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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

First Blood

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The sky was perfectly clear and cloudless, save for a few light clouds that hung about the eastern horizon, and were blazing gold and red in the light of the newly-risen sun. The air-ship was flying at an elevation of about two thousand feet, which appeared to be her normal height for ordinary travelling. There was land upon both sides of them, but in front opened a wide bay, the northern shores of which were still fringed with ice and snow.

"That is the Gulf of Finland," said Arnold. "The winter must have been very late this year, and that probably means that we shall find the eastern side of the Ourals still snow-bound."

"So much the better," replied Colston. "They will have a much better chance of escape if there is good travelling for a sleigh."

"Yes," replied Arnold, his brows contracting as he spoke. " Do you know, if it were not for the Master's explicit orders, I should be inclined to smash up the station at Ekaterinburg a few hours beforehand, and then demand the release of the whole convict train, under penalty of laying the town in ruins."

Colston shook his head, saying--

"No, no, my friend, we must have a little more diplomacy than that. Your thirst for the life of the enemy will, no doubt, be fully gratified later on. Besides, you must remember that you would probably blow some hundreds of perfectly innocent people to pieces, and very possibly a good many friends of the Cause among them."

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"True," replied Arnold; "I didn't think of that; but I'll tell you what we can do, if you like, without transgressing our instructions or hurting any one except the soldiers of the Tsar, who, of course, are paid to slaughter and be slaughtered, and so don't count."

"What is that?" asked Colston.

"We shall be passing over Kronstadt in a little over an hour, and we might take the opportunity of showing his Majesty the Tsar what the Ariel can do with the strongest fortress in Europe. How would you like to fire the first shot in the war of the Revolution?"

Colston was silent for a few moments, and then he looked up and said--

"There is not the slightest reason why we should not take a shot at Kronstadt, if only to give the Russians a foretaste of favours to come. Still, I won't fire the first shot on any account, simply because that honour belongs to you. I'll fire the second with pleasure."

"Very good," replied Arnold. "We'll have two shots apiece, one each as we approach the fortress, and one each as we leave it. Now come and take a preparatory lesson in the new gunnery."

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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