So down the narrowing path she wanders, ever deeper, ever darker. Branches wave and rustle and rise to claim her with their thorny fingers, tugging her skirts like fretful lovers. Leaves crowd out the sky and light falls in speckling pools. It twists, this green tunnel, but Anna doesn’t care. She’ll not come back this way, if she comes back at all.
“I’ll go back with something or I’ll not go back at all,” so says Anna. Riches in one form or another. Something to show.
Out of the darkness she’s thrust suddenly into light, and falls to her knees on a lawn of emeralds and diamond dew. The bright spears of grass, soft and cool under her hands, spread over a wide meadow where stands a house.
It’s an ugly house, so Anna thinks. Squat and gray it sits, with deep eaves that make hooded eyes of the windows and the sign of an owl above the door. Around it, lying about the lawn, are wire cages. All of them are empty, and they are all of different sizes. Some are the size of baskets, others as large as rooms. She almost steps on one as she rises; a thimble cage, not big enough for a mouse.
Anna picks this up and puts it into her pocket, then marches more boldly than she feels across the grass. She gives a door a hard stare and knocks three times with a fist that is determined not to tremble.
The door creaks open slowly.