"I SHALL LIVE FOREVER--AND EVER--AND EVER!" But they were obliged to wait more than a week becausefirst there came some very windy days and then Colinwas threatened with a cold, which two things happeningone after the other would no doubt have thrown him intoa rage but that there was so much careful and mysteriousplanning to do and almost every day Dickon came in,if only for a few minutes, to talk about what was happeningon the moor and in the lanes and hedges and on the bordersof streams. The things he had to tell about otters'and badgers' and water-rats' houses, not to mention birds'nests and field-mice and their burrows, were enoughto make you almost tremble with excitement when youheard all the intimate details from an animal charmerand realized with what thrilling eagerness and anxietythe whole busy underworld was working. "They're same as us," said Dickon, "only they have tobuild their homes every year. An' it keeps 'em so busythey fair scuffle to get 'em done." The most absorbing thing, however, was the preparationsto be made before Colin could be transported with sufficientsecrecy to the garden. No one must see the chair-carriageand Dickon and Mary after they turned a certain cornerof the shrubbery and entered upon the walk outsidethe ivied walls. As each day passed, Colin had becomemore and more fixed in his feeling that the mysterysurrounding the garden was one of its greatest charms.Nothing must spoil that. No one must ever suspectthat they had a secret. People must think that hewas simply going out with Mary and Dickon because heliked them and did not object to their looking at him.They had long and quite delightful talks about their route.They would go up this path and down that one and crossthe other and go round among the fountain flower-bedsas if they were looking at the "bedding-out plants"the head gardener, Mr. Roach, had been having arranged.That would seem such a rational thing to do that no onewould think it at all mysterious. They would turn intothe shrubbery walks and lose themselves until they cameto the long walls. It was almost as serious and elaboratelythought out as the plans of march made by geat generalsin time of war. Rumors of the new and curious things which were occurringin the invalid's apartments had of course filteredthrough the servants' hall into the stable yardsand out among the gardeners, but notwithstanding this,Mr. Roach was startled one day when he received ordersfrom Master Colin's room to the effect that he must reporthimself in the apartment no outsider had ever seen,as the invalid himself desired to speak to him. "Well, well," he said to himself as he hurriedly changedhis coat, "what's to do now? His Royal Highness that wasn'tto be looked at calling up a man he's never set eyes on." Mr. Roach was not without curiosity. He had nevercaught even a glimpse of the boy and had heard a dozenexaggerated stories about his uncanny looks and waysand his insane tempers. The thing he had heardoftenest was that he might die at any moment and therehad been numerous fanciful descriptions of a humpedback and helpless limbs, given by people who had never seen him. "Things are changing in this house, Mr. Roach,"said Mrs. Medlock, as she led him up the back staircaseto the corridor on to which opened the hitherto mysteriouschamber. "Let's hope they're changing for the better, Mrs. Medlock,"he answered. "They couldn't well change for the worse," she continued;"and queer as it all is there's them as finds theirduties made a lot easier to stand up under. Don't yoube surprised, Mr. Roach, if you find yourself in the middleof a menagerie and Martha Sowerby's Dickon more at homethan you or me could ever be." There really was a sort of Magic about Dickon, as Maryalways privately believed. When Mr. Roach heard his namehe smiled quite leniently. "He'd be at home in Buckingham Palace or at the bottomof a coal mine," he said. "And yet it's not impudence,either. He's just fine, is that lad." It was perhaps well he had been prepared or he mighthave been startled. When the bedroom door was openeda large crow, which seemed quite at home perched onthe high back of a carven chair, announced the entranceof a visitor by saying "Caw--Caw" quite loudly.In spite of Mrs. Medlock's warning, Mr. Roach only justescaped being sufficiently undignified to jump backward. The young Rajah was neither in bed nor on his sofa.He was sitting in an armchair and a young lamb was standingby him shaking its tail in feeding-lamb fashion as Dickonknelt