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|The Secret Garden||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
"I AM COLIN"
|Page 3 of 8||
"Where did you come from?" he asked.
"From my own room. The wind wuthered so I couldn't go to sleep and I heard some one crying and wanted to find out who it was. What were you crying for?"
"Because I couldn't go to sleep either and my head ached. Tell me your name again."
"Mary Lennox. Did no one ever tell you I had come to live here?"
He was still fingering the fold of her wrapper, but he began to look a little more as if he believed in her reality.
"No," he answered. "They daren't."
"Why?" asked Mary.
"Because I should have been afraid you would see me. I won't let people see me and talk me over."
"Why?" Mary asked again, feeling more mystified every moment.
"Because I am like this always, ill and having to lie down. My father won't let people talk me over either. The servants are not allowed to speak about me. If I live I may be a hunchback, but I shan't live. My father hates to think I may be like him."
"Oh, what a queer house this is!" Mary said. "What a queer house! Everything is a kind of secret. Rooms are locked up and gardens are locked up--and you! Have you been locked up?"
"No. I stay in this room because I don't want to be moved out of it. It tires me too much."
"Does your father come and see you?" Mary ventured.
"Sometimes. Generally when I am asleep. He doesn't want to see me."
"Why?" Mary could not help asking again.
A sort of angry shadow passed over the boy's face.
"My mother died when I was born and it makes him wretched to look at me. He thinks I don't know, but I've heard people talking. He almost hates me."
"He hates the garden, because she died," said Mary half speaking to herself.
"What garden?" the boy asked.
"Oh! just--just a garden she used to like," Mary stammered. "Have you been here always?" "Nearly always. Sometimes I have been taken to places at the seaside, but I won't stay because people stare at me. I used to wear an iron thing to keep my back straight, but a grand doctor came from London to see me and said it was stupid. He told them to take it off and keep me out in the fresh air. I hate fresh air and I don't want to go out."
"I didn't when first I came here," said Mary. "Why do you keep looking at me like that?"
"Because of the dreams that are so real," he answered rather fretfully. "Sometimes when I open my eyes I don't believe I'm awake."
"We're both awake," said Mary. She glanced round the room with its high ceiling and shadowy corners and dim fire-light. "It looks quite like a dream, and it's the middle of the night, and everybody in the house is asleep--everybody but us. We are wide awake."
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|The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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