"IT'S MOTHER!" Their belief in the Magic was an abiding thing.After the morning's incantations Colin sometimes gavethem Magic lectures. "I like to do it," he explained, "because when I growup and make great scientific discoveries I shall beobliged to lecture about them and so this is practise.I can only give short lectures now because I am very young,and besides Ben Weatherstaff would feel as if he were inchurch and he would go to sleep." "Th' best thing about lecturin'," said Ben, "is that a chap canget up an' say aught he pleases an' no other chap can answerhim back. I wouldn't be agen' lecturin' a bit mysel' sometimes." But when Colin held forth under his tree old Ben fixeddevouring eyes on him and kept them there. He lookedhim over with critical affection. It was not so muchthe lecture which interested him as the legs which lookedstraighter and stronger each day, the boyish head which helditself up so well, the once sharp chin and hollow cheekswhich had filled and rounded out and the eyes which hadbegun to hold the light he remembered in another pair.Sometimes when Colin felt Ben's earnest gaze meant that hewas much impressed he wondered what he was reflecting onand once when he had seemed quite entranced he questioned him. "What are you thinking about, Ben Weatherstaff?" he asked. "I was thinkin'" answered Ben, "as I'd warrant tha's,gone up three or four pound this week. I was lookin'at tha' calves an' tha' shoulders. I'd like to get theeon a pair o' scales." "It's the Magic and--and Mrs. Sowerby's buns and milkand things," said Colin. "You see the scientificexperiment has succeeded." That morning Dickon was too late to hear the lecture.When he came he was ruddy with running and his funny facelooked more twinkling than usual. As they had a good dealof weeding to do after the rains they fell to work.They always had plenty to do after a warm deep sinking rain.The moisture which was good for the flowers was also goodfor the weeds which thrust up tiny blades of grass and pointsof leaves which must be pulled up before their roots tooktoo firm hold. Colin was as good at weeding as any onein these days and he could lecture while he was doing it."The Magic works best when you work, yourself," he saidthis morning. "You can feel it in your bones and muscles.I am going to read books about bones and muscles, but I amgoing to write a book about Magic. I am making it up now.I keep finding out things." It was not very long after he had said this that helaid down his trowel and stood up on his feet.He had been silent for several minutes and they had seenthat he was thinking out lectures, as he often did.When he dropped his trowel and stood upright it seemedto Mary and Dickon as if a sudden strong thought had madehim do it. He stretched himself out to his tallest heightand he threw out his arms exultantly. Color glowed inhis face and his strange eyes widened with joyfulness.All at once he had realized something to the full. "Mary! Dickon!" he cried. "Just look at me!" They stopped their weeding and looked at him. "Do you remember that first morning you brought me in here?"he demanded. Dickon was looking at him very hard. Being an animalcharmer he could see more things than most people couldand many of them were things he never talked about.He saw some of them now in this boy. "Aye, that we do,"he answered. Mary looked hard too, but she said nothing. "Just this minute," said Colin, "all at once I rememberedit myself--when I looked at my hand digging with thetrowel--and I had to stand up on my feet to see if itwas real. And it is real! I'm well--I'm well!" "Aye, that th' art!" said Dickon. "I'm well! I'm well!" said Colin again, and his face wentquite red all over. He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and feltit and thought about it, but just at that minute somethinghad rushed all through him--a sort of rapturous beliefand realization and it had been so strong that he couldnot help calling out. "I shall live forever and ever and ever!" he cried grandly."I shall find out thousands and thousands of things.I shall find out about people and creatures and everythingthat grows--like Dickon--and I shall never stop making Magic.I'm well! I'm well! I feel--I feel as if I want to shoutout something--something thankful, joyful!" Ben Weatherstaff, who had been working near a rose-bush,glanced round at him. "Tha' might sing th' Doxology," he suggested in hisdryest grunt. He had no opinion of the Doxology and hedid not make the suggestion with any particular reverence. But Colin was of an exploring mind and he knew nothingabout the Doxology. "What is that?" he inquired. "Dickon can sing it for thee, I'll warrant,"replied Ben Weatherstaff. Dickon answered with his all-perceiving animal charmer's smile. "They sing it i' church," he said. "Mother says shebelieves th' skylarks sings it when they gets up i' th' mornin'." "If she says that, it must be a nice song," Colin answered."I've never been in a church myself. I was always too ill.Sing it, Dickon. I want to hear it." Dickon was quite simple and unaffected about it.He understood what Colin felt better than Colin did himself.He understood by a sort of instinct so natural that hedid not know it was understanding. He pulled off his capand looked round still smiling. "Tha' must take off tha' cap," he said to Colin,"an' so mun tha', Ben--an' tha' mun stand up, tha' knows." Colin took off his cap and the sun shone on and warmed histhick hair as he watched Dickon intently. Ben Weatherstaffscrambled up from his knees and bared his head too witha sort of puzzled half-resentful look on his old faceas if he didn't know exactly why he was doing this remarkablething. Dickon stood out among the trees and rose-bushesand began to sing in quite a simple matter-of-factway and in a nice strong boy voice:
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."
