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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Aeria Felix

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"And one that you and I will yet reign over together," replied Arnold quietly, as he moved the lever again and allowed the Ariel to sink smoothly down the other side of the ridge over which she had taken her tremendous leap.

When she had called it a paradise, Natasha had used almost the only word that would fitly describe the scene that opened out before them as the Ariel sank down after her leap across the ridge. The interior of the mountain mass took the form of an oval valley, as nearly as they could guess about fifty miles long by perhaps thirty wide. All round it the mountains seemed to rise unbroken by a single gap or. chasm to between three and four thousand feet above the lowest part of the valley, and above this again the peaks rose high into the sky, two of them to the snow-line, which in this latitude was over 15,000 feet above the sea.

Of the two peaks which reached to this altitude, one was at either end of a line drawn through the greater length of the valley, that is to say, from north to south. At least ten other peaks all round the walls of the valley rose to heights varying from eight to twelve thousand feet.

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The centre of the valley was occupied by an irregularly shaped lake, plentifully dotted with islands about its shores, but quite clear of them in the middle. In its greatest length it would be about twelve miles long, while its breadth varied from five miles to a few hundred yards. Its sloping shores were covered with the most luxuriant vegetation, which reached upwards almost unbroken, but changing in character with the altitude, until there was a regular series of transitions, from the palms and bananas on the shores of the lake, to the sparse and scanty pines and firs that clung to the upper slopes of the mountains.

The lake received about a score of streams, many of which began as waterfalls far up the mountains, while two of them at least had their origin in the eternal snows of the northern and southern peaks. So far as they could see from the air-ship, the lake had no outlet, and they were therefore obliged to conclude that its surplus waters escaped by some subterranean channel, probably to reappear again as a river welling from the earth, it might be, hundreds of miles away.

Of inhabitants there were absolutely no traces to be seen, from the direction in which the Ariel was approaching. Animals and birds there seemed to be in plenty, but of man no trace was visible, until in her flight along the valley the Ariel opened up one of the many smaller valleys formed by the ribs of the encircling mountains.

There, close by a clump of magnificent tree-ferns, and nestling under a precipitous ridge, covered from base to summit with dark-green foliage and brilliantly-coloured flowers, was a well-built log-hut surrounded by an ample verandah, also almost smothered in flowers, and surmounted by a flagstaff from which fluttered the tattered remains of a Union-Jack.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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