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鸟鸣溪谷柳鸣春,万类和融释醉痕。骚客登楼临曲水,金威雅集胜兰亭。

 
 
 

日志

 
 

第十五章 筑 巢  

2016-03-28 10:18:10|  分类: 译著 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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第十五章  筑 

【美】弗朗西丝·霍奇森·伯内特  

熊良銋 

 

又持续下了一个星期的雨之后,高旷的蓝天重新出现了,太阳光倾泻下来充满了温馨。虽然没有机会见到秘密花园和迪康,玛丽小姐一直玩得很开心。这个星期并不显得漫长。她每天都在科林的房间里和他一起呆上几个小时,闲聊着印度王爷、花园、迪康和荒野上的茅舍。他们还一起翻看了精装的书籍和图画,有时玛丽念一段给科林听,有时科林念一点给她听。在他很快乐、感兴趣的时候,玛丽觉得他根本不象一个病人,只是他的脸颜色苍白,而且总是窝在沙发上。

你真是个精明的小丫头,一听到有什么动静,你就会从床上爬起来去看个究竟,象你在那天晚上所做的那样。梅德洛克太太有一回说道。不过也说不定这对我们大家未免不是个福音。自从你们结识以来,他就从来没有发过一次脾气,也没有犯过一次病。那个保姆本来打算辞职不干了的,因为她早就腻烦他了,可是现在她说有你帮忙,她就不反对留下了。说罢,她轻轻笑了起来。

玛丽和科林聊天时,每逢谈及秘密花园,她就非常谨慎。有几件事她想从他那里探个究竟,可又觉得不能直白地问他。第一,在她开始喜欢和他相处了之后,她想弄清楚他是不是那种可以向他透露秘密的男孩。他一点也不象迪康,可显然他是非常喜欢不为人知的花园这个主意的,所以她想,他也许可以信任。但是,她认识他的时间还不够长,仍然难以肯定。她想弄明白的第二件事是:如果他可以信任,确实可以的话,是不是有可能把他带到秘密花园里去,而不让任何人察觉呢?那位名医说过,他一定要呼吸新鲜空气,科林也说过他不会讨厌秘密花园里的新鲜空气。如果他呼吸了大量的新鲜空气,认识了迪康和知更鸟,又看到了万物在蓬勃生长,也许他就不会老想着死了。玛丽最近有时也照照镜子,发现自己和刚从印度来的时候大不一样了。眼前的这个孩子显得好看多了。甚至连玛莎也看出了她身上的变化。

荒野上的空气已经给你带来了好处,她曾经说过。您个脸不再那么黄了,身子也不再那么瘦了。连你的头发也不再是松垮垮的贴在头上了。它有些生气了,所以竖起来了一些。

它就象我自己,玛丽说道。长结实些了,长胖些了。我敢说比以前也多些了。

看来肯定是这样的咯,玛莎说道,把脸面前的头发往起拢了拢。这样,你就不显得那么难看了,而且你脸颊上也显得有点血色了。

如果花园和新鲜空气对她有了好处,那么或许也会对科林有好处的。可是,如果他讨厌别人看他,那就说不定他也不愿意见迪康的。

人家瞧瞧你,你为什么会生气呢?有一天她问道。

我一直讨厌那样的,他答道。即使我很小的时候也是这样。那时候他们常带我去海边,我就老是躺在童车里,人人都会瞪大眼睛看我,太太们常常停下来和我的保姆说话,然后,她们就开始窃窃私语起来,我 知道她们是在说我活不久长不大。有的太太会拍拍我的脸颊说声可怜的孩子!有一次,一位太太那么做的时候,我就高声尖叫起来,还咬了她的手。她吓得跑开了。

她还以为你象狗子一样发疯了呢,玛丽很不以为然地说道。

我才不管她怎么认为呢,科林皱着眉头说道。

我很奇怪,我走进你的房间时,你怎么没有尖叫起来咬我呢?玛丽说道。然后她微微一笑。

我原以为你是个鬼魂或是个梦中人,他说道。鬼魂或梦中人你是咬不着的,你就是大声尖叫,他们也不会不在乎的。

如果,如果是一个男孩在看你,你会生气吗?玛丽犹疑不定地问道。

他朝后靠到垫子上,停下来深思了一会儿。

有一个男孩,他一字一顿地说道,仿佛他在斟酌每一个字。有一个男孩我觉得我不应该在意的。就是知道狐狸住在哪里的叫迪康的那个男孩。

我就肯定你不会在乎他的,玛丽说道。

鸟雀不在乎,别的动物也不在乎,他说道,仍然在考虑着这件事。也许这就是我不应该在意原因。他象是个动物魔法师,我是个男娃小动物。

说罢,他笑了,她也跟着笑了起来;实际上,最后他们俩都大笑不止,因为一个男娃小动物藏身在洞里这个点子实在非常好笑。

这以后玛丽觉得她不必再为迪康的事担心了。

雨过天晴后的第一个早晨,玛丽醒得很早。太阳光穿过百叶窗斜射进来,这一幕景象令人无比欢欣,她不禁跳下床,跑到窗前。她拉起百叶窗,打开窗户,一大股清新芳香的空气朝她迎面扑来。荒野一派湛蓝,整个世界仿佛是让魔法点化过似的。这儿,那儿,每一处,都传来了柔和、轻微、清脆的鸣叫声,仿佛众多的小鸟正在开音乐会一样。玛丽把手伸出窗外,感受着阳光。

