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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Russian Raid

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When the captain of the Ascalon, who was in command of the port, saw the overwhelming force of the hostile fleet, he at once came to the conclusion that it would be madness for him to attempt to put to sea with his eleven ships and six torpedo-boats. The utmost that he could do was to remain inshore and assist the forts to keep the Russians at bay, if possible, until the assistance, which had already been telegraphed for to Dundee and the Firth of Forth, where the bulk of the North Sea Squadron was then stationed, could come to his aid.

Five miles off the land the Russian fleet stopped, and the Lucifer rose from the deck of the big cruiser and stationed herself about a mile to seaward of the mouth of the river at an elevation of three thousand feet. Then a torpedo-boat flying a flag of truce shot out from the Russian line and ran to within a mile of the shore.

The Commodore of the port sent out one of his torpedo-boats to meet her, and this craft brought back a summons to surrender the port for twelve hours, and permit six of the Russian cruisers to fill up with coal. The alternative would be bombardment of the town by the fleet and the air-ship, which alone, as the Russians said, held the fort and the ships at its mercy.

To this demand the British Commodore sent back a flat refusal, and defiance to the Russian Commander to do his worst.

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Where the Ithuriel and her consorts were lying the hills between them and the sea completely screened them from the observation of those on board the Lucifer. Arnold and Tremayne had climbed to the top of a hill above their ships, and watched the movements of the Russians through their glasses. As soon as they saw the Lucifer rise into the air they returned to the Ithuriel to form their plans for their share in the conflict that they saw impending.

"I'm afraid we can't do much until it gets a good deal darker than it is now," said Arnold, in reply to a question from Natas as to his view of the situation. "If we take the air now the Lucifer will see us; and we must remember that she is armed with the same weapons as we have, and a shot from one of her guns would settle any of us that it struck. Even if we hit her first we should destroy her, and we could have done that easily yesterday.

"It has felt very like thunder all day, and I see there are some very black-looking clouds rolling up there over the hills to the south-west. My advice is to wait for those. I'm afraid we can't do anything to save the town under the circumstances, but in this state of the atmosphere a heavy bombardment is practically certain to bring on a severe thunderstorm, and to fetch those clouds up at the double quick.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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