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|The Secret Garden||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
"MIGHT I HAVE A BIT OF EARTH"
|Page 3 of 5||
"Come here!" he said.
Mary went to him.
He was not ugly. His face would have been handsome if it had not been so miserable. He looked as if the sight of her worried and fretted him and as if he did not know what in the world to do with her.
"Are you well?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Mary.
"Do they take good care of you?"
He rubbed his forehead fretfully as he looked her over.
"You are very thin," he said.
"I am getting fatter," Mary answered in what she knew was her stiffest way.
What an unhappy face he had! His black eyes seemed as if they scarcely saw her, as if they were seeing something else, and he could hardly keep his thoughts upon her.
"I forgot you," he said. "How could I remember you? I intended to send you a governess or a nurse, or some one of that sort, but I forgot."
"Please," began Mary. "Please--" and then the lump in her throat choked her.
"What do you want to say?" he inquired.
"I am--I am too big for a nurse," said Mary. "And please--please don't make me have a governess yet."
He rubbed his forehead again and stared at her.
"That was what the Sowerby woman said," he muttered absentmindedly.
Then Mary gathered a scrap of courage.
"Is she--is she Martha's mother?" she stammered.
"Yes, I think so," he replied.
"She knows about children," said Mary. "She has twelve. She knows."
He seemed to rouse himself.
"What do you want to do?"
"I want to play out of doors," Mary answered, hoping that her voice did not tremble. "I never liked it in India. It makes me hungry here, and I am getting fatter."
He was watching her.
"Mrs. Sowerby said it would do you good. Perhaps it will," he said. "She thought you had better get stronger before you had a governess."
"It makes me feel strong when I play and the wind comes over the moor," argued Mary.
"Where do you play?" he asked next.
"Everywhere," gasped Mary. "Martha's mother sent me a skipping-rope. I skip and run--and I look about to see if things are beginning to stick up out of the earth. I don't do any harm."
"Don't look so frightened," he said in a worried voice. "You could not do any harm, a child like you! You may do what you like."
Mary put her hand up to her throat because she was afraid he might see the excited lump which she felt jump into it. She came a step nearer to him.
"May I?" she said tremulously.
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|The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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