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

was fastened.

"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 horizon.

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!"