by Captain W. E. Johns



XI.                   CUT AND THRUST  (Pages 115 - 122)


Biggles is able to see some of the work being done on the submarine from the window of the cabin prison.  "It looks as if I got a near miss close to her rudder which may have affected her steering gear", he says.  Biggles admires their camouflage.  "The Germans were always very thorough in the little things," he observed, with grudging admiration.  They hear the drone of Algy and Bertie's aircraft looking for them but the plane soon goes.  They see a working party shifting wooden boxes of considerable weight and guess the gold is being retrieved.  When Biggles makes a joke, Ginger remarks that he seems to be taking it lightly.  "Moaning won't get us anywhere will it?" says Biggles.  The day passes and nightfall puts an end to further observation.  Biggles suspects that "Dawn to-morrow will be zero hour - as far as we're concerned, anyway".  Sure enough, in due course Thom comes to get Biggles leaving Ginger behind.  Biggles is marched past a firing squad as he is taken to see von Schonbeck who asks if he has considered his proposal.  "There was nothing to consider," returned Biggles briefly.  Words are exchanged between them and when von Schonbeck refers to himself as an officer and a gentleman, Biggles tells him exactly what he thinks of him.  "God save us.  Von Schonbeck, you're just a cheap, cold-blooded murderer, high on the list of war criminals.  Very soon every newspaper in the world will carry the story of your crimes, your butchery of helpless women and unarmed seamen.  You may shoot me, and since a hyena can't change its coat I'm sure that was always your intention; but believe me, I'd sooner go out here and now than live another twenty years with a reputation like yours.  They'll put your photo in the papers, and every decent seaman between the Arctic and the Antarctic will spit when he looks at it.  That should leave you in no doubt as to what I think of you".   Von Schonbeck then has Biggles placed in front of a firing squad, their take aim, there is an explosion and Biggles stumbled and falls flat.