The Secret Garden Chapter 19

Secret Garden Lamb

Read by Storynory’s one and only Natasha.

“IT HAS COME!”

Secret Garden Lamb
Of course Dr. Craven had been sent for the morning after Colin had had
his tantrum. He was always sent for at once when such a thing occurred
and he always found, when he arrived, a white shaken boy lying on his
bed, sulky and still so hysterical that he was ready to break into
fresh sobbing at the least word. In fact, Dr. Craven dreaded and
detested the difficulties of these visits. On this occasion he was
away from Misselthwaite Manor until afternoon.

“How is he?” he asked Mrs. Medlock rather irritably when he arrived.
“He will break a blood-vessel in one of those fits some day. The boy
is half insane with hysteria and self-indulgence.”

“Well, sir,” answered Mrs. Medlock, “you’ll scarcely believe your eyes
when you see him. That plain sour-faced child that’s almost as bad as
himself has just bewitched him. How she’s done it there’s no telling.
The Lord knows she’s nothing to look at and you scarcely ever hear her
speak, but she did what none of us dare do. She just flew at him like
a little cat last night, and stamped her feet and ordered him to stop
screaming, and somehow she startled him so that he actually did stop,
and this afternoon–well just come up and see, sir. It’s past
crediting.”

The scene which Dr. Craven beheld when he entered his patient’s room
was indeed rather astonishing to him. As Mrs. Medlock opened the door
he heard laughing and chattering. Colin was on his sofa in his
dressing-gown and he was sitting up quite straight looking at a picture
in one of the garden books and talking to the plain child who at that
moment could scarcely be called plain at all because her face was so
glowing with enjoyment.

“Those long spires of blue ones–we’ll have a lot of those,” Colin was
announcing. “They’re called Del-phin-iums.”

“Dickon says they’re larkspurs made big and grand,” cried Mistress
Mary. “There are clumps there already.”

Then they saw Dr. Craven and stopped. Mary became quite still and
Colin looked fretful.

“I am sorry to hear you were ill last night, my boy,” Dr. Craven said a
trifle nervously. He was rather a nervous man.

“I’m better now–much better,” Colin answered, rather like a Rajah.
“I’m going out in my chair in a day or two if it is fine. I want some
fresh air.”

Dr. Craven sat down by him and felt his pulse and looked at him
curiously.

“It must be a very fine day,” he said, “and you must be very careful
not to tire yourself.”

“Fresh air won’t tire me,” said the young Rajah.

As there had been occasions when this same young gentleman had shrieked
aloud with rage and had insisted that fresh air would give him cold and
kill him, it is not to be wondered at that his doctor felt somewhat
startled.

“I thought you did not like fresh air,” he said.

“I don’t when I am by myself,” replied the Rajah; “but my cousin is
going out with me.”

“And the nurse, of course?” suggested Dr. Craven.

“No, I will not have the nurse,” so magnificently that Mary could not
help remembering how the young native Prince had looked with his
diamonds and emeralds and pearls stuck all over him and the great
rubies on the small dark hand he had waved to command his servants to
approach with salaams and receive his orders.

“My cousin knows how to take care of me. I am always better when she
is with me. She made me better last night. A very strong boy I know
will push my carriage.”

Dr. Craven felt rather alarmed. If this tiresome hysterical boy should
chance to get well he himself would lose all chance of inheriting
Misselthwaite; but he was not an unscrupulous man, though he was a weak
one, and he did not intend to let him run into actual danger.

“He must be a strong boy and a steady boy,” he said. “And I must know
something about him. Who is he? What is his name?”

“It’s Dickon,” Mary spoke up suddenly. She felt somehow that everybody
who knew the moor must know Dickon. And she was right, too. She saw
that in a moment Dr. Craven’s serious face relaxed into a relieved
smile.

“Oh, Dickon,” he said. “If it is Dickon you will be safe enough. He’s
as strong as a moor pony, is Dickon.”

“And he’s trusty,” said Mary. “He’s th’ trustiest lad i’ Yorkshire.”
She had been talking Yorkshire to Colin and she forgot herself.

“Did Dickon teach you that?” asked Dr. Craven, laughing outright.

“I’m learning it as if it was French,” said Mary rather coldly. “It’s
like a native dialect in India. Very clever people try to learn them.
I like it and so does Colin.” “Well, well,” he said. “If it amuses you
perhaps it won’t do you any harm. Did you take your bromide last
night, Colin?”

