IN THE GARDEN In each century since the beginning of the world wonderfulthings have been discovered. In the last century moreamazing things were found out than in any century before.In this new century hundreds of things still moreastounding will be brought to light. At first peoplerefuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see itcan be done--then it is done and all the world wonderswhy it was not done centuries ago. One of the new thingspeople began to find out in the last century was thatthoughts--just mere thoughts--are as powerful as electricbatteries--as good for one as sunlight is, or as badfor one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one getinto your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fevergerm get into your body. If you let it stay there afterit has got in you may never get over it as long as you live. So long as Mistress Mary's mind was full of disagreeablethoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of peopleand her determination not to be pleased by or interestedin anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored andwretched child. Circumstances, however, were verykind to her, though she was not at all aware of it.They began to push her about for her own good. When hermind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorlandcottages crowded with children, with queer crabbedold gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids,with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive dayby day, and also with a moor boy and his "creatures," therewas no room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affectedher liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired. So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thoughtonly of his fears and weakness and his detestationof people who looked at him and reflected hourly onhumps and early death, he was a hysterical half-crazylittle hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshineand the spring and also did not know that he could getwell and could stand upon his feet if he tried to do it.When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the oldhideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ranhealthily through his veins and strength poured into himlike a flood. His scientific experiment was quite practicaland simple and there was nothing weird about it at all.Much more surprising things can happen to any one who,when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind,just has the sense to remember in time and push it outby putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one.Two things cannot be in one place.
"Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow."While the secret garden was coming alive and two childrenwere coming alive with it, there was a man wandering aboutcertain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiordsand the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he wasa man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with darkand heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous;he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place ofthe dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them;he had lain on mountain-sides with sheets of deep bluegentians blooming all about him and flower breaths fillingall the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrowhad fallen upon him when he had been happy and he hadlet his soul fill itself with blackness and had refusedobstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through.He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties.When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him thatthe sight of him was a wrong done to other people becauseit was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom.Most strangers thought he must be either half mad or a manwith some hidden crime on his soul. He, was a tall manwith a drawn face and crooked shoulders and the name healways entered on hotel registers was, "Archibald Craven,Misselthwaite Manor, Yorkshire, England." He had traveled far and wide since the day he saw MistressMary in his study and told her she might have her "bitof earth." He had been in the most beautiful places in Europe,though he had remained nowhere more than a few days.He had chosen the quietest and remotest spots.He had been on the tops of mountains whose heads werein the clouds and had looked down on other mountainswhen the sun rose and touched them with such lightas made it seem as if the world were just being born. But the light had never seemed to touch himself untilone day when he realized that for the first time in tenyears a strange thing had happened. He was in a wonderfulvalley in the Austrian Tyrol and he had been walking alonethrough such beauty as might have lifted, any man's soulout of shadow. He had walked a long way and it had notlifted his. But at last he had felt tired and had thrownhimself down to rest on a carpet of moss by a stream.It was a clear little stream which ran quite merrily alongon its narrow way through the luscious damp greenness.Sometimes it made a sound rather like very low laughteras it bubbled over and round stones. He saw birdscome and dip their heads to drink in it and then flicktheir wings and fly away. It seemed like a thing aliveand yet its tiny voice made the stillness seem deeper.The valley was very, very still. As he