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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

First Blood

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While he was speaking, Arnold trained the gun according to a scale on a curved steel rod which passed through a screw socket in the breech of the piece.

"Now," he said. "Watch!"

He pressed a button on the top of the breech. There was a sharp but not very loud sound as the compressed air was released; something rushed out of the muzzle of the gun, and a few seconds later, Colston could see the missile boring its way through the air, and pursuing a slanting but perfectly direct path for the centre of the fortress.

A second later it struck. He could see a bright greenish flash as it smote the steel roof of the central fort. Then the fort seemed to crumble up and dissolve into fragments, and a few moments later a dull report floated up into the sky mingled, as he thought, with screams of human agony.

For a moment he stared in silence through the glasses, then he turned to Arnold and said in a voice that trembled with violent emotion--

"Good God, that is awful! The whole of the centre citadel is gone as though it had been swept off the face of the earth. I can hardly see even the ruins of it. Surely that's murder rather than war!"

"No more murder than the use of torpedoes in naval warfare, as far as I can see," replied Arnold coolly. "Remember, too," he continued in a sterner tone, "that fortress belongs to the power that flogged Radna and has captured Natasha. Come, let's see what execution you can do."

He crossed the deck and set the other gun by its scale, saying as he did so--

"Put your finger on the button and press when I tell you."

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Colston did as he was bid, and as his finger touched the little knob his hand was as firm as though he had been making a shot at billiards.


He pressed the button down hard. There was the same sharp sound, and a second messenger of destruction sped on its way towards the doomed fortress.

They saw it strike, and then came the flash, and after that a huge cloud of dust mingled with flying objects that might have been blocks of masonry, guns, or human bodies, rose into the air, and then fell back again to the earth.

"There goes one of the angles of the fortification into the sea," said Arnold, as he saw the effects of the shot. "Kronstadt won't be much good when the war breaks out, it strikes me. I suppose they'll be replying soon with a few rifle shots. We'd better quicken up a bit."

He went aft to the wheel-house, followed by Colston, and signalled for the three propellers to work at their utmost speed. The order was instantly obeyed; the fan-wheels ceased revolving, and under the impetus of her propellers the Ariel leapt forwards and upwards like an eagle on its upward swoop, rose five hundred feet in the air, and then swept over Kronstadt at a speed of more than a hundred miles an hour.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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