he had seen something under it--a round knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it. It was the knob of a door.

He put his hands under the leaves and began to pull and push them aside. Thick as the ivy hung, it nearly all was a loose and swinging curtain, though some had crept over wood and iron. Toby's heart began to thump and his hands to shake a little in his delight and excitement. The robin kept singing and twittering away and tilting his head on one side, as if he were as excited as he was. 

What was this under his hands which was square and made of iron and which his fingers found a hole in? It was the lock of the door which had been closed ten years and he put his hand in his pocket, drew out the key and found it fitted the keyhole. He put the key in and turned it. It took two hands to do it, but it did turn.

And then he took a long breath and looked behind him up the long walk to see if any one was coming. No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed, and he took another long breath, because he could not help it, and he held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly--slowly. Then he slipped through it, and shut it behind him, and stood with his back against it, looking about him and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight. He was standing inside the secret garden.

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