The Eagle's Nest
: The Master Of The World
On the morrow, when I awoke after a sound sleep, our vehicle seemed
motionless. It seemed to me evident that we were not running upon
land. Yet neither were we rushing through or beneath the waters; nor
yet soaring across the sky. Had the inventor regained that mysterious
hiding-place of his, where no human being had ever set foot before
And now, since he had not disembarrassed himself of my presence
his secret about to be revealed to me?
It seemed astonishing that I had slept so profoundly during most of
our voyage through the air. It puzzled me and I asked if this sleep
had not been caused by some drug, mixed with my last meal, the
captain of the "Terror" having wished thus to prevent me from knowing
the place where we landed. All that I can recall of the previous
night is the terrible impression made upon me by that moment when the
machine, instead of being caught in the vortex of the cataract rose
under the impulse of its machinery like a bird with its huge wings
beating with tremendous power!
So this machine actually fulfilled a four-fold use! It was at the
same time automobile, boat, submarine, and airship. Earth, sea and
air, -- it could move through all three elements! And with what
power! With what speed! Al few instants sufficed to complete its
marvelous transformations. The same engine drove it along all its
courses! And I had been a witness of its metamorphoses! But that of
which I was still ignorant, and which I could perhaps discover, was
the source of the energy which drove the machine, and above all, who
was the inspired inventor who, after having created it, in every
detail, guided it with so much ability and audacity!
At the moment when the "Terror" rose above the Canadian Falls, I was
held down against the hatchway of my cabin. The clear, moonlit
evening had permitted me to note the direction taken by the air-ship.
It followed the course of the river and passed the Suspension Bridge
three miles below the falls. It is here that the irresistible rapids
of the Niagara River begin, where the river bends sharply to descend
toward Lake Ontario.
On leaving this point, I was sure that we had turned toward the east.
The captain continued at the helm. I had not addressed a word to him.
What good would it do? He would not have answered. I noted that the
"Terror" seemed to be guided in its course through the air with
surprising ease. Assuredly the roads of the air were as familiar to
it as those of the seas and of the lands!
In the presence of such results, could one not understand the
enormous pride of this man who proclaimed himself Master of the
World? Was he not in control of a machine infinitely superior to any
that had ever sprung from the hand of man, and against which men were
powerless? In truth, why should he sell this marvel? Why should he
accept the millions offered him? Yes, I comprehended now that
absolute confidence in himself which was expressed in his every
attitude. And where might not his ambition carry him, if by its own
excess it mounted some day into madness!
A half hour after the "Terror" soared into the air, I had sunk into
complete unconsciousness, without realizing its approach. I repeat,
it must have been caused by some drug. Without doubt, our commander
did not wish me to know the road he followed.
Hence I cannot say whether the aviator continued his flight through
space, or whether the mariner sailed the surface of some sea or lake,
or the chauffeur sped across the American roads. No recollection
remains with me of what passed during that night of July thirty-first.
Now, what was to follow from this adventure? And especially
concerning myself, what would be its end?
I have said that at the moment when I awoke from my strange sleep,
the "Terror" seemed to me completely motionless. I could hardly be
mistaken; whatever had been her method of progress, I should have
felt some movement, even in the air. I lay in my berth in the cabin,
where I had been shut in without knowing it, just as I had been on
the preceding night which I had passed on board the "Terror" on Lake
My business now was to learn if I would be allowed to go on deck here
where the machine had landed. I attempted to raise the hatchway. It
"Ah!" said I, "am I to be kept here until the 'Terror' recommences
its travels?" Was not that, indeed, the only time when escape was
My impatience and anxiety may be appreciated. I knew not how long
this halt might continue.
I had not a quarter of an hour to wait. A noise of bars being removed
came to my ear. The hatchway was raised from above. A wave of light
and air penetrated my cabin.
With one bound I reached the deck. My eyes in an instant swept round
The "Terror," as I had thought, rested quiet on the ground. She was
in the midst of a rocky hollow measuring from fifteen to eighteen
hundred feet in circumference. A floor of yellow gravel carpeted its
entire extent, unrelieved by a single tuft of herbage.
