Misselthwaite Manor holds more than one mystery. The Secret Garden has no door. There are strange sounds inside the house. Is Mary just hearing the wind “wuthering” on the Yorkshire Moor? Or is it a cry in the corridor that she hears?
Natasha continues her very special reading of the The Secret Garden.
THE CRY IN THE CORRIDOR
At first each day which passed by for Mary Lennox was exactly like the
others. Every morning she awoke in her tapestried room and found
Martha kneeling upon the hearth building her fire; every morning she
ate her breakfast in the nursery which had nothing amusing in it; and
after each breakfast she gazed out of the window across to the huge
moor which seemed to spread out on all sides and climb up to the sky,
and after she had stared for a while she realized that if she did not
go out she would have to stay in and do nothing–and so she went out.
She did not know that this was the best thing she could have done, and
she did not know that, when she began to walk quickly or even run along
the paths and down the avenue, she was stirring her slow blood and
making herself stronger by fighting with the wind which swept down from
the moor. She ran only to make herself warm, and she hated the wind
which rushed at her face and roared and held her back as if it were
some giant she could not see. But the big breaths of rough fresh air
blown over the heather filled her lungs with something which was good
for her whole thin body and whipped some red color into her cheeks and
brightened her dull eyes when she did not know anything about it.
But after a few days spent almost entirely out of doors she wakened one
morning knowing what it was to be hungry, and when she sat down to her
breakfast she did not glance disdainfully at her porridge and push it
away, but took up her spoon and began to eat it and went on eating it
until her bowl was empty.
“Tha’ got on well enough with that this mornin’, didn’t tha’?” said
“It tastes nice today,” said Mary, feeling a little surprised her self.
“It’s th’ air of th’ moor that’s givin’ thee stomach for tha’
victuals,” answered Martha. “It’s lucky for thee that tha’s got
victuals as well as appetite. There’s been twelve in our cottage as
had th’ stomach an’ nothin’ to put in it. You go on playin’ you out o’
doors every day an’ you’ll get some flesh on your bones an’ you won’t
be so yeller.”
“I don’t play,” said Mary. “I have nothing to play with.”
“Nothin’ to play with!” exclaimed Martha. “Our children plays with
sticks and stones. They just runs about an’ shouts an’ looks at
things.” Mary did not shout, but she looked at things. There was
nothing else to do. She walked round and round the gardens and
wandered about the paths in the park. Sometimes she looked for Ben
Weatherstaff, but though several times she saw him at work he was too
busy to look at her or was too surly. Once when she was walking toward
him he picked up his spade and turned away as if he did it on purpose.
One place she went to oftener than to any other. It was the long walk
outside the gardens with the walls round them. There were bare
flower-beds on either side of it and against the walls ivy grew
thickly. There was one part of the wall where the creeping dark green
leaves were more bushy than elsewhere. It seemed as if for a long time
that part had been neglected. The rest of it had been clipped and made
to look neat, but at this lower end of the walk it had not been trimmed
A few days after she had talked to Ben Weatherstaff, Mary stopped to
notice this and wondered why it was so. She had just paused and was
looking up at a long spray of ivy swinging in the wind when she saw a
gleam of scarlet and heard a brilliant chirp, and there, on the top of
the wall, forward perched Ben Weatherstaff’s robin redbreast, tilting
forward to look at her with his small head on one side.
“Oh!” she cried out, “is it you–is it you?” And it did not seem at all
queer to her that she spoke to him as if she were sure that he would
understand and answer her.
He did answer. He twittered and chirped and hopped along the wall as
if he were telling her all sorts of things. It seemed to Mistress Mary
as if she understood him, too, though he was not speaking in words. It
was as if he said:
“Good morning! Isn’t the wind nice? Isn’t the sun nice? Isn’t
everything nice? Let us both chirp and hop and twitter. Come on! Come
Mary began to laugh, and as he hopped and took little flights along the
wall she ran after him. Poor little thin, sallow, ugly Mary–she
actually looked almost pretty for a moment.
“I like you! I like you!” she cried out, pattering down the walk; and
she chirped and tried to whistle, which last she did not know how to do
in the least. But the robin seemed to be quite satisfied and chirped
and whistled back at her. At last he spread his wings and made a
darting flight to the top of a tree, where he perched and sang loudly.
That reminded Mary of the first time she had seen him. He had been
swinging on a tree-top then and she had been standing in the orchard.
Now she was on the other side of the orchard and standing in the path
outside a wall–much lower down–and there was the same tree inside.
“It’s in the garden no one can go into,” she said to herself. “It’s
the garden without a door. He lives in there. How I wish I could see
what it is like!”
She ran up the walk to the green door she had entered the first
morning. Then she ran down the path through the other door and then
into the orchard, and when she stood and looked up there was the tree
on the other side of the wall, and there was the robin just finishing
his song and, beginning to preen his feathers with his beak.