“No,” Colin answered. “I wouldn’t take it at first and after Mary made
me quiet she talked me to sleep–in a low voice–about the spring
creeping into a garden.”

“That sounds soothing,” said Dr. Craven, more perplexed than ever and
glancing sideways at Mistress Mary sitting on her stool and looking
down silently at the carpet. “You are evidently better, but you must
remember–”

“I don’t want to remember,” interrupted the Rajah, appearing again.
“When I lie by myself and remember I begin to have pains everywhere and
I think of things that make me begin to scream because I hate them so.
If there was a doctor anywhere who could make you forget you were ill
instead of remembering it I would have him brought here.” And he waved
a thin hand which ought really to have been covered with royal signet
rings made of rubies. “It is because my cousin makes me forget that
she makes me better.”

Dr. Craven had never made such a short stay after a “tantrum”; usually
he was obliged to remain a very long time and do a great many things.
This afternoon he did not give any medicine or leave any new orders and
he was spared any disagreeable scenes. When he went downstairs he
looked very thoughtful and when he talked to Mrs. Medlock in the
library she felt that he was a much puzzled man.

“Well, sir,” she ventured, “could you have believed it?”

“It is certainly a new state of affairs,” said the doctor. “And
there’s no denying it is better than the old one.”

“I believe Susan Sowerby’s right–I do that,” said Mrs. Medlock. “I
stopped in her cottage on my way to Thwaite yesterday and had a bit of
talk with her. And she says to me, ‘Well, Sarah Ann, she mayn’t be a
good child, an’ she mayn’t be a pretty one, but she’s a child, an’
children needs children.’ We went to school together, Susan Sowerby and
me.”

“She’s the best sick nurse I know,” said Dr. Craven. “When I find her
in a cottage I know the chances are that I shall save my patient.”

Mrs. Medlock smiled. She was fond of Susan Sowerby.

“She’s got a way with her, has Susan,” she went on quite volubly.
“I’ve been thinking all morning of one thing she said yesterday. She
says, ‘Once when I was givin’ th’ children a bit of a preach after
they’d been fightin’ I ses to ‘em all, “When I was at school my
jography told as th’ world was shaped like a orange an’ I found out
before I was ten that th’ whole orange doesn’t belong to nobody. No
one owns more than his bit of a quarter an’ there’s times it seems like
there’s not enow quarters to go round. But don’t you–none o’
you–think as you own th’ whole orange or you’ll find out you’re
mistaken, an’ you won’t find it out without hard knocks.” ‘What
children learns from children,’ she says, ‘is that there’s no sense in
grabbin’ at th’ whole orange–peel an’ all. If you do you’ll likely
not get even th’ pips, an’ them’s too bitter to eat.'”

“She’s a shrewd woman,” said Dr. Craven, putting on his coat.

“Well, she’s got a way of saying things,” ended Mrs. Medlock, much
pleased. “Sometimes I’ve said to her, ‘Eh! Susan, if you was a
different woman an’ didn’t talk such broad Yorkshire I’ve seen the
times when I should have said you was clever.'”

That night Colin slept without once awakening and when he opened his
eyes in the morning he lay still and smiled without knowing it–smiled
because he felt so curiously comfortable. It was actually nice to be
awake, and he turned over and stretched his limbs luxuriously. He felt
as if tight strings which had held him had loosened themselves and let
him go. He did not know that Dr. Craven would have said that his
nerves had relaxed and rested themselves. Instead of lying and staring
at the wall and wishing he had not awakened, his mind was full of the
plans he and Mary had made yesterday, of pictures of the garden and of
Dickon and his wild creatures. It was so nice to have things to think
about. And he had not been awake more than ten minutes when he heard
feet running along the corridor and Mary was at the door. The next
minute she was in the room and had run across to his bed, bringing with
her a waft of fresh air full of the scent of the morning.

“You’ve been out! You’ve been out! There’s that nice smell of leaves!”
he cried.

She had been running and her hair was loose and blown and she was
bright with the air and pink-cheeked, though he could not see it.

“It’s so beautiful!” she said, a little breathless with her speed.
“You never saw anything so beautiful! It has come! I thought it had
come that other morning, but it was only coming. It is here now! It
has come, the Spring! Dickon says so!”

