The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Colin Craven Character Analysis

The young master of Misselthwaite Manor. Mary meets him after hearing crying from somewhere in the manor house several times. Ten years ago, around the time of Colin's birth, his mother, Mrs. Craven, died after falling out of a tree in the secret garden. In his grief, Mr. Craven, Colin's father, resented Colin for living and so passed him off to hired help. He believed that Colin was deformed, which contributes to Colin's belief in the present that he's going to develop a hunchback and die before making it to adulthood. Because everyone believes that Colin is going to die, he's extremely spoiled and does nothing for himself. He throws long-winded tantrums to deal with his grief, pain, and loneliness, which always require a doctor's visit the next day. Until meeting Mary, Colin seems to take pride in his impending doom. He refuses to listen to the London doctor, who prescribed time outside. After a fight in which Mary insists there's nothing wrong with Colin, Colin realizes that she's right. He allows Mary and Dickon to take him outside to the secret garden where, within an hour, he digs in the dirt, stands, and walks. Colin deems this the work of Magic and goes on to devise a spiritual program comprised of chanting, physical exercises, and speeches about the power of Magic. He desperately wants to make his father proud of him and to become "a real boy," one who is going "to live forever and ever." As he improves, he also stops resenting his mother for dying and abandoning him and decides to think that her portrait in his bedroom is smiling at him, not taunting him. Colin keeps his improvement a secret from the household so that he can surprise Mr. Craven upon his return, and the plan works. Mr. Craven cries with joy upon seeing his son happy, whole, and very much alive.

Colin Craven Quotes in The Secret Garden

The The Secret Garden quotes below are all either spoken by Colin Craven or refer to Colin Craven. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Secret Garden published in 2010.
Chapter 13 Quotes

"Oh, what a queer house this is!" Mary said. "What a queer house! Everything is a kind of secret. Rooms are locked up and gardens are locked up—and you! Have you been locked up?"

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

"Do you think you won't live?" she asked, partly because she was curious and partly in hope of making him forget the garden.

"I don't suppose I shall," he answered as indifferently as he had spoken before. "Ever since I remember anything I have heard people say I shan't. At first they thought I was too little to understand and now they think I don't hear. But I do."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

"Oh, don't you see how much nicer it would be if it was a secret?"

He dropped back on his pillow and lay there with an odd expression on his face.

"I never had a secret," he said, "except that one about not living to grow up. They don't know I know that, so it is a sort of secret. But I like this kind better."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so that in the end they were making as much noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-old creatures—instead of a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy who believed that he was going to die.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox , Colin Craven
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

"He's been lying in his room so long and he's always been so afraid of his back that it has made him queer," said Mary. "He knows a good many things out of books but he doesn't know anything else. He says he has been to ill to notice things and he hates going out of doors and hates gardens and gardeners. But he likes to hear about this garden because it is a secret."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven, Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Mary's lips pinched themselves together. She was no more used to considering other people than Colin was and she saw no reason why an ill-tempered boy should interfere with the thing she liked best. She knew nothing about the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous and who did not know that they could control their tempers and need not make other people ill and nervous, too.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox , Colin Craven, Martha
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

[…] If he had had childish companions and had not lain on his back in the huge closed house, breathing an atmosphere heavy with the fears of people who were most of them ignorant and tired of him, he would have found out that most of his fright and illness was created by himself. But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches and weariness for hours and days and months and years. And now that an angry unsympathetic little girl insisted obstinately that he was not as ill as he thought he was he actually felt as if she might be speaking the truth.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox , Colin Craven, Colin’s Nurse
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

The scene which Dr. Craven beheld when he entered his patient's room was indeed rather astonishing to him. As Mrs. Medlock opened the door he heard laughing and chattering. Colin was on his sofa in his dressing-gown and he was sitting up quite straight looking at a picture in one of the garden books and talking to the plain child who at that moment could scarcely be called plain at all because her face was so glowing with enjoyment.

Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

"I don't want to remember," interrupted the Rajah, appearing again. "When I lie by myself and remember I begin to have pains everywhere and I think of things that make me scream because I hate them so. If there was a doctor anywhere who could make you forget you were ill instead of remembering it I would have him brought here."

