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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Battle In The Night

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There was no moon, and the sky was so heavily overcast with clouds, that, under any other circumstances, it would have been the height of rashness to go rushing through the darkness at such a headlong speed. But the captain of the Aurania was aware of the state of the road, and he knew that in speed and secrecy lay his only chances of getting his magnificent vessel through in safety.

Soon after ten o'clock lights were sighted dead ahead. The course was slightly altered, and the great liner swept past one of the North German Lloyd boats in company with a cruiser. The private signal was made and answered and in half an hour she was again alone amidst the darkness.

It was nearly eleven o'clock, when Michael Roburoff, who was standing under the lee of one of the ventilators amidships, smoking a last pipe before turning in, saw a figure muffled in a huge grey Ulster creeping into the deeper shadows under the bridge. It was so dark that he could only just make out the outline of the figure, but he could see enough to rouse his ever ready suspicions in the furtive movements that the man was making.

He stole out on the starboard, that is the southward, rail of the spar-deck, and Michael, straining his eyes to the utmost, saw him take a round flat object from under his coat, and then look round stealthily to see if he was observed. As he did so Michael whipped a pistol out of his pocket, levelled it at the man, and said in a low, distinct tone--

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"Put that back, or I'll shoot!"

For all answer the man raised his arm to throw the object overboard. Michael, taking the best aim he could in the darkness, fired. The bullet struck the elbow of the raised arm, the man lurched forward with a low cry of rage and pain, grasped the object with his other hand, and, as he fell to the deck, flung it into the sea.

Scarcely had it touched the water when it burst into flame, and an intensely bright blaze of bluish-white light shot up, shattering the darkness, and illuminating the great ship from the waterline to the trucks of her masts. Instantly the deck of the liner was a scene of wild excitement. In a moment the man whom Roburoff had wounded was secured in the act of trying to throw himself overboard. Michael himself was rapidly questioned by the captain, who was immediately on the spot.

He told his story in a dozen words, and explained that he had fired to disable the man and prevent the fire-signal falling into the sea. There was no doubt about the guilt of the traitor, for he himself cut the captain's interrogation short by saying defiantly, in broken English that at once betrayed him as a Frenchman--

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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