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  The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

In The Master's Name

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The Ariel, in order to avoid being seen from the town, had made a wide circuit to the northward at a considerable elevation, and as soon as a suitable spot had been sought out by means of the field-glasses, she dropped suddenly and swiftly from the clouds into the depths of the dense forest through which the Tobolsk road runs from Tiumen to the banks of the Tobol.

From Tiumen to the Tobol is about twenty-five miles by road. The railway, which was then finished as far as Tomsk, ran to Tobolsk by a more northerly and direct route than the road, but convicts were still marched on foot along the great post road after the gangs had been divided at Tiumen according to their destinations.

The spot which had been selected for the resting-place of the Ariel was a little glade formed by the bend of a frozen stream about five miles east of the town, and at a safe distance from the road.

Painted a light whitish-grey all over, she would have been invisible even from a short distance as she lay amid the snow-laden trees, and Arnold gave strict orders that all the window-slides were to be kept closed, and no light shown on any account.

Every precaution possible was taken to obviate a discovery which should seriously endanger the success of the rescue, but, nevertheless, the fan-wheels were kept aloft, and everything was in readiness to rise into the air at a moment's notice should any emergency require them to do so.

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It was a little after three o'clock on the Thursday afternoon when the Ariel settled down in her resting-place, and half an hour later Colston and Ivan Petrovitch appeared on deck completely disguised, the former as a Russian fur trader, and the latter as his servant.

All the arrangements for the rescue had been once more gone over in every detail, and just before he swung himself over the side Colston shook hands for the last time with Arnold, saying as he did so--

"Well, good-bye again, old fellow! Ivan shall come back and bring you the news, if necessary; but if he doesn't come, don't be uneasy, but possess your soul in patience till you hear the whistle from the road in the morning. I expect the train will get in sometime during the night, and in that case we shall have everything ready to make the attempt soon after daybreak, if not before.

"If we can get as far as this without being pursued we shall come right on board. If not we must trust to our horses and our pistols to keep the Cossacks at a distance till you can help us. In any case, rest assured that once clear of Tiumen, we shall never be taken alive. Those are the Master's orders, and I will shoot Natasha myself before she goes back to captivity."

"Yes, do so," replied Arnold. His lips quivered as he spoke, but there was no tremor in the hand with which he gripped Colston's in farewell. "She will prefer death to slavery, and I shall prefer it for her. But if you have to do it you will at least have the consolation of knowing that within twelve hours of your death the Tsar shall be lying buried beneath the ruins of the Peterhof Palace. I will have his life for hers if only I live to take it."

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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