Chapters 10-12


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.



I DON’T know anything about boys,” said Mary slowly as she and Dickon sat talking on the road where she found him. “Could you keep a secret, if I told you one? It’s a great secret. I don’t know what I would do if any one found out!

     Dickon looked very surprised and at first did not know what to say. But then he answered quietly, “I keep secrets all the time. You can trust me!”

     “I found a secret garden, she said very fast. It isn't mine. It isn't anybody's. Nobody wants it. Nobody ever goes into it. Perhaps everything is dead in it. I don't know. She began to feel nervous.

     They're letting it die! Mary said with much emotion. She then put her hands over her face and began to cry.

     Dickon's blue eyes opened very wide. What a secret! Where is it?

     Mary got up at once. Come with me and I'll show you.

     Dickon followed her with a frightened look on his face. (What if they got caught? What would happen then?) When Mary came to the garden door and slowly pushed it open. I'm the only one who wants it to live now.

     Dickon looked all around. “It's like we're in a dream! For two or three minutes he stood looking around him, while Mary watched him. Did you know about the garden? whispered Mary.  Dickon nodded his head, yes. Will there be roses? Or are they all dead?

     Not all of them!” answered Dickon. Look here! This one is as alive as you and me! He took a knife out of his pocket. “Look here! he said excitedly. “I told you. There's green in the stem. Look at it. There will be a fountain of roses here this summer.” They went from bush to bush, and from tree to tree. He was very strong and clever with his knife. He knew how to cut the dry, dead wood away. He worked all the time he was talking. Mary followed and helped.

     There's a lot of work to do here! he said.

     Will you come again and help me? Mary begged. Oh, please! Do come, Dickon!

     I'll come every day if you want, rain or shine, he answered proudly. It's the best fun I've ever had in my life—shut in a secret garden with everything coming to life. Dickon stood rubbing his head with a puzzled look. It's a secret garden, he said, But it seems to me that someone besides the robin has been here.

     But the door was locked and the key was buried, said Mary. "No one could get in.

     That's true, he answered. But still, someone has been here, I'm sure!”



       (Chapter 11)  MR. CRAVEN


I HAVE something to tell you, said Martha. “I thought I would let you eat your dinner first.  Mr. Craven came back this morning and he wants to see you.

     Mary turned pale.  “Why?! she said. "Why?! He didn't want to see me when I first came here.

     It's because he's going away for a long, long time. He's going to...

     She did not finish the sentence, because the door opened, and Mrs. Medlock walked in. She had on her best black dress and cap. She looked nervous and excited. “Your hair is not neat,” she said quickly. “Go and brush it! Martha, help her put on her best dress. Mr. Craven sent me to bring her to his study to meet him.”

     All the pink left Mary's cheeks. Her heart began to pound inside her and she felt herself changing into a stiff, plain, silent little girl again. She said nothing while her dress was changed, and her hair brushed. What was there to say? She knew what Mr. Craven would think. He would not like her.

     She was taken to a part of the house she had not been to before. At last Mrs. Medlock knocked at a door and someone said, Come in.  A man was sitting in an armchair near the fire.  Mrs. Medlock spoke to him.  This is Mary, sir, she said.

     You can go and leave her here. I will ring for you when I want you to take her away, said Mr. Craven. She went out and closed the door.  Mary stood waiting. She could see that the man in the chair was not so much a hunchback as a man with high, crooked shoulders.  He had black hair streaked with white. He turned his head over his high shoulders and spoke to her.

     Come here! he said.

     Mary went to him. He was not ugly. His face would have been handsome if it had not been so sad. He looked as if he did not know what to do with her.

     Are you well? he asked.

     Yes, answered Mary.

     Do they take good care of you?


     He rubbed his forehead as he looked her over.  Mary could not tell if he was worried about something, or just sad. “You are very thin,” he said.

     I am getting fatter, Mary answered. Mary had never seen someone with such a sad face. Please, began Mary.  "Please— but then she became afraid and couldn't speak.

     What do you want to say? asked Mr. Craven.

     I want to play outdoors, Mary answered, hoping that her voice did not sound like she wanted to cry. I never liked it in India. Playing outdoors makes me hungry here, and I am getting fatter.

     He was watching her.  “Where do you play?” he asked next.

     Everywhere, said Mary. “Martha's mother sent me a skipping-rope. I skip and run. I don't do any harm.

