THE STRANGE HOUSE 107
"You are, really! I didn't know you were so nice. I know I can print letters if I try. Let's ask Mrs. Medlock for a pen and ink and some paper."
" I've got some of my own," said Martha. " I bought 'em so I could print a bit of a letter to mother of a Sunday. I'll go and get it."
She ran out of the room, and Mary stood by the fire and twisted her thin little hands together with sheer pleasure.
" If I have a spade," she whispered, " I can make the earth nice and soft and dig up weeds. If I have seeds and can make flowers grow the garden won't be dead at all — it will come alive."
She did not go out again that afternoon because when Martha returned with her pen and ink and paper she was obliged to clear the table and carry the plates and dishes down-stairs and when she got into the kitchen Mrs. Medlock was there and told her to do something, so Mary waited for what seemed to her a long time before she came back. Then it was a serious piece of work to write to Dickon. Mary had been taught very little because her governesses had disliked her too much to stay with her. She could not spell particularly well but she found that she could print letters when she tried. This was the letter Martha dictated to her: