i6o THE SECRET GARDEN
" Nearly always. Sometimes I have been taken to places at the seaside, but I won't stay because people stare at me. I used to wear an iron thing to keep my back straight, but a grand doctor came from London to see me and said it was stupid. He told them to take it off and keep me out in the fresh air. I hate fresh air and I don't want to go out."
" I didn't when first I came here," said Mary. " Why do you keep looking at me like that? "
" Because of the dreams that are so real," he answered rather fretfully. " Sometimes when I open my eyes I don't believe I'm awake."
" We're both awake," said Mary. She glanced round the room with its high ceiling and shadowy corners and dim firelight. " It looks quite like a dream, and it's the middle of the night, and everybody in the house is asleep — everybody but us. We are wide awake."
" I don't want it to be a dream," the boy said restlessly.
Mary thought of something all at once.
" If you don't like people to see you," she began, " do you want me to go away? "
He still held the fold of her wrapper and he gave it a little pull.
" No," he said. " I should be sure you were a dream if you went. If you are real, sit down on