The secret garden (1 little miss mary)
THE SECRET GARDEN
‘We’re alike, you and me,’ old Ben Weatherstaff said to Mary.
‘We’re not pretty to look at and we’re both very disagreeable.’
Poor Mary! Nobody want her, nobody likes her. Her parents have
died and she is sent home from India to live in her uncle’s house in
Yorkshire. It is a big old house, with nearly a hundred rooms but
most of them are shut and locked. Mary is cross and bored, and
lonely. There is nothing to do all day, and no one to talk to, except
old Ben Weatherstaff, the gardener.
But then Mary learns about the secret garden. The door is locked and
hidden, and the key is lost. No one has been inside the secret garden
for ten years – except the robin, who flies over the wall. Mary
watches the robin and wonders where the key is…
And then there is that strange crying in the night, somewhere in the
house. It sounds like a child crying…
Frances Hodgson Burnett
was born in 1849 and died in 1924.
From the age of sixteen she lived mostly in the USA but often re-
turned to England. She was a writer all her life and wrote many
books but The Secret Garden is her most famous story.
Little Miss Mary
Nobody seemed to care about Mary. She was born in India, where
her father was a British official. He was busy with his work and her
mother, who was very beautiful, spent all her time going to parties.
So an Indian woman, Kamala, was paid to take care of the little girl.
Mary was not a pretty child. She had a thin angry face and thin yel-
low hair. She was always giving orders to Kamala, who had to obey.
Mary never thought of other people but only of herself. In fact, she
was a very selfish, disagreeable, bad tempered little girl.
One very hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she
woke up and saw that instead of Kamala there was a different Indian
servant by her bed.
‘What are you doing here?’ she asked crossly. ‘Go away! And
send Kamala to me at once!’
The woman looked afraid. ‘I am sorry, Miss Mary, she – she –
she can’t come!’
Something strange was happening that day. Some of the house
servants were missing and everybody looked frightened. But nobody
told Mary anything and Kamala still did not come. So at last Mary
went out into the garden and played by herself under a tree. She pre-
tended she was making her own flower garden and picked large red
flowers to push into the ground. All the time she was saying crossly
‘I hate Kamala! I’ll hit her when she comes back!’
Just then she saw her mother coming into the garden with
a young Englishman. They did not notice the child, who listened to
‘It’s very bad, is it?’ her mother asked the young man in a wor-
‘Very bad,’ he answered serious. ‘People are dying like flies. It’s
dangerous to stay in this town. You should go to the hills, where
there’s no disease.’
‘Oh, I know,’ she cried. ‘We must leave soon!’
Suddenly they heard loud cries coming from the servants’ rooms,
at the side of the house.
‘What’s happened?’ cried Mary’s mother wildly.
‘I think one of your servants has just died. You didn’t tell me the
disease is here, in your house!’
‘I didn’t know!’ she screamed. ‘Quick, come with me!’ And to-
gether they ran into the house.
Now Mary understood what was wrong. The terrible disease had