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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Armed Neutrality

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A huge column of foam rose up under the cruiser's stern; half lifted out of the water, she plunged forward with a mighty lurch, burying her forecastle in the green water, and then she righted and lay helpless upon the sea, deprived of the power of motion and steering, and with the useless steam roaring in great clouds from her pipes. A moment later she began to settle by the stern, showing that her after plates had been badly injured, if not torn away by the explosion.

Meanwhile the Ithuriel had shot away out of range until the two cruisers looked like little toy-ships spitting fire at each other, and Arnold said to Tremayne, who was with him in the wheel-house--

"I think that has settled her, as far as any more real fighting is concerned. Look! She can't stand that sort of thing very long."

He handed Tremayne the glasses as he spoke. The French cruiser was lying motionless upon the water, with her after compartments full, and very much down by the stern. She was still blazing away gamely with all her available guns, but it was obvious at a glance that she was now no match for her antagonist, who had taken full advantage of the help rendered by her unknown ally, and was pouring a perfect hail of shot and shell point-blank into her half-disabled adversary, battering her deck-works into ruins, and piercing her hull again and again.

At length, when the splendid fabric had been reduced to little better than a floating wreck by the terrible cannonade, the fire from the British cruiser stopped, and the signal "Will you surrender?" flew from her masthead.

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A few moments later the tricolor, for the first time in the war, dipped to the White Ensign, and the naval duel was over.

"Now we will leave them to talk it over," said Tremayne, shutting the glasses. "I should like to hear what they have to say about us, I must confess, but there is something more important to be done, and the sooner we are on the other side of the Atlantic the better. The Aurania started from New York this morning. How soon can you get across?"

"In about sixteen hours if we had to go all the way," replied Arnold. "It is, say, three thousand miles from here to New York, and the Ithuriel can fly two hundred miles an hour if necessary. But the Aurania, if she starts in good time, will make between four and five hundred miles during the day, and so we ought to meet her soon after sundown this evening if we are lucky."

As Arnold ceased speaking, the report of a single gun came up from the water, and a string of signal flags floated out from the masthead of the British cruiser.

"Hullo!" said Tremayne, once more turning the glasses on the two vessels, "that was a blank cartridge, and as far as I can make out that signal reads, 'We want to speak you.' And look: there goes a white flag to the fore. His intentions are evidently peaceful. What do you say, shall we go down?"

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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