     Don't look so frightened, child. You may do what you like. Don't look so afraid. I cannot give you time or attention. I am too ill and sad. But I wish you to be happy. I don't know anything about children, but Mrs. Medlock is to see that you have all you need. Play outdoors as much as you like. It's a big place and you may go where you like and amuse yourself as you like. Is there anything you want?  Do you want toys, books, dolls?

     Could I, asked Mary nervously, could I have a little bit of earth? She did not realize how strange her question was. Mr. Craven looked surprised.

     Earth?! he repeated. What do you mean?

     To plant seeds in . . . to make things grow . . . to see them come alive, Mary answered almost ready to cry again.

     He looked at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly over his eyes. “Do you really love gardens so much,” he said slowly.

     I didn't know about them in India, said Mary. “I was always ill and tired, and it was too hot. I sometimes made little gardens in the sand and put flowers in them. But here it is different.

     Mr. Craven got up and began to walk slowly across the room. “A bit of earth,” he said to himself. Mary thought she must have reminded him of something. When he stopped and spoke to her his dark eyes looked almost soft and kind. “You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of someone else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want, take it child, and make it come alive.”

     May I take it from anywhere—if it's not wanted?

     Anywhere, he answered. There! You must go now, I am tired. He touched the bell to call Mrs. Medlock. Goodbye. I will be away all summer.” Mrs. Medlock came so quickly that Mary thought she must have been waiting in the hall. Mary ran back to her room. She found Martha waiting there. “I can have my garden!” cried Mary. “Mr. Craven said a little girl like me could not do any harm and I may do what I like anywhere!”

     Oh! said Martha happily, that was nice of him wasn't it?

     Martha, said Mary slowly, he is really a nice man, only his face is so sad.




WHEN Mary woke up the next morning it was pouring rain [raining very hard]. It was cold and grey outside, which made the huge house dark and unpleasant. She hated it when it rained. But suddenly something made her sit up in bed. She listened. “That isn't the wind” she said in a whisper! “It is that crying I heard before.”

     She must find out what it was. There was a candle by her bedside. She took the candle and went softly out of the room. The corridor was long and very dark. She thought she remembered the way to the door covered with tapestry. So she went on. Her heart was beating so loudly that she thought she could hear it. The far-off crying continued and led her toward the sound. Sometimes it stopped for a moment, and then it began again. Finally she reached the tapestry door. She pushed it open very gently and closed it behind her. She now stood in another corridor. She could hear the crying plainly now. Then she saw a door.  She could see light coming from beneath it.  Someone was crying in that room! She walked to the door and pushed it open….

     It was a big room. There was a low fire glowing in the fireplace and a night light was burning by the side of a bed. On the bed was lying a boy, crying. The boy had a delicate face the color of ivory. He seemed to have eyes too big for his head. He looked like a boy who had been ill a long time. Mary stood near the door with her candle in her hand, holding her breath. Then she walked quietly across the room. As she came near the bed, the light attracted the boy's attention and he turned his head. His gray eyes opened so wide that she did not know if he would scream. “Who are you? A ghost!”

     No, I am not, Mary answered. Are you one?

     No, he replied. I am Colin Craven. Who are you?

     I am Mary Lennox. Mr. Craven is my uncle.

     He is my father, said the boy.

     Your father! said Mary, shocked.

     Come here, he said.  Where did you come from?

     I came from India. My parents died. I have no one. I live here with nothing to do and no one to play with. Why do you stay in bed all the time?”     

     Because I am ill. My father is afraid I will be a hunchback, but I won't, because I won't live.

     Oh, what an awful house this is! said Mary becoming very frightened. “You would live if you came out into the garden.

     What garden? the boy asked.

     Oh, just—just a garden, Mary stammered. She was now afraid he would learn about the secret garden and ruin everything. She quickly started to tell him about India and about her voyage across the ocean.  For the first time he smiled listening to her stories. He liked the sound of Mary's voice. Suddenly he interrupted her and said, How old are you? he asked.

     I am ten," answered Mary, and so are you.

     How do you know that? he demanded.

     Because when you were born the garden door was locked and the key was buried. And it has been locked for ten years.

     Colin sat up. What garden door? Who locked it? Where was the key buried? he exclaimed.

     It—it is the garden Mr. Craven hates, said Mary nervously. “He locked the door. No one—no one knew where he buried the key. No one has been allowed to go into it for ten years.” 

     It was now too late. The secret was out.

     I want to see that garden! said Colin.

     “Oh, no!” Mary cried out.  She didn't know what to do now. The secret was out. If Mr. Craven learned about it, Mary was sure she would be sent away. 

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