After a week of rain, and Colin nearly constant, welcome company, Mary is able to return to the secret garden. To Mary, Colin doesn't seem at all ill when he is amused or engaged in something. Mrs. Medlock, though she is somewhat upset by Mary's subterfuge, tells her that the servants are delighted that she has begun visiting Colin, for he is much less difficult and unhappy; she jokes that Mary is like a second nurse. In her talks with Colin, Mary has attempted to be cautious in speaking of the secret garden. She is not yet certain whether he is trustworthy. Mary also wants to determine if it would be possible to take Colin into the garden without anyone knowing that she has done so: in this way he could get the fresh air and sunlight that he so sorely needs. These things have certainly had a remarkable effect upon her: she is already far healthier and happier than she was when she first arrived in England. If Colin could leave the manor, Mary thinks, he could also enjoy the invaluable company of Dickon and the robin. Colin has already said that he would not mind if Dickon looked upon him, for "He's a sort of animal charmer and [Colin is] a boy animal." On the day of Mary's return to the secret garden, it seems as though spring has finally come to the moor to stay. The buds and shoots are forcing their way up through the soil, and birdsong fills the air. Dickon is already in the garden when she arrives, and he has brought his pet crow, Soot, and his pet fox, Captain, with him. A number of crocuses have come into bloom, and Mary bends to kiss them, much to Dickon's surprise. She remarks that one cannot kiss a person as one kisses a flower, and he replies that he has often kissed his mother with the same kind of simple delight. As the two excitedly wander around the garden, marveling at all the fresh growth, the robin redbreast appears. The robin is building a nest in the garden, and Mary and Dickon must keep very still, as though they themselves were trees, to avoid frightening him. Mary tells Dickon about her new friendship with Colin. Dickon is glad that he will no longer have to hide the fact of Colin from Mary, since he abhors keeping secrets. Everyone in Thwaite village knows of Colin, but they refrain from talking of him out of pity for the widowed Mr. Craven. Dickon remarks that Master Craven cannot look at his son while he is awake because his eyes are so like his mother's. Colin does not wish to die-instead, he wishes that he had never been born, for his father does not love or want him. Colin will never be well, Dickon declares, so long as he thinks of nothing but sickness and death. If only Colin could come to the garden, he would be waiting for the flowers to bloom, rather than for his body to weaken. Dickon and Mary resolve to find a means of bringing Colin to the secret garden.
This chapter marks the advent of spring: the world of the moor is described as "waking up" under its magical influence. As the landscape awakens, Colin and Mary do as well. Human beings and Nature are once again presented as being in directly reciprocal relationship. Mary flings on her clothes and rushes out to meet the spring with a vigor that she has not previously displayed; furthermore, she must "unchain and unbolt and unlock" a series of doors to do so, thus providing an echo of her entry into the secret garden. This echo links the arrival of spring with the opening of the garden: both are themselves forms of renaissance, and both contribute to Mary's rebirth. Dickon's remark that "the springtime would be better [for Colin] than doctor's stuff" provides another instance of Christian Scientist tenets in the novel. Christian Science, as a philosophy, disapproves of medical intervention. According to Christian Science, no disease is truly corporeal (caused by the body), but is in fact the result of morbid and negative thinking. Colin must have contact with the life of the world if he is to go on living, because this contact will dispel his thoughts of death: Dickon (guided by Burnett's Christian Scientist beliefs) says that Colin "oughtn't to lie there thinking [of death and illness]...No lad could get well as thought them sorts of things." Susan Sowerby's comment that children who are unwanted never thrive is another permutation of this idea. Since both Colin and Mary have not been loved, both have had childhoods surrounded by a great deal of anxiety and negative thoughts—it is almost as though their parents wished that they would be ill. The fact that Christian Science tenets invariably come from the mouths of the Sowerbys (Martha, Dickon, and Susan) is an attempt on Hodgson Burnett's part to present these ideas as both "common sense" (since the Sowerbys are common) and as the product of an unusually close relationship to nature. The author would like us to believe that the wisdom of Christian Science is therefore the wisdom of the world. The purity of Dickon is indicated in this chapter by his hatred of secrets: he is, in some sense, the spirit of frank and simple nature, and his is a native (inborn) honesty. By contrast, both Mary and Colin thrive upon secrets. Dickon and Mary's friendship grows in ardor and erotic overtones. Their work in the garden is compared to the work of "nest-building," which of course has implications of both marriage and reproduction. Furthermore, their seclusion in the secret garden conjures up that enjoyed by another couple: Master and Mistress Craven. This echo is strengthened by the fact that Mary bends down and kisses the newly opened crocuses, just as Mistress Craven kissed her roses. Dickon inspires "rapture" in her, a word which implies both ecstasy and a mystical experience. Dickon's intimate connection with divine nature brings Mary closer to knowledge of it.