气候转暖了,好暖和呀!她说道。这会让绿芽嫩尖一个劲儿地往上窜动的,会让球茎和树根在土壤里拼命往外钻的。

她跪了下来,尽量探身到窗外,大口大口地吸气,使劲闻着那扑鼻而来的清风,突然想起迪康的母亲说过他的鼻尖能象兔子的一样颤动,便不禁笑出声来了。

现在一定还很早,她说道。天边的纤云都是粉红色的一片,我从没见过天空是这样的。还没有人起床。我甚至没听到马房的伙计们的声音。

一个突如其来的念头使她猛地站了起来。

我不能再等了!我现在就要去看看那个花园!

现在她已经学会了自己穿衣服,五分钟不到就穿好了衣服。她知道有一扇她自己能打开的小侧门,她穿着袜子飞奔下楼,在大厅里才穿上鞋。她解开铁链,拉开木闩,打开暗锁,门开了,她纵身跃过台阶,就站到了草地上,草似乎已经变绿,太阳光洒在她身上,一股股温暖清香的风吹拂着她,清脆动人的啁啾鸣唱声从每丛灌木、每棵树上传来。她紧扣着双手,心中充满了纯粹的欢悦,仰望着天空,天空是如此蔚蓝,如此绯红,如此珠明,如此浩白,浮泛着春光,她禁不住想要独自鼓吹歌唱,她知道画眉鸟、知更鸟和云雀也都会忍不住竞舞争鸣。她绕过灌木丛,穿过小径,朝着秘密花园跑去。

一切都已经变样了,她说道。草更绿了,嫩尖在到处往外钻,幼苗在舒展开,绿色的叶芽也在显露出来。我深信今天下午迪康肯定会来的。

长时间温暖的雨水,使矮墙边围着步行道的栽种多年生植物的花圃发生了奇特的变化。有许多东西从一簇簇植物的根部往外冒往外钻,在番红花枝梗的四周,这里那里的,还真的能瞥见紫红色和明黄色的炫彩呢。要是在六个月以前,玛丽小姐对世界如何醒过来只会视而不见,可是现在,她是不会错过任何机会的。

当她来到隐藏在常春藤下的园门时,一种奇怪而响亮的声音把她吓了一跳。原来是一只乌鸦的呱呱声,是从墙顶上传过来的。她抬头一看,只见一只羽毛光滑的蓝黑色大鸟站在那儿俯看着她,显出一副很精明的样子。她从没这么近距离地看过乌鸦,所以未免有些紧张,不过眨眼间它就张开翅膀,拍扇着往花园飞去了。她希望它不要留在花园里,于是她推开园门想去看个究竟。当她完全走进花园后,她看出它很可能有意留下,因为它已经落在了一棵矮苹果树上,树下还躺着一只尾巴毛茸茸的皮毛红泛泛的小动物,它们两个都在注视着迪康那弯下腰的身子和褐红色头发的脑袋,迪康正跪在草地上干得非常起劲。

玛丽飞也似地穿过草地向他跑去。

喂,迪康哎!迪康!她高声喊道。你怎么能这么早就到了?怎么可能呢?太阳都才刚刚出来呀!

他直起身来挠了挠头发,眯眯地笑着,容光焕发;眼睛象一小片蓝色的天空。

哦!他说道。我可比太阳起得早多了。我怎么能赖在床上呢!今天早晨,整个世界又都复活了,真的。到处都充满了生机,有的在嗡嗡哼着,有的在虎虎刨着,有的在吹唱,有的在筑巢,还有的在散发清香,这时候,再也不不能躺在床上了,是一定得起来去外面活动的。当太阳从地面跳出来的时候,整个荒野简直喜欢得发疯了,我正在石楠丛中,也疯了似的奔跑起来,就喊叫着哼唱着,径直来了这儿。我不能不来的呀。真的,花园一直在这里等着呢!

玛丽把双手按到胸口上,气喘吁吁,好似她自己也是一路跑过来的。

哦,迪康呀!迪康!她说道。我高兴得快喘不过气来了!

