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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Armed Neutrality

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"I see no objection to it. It will only make a difference of half an hour or so, and perhaps we may learn something worth knowing from the captain about the naval force afloat in the Atlantic. I think it would be worth while. We have no need for concealment now; and besides, all Europe is talking about us, so there can be no harm in showing ourselves a bit more closely."

"Very well, then, we will go down and hear what he has to say," replied Tremayne. "But I don't think it would be well for me to show myself just now, and so I will go below."

Arnold at once signalled the necessary order from the conning tower to the engine-room. The fan-wheels revolved more slowly, and the Ithuriel sank swiftly downwards towards the two cruisers, now lying side by side.

As soon as she came to a standstill within speaking distance of the British man-of-war, discipline was for the moment forgotten on board of both victor and vanquished, under the influence of the intense excitement and curiosity aroused by seeing the mysterious and much-talked-of air-ship at such close quarters.

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The French and British captains were both standing on the quarter-deck eagerly scanning the strange craft through their glasses till she came near enough to dispense with them, and every man and officer on board the two cruisers who was able to be on deck, crowded to points of 'vantage, and stared at her with all their eyes. The whole company of the Ithuriel, with the exception of Natas, Tremayne, and those whose duties kept them in the engine-room, were also on deck, and Arnold stood close by the wheel-house and the after gun, ready to give any orders that might be necessary in case the conversation took an unfriendly turn.

"May I ask the name of that wonderful craft, and to what I am indebted for the assistance you have given me?" hailed the British captain.

"Certainly. This is the Terrorist air-ship Ithuriel, and we disabled the French cruiser because her captain had the bad manners to fire upon and sink an unarmed yacht that had no quarrel with him. But for that we should have left you to fight it out."

"The Terrorists, are you? If I had known that, I confess I should not have asked to speak you, and I tell you candidly that I am sorry you did not leave us to fight it out, as you say. As I cannot look upon you as an ally or a friend, I can only regret the advantage you have given me over an honourable foe."

"There was an emphasis on the word "honourable" which brought a flush to Arnold's cheek, as he replied--

"What I did to the French cruiser I should have done whether you had been on the scene or not. We are as much your foes as we are those of France, that is to say, we are totally indifferent to both of you. As for honourable foes, I may say that I only disabled the French cruiser because I thought she had acted both unfairly and dishonourably. But we are wasting time. Did you merely wish to speak us in order to find out who we were?"

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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