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The Secret Garden

Illustrated by: Graham Rust

She led him round the laurel path and to the walk where the ivy grew so thickly… There was a door and Mary pushed it slowly open and they passed in together… ‘It’s this,’ she said. ‘It’s a secret garden, and I’m the only one in the world who wants it to be alive.’ ‘Eh!’ he almost whispered, it is a queer, pretty place. It’s like as if a body was in a dream.
We are beyond excited to introduce to you, our dear reader, the Polite Society Literary Circle. In compliance with our theme this month, “Doors,” we have chosen to peruse the pages of Francis Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden. You may have read this classic as a child or adolescent. If so, please do yourself the delightful favor of revisiting this inspiring story of renewal and spiritual growth; it is a completely different tale and experience when read from an adult point of view.
“It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried for a long time... ‘Perhaps it has been buried for ten years,’ she said in a whisper. ‘Perhaps it is the key to the garden!’”
Those of us who will, for the first time, be vicariously experiencing life on the Yorkshire Moors in the enchanted world of young Mary Lennox while living among the dreary, yet sometimes mysterious, household of Misselthwaite Manor, are in for quite a literary treat. Mary Lennox, a disagreeable, homely child, is sent to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, (whom she has never met before) after disease sweeps through the Lennox household, killing her beautiful socialite mother, her dashing army captain father, and all the household servants. She has lived a lonely, idle life, devoid of any real love or feeling from her absentee parents. She was raised by servants who did not care particularly one way or another. She, in turn, learned not to care for anyone, even herself. At her uncle’s estate, Misselthwaite Manor, Mary is free to roam the vast grounds and gardens. There, she meets a spirited country boy named Dickon who, by setting an example of how to play and be a child, teaches her the value of adventure and passionate living. As Mary and Dickon wander the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor, they discover an overgrown, unkempt garden surrounded by high walls, its door hidden under years of foliage and vines. Mystery surrounds the secret garden.
As Mary begins to restore the beauty of the neglected garden, she uncovers the sad story of her kind but aloof uncle and his presumably invalid son, Colin, who has been kept hidden within the walls of the great manor house.
“It all seemed most majestic and mysterious when they sat down in their circle. Mistress Mary felt solemnly enraptured. “
Mary, Dickon, and Colin are careful to keep the discovery of the garden a secret, for fear they will be banished from it if Mr. Craven finds out. But as they work and till its soil, each transform, just as the once barren flower beds do, blossoming into new life. The garden itself becomes a metaphor of the growth, healing, hope, and renewed life within Mary and the entire Misselthwaite Manor household. As Mary works and plays in the secret garden, caring for the flowers within, she loses her bitter, homely edge and becomes a vibrant, healthy, and even pretty girl. It is our hope, dear reader, that together we, like Mary, will discover and cultivate a “secret garden” within ourselves, touching the lives of others and beautifully blooming where we are planted.