那只尾巴毛茸茸的小动物看到他在和陌生人说话,就从树下它蹲伏的地方爬起来,跑到他跟前,而那只乌鸦则呱地叫了一声,从树枝上飞下来,静静地落在了迪康的肩上。

这是只狐狸崽子,他说道,一边抚摸着这皮毛红泛泛的小动物的脑袋。它名叫队长。这个名叫煤灰。煤灰是跟着我从荒野飞过来的,而队长则是一路跑来,就跟有一群猎狗在后面追它似的。它们俩的心情都和我一样。

两个小动物都似乎一点儿也不害怕玛丽。迪康开始四处走动时,煤灰仍然停在他肩上,队长则一声不响地紧跟在他近旁。

瞧这儿!迪康说道。瞧这些已经冒出好多来了,还有这些跟这些!哎呀呀!瞧在儿也有!

他猛地跪到地上,玛丽也在他旁边蹲了下来。他们竟然发现有一整簇番红花绽开了,紫色的橙色的好金黄色的都有。玛丽俯下身子,用脸去把它们亲了又亲。

你决不可那样去亲吻一个人的,她抬起头来说道。对花儿就是另一回事了。

他显得有些困惑不解,但还是微笑了。

哦!他说道。我曾经那么亲吻过俺很多次的咯,都是在我从荒野上游逛了一天后回家来,看到她站在大门口阳光下,显得那么欢畅。

他们从花园的这头跑到那头,发现了那么多的惊喜,不得不相互提醒一定要低声说话,不可喧嚷。他指给她看,在一度看来似乎死了的玫瑰枝上露出了一个个胀鼓鼓的叶芽。他又指给他看,成千上万点破土而出的绿尖新芽。他们这两个兴致勃勃的年轻人把鼻子凑近泥土,使劲闻着温暖的春日气息;他们挖着,拔着,着迷地低声笑着,直到最后,玛丽小姐的头发也象迪康的一样凌乱,脸蛋也几乎和他的一样,变得象成罂粟花那样红扑扑的了。

那天早上,人世间的种种欢欣,秘密花园里可以说是应有尽有,而其中有一种快乐更是快乐无比,因为它更神奇。有样东西突然迅疾地越过围墙,掠过树丛,来到一个枝叶繁茂的角落,那是一只一团火似的红胸脯小鸟,喙上还叼着点什么。迪康站着一动不动,还把手放在玛丽的肩上,他们几乎仿佛突然惊觉自己是在教堂里大笑似的。

我们绝对勿能动的咯,他用很重的约克郡口音低声说道。我们绝对勿能大声出气。上次我见到他时就知道他在求偶。那是本·维德斯达夫的知更鸟。它正在筑巢。要是我们不惊动它,它就会留下来的。

他们轻轻地在草地上坐了下来,一动也不动。

我们绝对勿能显得在密切注视它,迪康说道。要是它觉得我们是在干扰它,那它就会永远离开我们的咯。这一切结束了之后,它的态度就会大不一样了。它是在建立家庭,这时它格外胆小,也更容易把事情往坏处想。它现在没有时间交朋友说闲话。我们一定得保持安静,尽量显得我们只是草木树丛之类的。等到它看惯了我们,我会学几声鸟叫,它就知道我们是不会碍事的咯。

玛丽小姐完全没有把握,该怎样才能使自己看上去象迪康说的那样,尽量显显得象花木树丛似的。但是,他讲起这么古怪的事情来,就如同这是世界上最简单、最自然的事儿了,她觉得对他来说那一定是轻而易举的事。她甚至真的仔细观察了他好几分钟,心想着他是不是会悄悄变绿和长出枝叶来。然而他只是静得出奇地坐在那里,说话时也尽量把嗓门压得极低,简直难以想象她还能听得见,可她确实听见了的。

这筑巢呀,可是春天里鸟儿的必修课的咯,他说道。我敢保证,自从这个世界开始以来,它们年年都是这样的。鸟儿有鸟儿的想法和做法,人最好不要多管闲事。你要是好奇心太重,在春天会比任何别的季节更容易失去朋友。

要是我们在谈论它的事,我就忍不住要去看它,玛丽尽可能低声说道。我们必须谈点别的什么。我正有件事想告诉你呢。

它也会更喜欢我们谈点别的咯,迪康说道。你有什么事急着要告诉我呢?

嗯,你可听说科林的事?她悄声说道。

他转过头去看着她。

您个听说他的什么事啦?他问道。

我见到他了。这个星期我每天都要去和他聊天。他要我去的。他说我让他忘掉了生病和死亡的事儿。玛丽答道。

迪康那张圆脸上的惊奇表情消失了之后,这才真正显得松了一口气。

这样我就高兴了咯,他小声喊道。我太高兴了。这也让我感到轻松点了。我知道他的事一点都不能说,可我又不喜欢藏着掖着的。

难道你不喜欢把花园的事儿藏着吗?玛丽问道。

那我是永远也不会讲出去的咯,他答道。不过我对俺娘说了。,娘,我说,我有个秘密不能泄露的。那不是坏秘密,你知道的咯。简直跟不泄露鸟巢地方一样好着哩。那个不在意吧,娘?’”

