Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • CHAPTER XI THE NEST OF THE MISSEL THRUSH

  • For two or three minutes he stood looking round him, while Mary watched him, and then

  • he began to walk about softly, even more lightly than Mary had walked the first time

  • she had found herself inside the four walls.

  • His eyes seemed to be taking in everything- -the gray trees with the gray creepers

  • climbing over them and hanging from their branches, the tangle on the walls and among

  • the grass, the evergreen alcoves with the

  • stone seats and tall flower urns standing in them.

  • "I never thought I'd see this place," he said at last, in a whisper.

  • "Did you know about it?" asked Mary.

  • She had spoken aloud and he made a sign to her.

  • "We must talk low," he said, "or some one'll hear us an' wonder what's to do in

  • here."

  • "Oh! I forgot!" said Mary, feeling frightened and putting her hand quickly

  • against her mouth. "Did you know about the garden?" she asked

  • again when she had recovered herself.

  • Dickon nodded. "Martha told me there was one as no one

  • ever went inside," he answered. "Us used to wonder what it was like."

  • He stopped and looked round at the lovely gray tangle about him, and his round eyes

  • looked queerly happy. "Eh! the nests as'll be here come

  • springtime," he said.

  • "It'd be th' safest nestin' place in England.

  • No one never comin' near an' tangles o' trees an' roses to build in.

  • I wonder all th' birds on th' moor don't build here."

  • Mistress Mary put her hand on his arm again without knowing it.

  • "Will there be roses?" she whispered.

  • "Can you tell? I thought perhaps they were all dead."

  • "Eh! No! Not them--not all of 'em!" he answered.

  • "Look here!"

  • He stepped over to the nearest tree--an old, old one with gray lichen all over its

  • bark, but upholding a curtain of tangled sprays and branches.

  • He took a thick knife out of his Pocket and opened one of its blades.

  • "There's lots o' dead wood as ought to be cut out," he said.

  • "An' there's a lot o' old wood, but it made some new last year.

  • This here's a new bit," and he touched a shoot which looked brownish green instead

  • of hard, dry gray.

  • Mary touched it herself in an eager, reverent way.

  • "That one?" she said. "Is that one quite alive quite?"

  • Dickon curved his wide smiling mouth.

  • "It's as wick as you or me," he said; and Mary remembered that Martha had told her

  • that "wick" meant "alive" or "lively." "I'm glad it's wick!" she cried out in her

  • whisper.

  • "I want them all to be wick. Let us go round the garden and count how

  • many wick ones there are." She quite panted with eagerness, and Dickon

  • was as eager as she was.

  • They went from tree to tree and from bush to bush.

  • Dickon carried his knife in his hand and showed her things which she thought

  • wonderful.

  • "They've run wild," he said, "but th' strongest ones has fair thrived on it.

  • The delicatest ones has died out, but th' others has growed an' growed, an' spread

  • an' spread, till they's a wonder.

  • See here!" and he pulled down a thick gray, dry-looking branch.

  • "A body might think this was dead wood, but I don't believe it is--down to th' root.

  • I'll cut it low down an' see."

  • He knelt and with his knife cut the lifeless-looking branch through, not far

  • above the earth. "There!" he said exultantly.

  • "I told thee so.

  • There's green in that wood yet. Look at it."

  • Mary was down on her knees before he spoke, gazing with all her might.

  • "When it looks a bit greenish an' juicy like that, it's wick," he explained.

  • "When th' inside is dry an' breaks easy, like this here piece I've cut off, it's

  • done for.

  • There's a big root here as all this live wood sprung out of, an' if th' old wood's

  • cut off an' it's dug round, and took care of there'll be--" he stopped and lifted his

  • face to look up at the climbing and hanging

  • sprays above him--"there'll be a fountain o' roses here this summer."

  • They went from bush to bush and from tree to tree.

  • He was very strong and clever with his knife and knew how to cut the dry and dead

  • wood away, and could tell when an unpromising bough or twig had still green

  • life in it.

  • In the course of half an hour Mary thought she could tell too, and when he cut through

  • a lifeless-looking branch she would cry out joyfully under her breath when she caught

  • sight of the least shade of moist green.

  • The spade, and hoe, and fork were very useful.

  • He showed her how to use the fork while he dug about roots with the spade and stirred

  • the earth and let the air in.

  • They were working industriously round one of the biggest standard roses when he

  • caught sight of something which made him utter an exclamation of surprise.

  • "Why!" he cried, pointing to the grass a few feet away.

  • "Who did that there?" It was one of Mary's own little clearings

  • round the pale green points.

