The Master of the World
Chapter 17. In The Name Of The Law
What was to be the issue of this remarkable adventure? Could I bring it to any
denouement whatever, either sooner or later? Did not Robur hold the results wholly in his
own hands? Probably I would never have such an opportunity for escape as had occurred
to Mr. Prudent and Mr. Evans amid the islands of the Pacific. I could only wait. And how
long might the waiting last!
To be sure, my curiosity had been partly satisfied. But even now I knew only the answer
to the problems of the Great Eyrie. Having at length penetrated its circle, I comprehended
all the phenomena observed by the people of the Blueridge Mountains. I was assured that
neither the country-folk throughout the region, nor the townfolk of Pleasant Garden and
Morganton were in danger of volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. No subterranean forces
whatever were battling within the bowels of the mountains. No crater had arisen in this
corner of the Alleghanies. The Great Eyrie served merely as the retreat of Robur the
Conqueror. This impenetrable hiding-place where he stored his materials and provisions,
had without doubt been discovered by him during one of his aerial voyages in the
"Albatross." It was a retreat probably even more secure than that as yet undiscovered
Island X in the Pacific.
This much I knew of him; but of this marvelous machine of his, of the secrets of its
construction and propelling force, what did I really know? Admitting that this multiple
mechanism was driven by electricity, and that this electricity was, as we knew it had been
in the "Albatross," extracted directly from the surrounding air by some new process, what
were the details of its mechanism? I had not been permitted to see the engine; doubtless I
should never see it.
On the question of my liberty I argued thus: Robur evidently intends to remain unknown.
As to what he intends to do with his machine, I fear, recalling his letter, that the world
must expect from it more of evil than of good. At any rate, the incognito which he has so
carefully guarded in the past he must mean to preserve in the future. Now only one man
can establish the identity of the Master of the World with Robur the Conqueror. This man
is I his prisoner, I who have the right to arrest him, I, who ought to put my hand on his
shoulder, saying, "In the Name of the Law --"
On the other hand, could I hope for a rescue from with out? Evidently not. The police
authorities must know everything that had happened at Black Rock Creek. Mr. Ward,
advised of all the incidents, would have reasoned on the matter as follows: when the
"Terror" quitted the creek dragging me at the end of her hawser, I had either been
drowned or, since my body had not been recovered, I had been taken on board the
"Terror," and was in the hands of its commander.
In the first case, there was nothing more to do than to write "deceased" after the name of
John Strock, chief inspector of the federal police in Washington.