by Captain W. E. Johns



V.                    INTO THE PAST  (Pages 63 - 74)


"For three anxious, rather boring days, the search for the castaway schooner continued along the lines planned, but without the slightest encouragement.  No one said anything, but each knew what the others were thinking".  Biggles runs the planes engines two or three times a day to keep them in working order.  Biggles has also come up with the idea of knocking some packing cases to piece and slicing the wood into long thin splinters which can be carried in a bundle and placed in the snow at intervals as markers.  Four-fifths of the ground to be surveyed has been covered and Ginger is marching due west,  keeping roughly parallel with the irregular ice cliff that fringed the open water.  Every hundred yards he plants a stick leaving eighteen inches exposed.  Eventually he comes across an icy cross when he bangs his knee against it.  Scraping off ice, there is an inscription that reads  "JOHN MANTON   Died 1877 R.I.P."  Ginger remembers that Last had killed Manton on the ship and would have buried him nearby.  So the ship must be nearby.  Ginger realises that the shapeless ice mound towards which he was walking is the ship, the "Starry Crown" and he can't believe that he has found it!  The key question, is, is the gold inside it?, so Ginger decides to go inside and try to find out before returning to base to report his discovery.  Inside, the ship is like a grotto.  "Here the picture presented transcended all imagination.  Light and ice together made play in a manner no artist could hope to portray.  Everything was ice, taking the shape of the object on which it had formed".  Ginger finds fresh food as the ship was a natural refrigerator.  Ginger searches the rooms and comes upon a table with a stack of bars, all black. Cutting one with his knife, there is the gleamed of gold.  He has found it!  Ginger hears a noise and is alarmed.  Then he sees an eye, staring at him through a whole in the ice.  A human eye.  In a dead white face.  "It did not move, but it glowed, as if imbued by inhuman fire".