sat gazing into the clear running of the water,Archibald Craven gradually felt his mind and bodyboth grow quiet, as quiet as the valley itself.He wondered if he were going to sleep, but he was not.He sat and gazed at the sunlit water and his eyes beganto see things growing at its edge. There was one lovelymass of blue forget-me-nots growing so close to the streamthat its leaves were wet and at these he found himself lookingas he remembered he had looked at such things years ago.He was actually thinking tenderly how lovely it was andwhat wonders of blue its hundreds of little blossoms were.He did not know that just that simple thought was slowlyfilling his mind--filling and filling it until other thingswere softly pushed aside. It was as if a sweet clearspring had begun to rise in a stagnant pool and had risenand risen until at last it swept the dark water away.But of course he did not think of this himself. He onlyknew that the valley seemed to grow quieter and quieteras he sat and stared at the bright delicate blueness.He did not know how long he sat there or what was happeningto him, but at last he moved as if he were awakeningand he got up slowly and stood on the moss carpet,drawing a long, deep, soft breath and wondering at himself.Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him,very quietly. "What is it?" he said, almost in a whisper, and he passedhis hand over his forehead. "I almost feel as if--Iwere alive!" I do not know enough about the wonderfulness of undiscoveredthings to be able to explain how this had happened to him.Neither does any one else yet. He did not understandat all himself--but he remembered this strange hourmonths afterward when he was at Misselthwaite againand he found out quite by accident that on this very dayColin had cried out as he went into the secret garden: "I am going to live forever and ever and ever!" The singular calmness remained with him the rest of theevening and he slept a new reposeful sleep; but it wasnot with him very long. He did not know that it couldbe kept. By the next night he had opened the doorswide to his dark thoughts and they had come troopingand rushing back. He left the valley and went on hiswandering way again. But, strange as it seemed to him,there were minutes--sometimes half-hours--when, withouthis knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itselfagain and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one.Slowly--slowly--for no reason that he knew of--he was"coming alive" with the garden. As the golden summer changed into the deep golden autumn hewent to the Lake of Como. There he found the lovelinessof a dream. He spent his days upon the crystal bluenessof the lake or he walked back into the soft thick verdureof the hills and tramped until he was tired so that hemight sleep. But by this time he had begun to sleep better,he knew, and his dreams had ceased to be a terror to him. "Perhaps," he thought, "my body is growing stronger." It was growing stronger but--because of the rarepeaceful hours when his thoughts were changed--his soulwas slowly growing stronger, too. He began to thinkof Misselthwaite and wonder if he should not go home.Now and then he wondered vaguely about his boy and askedhimself what he should feel when he went and stoodby the carved four-posted bed again and looked down atthe sharply chiseled ivory-white face while it slept and,the black lashes rimmed so startlingly the close-shut eyes.He shrank from it. One marvel of a day he had walked so far that when hereturned the moon was high and full and all the worldwas purple shadow and silver. The stillness of lakeand shore and wood was so wonderful that he did not gointo the villa he lived in. He walked down to a littlebowered terrace at the water's edge and sat upon a seatand breathed in all the heavenly scents of the night.He felt the strange calmness stealing over him and it grewdeeper and deeper until he fell asleep. He did not know when he fell asleep and when he beganto dream; his dream was so real that he did not feelas if he were dreaming. He remembered afterward howintensely wide awake and alert he had thought he was.He thought that as he sat and breathed in the scent ofthe late roses and listened to the lapping of the waterat his feet he heard a voice calling. It was sweetand clear and happy and far away. It seemed very far,but he heard it as distinctly as if it had been at hisvery side. "Archie! Archie! Archie!" it said, and then again,sweeter and clearer than before, "Archie! Archie!" He thought he sprang to his feet not even startled.It was such a real voice and it seemed so natural that heshould hear it. "Lilias! Lilias!" he answered. "Lilias! where are you?" "In the garden," it came back like a sound froma golden flute. "In the garden!" And then the dream ended. But he did not awaken.He slept soundly and sweetly all through the lovely night.When he did awake at last it was brilliant morning and aservant was standing staring at him. He was an Italianservant and was accustomed, as all the servants of thevilla were, to accepting without question any strange thinghis foreign master might do. No one ever knew when hewould go out or come in or where he would choose to sleepor if he would roam about the garden or lie in the boaton the lake all night. The man held a salver with someletters on it and he waited quietly until Mr. Craventook them. When he had