The sun had just risen when Sir Halfren rode out of the woods and into a large field of grain, yellow – almost golden – in the sun. Across the field was a building of some sort and he hurried his horse toward it. From the front it had the aspect of a chapel though it bore no cross and had no belfry. As he neared the building he could see that it was quite long. The walls were of a light stone color and all about it was a garden.
Near the door he dismounted. By now the sun was high enough to glint off many panes of glass. They were not the stained glass of a chapel but what seemed glass so clear that the whole inside of the building must be flooded with sunlight. He reached for a large iron ring that hung on the door and knocked. Almost immediately, as though his coming had been expected, the door was opened by a young woman. She said nothing but looked at him as though she knew the knight and had known him all his years. Her hair was obviously long but had been caught up to encircle her head in a style not of the knight’s century, and her gown – all dark red velvet and white lace – hugged her in a soft embrace. Her feet were bare.
Then the lady smiled and that smile lit the doorway like a lamp of unimagined brightness. She laughed a light laugh and motioned Halfren to enter. Nor was it a slight and perfunctory gesture. Gaily she swung her whole forearm in a wide arc, her hand fluttering in welcome. “Come in, come in … Come in Sir Halfren. I’ve been expecting you for long ages, “
Halfren was confused, yet the welcome was so warm and joyous that there certainly could be nothing but good inside. He was amazed to find the the building’s inside far larger even that he had expected. It was at least three hundred feet long and divided in two by an inside wall running most of its length. Halfren could not observe the space to the right of this divider but its entire length was to be seen on the left. The whole interior was at least thirty feet high with window walls of beveled glass panes that rose from floor to ceiling and illuminated everything in a way no other building of his century could be lit. The floor was polished granite which supported occasional verde and porphyry columns that rose to the distant ceiling. Its warm teakwood was coffered and from some of the coffers a row of unlit chandeliers ran the length of the room. The central wall was of a pleasant cream shade and bore both gilded mirrors and occasional wooden shelves of various lengths and at several heights. On these were decorations from centuries past, collected, Halfren assumed, by a wealthy owner. There were ship models, portraits and statuary, ceramics, and some pictures which seemed too accurate to have been painted by human hands. The smiling lady looked at Halfren, at the pictures, and then at Halfren again: ”They are called photographs and are from the future.”
‘That cannot be,” Halfren heard himself saying, while knowing that what the lady said was true. Then she must be a witch, he thought but knew that to not be so. The lady and the whole room were far too beautiful and – yes, innocent. He felt warm hands on his shoulders, warm breath on his neck and in his breast his heart jumped with visions of joy without end. He knew that he should be afraid, that he should cross himself and pray; but to whom? God was right here in this calm and beautiful hall.
“You cannot understand. I am God’s only creation in this universe. All else I have imagined. Now I have thought of you and so you are.”
“You’re saying that you have only made me up. No. I am. I assure you: I am not a dream.”
“Of course you are, Halfren, and you always will be whenever I think of you; just as my friends of 1910 are always with me. Those that are not with me are only those whom my friends have thought up. Those are just paper images to me without depth and I care not about them. But, Sir knight, I do care for you.
As she said these words her whole look changed. Halfren saw that her pretty feet were now shod in high laced sandals such as he had never even imagined. When he lifted his eyes the lady was clothed in a white blouse with a high neck and long sleeves. A black ribbon encircled her neck and another her waist. She had let her hair fall to her shoulders. Her skirt was full and swung like a bell.
“Do you like this, Halfren? Or would you rather I was less demure? I can be that too. I have only to think of some tight leather or tiny short skirt. Would you like that Halfren? Somehow several glass panes had opened and a breeze swept through the room. Through the glass Halfren could see bushels of leaves, caught by the same breeze, blowing through the garden.
“Hello again! I’ve been gone and am returned. Of all my friends only you will be able to understand this. I know you will because I have imagined that you can. But I give you that choice. If you choose to understand you will have no need of paper people. This is the first time that I have ever asked anyone for anything. Will you give me your understanding, Sir knight?”
“What is on he other side of this wall,” the knight asked almost in fear. Sir Halfren did not fear any man, even the king with his castles and their dungeons; but now he knew that he did fear the unknown.
