The Secret Garden
"I Shall Live Forever--And Ever--And Ever!"
But they were obliged to wait more than a week because first there came some very
windy days and then Colin was threatened with a cold, which two things happening one
after the other would no doubt have thrown him into a rage but that there was so much
careful and mysterious planning to do and almost every day Dickon came in, if only for a
few minutes, to talk about what was happening on the moor and in the lanes and hedges
and on the borders of 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
enough to make you almost tremble with excitement when you heard all the intimate
details from an animal charmer and realized with what thrilling eagerness and anxiety the
whole busy underworld was working.
"They're same as us," said Dickon, "only they have to build their homes every year. An' it
keeps 'em so busy they fair scuffle to get 'em done."
The most absorbing thing, however, was the preparations to be made before Colin could
be transported with sufficient secrecy to the garden. No one must see the chair-carriage
and Dickon and Mary after they turned a certain corner of the shrubbery and entered
upon the walk outside the ivied walls. As each day passed, Colin had become more and
more fixed in his feeling that the mystery surrounding the garden was one of its greatest
charms. Nothing must spoil that. No one must ever suspect that they had a secret. People
must think that he was simply going out with Mary and Dickon because he liked 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 cross the other and go
round among the fountain flower-beds as 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 one would think it at all mysterious. They would turn into the
shrubbery walks and lose themselves until they came to the long walls. It was almost as
serious and elaborately thought out as the plans of march made by geat generals in time
Rumors of the new and curious things which were occurring in the invalid's apartments
had of course filtered through the servants' hall into the stable yards and out among the
gardeners, but notwithstanding this, Mr. Roach was startled one day when he received
orders from Master Colin's room to the effect that he must report himself 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 changed his coat, "what's to do now? His
Royal Highness that wasn't to be looked at calling up a man he's never set eyes on."
Mr. Roach was not without curiosity. He had never caught even a glimpse of the boy and
had heard a dozen exaggerated stories about his uncanny looks and ways and his insane
tempers. The thing he had heard oftenest was that he might die at any moment and there
had been numerous fanciful descriptions of a humped back and helpless limbs, given by
people who had never seen him.