gone away Mr. Craven sat a fewmoments holding them in his hand and looking at the lake.His strange calm was still upon him and something more--alightness as if the cruel thing which had been done hadnot happened as he thought--as if something had changed.He was remembering the dream--the real--real dream. "In the garden!" he said, wondering at himself. "In thegarden! But the door is locked and the key is buried deep." When he glanced at the letters a few minutes later hesaw that the one lying at the top of the rest was anEnglish letter and came from Yorkshire. It was directedin a plain woman's hand but it was not a hand he knew.He opened it, scarcely thinking of the writer, but thefirst words attracted his attention at once. "Dear Sir: I am Susan Sowerby that made bold to speak to youonce on the moor. It was about Miss Mary I spoke.I will make bold to speak again. Please, sir, I wouldcome home if I was you. I think you would be glad to comeand--if you will excuse me, sir--I think your lady wouldask you to come if she was here.
Your obedient servant, Susan Sowerby."Mr. Craven read the letter twice before he put it backin its envelope. He kept thinking about the dream. "I will go back to Misselthwaite," he said. "Yes, I'llgo at once." And he went through the garden to the villa and orderedPitcher to prepare for his return to England. In a few days he was in Yorkshire again, and on his longrailroad journey he found himself thinking of his boyas he had never thought in all the ten years past.During those years he had only wished to forget him.Now, though he did not intend to think about him,memories of him constantly drifted into his mind.He remembered the black days when he had raved like a madmanbecause the child was alive and the mother was dead.He had refused to see it, and when he had gone to lookat it at last it had been, such a weak wretched thingthat everyone had been sure it would die in a few days.But to the surprise of those who took care of it the dayspassed and it lived and then everyone believed it would be adeformed and crippled creature. He had not meant to be a bad father, but he had not feltlike a father at all. He had supplied doctors and nursesand luxuries, but he had shrunk from the mere thoughtof the boy and had buried himself in his own misery.The first time after a year's absence he returnedto Misselthwaite and the small miserable looking thinglanguidly and indifferently lifted to his face the greatgray eyes with black lashes round them, so like and yetso horribly unlike the happy eyes he had adored, he couldnot bear the sight of them and turned away pale as death.After that he scarcely ever saw him except when he was asleep,and all he knew of him was that he was a confirmed invalid,with a vicious, hysterical, half-insane temper. He couldonly be kept from furies dangerous to himself by beinggiven his own way in every detail. All this was not an uplifting thing to recall, but asthe train whirled him through mountain passes and goldenplains the man who was "coming alive" began to thinkin a new way and he thought long and steadily and deeply. "Perhaps I have been all wrong for ten years,"he said to himself. "Ten years is a long time.It may be too late to do anything--quite too late.What have I been thinking of!" Of course this was the wrong Magic--to begin by saying"too late." Even Colin could have told him that.But he knew nothing of Magic--either black or white.This he had yet to learn. He wondered if Susan Sowerbyhad taken courage and written to him only because themotherly creature had realized that the boy was muchworse--was fatally ill. If he had not been under thespell of the curious calmness which had taken possessionof him he would have been more wretched than ever.But the calm had brought a sort of courage and hope with it.Instead of giving way to thoughts of the worst he actuallyfound he was trying to believe in better things. "Could it be possible that she sees that I may be ableto do him good and control him? " he thought. "I will goand see her on my way to Misselthwaite." But when on his way across the moor he stopped the carriageat the cottage, seven or eight children who were playingabout gathered in a group and bobbing seven or eightfriendly and polite curtsies told him that their motherhad gone to the other side of the moor early in the morningto help a woman who had a new baby. "Our Dickon,"they volunteered, was over at the Manor working in oneof the gardens where he went several days each week. Mr. Craven looked over the collection of sturdy littlebodies and round red-cheeked faces, each one grinningin its own particular way, and he awoke to the factthat they were a healthy likable lot. He smiled at theirfriendly grins and took a golden sovereign from his pocketand gave it to "our 'Lizabeth Ellen" who was the oldest. "If you divide that into eight parts there will be halfa crown for each of, you," he said. Then amid grins and chuckles and bobbing of curtsies hedrove away, leaving ecstasy and nudging elbows and littlejumps of joy behind. The drive across the wonderfulness of the moor wasa soothing thing. Why did it seem to give him a senseof homecoming which he had been sure he could never feelagain--that sense of the beauty of land and sky and purplebloom of distance and a warming of the heart at drawing,nearer to the great old house which had held those ofhis blood for six