玛丽总是很乐意听到这位母亲的事儿。

那她怎么说?她问道,丝毫不担心会听到样的回答。

迪康心情舒畅地咧嘴笑了。

她就那样子,快言快语的,他答道。她抚摸着我的脑袋,笑着说,行啊,娃子,你喜欢保有多少秘密都行。这我理解的咯,我都已经了解你十二年了。’”

你是怎么知道科林的?玛丽问道。

知道克雷文老爷的人都知道他有个小男娃,好象是有什么残疾的,他们还知道克雷文老爷不愿意人们谈论他。大伙儿都为克雷文老爷难过,因为克雷文太太是那么一位年轻的漂亮太太,他们俩又那么相亲相爱。克雷文太太每次去斯威特村时,都要到我们家的茅舍前歇歇脚,她不介意在我们这些孩子面前和俺娘聊聊天,因为她知道我们都是有教养、信得过的。您个又是怎么知道他的?玛莎上次回家时心中非常烦恼的咯。她说,您个听到他在哭闹,就提了好多问题,她不知道该说什么才好。

玛丽就给他讲起了她自己的故事,那天半夜,呼啸的风声惊醒了她,远处传来的模糊的哀怨声引导着她拿着蜡烛,沿着黑暗的走廊走下去,最后她打开门,房间里灯光昏暗,角落里有一张雕花四柱床。当她描述着那张象牙色的小脸和怪异的黑圈眼睛时,迪康就连连摇头。

那双眼睛就跟他母亲的一模一样,只不过她的总是在笑,大伙儿都是这么说的,他说道。他们说克雷文先生看到他醒着就简直受不了,因为他的眼睛太象他母亲的了,可是长在他那张愁苦的小脸上,就大不一样了。

你觉得克雷文先生会希望他死吗?玛丽小声问道。

那倒不是,但是他希望那孩子要是没出生就好了。俺娘她说,对于一个小娃来说,这是世上最不幸的事了。没人要的娃是很少能成活的咯。任何花钱能买到的东西,克雷文老爷都愿意给那个可怜娃买,可是他宁愿忘掉他还活在世上。其中的一个原因就是,他害怕有一天见到孩子会长成一个驼背。

科林自己也害怕这一点,所以不愿意坐起来,玛丽说道。他说他总在想,如果哪一天他发现真的有个包在长出来,他会发疯的,会不停地大喊尖叫直到死去。

嗯!他不该老是躺在那儿想这种事的咯,迪康说道。老想着这种事儿,就是正常的娃子也健康不起来的呀。

躺在他身边草地上的那只狐狸,时而抬起头来,希望他能轻轻拍拍它,于是迪康弯下腰去轻轻挠了挠它的颈项,默默地想了几分钟。过了一会儿,他抬头环顾着花园。

我们头一次进来时,他说道。好象到处都是灰蒙蒙的。现在,四处瞧瞧看,再说说您个是否看出什么区别来。

玛丽看了看,几乎有点屏住了呼吸。

哇!她喊叫道。那灰蒙蒙墙篱在变样儿啦。好象有一层绿色的薄雾在上面翻腾似的。简直就象是绿色的罗纱。

啊吔,迪康说道。还会越来越绿的,直到灰颜色全都消失尽。您能猜到我刚才在想什么吗?

我知道这一定是好事,玛丽热切地说道。我相信是跟科林有关。

我在想呀,要是他能走出房间到这儿来,他就不会老是为背上长疙瘩的事发愁了;他会守候着看玫瑰枝上长花苞,而且他很可能会健壮些的咯迪康解释道。我还在想,我们能不能够让他喜欢到这儿来,他可以坐在的轮椅里呆在树底下。

我自己也一直在这么想着这件事。几乎每次和他聊天,我都会想起来。玛丽说道。我很想知道他能不能保守秘密,我也很想不知道,我们能不能带他进来,而不让任何人看见。我寻思也许你能推着他的轮椅来。那专家医生说了的,他一定要呼吸新鲜空气,而如果他希望我们带他出去,就没人敢违拗他的。他不愿意因为别人要他出去而出去,如果他肯跟我们出去,也许那些人会非常乐意的。他可以命令园丁们离得远远的,那么他们就不会发现了。

迪康在苦苦思索着,一边挠着船长的背。

这对他会有好处的咯,我敢保证,他说道。我们不认为他没出生会更好。我们只是两个小孩在看着花园长,而他就算是另加一个。只限两个男娃和一个女娃在一起观赏春光。我敢担保,这比医生的那些药更有效。