“It is the garden,” she said. “I am sure it is.”
She walked round and looked closely at that side of the orchard wall,
but she only found what she had found before–that there was no door in
it. Then she ran through the kitchen-gardens again and out into the
walk outside the long ivy-covered wall, and she walked to the end of it
and looked at it, but there was no door; and then she walked to the
other end, looking again, but there was no door.
“It’s very queer,” she said. “Ben Weatherstaff said there was no door
and there is no door. But there must have been one ten years ago,
because Mr. Craven buried the key.”
This gave her so much to think of that she began to be quite interested
and feel that she was not sorry that she had come to Misselthwaite
Manor. In India she had always felt hot and too languid to care much
about anything. The fact was that the fresh wind from the moor had
begun to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken her up a
She stayed out of doors nearly all day, and when she sat down to her
supper at night she felt hungry and drowsy and comfortable. She did
not feel cross when Martha chattered away. She felt as if she rather
liked to hear her, and at last she thought she would ask her a
question. She asked it after she had finished her supper and had sat
down on the hearth-rug before the fire.
“Why did Mr. Craven hate the garden?” she said.
She had made Martha stay with her and Martha had not objected at all.
She was very young, and used to a crowded cottage full of brothers and
sisters, and she found it dull in the great servants’ hall downstairs
where the footman and upper-housemaids made fun of her Yorkshire speech
and looked upon her as a common little thing, and sat and whispered
among themselves. Martha liked to talk, and the strange child who had
lived in India, and been waited upon by “blacks,” was novelty enough to
She sat down on the hearth herself without waiting to be asked.
“Art tha’ thinkin’ about that garden yet?” she said. “I knew tha’
would. That was just the way with me when I first heard about it.”
“Why did he hate it?” Mary persisted.
Martha tucked her feet under her and made herself quite comfortable.
“Listen to th’ wind wutherin’ round the house,” she said. “You could
bare stand up on the moor if you was out on it tonight.”
Mary did not know what “wutherin'” meant until she listened, and then
she understood. It must mean that hollow shuddering sort of roar which
rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see were
buffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in.
But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made one feel very
safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire.
“But why did he hate it so?” she asked, after she had listened. She
intended to know if Martha did.
Then Martha gave up her store of knowledge.
“Mind,” she said, “Mrs. Medlock said it’s not to be talked about.
There’s lots o’ things in this place that’s not to be talked over.
That’s Mr. Craven’s orders. His troubles are none servants’ business,
he says. But for th’ garden he wouldn’t be like he is. It was Mrs.
Craven’s garden that she had made when first they were married an’ she
just loved it, an’ they used to ‘tend the flowers themselves. An’ none
o’ th’ gardeners was ever let to go in. Him an’ her used to go in an’
shut th’ door an’ stay there hours an’ hours, readin’ and talkin’. An’
she was just a bit of a girl an’ there was an old tree with a branch
bent like a seat on it. An’ she made roses grow over it an’ she used
to sit there. But one day when she was sittin’ there th’ branch broke
an’ she fell on th’ ground an’ was hurt so bad that next day she died.
Th’ doctors thought he’d go out o’ his mind an’ die, too. That’s why
he hates it. No one’s never gone in since, an’ he won’t let any one
talk about it.”
Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at the red fire and
listened to the wind “wutherin’.” It seemed to be “wutherin'” louder
than ever. At that moment a very good thing was happening to her.
Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to
Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and
that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had
grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her
life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one.
But as she was listening to the wind she began to listen to something
else. She did not know what it was, because at first she could
scarcely distinguish it from the wind itself. It was a curious
sound–it seemed almost as if a child were crying somewhere. Sometimes
the wind sounded rather like a child crying, but presently Mistress
Mary felt quite sure this sound was inside the house, not outside it.
It was far away, but it was inside. She turned round and looked at
“Do you hear any one crying?” she said.
Martha suddenly looked confused.
“No,” she answered. “It’s th’ wind. Sometimes it sounds like as if
some one was lost on th’ moor an’ wailin’. It’s got all sorts o’
“But listen,” said Mary. “It’s in the house–down one of those long
And at that very moment a door must have been opened somewhere
downstairs; for a great rushing draft blew along the passage and the
door of the room they sat in was blown open with a crash, and as they
both jumped to their feet the light was blown out and the crying sound
was swept down the far corridor so that it was to be heard more plainly
“There!” said Mary. “I told you so! It is some one crying–and it
isn’t a grown-up person.”
Martha ran and shut the door and turned the key, but before she did it
they both heard the sound of a door in some far passage shutting with a
bang, and then everything was quiet, for even the wind ceased
“wutherin'” for a few moments.
“It was th’ wind,” said Martha stubbornly. “An’ if it wasn’t, it was
little Betty Butterworth, th’ scullery-maid. She’s had th’ toothache
But something troubled and awkward in her manner made Mistress Mary
stare very hard at her. She did not believe she was speaking the truth.