hundred years? How he had drivenaway from it the last time, shuddering to think of itsclosed rooms and the boy lying in the four-posted bedwith the brocaded hangings. Was it possible that perhapshe might find him changed a little for the betterand that he might overcome his shrinking from him?How real that dream had been--how wonderful and clearthe voice which called back to him, "In the garden--In thegarden!" "I will try to find the key," he said. "I will tryto open the door. I must--though I don't know why." When he arrived at the Manor the servants whoreceived him with the usual ceremony noticed that helooked better and that he did not go to the remoterooms where he usually lived attended by Pitcher.He went into the library and sent for Mrs. Medlock.She came to him somewhat excited and curious and flustered. "How is Master Colin, Medlock?" he inquired. "Well, sir,"Mrs. Medlock answered, "he's--he's different, in a mannerof speaking." "Worse?" he suggested. Mrs. Medlock really was flushed. "Well, you see, sir," she tried to explain, "neitherDr. Craven, nor the nurse, nor me can exactly make him out." "Why is that?" "To tell the truth, sir, Master Colin might be betterand he might be changing for the worse. His appetite,sir, is past understanding--and his ways--" "Has he become more--more peculiar?" her master, asked,knitting his brows anxiously. "That's it, sir. He's growing very peculiar--when youcompare him with what he used to be. He used to eat nothingand then suddenly he began to eat something enormous --andthen he stopped again all at once and the meals were sentback just as they used to be. You never knew, sir, perhaps,that out of doors he never would let himself be taken.The things we've gone through to get him to go out inhis chair would leave a body trembling like a leaf.He'd throw himself into such a state that Dr. Craven saidhe couldn't be responsible for forcing him. Well, sir,just without warning--not long after one of his worsttantrums he suddenly insisted on being taken out every dayby Miss Mary and Susan Sowerby's boy Dickon that could pushhis chair. He took a fancy to both Miss Mary and Dickon,and Dickon brought his tame animals, and, if you'llcredit it, sir, out of doors he will stay from morning untilnight." "How does he look?" was the next question. "If he took his food natural, sir, you'd think he was puttingon flesh--but we're afraid it may be a sort of bloat.He laughs sometimes in a queer way when he's alone withMiss Mary. He never used to laugh at all. Dr. Cravenis coming to see you at once, if you'll allow him.He never was as puzzled in his life." "Where is Master Colin now?" Mr. Craven asked. "In the garden, sir. He's always in the garden--thoughnot a human creature is allowed to go near for fearthey'll look at him." Mr. Craven scarcely heard her last words. "In the garden," he said, and after he had sent Mrs. Medlockaway he stood and repeated it again and again."In the garden!" He had to make an effort to bring himself back tothe place he was standing in and when he felt he wason earth again he turned and went out of the room.He took his way, as Mary had done, through the door in theshrubbery and among the laurels and the fountain beds.The fountain was playing now and was encircled by bedsof brilliant autumn flowers. He crossed the lawn andturned into the Long Walk by the ivied walls. He did notwalk quickly, but slowly, and his eyes were on the path.He felt as if he were being drawn back to the placehe had so long forsaken, and he did not know why.As he drew near to it his step became still more slow.He knew where the door was even though the ivy hung thickover it--but he did not know exactly where it lay--thatburied key. So he stopped and stood still, looking about him,and almost the moment after he had paused he startedand listened--asking himself if he were walking in a dream. The ivy hung thick over the door, the key was buriedunder the shrubs, no human being had passed that portalfor ten lonely years--and yet inside the garden therewere sounds. They were the sounds of running scufflingfeet seeming to chase round and round under the trees,they were strange sounds of lowered suppressedvoices--exclamations and smothered joyous cries.It seemed actually like the laughter of young things,the uncontrollable laughter of children who were trying notto be heard but who in a moment or so--as their excitementmounted--would burst forth. What in heaven's name was hedreaming of--what in heaven's name did he hear? Was helosing his reason and thinking he heard things which werenot for human ears? Was it that the far clear voice had meant? And then the moment came, the uncontrollable momentwhen the sounds forgot to hush themselves. The feet ranfaster and faster--they were nearing the garden door--therewas quick strong young breathing and a wild outbreakof laughing shows which could not be contained--and thedoor in the wall was flung wide open, the sheet of ivyswinging back, and a boy burst through it at full speed and,without seeing the outsider, dashed almost into his arms. Mr. Craven had extended them just in time to save himfrom falling as a result of his unseeing dash against him,and when he held him away to look at him in amazementat his being there he truly gasped for breath. He was a tall boy and a handsome one. He was glowingwith life and his running had sent splendid color leapingto his