Whence came it that at that very moment the horizon underwent so strange and sudden a modification, that the eye of the most practised mariner could not distinguish between sea and sky?
Whence came it that the billows raged and rose to a height hitherto unregistered in the records of science?
Whence came it that the elements united in one deafening crash; that the Earth groaned as though the whole framework of the globe were ruptured; that the waters roared from their innermost depths; that the air shrieked with all the fury of a cyclone?
Whence came it that a radiance, intenser than the effulgence of the Northern Lights, overspread the firmament, and momentarily dimmed the splendour of the brightest stars?
Whence came it that the Mediterranean, one instant emptied of its waters, was the next flooded with a foaming surge?
Whence came it that in the space of a few seconds the moon’s disc reached a magnitude as though it were but a tenth part of its ordinary distance from the Earth?
Whence came it that a new blazing spheroid, hitherto unknown to astronomy, now appeared suddenly in the firmament, though it were but to lose itself immediately behind masses of accumulated cloud?
What phenomenon was this that had produced a cataclysm so tremendous in effect upon earth, sky, and sea?
Was it possible that a single human being could have survived the convulsion, and if so, could he explain its mystery?