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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Old Lion At Bay

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As soon as the aerostats rose into the air, the Terrorist fleet receded northward and southward from the batteries. Their guns had a six-mile range, and it did not matter to them which side of the assailed area they lay. They could still hurl their explosives with the same deadly precision on the appointed mark. But with the aerostats it was a very different matter. They could only drop their shells vertically, and where they were not exactly above the object of attack their shells exploded with comparative harmlessness.

As a natural consequence they had to follow the air-ships, not only away from London, but over their own encampments, in order to bring them to anything like close quarters. The aerostats possessed one advantage, and one only, over the airships. They were able to rise to a much greater height. But this advantage the air-ships very soon turned into a disadvantage by reason of their immensely superior speed and ease of handling. They darted about at such a speed over the heads of the massed forces of the League on either side of London, that it was impossible to drop shells upon them without running the inevitable risk of missing the small and swiftly-moving air-ship, and so causing the shell to burst amidst friends instead of foes.

Thus the Terrorist fleet, sweeping hither and thither, in wide and ever changing curves, lured the most dangerous assailants of the beleaguered city farther and farther away from the real scene of action, at the very time when they were most urgently needed to support the attacking forces which at that moment were being poured into London.

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To destroy the air-ships seemed an impossibility, since they could move at five times the speed of the swiftest aerostat, and yet to return to the bombardment of the city was to leave them free to commit what havoc they pleased upon the encampments of the armies of the League. So they were drawn farther and farther away from the beleaguered city, while their agile enemies, still keeping within their six-mile range, evaded their shells, and yet kept up a constant discharge of their own projectiles upon the salient points of the attack on London.

By four o'clock in the afternoon all the batteries of the besiegers had been put out of action by the aerial bombardment. It was now a matter of man to man and steel to steel, and so the gage of final battle was accepted, and as dusk began to fall over the beleaguered city, the Russian, French and Italian hosts left their lines, and descended from their vantage ground to the assault on London, where the old Lion at bay was waiting for them with claws bared and teeth grinning defiance.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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