“No one is allowed to leave the garden who has entered it and disturbed the contents within.”
A gravelly voice broke through the warm spring afternoon like a blast of winter air. Jane turned and saw a face carved the bark of a tree – stern, humorless, severe. The wizard himself, high up in a tower a distance away, was using the tree to speak through to give her his ultimatum.
“You have picked a flower from the garden of the wizard. You will never be allowed to leave.”
The azalea was a pretty thing. Jane had picked it and threaded the pale-pink flower around her belt while leisurely strolling through the rest of the garden’s landscape, admiring the beautiful trees and flowerbeds, sculptures, bushes, topiary arrangements and unfamiliar cultivated plants. Hastily Jane removed it from her belt and held it before her in offering.
“Please,” she said. “I didn’t know. Here you can have it back. Please let me leave. I’m sor