The Secret Garden
When she opened her eyes in the morning it was because a young housemaid had come
into her room to light the fire and was kneeling on the hearth-rug raking out the cinders
noisily. Mary lay and watched her for a few moments and then began to look about the
room. She had never seen a room at all like it and thought it curious and gloomy. The
walls were covered with tapestry with a forest scene embroidered on it. There were
fantastically dressed people under the trees and in the distance there was a glimpse of the
turrets of a castle. There were hunters and horses and dogs and ladies. Mary felt as if she
were in the forest with them. Out of a deep window she could see a great climbing stretch
of land which seemed to have no trees on it, and to look rather like an endless, dull,
"What is that?" she said, pointing out of the window.
Martha, the young housemaid, who had just risen to her feet, looked and pointed also.
"That there?" she said.
"That's th' moor," with a good-natured grin. "Does tha' like it?"
"No," answered Mary. "I hate it."
"That's because tha'rt not used to it," Martha said, going back to her hearth. "Tha' thinks
it's too big an' bare now. But tha' will like it."
"Do you?" inquired Mary.
"Aye, that I do," answered Martha, cheerfully polishing away at the grate. "I just love it.
It's none bare. It's covered wi' growin' things as smells sweet. It's fair lovely in spring an'
summer when th' gorse an' broom an' heather's in flower. It smells o' honey an' there's
such a lot o' fresh air--an' th' sky looks so high an' th' bees an' skylarks makes such a nice
noise hummin' an' singin'. Eh! I wouldn't live away from th' moor for anythin'."
Mary listened to her with a grave, puzzled expression. The native servants she had been
used to in India were not in the least like this. They were obsequious and servile and did
not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals. They made salaams and
called them "protector of the poor" and names of that sort. Indian servants were
commanded to do things, not asked. It was not the custom to say "please" and "thank
you" and Mary had always slapped her Ayah in the face when she was angry. She
wondered a little what this girl would do if one slapped her in the face. She was a round,
rosy, good-natured-looking creature, but she had a sturdy way which made Mistress Mary
wonder if she might not even slap back--if the person who slapped her was only a little
"You are a strange servant," she said from her pillows, rather haughtily.