by W. E. Johns



IX.   UP THE TOWER  (Pages 155 - 172)

(On original publication this instalment was called "On the Belfry Tower")


The tunnel goes on and on and the walls drip with moisture.  It leads to the vestry of the church.  However, the doors are locked so there is still no way out.  The only available door leads up a narrow spiral staircase to the church tower.  Here they reach a belfry populated with jackdaws and full of twigs from their nests.  There is a ladder fixed perpendicularly to the wall and this leads to the roof of the tower.  Over a short parapet is a hundred foot drop.  It is night but Worrals says "I think it's fairly clear why Corton pretends to be a parson.  Just look at the view; imagine what it must be like in daylight; one would be able to see twenty or thirty miles in every direction.  A man could sit up here and watch troop movements over half the county, and signal the positions to the enemy."  The girls find a telescope and several electric bulbs.  Worrals thinks it is signalling apparatus.  "A light up here couldn't be seen from below; it could only be seen from above."  The girls hear anti-aircraft fire and see searchlights in the distance and then hear an air-raid siren.  A sequence of different coloured bulbs light up so Worrals covers them with her jacket.  "You know Frecks”, she went on earnestly, "this is a far bigger thing than I thought when we started.  It's really serious.  We've got to let the authorities know about it or die in the attempt."  The girls hear voices at the foot of the tower.  When a British plane flies overhead, Worrals comes up with the idea of sending an S.O.S.  As the lights are currently out she decides to start a fire and sends Frecks to get twigs from the Jackdaw nests down below.  Unfortunately the fire gets out of control and the girl's cries of alarm are heard by the people below the tower.  Realising that their escape will be discovered and in no time at all, they will soon have unwelcome company, they go to try and ring the bells in the belfry to attract attention.  However the ropes are tied down and they can't do it.  They hear noises coming up the spiral staircase and so they hide behind all the Jackdaw nests.  Corton and two men arrive and they go straight up the wall ladder to the roof, allowing the girls to slip past them down the spiral stairs.  They are seen and chased.  They run down the spiral staircase and burst into the vestry thinking they are now safe but Carl is waiting for them, sitting on a chair and holding an automatic.  "You're nice and handy for the churchyard".