It was some years after Mary Lennox's arrival at Misselthwaite that she was given a governess. While her uncle was abroad no one spared any thought on the matter, and after he returned Mary was much occupied studying with Colin under Lord Craven's tutelage. Indeed it was four happy summers before the subject of a governess for Mistress Mary arose again. It started as a sort of underground discussion in the servants' hall -- that the young lady of the house should have no feminine companionship! -- and once the gossip arrived at the cottage on the moor, brought there by Martha on her day off, Mrs Sowerby at once put a stop to it. She spoke to Mrs Medlock in Thwaite, and to Lord Craven at the Manor some days later. This marked the end both of the gossip and of Mistress Mary's boyish freedom.
"Shall you mind terribly?" Colin asked, as anxiously as Colin ever asked anything these days. Mary had brought the news down to the garden, where Colin was reading a tract on Newton and reading choice bits aloud to Dickon while he clipped the hedges.
"It's not as though I am going away," Mary replied. She found a bit of earth that needed weeding so she might have something to do with her hands. "I should like to learn French and geography and things of that sort. As long as she doesn't mind my being in the garden, we shall probably be agreeable."
"And if she does mind, we shall send for another," Colin decided. He sighed and lay back in the grass. "Still, it will change things. Do you think it will change things, Dickon?"
"Th' garden will still be here," Dickon said mildly. Mary imagined that perhaps change was foreign to him. After all, one year was much like another in the Yorkshire countryside. In four years Dickon had gone from being a free spirit upon the moor to holding a position as most beloved under-gardener, but his animals still followed him, and he always found time to spare in Colin and Mary's garden, rain in his hair and the wind sparkling in his eyes. So Mary was much startled when Dickon added, "Mistress Mary's new governess may change nawt, but some change is comin'. Tha mark it, Master Colin -- 'tis in the wind."
Colin frowned. "Do you mean the war? It will be over before you're old enough to enlist, and certainly before I am."
Dickon frowned too, a brief sober expression. The war was not thought of highly by anyone at Misselthwaite, and none of the children liked hearing of sickly or dead things at the best of times. Colin had tried one of his experiments, but for once the Magic had not worked; or at the very least the war was too big, and even the whole country believing it would be over this Christmas past was not enough for the Magic to work. As a result they did not speak of it much, and Dickon's only answer was a noncommittal shrug. They talked of other things.
In the autumn the governess came. Her name was Mrs Bathurst. She wore severe little spectacles and a brooch at her throat like Mrs Medlock's, and she had a clipped London accent very unlike the broad Yorkshire to which Mary had grown accustomed. Upon their introduction Mary could feel herself going stiff and small and disagreeable, but she fought this and did her very best to seem, if not a charming young lady, than at least the Mistress Mary the Sowerbys knew.
On the first day of their acquaintance, Mrs Bathurst asked Mary all sorts of questions which Mary imagined were of the normal sort for governesses to ask. Did Mary know her history? Some, especially concerning the Empire and India. Did Mary know her geography? Only a very little. Did Mary like to read? Some, particularly books of science which were gifts to Colin from Lord Craven. Did Mary know any languages? Hindustani. Could Mary dance, or sew, or play an instrument? No, but she could sing, and imagined dancing would be easy, for these days she was an athletic child. Mrs Bathurst listened to these answers with her eyes gleaming behind her spectacles, and though Mary had some half-formed notion that her replies were less than satisfactory, her new governess seemed quite pleased.
Mary also had the idea that, as she had said to Colin, she would begin learning her French and geography, but nothing of the sort was forthcoming. Rather Mrs Bathurst encouraged Mary to take exercise, taught her to dance, and had her read a great deal more history.
This educational regiment endeared the severe woman to Mary nearly at once, so much that she was hardly resentful when sometime during the second week Mary was rising for tea with Colin and Mrs Bathurst said, "No, Mary, I think you'd better not spend quite so much time with young Master Craven. Shall you take tea with me?"
Mary considered making a fuss, but she was still allowed with Colin in the garden at all hours, and he might enjoy taking his tea alone with Lord Craven. She sat again while Mrs Bathurst rang for the tea things, and as Martha arrived to set out their meal, the governess said, "Tell me some tale of India, Mary." Martha paused in the middle of pouring the tea, her eyes very wide, and Mrs Bathurst added, "You may leave us, Martha."