giving it milk from its bottle. A squirrel wasperched on Dickon's bent back attentively nibbling a nut.The little girl from India was sitting on a big footstoollooking on. "Here is Mr. Roach, Master Colin," said Mrs. Medlock. The young Rajah turned and looked his servitor over--atleast that was what the head gardener felt happened. "Oh, you are Roach, are you?" he said. "I sent for youto give you some very important orders." "Very good, sir," answered Roach, wondering if he wasto receive instructions to fell all the oaks in the parkor to transform the orchards into water-gardens. "I am going out in my chair this afternoon," said Colin."If the fresh air agrees with me I may go out every day.When I go, none of the gardeners are to be anywhere nearthe Long Walk by the garden walls. No one is to be there.I shall go out about two o'clock and everyone mustkeep away until I send word that they may go back totheir work." "Very good, sir," replied Mr. Roach, much relieved to hearthat the oaks might remain and that the orchards were safe."Mary," said Colin, turning to her, "what is that thingyou say in India when you have finished talking and wantpeople to go?" "You say, `You have my permission to go,'" answered Mary. The Rajah waved his hand. "You have my permission to go, Roach," he said."But, remember, this is very important." "Caw--Caw!" remarked the crow hoarsely but not impolitely. "Very good, sir. Thank you, sir," said Mr. Roach,and Mrs. Medlock took him out of the room. Outside in the corridor, being a rather good-natured man,he smiled until he almost laughed. "My word!" he said, "he's got a fine lordly way with him,hasn't he? You'd think he was a whole Royal Family rolledinto one--Prince Consort and all.". "Eh!" protested Mrs. Medlock, "we've had to let himtrample all over every one of us ever since he had feetand he thinks that's what folks was born for." "Perhaps he'll grow out of it, if he lives," suggested Mr. Roach. "Well, there's one thing pretty sure," said Mrs. Medlock."If he does live and that Indian child stays here I'llwarrant she teaches him that the whole orange does notbelong to him, as Susan Sowerby says. And he'll be likelyto find out the size of his own quarter." Inside the room Colin was leaning back on his cushions. "It's all safe now," he said. "And this afternoon Ishall see it--this afternoon I shall be in it!" Dickon went back to the garden with his creatures and Marystayed with Colin. She did not think he looked tiredbut he was very quiet before their lunch came and hewas quiet while they were eating it. She wondered whyand asked him about it. "What big eyes you've got, Colin," she said. "When youare thinking they get as big as saucers. What are youthinking about now?" "I can't help thinking about what it will look like,"he answered. "The garden?" asked Mary. "The springtime," he said. "I was thinking that I've reallynever seen it before. I scarcely ever went out and when Idid go I never looked at it. I didn't even think about it." "I never saw it in India because there wasn't any,"said Mary. Shut in and morbid as his life had been, Colin had moreimagination than she had and at least he had spent a gooddeal of time looking at wonderful books and pictures. "That morning when you ran in and said `It's come! It'scome!, you made me feel quite queer. It sounded as ifthings were coming with a great procession and big burstsand wafts of music. I've a picture like it in one of mybooks--crowds of lovely people and children with garlandsand branches with blossoms on them, everyone laughingand dancing and crowding and playing on pipes. That waswhy I said, `Perhaps we shall hear golden trumpets'and told you to throw open the window." "How funny!" said Mary. "That's really just what itfeels like. And if all the flowers and leaves and greenthings and birds and wild creatures danced past at once,what a crowd it would be! I'm sure they'd dance and singand flute and that would be the wafts of music." They both laughed but it was not because the idea waslaughable but because they both so liked it. A little later the nurse made Colin ready. She noticedthat instead of lying like a log while his clothes wereput on he sat up and made some efforts to help himself,and he talked and laughed with Mary all the time. "This is one of his good days, sir," she said to Dr. Craven,who dropped in to inspect him. "He's in such good spiritsthat it makes him stronger." "I'll call in again later in the afternoon, after he hascome in," said Dr. Craven. "I