The Master of the World HTML version
Chapter 1. What Happened In The Mountains
If I speak of myself in this story, it is because I have been deeply involved in its startling
events, events doubtless among the most extraordinary which this twentieth century will
witness. Sometimes I even ask myself if all this has really happened, if its pictures dwell
in truth in my memory, and not merely in my imagination. In my position as head
inspector in the federal police department at Washington, urged on moreover by the
desire, which has always been very strong in me, to investigate and understand
everything which is mysterious, I naturally became much interested in these remarkable
occurrences. And as I have been employed by the government in various important
affairs and secret missions since I was a mere lad, it also happened very naturally that the
head of my department placed In my charge this astonishing investigation, wherein I
found myself wrestling with so many impenetrable mysteries.
In the remarkable passages of the recital, it is important that you should believe my word.
For some of the facts I can bring no other testimony than my own. If you do not wish to
believe me, so be it. I can scarce believe it all myself.
The strange occurrences began in the western part of our great American State of North
Carolina. There, deep amid the Blueridge Mountains rises the crest called the Great Eyrie
Its huge rounded form is distinctly seen from the little town of Morganton on the
Catawba River, and still more clearly as one approaches the mountains by way of the
village of Pleasant Garden.
Why the name of Great Eyrie was originally given this mountain by the people of the
surrounding region, I am not quite Sure It rises rocky and grim and inaccessible, and
under certain atmospheric conditions has a peculiarly blue and distant effect. But the idea
one would naturally get from the name is of a refuge for birds of prey, eagles condors,
vultures; the home of vast numbers of the feathered tribes, wheeling and screaming above
peaks beyond the reach of man. Now, the Great Eyrie did not seem particularly attractive
to birds; on the contrary, the people of the neighborhood began to remark that on some
days when birds approached its summit they mounted still further, circled high above the
crest, and then flew swiftly away, troubling the air with harsh cries.
Why then the name Great Eyrie? Perhaps the mount might better have been called a
crater, for in the center of those steep and rounded walls there might well be a huge deep
basin. Perhaps there might even lie within their circuit a mountain lake, such as exists in
other parts of the Appalachian mountain system, a lagoon fed by the rain and the winter
In brief was not this the site of an ancient volcano, one which had slept through ages, but
whose inner fires might yet reawake? Might not the Great Eyrie reproduce in its
neighborhood the violence of Mount Krakatoa or the terrible disaster of Mont Pelee? If
there were indeed a central lake, was there not danger that its waters, penetrating the