NEST BUILDING After another week of rain the high arch of blue skyappeared again and the sun which poured down was quite hot.Though there had been no chance to see either the secretgarden or Dickon, Mistress Mary had enjoyed herselfvery much. The week had not seemed long. She had spenthours of every day with Colin in his room, talking aboutRajahs or gardens or Dickon and the cottage on the moor.They had looked at the splendid books and pictures andsometimes Mary had read things to Colin, and sometimes hehad read a little to her. When he was amused and interestedshe thought he scarcely looked like an invalid at all,except that his face was so colorless and he was alwayson the sofa. "You are a sly young one to listen and get out of yourbed to go following things up like you did that night,"Mrs. Medlock said once. "But there's no saying it'snot been a sort of blessing to the lot of us. He's nothad a tantrum or a whining fit since you made friends.The nurse was just going to give up the case because shewas so sick of him, but she says she doesn't mind stayingnow you've gone on duty with her," laughing a little. In her talks with Colin, Mary had tried to be very cautiousabout the secret garden. There were certain things shewanted to find out from him, but she felt that she mustfind them out without asking him direct questions.In the first place, as she began to like to be with him,she wanted to discover whether he was the kind of boy youcould tell a secret to. He was not in the least like Dickon,but he was evidently so pleased with the idea of a gardenno one knew anything about that she thought perhaps hecould be trusted. But she had not known him long enoughto be sure. The second thing she wanted to find out wasthis: If he could be trusted--if he really could--wouldn'tit be possible to take him to the garden without havingany one find it out? The grand doctor had said that he musthave fresh air and Colin had said that he would not mindfresh air in a secret garden. Perhaps if he had a greatdeal of fresh air and knew Dickon and the robin and sawthings growing he might not think so much about dying.Mary had seen herself in the glass sometimes lately when shehad realized that she looked quite a different creaturefrom the child she had seen when she arrived from India.This child looked nicer. Even Martha had seen a changein her. "Th' air from th' moor has done thee good already,"she had said. "Tha'rt not nigh so yeller and tha'rt notnigh so scrawny. Even tha' hair doesn't slamp down on tha'head so flat. It's got some life in it so as it sticksout a bit." "It's like me," said Mary. "It's growing strongerand fatter. I'm sure there's more of it." "It looks it, for sure," said Martha, ruffling it upa little round her face. "Tha'rt not half so ugly whenit's that way an' there's a bit o' red in tha' cheeks." If gardens and fresh air had been good for her perhaps theywould be good for Colin. But then, if he hated peopleto look at him, perhaps he would not like to see Dickon. "Why does it make you angry when you are looked at?"she inquired one day. "I always hated it," he answered, "even when I was very little.Then when they took me to the seaside and I used to liein my carriage everybody used to stare and ladies wouldstop and talk to my nurse and then they would begin towhisper and I knew then they were saying I shouldn't liveto grow up. Then sometimes the ladies would pat my cheeksand say `Poor child!' Once when a lady did that I screamedout loud and bit her hand. She was so frightened she ran away." "She thought you had gone mad like a dog," said Mary,not at all admiringly. "I don't care what she thought," said Colin, frowning. "I wonder why you didn't scream and bite me when I cameinto your room?" said Mary. Then she began to smile slowly. "I thought you were a ghost or a dream," he said."You can't bite a ghost or a dream, and if you scream theydon't care." "Would you hate it if--if a boy looked at you?"Mary asked uncertainly. He lay back on his cushion and paused thoughtfully. "There's one boy," he said quite slowly, as if he were thinkingover every word, "there's one boy I believe I shouldn't mind.It's that boy who knows where the foxes live--Dickon." "I'm sure you wouldn't mind him," said Mary. "The birds don't and other animals," he said, still thinkingit over, "perhaps that's why I shouldn't. He's a sortof animal charmer and I am a boy animal." Then he laughed and she laughed too; in fact it endedin their both laughing a great deal and finding the ideaof a boy animal hiding in his hole very funny indeed. What Mary felt afterward was that she need not fearabout Dickon. On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakenedvery early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays throughthe blinds and there was something so joyous in the sightof it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window.She drew up the blinds and opened the window itselfand a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her.The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if somethingMagic had happened to it. There were tender littlefluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scoresof birds were beginning to tune up for a concert.Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun. "It's warm--warm!" she said. "It will make the greenpoints push up and up and up, and it will make the bulbsand roots work and struggle with all their might underthe earth." She kneeled down and leaned out of the window as faras she could, breathing big breaths and sniffing the airuntil she laughed because she remembered what Dickon'smother had said about the end of his nose quiveringlike a rabbit's. "It must be very early," she said."The little clouds are all pink and I've never seenthe sky look like this. No one is up. I don't even hearthe stable boys." A sudden thought made her scramble to her feet. "I can't wait! I am going to see the garden!" She had learned to dress herself by this time and she puton her clothes in five minutes. She knew a small side doorwhich she could unbolt herself and she flew downstairsin her stocking feet and put on her shoes in the hall.She unchained and unbolted and unlocked and when the doorwas open she sprang across the step with one bound,and there she was standing on the grass, which seemedto have turned green, and with the sun pouring down onher and warm sweet wafts about her and the fluting andtwittering and singing coming from every bush and tree.She clasped her hands for pure joy and looked up in the skyand it was so blue and pink and pearly and white and floodedwith springtime light that she felt as if she must fluteand sing aloud herself and knew that thrushes and robinsand skylarks could not possibly help it. She ran aroundthe shrubs and paths towards the secret garden. "It is all different already," she said. "The grass isgreener and things are sticking up every- where and thingsare uncurling and green buds of leaves are showing.This afternoon I am sure Dickon will come." The long warm rain had done strange things to theherbaceous beds which bordered the walk by the lower wall.There were things sprouting and pushing out from theroots of clumps of plants and there were actually hereand there glimpses of royal purple and yellow unfurlingamong the stems of crocuses. Six months before MistressMary would not have seen how the world was waking up,but now she missed nothing. When she had reached the place where the door hid itselfunder the ivy, she was startled by a curious loud sound.It was the caw--caw of a crow and it came from the topof the wall, and when she looked up, there sat a bigglossy-plumaged blue-black bird, looking down at her verywisely indeed. She had never seen a crow so close beforeand he made her a little nervous, but the next moment hespread his wings and flapped away across the garden.She hoped he was not going to stay inside and shepushed the door open wondering if he would. When shegot fairly into the garden she saw that he probablydid intend to stay because he had alighted on a dwarfapple-tree and under the apple-tree was lying a littlereddish animal with a Bushy tail, and both of them werewatching the stooping body and rust-red head of Dickon,who was kneeling on the grass working hard. Mary flew across the grass to him. "Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she cried out. "How could you gethere so early! How could you! The sun has only just got up!" He got up himself, laughing and glowing, and tousled;his eyes like a bit of the sky. "Eh!" he said. "I was up long before him. How could Ihave stayed abed! Th' world's all fair begun again thismornin', it has. An' it's workin' an' hummin' an' scratchin'an' pipin' an' nest-buildin' an' breathin' out scents,till you've got to be out on it 'stead o' lyin' on your back.When th' sun did jump up, th' moor went mad for joy, an'I was in the midst of th' heather, an' I run like madmyself, shoutin' an' singin'. An' I come straight here.I couldn't have stayed away. Why, th' garden was lyin'here waitin'!" Mary put her hands on her chest, panting, as if shehad been running herself. "Oh, Dickon! Dickon!" she said. "I'm so happy I canscarcely breathe!" Seeing him talking to a stranger, the little bushy-tailedanimal rose from its place under the tree and came to him,and the rook, cawing once, flew down from its branchand settled quietly on his shoulder. "This is th' little fox cub," he said, rubbing the littlereddish animal's head. "It's named Captain. An' thishere's Soot. Soot he flew across th' moor with me an'Captain he run same as if th' hounds had been after him.They both felt same as I did." Neither of the creatures looked as if he were the leastafraid of Mary. When Dickon began to walk about,Soot stayed on his shoulder and Captain trotted quietlyclose to his side. "See here!" said Dickon. "See how these haspushed up, an' these an' these! An' Eh! Look at these here!" He threw himself upon his knees and Mary wentdown beside him. They had come upon a whole clumpof crocuses burst into purple and orange and gold.Mary bent her face