by W. E. Johns



X.    A TERRIBLE DECISION  (Pages 116 - 125)


"We may outwit them yet" returned Father Giraldus.  "This house was built at a time when religious persecution resulted in the introduction of hidden chambers".  The girls and Captain Charles are hidden in a secret room under the floorboards.  In their hidden position they hear the padre agree to allow the house to be searched.  Joudrier is there and he is looking for "Charles Marton" as "He is an English spy."   The padre says that he knows every house and every person in it and he should be able to find the man they are looking for.  He offers to find him and bring him to the estaminet.  Joudrier says "If you set any value on your life you had better find him, for this I swear.  If, by daylight, you haven't found Marton, I will hang you over your own church door."  Joudrier leaves and our heroes are released from under the floorboards and manage to safely make their way to the church and the crypt.  The soldiers and airmen are told of the rescue plan; the time is now 11.40 pm.  The padre goes to the main door and overhears men saying that the Germans have arrested Suzette.  "Who's that?" asks Worrals.  "The girl at the estaminet" says the padre.  The message bag with the streamer that Joudrier dropped earlier has apparently been found at her house.  "Worrals looked round the circle of anxious faces.  A terrible decision now rested on her shoulders.  Would her conscience allow her to go, leaving Suzette in the hands of her brutal captors?  On the other hand, was she justified in risking all their lives for the sake of one person?"  Worrals decision is "My vote is that we all go, including Suzette, or we all - stay."  There is a chorus of assent.  Worrals sends the padre to the estaminet to bring Joudrier to where they are.  He will not leave Suzette behind, he will bring her with him, Worrals feels sure.  They will then be met by a dozen stout lads who should soon be able to take care of two Nazis.  Worrals tells the troops that one of the Germans has a whistle and he mustn't be allowed to use it otherwise he will summon a squad of storm troopers.  The men get into position.