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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Russian Raid

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Mazanoff came to himself about ten minutes later, lying on one of the seats in the after saloon, and all that he saw when he first opened his eyes was the white anxious face of Radna bending over him.

"What is the matter? What has happened? Where am I?" he asked, as soon as his tongue obeyed his will. His voice, although broken and unsteady, was almost as strong as usual, and Radna's face immediately brightened as she heard it. A smile soon chased away her anxious look, and she said cheerily--

"Ah, come! you're not killed after all. You are still on board the Ariel, and what has happened is this as far as I can see. In your hurry to return the shot from the Russian flagship you fired your guns at too close range, and the shock of the explosion stunned you. In fact, we thought for the moment you had blown the Ariel up too, for she shook so that we all fell down; then her engines stopped, and she almost fell into the water before they could be started again.

"Is she all right now? Where's the Russian fleet, and what happened to the flagship? I must get on deck," exclaimed Mazanoff, sitting up on the seat. As he did so he put his hand to his head and said: "I feel a bit shaky still. What's that--brandy you've got there? Get me some champagne, and put the brandy into it. I shall be all right when I've had a good drink. Now I think of it, I wonder that explosion didn't blow us to bits. You haven't told me what became of the flagship," he continued, as Radna came back with a small bottle of champagne and uncorked it.

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"Well, the flagship is at the bottom of the German Ocean. When Petroff told me that you had fallen dead, as he said, on deck, I ran up in defiance of your orders and saw the battleship just going down. The shells had blown the middle of her right out, and a cloud of steam and smoke and fire was rising out of a great ragged space where the funnels had been. Before I got you down here she broke right in two and went down."

"That serves that blackguard Prabylov right for saying we forged the Tsar's letter, and firing on a flag of truce. Poor Volnow's dead, I suppose?"

"Oh yes," replied Radna sadly. "He was shot almost to pieces by the volley from the machine gun. The deck saloon is riddled with bullets, and the decks badly torn up, but fortunately the hull and propellers are almost uninjured. But come, drink this, then you can go up and see for yourself."

So saying she handed him a tumbler of champagne well dashed with brandy. He drank it down at a gulp, like the Russian that he was, and said as he put the glass down--

"That's better. I feel a new man. Now give me a kiss, batiushka, and I'll be off."

When he reached the deck he found the Ariel ascending towards the Ithuriel, and about a mile astern of the Russian fleet, the vessels of which were blazing away into the air with their machine guns, in the hope of "bringing him down on the wing," as he afterwards put it. He could hear the bullets singing along underneath him; but the Ariel was rising so fast, and going at such a speed through the air, that the moment the Russians got the range they lost it again, and so merely wasted their ammunition.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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