She had breathed a few more times before the act shocked her. She was breathing, therefore she was alive – but that didn't make any sense, because she had walked off a cliff taller than the Tower of London mere seconds before.
The whistle of rushing wind and the green plumes of trees, growing ever larger as she looked, quickly returned to her mind, followed by what appeared to her a great sound like the crack of a musket, but there was no bridge in Alice's memories between then and now.
With a rush of anxiety, she opened her eyes. Around her, barely lit by the candlelight, was one of the corridors of Fort William Henry. Alice sat up, barely believing her senses, but there it was: the fort passage with its candles, flames crackling faintly as they consumed each wick. The log walls were uneven, the dirt floor heavy and compact. The heat pressed down into her as it had whenever she'd left her father's quarters, and the smell, of wax and earth and a strange compound scent with a note of brine and gunpowder, assaulted her nose.
She rose to her feet unsteadily, and realized there was no pain anywhere on her body. Not the pain of the fall, not the dull burning of her feet from walking, not the chafing of the rope that had hung from her wrist or the minute discomforts of the cuts and bruises she had endured.
A tremor ran through her. She existed, but she was not in any kind of pleasant place, and she was alone.
Alice Munro had never believed herself wicked enough to merit Hell. Not perfect, not saint-like, certainly not above reproach, but in her thoughts of death, which had been frequent indeed over the days after the George Road massacre, she had simply hoped to be with her mother, in a place of wide open spaces like Scotland.
Her heart constricted in sadness.
And in this, as in all else, I have been wrong.