“Has it?” cried Colin, and though he really knew nothing about it he
felt his heart beat. He actually sat up in bed.

“Open the window!” he added, laughing half with joyful excitement and
half at his own fancy. “Perhaps we may hear golden trumpets!”

And though he laughed, Mary was at the window in a moment and in a
moment more it was opened wide and freshness and softness and scents
and birds’ songs were pouring through.

“That’s fresh air,” she said. “Lie on your back and draw in long
breaths of it. That’s what Dickon does when he’s lying on the moor.
He says he feels it in his veins and it makes him strong and he feels
as if he could live forever and ever. Breathe it and breathe it.”

She was only repeating what Dickon had told her, but she caught Colin’s
fancy.

“‘Forever and ever’! Does it make him feel like that?” he said, and he
did as she told him, drawing in long deep breaths over and over again
until he felt that something quite new and delightful was happening to
him.

Mary was at his bedside again.

“Things are crowding up out of the earth,” she ran on in a hurry. “And
there are flowers uncurling and buds on everything and the green veil
has covered nearly all the gray and the birds are in such a hurry about
their nests for fear they may be too late that some of them are even
fighting for places in the secret garden. And the rose-bushes look as
wick as wick can be, and there are primroses in the lanes and woods,
and the seeds we planted are up, and Dickon has brought the fox and the
crow and the squirrels and a new-born lamb.”

And then she paused for breath. The new-born lamb Dickon had found
three days before lying by its dead mother among the gorse bushes on
the moor. It was not the first motherless lamb he had found and he
knew what to do with it. He had taken it to the cottage wrapped in his
jacket and he had let it lie near the fire and had fed it with warm
milk. It was a soft thing with a darling silly baby face and legs
rather long for its body. Dickon had carried it over the moor in his
arms and its feeding bottle was in his pocket with a squirrel, and when
Mary had sat under a tree with its limp warmness huddled on her lap she
had felt as if she were too full of strange joy to speak. A lamb–a
lamb! A living lamb who lay on your lap like a baby!

She was describing it with great joy and Colin was listening and
drawing in long breaths of air when the nurse entered. She started a
little at the sight of the open window. She had sat stifling in the
room many a warm day because her patient was sure that open windows
gave people cold.

“Are you sure you are not chilly, Master Colin?” she inquired.

“No,” was the answer. “I am breathing long breaths of fresh air. It
makes you strong. I am going to get up to the sofa for breakfast. My
cousin will have breakfast with me.”

The nurse went away, concealing a smile, to give the order for two
breakfasts. She found the servants’ hall a more amusing place than the
invalid’s chamber and just now everybody wanted to hear the news from
upstairs. There was a great deal of joking about the unpopular young
recluse who, as the cook said, “had found his master, and good for
him.” The servants’ hall had been very tired of the tantrums, and the
butler, who was a man with a family, had more than once expressed his
opinion that the invalid would be all the better “for a good hiding.”

When Colin was on his sofa and the breakfast for two was put upon the
table he made an announcement to the nurse in his most Rajah-like
manner.

“A boy, and a fox, and a crow, and two squirrels, and a new-born lamb,
are coming to see me this morning. I want them brought upstairs as
soon as they come,” he said. “You are not to begin playing with the
animals in the servants’ hall and keep them there. I want them here.”
The nurse gave a slight gasp and tried to conceal it with a cough.

“Yes, sir,” she answered.

“I’ll tell you what you can do,” added Colin, waving his hand. “You
can tell Martha to bring them here. The boy is Martha’s brother. His
name is Dickon and he is an animal charmer.”

“I hope the animals won’t bite, Master Colin,” said the nurse.

“I told you he was a charmer,” said Colin austerely. “Charmers’
animals never bite.”

“There are snake-charmers in India,” said Mary. “And they can put
their snakes’ heads in their mouths.”

“Goodness!” shuddered the nurse.

They ate their breakfast with the morning air pouring in upon them.
Colin’s breakfast was a very good one and Mary watched him with serious
interest.

“You will begin to get fatter just as I did,” she said. “I never
wanted my breakfast when I was in India and now I always want it.”

“I wanted mine this morning,” said Colin. “Perhaps it was the fresh
air. When do you think Dickon will come?”

He was not long in coming. In about ten minutes Mary held up her hand.

“Listen!” she said. “Did you hear a caw?”

Colin listened and heard it, the oddest sound in the world to hear
inside a house, a hoarse “caw-caw.”