Promising to herself to tell some story to Martha later, Mary waited for the door to close and asked, "What sort of story should you like?" In her head she prepared the sorts of stories she thought a governess might like: not the tales of tigers and elephants and officers and Rajas, but something older, blue Vishnu and his earthly form, fierce many-armed Kali and her consort. But perhaps those were stories for Martha too. Perhaps they would offend her governess's sensibilities.
"I always enjoyed tales like the Arabian Nights," Mrs Bathurst said thoughtfully, buttering a crumpet. "Stories within stories that go on for days. I imagine there must be something of the sort in India."
"Vikram and Baital," Mary said at once, somewhat relieved that the suggestion for a tale had been made for her. Those stories had kept her Ayah from Mary's boredom and wrath for a whole season while they were shut up in the house on account of the monsoons. "Baital tells Vikram stories. There are only twenty-five, though."
Mrs Bathurst smiled a polite little smile and sipped her tea. "Well, we needn't tell them all, certainly not in one tea-time. Who are Vikram and Baital, Mary?"
Mary might have thought it strange that Mrs Bathurst could pronounce these foreign words, but she was not the sort of girl to notice such things. "Well," she said. "Vikram was a Raja, and Baital was a Prét." At Mrs Bathurst's politely uncomprehending look, she added, "The spirit of a dead man. A Prét exists inside a dead body and moves about at night attacking the living." Mary remembered now that she had liked the stories Baital told much better than she had liked Baital himself. Four years at Misselthwaite had given her a healthy aversion to this sort of morbid tale.
"Oh, I see," Mrs Bathurst said. "Teacakes, Mary? I do believe your Baital is what we here might call a vampire. Have you heard the word before?"
This was delivered in a school-room lecture tone rather than one of condescension, so Mary went rather less disagreeable than she might have. "The library has books with vampires," she replied. "I haven't read them."
"A pity," Mrs Bathurst said. "Fascinating creatures, vampires."
Mary did not ask if Mrs Bathurst thought vampires were real. She did not care what Mrs Bathurst thought on this particular topic. "Should you like to hear one of Baital's stories?" she asked.
"No, Mary, I think we might return to lessons for a time before you go out to the garden," Mrs Bathurst said. And the subject seemed to be closed.
Mary gave no more thought to the conversation for some time. Autumn closed in around Misselthwaite; in the garden, the trees turned the brilliant colour of flames and all the petals dropped off the roses. Colin spent more time indoors, claiming as was his habit that the coming winter and the dying roses depressed him. Mary and Dickon gathered some of the last summer flowers for a vase in his rooms, which cheered him considerably, but most days he did not join them out of doors. Mary did not mind; she enjoyed Dickon's company very much.
One afternoon there was very little to do. Mary and Dickon sat together in the garden, enjoying the rustle of the autumn leaves. "Has tha got any stories of India?" Dickon asked absently. "Tigers or elephants? Tigers should hide well among these trees."
"I've told you all my stories of tigers and elephants," Mary said. A rose petal fluttered down and alighted softly upon her hand. "Mrs Bathurst wanted a story about Baital the vampire and the Raja Vikram." She turned to Dickon, perhaps to say something more, but the words died from her lips at the look on his face. It was not a look she had seen before. His lips were pressed tight together in a thin wide line, and the sparkle in his eyes was dangerous, like that of the fox cub when it had grown. That is what he reminded her of: a young fox that had suddenly grown while she was not looking. "Dickon?" Mary asked, hesitating.
"What does tha know of vampires?" Dickon asked, very quiet and serious.
"Not much," said Mary in some bewilderment. "They're stories. Stories about dead creatures preying on the living."
Dickon started to say something and thought better of it. In place of this he said, "Watch thy dreams, Mistress Mary."
"I don't remember my dreams," Mary said, but this did not seem to reassure Dickon at all.
Mary did not remember dreaming of a hot sun-baked land, like India but drier, and of racing over grass and sand with her lungs and veins afire, just as she did not remember dreaming of riding horses, being burned at the stake, shouting at an old man with a worried face and dusty books, just as she did not remember a hundred other such dreams. In India she had been too sickly and sullen to sleep well or remember anything for long, and at Misselthwaite she was healthily exhausted each night and slept deeply; each new day swept away the cobwebs of night, and she did not try to recall them. But Mary dreamed of smearing paint on her face and creeping like a stealthy predator, and in the morning she awoke feeling strange and a little fierce.
Martha, bringing her breakfast, looked rather pale and unhappy. Mary dressed hurriedly, for the smell of toast and bacon was very tempting, but she spared the time to say, "What is it, Martha?"
