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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Breaking Of The Charm

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The first news of the Russian attack on Aberdeen was received in London soon after five o'clock on the afternoon of the 30th, and produced an effect which it is quite beyond the power of language to describe. The first telegram containing the bare announcement of the fact fell like a bolt from the blue on the great Metropolis. It ran as follows:--

    Aberdeen, 4.30 P.M.

    A large fleet, supposed to be the Russian fleet which broke the blockade
    of the Baltic on the morning of the 28th, has appeared off the town.
    About forty large vessels can be made out. Our defences are quite
    inadequate to cope with such an immense force, but we shall do our best
    till help comes.

After that the wires were kept hot with messages until well into the night. The newspapers rushed out edition after edition to keep pace with them, and in all the office windows of the various journals copies of the telegrams were posted up as soon as they arrived.

As the messages multiplied in number they brought worse and worse tidings, until excitement grew to frenzy and frenzy degenerated into panic. The thousand tongues of rumour wagged faster and faster as each hour went by. The raid upon a single town was magnified into a general invasion of the whole country.

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Very few people slept in London that night, and the streets were alive with anxious crowds till daybreak, waiting for the confidently-expected news of the landing of the Russian troops, in spite of the fact that the avowed and real object of the raid had been made public early in the evening. The following are the most important of the telegrams which were received, and will suffice to inform the reader of the course of events after the departure of the four air-ships from the scene of action--

    5 P.M.

    A message has been received from the Commander of the Russian fleet
    demanding the surrender of the town for twelve hours to allow six of his
    ships to fill up with coal. The captain of the Ascalon, in command of
    the port, has refused this demand, and declares that he will fight while
    he has a ship that will float or a gun that can be fired. The Russians
    are accompanied by the air-ship which assisted them to break the
    blockade of the Sound. She is now floating over the town. The utmost
    terror prevails among the inhabitants, and crowds are flying into the
    country to escape the bombardment. Aid has been telegraphed for to
    Edinburgh and Dundee; but if the North Sea Squadron is still in the
    Firth of Forth, it cannot get here under nearly twelve hours' steaming.

    5:30 P.M.

    The bombardment has commenced, and fearful damage has been done already.
    With three or four shells the air-ship has blown up and utterly
    destroyed the fort on Girdleness, which mounted twenty-four heavy guns.
    But for the ships, this leaves the town almost unprotected. News has
    just come from the North Shore that the batteries there have met with
    the same fate. The Russians are pouring a perfect storm of shot and
    shell into the mouth of the river where our ships are lying, but the
    town has so far been spared.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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