Fifty feet he made, seventy-five, ninety—
But, all at once, something seemed to break in his overtaxed heart.
A blackness swam before his dazzled eyes. His head fell back. Unnerved, his fingers lost their hold. And, whirling over and over in midair, he dropped like a plummet.
By one wall lay Flint’s body. At the foot of the ladder, like a crushed sack of bones, sprawled the corpse of “Tiger” Waldron.
And still the rushing oxygen, with which they two had hoped to dominate the world, poured through the six-inch main, far, far above—senseless matter, blindly avenging itself upon the rash and evil men who impiously had sought to cage and master it!
Thus perished Flint and Waldron, scourges of the earth. Thus they died, slain by the very force which they had planned would betray mankind and deliver it into their chains. Thus vanished, forever, the most sinister and cruel minds ever evolved upon this planet; the greatest menace the human race had ever known; the evil Masters of the World.
And as they died, massed around their perished Air Trust plant, a throng of silent, earnest watchers stood, with faces illumined by the symbolic, sacrificial flames—a throng of emancipated workers, of toilers from whose bowed shoulders now forever had been lifted the frightful menace of a universal bondage.
Explosion after explosion burst from the tortured Inferno of the vast plant. Buildings came crashing, reeling, thundering down; walls fell, amid vast, belching clouds of dust and smoke; a white, consuming sheet of flame crackled across the sinister and evil place; and in its wake glowed incandescent ruins.
Then, in one final burst of thunderous tumult, the hugest tank of all, exploding with a roar like that of Doom itself, hurled belching flames on high.
For many miles—in Buffalo, Rochester, Toronto and scores of cities on both sides of the Great Lakes—silent multitudes watched the glare against the midnight sky; and many wept for joy; and many prayed. All understood the meaning of that sight. The light upon the heavens seemed a signal and a beacon—a promise that the Old Times had passed away forever—a covenant of the New.
And, as the final explosion shattered the Temple of Bondage to wreckage, flung it far into the rushing river and swept it over the leaping, thundering Falls, the news flashed on a thousand wires, to all cities and all lands; and though the mercenaries of the two dead world-masters still might struggle and might strive to beat the toilers back to slavery again, their days were numbered and their powers forever broken.
Together in the doorway of the refuge at Port Colborne, Catherine stood with Gabriel, watching the beacon of liberty upon the heavens. The light, a halo round her eager face, showed his powerful figure and the smile of triumph in his eyes. His left arm, broken by the fall in the aeroplane, now rested in a sling. His right, protecting in its strength, was round the girl. And as her head found shelter and rest, at length, upon his shoulder, she, too, smiled; and her eyes seemed to see visions in the glory of the sky.