  • "I did it," said Mary. "Why, I thought tha' didn't know nothin'

  • about gardenin'," he exclaimed.

  • "I don't," she answered, "but they were so little, and the grass was so thick and

  • strong, and they looked as if they had no room to breathe.

  • So I made a place for them.

  • I don't even know what they are." Dickon went and knelt down by them, smiling

  • his wide smile. "Tha' was right," he said.

  • "A gardener couldn't have told thee better.

  • They'll grow now like Jack's bean-stalk. They're crocuses an' snowdrops, an' these

  • here is narcissuses," turning to another patch, "an here's daffydowndillys.

  • Eh! they will be a sight."

  • He ran from one clearing to another. "Tha' has done a lot o' work for such a

  • little wench," he said, looking her over. "I'm growing fatter," said Mary, "and I'm

  • growing stronger.

  • I used always to be tired. When I dig I'm not tired at all.

  • I like to smell the earth when it's turned up."

  • "It's rare good for thee," he said, nodding his head wisely.

  • "There's naught as nice as th' smell o' good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh

  • growin' things when th' rain falls on 'em.

  • I get out on th' moor many a day when it's rainin' an' I lie under a bush an' listen

  • to th' soft swish o' drops on th' heather an' I just sniff an' sniff.

  • My nose end fair quivers like a rabbit's, mother says."

  • "Do you never catch cold?" inquired Mary, gazing at him wonderingly.

  • She had never seen such a funny boy, or such a nice one.

  • "Not me," he said, grinning. "I never ketched cold since I was born.

  • I wasn't brought up nesh enough.

  • I've chased about th' moor in all weathers same as th' rabbits does.

  • Mother says I've sniffed up too much fresh air for twelve year' to ever get to

  • sniffin' with cold.

  • I'm as tough as a white-thorn knobstick." He was working all the time he was talking

  • and Mary was following him and helping him with her fork or the trowel.

  • "There's a lot of work to do here!" he said once, looking about quite exultantly.

  • "Will you come again and help me to do it?" Mary begged.

  • "I'm sure I can help, too.

  • I can dig and pull up weeds, and do whatever you tell me.

  • Oh! do come, Dickon!" "I'll come every day if tha' wants me, rain

  • or shine," he answered stoutly.

  • "It's the best fun I ever had in my life-- shut in here an' wakenin' up a garden."

  • "If you will come," said Mary, "if you will help me to make it alive I'll--I don't know

  • what I'll do," she ended helplessly.

  • What could you do for a boy like that? "I'll tell thee what tha'll do," said

  • Dickon, with his happy grin.

  • "Tha'll get fat an' tha'll get as hungry as a young fox an' tha'll learn how to talk to

  • th' robin same as I do. Eh! we'll have a lot o' fun."

  • He began to walk about, looking up in the trees and at the walls and bushes with a

  • thoughtful expression.

  • "I wouldn't want to make it look like a gardener's garden, all clipped an' spick

  • an' span, would you?" he said.

  • "It's nicer like this with things runnin' wild, an' swingin' an' catchin' hold of

  • each other." "Don't let us make it tidy," said Mary

  • anxiously.

  • "It wouldn't seem like a secret garden if it was tidy."

  • Dickon stood rubbing his rusty-red head with a rather puzzled look.

  • "It's a secret garden sure enough," he said, "but seems like some one besides th'

  • robin must have been in it since it was shut up ten year' ago."

  • "But the door was locked and the key was buried," said Mary.

  • "No one could get in." "That's true," he answered.

  • "It's a queer place.

  • Seems to me as if there'd been a bit o' prunin' done here an' there, later than ten

  • year' ago." "But how could it have been done?" said

  • Mary.

  • He was examining a branch of a standard rose and he shook his head.

  • "Aye! how could it!" he murmured. "With th' door locked an' th' key buried."

  • Mistress Mary always felt that however many years she lived she should never forget

  • that first morning when her garden began to grow.

  • Of course, it did seem to begin to grow for her that morning.

  • When Dickon began to clear places to plant seeds, she remembered what Basil had sung

  • at her when he wanted to tease her.

  • "Are there any flowers that look like bells?" she inquired.

  • "Lilies o' th' valley does," he answered, digging away with the trowel, "an' there's

  • Canterbury bells, an' campanulas."

  • "Let's plant some," said Mary. "There's lilies o' th, valley here already;

  • I saw 'em. They'll have growed too close an' we'll

  • have to separate 'em, but there's plenty.

  • Th' other ones takes two years to bloom from seed, but I can bring you some bits o'

  • plants from our cottage garden. Why does tha' want 'em?"

