by Captain W. E. Johns



XII.                 THE SULTAN SHOWS HIS HAND  (Pages 149 - 158)


The Sultan accepts he sells hashish.  "And at the same time make havoc of their lives," put in Biggles.  "You don't care how many lives you wreck, how many homes you break up, as long as you make money".  Ambrimos says he will always be able to "buy a road" and by that he means bribe officials.  "A man has only to close his eyes for a few minutes, an lo! his pockets are full of gold."  Ambrimos tries to bribe Biggles.  He says he has a need for a good pilot.  "The British are an obnoxious, meddlesome breed, but they have one characteristic which even we who hate them must admire.  Having given their word they keep it."  Ambrimos says that refusal to co-operate means he will have Biggles put to death.  "I hate you British," he went on.  "I will break you and your Empire.  Sweet will be my revenge for the insults I have borne from your supercilious officials.  Do you hear me?  I will bring you into the dust, in spite of all your soldiers, your sailors and your airmen.  British rule shall wither like a leaf in the desert, and it will be I, Nicolo Ambrimos, who will do this.  Do you know how?  Perhaps you can guess, for I know why you are here, what you seek.  Gurra, the weed of Paradise.  Yes, I have it.  More and more will go to your miserable country of fog and rain.  It will flow into your factories to undermine the strength of your workers and turn them into useless human wreckage.  Gurra shall do what guns and bayonets could not do.  Your machines will turn to rust from idleness.  You will lose the will to fight.  Then you will fall, fall to a great power that is waiting for that day.  After that, Europe will fall, and Asia, might Asia, will rise again."  Biggles is amazed at this political angle, something he had not even considered.  But Biggles comes back at Ambrimos with this.  "What have you got to moan about, anyway?  You've done yourself pretty well.  But I know your sort.  You tuck yourself in under the Union Jack because if you went anywhere else you'd get your throat cut.  Then you turn round and bite the hand that protects you because it has something that you haven't got, and could never get.  That something needs guts, not jelly, in its belly.  Quit bleating, or else give me leave to outside to be sick."  Biggles is told to think over the offer and he and Ginger are taken away, through a hostile crowd and put in a guarded stinking hut.  Ginger notes "at any moment we may be shot, speared or strangled."  Biggles thinks Ambrimos is hoping he will change his mind and he says that he, Biggles, needs to do a spot of thinking.