down and kissed and kissed them. "You never kiss a person in that way," she said when shelifted her head. "Flowers are so different." He looked puzzled but smiled. "Eh!" he said, "I've kissed mother many a time that waywhen I come in from th' moor after a day's roamin' an'she stood there at th' door in th' sun, lookin' so glad an'comfortable." They ran from one part of the garden toanother and found so many wonders that they were obligedto remind themselves that they must whisper or speak low.He showed her swelling leafbuds on rose branches whichhad seemed dead. He showed her ten thousand new greenpoints pushing through the mould. They put their eageryoung noses close to the earth and sniffed its warmedspringtime breathing; they dug and pulled and laughed lowwith rapture until Mistress Mary's hair was as tumbledas Dickon's and her cheeks were almost as poppy red as his. There was every joy on earth in the secret gardenthat morning, and in the midst of them came a delightmore delightful than all, because it was more wonderful.Swiftly something flew across the wall and darted throughthe trees to a close grown corner, a little flare ofred-breasted bird with something hanging from its beak.Dickon stood quite still and put his hand on Mary almostas if they had suddenly found themselves laughing in a church. "We munnot stir," he whispered in broad Yorkshire."We munnot scarce breathe. I knowed he was mate-huntin'when I seed him last. It's Ben Weatherstaff's robin.He's buildin' his nest. He'll stay here if us don't fight him."They settled down softly upon the grass and sat therewithout moving. "Us mustn't seem as if us was watchin' him too close,"said Dickon. "He'd be out with us for good if he got th'notion us was interferin' now. He'll be a good bit differenttill all this is over. He's settin' up housekeepin'.He'll be shyer an' readier to take things ill.He's got no time for visitin' an' gossipin'. Us mustkeep still a bit an' try to look as if us was grass an'trees an' bushes. Then when he's got used to seein'us I'll chirp a bit an' he'll know us'll not be inhis way." Mistress Mary was not at all sure that she knew, as Dickonseemed to, how to try to look like grass and trees and bushes.But he had said the queer thing as if it were the simplestand most natural thing in the world, and she felt it mustbe quite easy to him, and indeed she watched him for a fewminutes carefully, wondering if it was possible for himto quietly turn green and put out branches and leaves.But he only sat wonderfully still, and when he spokedropped his voice to such a softness that it was curiousthat she could hear him, but she could. "It's part o' th' springtime, this nest-buildin'is," he said. "I warrant it's been goin' on in th'same way every year since th' world was begun.They've got their way o' thinkin' and doin' things an'a body had better not meddle. You can lose a friendin springtime easier than any other season if you're toocurious." "If we talk about him I can't help looking at him," Mary saidas softly as possible. "We must talk of something else.There is something I want to tell you." "He'll like it better if us talks o' somethin' else,"said Dickon. "What is it tha's got to tell me?" "Well--do you know about Colin?" she whispered. He turned his head to look at her. "What does tha' know about him?" he asked. "I've seen him. I have been to talk to him every daythis week. He wants me to come. He says I'm making himforget about being ill and dying," answered Mary. Dickon looked actually relieved as soon as the surprisedied away from his round face. "I am glad o' that," he exclaimed. "I'm right down glad.It makes me easier. I knowed I must say nothin' about him an'I don't like havin' to hide things." "Don't you like hiding the garden?" said Mary. "I'll never tell about it," he answered. "But I saysto mother, `Mother,' I says, `I got a secret to keep.It's not a bad 'un, tha' knows that. It's no worsethan hidin' where a bird's nest is. Tha' doesn't mind it,does tha'?'" Mary always wanted to hear about mother. "What did she say?" she asked, not at all afraid to hear. Dickon grinned sweet-temperedly. "It was just like her, what she said," he answered."She give my head a bit of a rub an' laughed an' she says,'Eh, lad, tha' can have all th' secrets tha' likes.I've knowed thee twelve year'.'" "How did you know about Colin?" asked Mary. "Everybody as knowed about Mester Craven knowed there wasa little lad as was like to be a cripple, an' they knowedMester Craven didn't like him to be talked about. Folks issorry for Mester Craven because Mrs. Craven was such a prettyyoung lady an' they was so fond of each other. Mrs. Medlockstops in our cottage whenever she goes to Thwaite an'she doesn't mind talkin' to mother before us children,because she knows us has been brought up to be trusty.How did tha' find out about him? Martha was in finetrouble th' last time she came home. She said tha'dheard him frettin' an' tha' was askin' questions an'she didn't know what to say." Mary told him her story about the midnight