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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Aeria Felix

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Every one on board the Ariel was astir the next morning as soon as the first rays of dawn were shooting across the vast plain that stretched away to the eastward, and by the time it was fairly daylight breakfast was over and all were anxiously speculating as to what they would find on the other side of the tremendous cliffs, on an eyrie in which they had found a resting-place for the night.

As soon as all was ready for a start, Arnold said to Natasha who was standing alone with him on the after part of the deck--

"If you would like to steer the Ariel into your new kingdom, I shall be delighted to give you the lesson in steering that I promised you yesterday."

Natasha saw the inner meaning of the offer at a glance, and replied with a smile that made his blood tingle--

"That would be altogether too great a responsibility for a beginner. I might run on to some of these fearful rocks. But if you will take the helm when the dangerous part comes, I will learn all I can by watching you."

"As long as you are with me in the wheel-house for the next hour or so," said Arnold, with almost boyish frankness, "I shall be content. I need scarcely tell you why I want to be alone with you when we first sight this new home of our future empire."

"I have half a mind not to come after that very injudicious speech. Still, if only for the sake of its delightful innocence, I will forgive you this time. You really must practise the worldly art of dissimulation a little, or I shall have to get the Princess to play chaperon."

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Natasha spoke these words in a bantering tone, and with a flush on her lovely cheeks, that forced Arnold to cut short the conversation for the moment, by giving an order to Andrew Smith, who at that instant put his head out of the wheel-house door to say--

"All ready, sir!"

"Very well," replied Arnold. "I will take the wheel, and do you tell every one to keep under cover."

Smith saluted, and disappeared, and then Natasha and Arnold went into the wheel-house, while Colston and the Princess took their places in the deck-saloon, the two men off duty going into the conning tower forward.

"Why every one under cover, Captain Arnold?" asked Natasha, as soon as the two were ensconced in the wheel-house and the door shut.

"Because I am going to put the Ariel through her paces, and enter Aeria in style," replied he, signalling for the fan-wheels to revolve. "The fact is that, so far as I can see, these mountains are too high for us to rise over them by means of the lifting-wheels, which are only calculated to carry the ship to a height of about five thousand feet. After that the air gets too rarefied for them to get a solid grip. Now, these mountains look to me more like seven thousand feet high."

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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