Gilsa is tending her garden one day when a young girl, hungry, thirsty, lost, and exhausted, stumbles into her yard. Gilsa, not unkindly, asks her where she's headed so that she may point her in the right direction, but the girl can no longer hold off her exhaustion and passes out. Gilsa and her son Finn carry her unconscious body into their home and lay her on Gilsa's bed, providing her with soup and water for when she comes to.
When the girl wakes, she says her name is Ani and tries to explain her story to Gilsa, but the older woman refuses to hear it, saying that the less she knows the happier she'll be. She notices that the fair-haired Ani is obviously not from brunette Bayern and is obviously noble with her dainty little hands, and she figures she has enough to worry about without getting tangled up in Ani's problems too. Nevertheless, Gilsa offers her help to get Ani back on her feet, as long as she doesn't have to get involved. After some thought, Ani decides to accompany Finn to Bayern's capital for marketweek.
On the day of her departure, Gilsa provides Ani with Bayern-style clothing and gently refuses the girl's attempt to repay her with a gold ring, knowing that she may need it. When Finn returns home from marketweek, he informs his mother that Ani has found a job as a goose girl and has asked him and Gilsa to keep her existence a secret, as they are the only friends she has in Bayern. Some time later, when two men with fair hair come to her Forest house and ask after a yellow-haired girl, Gilsa tells them that she's never seen one and wouldn't let one past her gate if she did. The next time Finn heads to the city for marketweek, she sends him with a special pullover for Ani, vibrantly dyed in orange, brown, and blue with a design of a flying yellow bird on the back.
A few weeks after the wintermoon festival, Gilsa once again finds Ani stumbling into her garden and catches her just as the girl faints. She and Finn carry Ani into the house where they discover that she has been stabbed in the back with a knife. Finn had warned his mother that some people may try to kill Ani, but she didn't quite believe him until she sees the injury with her own eyes. Gilsa cleans and wraps up the wound, caring for Ani as she recovers from her fever. Once Ani wakes after a day and a night, Gilsa admits that it may be for the best if she hears Ani's story. Ani tells her everything, explaining that she's truly the princess of the neighboring country of Kildenree who has been sent to wed the prince of Bayern. On the long journey, half of her escort mutinied and killed the other half so that Ani's lady-in-waiting, Selia, could steal her identity and replace her as princess.
Ani's deep injury forces her to stay in Gilsa's home and heal. Whenever she paces with restlessness, Gilsa guides her to a chair and makes her sit, reassuring her that she will heal with time. One day, Gilsa's closest neighbor and friend Frigart comes to visit and Ani spots one of her very own gold rings on Frigart's finger. She had given that ring to the loyal captain of her guard, Talone, whom she thought was killed in the mutiny along with the rest of her loyal guards, and demands to know where Frigart got it. The affronted older woman says that the man she's been taking care of for months gave it to her as payment, and, filled with hope, Ani insists on accompanying Frigart home despite her injury and Gilsa's vehement protests that she needs to heal.
After reuniting with Talone, the former captain of the guard visits Gilsa's house every day to help with the chores and plan with Ani on how to best convince the king of Bayern that she, not Selia, is the real princess of Kildenree. They decide to ask Ani's fellow animal workers for help in convincing the king. Finn decides to leave with them and an anxious Gilsa reminds him that until he sends word, she'll be alone and in ignorance.
Eventually, Finn sends word that their quest was victorious after much struggle. Gilsa is present at Anidori's wedding to Prince Geric, which is held in a square called the Thumbprint of the Gods so that anyone, noble or commoner, can attend.
- Gilsa owns a goat named Poppo.
- Gilsa lives alone with her son near a place called Spruces.
- "No more crying. It's all wetness and no comfort at all."
- "Ah, now, don't cry over lost years and forgetfulness. The tales tell what they can. The rest is for us to learn."
- "Well, maybe stubbornness is a sickness, did you ever think of that?"