wutheringof the wind which had wakened her and about the faintfar-off sounds of the complaining voice which had ledher down the dark corridors with her candle and hadended with her opening of the door of the dimly lightedroom with the carven four-posted bed in the corner.When she described the small ivory-white face and thestrange black-rimmed eyes Dickon shook his head. "Them's just like his mother's eyes, only hers wasalways laughin', they say," he said. "They say asMr. Craven can't bear to see him when he's awake an'it's because his eyes is so like his mother's an'yet looks so different in his miserable bit of a face." "Do you think he wants to die?" whispered Mary. "No, but he wishes he'd never been born. Mother shesays that's th' worst thing on earth for a child.Them as is not wanted scarce ever thrives. Mester Cravenhe'd buy anythin' as money could buy for th' poor ladbut he'd like to forget as he's on earth. For one thing,he's afraid he'll look at him some day and find he'sgrowed hunchback." "Colin's so afraid of it himself that he won't sit up,"said Mary. "He says he's always thinking that if heshould feel a lump coming he should go crazy and screamhimself to death." "Eh! he oughtn't to lie there thinkin' things like that,"said Dickon. "No lad could get well as thought themsort o' things." The fox was lying on the grass close by him, looking up toask for a pat now and then, and Dickon bent down and rubbedhis neck softly and thought a few minutes in silence.Presently he lifted his head and looked round the garden. "When first we got in here," he said, "it seemed likeeverything was gray. Look round now and tell me if tha'doesn't see a difference." Mary looked and caught her breath a little. "Why!" she cried, "the gray wall is changing.It is as if a green mist were creeping over it.It's almost like a green gauze veil." "Aye," said Dickon. "An' it'll be greener and greener till th'gray's all gone. Can tha' guess what I was thinkin'?" "I know it was something nice," said Mary eagerly."I believe it was something about Colin." "I was thinkin' that if he was out here he wouldn't be watchin'for lumps to grow on his back; he'd be watchin' for budsto break on th' rose-bushes, an' he'd likely be healthier,"explained Dickon. "I was wonderin' if us could everget him in th' humor to come out here an' lie under th'trees in his carriage." "I've been wondering that myself. I've thought of italmost every time I've talked to him," said Mary."I've wondered if he could keep a secret and I've wonderedif we could bring him here without any one seeing us.I thought perhaps you could push his carriage. The doctorsaid he must have fresh air and if he wants us to take himout no one dare disobey him. He won't go out for other peopleand perhaps they will be glad if he will go out with us.He could order the gardeners to keep away so they wouldn'tfind out." Dickon was thinking very hard as he scratched Captain's back. "It'd be good for him, I'll warrant," he said."Us'd not be thinkin' he'd better never been born.Us'd be just two children watchin' a garden grow, an'he'd be another. Two lads an' a little lass just lookin'on at th' springtime. I warrant it'd be better thandoctor's stuff." "He's been lying in his room so long and he's alwaysbeen so afraid of his back that it has made him queer,"said Mary. "He knows a good many things out of booksbut he doesn't know anything else. He says he has beentoo ill to notice things and he hates going out of doorsand hates gardens and gardeners. But he likes to hearabout this garden because it is a secret. I daren't tellhim much but he said he wanted to see it." "Us'll have him out here sometime for sure," said Dickon."I could push his carriage well enough. Has tha'noticed how th' robin an' his mate has been workin'while we've been sittin' here? Look at him perched on thatbranch wonderin' where it'd be best to put that twig he'sgot in his beak." He made one of his low whistling calls and the robin turnedhis head and looked at him inquiringly, still holdinghis twig. Dickon spoke to him as Ben Weatherstaff did,but Dickon's tone was one of friendly advice. "Wheres'ever tha' puts it," he said, "it'll beall right. Tha' knew how to build tha' nest before tha'came out o' th' egg. Get on with thee, lad. Tha'st gotno time to lose." "Oh, I do like to hear you talk to him!" Mary said,laughing delightedly. "Ben Weatherstaff scolds himand makes fun of him, and he hops about and looks asif he understood every word, and I know he likes it.Ben Weatherstaff says he is so conceited he would ratherhave stones thrown at him than not be noticed." Dickon laughed too and went on talking. "Tha' knows us won't trouble thee," he said to the robin."Us is near bein' wild things ourselves. Us is nest-buildin'too, bless thee. Look out tha' doesn't tell on us." And though the robin did not answer, because his beakwas occupied, Mary knew that when he flew away with histwig to his own corner of the garden the darkness of hisdew-bright eye meant that he would not tell their secretfor the world.