Chapters 7-9

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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 7)  IS IT THE KEY?

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MARY opened her eyes, sat up in bed and called to Martha. “Look at the moor! Look at the moor!”
     A bright sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky so bright. The sky sparkled like the waters of a lovely lake.  Here and there small clouds floated like snow-white fleece [a sheep’s coat]. 

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      Aye [yes], said Martha cheerfully. Springtime is on the way. This is just the beginning! Wait until you see all the flowers. And that is not all. There will be hundreds of butterflies and bees, and birds singing. You will want to go out at sunrise and live outside all day like Dickon. 

     I like Dickon, said Mary. And I’ve never seen him.
     
“I wonder, said Martha, “what Dickon would think of you?
     
He wouldnt like me, said Mary. “No one likes me.
     Martha looked surprised. 
Do you like yourself? she asked honestly.
     Mary hesitated a moment. 
“Not much, really, she answered. “But I never thought about it before.
     Mary went quickly out into the garden. She wanted to be a part of the beauty. The first thing she did was to run around the flower garden until she was out of breath. She was so happy. The sun shining made everything look different. She went into the kitchen-garden and found Ben. The change in the weather changed him too. He spoke to her first. “Springtime
s coming, he said. “Can you smell it?
     Mary sniffed and thought she could.  
I smell something nice, and fresh and damp, she said. Very soon she heard the soft wings of a bird and knew at once that the robin had come. He hopped about close to her feet. He put his head on one side and looked at her as if he wanted to ask her a question.
     
Do you think he remembers me? asked Mary.
     
Of course! answered Ben. He knows everyone here!  But he's never seen a little girl here before. He wants to find out all about you.
      Mary walked slowly away toward the secret garden without telling Ben where she was going. Suddenly the robin was at her side. She was so happy for his trust that she hardly dared to breathe.  She didn
t want to frighten him. The robin then hopped under some bushes.  She saw him hop over a small pile of freshly turned up earth.  

    She thought she saw something buried there. It looked like a ring.  But it was more than a ring. It was an old key!  Mary looked at it with an almost frightened face as she held it in her hand.  Perhaps it has been buried for ten years, she said in a whisper. Perhaps it is the key to the garden!  

     But where was the garden door?!

         ***


 (Chapter 8)  THE ROBIN’S SECRET

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MARY put the key in her pocket. She made up her mind that she would always carry it with her when she went out.  Then, if she found the hidden door she would be ready.  When Mary returned to the house Martha was waiting for her. I have a present for you,” she said, with a cheerful grin.     

     A present! exclaimed Mary. But your family is poor and hungry! How could you buy me a present?”     

     A man was driving across the moor selling his things, Martha explained. He stopped his cart at our door. He had pots and pans, and different things, but mother had no money to buy anything. Just as he was going away Mother saw that he had a skipping rope. She called out, ‘Stop, please! How much is the skipping rope?’ And he replied, ‘3 pennies’.  Mother said to me, ‘Martha, bring me your wages [the money you earn from working] like a good girl. I’m going to buy Mary a skipping-rope!”  Martha brought it out from under her apron. It was a strong, fine rope with a red handle at each end.  Mary had never seen a skipping-rope before.  What is it for? she asked.     

     For?! cried out Martha. You mean to tell me that there are no skipping-ropes in India?  You have elephants and tigers and camels, but no skipping-ropes? Well then, just watch me.” She went to the middle of the room and began to skip, and skip, and skip until she reached 100 skips.

     Mary got up from her chair to try for herself. She was not very good, but she liked it so much, she did not want to stop. “Oh, Martha, no one has ever given me such a nice present! Thank you!” Mary was finally too tired to skip any more. She carefully put away her new present and went to find the robin.

     She walked toward the secret garden and, just as she thought, the robin was there. She said to the robin, You showed me where the key was yesterday and so you must show me the door today!” And the robin did!  The robin flew to some ivy and sat on an iron handle.  It was a door knob. Mary’s heart began to beat and her hands to shake.  She put her hand in her pocket and pulled out the key. Then she took a long breath and looked to see if any one was coming. No one was coming. She looked one more time up the road and then slowly … slowly turned the key in the door. It opened! She slipped past the door as quickly as she could and shut it behind her. She looked about her, breathing very fast. She was standing inside the secret garden! It was the most wonderful place anyone could imagine. Mary did not know if the trees and plants were dead or alive because everything was still cold from winter. How still it is! she whispered. I am the first person who has spoken here for 10 years!

     She moved away from the door and into the garden, stepping as softly as she could so she would not make any noise. She felt as if she had found a world all her own. It was the most beautiful place she had ever seen, even though it was all brown and filled with weeds. Mary began to clean the garden at once, pulling up dead flowers and collecting the brown leaves. She wished that Dickon was with her.  She was sure he would know how to do everything. She would ask Martha if Dickon could come play with her.  Or maybe Mary could go to Dickon's house. She was very curious to see what a small house with 12 people looked like.

     ***


      (Chapter 9)  THE MEETING

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MARY pulled up weeds steadily in the secret garden, becoming more pleased with her work every hour. She was not at all tired. It seemed to her like play. Sometimes she stopped digging to look at the garden to try to imagine what it would be like when it was covered with thousands of flowers. But most of all, Mary thought of the roses.  Did they die if they were left to themselves? She decided to find Ben and ask him.  He was in the kitchen garden working when she found him.     

     “Ben, do roses die when they are left to themselves?” she said suddenly to him.     

     If they are in rich soil, some might live.”     

     How can you tell if they are dead or alive? she asked.     

     Wait until the spring touches them. Wait until the sun shines on them and the rain falls on them. Then you'll know.”  Ben stopped suddenly and looked at her face. “Why do you care so much about roses all of a sudden? he demanded.     

     Mary felt her face grow red. She was almost afraid to answer. “I  ... I want to have a garden of my own, she stammered. I ... there is nothing for me to do. I have nothing ... and no one.”     

      Well, said Ben slowly, as he watched her, that's true.”     

     She left quickly before Ben got angry with her.  She headed down the road and then a very strange thing happened! A boy was sitting under a tree, with his back against it, playing music on a wooden pipe. He was a funny looking boy about twelve. On the trunk of the tree he leaned against, a brown squirrel was watching him. Near him were also two rabbits sitting up and listening to the low tune the boy's pipe played. When he saw Mary he held up his hand and spoke to her in a voice almost as low as his piping.  Don't move, he said. It will frighten the animals.” 

      Mary did not move. He stopped playing his pipe and began to rise from the ground. He moved so slowly that it seemed as if he was not moving at all. But at last he stood on his feet and then the squirrel ran back up into the branches of the tree and the rabbits hopped away.     

     I'm Dickon, the boy said. And you are Mary!


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