“I’ve stolen a garden,” she said very fast. “It isn’t mine. It isn’t anybody’s. Nobody wants it, nobody cares for it, nobody ever goes into it. Perhaps everything is dead in it already; I don’t know.” — Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

When a thing is wick and someone cares about it
And comes to work each day, like you and me,
will it grow?

It will.

Then have no doubt about it.
We’ll have the grandest garden ever seen.

— from “Wick,” from the musical version of The Secret Garden

She was sallow, selfish, solitary and snarky, the orphaned daughter of two parents who never really paid attention to her upbringing, and she was cast into a life on the Yorkshire moors with no real information about how the rest of the world behaved.

She was Mary Lennox, and she was a brat when she arrived in my life at the beginning of The Secret Garden, but as Burnett’s classic tale spun out, Mary became more and more human, and less and less annoying, until, by the end of the book, she is a wonderfully dear little girl. Like Burnett’s other popular work, A Little Princess, one of the messages in Mary’s story is to be true to yourself, but also to take responsibility, and Mary does both with much charm and grace.

As a child, I always wanted a robin to lead me to a magic door in the fence.

As an adult, I still do…sort of.

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