by Captain W. E. Johns



II.                    A PAGE FROM THE PAST  (Pages 23 - 35)


Captain Grimes, (as he is now referred to) stares at Biggles in amazement.  Biggles says the old schooner Lavinsky found must be the "Starry Crown".  Biggles says unsolved mysteries have always interested him and he pays a press-cuttings agency to keep him informed about them or any subsequent developments.  Biggles checks his scrapbooks and informs everyone of the story of the "Starry Crown" which disappeared about 70 years ago on a voyage from Australia to London with about a ton of Australian gold onboard.  20 years later she was spotted by a ship called the "Swordfish".  The only survivor of that ship, a man named Last took into his confidence a man called Manton who ownered a schooner called the "Black Dog".  They went looking for the "Starry Crown" and all hands died, except Last and Manton when the ship was crushed in ice.  Last and Manton found themselves trapped but were able to walk across the ice to the "Starry Crown" and stayed there for some time.  Manton went mad and tried to murder Last, who shot him.  Last then dragged a small boat to open water and managed to get away and was picked up by an Amercian whaler named the "Spray".  He died shortly afterwards but not before he told a relation, who told some friends and the story got out.  Biggles says that the Grimes had the idea of flying down to beat Lavinsky back to the "Starry Crown" and the gold it contained.  Biggles says the first thing to do is determine ownership of the gold.  The stuff would belong to the underwriters who insured the ship, unless they sold the salvage.  Biggles says that if planes were to go, at least two planes would be needed and he points out a lot of the problems of the Antarctic, one of the most inaccessible places on earth.  "The nearest we've been is Kerguelen Island (and a footnote says * see 'Biggles Second Case').  Biggles says the Government needs gold and there is chance they may sanction an expedition and the Government might give them 10% for their part in the undertaking.  Biggles asks Captain Grimes to leave him his address so if the trip comes off he'll make arrangements for both father and son to come.