On the Siberian Cape, a man on his knees, stretched his arms towards America, with an expression of inconceivable despair.
On the American promontory, a young and handsome woman replied to the man’s despairing gesture by pointing to heaven.
For some seconds, these two tall figures stood out, pale and shadowy, in the farewell gleams of the Aurora.
But the fog thickens, and all is lost in the darkness.
Whence came the two beings, who met thus amidst polar glaciers, at the extremities of the Old and New worlds?
Who were the two creatures, brought near for a moment by a deceitful mirage, but who seemed eternally separated?
The month of October, 1831, draws to its close.
Though it is still day, a brass lamp, with four burners, illumines the cracked walls of a large loft, whose solitary window is closed against outer light. A ladder, with its top rungs coming up through an open trap leads to it.
Here and there at random on the floor lie iron chains, spiked collars, saw-toothed snaffles, muzzles bristling with nails, and long iron rods set in wooden handles. In one corner stands a portable furnace, such as tinkers use to melt their spelter; charcoal and dry chips fill it, so that a spark would suffice to kindle this furnace in a minute.
Not far from this collection of ugly instruments, putting one in mind of a torturer’s kit of tools, there are some articles of defence and offence of a bygone age. A coat of mail, with links so flexible, close, and light, that it resembles steel tissue, hangs from a box beside iron cuishes and arm-pieces, in good condition, even to being properly fitted with straps. A mace, and two long three-cornered-headed pikes, with ash handles, strong, and light at the same time; spotted with lately-shed blood, complete the armory, modernized somewhat by the presence of two Tyrolese rifles, loaded and primed.
Along with this arsenal of murderous weapons and out-of-date instruments, is strangely mingled a collection of very different objects, being small glass-lidded boxes, full of rosaries, chaplets, medals, Agnus DEI, holy water bottles, framed pictures of saints, etc., not to forget a goodly number of those chapbooks, struck off in Friburg on coarse bluish paper, in which you can hear about miracles of our own time, or “Jesus Christ’s Letter to a true believer,” containing awful predictions, as for the years 1831 and ’32, about impious revolutionary France.
One of those canvas daubs, with which strolling showmen adorn their booths, hangs from a rafter, no doubt to prevent its being spoilt by too long rolling up. It bore the following legend:
“The downright true and
most memorable conversion of Ignatius
known as the Prophet, happening in Friburg, 1828th year of grace.”