Virginia awoke feeling disoriented, not entirely sure whether she was awake or still in the middle of a surreal nightmare. And what else could it have been other than a nightmare? Or a vision brought on by the fever that would soon kill her…
Her eyes still closed, she didn't know if she was still in the room to which she'd been brought the night before. But she was nonetheless sure she hadn't died. Surely in Heaven her head would not ache so badly, and surely Hell would not stoop to so trifling a torment. Nor in Hell would she lie upon so fine and soft a bed, and belike in Heaven she'd have need of no such thing.
So in neither Heaven nor Hell was she, but still, for a short while at least, of the Earthly plane.
Yet her cot amongst the Anoeg was ne'er so soft as this, or e'er smelt so clean.
And it was so silent! But for a too-constant rush of wind, there was no noise at all. Where were the sounds of the village, that called by the savages Ritanoeg? Where were the voices of the English; where were the voices of the Anoeg? Where were the sounds of the forest that surrounded the village?
Virginia was by now far enough from sleep to know that what she was experiencing was no dream, or nightmare, or fevered vision. It was real.
But it could not be real!
That which her mind said could not be real and that which her senses insisted was warred within her. The lad, Evan, the lass, Alison, the woman who had radiated a calm and kindly wisdom, even the fine sheets upon which she lay, at once existed and could not exist, were at once real and impossible.
Virginia opened her eyes. The place in which she lay was utterly alien to anything she knew. The walls were of a pale blue, like that of a robin's egg, and of a smooth substance—nothing at all like the brick and rough-hewn timbers of her one-time home, or the woven branches of the homes of the Anoeg. A few pictures, of impossibly lovely scenes, adorned the impossibly perfect walls. The room was comfortably warm though there was no fireplace. Where the warmth was coming from, Virginia could not guess.
And the vast glazed windows! Virginia had seen glass—her mother had had a small looking-glass; it had been one of her most treasured possessions. But no work of Man could rival the perfection of the immense glass sheets set into the wall before her eyes.
A device on the table next to the bed upon which she lay bore numbers that, of themselves, changed constantly. Through the impossibly perfect windows and distantly through the woods beyond them, glazed and gleaming wains propelled themselves along a road of God's perfection. Evan's remembered Sword of Light, his mother's machines of healing. None of these were of the world Virginia knew.
Overwhelmed by strangeness, she whimpered in fear, not of the things themselves but of their impossible existences. She moaned in terror not of the known, of the impossible things around her, but of the unknown, of not knowing where she was, or of how she'd come to be here, of how to return to her own familiar world where what was was not impossible to be.