The next morning, Mary woke up when a young housemaid came into
her room to light the fire. Her name was Martha, and she talked to Mary
while she worked.
Mary didn't understand servants who were friendly. In India she had
spoken to servants only to give them orders. She never said 'Please' or
'Thank you'. Once, she had even slapped her ayah's face when she was
angry with her. Somehow, she knew that she must not behave in this way
At first Mary did not listen to Martha, but after a while she began to like
the sound of the friendly Yorkshire voice.
'You should see all my little brothers and sisters in our little cottage on the
moor,' Martha said. 'There's twelve of us, and my father only earns sixteen
shillings a week. It is hard for my mother to feed them all. The fresh air
on the moor makes them strong and healthy. Our Dickon's twelve. He's
always out on the moor. He's good with animals. He's tamed a wild pony.
'Go and look at the gardens,' Martha said. 'There's not much growing now,
but they're lovely in summer.'
She paused for a moment, and then said quietly, 'One of the gardens is
locked up. No one has been in it for ten years.'
'Why?' asked Mary.
'Mr Craven closed it after his wife died. It was her garden. He locked the
door, dug a hole and buried the key.'
The enormous grounds of Misselthwaite Manor were divided by high
walls into many gardens. In some there were flowers, trees and fountains.
Vegetables grew in others. Doors opened from garden into garden. Because
it was winter, the trees were bare and no flowers grew. Mary thought that it
all looked very empty and ugly.
After a while an old man came through one of the doors. He had a surly
old face and did not seem at all pleased to see Mary.
'Can I go through that door?' Mary asked.
'If you like,' he replied. 'There's nothing to see.'
Mary hoped that she might find the door to the locked garden. She tried
many doors, but they all opened easily. Then, she noticed one wall that was
covered in ivy, but seemed to have no door in it. She could see tall trees
behind the ivy-covered wall. A robin on a high branch started to sing. She
stopped to listen, and the little bird with the red breast seemed almost to be
calling to her. His cheerful song brought a small smile to her sad face.
The old man continued digging. He ignored Mary until at last she said,
'There's a garden over there without a door.'
'What garden?' he asked angrily.
'On the other side of the wall,' she answered. 'I saw a robin in the trees
The old man stopped digging, and to Mary's surprise he smiled.
He looked quite different when he smiled. He whistled very softly.
Then, a wonderful thing happened. There was a sound of wings, and the
robin came down next to theman's foot.
'Here he is,' the old man chuckled. 'He always comes to me when I
whistle. Isn't he a nice little bird?'
The robin hopped about, pecking at the earth. The gardener, Ben
Weatherstaff, continued digging. 'He's the only friend I've got,' he said.
'I've never had any friends,' said Mary, sadly. Ben stopped digging and
looked at Mary.
'You and I are the same, then,' he said to her. 'We're not good looking and
we're as sour as we look.'
It was the first time that Mary had ever thought about her angry face and
bad temper. Now that she did, she felt uncomfortable. Just then, the clear
sound of the robin's song made her look towards the apple tree where he sat.
Ben Weatherstaff laughed.
'What did he do that for?' asked Mary.
'He's decided to be your friend,' replied Ben. 'He's taken a fancy to you.'
'To me?' said Mary, and she moved softly towards the little tree and
'Would you make friends with me?' she said gently to the robin, as if she
was speaking to a person.
'Why,' said Ben quietly, 'you said that like a real child instead of a little
old woman. You said it almost like Dickson when he talks to his wild things
out on the moor.'
The robin flew over the wall.
'There must be a door to that garden,' Mary said firmly.
'There's no door that you can find and in any case, it's none of your
business,' Ben said sharply. 'Don't poke your nose in where it doesn't
The gardener walked away without saying goodbye.