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Mary Lennox , Dr. Craven
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

"You'll get plenty of fresh air, won't you?" said Mary.

"I'm going to get nothing else," he answered. "I've seen the spring now and I'm going to see the summer. I'm going to see everything grow here. I'm going to grow here myself."

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker), Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

"I shall stop being queer," he said, "if I go every day to the garden. There is Magic in there—good Magic, you know, Mary. I am sure there is."

"So am I," said Mary.

"Even if it isn't real Magic," Colin said, "we can pretend it is. Something is there—something!"

Related Characters: Mary Lennox (speaker), Colin Craven (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden
Page Number: 281-282
Explanation and Analysis:

And this was not half of the Magic. The fact that he had really once stood on his feet had set Colin thinking tremendously and when Mary told him of the spell she had worked he was excited and approved of it greatly. He talked of it constantly.

"Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world," he said wisely one day, "but people don't know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment."

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Mary Lennox , Dickon, Ben Weatherstaff
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

Colin flushed triumphantly. He had made himself believe that he was going to get well, which was really more than half the battle, if he had been aware of it. And the thought which stimulated him more than any other was this imagining what his father would look like when he saw that he had a son who was as straight and strong as other fathers' sons.

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Mary Lennox , Mr. Archibald Craven
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

"You are just what I—what I wanted," he said. "I wish you were my mother—as well as Dickon's!"

All at once Susan Sowerby bent down and drew him with her warm arms close against the bosom under the blue cloak—as if he had been Dickon's brother. The quick mist swept over her eyes.

"Eh! Dear lad!" she said. "Thy own mother's in this 'ere very garden, I do believe. She couldna' keep out of it. Thy father mun come back to thee—he mun!"

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Susan Sowerby / Mother (speaker), Mary Lennox , Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden, Roses
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.

Related Characters: Mary Lennox , Colin Craven
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Secret Garden LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Secret Garden PDF

