The Master of the World HTML version

Chapter 2. I Reach Morganton
The twenty-seventh of April, having left Washington the night before, I arrived at
Raleigh, the capital of the State of North Carolina.
Two days before, the head of the federal police had called me to his room. He was
awaiting me with some impatience." John Strock," said he, "are you still the man who on
so many occasions has proven to me both his devotion and his ability?"
"Mr. Ward," I answered, with a bow, "I cannot promise success or even ability, but as to
devotion, I assure you, it is yours."
"I do not doubt it," responded the chief. "And I will ask you instead this more exact
question: Are you as fond of riddles as ever? As eager to penetrate into mysteries, as I
have known you before?"
"I am, Mr. Ward."
"Good, Strock; then listen."
Mr. Ward, a man of about fifty years, of great power and intellect, was fully master of the
important position he filled. He had several times entrusted to me difficult missions
which I had accomplished successfully, and which had won me his confidence. For
several months past, however, he had found no occasion for my services. Therefore I
awaited with impatience what he had to say. I did not doubt that his questioning implied a
serious and important task for me.
"Doubtless you know," said he, "what has happened down in the Blueridge Mountains
near Morganton."
"Surely, Mr. Ward, the phenomena reported from there have been singular enough to
arouse anyone's curiosity."
"They are singular, even remarkable, Strock. No doubt about that. But there is also reason
to ask, if these phenomena about the Great Eyrie are not a source of continued danger to
the people there, if they are not forerunners of some disaster as terrible as it is
"It is to be feared, sir."
"So we must know, Strock, what is inside of that mountain. If we are helpless in the face
of some great force of nature, people must be warned in time of the danger which
threatens them."