by Captain W. E. Johns



XII.                 LAVINSKY SHOWS HIS HAND  (Pages 147 - 162)


The ice floe slowing comes towards the shore.  The Skipper thinks Lavinsky must be a fool as if the wind veers and moves all the loose ice his way, he's had it.  Biggles says if he loses his ship, "we shall be expected to take him home".  Through binoculars, the crew of the 'Svelt' can be seen searching for either the gold or Larsen, the Swede.  A distant gunshot is heard.  As the floe come in, Biggles decides to load the gold into Algy's plane and send him back to the Falklands.  Grimy reports that Lavinsky and six of his men are approaching.  Lavinsky is hosile and demands "Where's the gold?".  He has found Larsen and Larsen has told him that Biggles' party has found the gold and taken it.  Biggles says they heard a gunshot.  "If you've killed him, then I'll do my best to see that you hang for it".  Lavinsky says if Biggles gives him half of the gold, he'll leave.  Biggles tells Lavinsky the truth about what happened to the gold.  "You picked the man up - but not the gold.  He was sitting on it.  The gold is still on that same piece of ice.  Now you know why I haven't got the gold and why I'm still here.  Laugh that off and clear out - and stay out".  "If looks could kill Ginger would have been slain on the spot where he stood by the murderous scowl Lavinsky gave him".  Lavinsky and his men leave.  Biggles has the Skipper, Bertie and Grimy fetch the gold bar by bar from the ice floe, whist he and Algy load it up.  It has to be distributed carefully.  Ginger is sent to watch Lavinsky.  In an hour, half the gold has been moved to the aircraft, while Lavinsky takes the 'Svelt' out to search the ice floes.  Lavinsky returns and approaches with a dozen men.  "I'm afraid that means war," says Biggles.  Biggles asks Algy to take the gold they have so far to the Falklands.  Algy says he will unload as fast as he can and then come back to help move the remainder of the gold and the rest of their party.  Berties remarks "I've promised to join Gimlet King for a spot of deer-stalking in the Highlands when I get back so I could do with a bit of practice.  Pity the blighters haven't a decent head of antlers; I'd take on home to show Gimlet the sort of beasts we shoot in the lowest of the bally lowlands - if you see what I mean".  (This reference to Johns' Gimlet books and is the first mention of the character in the Biggles books).  Lavinsky comes within ten yards and says he has been watching Biggles' party from the mast through glasses and he knows they have the gold.  Biggles says Algy has just taken off with it, but Lavinsky says "Not all of it, I'll have the rest.  Are you going to hand it over?"  Biggles refuses.  Just then Algy flies over and drops a message in a cigarette tin informing him that Lavinsky's ship is now trapped within a half-mile-wide barrier of floes and bergs jammed together.  Biggles tells Lavinsky who thinks he is bluffing. Lavinsky says Biggles wouldn't go off and leave them stranded there.  Biggles laughed shortly.  "Wouldn't I, by thunder!  You don't know me.  Why should I clutter myself up with a lot of useless scum that would be better in Davy Jones' locker?"  Biggles says the best they can hope for is that he would radio a British naval sloop at the Falklands to come and get them.  Lavinsky and half a dozen men return to the 'Svelt' but he leaves the other half dozen on the ridge facing the camp.