他在房间里躺了那么久,又一直对他的背忧心忡忡,脾气变得古里古怪的了玛丽说道。他从书本里知道了很多东西,可是别的他什么都不懂。他说他病得太重,注意不到别的事情,而且他讨厌到户外去,讨厌花园和园丁。可他喜欢听人讲这个花园的事,因为这是一个秘密。我不敢跟他多说,可是他说他想到花园去看看。

我们什么时候一定要让他出外到这儿来的咯,迪康说道。我完全能够给他推轮椅。您个注意到没有,我们坐在这里的时候,那只知更鸟和它的伴侣一直在干活儿?瞧它蹲在那跟树枝上,正在琢磨着把喙里衔的小枝子放到哪里最合适呢。

他打了一个自己那特有的低声唿哨,你知更鸟便掉转头来探询似的看着他,喙里仍然衔着小树枝。迪康象本·维德斯达夫一样对它说话,不过迪康的口吻是一种友善的建议。

不管您个放到哪里,他说道。都挺合适的。您个还没出壳之前就已经学会筑巢了。接着干吧,小伙计。您个没有时间可浪费的咯。

啊,我真喜欢听你和它说话!玛丽快乐地笑着说道。本·维德斯达夫老爱责备它,取笑它,它也老爱蹦来跳去的,好象每一个字都能听懂似的,我知道它喜欢这样。本·维德斯达夫说它虚荣心特强,宁愿有人朝它扔石子儿,也不愿没人理睬它。

迪康也笑了起来,继续着跟鸟儿说话。

您个晓得我们不会打扰您的,他对知更鸟说道。我们自个儿也差不多是野物了。我们自个儿也在筑巢,你有福了。您个小心别泄露我们的秘密。

虽然那知更鸟没有回答,因为它的喙还衔着东西呢。玛丽知道,当它衔着小树枝飞向花园里它自己的角落去时,它露珠般明亮的黑眼睛表明,它无论如何都是不会把他们的秘密泄露出去的。


 

附录:原文

 

Chapter 15  Nest Building

Written byFrances Hodgson Burnett

Translated by Liangren Xiong

 

After another week of rain the high arch of blue sky appeared again and the sun which poured down was quite hot. Though there had been no chance to see either the secret garden or Dickon, Mistress Mary had enjoyed herself very much. The week had not seemed long. She had spent hours of every day with Colin in his room, talking about Rajahs or gardens or Dickon and the cottage on the moor. They had looked at the splendid books and pictures and sometimes Mary had read things to Colin, and sometimes he had read a little to her. When he was amused and interested she thought he scarcely looked like an invalid at all, except that his face was so colorless and he was always on the sofa.

"You are a sly young one to listen and get out of your bed to go following things up like you did that night," Mrs. Medlock said once. "But there's no saying it's not been a sort of blessing to the lot of us. He's not had a tantrum or a whining fit since you made friends. The nurse was just going to give up the case because she was so sick of him, but she says she doesn't mind staying now you've gone on duty with her," laughing a little.

In her talks with Colin, Mary had tried to be very cautious about the secret garden. There were certain things she wanted to find out from him, but she felt that she must find them out without asking him direct questions. In the first place, as she began to like to be with him, she wanted to discover whether he was the kind of boy you could tell a secret to. He was not in the least like Dickon, but he was evidently so pleased with the idea of a garden no one knew anything about that she thought perhaps he could be trusted. But she had not known him long enough to be sure. The second thing she wanted to find out was this: If he could be trusted—if he really could—wouldn't it be possible to take him to the garden without having any one find it out? The grand doctor had said that he must have fresh air and Colin had said that he would not mind fresh air in a secret garden. Perhaps if he had a great deal of fresh air and knew Dickon and the robin and saw things growing he might not think so much about dying. Mary had seen herself in the glass sometimes lately when she had realized that she looked quite a different creature from the child she had seen when she arrived from India. This child looked nicer. Even Martha had seen a change in her.

"Th' air from th' moor has done thee good already," she had said. "Tha'rt not nigh so yeller and tha'rt not nigh so scrawny. Even tha' hair doesn't slamp down on tha' head so flat. It's got some life in it so as it sticks out a bit."

"It's like me," said Mary. "It's growing stronger and fatter. I'm sure there's more of it."

"It looks it, for sure," said Martha, ruffling it up a little round her face. "Tha'rt not half so ugly when it's that way an' there's a bit o' red in tha' cheeks."

If gardens and fresh air had been good for her perhaps they would be good for Colin. But then, if he hated people to look at him, perhaps he would not like to see Dickon.

"Why does it make you angry when you are looked at?" she inquired one day.

"I always hated it," he answered, "even when I was very little. Then when they took me to the seaside and I used to lie in my carriage everybody used to stare and ladies would stop and talk to my nurse and then they would begin to whisper and I knew then they were saying I shouldn't live to grow up. Then sometimes the ladies would pat my cheeks and say 'Poor child!' Once when a lady did that I screamed out loud and bit her hand. She was so frightened she ran away."

