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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Navy Of The Future

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So it came about that an hour or so after sunrise on Friday, the 20th of May, the company of the Ariel bade farewell for a time to Louis Holt and his companion, leaving with them a good supply of the creature comforts of civilisation which alone were lacking in Aeria, rose into the air, and disappeared over the ridge to the north-west.

They had rather more than 2500 miles of plain and mountain and desert to cross, before they reached the sea-coast on which they expected to meet the steamer, and Arnold regulated the speed of the Ariel so that they would reach it about daybreak on the following morning.

The voyage was quite uneventful, and the course that they pursued led them westward through the Zegzeb and Nyfi countries, then north-westward along the valley of the Niger, and then westward across the desert to the desolate sandy shores of the Western Sahara, which they crossed at sunrise on the Sunday morning, in the latitude of the island which was to form their rendezvous with the steamer.

They sighted the island about an hour later, but there was no sign of any vessel for fifty miles round it. The ocean appeared totally deserted, as, indeed, it usually is, for there is no trade with this barren and savage coast, and ships going to and from the southward portions of the continent give its treacherous sandbanks as wide a berth as possible. This, in fact, was the principal reason why this rocky islet, some sixty miles from the coast, had been chosen by the Terrorists for their temporary dockyard.

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According to their calculations, the steamer would not be due for another twenty-four hours at the least, and at that moment would be about three hundred miles to the northward. The Ariel was therefore headed in that direction, at a hundred miles an hour, with a view to meeting her and convoying her for the rest of her voyage, and obviating such a disaster as Natasha's apprehensions pointed to.

The air-ship was kept at a height of two thousand feet above the water, and a man was stationed in the forward conning tower to keep a bright look-out ahead. For more than three hours she sped on her way without interruption, and then, a few minutes before twelve, the man in the conning tower signalled to the wheel-house--"Steamer in sight."

The signal was at once transmitted to the saloon, where Arnold was sitting with the rest of the party; he immediately signalled "half-speed" in reply to it, and went to the conning tower to see the steamer for himself.

She was then about twelve miles to the northward. At the speed at which the Ariel was travelling a very few minutes sufficed to bring her within view of the ocean voyagers. A red flag flying from the stern of the air-ship was answered by a similar one from the mainmast of the steamer. The Ariel's engines were at once slowed down, the fan-wheels went aloft, and she sank gently down to within twenty feet of the water, and swung round the steamer's stern.

As soon as they were within hailing distance, those on board the air-ship recognised Nicholas Roburoff and his wife, Radna Michaelis, and several other members of the Inner Circle, standing on the bridge of the steamer. Handkerchiefs were waved, and cries of welcome and greeting passed and re-passed from the air to the sea, until Arnold raised his hand for silence, and, hailing Roburoff, said--

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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