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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Battle In The Night

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But the chief importance of this particular passage lay though barely half a dozen persons were aware of it, in the fact that among her passengers was Michael Roburoff, chief of the American Section of the Terrorists, who was bringing to the Council his report of the work of the Brotherhood in the United States, together with the information which he had collected, by means of an army of spies, as to the true intentions of the American Government with regard to the war

These, so far as the rest of the world was concerned, were a profound secret, and he was the only man outside the President's Cabinet and the Tsar's Privy Council who had accurate information with regard to them. The Aurania was therefore not only carrying mails, treasure, and passengers, but, in the person of Michael Roburoff, she was carrying secrets on the revelation of which the whole issue of the war and the destiny of the world might turn.

America was the one great Power not involved in the tremendous struggle that was being waged. The most astute diplomatist in Europe had no idea what her real policy was, but every one knew that the side on which she threw the weight of her boundless wealth and vast resources must infallibly win in the long run.

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The plan that had been adopted by Britain for keeping the Atlantic route open was briefly as follows:--All along the 3000 miles of the steamer track a battleship was stationed at the end of every day's run, that is to say, at intervals of about 500 miles, and patrolled within a radius of 100 miles. Each of these was attended by two heavily-armed cruisers and four torpedo-boats, while between these points swifter cruisers were constantly running to and fro convoying the liners.

Thus, when the Aurania left New York, she was picked up on the limit of the American water by two cruisers, which would keep pace with her as well as they could until she reached the first battleship. As she passed the ironclad these two would leave her, and the next two would take up the running, and so on until she reached the range of operations of the Irish Squadron.

No other Power in the world could have maintained such a system of ocean police, but Britain was putting forth the whole of her mighty naval strength, and so she spared neither ships nor money to keep open the American and Canadian routes, for on them nearly half her food-supply depended, as well as her chief line of communication with the far East.

On the other hand, her enemies were making desperate efforts to break the chain of steel that was thus stretched across the hemisphere, for they well knew that, this once broken, the first real triumph of the war would have been won.

Five hundred miles out from New York the Aurania was joined by the Oceana, the largest vessel on the Canadian Pacific line from Halifax to Liverpool. So far no enemy had been seen. The two great liners reached the first battleship together, and were joined by the second pair of cruisers. Before sunset the Cunarder had drawn ahead of her companions, and by nightfall was racing away alone over the water with every light carefully concealed, and keeping an eager look-out for friend or foe.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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