showing pensive sadness
"Could I ever get there?" asked Mary wistfully, looking through her window at the far-off blue.
characterized by a lightly exuberant quality
Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and she knew at once that the robin had come again. He was very
pert and lively, and hopped about so close to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at her so slyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question.
"Pert" also means "impudent" but the robin's rudeness is characterized more by an exuberant ("joyously unrestrained") love of life. Ben describes it this way: "He likes to hear folk talk about him. An' curious--bless me, there never was his like for curiosity an' meddlin'. He's always comin' to see what I'm plantin'..."
a plant lasting for three seasons or more
It was bare of flowers because the
perennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped about under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshly turned up earth.
hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire
The ivy was the
baffling thing. Howsoever carefully she looked she could see nothing but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves.
"Baffle" also means "be a mystery or bewildering to"--both definitions fit the situation because Mary is wondering what's underneath all the ivy, and she is disappointed to see nothing but leaves. The wild ivy, in addition to being a sign of the secret garden's neglect, is meant to prevent people from finding the locked door.
a strong current of air
The sun was shining and a little wind was blowing--not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful little
gusts and brought a fresh scent of newly turned earth with it.
a note that alternates with another note a semitone above it
The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely
trill, merely to show off.
slender structure by which some plants attach to an object
There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long
tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselves.
anything that covers
There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy
mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground.
"Hazy" means "filled with fog or mist"--the gray or brown branches give the appearance of fog or mist, and the use of the adjective "hazy" for the noun "mantle" emphasizes the mysterious nature of the secret garden. To prevent this hazily mysterious, somewhat dead garden from seeming scary and hopeless, there is this description: "The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch of blue sky over this particular piece of Misselthwaite seemed even more brilliant and soft..."
a large vase that usually has a pedestal or feet
There seemed to have been grass paths here and there, and in one or two corners there were alcoves of evergreen with stone seats or tall moss-covered flower
urns in them.
to an exceedingly great extent or degree
She went from place to place, and dug and weeded, and enjoyed herself so
immensely that she was led on from bed to bed and into the grass under the trees.
deprive of oxygen and prevent from breathing
She had been actually happy all the time; and dozens and dozens of the tiny, pale green points were to be seen in cleared places, looking twice as cheerful as they had looked before when the grass and weeds had been
filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise
The bulbs in the secret garden must have been much
astonished. Such nice clear places were made round them that they had all the breathing space they wanted, and really, if Mistress Mary had known it, they began to cheer up under the dark earth and work tremendously.
The adjective "astonished," the noun phrase "breathing space," and the verb phrase "cheer up" personify the bulbs, which strengthens the connection between Nature and the human natures of the gardeners. The more Mary works in the garden, the better her nature becomes. Even Ben, who's surly because he's lonely, is joyfully proud of his gardening and the robin. And the sweetest character in the novel is Dickon, who has the closest relationships to all forms of nature.
capable of arousing and holding the attention
She worked and dug and pulled up weeds steadily, only becoming more pleased with her work every hour instead of tiring of it. It seemed to her like a
fascinating sort of play.
the trait of acting unpredictably
"That's like him," snapped Ben Weatherstaff. "Makin' up to th' women folk just for vanity an'
flightiness. There's nothin' he wouldn't do for th' sake o' showin' off an' flirtin' his tail-feathers. He's as full o' pride as an egg's full o' meat."
Ben is punning on the word "flightiness"--while he is focused on its unpredictable appearances and proud flirting with many females, he is also talking about a bird that has the power of flight.
to come to rest, settle
He flew right up to the handle of Ben Weatherstaff's spade and
alighted on the top of it.
frown with displeasure
He dragged out another weed and
scowled at it.
quivering as from weakness or fear
And on the trunk of the tree he leaned against, a brown squirrel was clinging and watching him, and from behind a bush nearby a cock pheasant was delicately stretching his neck to peep out, and quite near him were two rabbits sitting up and sniffing with
tremulous noses--and actually it appeared as if they were all drawing near to watch him and listen to the strange low little call his pipe seemed to make.
to move about or proceed hurriedly
He moved so slowly that it scarcely seemed as though he were moving at all, but at last he stood on his feet and then the squirrel
scampered back up into the branches of his tree, the pheasant withdrew his head and the rabbits dropped on all fours and began to hop away, though not at all as if they were frightened.
with strained or eager attention
He moved quite close to the bush with the slow movement Mary had noticed before, and then he made a sound almost like the robin's own twitter. The robin listened a few seconds,
intently, and then answered quite as if he were replying to a question.
treat with contemptuous disregard
"He wouldn't come near thee if he didn't," answered Dickon. "Birds is rare choosers an' a robin can
flout a body worse than a man.
"I've lived on th' moor with 'em so long. I've watched 'em break shell an' come out an'
fledge an' learn to fly an' begin to sing, till I think I'm one of 'em. Sometimes I think p'raps I'm a bird, or a fox, or a rabbit, or a squirrel, or even a beetle, an' I don't know it."
a plant occurring in crusty patches on tree trunks or rocks
He stepped over to the nearest tree--an old, old one with gray
lichen all over its bark, but upholding a curtain of tangled sprays and branches.
feeling or showing profound respect or veneration
Mary touched it herself in an eager,
"They've run wild," he said, "but th' strongest ones has fair
thrived on it.
joyful and proud especially because of triumph or success
"There!" he said exultantly. "I told thee so. There's green in that wood yet. Look at it."
characterized by hard work and perseverance
They were working industriously round one of the biggest standard roses when he caught sight of something which made him utter an exclamation of surprise.
a quantity of no importance
naught as nice as th' smell o' good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh growin' things when th' rain falls on 'em. I get out on th' moor many a day when it's rainin' an' I lie under a bush an' listen to th' soft swish o' drops on th' heather an, I just sniff an, sniff.
in a resolute manner
"I'll come every day if tha' wants me, rain or shine," he answered
stoutly. "It's the best fun I ever had in my life--shut in here an' wakenin' up a garden."
give off unsteady sounds
quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?"
"To plant seeds in--to make things grow--to see them come alive," Mary