The Secret Garden
9. The Strangest House Any One Ever Lived In
It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high
walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were
so thick that they were matted together. Mary Lennox knew they were roses because she
had seen a great many roses in India. All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry
brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were
alive. There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they
were like little trees. There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which
made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them
and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there
they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to
another and made lovely bridges of themselves. There were neither leaves nor roses on
them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or
brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything,
walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and
run along the ground. It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so
mysterious. Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been
left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had
ever seen in her life.
"How still it is!" she whispered. "How still!"
Then she waited a moment and listened at the stillness. The robin, who had flown to his
treetop, was still as all the rest. He did not even flutter his wings; he sat without stirring,
and looked at Mary.
"No wonder it is still," she whispered again. "I am the first person who has spoken in here
for ten years."
She moved away from the door, stepping as softly as if she were afraid of awakening
some one. She was glad that there was grass under her feet and that her steps made no
sounds. She walked under one of the fairy-like gray arches between the trees and looked
up at the sprays and tendrils which formed them. "I wonder if they are all quite dead," she
said. "Is it all a quite dead garden? I wish it wasn't."
If she had been Ben Weatherstaff she could have told whether the wood was alive by
looking at it, but she could only see that there were only gray or brown sprays and
branches and none showed any signs of even a tiny leaf-bud anywhere.
But she was inside the wonderful garden and she could come through the door under the
ivy any time and she felt as if she had found a world all her own.
The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch of blue sky over this
particular piece of Misselthwaite seemed even more brilliant and soft than it was over the
moor. The robin flew down from his tree-top and hopped about or flew after her from one
bush to another. He chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he were showing