Colin Craven Character Timeline in The Secret Garden

The timeline below shows where the character Colin Craven appears in The Secret Garden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...pain. When he notices her, he asks if she's a ghost and introduces himself as Colin Craven. The children realize that they're related; Mr. Craven is Colin's father. Colin asks Mary... (full context)
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...this house is a secret and asks if Mr. Craven comes to see him. Angrily, Colin says that his father hates him because Mrs. Craven died. Mary says that he hates... (full context)
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Mary asks Colin if he wants her to go away, since he doesn't like people looking at him.... (full context)
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Mary asks if Colin thinks he's going to die. He indifferently says that he's heard people saying he won't... (full context)
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Colin wants to know if the garden is dead, and Mary explains that the bulbs will... (full context)
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Colin points to a pink curtain on the wall and when Colin asks her to, Mary... (full context)
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Mary asks what Mrs. Medlock will think if she finds out that she's here. Colin says that he's going to tell Mrs. Medlock to make Mary come talk to him... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...afternoon and notices immediately that there's something bothering Mary. Mary admits outright that she found Colin. At this, Martha looks terrified and says that she'll lose her job, but Mary assures... (full context)
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Martha insists that Mary bewitched Colin, and Mary asks if Martha is talking about Magic. She then asks what's wrong with... (full context)
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Mary muses that it might do Colin good to get outside to see things growing, but Martha says that they took him... (full context)
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Colin is settled among cushions when Mary arrives. Mary mentions Martha's fear of being dismissed, so... (full context)
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Colin laments that he never sees anything because he's sick, and Mary points out that he... (full context)
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Mary and Colin spend hours talking about Dickon, the moor, and Mrs. Sowerby's twelve children. They giggle like... (full context)
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After the adults confer in the hallway, Dr. Craven reminds Colin to not forget that he's ill and easily tired. Colin tells him that he wants... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Mary spends the next week with Colin, as it's still too rainy to go outside. They look at books and talk, and... (full context)
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Mary does worry that Colin's dislike of people looking at him will mean that he won't want to meet Dickon,... (full context)
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To distract themselves from looking at the robin, Mary tells Dickon about Colin. Dickon looks surprised and then relieved that he doesn't have to pretend he doesn't know... (full context)
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Mary says that Colin spends his time waiting for a lump to grow on his back, which Dickon insists... (full context)
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Dickon agrees that he could push Colin's wheelchair and then points to the robin. He whistles and the robin turns towards him.... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Mary returns to the house late for dinner and asks Martha to tell Colin that she's too busy in the garden to visit. Martha looks afraid, but Mary isn't... (full context)
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Martha is waiting in Mary's room and says that Colin has been throwing a tantrum all afternoon. Mary isn't used to thinking about other people,... (full context)
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Colin says that he's going to ban Dickon from the manor if Mary chooses him over... (full context)
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...else spoiled to stand up to him is the best thing that could've happened to Colin and says that hysterics and his temper are half of his problem. This doesn't cheer... (full context)
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
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...decides to write Mr. Craven a letter of thanks. She thinks that if she and Colin were friends, they'd play the games and look at the books, and he wouldn't be... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Mary spends all of the next day in the garden and vows to see Colin the next day. However, she wakes in the middle of the night to a terrifying... (full context)
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Mary feels angrier and angrier the closer she gets to Colin's room. She burst in and shouts that everyone hates him and will let him scream... (full context)
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The nurse pulls up Colin's shirt to expose his thin back. She tries not to laugh at the sour and... (full context)
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The nurse says that she had no idea that Colin thought he had a lump on his back, and says that his back is just... (full context)
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Once they're alone, Colin asks if Mary found the garden. Mary says that she has, but she'll tell him... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Mary sleeps late and then listens to Martha as she eats breakfast. Martha says that Colin is quiet, but feverish and worn out from his tantrum. He wants to see Mary,... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
...to two squirrels, Nut and Shell, who ride in his pockets. Mary tells Dickon about Colin. Dickon seems to feel sorry for Colin and says they have to get him outside... (full context)
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A bit later, Mary heads inside. When Colin asks what she smells like, she tells him in broad Yorkshire about sitting with Dickon... (full context)
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Colin touches Mary and apologizes for threatening to send Dickon away. He says he wouldn't mind... (full context)
Chapter 19
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As usual, Dr. Craven calls on Colin the day after the tantrum. He usually finds Colin white and ready to set off... (full context)
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When Dr. Craven hears that Dickon is the one who will push Colin's wheelchair, he visibly relaxes. He laughs at Mary when she speaks to him in Yorkshire,... (full context)
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Colin sleeps all through the night and wakes refreshed in the morning. Mary arrives minutes later,... (full context)
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When Colin and Mary receive their breakfast, Colin imperiously tells his nurse that Dickon and his creatures... (full context)
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About ten minutes later, Colin and Mary hear Dickon's animals in the hallway. Martha shows Dickon in, accompanied by Soot,... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The next week is rainy and Colin catches a cold, but he remains in good spirits. Dickon visits daily to talk about... (full context)
