Sitting on the railroad tracks before them was an apparition of a train, two, maybe three stories in height, with balconies and railings and tall detailed windows, with ornament at every angle and joining. As the night grew darker, the train grew lighter, but no more solid. There was a hazy glow around it like lights through a fog, except that there was no fog.

“That’s interesting,” said Senhor Capoeira Capybara. They all stared wide-eyed at the shimmering Mississippi riverboat-cum-hotel on tracks, except that Lord Silvertyger Elphinstone murmured “I see nothing.”


What had she done?

What have I done?

You’ve deserted your father, you cowardly little girl. And everybody else. You were scared and you ran away. And now look where you are.

She looked around her, and fear and guilt set their hard hands to either side of her heart, and squeezed.


Jeanette awoke with a jump to a sound near her. Her first thought was that she had no retreat and her movement was badly limited by the little crevice she had spent the last part of the night in.

The sound was wings, and her second thought was that she wasn’t carrion--not yet, anyway. She thrashed her arms before even opening her eyes. This didn’t make the birds fly away, which was a bad sign, and she felt the birds getting closer.


The walk through the forest was pleasant, and it was just what Jeanette needed. She was consciously building up her confidence and optimism, since it would get ugly and frightening soon enough.

She asked her two crow companions, “So you’re crows? Not ravens?”

Thyrsis answered, “I should bloody well say not. Crows are far more observant, and have vastly better organizational skills.” A pause, and then, “I had some dealings with ravens. Nevermore!” And the two of then clacked their beaks and rustled their wings in what had to be a crow version of laughter.


When Jeanette triumphantly opened the map, a couple of things fell to the floor. Since that was common practice for her, she pointed to the map for the edification of the crows.


After a while Jeanette relinquished the control station back to the engineer: she had gotten tired of stars and the occasional aurora-borealis-like curtain that she took to mean they’d crossed into another universe.Yet another universe.


They were in a landscape of high green hills and blowing white clouds. The morning sun was warm on them, and the air was clean and clear so that they could see for miles.

Their sensual presence was being interfered with by the fact that it bore no resemblance to where they had been last night.

“Could you go up and look for clues as to where we might be?” Jeanette asked the crows. They complied, though Thyrsis murmured something like ‘Captain Obvious’ as he took off.


Jeanette didn’t get more than five feet before her father (with superior leg length and reach) had grabbed her.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, young lady?”

“Dada!” She held up her white-gloved hands. “He’s wearing these!”

“Good enough. But we’re all in on this chase. Everybody! Catch that kid!” He picked her tablet off the street.


Being at the bottom of a pile, while not terribly comfortable, was actually reassuring to Jeanette. By feel alone, she could make out Lord Elphinstone’s armor (very uncomfortable), Grandmère’s shaggy boniness (also uncomfortable), Senhor Capoeira Capybara’s furry overweight (actually quite comfortable), and her father, Dr. Terence Ransom’s bony elbows (less comfortable but the most reassuring).


If the conductor on the immense starship was the same one they had met on the Last Train Out, he gave no sign of recognizing them. He had the same ethereal pointed-eared face and the uniform was the same, but Jeanette didn’t feel qualified on the fine points. The group, including her, all pulled out their tickets from their first truncated trip (truncated because of her, she reminded herself), and if he looked a little bit more closely at the jewelry she was wearing, that could have been her overactive imagination.