"She thought you had gone mad like a dog," said Mary, not at all admiringly.

"I don't care what she thought," said Colin, frowning.

"I wonder why you didn't scream and bite me when I came into your room?" said Mary. Then she began to smile slowly.

"I thought you were a ghost or a dream," he said. "You can't bite a ghost or a dream, and if you scream they don't care."

"Would you hate it if—if a boy looked at you?" Mary asked uncertainly.

He lay back on his cushion and paused thoughtfully.

"There's one boy," he said quite slowly, as if he were thinking over every word, "there's one boy I believe I shouldn't mind. It's that boy who knows where the foxes live—Dickon."

"I'm sure you wouldn't mind him," said Mary.

"The birds don't and other animals," he said, still thinking it over, "perhaps that's why I shouldn't. He's a sort of animal charmer and I am a boy animal."

Then he laughed and she laughed too; in fact it ended in their both laughing a great deal and finding the idea of a boy animal hiding in his hole very funny indeed.

What Mary felt afterward was that she need not fear about Dickon.

On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened very early.

The sun was pouring in slanting rays through the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window. She drew up the blinds and opened the window itself and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something

Magic had happened to it. There were tender little fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert. Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.

"It's warm—warm!" she said. "It will make the green points push up and up and up, and it will make the bulbs and roots work and struggle with all their might under the earth."

She kneeled down and leaned out of the window as far as she could, breathing big breaths and sniffing the air until she laughed because she remembered what Dickon's mother had said about the end of his nose quivering like a rabbit's.

"It must be very early," she said. "The little clouds are all pink and I've never seen the sky look like this. No one is up. I don't even hear the stable boys."

A sudden thought made her scramble to her feet.

"I can't wait! I am going to see the garden!"

She had learned to dress herself by this time and she put on her clothes in five minutes. She knew a small side door which she could unbolt herself and she flew down-stairs in her stocking feet and put on her shoes in the hall. She unchained and unbolted and unlocked and when the door was open she sprang across the step with one bound, and there she was standing on the grass, which seemed to have turned green, and with the sun pouring down on her and warm sweet wafts about her and the fluting and twittering and singing coming from every bush and tree. She clasped her hands for pure joy and looked up in the sky and it was so blue and pink and pearly and white and flooded with springtime light that she felt as if she must flute and sing aloud herself and knew that thrushes and robins and skylarks could not possibly help it. She ran around the shrubs and paths toward the secret garden.

"It is all different already," she said. "The grass is greener and things are sticking up everywhere and things are uncurling and green buds of leaves are showing. This afternoon I am sure Dickon will come."

The long warm rain had done strange things to the herbaceous beds which bordered the walk by the lower wall. There were things sprouting and pushing out from the roots of clumps of plants and there were actually here and there glimpses of royal purple and yellow unfurling among the stems of crocuses. Six months before Mistress Mary would not have seen how the world was waking up, but now she missed nothing.

When she had reached the place where the door hid itself under the ivy, she was startled by a curious loud sound. It was the caw—caw of a crow and it came from the top of the wall, and when she looked up, there sat a big glossy-plumaged blue-black bird, looking down at her very wisely indeed. She had never seen a crow so close before and he made her a little nervous, but the next moment he spread his wings and flapped away across the garden. She hoped he was not going to stay inside and she pushed the door open wondering if he would. When she got fairly into the garden she saw that he probably did intend to stay because he had alighted on a dwarf apple-tree, and under the apple-tree was lying a little reddish animal with a bushy tail, and both of them were watching the stooping body and rust-red head of Dickon, who was kneeling on the grass working hard.

Mary flew across the grass to him.

"Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she cried out. "How could you get here so early! How could you! The sun has only just got up!"

He got up himself, laughing and glowing, and tousled; his eyes like a bit of the sky.

"Eh!" he said. "I was up long before him. How could I have stayed abed! Th' world's all fair begun again this mornin', it has. An' it's workin' an' hummin' an' scratchin' an' pipin' an' nest-buildin' an' breathin' out scents, till you've got to be out on it 'stead o' lyin' on your back. When th' sun did jump up, th' moor went mad for joy, an' I was in the midst of th' heather, an' I run like mad myself, shoutin' an' singin'. An' I come straight here. I couldn't have stayed away. Why, th' garden was lyin' here waitin'!"

Mary put her hands on her chest, panting, as if she had been running herself.

"Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she said. "I'm so happy I can scarcely breathe!"

Seeing him talking to a stranger, the little bushy-tailed animal rose from its place under the tree and came to him, and the rook, cawing once, flew down from its branch and settled quietly on his shoulder.

