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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Turn Of The Battle-Tide

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"Now, don't speak till it's over. I want all my wits for this work, and you'll want all your eyes."

Without speaking, Natasha glanced up at his face, and saw on it somewhat of the same expression that she had seen at the moment when he put the Ariel at the rock-wall which barred the entrance to Aeria. His face was pale, and his lips were set, and his eyes looked straight out from under his frowning brows with an angry gleam in them that boded ill for the fate of those against whom he was about to use the irresistible engine of destruction under his command.

Twenty feet in front of them stretched out the long keen ram of the air-ship, edged and pointed like a knife. This was the sole weapon that he intended to use. It was impossible to train the guns at the tremendous speed at which the Ithuriel was travelling, but under the circumstance the ram was the deadliest weapon that could have been employed.

In four minutes from the time the Ithuriel started on her eastward course the nearest war-balloon was only fifty yards away. The air-ship, travelling at a speed of nearly two hundred miles an hour, leapt out of the dusk like a flash of white light. In ten seconds more her ram had passed completely through the gas-holder without so much as a shock being felt. The next one was only five hundred yards away. Obedient to her rudder the Ithuriel swerved, ripped her gas-holder from end to end, and then darted upon the next one even before a terrific explosion in their rear told that the car of the first one had struck the earth.

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So she sped along the whole line, darting hither and thither in obedience to the guiding hand that controlled her, with such inconceivable rapidity that before any of the unwieldy machines, saving only those whose occupants had been prepared for the assault, had time to get out of the way of the destroying ram, she had rent her way through the gas-holders of twenty-eight out of the forty balloons, and flung them to the earth to explode and spread consternation and destruction all along the van of the army encamped below.

From beginning to end the attack had not lasted ten minutes. When the last of the aerostats had gone down under his terrible ram, Arnold signalled "Stop, and ascend," to the engine-room. A second signal turned on the searchlight in the bow, and from this a rapid series of flashes were sent up to the sky to the northward and eastward.

The effect was as fearful as it was instantaneous. The twelve war-balloons which had escaped by flying the red flag took up their positions above the Russian lines, and began to drop their fire-shell and cyanogen bombs upon the masses of men below. The air-ship, swerving round again to the westward, with her fan-wheels aloft, moved slowly across the wide area over which men and horses were wildly rushing hither and thither in vain attempts to escape the rain of death that was falling upon them from the sky.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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