in response to this:
She was very into Oscar Wilde that year:
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
She passed the sign every day on her way home, always pausing minutely to read it even though she knew by heart what it said, no-nonsense and all business: Private Property. KEEP OUT! And beyond the sign, the road; curving slyly to the right and quickly disappearing in the trees without giving away even the smallest hint of where it might lead.
She had never seen anyone make the turn, never caught the tail-lights of a car or the distant colour flash of a coat flickering through the branches. The road was always the same – empty and expectant.
She was a very curious girl. And this day the sign stood out more than ever, mocking her, like a neon bright beacon against the white and grey of winter.
Suddenly she found herself standing right in front of it, with no memory of moving. As if the ground had twitched in its sleep and then settled again at a slightly different angle. The light was gentler now, glittering golden on the snow, and the air smelled of wood-smoke and cloves.
And then they came. She heard them first, in the far distance, their voices singing, their soaring flutes and triumphant horns and their heart-beat drum; and she turned to see them come. A grand procession: the singers and the music-makers, the torch bearers, and bright dancers everywhere; all spinning and leaping and weaving around the man in the center, the man in red, the man with the staff dressed in holly. Holly to cradle a small brown bird.
They paid no heed to the sign, or to her. As they passed, her gaze kept catching on detail. A copper braid flying, weaved with iridescent feathers. The rich fall of green velvet. Tiny silver bells around a slim and graceful wrist. A delicate painted mask in the shadows of a hooded cloak, everything hidden but the slash of a smile.
And then came the man in red, tall and proud and looking right at her, left hand reaching out in invitation.
“Come, then! We go to bury the wren!”
She put her hand in his and followed.