"This is th' little fox cub," he said, rubbing the little reddish animal's head. "It's named Captain. An' this here's Soot. Soot he flew across th' moor with me an' Captain he run same as if th' hounds had been after him. They both felt same as I did."

Neither of the creatures looked as if he were the least afraid of Mary. When Dickon began to walk about, Soot stayed on his shoulder and Captain trotted quietly close to his side.

"See here!" said Dickon. "See how these has pushed up, an' these an' these! An' Eh! look at these here!"

He threw himself upon his knees and Mary went down beside him. They had come upon a whole clump of crocuses burst into purple and orange and gold. Mary bent her face down and kissed and kissed them.

"You never kiss a person in that way," she said when she lifted her head. "Flowers are so different."

He looked puzzled but smiled.

"Eh!" he said, "I've kissed mother many a time that way when I come in from th' moor after a day's roamin' an' she stood there at th' door in th' sun, lookin' so glad an' comfortable."

They ran from one part of the garden to another and found so many wonders that they were obliged to remind themselves that they must whisper or speak low. He showed her swelling leaf-buds on rose branches which had seemed dead. He showed her ten thousand new green points pushing through the mould. They put their eager young noses close to the earth and sniffed its warmed springtime breathing; they dug and pulled and laughed low with rapture until Mistress Mary's hair was as tumbled as Dickon's and her cheeks were almost as poppy red as his.

There was every joy on earth in the secret garden that morning, and in the midst of them came a delight more delightful than all, because it was more wonderful. Swiftly something flew across the wall and darted through the trees to a close grown corner, a little flare of red-breasted bird with something hanging from its beak.

Dickon stood quite still and put his hand on Mary almost as if they had suddenly found themselves laughing in a church.

"We munnot stir," he whispered in broad Yorkshire. "We munnot scarce breathe. I knowed he was mate-huntin' when I seed him last. It's Ben Weatherstaff's robin. He's buildin' his nest. He'll stay here if us don't flight him."

They settled down softly upon the grass and sat there without moving.

"Us mustn't seem as if us was watchin' him too close," said Dickon. "He'd be out with us for good if he got th' notion us was interferin' now. He'll be a good bit different till all this is over. He's settin' up housekeepin'. He'll be shyer an' readier to take things ill. He's got no time for visitin' an' gossipin'. Us must keep still a bit an' try to look as if us was grass an' trees an' bushes. Then when he's got used to seein' us I'll chirp a bit an' he'll know us'll not be in his way."

Mistress Mary was not at all sure that she knew, as Dickon seemed to, how to try to look like grass and trees and bushes. But he had said the queer thing as if it were the simplest and most natural thing in the world, and she felt it must be quite easy to him, and indeed she watched him for a few minutes carefully, wondering if it was possible for him to quietly turn green and put out branches and leaves. But he only sat wonderfully still, and when he spoke dropped his voice to such a softness that it was curious that she could hear him, but she could.

"It's part o' th' springtime, this nest-buildin' is," he said. "I warrant it's been goin' on in th' same way every year since th' world was begun. They've got their way o' thinkin' and doin' things an' a body had better not meddle. You can lose a friend in springtime easier than any other season if you're too curious."

"If we talk about him I can't help looking at him," Mary said as softly as possible. "We must talk of something else. There is something I want to tell you."

"He'll like it better if us talks o' somethin' else," said Dickon. "What is it tha's got to tell me?"

"Well—do you know about Colin?" she whispered.

He turned his head to look at her.

"What does tha' know about him?" he asked.

"I've seen him. I have been to talk to him every day this week. He wants me to come. He says I'm making him forget about being ill and dying," answered Mary.

Dickon looked actually relieved as soon as the surprise died away from his round face.

"I am glad o' that," he exclaimed. "I'm right down glad. It makes me easier. I knowed I must say nothin' about him an' I don't like havin' to hide things."

"Don't you like hiding the garden?" said Mary.

"I'll never tell about it," he answered. "But I says to mother, 'Mother,' I says, 'I got a secret to keep. It's not a bad 'un, tha' knows that. It's no worse than hidin' where a bird's nest is. Tha' doesn't mind it, does tha'?'"

Mary always wanted to hear about mother.

"What did she say?" she asked, not at all afraid to hear.

Dickon grinned sweet-temperedly.

"It was just like her, what she said," he answered. "She give my head a bit of a rub an' laughed an' she says, 'Eh, lad, tha' can have all th' secrets tha' likes. I've knowed thee twelve year'.'"

"How did you know about Colin?" asked Mary.

"Everybody as knowed about Mester Craven knowed there was a little lad as was like to be a cripple, an' they knowed Mester Craven didn't like him to be talked about. Folks is sorry for Mester Craven because Mrs. Craven was such a pretty young lady an' they was so fond of each other. Mrs. Medlock stops in our cottage whenever she goes to Thwaite an' she doesn't mind talkin' to mother before us children, because she knows us has been brought up to be trusty. How did tha' find out about him? Martha was in fine trouble th' last time she came home. She said tha'd heard him frettin' an' tha' was askin' questions an' she didn't know what to say."

