The Master of the World HTML version

Chapter 16. Robur, The Conqueror
Robur, the Conqueror! This then was the likeness I had vaguely recalled. Some years
before the portrait of this extraordinary man had been printed in all the American
newspapers, under date of the thirteenth of June, the day after this personage had made
his sensational appearance at the meeting of the Weldon Institute at Philadelphia.
I had noted the striking character of the portrait at the time; the square shoulders; the back
like a regular trapezoid, its longer side formed by that geometrical shoulder line; the
robust neck; the enormous spheroidal head. The eyes at the least emotion, burned with
fire, while above them were the heavy, permanently contracted brows, which signified
such energy. The hair was short and crisp, with a glitter as of metal in its lights. The huge
breast rose and fell like a blacksmith's forge; and the thighs, the arms and hands, were
worthy of the mighty body. The narrow beard was the same also, with the smooth shaven
cheeks which showed the powerful muscles of the jaw.
And this was Robur the Conqueror, who now stood before me, who revealed himself to
me, hurling forth his name like a threat, within his own impenetrable fortress!
Let me recall briefly the facts which had previously drawn upon Robur the Conqueror the
attention of the entire world. The Weldon Institute was a club devoted to aeronautics
under the presidency of one of the chief personages of Philadelphia, commonly called
Uncle Prudent. Its secretary was Mr. Phillip Evans. The members of the Institute were
devoted to the theory of the "lighter than air" machine; and under their two leaders were
constructing an enormous dirigible balloon, the "Go-Ahead."
At a meeting in which they were discussing the details of the construction of their
balloon, this unknown Robur had suddenly appeared and, ridiculing all their plans, had
insisted that the only true solution of flight lay with the heavier than air machines, and
that he had proven this by constructing one.
He was in this turn doubted and ridiculed by the members of the club, who called him in
mockery Robur the Conqueror. In the tumult that followed, revolver shots were fired; and
the intruder disappeared.
That same night he had by force abducted the president and the secretary of the club, and
had taken them, much against their will upon a voyage in the wonderful air-ship, the
"Albatross," which he had constructed. He meant thus to prove to them beyond argument
the correctness of his assertions. This ship, a hundred feet long, was upheld in the air by a
large number of horizontal screws and was driven forward by vertical screws at its bow
and stern. It was managed by a crew of at least half a dozen men, who seemed absolutely
devoted to their leader, Robur.
After a voyage almost completely around the world, Mr. Prudent and Mr. Evans managed
to escape from the "Albatross" after a desperate struggle. They even managed to cause an