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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Learning The Part

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"Of that I have no doubt, from all that I hear," said the Princess. "Before long I shall hope to see it for myself. Ah, here is Natasha. Come, I must introduce you afresh, for you do not know her yet as the world knows her."

Arnold heard the door open behind him as the Princess spoke, and, turning round, saw Natasha coming towards him with her hand outstretched and a smile of welcome on her beautiful face. Before their hands met the Princess moved quietly between them and said, half in jest and half in earnest--

"Fedora, permit me to present to you Mr. Richard Arnold, who is to accompany us to Russia to inspect the war-balloon offered to our Little Father the Tsar. Mr. Arnold, my niece, Fedora Darrell There, now you know each other."

"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Arnold," said Natasha, with mock gravity as they shook hands. "I have heard much already of your skill in connection with aerial navigation, and I have no doubt but that your advice will be of the greatest service to his Majesty."

"That is as it may be," answered Arnold, at once entering into the somewhat grim humour of the situation. "But if it is possible I should like to hear something a little definite as to this mission with which I have been, I fear, undeservingly honoured. I have been very greatly interested in the problem of aerial navigation for some years past, but I must confess that this is the first I have heard of these particular war-balloons."

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"It is for the purpose of enlightening you on that subject that this little party has been arranged," said the Princess, turning for the moment away from Colston, with whom she was talking earnestly in a low tone. "Ha! There goes the lunch-bell. Mr. Colston, your arm. Fedora, will you show Mr. Arnold the way?"

Arnold opened the door for the Princess to go out, and then followed with Natasha on his arm. As they went out, she said in a low tone to him--

"I think, if you don't mind, you had better begin at once to call me Miss Darrel, so as to get into the way of it. A slip might be serious, you know."

"Your wishes are my laws, Miss Darrel," replied he, the name slipping as easily off his tongue as if he had known her by it for months. It may have been only fancy on his part, he thought he felt just the lightest, imaginable pressure on his arm as he spoke. At any rate, he was vain enough or audacious enough to take the impression for a reality, and walked the rest of the way to the dining-room on air.

The meal was dainty and perfectly served, but there were no servants present, for obvious reasons, and so they waited on themselves. Colston sat opposite the Princess and carved the partridges, while Arnold was vis-à-vis to Natasha, a fact which had a perceptible effect upon his appetite.

"Now," said the Princess, as soon as every one was helped, "I will enlighten you, Mr. Arnold, as to your mission to Russia. One part of the business, I presume, you are already familiar with?" Arnold bowed his assent, and she went on--

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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