The Master of the World HTML version

Chapter 14. Niagara
The hours passed, and the situation did not change. The steersman returned on deck, and
the captain, descending, watched the movement of the engines. Even when our speed
increased, these engines continued working without noise, and with remarkable
smoothness There was never one of those inevitable breaks, with which in most motors
the pistons sometimes miss a stroke. I concluded that the "Terror," in each of its
transformations must be worked by rotary engines. But I could not assure myself of this.
For the rest, our direction did not change. Always we headed toward the northeast end of
the lake, and hence toward Buffalo.
Why, I wondered, did the captain persist in following this route? He could not intend to
stop at Buffalo, in the midst of a crowd of boats and shipping of every kind. If he meant
to leave the lake by water, there Was only the Niagara River to follow; and its Falls
would be impassable, even to such a machine as this. The only escape was by the Detroit
River, and the "Terror" was constantly leaving that farther behind.
Then another idea occurred to me. Perhaps the captain was only waiting for night to
return to the shore of the lake. There, the boat, changed to an automobile, would quickly
cross the neighboring States. If I did not succeed in making my escape, during this
passage across the land, all hope of regaining my liberty would be gone.
True, I might learn where this Master of the World hid himself. I might learn what no one
had yet been able to discover, assuming always that he did not dispose of me at one time
or another--and what I expected his "disposal" would be, is easily comprehended.
I knew the northeast end of Lake Erie well, having often visited that section of New York
State which extends westward from Albany to Buffalo. Three years before, a police
mission had led me to explore carefully the shores of the Niagara River, both above and
below the. cataract and its Suspension Bridge. I had visited the two principal islands
between Buffalo and the little city of Niagara Falls, I had explored Navy Island and also
Goat Island, which separates the American falls from those of the Canadian side.
Thus if an opportunity for flight presented itself, I should not find myself in an unknown
district. But would this chance offer? And at heart, did I desire it, or would I seize upon
it? What secrets still remained in this affair in which good fortune or was it evil fortune--
had so closely entangled me!
On the other hand, I saw no real reason to suppose that there was any chance of my
reaching the shores of the Niagara River. The "Terror" would surely not venture into this
trap which had no exit. Probably she would not even go to the extremity of the lake.
Such were the thoughts that spun through my excited brain, while my eyes remained
fixed upon the empty horizon.