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The Master of the World

Chapter 5. Along The Shores Of New England
At the time when the newspapers were filled with these reports, I was again in
Washington. On my return I had presented myself at my chief's office, but had been
unable to see him. Family affairs had suddenly called him away, to be absent some
weeks. Mr. Ward, however, undoubtedly knew of the failure of my mission. The
newspapers, especially those of North Carolina, had given full details of our ascent of the
Great Eyrie.
Naturally, I was much annoyed by this delay which further fretted my restless curiosity. I
could turn to no other plans for the future. Could I give up the hope of learning the secret
of the Great Eyrie? No! I would return to the attack a dozen times if necessary, and
despite every failure.
Surely, the winning of access within those walls was not a task beyond human power. A
scaffolding might be raised to the summit of the cliff; or a tunnel might be pierced
through its depth. Our engineers met problems more difficult every day. But in this case
it was necessary to consider the expense, which might easily grow out of proportion to
the advantages to be gained. A tunnel would cost many thousand dollars, and what good
would it accomplish beyond satisfying the public curiosity and my own?
My personal resources were wholly insufficient for the achievement. Mr. Ward, who held
the government's funds, was away. I even thought of trying to interest some millionaire.
Oh, if I could but have promised one of them some gold or silver mines within the
mountain! But such an hypothesis was not admissible. The chain of the Appalachians is
not situated in a gold bearing region like that of the Pacific mountains, the Transvaal, or
Australia.
It was not until the fifteenth of June that Mr. Ward returned to duty. Despite my lack of
success he received me warmly. "Here is our poor Strock!" cried he, at my entrance. "Our
poor Strock, who has failed!"
"No more, Mr. Ward, than if you had charged me to investigate the surface of the moon,"
answered I. "We found ourselves face to face with purely natural obstacles
insurmountable with the forces then at our command."
"I do not doubt that, Strock, I do not doubt that in the least. Nevertheless, the fact remains
that you have discovered nothing of what is going on within the Great Eyrie."
"Nothing, Mr. Ward."
"You saw no sign of fire?"
"None."
 
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