The Master of the World
Chapter 6. The First Letter
After leaving Mr. Ward I returned to my home in Long Street. There I had plenty of time
to consider this strange case uninterrupted by either wife or children. My household
consisted solely of an ancient servant, who having been formerly in the service of my
mother, had now continued for fifteen years in mine.
Two months before I had obtained a leave of absence. It had still two weeks to run,
unless indeed some unforeseen circumstance interrupted it, some mission which could
not be delayed. This leave, as I have shown, had already been interrupted for four days by
my exploration of the Great Eyrie.
And now was it not my duty to abandon my vacation, and endeavor to throw light upon
the remarkable events of which the road to Milwaukee and the shore of New England had
been in turn the scene? I would have given much to solve the twin mysteries, but how
was it possible to follow the track of this automobile or this boat?
Seated in my easy chair after breakfast, with my pipe lighted, I opened my newspaper. To
what should I turn? Politics interested me but little, with its eternal strife between the
Republicans and the Democrats. Neither did I care for the news of society, nor for the
sporting page. You will not be surprised, then, that my first idea was to see if there was
any news from North Carolina about the Great Eyrie. There was little hope of this,
however, for Mr. Smith had promised to telegraph me at once if anything occurred. I felt
quite sure that the mayor of Morganton was as eager for information and as watchful as
could have been myself. The paper told me nothing new. It dropped idly from my hand;
and I remained deep in thought.
What most frequently recurred to me was the suggestion of Mr. Ward that perhaps the
automobile and the boat which had attracted our attention were in reality one and the
same. Very probably, at least, the two machines had been built by the same hand. And
beyond doubt, these were similar engines, which generated this remarkable speed, more
than doubling the previous records of earth and sea.
"The same inventor!" repeated I.
Evidently this hypothesis had strong grounds. The fact that the two machines had not yet
appeared at the same time added weight to the idea. I murmured to myself, "After the
mystery of Great Eyrie, comes that of Milwaukee and Boston. Will this new problem be
as difficult to solve as was the other?"
I noted idly that this new affair had a general resemblance to the other, since both
menaced the security of the general public. To be sure, only the inhabitants of the
Blueridge region had been in danger from an eruption or possible earthquake at Great
Eyrie. While now, on every road of the United States, or along every league of its coasts