When his head was out of sight Colin turned to Mary.
"Go and meet him," he said; and Mary flew across the grass to the door under the ivy.
Dickon was watching him with sharp eyes. There were scarlet spots on his cheeks and he looked amazing, but he showed no signs of falling.
"I can stand," he said, and his head was still held up and he said it quite grandly.
"I told thee tha' could as soon as tha' stopped bein' afraid," answered Dickon. "An' tha's stopped."
"Yes, I've stopped," said Colin.
Then suddenly he remembered something Mary had said.
"Are you making Magic?" he asked sharply.
Dickon's curly mouth spread in a cheerful grin.
"Tha's doin' Magic thysel'," he said. "It's same Magic as made these 'ere work out o' th' earth," and he touched with his thick boot a clump of crocuses in the grass. Colin looked down at them.
"Aye," he said slowly, "there couldna' be bigger Magic than that there--there couldna' be."
He drew himself up straighter than ever.
"I'm going to walk to that tree," he said, pointing to one a few feet away from him. "I'm going to be standing when Weatherstaff comes here. I can rest against the tree if I like. When I want to sit down I will sit down, but not before. Bring a rug from the chair."
He walked to the tree and though Dickon held his arm he was wonderfully steady. When he stood against the tree trunk it was not too plain that he supported himself against it, and he still held himself so straight that he looked tall.
When Ben Weatherstaff came through the door in the wall he saw him standing there and he heard Mary muttering something under her breath.
"What art sayin'?" he asked rather testily because he did not want his attention distracted from the long thin straight boy figure and proud face.
But she did not tell him. What she was saying was this:
"You can do it! You can do it! I told you you could! You can do it! You can do it! You can!" She was saying it to Colin because she wanted to make Magic and keep him on his feet looking like that. She could not bear that he should give in before Ben Weatherstaff. He did not give in. She was uplifted by a sudden feeling that he looked quite beautiful in spite of his thinness. He fixed his eyes on Ben Weatherstaff in his funny imperious way.
"Look at me!" he commanded. "Look at me all over! Am I a hunchback? Have I got crooked legs?"
Ben Weatherstaff had not quite got over his emotion, but he had recovered a little and answered almost in his usual way.
"Not tha'," he said. "Nowt o' th' sort. What's tha' been doin' with thysel'--hidin' out o' sight an' lettin' folk think tha' was cripple an' half-witted?"
"Half-witted!" said Colin angrily. "Who thought that?"
"Lots o' fools," said Ben. "Th' world's full o' jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies. What did tha' shut thysel' up for?"
"Everyone thought I was going to die," said Colin shortly. "I'm not!"
And he said it with such decision Ben Weatherstaff looked him over, up and down, down and up.
"Tha' die!" he said with dry exultation. "Nowt o' th' sort! Tha's got too much pluck in thee. When I seed thee put tha' legs on th' ground in such a hurry I knowed tha' was all right. Sit thee down on th' rug a bit young Mester an' give me thy orders."
There was a queer mixture of crabbed tenderness and shrewd understanding in his manner. Mary had poured out speech as rapidly as she could as they had come down the Long Walk. The chief thing to be remembered, she had told him, was that Colin was getting well--getting well. The garden was doing it. No one must let him remember about having humps and dying.
The Rajah condescended to seat himself on a rug under the tree.
"What work do you do in the gardens, Weatherstaff?" he inquired.
"Anythin' I'm told to do," answered old Ben. "I'm kep' on by favor--because she liked me."
"She?" said Colin.
"Tha' mother," answered Ben Weatherstaff.
"My mother?" said Colin, and he looked about him quietly. "This was her garden, wasn't it?"
"Aye, it was that!" and Ben Weatherstaff looked about him too. "She were main fond of it."
"It is my garden now. I am fond of it. I shall come here every day," announced Colin. "But it is to be a secret. My orders are that no one is to know that we come here. Dickon and my cousin have worked and made it come alive. I shall send for you sometimes to help--but you must come when no one can see you."
The Secret Garden -by- Frances Hodgson Burnett