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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Breaking Of The Charm

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    5:45 P.M.

    We have just received news from Edinburgh that the North Sea Squadron
    left at daybreak this morning under orders to proceed to the mouth of
    the Elbe to assist in protecting Hamburg from an anticipated attack by
    the same fleet which has attacked us. There is now no hope that the town
    can be successfully defended, and the Provost has called a towns-meeting
    to consider the advisability of surrender, though it is feared that the
    Russians may now make larger demands. The whole country side is in a
    state of the utmost panic.

    7 P.M.

    The towns-meeting empowered the Provost to call upon Captain Marchmont,
    of the Ascalon, to make terms with the Russians in order to save the
    town from destruction. He refused point blank, although one of the
    coast-defence ships, the Thunderer, has been disabled by shells from the
    air-ship, and all his other vessels have been terribly knocked about by
    the incessant cannonade from the fleet, which has now advanced to within
    two miles of the shore, having nothing more to fear from the land
    batteries. A terrific thunderstorm is raging and no words can describe
    the horror of the scene. The air-ship ceased firing nearly an hour ago.

    1O P.M.

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    Five of our eleven ships--two battleships and three cruisers--have
    been sunk; the rest are little better than mere wrecks, and
    seven torpedo-boats have been destroyed in attempting to torpedo some of
    the enemy's ships. Heavy firing has been heard to the southward, and we
    have learnt from Dundee that four battleships and six cruisers have been
    sent to our relief. A portion of the Russian fleet has been detached to
    meet them. We cannot hope anything from them. Captain Marchmont has now
    only four ships capable of fighting, but refuses to strike his flag. The
    storm has ceased, and a strong land breeze has blown the clouds and
    smoke to seaward. The air-ship has disappeared. Six large Russian
    ironclads arc heading at full speed towards the mouth of the river--

The telegram broke off short here, and no more news was received from Aberdeen for several hours. Of this there was only one possible explanation. The town was in the hands of the Russians, and they had cut the wires. The long charm was broken, and the Isle Inviolate was inviolate no more. The next telegram from the North came from Findon, and was published in London just before ten o'clock on the following morning. It ran thus--

    Findon, N.B., 9.15.

    About ten o'clock last night the attack on Aberdeen ended in a rush of
    six ironclads into the river mouth. They charged down upon the four
    half-crippled British ships that were left, and in less than five
    minutes rammed and sank them. The Russians then demanded the
    unconditional surrender of the town, under pain of bombardment and
    destruction. There was no other course but to yield, and until eight
    o'clock this morning the town has been in the hands of the enemy. The
    Russians at once landed a large force of sailors and marines, cut the
    telegraph wires and the railway lines, and fired without warning upon
    every one who attempted to leave the town. The stores of coal and
    ammunition were seized, and six large cruisers were taking in coal all
    night. The banks were also entered, and the specie taken possession of,
    as indemnity for the town. At eight o'clock the cruisers and battleships
    steamed out of the river without doing further damage. The squadron from
    the Tay was compelled to retire by the overwhelming force that the
    Russians brought to bear upon it after Aberdeen surrendered.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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