Mary told him her story about the midnight wuthering of the wind which had wakened her and about the faint far-off sounds of the complaining voice which had led her down the dark corridors with her candle and had ended with her opening of the door of the dimly lighted room with the carven four-posted bed in the corner. When she described the small ivory-white face and the strange black-rimmed eyes Dickon shook his head.

"Them's just like his mother's eyes, only hers was always laughin', they say," he said. "They say as Mr. Craven can't bear to see him when he's awake an' it's because his eyes is so like his mother's an' yet looks so different in his miserable bit of a face."

"Do you think he wants him to die?" whispered Mary.

"No, but he wishes he'd never been born. Mother she says that's th' worst thing on earth for a child. Them as is not wanted scarce ever thrives. Mester Craven he'd buy anythin' as money could buy for th' poor lad but he'd like to forget as he's on earth. For one thing, he's afraid he'll look at him some day and find he's growed hunchback."

"Colin's so afraid of it himself that he won't sit up," said Mary. "He says he's always thinking that if he should feel a lump coming he should go crazy and scream himself to death."

"Eh! he oughtn't to lie there thinkin' things like that," said Dickon. "No lad could get well as thought them sort o' things."

The fox was lying on the grass close by him looking up to ask for a pat now and then, and Dickon bent down and rubbed his neck softly and thought a few minutes in silence. Presently he lifted his head and looked round the garden.

"When first we got in here," he said, "it seemed like everything was gray. Look round now and tell me if tha' doesn't see a difference."

Mary looked and caught her breath a little.

"Why!" she cried, "the gray wall is changing. It is as if a green mist were creeping over it. It's almost like a green gauze veil."

"Aye," said Dickon. "An' it'll be greener and greener till th' gray's all gone. Can tha' guess what I was thinkin'?"

"I know it was something nice," said Mary eagerly. "I believe it was something about Colin."

"I was thinkin' that if he was out here he wouldn't be watchin' for lumps to grow on his back; he'd be watchin' for buds to break on th' rose-bushes, an' he'd likely be healthier," explained Dickon. "I was wonderin' if us could ever get him in th' humor to come out here an' lie under th' trees in his carriage."

"I've been wondering that myself. I've thought of it almost every time I've talked to him," said Mary. "I've wondered if he could keep a secret and I've wondered if we could bring him here without any one seeing us. I thought perhaps you could push his carriage. The doctor said he must have fresh air and if he wants us to take him out no one dare disobey him. He won't go out for other people and perhaps they will be glad if he will go out with us. He could order the gardeners to keep away so they wouldn't find out."

Dickon was thinking very hard as he scratched Captain's back.

"It'd be good for him, I'll warrant," he said. "Us'd not be thinkin' he'd better never been born. Us'd be just two children watchin' a garden grow, an' he'd be another. Two lads an' a little lass just lookin' on at th' springtime. I warrant it'd be better than doctor's stuff."

"He's been lying in his room so long and he's always been so afraid of his back that it has made him queer," said Mary. "He knows a good many things out of books but he doesn't know anything else. He says he has been too ill to notice things and he hates going out of doors and hates gardens and gardeners. But he likes to hear about this garden because it is a secret. I daren't tell him much but he said he wanted to see it."

"Us'll have him out here sometime for sure," said Dickon. "I could push his carriage well enough. Has tha' noticed how th' robin an' his mate has been workin' while we've been sittin' here? Look at him perched on that branch wonderin' where it'd be best to put that twig he's got in his beak."

He made one of his low whistling calls and the robin turned his head and looked at him inquiringly, still holding his twig. Dickon spoke to him as Ben Weatherstaff did, but Dickon's tone was one of friendly advice.

"Wheres'ever tha' puts it," he said, "it'll be all right. Tha' knew how to build tha' nest before tha' came out o' th' egg. Get on with thee, lad. Tha'st got no time to lose."

"Oh, I do like to hear you talk to him!" Mary said, laughing delightedly. "Ben Weatherstaff scolds him and makes fun of him, and he hops about and looks as if he understood every word, and I know he likes it. Ben Weatherstaff says he is so conceited he would rather have stones thrown at him than not be noticed."

Dickon laughed too and went on talking.

"Tha' knows us won't trouble thee," he said to the robin. "Us is near bein' wild things ourselves. Us is nest-buildin' too, bless thee. Look out tha' doesn't tell on us."

And though the robin did not answer, because his beak was occupied, Mary knew that when he flew away with his twig to his own corner of the garden the darkness of his dew-bright eye meant that he would not tell their secret for the world.

 

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