Prologue

Something is tied up in that cage. Two arms, pinioned with rope at the wrists against the cold iron bars, spread-eagled like Christ on the cross. It might be a man, thought little about the figure suggests as much. Its head hangs down upon its chest, limp as if unconscious, though it is not. The hair is a tangled mass, matted and filthy. It is dressed in nothing but a pair of ragged brown trousers tied on with a cord, like the loincloth of a savage. The light from a single candle highlights ribs that jut obscenely beneath wasted flesh, and flickers over a spectrum of bruises from old yellow to deep burgundy, a horrific watercolor on skin. Its breath, which is ragged, forms a white cloud that hangs about its head – it is November, and it is naked in the cold. Here is less a man than a beast, made so, we must acknowledge, by other men who have something of the beast about them, if not in their appearance, then at least in their souls.

But no man is responsible for that face. No, that mangled, misshapen approximation of a human visage goes beyond the art of man to create – with knives, with fire, with acid. No, God made that face. And God alone is responsible.

The eyes of that face are closed, as if they cannot bear to look upon their own misfortune. A body broken, a life destroyed, a dignity laid waste. And it is fortunate, too, that they are closed, for who could bear to look into their wild depths, and find a soul fully conscious of its own demise; who could see such a thing, and be unchanged by it?

All is silent in that tent that holds the cage, as if the fabric shuts out the joy of the world, just as it shuts in this example of misery. All is silent, except…

It hears, for it cannot shut his ears as well as its eyes, it hears… music. Borne on the air, a mélodie floating, insinuating itself between the pain and the despair. The strains of a violin, and a child's voice, a girl's voice, as pure and sweet as cold clear water to a thirsty man.

"The arms of my love are like home,

Where safe he'll keep me always,

His kisses melt the winter snow,

His smile drives away the clouds.

And when I wander far afield,

Through loneliness and fear,

I'll think always of my love, and home.

Of my love, my home..."