When he had finished, Ben Weatherstaff was standingquite still with his jaws set obstinately but with adisturbed look in his eyes fixed on Colin. Colin's facewas thoughtful and appreciative. "It is a very nice song," he said. "I like it. Perhaps itmeans just what I mean when I want to shout out that I amthankful to the Magic." He stopped and thought in a puzzled way."Perhaps they are both the same thing. How can we knowthe exact names of everything? Sing it again, Dickon.Let us try, Mary. I want to sing it, too. It's my song.How does it begin? `Praise God from whom all blessings flow'?" And they sang it again, and Mary and Colin lifted theirvoices as musically as they could and Dickon's swelled quiteloud and beautiful--and at the second line Ben Weatherstaffraspingly cleared his throat and at the third line he joinedin with such vigor that it seemed almost savage and whenthe "Amen" came to an end Mary observed that the very samething had happened to him which had happened when he foundout that Colin was not a cripple--his chin was twitchingand he was staring and winking and his leathery old cheeks werewet. "I never seed no sense in th' Doxology afore," he said hoarsely,"but I may change my mind i' time. I should say tha'dgone up five pound this week Mester Colin--five on 'em!" Colin was looking across the garden at something attractinghis attention and his expression had become a startled one. "Who is coming in here?" he said quickly. "Who is it?" The door in the ivied wall had been pushed gently openand a woman had entered. She had come in with the lastline of their song and she had stood still listening andlooking at them. With the ivy behind her, the sunlightdrifting through the trees and dappling her long blue cloak,and her nice fresh face smiling across the greeneryshe was rather like a softly colored illustration inone of Colin's books. She had wonderful affectionateeyes which seemed to take everything in--all of them,even Ben Weatherstaff and the "creatures" and every flowerthat was in bloom. Unexpectedly as she had appeared,not one of them felt that she was an intruder at all.Dickon's eyes lighted like lamps. "It's mother--that's who it is!" he cried and went acrossthe grass at a run. Colin began to move toward her, too, and Mary went with him.They both felt their pulses beat faster. "It's mother!" Dickon said again when they met halfway."I knowed tha' wanted to see her an' I told her where th'door was hid." Colin held out his hand with a sort of flushed royalshyness but his eyes quite devoured her face. "Even when I was ill I wanted to see you," he said,"you and Dickon and the secret garden. I'd never wantedto see any one or anything before." The sight of his uplifted face brought about a suddenchange in her own. She flushed and the corners of hermouth shook and a mist seemed to sweep over her eyes. "Eh! dear lad!" she broke out tremulously. "Eh! dear lad!"as if she had not known she were going to say it. She didnot say, "Mester Colin," but just "dear lad" quite suddenly.She might have said it to Dickon in the same way if shehad seen something in his face which touched her.Colin liked it. "Are you surprised because I am so well?" he asked.She put her hand on his shoulder and smiled the mistout of her eyes. "Aye, that I am!" she said; "but tha'rtso like thy mother tha' made my heart jump." "Do you think," said Colin a little awkwardly, "that willmake my father like me?" "Aye, for sure, dear lad," she answered and she gavehis shoulder a soft quick pat. "He mun come home--hemun come home." "Susan Sowerby," said Ben Weatherstaff, getting closeto her. "Look at th' lad's legs, wilt tha'? They waslike drumsticks i' stockin' two month' ago--an' I heardfolk tell as they was bandy an' knock-kneed both at th'same time. Look at 'em now!" Susan Sowerby laughed a comfortable laugh. "They're goin' to be fine strong lad's legs in a bit,"she said. "Let him go on playin' an' workin' in the garden an'eatin' hearty an' drinkin' plenty o' good sweet milk an'there'll not be a finer pair i' Yorkshire, thank God for it." She put both hands on Mistress Mary's shoulders and lookedher little face over in a motherly fashion. "An' thee, too!" she said. "Tha'rt grown near as heartyas our 'Lisabeth Ellen. I'll warrant tha'rt like thymother too. Our Martha told me as Mrs. Medlock heard shewas a pretty woman. Tha'lt be like a blush rose when tha'grows up, my little lass, bless thee." She did not mention that when Martha came home on her"day out" and described the plain sallow child she had saidthat she had no confidence whatever in what Mrs. Medlockhad heard. "It doesn't stand to reason that a prettywoman could be th' mother o' such a fou' little lass,"she had added obstinately. Mary had not had time to pay much attention to herchanging face. She had only known that she looked"different" and seemed to have a great deal more hairand that it was growing very fast. But rememberingher pleasure in looking at the Mem Sahib in the pastshe was glad to hear that she might some day look