“Why nothing evil,” the lady said and her smile lit the dark side of the wall as they passed to the other side. Here instead of tall windows to let in the sun there was a wall of mirrors, one after another, perhaps twenty, As the lady led Halfren past them the warm glow of her smile lit each in turn and Halfren thought for a moment to flee the place and put as many miles as possible between it and reality. But only for a moment. How could any of this be evil? Halfren watched himself in each mirror that he passed then stopped midway down the line, for his image in one seemed different. He looked younger, and as he looked he began to see far in the distance the simple hut of a holy man; a man he had known when young.
“Come with me, Halfren.” The lady spoke in a firm but warm voice.
“I should know your name.”
“Call me Mara, sir knight.”
Halfren followed Mara past several more mirrors until she stopped in front of one which seemed somehow different. It took him a moment to realize that it was not a mirror at all for he was not reflected in it. But then it was not a window either. In it he saw clouds passing beneath him.
“Do you dare enter your future, sir Halfren.”
Halfren did not answer. He could hardly believe it himself, but he felt no fear in the lady’s presence. He stepped though the “mirror” and with him so too did Mara. He expected to fall to earth. Why that did not frighten him Halfren did not know. But that was not what happened. A cloud enveloped him and as he passed out of its mist he found himself beside Mara, standing on a hillside with the dawn breaking.
Halfren looked around him. He did not recognize the place. The landscape was unreal. It was like that in a painting. He could see a village and there was a road to it. On the road he saw a small group pf mounted men. Their dress was from the east and they spoke among themselves in a language that he should not have understood, but did.
“Pompey will end piracy in the east; then it will be safe to go again.”
“Pompey?” Halfren heard himself repeat. Pompey had lived six hundred years before. Mara just looked at him wanting to see the reaction in his face.
“Yes; six hundred years before your time.” Mara looked serious as she examined Halfren’s face. Could he understand? Would he even want to understand? “Time is a tapestry, Mi-lord Halfren; and we are looking at it without constraints of time.”
“But Mara…” Halfren felt uncomfortable addressing her in so familiar a way, but he did. “Mara, Who are these men? It seems that I know them.”
“Of course. If you did not know them they would not be. Now you think you imagine them. No. They are as real as you and me for they are you and me. Let us join them.”
Of a sudden Halfren was walking the road and as in a dream he and Mara were beside the men more quickly then was possible. Yet the men did not seem to see them.
“I told you it is as though we were watching a tapestry. Would you want to see these men when they were children? Look they are playing at ball.”
Sir Halfren saw the children but the older forms at the same time until his attention was drawn to the road and the village for a moment and when he looked back all were gone except Mara, the one constant in this world of fleeting images. They began again to walk the road. They walked toward the village but never reached it.
“Because you do not want o reach it, sir knight.”
“You said I’d see my future, but those men were in the past.”
“Future, past. They are the same. I told you that time is a tapestry. One person follows another. First they bath and dress, then mount horses to go to battle. Then there is the fight and a victory celebration. But to you and me watching it is all one… As it is to God and to the dead.”
When Halfren looked again at the road it was gone, and the village too. He and Mara were standing outside the mirror again.”
“It is your choice, My dear…. May I call you that? There is the door through which you entered but be warned, if you leave there will be nothing left of this place. It is where I am and I will not be here.”
They had walked past all the windows and stood again by the door, now in the full blaze of the sunlight which broke into rainbow colors when it struck the bevels in the room of many windows. Mara was no longer smiling; her expression was quizzical. Her hair streamed behind her as though in a breeze.
“Then I will not be.”
“You are my dream, Halfren, and my dream does not know anything of now and later and the past. You will always be to me, but only as you were and as you are now. But would you rather know my other friends. I offer you this, and I offer it only to you. They are my thoughts and dreams but to you alone I offer it, to be one with me.”
The lady still looked serious, almost worried. None others in her mind had ever had choice. They were what she saw.
Halfren dropped to one knee and offered his gage to her.

Nothing there is but the mirages of God; and in one mirage is a lady. In her thoughts are time and eternity with lands and people and good and bad, and a man to share it.