286 THE SECRET GARDEN
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?"
" Every one 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.