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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

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As the two cruisers approached each other, the fire from their heavy guns was supplemented by that of their light quick-firing armament, until each of them became a floating volcano, vomiting continuous jets of smoke and flame, and hurling showers of shot and shell across the rapidly-lessening space between them.

The din of the hideous concert became little short of appalling, even to the most hardened nerves. The continuous deep booming of the heavy guns, as they belched forth their three-hundred-pound projectiles, mingled with the sharp ringing reports of the thirty and forty pound quick-firers, and the horrible grinding rattle of the machine guns in the tops that sounded clearly above all, and every few seconds came the scream and the bang of bursting shells, and the dull, crashing sound of rending and breaking steel, as the terrible missiles of death and destruction found their destined mark.

Happily the Lurline was out of the line of fire, or she would have been torn to fragments and sent to the bottom in a few seconds. She continued on her course at her utmost speed and the French cruiser was, of course, too busy to pay any further attention to her. Not so the remaining torpedo-boat however, which, leaving the two big ships to fight out their duel for the present, was pursuing the yacht at the utmost speed of her forced draught.

Capture or destruction soon only became a matter of a few minutes. Tremayne, determined to hold on till he was sunk or sighted the air-ship, kept his flag flying and his engines working to the last ounce that the quivering boilers would stand, and the Frenchman, seeing that he was determined to escape if he could, opened fire on him with his twenty-pounder.

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Owing to the high speed of the two vessels, and the rolling of the torpedo-boat, not much execution was done at first; but, as the distance diminished, shell after shell crashed through the bulwarks of the Lurline ripping them longitudinally, and tearing up the deck-planks with their jagged fragments. The wheel-house and the funnel escaped by a miracle, and the yacht being end on to her pursuer, the engines and boilers were comparatively safe.

One boat had also escaped, and that was hanging ready to be lowered at a moment's notice.

At last a shell struck the funnel, burst, and shattered it to fragments. Almost at the same moment the man in the forecross-trees, who had stuck to his post in defiance of the cannonade, sang out with a triumphant shout--

"The air-ship! The air-ship!"

Hardly had the words left his lips when a shell from the torpedo-boat struck the Lurline under the quarter, and ripped one of her plates out like a sheet of paper. The next instant the engineer rushed up on deck, crying--

"The bottom's out of her! She'll go down in five minutes!"

Tremayne, who was the only man on deck save the lookout, ran out of the wheel-house, dived into the cabin, and a moment later reappeared with Natas in his arms, and followed by his two attendants. Then, without the loss of a second, but in perfect order, the quarter-boat was manned and lowered, and pulled clear of the ill-fated Lurline just as she pitched backwards into the sea and went down with a run, stern foremost.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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