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...Roach is a bit surprised to see Dickon and a variety of animals sitting with Colin and Mary. Colin looks Mr. Roach over haughtily and tells him that he's going to... (full context)
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Dickon returns to the garden, while Mary stays with Colin. During lunch, she notices that his eyes are especially big and asks him what he's... (full context)
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Later, the nurse gets Colin ready. Dr. Craven tells the nurse that he wishes she could go with him, but... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Dickon is struck by how beautiful Colin looks in the garden, and Mary and Colin speak in broad Yorkshire. They sit under... (full context)
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Later, Colin points out a very old tree. Mary notes that it looks dead, though it's covered... (full context)
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Colin, Mary, and Dickon watch the robin for a few minutes and then, Colin tells Mary... (full context)
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A while later, Colin points and anxiously asks who the man is. Dickon and Mary turn around and see... (full context)
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Colin and Dickon both say that Colin is just fine, which makes Ben Weatherstaff burst into... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Colin sends Mary to meet Ben Weatherstaff at the door and then asks Dickon to help... (full context)
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Colin commands Ben Weatherstaff to look at him and notice that he's not a hunchback or... (full context)
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Colin grabs Mary's abandoned trowel and starts to scratch at the ground. Dickon, Mary, and Ben... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Dr. Craven is relieved when Mary, Colin, and Dickon return. When Colin announces that he's going out in the morning and in... (full context)
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When Colin reminds Mary that nobody would dare slap him, she points out that nobody wanted to... (full context)
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In the following months the Magic seems real as Dickon, Mary, Colin, and Ben Weatherstaff watch the garden come to life. Flowers bloom, and Ben tells the... (full context)
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The next morning, Colin summons Ben Weatherstaff and tells him that he wants him to stand with Dickon and... (full context)
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Colin insists that if they repeat this often enough, it'll become second nature. Mary notes that... (full context)
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Dickon looks curious and delighted and tells Colin that he thinks the experiment will work. He suggests they begin immediately, so Colin arranges... (full context)
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Mary, Dickon, and Colin lead the way, with Ben Weatherstaff and the creatures following. They move slowly around the... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...with her son and admire his flowers and vegetables. In time, he tells her about Colin, Mary, and the secret garden. Mrs. Sowerby laughs when she hears that Colin is trying... (full context)
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...in the mornings, she'll send Dickon with a pail of milk and fresh bread so Colin and Mary can keep their secret. She's right when she suggests that Colin and Mary... (full context)
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One evening, Colin miserably tells Mary that he'll have to have a tantrum at some point, especially if... (full context)
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Every morning, Colin leads everyone in his Magic ceremony, walks around the garden, and tries new experiments. One... (full context)
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When Dr. Craven sees Colin after a two-week break, he notices that Colin looks well and perfectly normal. Colin answers... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...garden seems to know how precious they are, though at first, the robin anxiously monitors Colin and Mary. Dickon speaks robin so he's nothing to worry about, but the robin is... (full context)
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The robin watches Colin eventually start to move like Dickon and Mary, which is comforting, but all of them... (full context)
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When it rains, Colin has to stay inside and pretend to be ill on his sofa. One rainy morning,... (full context)
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Colin rings for his nurse and tells her that he wants help getting up the stairs,... (full context)
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That afternoon, Mary notices a change in Colin's room but doesn't say anything until he brings it up. He says that he's taken... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Sometimes in the mornings, after incantations, Colin gives Magic lectures to practice for when he's an adult and must speak about his... (full context)
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A bit later, Colin stands upright and shouts for Mary and Dickon to look at him. He says that... (full context)
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Looking startled, Colin looks across the garden. A woman lets herself in through the garden door and Dickon... (full context)
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Ben Weatherstaff approaches and points out Colin's strong legs to Mrs. Sowerby. Mrs. Sowerby then turns to Mary and says that with... (full context)
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Colin says that he feels joyful, and Mrs. Sowerby says that the Magic listened to the... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...was ugly and yellow. As she learned about the robin and Dickon, she got better. Colin experienced the same thing; he was never going to get well while he focused on... (full context)
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...says that at the same time as the secret garden is "coming alive," along with Colin and Mary, Mr. Craven is wandering around Europe as he's done for the last ten... (full context)
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...his soul feels better too. He starts to think about going home and wonders how Colin is doing. (full context)
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Mr. Craven arrives in Misselthwaite a few days later and realizes he's thinking often about Colin. He realizes that he didn't intend to be a bad father, but he'd never felt... (full context)
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...servants notice that he looks better. He summons Mrs. Medlock immediately and asks her about Colin. She explains that nobody can figure out if he's better or worse: he started eating... (full context)
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...to stay quiet. Finally, he hears them laughing and running and the door flies open. Colin and Mary burst out and Colin runs straight into his father's arms. Mr. Craven looks... (full context)
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Mary and Colin show Mr. Craven into the garden and show him all the autumn flowers in bloom,... (full context)
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...servants' hall drinking beer with Mrs. Medlock. Mrs. Medlock wants to know if Ben's seen Colin or Mr. Craven, but Ben says only that he's seen the two together. Mrs. Medlock... (full context)