by Captain W. E. Johns



XVI.                        BIGGLES OFFERS TERMS  (Pages 167 - 176)


Algy lands safely and confirms that he has made contact with Raymond.  Their orders are to "stand by" but for what, they don't know.  Von Schonbeck is on the move and he has the gold with him.  Biggles is worried that he might bury it again and they may never find it.  Biggles also thinks they may have a collapsible boat with them as they used one for repairs.  If they do, they could get off the island.  If von Schonbeck gets into the mountains it would take an army to get him out.  They couldn't leave him there as he would seize the next whaler or other ship that calls at the island.  Biggles concludes they have got to go after him and find him before darkness falls.  Leaving the Norwegians on the cliff, our four heroes climb into the plane and head for the interior of the island.  They soon find a line of fourteen men, mostly in pairs some ten to twelve miles from the sea.  They are carrying the bullion boxes.  Algy wants to shoot them up but Biggles wants to give them a chance.  "Ginger glanced at Algy, smiling wanly.  Bertie's eyes met theirs in turn.  Each knew he was thinking the same thing.  This was Biggles all over.  Having got his man on the spot he had to give him a chance.  That was his code, just a Von Schonbeck's code was the Nazi code.  It seemed silly - yet was it? wondered Ginger.  A lot of people around the world respected this strange British idiosyncrasy".  Biggles drops a message inviting the men to pack up and leave the gold, start marching back and be treated as prisoners of war.  If they continue to the mountains that will signify refusal.  The Germans muster round their leader whilst the message is read.  "The group broke up in a manner which could only mean disagreement."  Five men run away and three are shot.  One fires back and hits an opponent.  Now von Schonbeck is down to eight men and they have to abandon part of the gold.  Biggles swings the 'Tarpon' round and puts it into a steep dive and machine guns the Germans.