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0105_001E The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Psychological Moment

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In the face of this power, the fortresses, armies, and fleets of the world were useless and helpless. The destruction of Kronstadt had proved that to demonstration. From a height of several thousand feet, and a distance of nearly seven miles, the unknown air-vessel had practically destroyed, with four shots from her mysterious, smokeless, and flameless guns, the strongest fortress in Europe. If it could do that, and there was not the slightest doubt but that it had done so, it could destroy armies wholesale without a chance of reprisals, sink fleets, and lay cities in ruins, at the leisure of those who commanded it.

And here arose the supreme question of the hour--a question beside which all other questions of national or international policy sank instantly into insignificance--who were those who held this new and appalling power in their hands? It was hardly to be believed that they were representatives of any regularly-constituted national Power for, although the air was full of rumours of war, there was at present unbroken peace all over the world.

Even in the hands of a recognised Power, the possession of such a frightful engine of destruction could not be viewed by the rest of the world with anything but the gravest apprehension, for that Power, however insignificant otherwise, would now be in a position to terrorise any other nation, or league of nations, however great. Manifestly those who had built the one air-vessel that had been seen, and had given such conclusive proof of her terrible powers, could construct a fleet if they chose to do so, and then the world would be at their mercy.

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If, however, as seemed only too probable, the machine was in the hands of a few irresponsible individuals, or, still worse, in those of such enemies of humanity as the Nihilists, or that yet more mysterious and terrible society who were popularly known as the Terrorists, then indeed the outlook was serious beyond forecast or description. At any moment the forces of destruction and anarchy might be let loose upon the world, in such fashion that little less than the collapse of the whole fabric of Society might be expected as the result.

The above necessarily brief and imperfect digest gives only the headings of an article which filled nearly two columns of the Times and it is needless to say that such an article in the leading columns of the most serious and respectable newspaper in the world produced an intense impression wherever it was read.

Of course the telegram was instantly copied by the evening papers, which ran out special editions for the sole purpose of reproducing it, with their own comments upon it, which, after all, were not much more original than the telegram. Meanwhile the Berliner Tageblatt, the Newe Freie Presse, the Kölnische Zeitung, and the Journal des Débats had received later and somewhat similar telegrams, and had given their respective views of the catastrophe to the world.

By noon all the capitals of Europe were in a fever of expectation and apprehension. The cables had carried the news to America and India; and when the evening of the same day brought the telegraphic account of the extraordinary occurrence at Tiumen in the grey dusk of the early morning, proving almost conclusively that the rescue had been effected by the same agency that had destroyed Kronstadt, and that, worse than all, the air-vessel was at the command of Natas, the unknown Chief of the mysterious Terrorists, excitement rose almost to frenzy, and everywhere the wildest rumours were accepted as truth.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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