BURNETT FRANCES

Title:THE SECRET GARDEN
Subject:ENGLISH FICTION Scarica il testo


Association / Illinois Benedictine College".



THE SECRET GARDEN
BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT


Author of

"The Shuttle,"
"The Making of a Marchioness,"
"The Methods of Lady
Walderhurst,"
"The Lass o' Lowries,"
"Through One Administration,"
"Little Lord Fauntleroy,"
"A Lady of Quality," etc.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER TITLE

I THERE IS NO ONE LEFT
II MISTRESS MARY QUITE CONTRARY
III ACROSS THE MOOR
IV MARTHA
V THE CRY IN THE CORRIDOR
VI "THERE WAS SOME ONE CRYING--THERE WAS!"
VII THE KEY TO THE GARDEN
VIII THE ROBIN WHO SHOWED THE WAY
IX THE STRANGEST HOUSE ANY ONE EVER LIVED IN
X DICKON
XI THE NEST OF THE MISSEL THRUSH
XII "MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH?"
XIII "I AM COLIN"
XIV A YOUNG RAJAH
XV NEST BUILDING
XVI "I WON'T!" SAID MARY
XVII A TANTRUM
XVIII "THA' MUNNOT WASTE NO TIME"
XIX "IT HAS COME!"
XX "I SHALL LIVE FOREVER--AND EVER--AND EVER!"
XXI BEN WEATHERSTAFF
XXII WHEN THE SUN WENT DOWN
XXIII MAGIC
XIV "LET THEM LAUGH"
XXV THE CURTAIN
XXVI "IT'S MOTHER!"
XXVII IN THE GARDEN





THE SECRET GARDEN
BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT




CHAPTER I

THERE IS NO ONE LEFT


When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor
to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most
disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too.
She had a little thin face and a little thin body,
thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow,
and her face was yellow because she had been born in
India and had always been ill in one way or another.
Her father had held a position under the English
Government and had always been busy and ill himself,
and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only
to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people.
She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary
was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah,
who was made to understand that if she wished to please
the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much
as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little
baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became
a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of
the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly
anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other
native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave
her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib
would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying,
by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical
and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English
governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked
her so much that she gave up her place in three months,
and when other governesses came to try to fill it they
always went away in a shorter time than the first one.
So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how
to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.

One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine
years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became
crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood
by her bedside was not her Ayah.

"Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman.
"I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me."

The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered
that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself
into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only
more frightened and repeated that it was not possible
for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.

There was something mysterious in the air that morning.
Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the
native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary
saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces.
But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come.
She was actually left alone as the morning went on,
and at last she wandered out into the garden and began
to play by herself under a tree near the veranda.
She pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck
big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth,
all the time growing more and more angry and muttering
to herself the things she would say and the names she
would call Saidie when she returned.

"Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs!" she said, because to call
a native a pig is the worst insult of all.

She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over
again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda
with some one. She was with a fair young man and they stood
talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair
young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he
was a very young officer who had just come from England.
The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother.
She always did this when she had a chance to see her,
because the Mem Sahib--Mary used to call her that oftener
than anything else--was such a tall, slim, pretty person
and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly
silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed
to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes.
All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they
were "full of lace." They looked fuller of lace than ever
this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all.
They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair
boy officer's face.

"Is it so very bad? Oh, is it?" Mary heard her say.

"Awfully," the young man answered in a trembling voice.
"Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills
two weeks ago."

The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.

"Oh, I know I ought!" she cried. "I only stayed to go
to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!"

At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke
out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young
man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot.
The wailing grew wilder and wilder. "What is it? What is it?"
Mrs. Lennox gasped.

"Some one has died," answered the boy officer. "You did
not say it had broken out among your servants."

"I did not know!" the Mem Sahib cried. "Come with me!
Come with me!" and she turned and ran into the house.

After that, appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness
of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had
broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying
like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night,
and it was because she had just died that the servants
had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other
servants were dead and others had run away in terror.
There was panic on every side, and dying people in all
the bungalows.

During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary
hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by everyone.
Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things
happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried
and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were
ill and that she heard mysterious and tightening sounds.
Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty,
though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs
and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed
back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason.
The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty
she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled.
It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was.
Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back
to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries
she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet.
The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her
eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more
for a long time.

Many things happened during the hours in which she slept
so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the
sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.

When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall.
The house was perfectly still. She had never known
it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices
nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of
the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered
also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead.
There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would ...

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