“Yes,” he answered.

“That’s Soot,” said Mary. “Listen again. Do you hear a bleat–a tiny
one?”

“Oh, yes!” cried Colin, quite flushing.

“That’s the new-born lamb,” said Mary. “He’s coming.”

Dickon’s moorland boots were thick and clumsy and though he tried to
walk quietly they made a clumping sound as he walked through the long
corridors. Mary and Colin heard him marching–marching, until he
passed through the tapestry door on to the soft carpet of Colin’s own
passage.

“If you please, sir,” announced Martha, opening the door, “if you
please, sir, here’s Dickon an’ his creatures.”

Dickon came in smiling his nicest wide smile. The new-born lamb was in
his arms and the little red fox trotted by his side. Nut sat on his
left shoulder and Soot on his right and Shell’s head and paws peeped
out of his coat pocket.

Colin slowly sat up and stared and stared–as he had stared when he
first saw Mary; but this was a stare of wonder and delight. The truth
was that in spite of all he had heard he had not in the least
understood what this boy would be like and that his fox and his crow
and his squirrels and his lamb were so near to him and his friendliness
that they seemed almost to be part of himself. Colin had never talked
to a boy in his life and he was so overwhelmed by his own pleasure and
curiosity that he did not even think of speaking.

But Dickon did not feel the least shy or awkward. He had not felt
embarrassed because the crow had not known his language and had only
stared and had not spoken to him the first time they met. Creatures
were always like that until they found out about you. He walked over
to Colin’s sofa and put the new-born lamb quietly on his lap, and
immediately the little creature turned to the warm velvet dressing-gown
and began to nuzzle and nuzzle into its folds and butt its tight-curled
head with soft impatience against his side. Of course no boy could
have helped speaking then.

“What is it doing?” cried Colin. “What does it want?”

“It wants its mother,” said Dickon, smiling more and more. “I brought
it to thee a bit hungry because I knowed tha’d like to see it feed.”

He knelt down by the sofa and took a feeding-bottle from his pocket.

“Come on, little ‘un,” he said, turning the small woolly white head
with a gentle brown hand. “This is what tha’s after. Tha’ll get more
out o’ this than tha’ will out o’ silk velvet coats. There now,” and
he pushed the rubber tip of the bottle into the nuzzling mouth and the
lamb began to suck it with ravenous ecstasy.

After that there was no wondering what to say. By the time the lamb
fell asleep questions poured forth and Dickon answered them all. He
told them how he had found the lamb just as the sun was rising three
mornings ago. He had been standing on the moor listening to a skylark
and watching him swing higher and higher into the sky until he was only
a speck in the heights of blue.

“I’d almost lost him but for his song an’ I was wonderin’ how a chap
could hear it when it seemed as if he’d get out o’ th’ world in a
minute–an’ just then I heard somethin’ else far off among th’ gorse
bushes. It was a weak bleatin’ an’ I knowed it was a new lamb as was
hungry an’ I knowed it wouldn’t be hungry if it hadn’t lost its mother
somehow, so I set off searchin’. Eh! I did have a look for it. I went
in an’ out among th’ gorse bushes an’ round an’ round an’ I always
seemed to take th’ wrong turnin’. But at last I seed a bit o’ white by
a rock on top o’ th’ moor an’ I climbed up an’ found th’ little ‘un
half dead wi’ cold an’ clemmin’.” While he talked, Soot flew solemnly
in and out of the open window and cawed remarks about the scenery while
Nut and Shell made excursions into the big trees outside and ran up and
down trunks and explored branches. Captain curled up near Dickon, who
sat on the hearth-rug from preference.

They looked at the pictures in the gardening books and Dickon knew all
the flowers by their country names and knew exactly which ones were
already growing in the secret garden.

“I couldna’ say that there name,” he said, pointing to one under which
was written “Aquilegia,” “but us calls that a columbine, an’ that there
one it’s a snapdragon and they both grow wild in hedges, but these is
garden ones an’ they’re bigger an’ grander. There’s some big clumps o’
columbine in th’ garden. They’ll look like a bed o’ blue an’ white
butterflies flutterin’ when they’re out.”

“I’m going to see them,” cried Colin. “I am going to see them!”

“Aye, that tha’ mun,” said Mary quite seriously. “An’ tha’ munnot lose
no time about it.”

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