"Nothin', Miss Mary, really it is," Martha replied. The poor girl was not much good at lying, or at least hadn't had much practice since Mary had discovered Colin. Mary could see at once that it was not nothing. She started in on her breakfast and waited patiently until Martha burst out, "It's the Pendletons' flock, it is. All them sheep slaughtered in the night but we haven't got no wolves in this part of the country, and the foxes know our Dickon too well t' get up t' this sort of mischief."
Mary was not much acquainted with the ways of shepherding, and knew the Sowerbys didn't keep sheep on their farm, but she had been in Dickon's company long enough to know that the death of a whole flock was a tragedy by any Yorkshire standard. "Oh Martha, I am sorry," she said. "Does my uncle know? I'm sure he'll pay to compensate."
"Bless ye, Miss," Martha said, with a tremulous smile. Mary gave her a piece of toast, and Martha went on her way.
After breakfast, Mary made a venture to the library. It was rather dim and imposing, full of dust and the suggestion of rustling paper. Mary spent the morning among the stacks, paging through tomes in search of the sorts of creatures that might kill sheep. All the books suggested that sheep were most frequently killed by members of genus canis, and that to presume otherwise bordered on the absurd. Mary pressed her lips together and went on looking. A more reflective girl might have stopped to wonder what she meant to accomplish by this, but Mary simply persevered until, with the sense of inevitability she sometimes felt in the presence of Magic, Mary turned to books of folklore.
Vampires, of course, would savage anything.
Mary went to see Lord Craven and tell him about the flock. He promised to see the Pendletons. Mary thanked him and ran full-tilt out to the garden. Dickon was out in one of the vegetable gardens, gathering the last of the potatoes before they rotted in the ground. He came to his feet with a grin at the whirlwind of Mary bearing down upon him, but the grin dropped from his face as soon as Mary said, half-panting: "Dickon, could you have holy water around your house?"
"I could," he hedged. "I'd need t' go down t' th' vicarage for't. What makes tha ask such a question, Mary?"
"The Pendletons are not far from where your family lives," Mary said. "I only want them to be safe."
"From mad dogs?" Dickon asked.
"No," Mary said, and hesitated.
"Tha need not worry thyself," Dickon said gently. "All th' Sowerby ground is sewn wi' holy water and we've charms on the doors. Does tha not think I know this land if anyone does?" He knelt to pull another potato up from the earth and added, "They munot come wi'tout bein' invited, Mistress Mary. Remember that."
"I'll remember," Mary said.
She went back up to the house in time for midmorning lessons with Mrs Bathurst. Watching the governess lay out history books, Mary said abruptly, "Tell me about vampires."
Mrs Bathurst stopped, and looked up slowly at Mary over her spectacles. "Why would you ask such a thing?"
Mary went rather stiff, but instead of becoming sullen she could feel herself becoming a little fierce again. "Because a vampire killed the Pendletons' flock," she said, "and it is out on the moor right now or maybe near Thwaite, waiting for night."
"Well," Mrs Bathurst said. She began replacing the history books in her bag, and taking out others in their place. These books looked older. "I did wonder," Mrs Bathurst said. She did not expand upon this, but rather finished unpacking these new books. A late-summer apple, beginning to brown, followed these out of the bag. Then quick as a flash Mrs Bathurst threw the apple at Mary's head. Mary's hand snapped out and caught it.
"Well," Mrs Bathurst said again. When no more seemed forthcoming after this, Mary began to eat the apple, perhaps a little insolently. Mrs Bathurst watched her, apparently lost in thought. Then she said, "I had my doubts at first. After all, what could you be doing in an out-of-the-way place like Yorkshire." She saw Mary's stony expression and cleared her throat. "Of course, you were born in India. Your family was in Bengal, am I correct?" At Mary's nod: "Yes, there are plenty of your Préts in Bengal."
"I never met one," Mary said. "But there is a vampire here, and I want to know what it has to do with me." A thought arrived. "And what it has to do with you."
"Easily explainable." Mrs Bathurst sat down across from Mary. "You are the Chosen One, Mary, and I am your Watcher."
Mary could hear the importance of the capital letters fall into place, as she could hear them whenever Colin spoke of the Magic. She was not sure she liked how they sounded. Because Mary was not much given to imagination, she had never imagined she was particularly special; it was Colin and Dickon who were the special ones. For all that, though, she thought she wouldn't mind if it were not for Mrs Bathurst being her Watcher. "What does a Watcher do?" she asked.
