by Captain W. E. Johns



XV.                 THE CLOCK THAT TICKED AGAIN  (Pages 157 - 166)


Dawn breaks with a mist that reduces visibility to a hundred yards.  There is complete silence from the U-boat.  Biggles decides to make a reconnaissance of the beach with all nine of his men.  He calculates that von Schonbeck can't have more than 10 or 12 men left.  Slowly approaching the U-boat, Biggles warns everyone to beware of booby traps.  There appear to be no guards and no Germans present at all.  Biggles notes the buckled plates to the side of the submarine and concludes the enemy must have pulled out.  Biggles and Ginger enter the conning tower of the submarine.  Ginger notices a conspicuous clock.  It has stopped at one minute to twelve.  Suddenly, in the silence, the clock begins to tick.  Biggles looks at the steel floor and notices a thin strand of copper wire that has been broken and now lies curled back upon itself like a spring.  Biggles says just one word - "Bolt!".  The two of them climb out of the submarine and run for their lives.  Jumping ashore Ginger shouts "Bolt!" to Axel and the other Norwegians.  "Run for your lives!" shouted Biggles, as he took a flying leap on to the shingle.  They get about a hundred yards before they are thrown flat by a huge explosion as the submarine is destroyed.  This causes a tidal wave that rebounds off the cliffs.  Biggles admires the cunning of the trap which he presumes was a bomb in the torpedo store.  The mist is starting to lift and Ginger remarks that Algy and Bertie must have heard the bang.  Biggles suspects Algy will be alone shortly and sure enough the hear the faint drone of a plane.  "Let's go back to the cliff and show ourselves," suggested Biggles.