ON BOARD THE TERROR
When I came to my senses it was daylight. A half light pierced the thick glass port-hole of the narrow cabin wherein someone had placed me -- how many hours ago, I could not say! Yet it seemed to me by the slanting rays, that the sun could not be very far above the horizon.
I was resting in a narrow bunk with coverings over me. My clothes, hanging in a corner, had been dried. My belt, torn in half by the hook of the iron, lay on the floor.
I felt no wound nor injury, only a little weakness. If I had lost consciousness, I was sure it had not been from a blow. My head must have been drawn beneath the water, when I was tangled in the cable. I should have been suffocated, if someone had not dragged me from the lake.
Now, was I on board the "Terror?" And was I alone with the Captain and his two men? This seemed probable, almost certain. The whole scene of our encounter rose before my eyes, Hart lying wounded upon the bank; Wells firing shot after shot, Walker hurled down at the instant when the grappling hook caught my belt! And my companions? On their side, must not they think that I had perished in the waters of Lake Erie?
Where was the "Terror" now, and how was it navigating? Was it moving as an automobile? Speeding across the roads of some neighboring State? If so, and if I had been unconscious for many hours, the machine with its tremendous powers must be already far away. Or, on the other hand, were we, as a submarine, following some course beneath the lake?
No, the "Terror" was moving upon some broad liquid surface. The sunlight, penetrating my cabin, showed that the window was not submerged. On the other hand, I felt none of the jolting that the automobile must have suffered even on the smoothest highway. Hence the "Terror" was not traveling upon land.
As to deciding whether she was still traversing Lake Erie, that was another matter. Had not the Captain reascended the Detroit River, and entered Lake Huron, or even Lake Superior beyond? It was difficult to say.
At any rate I decided to go up on deck. From there I might be able to judge. Dragging myself somewhat heavily from the bunk, I reached for my clothes and dressed, though without much energy. Was I not probably locked within this cabin?
The only exit seemed by a ladder and hatchway above my head. The hatch rose readily to my hand, and I ascended half way on deck.
My first care was to look forward, backward, and on both sides of the speeding "Terror." Everywhere a vast expanse of waves! Not a shore in sight! Nothing but the horizon formed by sea and sky!
Whether it was a lake or the ocean I could easily settle. As we shot forward at such speed the water cut by the bow, rose furiously upward on either side, and the spray lashed savagely against me.
I tasted it. It was fresh water, and very probably that of Lake Erie. The sun was but midway toward the zenith so it could scarcely be more than seven or eight hours since the moment when the "Terror" had darted from Black Rock Creek.
This must therefore be the following morning, that of the thirty-first of July.
Considering that Lake Erie is two hundred and twenty miles long, and over fifty wide, there was no reason to be surprised that I could see no land, neither that of the United States to the southeast nor of Canada to the northwest.
At this moment there were two men on the deck, one being at the bow on the look-out, the other in the stern, keeping the course to the northeast, as I judged by the position of the sun. The one at the bow was he whom I had recognized as he ascended the ravine at Black Rock. The second was his companion who had carried the lantern. I looked in vain for the one whom they had called Captain. He was not in sight.
It will be readily appreciated how eager was my desire to stand in the presence of the creator of this prodigious machines of this fantastic personage who occupied and preoccupied the attention of all the world, the daring inventor who did not fear to engage in battle against the entire human race, and who proclaimed himself "Master of the World."
I approached the man on the look-out, and after a minute of silence I asked him, "Where is the Captain?"
He looked at me through half-closed eyes.