"It's really only another name for a governess," Mrs Bathurst said. "I am to instruct you, to offer you assignments and advice." She frowned. "Shouldn't you like to know what the Chosen One is?"
"I should like to know what you mean by it," Mary said.
"Into each generation a girl is born," Mrs Bathurst said, in a strange tone halfway between lecture and recitation. "One girl in all the world, Mary. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is called the Slayer."
Mary sat quietly for a moment.
"You want me to kill dead things," she said.
"You are destined to," Mrs Bathurst said. "You are the only girl in the world with the power to slay vampires, Mary. It is a shame I have to spring this upon you so suddenly, but the Slayer before you is dead and your time has come to take up the mantle. The Watchers' Council meant to find you in India, but we had only just traced you when the cholera broke out and we were unable to locate you again until now."
Although Mary was not a girl much given to imagine things, for a moment she imagined what it might have been like if Mrs Bathurst had found ten-year-old Mary Lennox, sullen and small with her parents only just dead, dull and unloved. Mary imagined being told then that she was special and powerful and could kill demons. Mary stopped imagining this as quickly as she could.
"Is it a secret?" Mary asked.
"Of course," Mrs Bathurst said. "We do not want to alarm anyone, and to have it generally known that you are the Slayer will make it easier for vampires to find you."
"I am telling Colin," Mary said. "I think Dickon already knows." Mrs Bathurst started voicing some protest, and Mary added fiercely, "You shan't tell me what I can and cannot do, especially if I am as powerful as you say. I shall kill this vampire, and you shall teach me, but only because it has killed the sheep." She raised her chin haughtily. "Do you understand me?"
Mrs Bathurst looked somewhat amused. "Of course, Mary. Shall we begin your lessons?"
Mary did not go to the garden that day. She learned a little about the history and line of the Slayers, and then Mrs Bathurst took Mary into a long echoing gallery. She made Mary catch things, to test her reflexes. She made Mary hit and kick a large pad and then several smaller ones. Mary was very good at the hitting and kicking, having become practiced at it when throwing her childish tantrums in India, and her body, used to the exercise she took at Misselthwaite, remembered the old patterns easily. At first Mary was not sure if she liked it, but the activity did not recall any of her old bad manners, and there was something very gratifying in the way Mrs Bathurst was obviously impressed by her efforts.
In the morning Martha reported missing chickens, a frown marring her cheerful face. Mary listened and said what comforting things she could, then fetched Colin. "I have something dreadfully important to tell you," she announced, and they went together down to the garden, where Dickon was again trimming the hedges.
"Mary says she has something very important to say," Colin declared.
"Aye, that she does," Dickon agreed. "Let's hear't, Mary."
"A vampire has been killing the animals," Mary said. "Colin, you remember vampires. They're real after all, isn't that so, Dickon?"
Dickon nodded. "Them's real enough. Don't often come up t' th' moor, though, if they know what's good for 'em. Folk don't take kindly to 'em here an' most remember."
"But that's fascinating!" cried Colin. "Imagine the torment of a soul that cannot be laid to rest."
"Mrs Bathurst explained," Mary said, "vampires don't have souls, Colin. They are demon spirits inhabiting the bodies of the dead."
Colin's eyes went very round. Of course he was fascinated by all manner of things growing and living, but he had spent ten years being a very morbid boy indeed and Mary could see how this story of vampires excited him. "So what is it to do with us?" Colin asked. "Do we have some way of stopping it?"
"Consecrate th' ground," Dickon said. "An' --" He did not go on. His jaw clenched for a moment and he reminded Mary again of a grown fox.
"It can only be killed by burning, beheading, or driving a stake through its heart," Mary said. "Then it turns to dust and cannot harm again." She took a breath. "And I must be the one to do it, because I am the Slayer."
Dickon dropped his sheers, barely missing his own foot, and both boys uttered exclamations of protest. But Mary stood firm. "I am not sure I like it," she said, "but I am going to protect Misselthwaite. And I should like you to help me."
"I'll do th' rights as will protect th' village an' th' manor," Dickon said, breaking a moment of silence.
Colin sighed as though released from a spell. "And we had better lure the vampire here. Let's think up a plan."
