Seemingly in the middle of nowhere but actually on the edge of a wooded estate stood a little cottage, just about rectangular in shape as opposed to a square. Its tiled roof rose to a ridge, similar in material, and a brick chimney interrupted the run in its centre. The four cottage walls were of faded red brick. The front faced westward and consisted of five windows and an oak door, the former being of three on the first-floor level and two on the ground floor, the latter below the middle window and separating the two lower openings. The back was almost of the same pattern, the exception being the omission of the middle upper window. The rear door was of softwood, painted green instead of the dark stained oak of the front. The north and south sides were without any of the above described woodwork. Also seemingly, the cottage appeared to have been put there overnight, for grass grew all around it, even beneath the low sill of the doors, making it all appear to have no foundation. The only means of visible support were two round timber pillars, holding up a small porch, tiled as its larger counterpart but laid facing north and south. Like the back door, the nine windows were painted green, the two pillars white.
The cottage was surrounded by gardens, the front and the sides as lawn and the rear, that stretched for some way, given over to vegetables. However, the immediate surround, as has been said, was grass, in the form of a path equal in width to the sum of four brick lengths. A large water butt stood on the north pathway, immediately below the ridge, almost touching the cottage wall.
The vegetable garden ran for some fifty yards, to the eastern brick boundary wall of the estate. An exceedingly tall hedge sheltered all from the north winds and was the reason for that face of the cottage to be less faded than the other three. Pail fencing formed the remaining borders and these had gates in their lengths, that on the side opening onto a narrow, well-worn grass path winding its way to the green door, that in the front opening onto a lesser worn path running a short distance to the porch and oak door.
One came across this little cottage by stepping down from a stile on the northern edge of the estate, taking a few paces forward and then, when one had passed a small fir tree, caught sight of it. Its appearance took one by surprise, for it being there was not suspected and its neatness, and that of the gardens, presented a sudden but pretty picture.
The year is 18__ and, almost a quarter of a mile away, approaching the cottage, a man who was nearing middle age walked, his head very slightly bowed forward, for he carried on his back horizontal pieces of timber, bundled together. He had attained the top of a steep slope. Half a dozen yards behind him trailed his daughter, Anne. She was no taller than four feet and her back and head were weighted down by similar lengths of wood, but carried across her shoulders. She struggled with her burden, and her hollow eyes looked yearningly to the top of the slope, to which she ever slowly walked.