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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

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The Ariel took the Professor on board, and hoisted the Russian colours over the flag of truce, and began to sink down towards the fleet. As she descended, the Admiral in command of the squadron, already not a little puzzled by the appearance of the three air-ships, was still more mystified by seeing the Russian ensign flying from her flagstaff.

Was this only a ruse of the Terrorists, or were they flying the Russian flag for a legitimate reason? As he knew from the experience of the previous night that the air-ships, if their intentions were hostile, could destroy his fleet in detail without troubling to parley with him, he concluded that there was a good reason for the flag of truce, and so he ordered one to be flown from his own masthead in answer to it.

The white flag at once enabled Mazanoff to single out the huge battleship on which it was flying as the Admiral's flag ship. The fleet was proceeding in four columns of line abreast. First two long lines of cruisers, each with one or two torpedo boats in tow, and with scouts thrown out on each wing, and then two lines of battleships, in the centre of the first of which was the flagship.

It was a somewhat risky matter for the Ariel to descend thus right in the middle of the whole fleet, but Mazanoff had his orders, and they had to be obeyed, and so down he went, running his bow up to within a hundred feet of the hurricane deck, on which stood the Admiral surrounded by several of his officers.

"I have a message for the Admiral of the fleet," he shouted, as soon as he came within hail.

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"Who are you, and from whom is your message?" came the reply.

"Konstantin Volnow, of the Imperial Arsenal at Petersburg, brings the message from the Tsar in writing."

"His Majesty's messenger is welcome. Come alongside."

The Ariel ran ahead until her prow touched the rail of the hurricane deck, and the Professor advanced with the Tsar's letter in his hand, and gave it to the Admiral, saying--

"You are acquainted with me, Admiral Prabylov. Though I bear it unwillingly, I can vouch for the letter being authentic. I saw his Majesty write it, and he gave it into my hands."

"Then how do you come to be an unwilling bearer of it?" asked the Admiral, scowling and gnawing his moustache as he read the unwelcome letter. "What are these terms, and with whom were they made?"

"Pardon me, Admiral," interrupted Mazanoff, "that is not the question. I presume you recognise his Majesty's signature, and see that he desires the air-ship to be given up."

"His Majesty's signature can be forged, just as Nihilists' passports can be, Mr. Terrorist, for that's what I presume you are, and"--

"Admiral, I solemnly assure you that that letter is genuine, and that it is really his Majesty's wish that the air-ship should be given up," the Professor broke in before Mazanoff had time to reply. "It is to be given in exchange for nine war-balloons which these air-ships captured before daybreak this morning."

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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