THE KEY TO THE GARDEN Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she satupright in bed immediately, and called to Martha. "Look at the moor! Look at the moor!" The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and cloudshad been swept away in the night by the wind. The winditself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky archedhigh over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamedof a sky so blue. In India skies were hot and blazing;this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed tosparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake,and here and there, high, high in the arched bluenessfloated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reachingworld of the moor itself looked softly blue insteadof gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray. "Aye," said Martha with a cheerful grin. "Th' storm'sover for a bit. It does like this at this time o'th' year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin'it had never been here an' never meant to come again.That's because th' springtime's on its way. It's a longway off yet, but it's comin'." "I thought perhaps it always rained or looked darkin England," Mary said. "Eh! no!" said Martha, sitting up on her heels amongher black lead brushes. "Nowt o' th' soart!" "What does that mean?" asked Mary seriously. In Indiathe natives spoke different dialects which only a fewpeople understood, so she was not surprised when Marthaused words she did not know. Martha laughed as she had done the first morning. "There now," she said. "I've talked broad Yorkshire againlike Mrs. Medlock said I mustn't. `Nowt o' th' soart'means `nothin'-of-the-sort,'" slowly and carefully,"but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire's th'sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told theetha'd like th' moor after a bit. Just you wait till yousee th' gold-colored gorse blossoms an' th' blossoms o'th' broom, an' th' heather flowerin', all purple bells, an'hundreds o' butterflies flutterin' an' bees hummin' an'skylarks soarin' up an' singin'. You'll want to get out onit as sunrise an' live out on it all day like Dickon does.""Could I ever get there?" asked Mary wistfully,looking through her window at the far-off blue.It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color. "I don't know," answered Martha. "Tha's never used tha'legs since tha' was born, it seems to me. Tha' couldn't walkfive mile. It's five mile to our cottage." "I should like to see your cottage." Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she tookup her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again.She was thinking that the small plain face did not look quiteas sour at this moment as it had done the first morningshe saw it. It looked just a trifle like little SusanAnn's when she wanted something very much. "I'll ask my mother about it," she said. "She's one o'them that nearly always sees a way to do things.It's my day out today an' I'm goin' home. Eh! I am glad.Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o' mother. Perhaps she could talkto her." "I like your mother," said Mary. "I should think tha' did," agreed Martha, polishing away. "I've never seen her," said Mary. "No, tha' hasn't," replied Martha. She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of hernose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment,but she ended quite positively. "Well, she's that sensible an' hard workin' an' goodnatured an'clean that no one could help likin' her whether they'dseen her or not. When I'm goin' home to her on my dayout I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor." "I like Dickon," added Mary. "And I've never seen him." "Well," said Martha stoutly, "I've told thee that th'very birds likes him an' th' rabbits an' wild sheep an'ponies, an' th' foxes themselves. I wonder," staring ather reflectively, "what Dickon would think of thee?" "He wouldn't like me," said Mary in her stiff,cold little way. "No one does." Martha looked reflective again. "How does tha' like thysel'?" she inquired, really quiteas if she were curious to know. Mary hesitated a moment and thought it over. "Not at all--really," she answered. "But I never thoughtof that before." Martha grinned a little as if at some homely recollection. "Mother said that to me once," she said. "She was at herwash- tub an' I was in a bad temper an' talkin' ill of folk,an' she turns round on me an' says: `Tha' young vixen,tha'! There tha' stands sayin' tha' doesn't like this one an'tha' doesn't like that one. How does tha' like thysel'?'It made me laugh an' it brought me to my senses in a minute." She went away in high spirits as soon as she had givenMary her breakfast. She was going to walk five milesacross the moor to the cottage, and she was going to helpher mother with the washing and do the week's bakingand enjoy herself thoroughly. Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longerin the house. She went out into the garden as quicklyas possible, and the first thing she did was to runround and round the fountain flower garden ten times.She counted the times carefully and when she had finishedshe felt in better spirits. The sunshine made thewhole place look different. The high, deep, blue skyarched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor,and she kept lifting her face and looking up into it,trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down onone of the little snow-white clouds and float about.She went into the first kitchen-garden and found BenWeatherstaff working there with two other gardeners.The change in the weather seemed to have done him good.He spoke to her of his own accord. "Springtime's comin,'"he said. "Cannot tha' smell it?" Mary sniffed and thought she could. "I smell something nice and fresh and damp," she said. "That's th' good rich earth," he answered, digging away."It's in a good humor makin' ready to grow things.It's glad when plantin' time comes. It's dull in th'winter when it's got nowt to do. In th' flower gardens outthere things will be stirrin' down below in th' dark. Th'sun's warmin' 'em. You'll see bits o' green spikes stickin'out o' th' black earth after a bit." "What will they be?" asked Mary. "Crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys. Has tha'never seen them?" "No. Everything is hot, and wet, and green after therains in India," said Mary. "And I think things growup in a night." "These won't grow up in a night," said Weatherstaff."Tha'll have to wait for 'em. They'll poke up a bithigher here, an' push out a spike more there, an' uncurl aleaf this day an' another that. You watch 'em." "I am going to," answered Mary. Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wingsagain and she knew at once that the robin had come again.He was very pert and lively, and hopped about so closeto her feet, and put his head on one side and looked ather so slyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question. "Do you think he remembers me?" she said. "Remembers thee!" said Weatherstaff indignantly."He knows every cabbage stump in th' gardens, letalone th' people. He's never seen a little wenchhere before, an' he's bent on findin' out all about thee.Tha's no need to try to hide anything from him." "Are things stirring down below in the dark in that gardenwhere he lives?" Mary inquired. "What garden?" grunted Weatherstaff, becoming surly again. "The one where the old rose-trees are." She couldnot help asking, because she wanted so much to know."Are all the flowers dead, or do some of them come againin the summer? Are there ever any roses?" "Ask him," said Ben Weatherstaff, hunching his shoulderstoward the robin. "He's the only one as knows.No one else has seen inside it for ten year'." Ten years was a long time, Mary thought. She had beenborn ten years ago. She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun tolike the garden just as she had begun to like the robinand Dickon and Martha's mother. She was beginningto like Martha, too. That seemed a good many peopleto like--when you were not used to liking. She thoughtof the robin as one of the people. She went to her walkoutside the long, ivy-covered wall over which she couldsee the tree-tops; and the second time she walked upand down the most interesting and exciting thing happenedto her, and it was all through Ben Weatherstaff's robin. She heard a chirp and a twitter, and when she lookedat the bare flower-bed at her left side there he washopping about and pretending to peck things out of theearth to persuade her that he had not followed her.But she knew he had followed her and the surprise so filledher with delight that she almost trembled a little. "You do remember me!" she cried out. "You do! You areprettier than anything else in the world!" She chirped, and talked, and coaxed and he hopped,and flirted his tail and twittered. It was as if hewere talking. His red waistcoat was like satin and hepuffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grandand so pretty that it was really as if he were showing herhow important and like a human person a robin could be.Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contraryin her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closerto him, and bend down and talk and try to make somethinglike robin sounds. Oh! to think that he should actually let her come as nearto him as that! He knew nothing in the world would makeher put out her hand toward him or startle him in theleast tiniest way. He knew it because he was a realperson--only nicer than any other person in the world.She was so happy that she scarcely dared to breathe. The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowersbecause the perennial plants had been cut down for theirwinter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grewtogether at the back of the bed, and as the robin hoppedabout under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshlyturned up earth. He stopped on it to look for a worm.The earth had been turned up because a dog had been tryingto dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole. Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there,and as she looked she saw something almost buried in thenewly-turned soil. It was something like a ring of rustyiron or brass and when the robin flew up into a treenearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up.It was more than a ring, however; it was an old keywhich looked as if it had been buried a long time. Mistress Mary stood up and looked at it with an almostfrightened face as it hung from her finger. "Perhaps it has been buried for ten years," she saidin a whisper. "Perhaps it is the key to the garden!"