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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Russian Raid

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"I don't for a moment think that the British will surrender, big and all as the Russian force is, and as they have never seen the effects of our shells they won't fear the Lucifer much until she commences operations, and then it will be too late. Listen! They've begun. There goes the first gun!"

A deep, dull boom came rolling up the hills from the sea as he spoke, and was almost immediately followed by a rapid series of similar reports, which quickly deepened into a continuous roar. Every one who could be spared from the air-ship at once ran up to the top of the hill to watch the progress of the fight. The Russian fleet had advanced to within three miles of the land, and had opened a furious cannonade on the British ships and the forts, which were manfully replying to it with every available gun.

By the time the watchers on the hill had focussed their glasses on the scene, the Lucifer discharged her first shell on the fort on Girdleness. They saw the blaze of the explosion gleam through the smoke that already hung thick over the low building. Another and another followed in quick succession, and the firing from the fort ceased. The smoke drifted slowly away, and disclosed a heap of shapeless ruins.

"That is horrible work, isn't it?" said Arnold to Tremayne through his clenched teeth. "Anywhere but on British ground would not be so bad, but the sight of that makes my blood boil. I would give my ears to take our ships into the air, and smash up that Russian fleet as we did the French Squadron in the Atlantic."

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"There spoke the true Briton, Captain Arnold," said Natasha, who was standing beside him under a clump of trees. "Yes, I can quite understand how you feel watching a scene like that, for country is country after all. Even my half-English blood is pretty near boiling point; and though I wouldn't give my ears, I would give a good deal to go with you and do as you say.

"But you may rest assured that the Master's way is the best, and will prove the shortest road to the universal peace which can only come through universal war. Courage, my friend, and patience! There will be a heavy reckoning to pay for this sort of thing one day, and that before very long."

"Ha!" exclaimed Tremayne. "There goes the other fort. I suppose it will be the turn of the ships next. What a frightful scene! Twenty minutes ago it was as peaceful as these hills, and look at it now."

The second fort had been destroyed as rapidly as the first, and the cessation of the fire of both had made a very perceptible difference in the cannonade, though the great guns of the Russian fleet still roared continuously and poured a hurricane of shot and shell into the mouth of the river across which the British ships were drawn, keeping up the unequal conflict like so many bull-dogs at bay.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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