Chapters 13 - 15

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by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This story is about the power of love to change even the most hopeless situations and the most difficult people. This abridged version (shorter and with simpler words) was done for English Language Learners by InterestEng.  



  (Chapter 13)  THE YOUNG MASTER

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“WHAT’S the matter with you?” Martha asked Mary the next morning. “You look as if you have something to say.

     I have. I have found who was crying, said Mary.

     Martha's face became afraid. “Miss Mary! she said. “You shouldn't have done it! You'll get me in trouble. I will lose my place and what will my mother do!

     You won't lose your place, said Mary. He was glad I came. I think he almost liked me, Mary answered. What is the matter with him?

     Nobody knows for sure, said Martha.

     Is Colin a hunchback? Mary asked. He didn't look like one.

     He isn't yet, said Martha. “Mr. Craven was afraid his back was weak and so they keep him lying down and don't let him walk.” Just then a bell rang and Martha got up. “The nurse wants me to go to him now, she said. She was out of the room only ten minutes and she came back.

     Colin is sitting on the sofa with his picture-books. He told the nurse to stay away until six o'clock. The minute she was gone he said to me, “I want Mary to come and talk to me.”

     You will never be well if you stay in a room, said Mary as soon as she arrived in Colin's room.

     I can't go out, he said in an angry tone.

     You might—sometime.

     Go out?! How could I? I am going to die.

     How do you know? said Mary. She didn't like the way he always talked about dying.

     I've heard it all my life. Everyone wants me to die.

     I don't believe that! said Mary boldly.

     That made Colin turn and look at her. “Don't you?” he said.

     No. And I don't like to talk about it. Let's talk about living.” For some reason that made them both laugh. While they were laughing, the door opened and in walked Colin's doctor and Mrs. Medlock. The doctor jumped and Mrs. Medlock was shocked.

     What is this? said Dr. Craven, coming forward. What does it mean?!

     This is my cousin, Mary Lennox, replied Collin boldly. “I asked her to come and talk to me. I like her. She must come and talk to me whenever I send for her.

     Dr. Craven turned to Mrs. Medlock. Oh, sir she cried. I don't know how it happened.

     Nobody told her anything, said Colin. “She heard me crying and found me herself. I am glad she came.

     Mary saw that Dr. Craven did not look pleased. He sat down by Colin. “I am afraid there has been too much excitement. Excitement is not good for you, he said.

     I will be very excited if Mary is kept away from me, answered Colin! “I am better. She makes me better. The nurse must bring up her tea with mine. We will have tea together.

     Dr. Craven did not look happy at all when he left the room.

   ***


         (Chapter 14)  POSSIBLE?

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ONE morning when the sky was very blue, Mary awakened early. The sun was pouring in through the window. There was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if some magic had happened to it.  Mary put her hand out of the window to feel the warm sun.

     “I can't wait!” she said. “I am going to see the garden!” And in five minutes she was dressed and out the door. “It is all different already,” she said. “The grass is greener. Things are coming up everywhere and the green buds of the leaves are showing. I am sure Dickon will come to the garden too, today.”

     When she reached the garden door, she heard a strange, loud sound. It was the voice of a crow and it came from the top of the wall. When she looked up, there was a big blue-black bird, looking down at her very wisely. 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 pushed the door to the secret garden open and there, under the apple-tree, was Dickon, kneeling on the grass working very hard. Mary ran to him.

     Oh, Dickon! she cried out. “How could you get here so early?! The sun has only come up!

     He got up, laughing.  Eh! he said. “How could I stay in bed?! I couldn't stay away. Why, the garden has been waiting for us all winter!” Suddenly a little bushy-tailed animal came out from hiding. He came and settled quietly on Dickon's shoulder. “This is a little fox cub, he said, rubbing the little animal's head. “It's named Captain. And this is Soot, my crow. 

     Mary smiled at all of Dickon’s animals and then said suddenly, “There is something I want to tell you. Do you know about Colin? she whispered.

     He turned his head to look at her. “What do YOU 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 was relieved. “I am glad about that, he said. “It makes everything easier. I knew I must say nothing about him and I don't like having to hide things.

     How did you know about Colin? asked Mary.

    Everybody knows about the little cripple. How did you find out about him?

     Mary told him her story and then said, "Do you think he wants to die?

     No, but he wishes he'd never been born.

     Colin is so afraid of becoming a hunchback that he won't sit up, said Mary. “He says that if he thought a lump was coming he would go crazy.

     “Well, he shouldn't lie there thinking things like that, said Dickon. “No boy could get well thinking those sorts of things.”  The fox was lying on the grass close to Dickon. Dickon bent down and rubbed his neck softly and thought a few minutes in silence. He then lifted his head and looked round the garden. “Can you guess what I was thinking?” he asked.

     I know it was something nice, said Mary. “And I think it was probably something about Colin.”