like her. Susan Sowerby went round their garden with them and wastold the whole story of it and shown every bush and treewhich had come alive. Colin walked on one side of herand Mary on the other. Each of them kept looking upat her comfortable rosy face, secretly curious aboutthe delightful feeling she gave them--a sort of warm,supported feeling. It seemed as if she understood themas Dickon understood his "creatures." She stooped over theflowers and talked about them as if they were children.Soot followed her and once or twice cawed at her and flewupon her shoulder as if it were Dickon's. When they toldher about the robin and the first flight of the young onesshe laughed a motherly little mellow laugh in her throat. "I suppose learnin' 'em to fly is like learnin'children to walk, but I'm feared I should be allin a worrit if mine had wings instead o' legs," she said. It was because she seemed such a wonderful woman in hernice moorland cottage way that at last she was toldabout the Magic. "Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin after he hadexplained about Indian fakirs. "I do hope you do." "That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it bythat name but what does th' name matter? I warrant theycall it a different name i' France an' a different one i'Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th'sun shinin' made thee a well lad an' it's th' Good Thing.It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us iscalled out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stopto worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th'million--worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th'Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it--an'call it what tha' likes. Tha' wert singin' to it when Icome into th' garden." "I felt so joyful," said Colin, opening his beautifulstrange eyes at her. "Suddenly I felt how different Iwas--how strong my arms and legs were, you know--andhow I could dig and stand--and I jumped up and wantedto shout out something to anything that would listen." "Th' Magic listened when tha' sung th' Doxology.It would ha' listened to anything tha'd sung. It was th'joy that mattered. Eh! lad, lad--what's names to th'Joy Maker," and she gave his shoulders a quick softpat again. She had packed a basket which held a regular feastthis morning, and when the hungry hour came and Dickonbrought it out from its hiding place, she sat down withthem under their tree and watched them devour their food,laughing and quite gloating over their appetites. She wasfull of fun and made them laugh at all sorts of odd things.She told them stories in broad Yorkshire and taught themnew words. She laughed as if she could not help itwhen they told her of the in- creasing difficulty therewas in pretending that Colin was still a fretful invalid. "You see we can't help laughing nearly all the timewhen we are together," explained Colin. "And itdoesn't sound ill at all. We try to choke it backbut it will burst out and that sounds worse than ever." "There's one thing that comes into my mind so often,"said Mary, "and I can scarcely ever hold in when I thinkof it suddenly. I keep thinking suppose Colin's faceshould get to look like a full moon. It isn't like oneyet but he gets a tiny bit fatter every day--and supposesome morning it should look like one--what should we do!" "Bless us all, I can see tha' has a good bit o' play actin'to do," said Susan Sowerby. "But tha' won't have to keepit up much longer. Mester Craven'll come home." "Do you think he will?" asked Colin. "Why?" Susan Sowerby chuckled softly. "I suppose it 'ud nigh break thy heart if he foundout before tha' told him in tha' own way," she said."Tha's laid awake nights plannin' it." "I couldn't bear any one else to tell him," said Colin."I think about different ways every day, I think now Ijust want to run into his room." "That'd be a finestart for him," said Susan Sowerby. "I'd like to seehis face, lad. I would that! He mun come back --thathe mun." One of the things they talked of was the visit theywere to make to her cottage. They planned it all.They were to drive over the moor and lunch out of doorsamong the heather. They would see all the twelve childrenand Dickon's garden and would not come back until theywere tired. Susan Sowerby got up at last to return to the houseand Mrs. Medlock. It was time for Colin to be wheeledback also. But before he got into his chair he stoodquite close to Susan and fixed his eyes on her with akind of bewildered adoration and he suddenly caughthold of the fold of her blue cloak and held it fast. "You are just what I--what I wanted," he said. "I wishyou were my mother--as well as Dickon's!" All at once Susan Sowerby bent down and drew himwith her warm arms close against the bosom underthe blue cloak--as if he had been Dickon's brother.The quick mist swept over her eyes. "Eh! dear lad!" she said. "Thy own mother's in this 'erevery garden, I do believe. She couldna' keep out of it.Thy father mun come back to thee--he mun!"