face. He threw the thick hair back from his foreheadand lifted a pair of strange gray eyes--eyes full of boyishlaughter and rimmed with black lashes like a fringe.It was the eyes which made Mr. Craven gasp for breath."Who--What? Who!" he stammered. This was not what Colin had expected--this was not what hehad planned. He had never thought of such a meeting.And yet to come dashing out--winning a race--perhaps itwas even better. He drew himself up to his very tallest.Mary, who had been running with him and had dashed throughthe door too, believed that he managed to make himselflook taller than he had ever looked before--inches taller. "Father," he said, "I'm Colin. You can't believe it.I scarcely can myself. I'm Colin." Like Mrs. Medlock, he did not understand what his fathermeant when he said hurriedly: "In the garden! In the garden!" "Yes," hurried on Colin. "It was the garden that didit--and Mary and Dickon and the creatures--and the Magic.No one knows. We kept it to tell you when you came.I'm well, I can beat Mary in a race. I'm going to bean athlete." He said it all so like a healthy boy--his face flushed,his words tumbling over each other in his eagerness--thatMr. Craven's soul shook with unbelieving joy. Colin put out his hand and laid it on his father's arm. "Aren't you glad, Father?" he ended. "Aren't you glad?I'm going to live forever and ever and ever!" Mr. Craven put his hands on both the boy's shouldersand held him still. He knew he dared not even tryto speak for a moment. "Take me into the garden, my boy," he said at last."And tell me all about it." And so they led him in. The place was a wilderness of autumn gold and purpleand violet blue and flaming scarlet and on every side weresheaves of late lilies standing together--lilies which werewhite or white and ruby. He remembered well when thefirst of them had been planted that just at this seasonof the year their late glories should reveal themselves.Late roses climbed and hung and clustered and the sunshinedeepening the hue of the yellowing trees made one feelthat one, stood in an embowered temple of gold.The newcomer stood silent just as the children had donewhen they came into its grayness. He looked round and round. "I thought it would be dead," he said." "Mary thought so at first," said Colin. "But it came alive." Then they sat down under their tree--all but Colin,who wanted to stand while he told the story. It was the strangest thing he had ever heard, Archibald Craventhought, as it was poured forth in headlong boy fashion.Mystery and Magic and wild creatures, the weird midnightmeeting--the coming of the spring--the passion of insultedpride which had dragged the young Rajah to his feet to defyold Ben Weatherstaff to his face. The odd companionship,the play acting, the great secret so carefully kept.The listener laughed until tears came into his eyes andsometimes tears came into his eyes when he was not laughing.The Athlete, the Lecturer, the Scientific Discovererwas a laughable, lovable, healthy young human thing. "Now," he said at the end of the story, "it need not bea secret any more. I dare say it will frighten themnearly into fits when they see me--but I am never goingto get into the chair again. I shall walk back with you,Father--to the house." Ben Weatherstaff's duties rarely took him away from the gardens,but on this occasion he made an excuse to carry somevegetables to the kitchen and being invited into the servants'hall by Mrs. Medlock to drink a glass of beer he was onthe spot--as he had hoped to be--when the most dramaticevent Misselthwaite Manor had seen during the presentgeneration actually took place. One of the windows lookingupon the courtyard gave also a glimpse of the lawn.Mrs. Medlock, knowing Ben had come from the gardens,hoped that he might have caught sight of his masterand even by chance of his meeting with Master Colin. "Did you see either of them, Weatherstaff?" she asked. Ben took his beer-mug from his mouth and wiped his lipswith the back of his hand. "Aye, that I did," he answered with a shrewdly significant air. "Both of them?" suggested Mrs. Medlock. "Both of 'em," returned Ben Weatherstaff. "Thank ye kindly,ma'am, I could sup up another mug of it." "Together?" said Mrs. Medlock, hastily overfilling hisbeer-mug in her excitement. "Together, ma'am," and Ben gulped down half of his newmug at one gulp. "Where was Master Colin? How did he look? What did theysay to each other?" "I didna' hear that," said Ben, "along o' only bein' on th'stepladder lookin, over th' wall. But I'll tell thee this.There's been things goin' on outside as you house peopleknows nowt about. An' what tha'll find out tha'll findout soon." And it was not two minutes before he swallowed the lastof his beer and waved his mug solemnly toward the windowwhich took in through the shrubbery a piece of the lawn. "Look there," he said, "if tha's curious. Look what's comin'across th' grass." When Mrs. Medlock looked she threw up her hands and gavea little shriek and every man and woman servant within hearingbolted across the servants' hall and stood looking throughthe window with their eyes almost starting out of their heads. Across the lawn came the Master of Misselthwaite and helooked as many of them had never seen him. And by his,side with his head up in the air and his eyes fullof laughter walked as strongly and steadily as any boyin Yorkshire--Master Colin.