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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Armed Neutrality

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"Yes, that was my first object, I confess. I also wished to know whether this is the same air-ship which crossed the Mediterranean yesterday, and if not, how many of these vessels there are in existence, and what you mean to do with them?"

"Before I answer, may I ask how you know that an airship crossed the Mediterranean yesterday?" asked Arnold, thoroughly mystified by this astounding piece of news.

"We had it by telegraph at Queenstown during the night. She was going northward, when observed, by Larnaka"--

"Oh yes, that was one of our despatch boats," replied Arnold, forcing himself to speak with a calmness that he by no means felt. "I'm afraid my orders will hardly allow me to answer your other questions very fully, but I may tell you that we have a fleet of air-ships at our command, all constructed in England under the noses of your intelligent authorities, and that we mean to use them as it seems best to us, should we at any time consider it worth our while to interfere in the game that the European Powers are playing with each other. Meanwhile we keep a position of armed neutrality. When we think the war has gone far enough we shall probably stop it when a good opportunity offers."

This was too much for a British sailor to listen to quietly on his own quarter-deck, whoever said it, and so the captain of the Andromeda forgot his prudence for the moment, and said somewhat hotly--

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"Confound it, sir! you talk as if you were omnipotent and arbiters of peace and war. Don't go too far with your insolence, or I shall haul that flag of truce down and give you five minutes to get out of range of my guns or take your chance"--

For all answer there came a contemptuous laugh from the deck of the Ithuriel, the rapid ringing of an electric bell, and the disappearance of her company under cover. Then with one mighty leap she rose two thousand feet into the air, and before the astounded and disgusted captain of H.M. cruiser Andromeda very well knew what had become of her, she was a mere speck of light in the sky, speeding away at two hundred miles an hour to the westward.

As soon as she was fairly on her course, Arnold gave up the wheel to one of the crew, and went into the saloon to disscuss with Tremayne and Natas the all-important scrap of news that had fallen from the lips of the captain of the British cruiser. What was the other air-ship that had been seen crossing the Mediterranean?

Surely it must be one of the Terrorist fleet, for there were no others in existence. And yet strict orders had been given that none of the fleet were to take the air until the Ithuriel returned. Was it possible that there were traitors, even in Aeria, and that the air-ship seen from Larnaka was a deserter going northward to the enemy, the worst enemy of all, the Russians?

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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