Not all the preparations could be made in a day, of course, and moreover when Colin and Mary went to Mrs Bathurst, she told them quite severely that Mary couldn't possibly be expected to kill a vampire after a single day of training, and that Colin must be sworn to strictest secrecy. As they left Mrs Bathurst and made for their own rooms, though, Mary said, "I'm quite strong enough now," and Colin agreed solemnly: "Yes, our family is quite strong enough to perform miracles."
Mary's conviction to carry out their plan as soon as possible was cemented in the morning, when Martha arrived late with red-rimmed eyes and told Mary rather tearfully that a boy in the village had been found dead. As Martha said this, Mary felt herself beginning to get very angry. It was a slow and steady sort of anger, and it did not make Mary raise her voice or slam doors, but rather made her talk in a steely sort of voice when she saw Colin and said, "Have you heard?"
Dickon was not in the gardens; he was staying in Thwaite to deal with the grief and perhaps the panic. Mary felt a little unprotected without him until the anger rose up again and pushed aside unhelpful thoughts. Colin sent a kitchen boy down to the village with a message for Dickon in print, reading simply we shall do it tonight, and then he and Mary went to find Mrs Bathurst.
"I am going to kill the vampire tonight," Mary announced. "Teach me as much as you can before then."
Mrs Bathurst was, to her credit, too wise to argue in the face of Mary's new steely rage. She took Mary through the same punches and kicks as the previous day, Colin watching rapt on the sidelines. They broke for noon dinner, and afterwards Mrs Bathurst gave Mary a stake and made her practice on a dummy, so that Mary learned precisely where a heart was and how to drive a stake home. Sometimes during these exercises, Mary's anger ebbed a little, and she started remembering rose blossoms and little green shoots, and she would feel a little frightened of herself; but then she would remember Martha's face and the news of the dead child, and she ceased to hesitate.
Evening drew in around Misselthwaite. Mary and Colin took supper together, apart from the governess. Mary was quite hungry from the exercise but could barely bring herself to eat, and Colin was much the same.
"You don't have to," Mary said.
"Of course I do," said Colin. "No one and nothing else should die because Colin Craven is a coward."
Mary thought of saying, 'But if I don't reach you in time ...' She did not. She knew that would be the wrong sort of Magic. Instead she said, "I think you're being very brave, Colin."
"Yes; because I am not a coward," Colin agreed. "And I am quite sure Dickon has done his part."
Of course Dickon was quite trustworthy. The only snag was that he might not look quite serious doing what they had bid him; Colin, remembering various rumours and tales of vampires which were confirmed by Dickon, recalled that vampires and demons liked best those things which were innocent and beautiful. Mary was not quite sure she was either of those things, and thought she would be a terrible choice, but Colin, with his huge black-lashed eyes and delicate features, was quite perfect. It was Dickon's job, then, to speak of the lord's son up at the manor as a boy of uncommon beauty, and to say it in the hearing of as many people as he could find. This task was of course made easy by the love that had grown in the people of Thwaite for young Master Colin in the four years since he had ventured into the daylight. Even so, there was the chance this vampire might not take the bait.
Colin and Mary left their plates almost full, and once they were sure the sun had set, they put on their outdoor clothes and went for a walk.
It is difficult to chatter when one is waiting for something terrible to happen, and not sure when or if it will, but Mary and Colin did the best they could under the circumstances. In fact Mary started to go on about the fashions in London, which was the best topic she could have devised, for both she and Colin knew very well that she didn't know a thing about it, and both of them found it very funny; so Mary talked about parasols and dresses full of lace, and Colin laughed against her shoulder, looking quite vividly alive in the twilight.
The vampire when it came did not startle them nor attack them. Rather it came strolling up the garden path and doffed its hat to them, for it was dressed like a perfect gentleman, albeit one slightly out of date and with a smudge of dirt on one lapel. Colin started up from Mary's side and said, very surprised, "Good evening." Mary realised then that Colin must think the vampire was human. Perhaps he couldn't see the demon in its eyes.
"Good evening," the vampire said, with a smile. "Might you be young Master Colin? And -- you must be Miss Mary Lennox. How delightful to meet you both. I am Edmund Godard. I've been doing a sort of walking tour of Yorkshire."
In Mary's opinion, the worst thing to come from Colin's transformation from morbid invalid to radiant optimist was his willingness to presume the best of people. As a general theory it worked very well, but Mary still came across those who would speak ill of Colin, or anyone if they got the chance, and she did not presume everyone was agreeable. She was not very surprised when Colin said, "Oh yes, the countryside here is wonderful. Are you staying in town?"
