11 Plus

COMPREHENSION WEEK 16 Q4

After that, she opened more doors and more. She saw so many rooms that she became quite tired and began to think that there must be a hundred, though she had not counted them. In all of them there were old pictures or old tapestries with strange scenes worked on them. There were curious pieces of furniture and curious ornaments in nearly all of them. 

 

In one room, which looked like a lady’s sitting-room, the hangings were all embroidered velvet, and in a cabinet were about a hundred little elephants made of ivory. They were of different sizes, and some had their mahouts or drivers on their backs. Some were much bigger than the others and some were so tiny that they seemed only babies. Mary had 

seen carved ivory in India and she knew all about elephants. She opened the door of the cabinet and stood on a footstool and played with these for quite a long time. When she got tired, she set the elephants in order and shut the door of the cabinet. 

 

In all her wanderings through the long corridors and the empty rooms, she had seen nothing alive; but in this room she saw something. Just after she had closed the cabinet door she heard a tiny rustling sound. It made her jump and look around at the sofa by the fireplace, from which it seemed to come. In the corner of the sofa there was a cushion, and in the velvet which covered it there was a hole, and out of the hole peeped a tiny head with a pair of frightened eyes in it.                    

 

Mary crept softly across the room to look. The bright eyes belonged to a little grey mouse, and the mouse had eaten a hole into the cushion and made a comfortable nest there. Six baby mice were cuddled up asleep near her. If there was no one else alive in the hundred rooms there were seven mice who did not look lonely at all. 

 

“If they wouldn’t be so frightened, I would take them back with me,” said Mary. 

 

She had wandered about long enough to feel too tired to wander any farther, and she turned back. Two or three times she lost her way by turning down the wrong corridor and was obliged to ramble up and down until she found the right one; but at last she reached her own floor again, though she was some distance from her own room and did not know 

exactly where she was. 

 

“I believe I have taken a wrong turning again,” she said, standing still at what seemed the end of a short passage with tapestry on the wall. “I don’t know which way to go. How still everything is!” 

 

It was while she was standing here and just after she had said this that the stillness was broken by a sound. It was another cry, but not quite like the one she had heard last night; it was only a short one: a fretful, childish whine muffled by passing through walls. 

 

“It’s nearer than it was,” said Mary, her heart beating rather faster. “And it is crying.” 

 

She put her hand accidentally upon the tapestry near her, and then sprang back, feeling quite startled. The tapestry was the covering of a door which fell open and showed her that there was another part of the corridor behind it, and Mrs. Medlock was coming up it with her bunch of keys in her hand and a very cross look on her face. 

 

Text adapted from The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which is in the public domain. 

 

Why was Mary so familiar with elephants?