  • Then Mary told him about Basil and his brothers and sisters in India and of how

  • she had hated them and of their calling her "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary."

  • "They used to dance round and sing at me.

  • They sang--

  • 'Mistress Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

  • With silver bells, and cockle shells, And marigolds all in a row.'

  • I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there were really flowers like silver

  • bells." She frowned a little and gave her trowel a

  • rather spiteful dig into the earth.

  • "I wasn't as contrary as they were." But Dickon laughed.

  • "Eh!" he said, and as he crumbled the rich black soil she saw he was sniffing up the

  • scent of it.

  • "There doesn't seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there's flowers an'

  • such like, an' such lots o' friendly wild things runnin' about makin' homes for

  • themselves, or buildin' nests an' singin' an' whistlin', does there?"

  • Mary, kneeling by him holding the seeds, looked at him and stopped frowning.

  • "Dickon," she said, "you are as nice as Martha said you were.

  • I like you, and you make the fifth person. I never thought I should like five people."

  • Dickon sat up on his heels as Martha did when she was polishing the grate.

  • He did look funny and delightful, Mary thought, with his round blue eyes and red

  • cheeks and happy looking turned-up nose.

  • "Only five folk as tha' likes?" he said. "Who is th' other four?"

  • "Your mother and Martha," Mary checked them off on her fingers, "and the robin and Ben

  • Weatherstaff."

  • Dickon laughed so that he was obliged to stifle the sound by putting his arm over

  • his mouth.

  • "I know tha' thinks I'm a queer lad," he said, "but I think tha' art th' queerest

  • little lass I ever saw." Then Mary did a strange thing.

  • She leaned forward and asked him a question she had never dreamed of asking any one

  • before.

  • And she tried to ask it in Yorkshire because that was his language, and in India

  • a native was always pleased if you knew his speech.

  • "Does tha' like me?" she said.

  • "Eh!" he answered heartily, "that I does. I likes thee wonderful, an' so does th'

  • robin, I do believe!" "That's two, then," said Mary.

  • "That's two for me."

  • And then they began to work harder than ever and more joyfully.

  • Mary was startled and sorry when she heard the big clock in the courtyard strike the

  • hour of her midday dinner.

  • "I shall have to go," she said mournfully. "And you will have to go too, won't you?"

  • Dickon grinned. "My dinner's easy to carry about with me,"

  • he said.

  • "Mother always lets me put a bit o' somethin' in my pocket."

  • He picked up his coat from the grass and brought out of a pocket a lumpy little

  • bundle tied up in a quite clean, coarse, blue and white handkerchief.

  • It held two thick pieces of bread with a slice of something laid between them.

  • "It's oftenest naught but bread," he said, "but I've got a fine slice o' fat bacon

  • with it today."

  • Mary thought it looked a queer dinner, but he seemed ready to enjoy it.

  • "Run on an' get thy victuals," he said. "I'll be done with mine first.

  • I'll get some more work done before I start back home."

  • He sat down with his back against a tree. "I'll call th' robin up," he said, "and

  • give him th' rind o' th' bacon to peck at.

  • They likes a bit o' fat wonderful." Mary could scarcely bear to leave him.

  • Suddenly it seemed as if he might be a sort of wood fairy who might be gone when she

  • came into the garden again.

  • He seemed too good to be true. She went slowly half-way to the door in the

  • wall and then she stopped and went back. "Whatever happens, you--you never would

  • tell?" she said.

  • His poppy-colored cheeks were distended with his first big bite of bread and bacon,

  • but he managed to smile encouragingly.

  • "If tha' was a missel thrush an' showed me where thy nest was, does tha' think I'd

  • tell any one? Not me," he said.

  • "Tha' art as safe as a missel thrush."

  • And she was quite sure she was.

  • >

  • CHAPTER XII "MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH?"

  • Mary ran so fast that she was rather out of breath when she reached her room.

  • Her hair was ruffled on her forehead and her cheeks were bright pink.

  • Her dinner was waiting on the table, and Martha was waiting near it.

  • "Tha's a bit late," she said. "Where has tha' been?"

  • "I've seen Dickon!" said Mary.

  • "I've seen Dickon!" "I knew he'd come," said Martha exultantly.

  • "How does tha' like him?" "I think--I think he's beautiful!" said

  • Mary in a determined voice.

  • Martha looked rather taken aback but she looked pleased, too.

  • "Well," she said, "he's th' best lad as ever was born, but us never thought he was

  • handsome.

  • His nose turns up too much." "I like it to turn up," said Mary.

  • "An' his eyes is so round," said Martha, a trifle doubtful.