An English Girl in India


When Mary Lennox was a young girl, she lived in India. Her father was working for the government there. She was a sick little child, but her parents did not really try to look after her. Her father was often ill himself, while her tall, beautiful mother was only interested in going to parties with her friends. Mrs Lennox had not wanted a little girl at all. They day Mary was born, Mrs Lennox told one of the servants that she wanted to see the child as little as possible.


So Mary had her own special servant, or "Ayah" as they said in India. Her Ayah dressed her and undressed her and did everything for her. Because she never felt well, Mary was very selfish. She also had a terrible temper. When she did not get what she wanted, she would cry and scream until someone gave it to her. All the servants were afraid of Mary, and nobody liked her.


One very hot morning, when she was nine years old, Mary woke up feeling tired and angry. She became really angry when she saw the servant who stood by her bed. The servant was not her Ayah.


Frances Hodgson Burnett grew up in England in the mid-nineteenth century. As a child, she was very fond of gardens, and continued to enjoy gardening throughout her life. She moved to America with her family when she was sixteen and lived there for most of her life.


Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden. Oxford Progressive English Readers; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994

Grade 1 (1,400 headwords)