As Paul Attanagh approached the cottage for the first time since his boyhood he half expected to be disappointed. Reality seldom lives up to the rose-tinted memories of childhood, but he was completely unprepared for the sight that met his eyes. The beautiful thatched cottage was now a sad, empty, burnt-out ruin, overrun by brambles. In the garden a damson tree and an apple tree were in full bloom, but all around them the former colourful cultivated garden was now choked with weeds. All through his schooldays Paul had been attracted to this cottage, and now the feeling was stronger than ever. Something was drawing him in, leading his footsteps inexorably to where a patch of lily-of-the-valley flowers filled the air with their fragrance.