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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Aeria Felix

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In a little clearing to one side of the hut, a man, who might very well have passed for a modern edition of Robinson Crusoe, so far as his attire was concerned, was busily skinning an antelope which hung from a pole suspended from two trees. His back was turned towards them, and so swift and silent had been their approach that he did not hear the soft whirring of the propellers until they were within some three hundred yards of him.

Then, just as he looked round to see whence the sound came, Andrew Smith, who was standing in the bows near the conning tower, put his hands to his mouth and roared out a regular sailor's hail--

"Thomas Jackson, ahoy!"

The man straightened himself up, stared open-mouthed for a moment at the strange apparition, and then, with a yell either of terror or astonishment, bolted into the house as hard as he could run.

As soon as he was able to speak for laughing at the queer incident, Arnold sent the fan-wheels aloft and lowered the Ariel to within about twenty feet of the ground over a level patch of sward, across which meandered a little stream on its way to the lake. While she was hanging motionless over this, the man who had fled into the house reappeared, almost dragging another man, somewhat similarly attired, after him, and pointing excitedly towards the Ariel.

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The second comer, if he felt any astonishment at the apparition that had invaded his solitude, certainly betrayed none. On the contrary, he walked deliberately from the hut to the bit of sward over which the Ariel hung motionless, and, seeing two ladies leaning on the rail that ran round the deck, he doffed his goatskin cap with a well-bred gesture, and said, in a voice that betrayed not the slightest symptom of surprise--

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Good morning, and welcome to Aeria! I see that the problem of aerial navigation has been solved; I always said it would be in the first ten years of the twentieth century, though I often got laughed at by the wiseacres who know nothing until they see a thing before their noses. May I ask whether that little message that I sent to the outside world some years ago has procured me the pleasure of this visit?"

"Yes, Mr. Holt. Your little balloon was picked up about three years ago in the Gulf of Guinea, and, after various adventures and much discussion, has led to our present voyage."

"I am delighted to hear it. I suppose there were plenty of noodles who put it down to a practical joke or something of that sort? What's become of Stanley? Why didn't he come out and rescue me, as he did Emin? Not glory enough, I suppose? It would bother him, too, to get over these mountains, unless he flew over. By the way, has he got an air-ship?"

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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