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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

On The Track Of Treason

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"Good evening, Professor! I have come to ask you whether you have yet made any experiments on the contents of the shell and the two cylinders that were given to you for examination?"

"I must first ask for your authority to put such an inquiry to me on a confidential subject," replied the Professor stiffly.

"On the authority given me by the power to enforce an answer, sir," returned the Terrorist quietly. "I know that Professor Volnow will not lie to me, even at the order of the Tsar, and when I tell you that your refusal to reply will cost the lives of every one here, and possibly involve the destruction of Petersburg itself, I feel sure that, as a mere matter of humanity, you will comply with my request."

"Sir, the orders of my master are absolute secrecy on this subject, and I will obey them to the death. I have analysed the contents of one of the cylinders, but what they are I will tell to no one save by the direct command of his Majesty. That is all I have done."

"Then in that case, Professor, I must ask you to surrender yourself prisoner of war, and to come on board this vessel at once."

As Mazanoff said this the Ariel dropped to within ten feet of the ground, and a rope-ladder fell over the side.

"Come, Professor, there is no time to be lost. I shall give the order to fire in one minute from now."

He took out his watch, and began to count the seconds. Ten, twenty, thirty passed and the Professor stood irresolute. Two of the Ariel's guns pointed at the gables of the Arsenal and two swept the crowded space in front.

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Konstantin Volnow knew enough to see clearly the frightful slaughter and destruction that twenty seconds more would bring if he refused to give himself up. As Mazanoff counted "forty" he threw up his hands with a gesture of despair, and cried--

"Stop! I will come. The Tsar has as good servants as I am! Colonel, tell his Majesty that I gave myself up to save the lives of better men."

Then the Professor mounted the ladder amidst a murmur of relief and applause from the crowd, and, gaining the deck of the Ariel, bowed coldly to Mazanoff and said--

"I am your prisoner, sir!"

The captain of the Ariel bowed in reply, and stamped thrice on the deck. The fan-wheels whirled round, and the air-ship rapidly ascended, at the same time moving diagonally across the quadrangle of the Arsenal.

Scarcely had she reached the other side when there was a tremendous explosion in the north-eastern angle of the building. A sheet of flame shot up through the roof, the walls split asunder, and masses of stone, wood, and iron went flying in all directions, leaving only a fiercely burning mass of ruins where the gable had been.

The Professor turned ashy pale, staggered backwards with both his hands clasped to his head, and gasped out brokenly as he stared at the conflagration--

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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