This hollow formed an almost regular oval, with its longer diameter
extending north and south. As to the surrounding-wall, what was its
height, what the character of its crest, I could not judge. Above us
was gathered a fog so heavy, that the rays of the sun had not yet
pierced it. Heavy trails of cloud drifted across the sandy floor,
Doubtless the morning was still young, and this mist might later be
It was quite cold here, although this was the first day of August. I
concluded therefore that we must be far in the north, or else high
above sea-level. We must still be somewhere on the New Continent;
though where, it was impossible to surmise. Yet no matter how rapid
our flight had been, the air-ship could not have traversed either
ocean in the dozen hours since our departure from Niagara.
At this moment, I saw the captain come from an opening in the rocks,
probably a grotto, at the base of this cliff hidden in the fog.
Occasionally, in the mists above, appeared the shadows of huge birds.
Their raucous cries were the sole interruption to the profound
silence. Who knows if they were not affrighted by the arrival of this
formidable, winged monster, which they could not match either in
might or speed.
Everything led me to believe that it was here that the Master of the
World withdrew in the intervals between his prodigious journeys. Here
was the garage of his automobile; the harbor of his boat; the hangar
of his air-ship.
And now the "Terror" stood motionless at the bottom of this hollow.
At last I could examine her; and it looked as if her owners had no
intention of preventing me. The truth is that the commander seemed to
take no more notice of my presence than before. His two companions
joined him, and the three did not hesitate to enter together into the
grotto I had seen. What a chance to study the machine, at least its
exterior! As to its inner parts, probably I should never get beyond
In fact, except for that of my cabin, the hatchways were closed; and
it would be vain for me to attempt to open them. At any rate, it
might be more interesting to find out what kind of propeller drove
the "Terror" in these many transformations.
I jumped to the ground and found I was left at leisure, to proceed
with this first examination.
The machine was as I have said spindle-shaped. The bow was sharper
than the stern. The body was of aluminium, the wings of a substance
whose nature I could not determine. The body rested on four wheels,
about two feet in diameter. These had pneumatic tires so thick as to
assure ease of movement at any speed. Their spokes spread out like
paddles or battledores; and when the "Terror" moved either on or
under the water, they must have increased her pace.
These wheels were not however, the principal propeller. This
consisted of two "Parsons" turbines placed on either side of the
keel. Driven with extreme rapidity by the engine, they urged the boat
onward in the water by twin screws, and I even questioned if they
were not powerful enough to propel the machine through the air.
The chief aerial support, however, was that of the great wings, now
again in repose, and folded back along the sides. Thus the theory of
the "heavier than air" flying machine was employed by the inventor, a
system which enabled him to dart through space with a speed probably
superior to that of the largest birds.
As to the agent which set in action these various mechanisms, I
repeat, it was, it could be, no other than electricity. But from what
source did his batteries get their power? Had he somewhere an
electric factory, to which he must return? Were the dynamos, perhaps
working in one of the caverns of this hollow?
The result of my examination was that, while I could see that the
machine used wheels and turbine screws and wings, I knew nothing of
either its engine, nor of the force which drove it. To be sure, the
discovery of this secret would be of little value to me. To employ it
I must first be free. And after what I knew -- little as that really
was -- the Master of the World would never release me.
There remained, it is true, the chance of escape. But would an
opportunity ever present itself? If there could be none during the
voyages of the "Terror," might there possibly be, while we remained
in this retreat?
The first question to be solved was the location of this hollow. What
communication did it have with the surrounding region? Could one only
depart from it by a flying-machine? And in what part of the United
States were we? Was it not reasonable to estimate, that our flight
through the darkness had covered several hundred leagues?
There was one very natural hypothesis which deserved to be
considered, if not actually accepted. What more natural harbor could
there be for the "Terror" than the Great Eyrie? Was it too difficult
a flight for our aviator to reach the summit? Could he not soar
anywhere that the vultures and the eagles could? Did not that
inaccessible Eyrie offer to the Master of the World just such a
retreat as our police had been unable to discover, one in which he
might well believe himself safe from all attacks? Moreover, the
distance between Niagara Falls and this part of the Blueridge
Mountains, did not exceed four hundred and fifty miles, a flight
which would have been easy for the "Terror."