     I was thinking that if he was out here he wouldn't be watching for lumps to grow on his back. He would be watching for buds to become flowers. I was wondering if we could get him out here in his wheelchair.”  Dickon was thinking very hard as he scratched Captain's back.  “If the Spring can bring a whole garden back to life, I don't see why we can't bring a boy back to life.

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          (Chapter 15)  I WON’T!

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DICKON and Mary found a lot to do that morning. Mary was late returning to the house and was in such a hurry to get back to her work that she forgot Colin until the last moment. “Tell Colin that I can't come to see him,” she said to Martha. “I'm very busy in the garden.”

     Martha looked frightened.  Miss Mary! she said, it will make him angry.” But Mary was not as afraid of him as other people were.

     I can't stay," she answered. Dickon's waiting for me, and she ran away. The afternoon was even better than the morning. Nearly all the weeds were cleared out of the garden. Dickon taught Mary to use all the garden tools.

     There will be apple blossoms and cherry blossoms soon, Dickon said, working away with all his might. “And there will be peach and plum trees in bloom next to the walls, and the grass will be a carpet of flowers!

   When Mary wanted to rest a little Dickon sat down with her under a tree and took his flute out of his pocket and played soft little notes. A squirrel appeared on the wall and listened. The sun was beginning to set and sent deep gold-colored rays under the trees. It will be a fine day tomorrow, said Dickon. I'll be at work by sunrise.

     So will I, said Mary.  She ran back to the house as quickly as her feet would carry her. She wanted to tell Colin all about the gift of spring. She was sure he would like to hear. So it was not very pleasant when she saw Martha waiting for her with a sad face.

     What is the matter? she asked. What did Colin say when you told him I couldn't come?

     He went into one of his tantrums.

      Colin was not on his sofa when she went into his room. He was lying flat on his back in bed and he did not turn his head toward her as she came in. This was a bad beginning.

     Why didn't you get up? she said.

     I did get up this morning when I thought you were coming, he answered, without looking at her. “I made them put me back in bed this afternoon. My back ached and my head ached and I was tired. Why didn't you come? 

     I was working in the garden with Dickon, said Mary.

     Colin frowned and wouldn't look at her. I won't let that boy come here anymore if you go and stay with him instead of coming to me, he said.

     If you send Dickon away, I'll never come into this room again! she said with anger.

     You'll have to if I want you, said Colin.

     I won't! said Mary.

     I'll make you, said Colin. “They will drag you in.

     Will they, Mr. Master! said Mary with anger. “They may drag me in, but they can't make me talk when they get me here. I'll sit and not tell you one thing. I won't even look at you. I'll stare at the floor!

     You're selfish! cried Colin.

     What are you? said Mary. You're the most selfish boy I ever saw.

     I'm not! snapped Colin. “I'm not as selfish as your Dickon is! He keeps you playing in the dirt when he knows I am all by myself. He's selfish!

     Mary's eyes flashed with anger. He's nicer than any other boy that ever lived! she said.

     He's a common cottage boy off the moor! replied Colin meanly.

     He's a thousand times better than you!

     I'm not as selfish as you, because I'm always ill. And I am going to die.

     You're not! said Mary.

     Colin opened his eyes wide. He had never heard such a thing said before. “I'm not? I am! You know I am! Everybody says so.”

     I don't believe it! said Mary. “You just say that to make people sorry. I believe you're proud of it. If you were a nice boy it might be true—but you're not nice at all!

     Colin sat up in bed in a very healthy rage. “Get out of the room!” he shouted and he caught hold of his pillow and threw it at her.

     I'm going, she said. “And I won't come back! She walked to the door and when she reached it she turned round and spoke again. “I was going to tell you all sorts of nice things. Dickon brought his fox and his crow and I was going to tell you all about them. Now I won't tell you a single thing!” She marched out of the door and there to her great surprise she found a nurse standing as if she had been listening. Even more amazing—she was laughing. She should not have been a nurse because she did not like invalids.

     What are you laughing at? Mary asked her angrily.

     At you, said the nurse. “It's the best thing that could happen to Colin!” And she laughed again.

     “I don't know and I don't care,” said the nurse.

     Mary went back to her room feeling sad. She was disappointed but not at all sorry for Colin. She felt so unhappy that for a few minutes she almost forgot about Dickon and the green carpet coming over the world and the soft wind blowing down from the moor. Martha was waiting for her.  She pointed to a wooden box on the table. Its cover was removed. The box was full of packages.

     Mr. Craven sent it to you, said Martha. There were many beautiful books. Two of them were about gardens and were full of pictures. There were two or three games. There was a beautiful little writing-book. Everything was so nice that her joy began to crowd her anger out of her mind. Her hard little heart grew quite warm. She thought of Colin again. “I said I would never go back,” Mary said to herself.  “But maybe I'll go back in the morning. How awful to be ill all your life. I won't get mad, even if he throws his pillow at me again.”

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chapters16-18


 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - July 2021 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com