must see how the goingout agrees with him. I wish," in a very low voice,"that he would let you go with him." "I'd rather give up the case this moment, sir, than evenstay here while it's suggested," answered the nurse.With sudden firmness. "I hadn't really decided to suggest it," said the doctor,with his slight nervousness. "We'll try the experiment.Dickon's a lad I'd trust with a new-born child." The strongest footman in the house carried Colin downstairs and put him in his wheeled chair near which Dickonwaited outside. After the manservant had arrangedhis rugs and cushions the Rajah waved his hand to himand to the nurse. "You have my permission to go," he said, and they bothdisappeared quickly and it must be confessed giggledwhen they were safely inside the house. Dickon began to push the wheeled chair slowly and steadily.Mistress Mary walked beside it and Colin leaned backand lifted his face to the sky. The arch of it lookedvery high and the small snowy clouds seemed like white birdsfloating on outspread wings below its crystal blueness.The wind swept in soft big breaths down from the moorand was strange with a wild clear scented sweetness.Colin kept lifting his thin chest to draw it in,and his big eyes looked as if it were they which werelistening--listening, instead of his ears. "There are so many sounds of singing and humming andcalling out," he said. "What is that scent the puffsof wind bring?" "It's gorse on th' moor that's openin' out," answered Dickon."Eh! th' bees are at it wonderful today." Not a human creature was to be caught sight of in thepaths they took. In fact every gardener or gardener'slad had been witched away. But they wound in and outamong the shrubbery and out and round the fountain beds,following their carefully planned route for the meremysterious pleasure of it. But when at last they turnedinto the Long Walk by the ivied walls the excited senseof an approaching thrill made them, for some curious reasonthey could not have explained, begin to speak in whispers. "This is it," breathed Mary. "This is where I usedto walk up and down and wonder and wonder." "Is it?"cried Colin, and his eyes began to search the ivy witheager curiousness. "But I can see nothing," he whispered."There is no door." "That's what I thought," said Mary. Then there was a lovely breathless silence and the chairwheeled on. "That is the garden where Ben Weatherstaff works,"said Mary. "Is it?" said Colin. A few yards more and Mary whispered again. "This is where the robin flew over the wall," she said. "Is it?" cried Colin. "Oh! I wish he'd come again!" "And that," said Mary with solemn delight, pointing undera big lilac bush, "is where he perched on the littleheap of earth and showed me the key." Then Colin sat up. "Where? Where? There?" he cried, and his eyes were as bigas the wolf's in Red Riding-Hood, when Red Riding-Hoodfelt called upon to remark on them. Dickon stood stilland the wheeled chair stopped. "And this," said Mary, stepping on to the bed close to the ivy,"is where I went to talk to him when he chirped at mefrom the top of the wall. And this is the ivy the windblew back," and she took hold of the hanging green curtain. "Oh! is it--is it!" gasped Colin. "And here is the handle, and here is the door.Dickon push him in--push him in quickly!" And Dickon did it with one strong, steady, splendid push. But Colin had actually dropped back against his cushions,even though he gasped with delight, and he had coveredhis eyes with his hands and held them there shuttingout everything until they were inside and the chairstopped as if by magic and the door was closed.Not till then did he take them away and look roundand round and round as Dickon and Mary had done.And over walls and earth and trees and swinging spraysand tendrils the fair green veil of tender little leaveshad crept, and in the grass under the trees and the grayurns in the alcoves and here and there everywherewere touches or splashes of gold and purple and whiteand the trees were showing pink and snow above his headand there were fluttering of wings and faint sweet pipesand humming and scents and scents. And the sun fellwarm upon his face like a hand with a lovely touch.And in wonder Mary and Dickon stood and stared at him.He looked so strange and different because a pink glowof color had actually crept all over him--ivory faceand neck and hands and all. "I shall get well! I shall get well!" he cried out."Mary! Dickon! I shall get well! And I shall live foreverand ever and ever!"