Mary Lennox was spoiled, rude and had a bad temper. Because she was
often ill she was thin, with a sad face. She complained a lot. No one liked
her at all.
This was not really Mary's fault. She lived in India with her mother and
father, but she did not see her parents very often. Mary's father was busy
with his work and her mother was a very beautiful woman who loved parties
and was not interested in her small daughter. She left Mary in the care of an
Indian nanny, called an ayah. Her ayah let Mary do what she wanted
because she didn't want Mary to cry and irritate her mother. Mary soon
became a spoiled and unpleasant young girl.
When Mary was nine years old she woke up one hot morning and felt that
there was something wrong. She heard strange cries and shouts and the
sound of feet outside her door, but no one came to see her. She went back to
Later, when Mary woke up, the house was silent.
She heard nothing. Mary was angry because no one came to bring her food
or to dress her. Suddenly her door opened and two Englishmen entered.
Mary looked at them angrily.
'Why has everyone forgotten me?' she asked. 'Where is my ayah? Why
does no one come?'
'Poor little kid,' said one of the men. 'There is nobody here.'
That is how Mary discovered that her mother and father were dead and
that the servants were dead too, because of a terrible disease. That was why
the house was so silent. Mary Lennox was completely alone.
There was no one in India to look after Mary, so she went to England to
live with her uncle, Mr Craven, who lived in a big house in Yorkshire, called
Mrs Medlock, her uncle's housekeeper, met Mary in London. Mary
disliked Mrs Medlock immediately. But this was nothing new, because Mary
Mrs Medlock did not like Mary. She thought that the little girl was bad tempered,
rude and plain— and she was right.
During the long train journey to Yorkshire, Mrs Medlock told Mary about
the house where she was going to live. It seemed very large and gloomy,
and it was near the edge of a moor.
'There's nothing for you to do there, and your uncle is not interested in
you,' said Mrs Medlock. 'He's got a crooked back. He was a Sour young
man until he married.'
Mary listened more carefully now. She did not know that her uncle was
'His wife was very pretty, and he loved her very much. When she died he
became even stranger,' Mrs Medlock said.
'Oh, did she die?' asked Mary.
'Yes, and now he likes nobody. He's away most of the time, so you must
look after yourself.'
It was dark and raining when they got out of the train. They travelled to
the house by horse and carriage, but Mary could see nothing outside
because of the rain and the darkness of the night.
'What is a moor?' Mary asked.
'It's miles and miles of land,' replied Mrs Med Jock. 'Very little grows on it,
and nothing lives on it except: ponies and sheep.'
The carriage stopped at last in a courtyard. A butler opened a heavy
'Take her to her room,' he said to Mrs Medlock. 'The Master doesn't want
to see her. He's going to London tomorrow.'
Mrs Medlock took Mary upstairs, along many corridors to a room with a
fire burning in it and food on the table.
'Well, here you are,' said Mrs Medlock. 'This is where you'll live. This
room and the next is where you must stay. You can't go into the other parts
of the house. Don't forget that.'
Mary Lennox felt terribly alone.