Robur the Conqueror
Chapter 4. In Which A New Character Appears
"Citizens of the United States! My name is Robur. I am worthy of the name! I am
forty years old, although I look but thirty, and I have a constitution of iron, a
healthy vigor that nothing can shake, a muscular strength that few can equal, and
a digestion that would be thought first class even in an ostrich!"
They were listening! Yes! The riot was quelled at once by the totally unexpected
fashion of the speech. Was this fellow a madman or a hoaxer? Whoever he was,
he kept his audience in hand. There was not a whisper in the meeting in which
but a few minutes ago the storm was in full fury.
And Robur looked the man he said he was. Of middle height and geometric
breadth, his figure was a regular trapezium with the greatest of its parallel sides
formed by the line of his shoulders. On this line attached by a robust neck there
rose an enormous spheroidal head. The head of what animal did it resemble
from the point of view of passional analogy? The head of a bull; but a bull with an
intelligent face. Eyes which at the least opposition would glow like coals of fire;
and above them a permanent contraction of the superciliary muscle, an
invariable sign of extreme energy. Short hair, slightly woolly, with metallic
reflections; large chest rising and falling like a smith's bellows; arms, hands, legs,
feet, all worthy of the trunk. No mustaches, no whiskers, but a large American
goatee, revealing the attachments of the jaw whose masseter muscles were
evidently of formidable strength. It has been calculated--what has not been
calculated?--that the pressure of the jaw of an ordinary crocodile can reach four
hundred atmospheres, while that of a hound can only amount to one hundred.
From this the following curious formula has been deduced: If a kilogram of dog
produces eight kilograms of masseteric force, a kilogram of crocodile could
produce twelve. Now, a kilogram of, the aforesaid Robur would not produce less
than ten, so that he came between the dog and the crocodile.
From what country did this remarkable specimen come? It was difficult to say.
One thing was noticeable, and that was that he expressed himself fluently in
English without a trace of the drawling twang that distinguishes the Yankees of
He continued: "And now, honorable citizens, for my mental faculties. You see
before you an engineer whose nerves are in no way inferior to his muscles. I
have no fear of anything or anybody. I have a strength of will that has never had
to yield. When I have decided on a thing, all America, all the world, may strive in
vain to keep me from it. When I have an idea, I allow no one to share it, and I do
not permit any contradiction. I insist on these details, honorable citizens, because
it is necessary you should quite understand me. Perhaps you think I am talking
too much about myself? It does not matter if you do! And now consider a little
before you interrupt me, as I have come to tell you something that you may not
be particularly pleased to hear."
A sound as of the surf on the beach began to rise along the first row of seats--a
sign that the sea would not be long in getting stormy again.