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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Heralds Of Disaster

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By noon it was almost impossible to get any one in London or any of the large towns to talk of anything but the disappearance of Lord Alanmere, the Terrorists, and their marvellous aerial fleet. But it goes without saying that nowhere did the news produce greater distress or more utter bewilderment than it did among the occupants of Alanmere Castle, and especially in the breast of her who had been so quickly and so strangely installed as its new owner and mistress.

Everywhere the wildest rumours passed from lip to lip, growing in sensation and absurdity as they went. A report, telegraphed by an anonymous idiot from Liverpool, to the effect that six air-ships had appeared over the Mersey, and demanded a ransom of £10,000,000 from the town, was eagerly seized on by the cheaper evening papers, which rushed out edition after edition on the strength of it, until the St. James's Gazette put an end to the excitement by publishing a telegram from the Mayor of Liverpool denouncing the report as an insane and criminal hoax.

The next edition of the St. James's, however, contained a telegram from Hiorring, in Denmark, viá Newcastle, which was of almost, if not quite, as startling and disquieting a nature, and which, moreover, contained a very considerable measure of truth. The telegram ran as follows:--

    NAVAL DISASTER IN THE BALTIC.     The Sound forced by a Russian Squadron, assisted by a Terrorist Air-Ship.

    (From our own Correspondent.)

    Hiorring, June 28th, 8 A.M.

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    With the deepest regret I have to record the first naval disaster to the
    British arms during the present war. As soon as it became dark last
    night heavy firing was heard from Copenhagen to the southward, and
    before long the sound deepened into an almost continuous roar of light
    and heavy guns.

    Our naval force in the Baltic was so strong that it was deemed
    incredible that the Russian fleet, which we have held imprisoned here
    since the commencement of hostilities, should dream even of making an
    attempt to escape. The cannonade, however, was the beginning of such an
    attempt, and it is useless disguising the fact that it has been
    completely successful. That this would have been the case, or, indeed,
    that the attempt would ever have been made by the Russian fleet alone,
    cannot be for a moment credited. But, incredible as it seems, it is
    nevertheless true that it was assisted, and that in a practically
    irresistible fashion, by one of those air-ships which have hitherto been
    believed to belong exclusively to the Terrorists, that is to say, to the
    deadliest enemies that Russia possesses.

    As nearly as is known the Russian fleet consisted of twelve battleships,
    twenty-five armoured and unarmoured cruisers, and about forty
    torpedo-boats. These came charging ahead at full speed into the entrance
    to the Sound in spite of the overwhelming forge of the Allied fleets,
    supported by the fortresses of Copenhagen and Elsinore. The attack was
    so sudden and so completely unexpected, that it must be confessed the
    defenders were to a certain extent taken unawares. The Russians came on
    in the form of an elongated wedge, their most powerful vessels being at
    the apex and external sides.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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