The demon prepared an answer, but Mary spoke first: "And are you fond of sheep, Mr Godard?"
Mr Godard gave her a sharp look, and smiled again at Colin. "I am staying at the inn."
"Misselthwaite is always in want of company," Colin said. Mary pinched his arm. "Ow! Mary, don't be that way. I don't believe Mr Godard is who we are looking for."
"I suppose not," Mary said, trying not to clench her teeth. She could feel the steely rage rising up inside her again. She held out a hand to the vampire. "Welcome to Misselthwaite, Mr Godard."
It smiled again, for it was always flickering through smiles as a snake flicks its tongue. Mr Goddard took her hand. It was as cold as gravestones and the earth in dead winter, and Mary hardly suppressed her shudder; but it was well worth her trouble. Colin shook Mr Godard's hand too, and feeling it he recoiled. "Mary --!"
"I know you," Mary said. "Colin, get behind me. I know you. You haunt cemeteries and profane places. You have never held a rose or smelled the air in spring-time. You know only blood down to your bones."
This time when the vampire smiled it did so truthfully, with a face like a grotesque's mask and fangs where teeth had been. "And I know you, Mary Lennox. You have always been angry with death, because blood is in your bones too, no matter how you smother the scent with roses. Never fear; today you can stop struggling."
"Pig," Mary spat, and hit it. She might have killed it then, for it stumbled back in surprise, obviously not expecting the assault. Mary did not mind. She was angry. She was angry because a flock of sheep was dead, and a brood of chickens were dead, and a little boy in Thwaite was dead; because Colin's mother and her own were dead; because Mr Godard had been alive once and was now a demon. She kicked and hit and called it names, and when it fought back it was very strong, but Mary was strong too; she and Colin would live to see the summer roses.
The vampire slammed her up against the wall of the manor, knocking the air from her. "Even if you kill me, I will win," it whispered, so that Colin could not hear. "You will be a killer and a bringer of death until the day you die."
Struggling for breath, Mary remembered the Prét Baital and how his stories always ended in questions only the Raja could answer, until the story he could not and so said nothing. Mary remembered also other stories told by her Ayah long ago, about the goddess Kali who danced destruction. Mary had been very young then, and had not liked Kali's wild limbs and wilder grins, but Mary was older now, and pressed against cold stone on a Yorkshire night she felt for a moment as she had in her dream, in a smothering heat, gritty with sand and blood, all her limbs wild.
Mary understood, and Mary laughed. She drove her stake through the vampire's chest and it became so much dust around her.
"I do not need your stories," Mary said, and slumped back against the wall.
Dickon came into the house the next morning on Colin's orders, the better to regale him over breakfast with the story of Mary's victory. Colin told most of it, his eyes shining with pride while Dickon listened, eating his toast and jam in a thoughtful measured way. Mrs Bathurst came in partway through this recitation, and listened also, a frown never quite taking control of her features.
"You should have told me, Mary," she said when Colin was finished, "but I congratulate you on a job well done."
"I only did what I had to," Mary replied.
"Yes," Mrs Bathurst agreed. "But now we must consider your prospects. Vampires are most uncommon in the English countryside. If you are to fulfill your destiny, you must come to a city with all haste. York shall do if you don't wish to go far, but Manchester or London would be better."
Mary felt herself growing sullen. "I don't want to go," she said. "I shan't go to a city. I would smother there."
"And I don't want Mary to leave," Colin added, in his old Raja voice. Only Dickon said nothing.
"Think of those hundreds who might die in London if you stay here in the country," Mrs Bathurst said, rather severely.
Mary's sullenness was crowded out by old goddesses and the roar of Bengal tigers. "If I am the only Slayer in all the world," she said, "hundreds might die in all the hundred places I can't be all at once." Mrs Bathurst looked uncomfortable at this. Roses bloomed in Mary's mind to cover dancing Kali, and the song of robins in spring-time drowned out the tigers. "You see, Mrs Bathurst," Mary said, "I am staying here. You told me I'm one girl in a row of girls, but I think the Slayer goes looking for death and danger and finds it. I won't. I will stay here and if a dead thing comes to harm Misselthwaite I shall weed it out. Do I make myself clear?"
Mrs Bathurst tried very hard to look severe, but after a moment she broke into the sort of smile Mary saw so often on her uncle's face around Colin. "Very clear, Mary," she said.
"An' t' that I say, may th' weeds be few," Dickon added.
Together they finished their breakfast and went out into the bright morning.