At first, I didn’t know what to do. Aunt! What might she have to say on hearing we’d left the house all the same and li'l sister now gone missing? But what of the garden? On entering it, had we been trespassing against aunt’s word? In a sense, the garden belonged to the house, or didn’t it? If anything, it seemed a bit strange that it was so large and that there was a roe in it, not to speak of a wood. Where we lived this was nothing special, but for a house on a city street? Extraordinary indeed. While watching it from the bedroom window nothing had seemed out of shape, though, nothing at all.
Once my panic had somehow subsided, I realized there was no point in trying to find li'l sister. The wood was dense and forbidding. Entering it on spec seemed a sure way to get myself hopelessly lost. So I gave a last, desperate shout and when nothing happened I returned to the pond looking back every now and then in the vain hope of seeing her yet materialize from under the canopy.
From where I joined the pond, obviously, I’d expected to see the rear wall of aunt’s house not far off, but there was no trace of it, or of any other house on the street where she lived.
All frantic now, I started to run in the direction from where we had come, right through the flowers to the wall where the Mistress of Dreams had shown us out, only to find it was no longer there, either.
Dropping to my knees I burst into tears, for then it dawned on me I was lost in a strange world without a clue of how to find the way back to aunt in Amsterdam and also to our father and mother.
After a while, I came to think of the vial the Mistress of Dreams had presented to li’l sister.
“A sip of this potion will bring you back inside,” she’d said.
Of course, a mere sip would suffice to escape from this enchanted place, but li'l sister had the vial and if she drank the potion she’d be safe, but me...? I’d be left behind here to stay, perhaps forever!
For a moment I was engulfed by anger. How could she’ve been so careless as to follow the roe without thinking of me! But OK, she was barely seven.
My rage now ebbing away, I saw my only hope of escape lay in finding li'l sister so together we could share the drink.
If only she wouldn’t lose the vial…