Study Guide

The Secret Garden Chapter 13

By Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter 13

"I Am Colin"

  • Mary wakes up excited to start another day of gardening—only to find that it's the middle of the night, and the rain is so loud that it woke her up.
  • Mary sulks. How dare the weather turn bad when she finally has something to look forward to?
  • But obviously, if you're living in a house with over a hundred rooms, there is probably something to look at.
  • She hears that quiet crying sound again, and she decides to go find it, even though it's late at night.
  • She turns down a number of passages and finds a big room with a low fire and expensive furniture.
  • There is a boy lying in bed, looking tired and annoyed. His name is Colin.
  • There's a lot of confusion between Colin and Mary: Are they both sure that the other isn't a ghost? How is it possible that they can both be real? Two unknown, lonely children in the same house? What's going on here?
  • It turns out that Colin is Mr. Craven's son.
  • Colin was born when Mrs. Craven died, and Mr. Craven can't stand to look at him because he reminds Mr. Craven too much of his beloved dead wife.
  • Mr. Craven is also worried that Colin is doomed to be "a hunchback" (13.42) since Mr. Craven's shoulders are crooked, and that Colin is too sickly to live to adulthood.
  • So Colin spends most (or all, in fact) of his time inside his giant mansion being fussed over.
  • All of the servants have to do exactly what he tells them, or he'll throw the most over-the-top tantrums. (This sounds a lot like pre-garden Mistress Mary Quite Contrary…)
  • But he doesn't really enjoy any of his hissy fits—in fact, he doesn't enjoy anything.
  • Colin admits that some great doctor said he would be fine if he got out more in the fresh air and was less spoiled.
  • But Colin hates going outside, so that's the end of that.
  • Mary tells Colin about the Secret Garden (which she pretends is just a story—Mary is about as secretive as they come) and Colin seems interested at last. Colin decides that he would be willing to give fresh air a try if it's in the Secret Garden.
  • Colin shows Mary a portrait hanging behind a curtain.
  • It's of a beautiful woman who looks a lot like Colin. In fact, it's Colin's mother.
  • Colin had the portrait covered because he's mad at her for dying and leaving him alone.
  • Mary promises to come back to talk to Colin, and to tell him if she finds the Secret Garden
  • Colin asks Mary to stay while he falls asleep, and she sings him a lullaby her Ayah used to sing to her.