Yes, this idea more and more took possession of me. It crowded out a
hundred other unsupported suggestions. Did not this explain the
nature of the bond which existed between the Great Eyrie and the
letter which I had received with our commander's initials? And the
threats against me if I renewed the ascent! And the espionage to
which I had been subjected! And all the phenomena of which the Great
Eyrie had been the theater, were they not to be attributed to this
same cause--though what lay behind the phenomena was not yet clear?
Yes, the Great Eyrie! The Great Eyrie!
But since it had been impossible for me to penetrate here, would it
not be equally impossible for me to get out again, except upon the
"Terror?" Ah, if the mists would but lift! Perhaps I should recognize
the place. What was as yet a mere hypothesis, would become a starting
point to act upon.
However, since I had freedom to move about, since neither the captain
nor his men paid any heed to me, I resolved to explore the hollow.
The three of them were all in the grotto toward the north end of the
oval. Therefore I would commence my inspection at the southern end.
Reaching the rocky wall, I skirted along its base and found it broken
by many crevices; above, arose more solid rocks of that feldspar of
which the chain of the Alleghanies largely consists. To what height
the rock wall rose, or what was the character of its summit, was
still impossible to see. I must wait until the sun had scattered the
In the meantime, I continued to follow along the base of the cliff.
None of its cavities seemed to extend inward to any distance. Several
of them contained debris from the hand of man, bits of broken wood,
heaps of dried grasses. On the ground were still to be seen the
footprints that the captain and his men must have left, perhaps
months before, upon the sand.
My jailers, being doubtless very busy in their cabin, did not show
themselves until they had arranged and packed several large bundles.
Did they purpose to carry those on board the "Terror?" And were they
packing up with the intention of permanently leaving their retreat?
In half an hour my explorations were completed and I returned toward
the center. Here and there were heaped up piles of ashes, bleached by
weather. There were fragments of burned planks and beams; posts to
which clung rusted iron-work; armatures of metal twisted by fire; all
the remnants of some intricate mechanism destroyed by the flames.
Clearly at some period not very remote the hollow had been the scene
of a conflagration, accidental or intentional. Naturally I connected
this with the phenomena observed at the Great Eyrie, the flames which
rose above the crest, the noises which had so frightened the people
of Pleasant Garden and Morganton. But of what mechanisms were these
the fragments, and what reason had our captain for destroying them?
At this moment I felt a breath of air; a breeze came from the east.
The sky swiftly cleared. The hollow was filled with light from the
rays of the sun which appeared midway between the horizon and the
A cry escaped me! The crest of the rocky wall rose a hundred feet
above me. And on the eastern side was revealed that easily
recognizable pinnacle, the rock like a mounting eagle. It was the
same that had held the attention of Mr. Elias Smith and myself, when
we had looked up at it from the outer side of the Great Eyrie.
Thus there was no further doubt. In its flight during the night the
airship had covered the distance between Lake Erie and North
Carolina. It was in the depth of this Eyrie that the machine had
found shelter! This was the nest, worthy of the gigantic and powerful
bird created by the genius of our captain! The fortress whose mighty
walls none but he could scale! Perhaps even, he had discovered in the
depths of some cavern, some subterranean passage by which he himself
could quit the Great Eyrie, leaving the "Terror" safely sheltered
At last I saw it all! This explained the first letter sent me from
the Great Eyrie itself with the threat of death. If we had been able
to penetrate into this hollow, who knows if the secrets of the Master
of the World might not have been discovered before he had been able
to set them beyond our reach?
I stood there, motionless; my eyes fixed on that mounting eagle of
stone, prey to a sudden, violent emotion. Whatsoever might be the
consequences to myself, was it not my duty to destroy this machine,
here and now, before it could resume its menacing flight of mastery
across the world!
Steps approached behind me. I turned. The inventor stood by my side,
and pausing looked me in the face.
I was unable to restrain myself; the words burst forth -- "The Great
Eyrie! The Great Eyrie!"
"Yes, Inspector Strock."
"And you! You are the Master of the World?"
"Of that world to which I have already proved myself to be the most
powerful of men."
"You!" I reiterated, stupefied with amazement.
"I," responded he, drawing himself up in all his pride, "I,
Robur--Robur, the Conqueror!"