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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

An Embassy From The Sky

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"Ten minutes more; shall I prepare?"

"Yes," said Natas. "And let the first gun be fired with the first second of the eleventh minute. Destroy the aerostats first and then the batteries of artillery. After that send a shell into Frankfort, if you have a gun that will carry the distance, so that they may see our range of operations; but spare the Tsar's headquarters for the present."

"Very good," replied Arnold. Then, turning to his lieutenant, he said--

"You have the guns loaded with No. 3, I presume, Mr. Marston, and the projectile stands are filled, I see. Very good. Now descend to six thousand feet and go a mile to the westward. Train one broadside gun on that patch of ground where you see those balloons, another to strike in the midst of those field-guns yonder by the ammunition-waggons, and train the starboard after-gun to throw a shell into Frankfort. The distance is a little over twelve miles, so give sufficient elevation."

By the time these orders had been executed, swiftly as the necessary evolution had been performed, only four minutes of the allotted time were left. Arnold took his stand by the broadside gun trained on the aerostats, and, with one hand on the breech of the gun and the other holding his watch, he waited for the appointed moment. Natasha stood by him with her eyes fastened to the eye-pieces of the glasses watching for the white flag in breathless suspense.

"One minute more!" said Arnold.

"Stop, there it goes!" cried Natasha as the words left his lips. "His Majesty has yielded to circumstances!"

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Arnold took the glasses from her, and through them saw a tiny white speck shining against the black surface of the gas-holder of the balloon. He handed the glasses back to her, saying--

"We must not be too sure of that. His message may be one of defiance."

"True," said Natasha "We shall see."

Ten minutes later the aerostat was released from her moorings and rose swiftly and vertically into the air. As soon as it reached her own altitude the Ithuriel shot forward to meet it, and stopped within a couple of hundred yards, a gun ready trained upon the car in case of treachery. In the car stood Professor Volnow and Colonel Alexandrovitch. The former held something white in his hand, and across the intervening space came the reassuring hail: "All well!"

In five minutes he was standing on the deck of the Ithuriel presenting a folded paper to Natas. He was pale to the lips and his whole body trembled with violent emotion. As he handed him the paper, he said to Natas in a low, husky voice that was barely recognisable as his--

"Here is the answer of the Tsar. Whether you are man or fiend, I know not, but his Majesty has yielded and accepted your terms. May I never again witness such anger as was his when I presented your letter. It was not till the last moment that he yielded to my entreaties and those of his staff, and ordered the white flag to be hoisted."

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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