Jack Higgins – Wrath of the Lion 1964 The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. WILLIAM BLAKE

Jack Higgins – Wrath of the Lion 1964 The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. WILLIAM BLAKE

Jack Higgins – Wrath of the Lion 1964 The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. WILLIAM BLAKE



the graticules misted over, momentarily obscured by a curtain of green water, but as the tip of the periscope broke through to the surface the small untidy freighter jumped into focus with astonishing clarity. Lieutenant Fenelon gripped the handles of the eyepiece and his breath escaped in a long sigh.

Beside him, Jacaud said, “The Kontoro!”

Fenelon nodded. “Not more than five hundred yards away.”

Jacaud dropped his cigarette and ground it into the deck with his heel. “Let me see.”

Fenelon stood back, conscious of the hollowness at the base of his stomach. He was twenty-six years of age and had never seen action, never known what war was like except through the eyes of other men. But this – this was a new sensation. He felt strangely dizzy and passed a hand across his eyes as he waited.

Jacaud grunted and turned. He was a big, dangerous-look-ing man badly in need of a shave, a jagged scar bisecting his right cheek.

“Nice of them to be on time.1

Fenelon took another look. TheKontoro moved slowly to the right across the little black lines etched on the glass of the periscope and his throat went dry. He was already be-ginning to taste a little of that special excitement that takes possession of the hunter when his quarry is in plain sight.

“One torpedo,” he said softly. “That’s all it would take.”

Jacaud was watching him, a strange, sardonic smile on his face. “What would be the point? No one would ever know.”

“I suppose not.” Fenelon called the control room from his voice-pipe. “Steer one-oh-five and prepare to surface.”

He whipped the periscope down, the hiss it made as it slid into its well mingling with the clamour of the alarm klaxon. As he turned, brushing sweat from his eyes, Jacaud took a Liiger from his pocket. He removed the clip, checked it with the rapidity of the expert and slammed it back into the butt with a click that somehow carried with it a harsh finality.

He lit another cigarette. When he looked up he was no longer smiling.

In the wheelhouse of theKontoro Janvier, the first officer, yawned as he bent over the chart. He made a quick cal-culation and threw down his pencil. By dead reckoning they were forty miles west of Ushant and the weather forecast wasn’t good. Winds of gale force reported imminent in sea areas Rockall, Shannon, Sole and Finisterre.

For the moment there was only an unnatural calm, the sea lifting in a great oily swell. Janvier was tired, his eyes gritty from lack of sleep. A native of Provence, he had never man-aged to get used to the cold of these northern seas and he shivered with distaste as he gazed out into the grey dawn.

Behind him the door to the companionway clicked open and the steward entered holding a steaming cup of coffee in each hand. He gave one to Janvier and the other to the helmsman, taking his place at the wheel for a few moments while the man drank.

Janvier opened the door and walked out on to the bridge. He stood at the rail drinking his coffee and breathing deeply of the cold morning air, feeling considerably more cheerful. Once across Biscay there was the long run south to look forward toMaderia, then the Cape and sun all the way.

He finished his coffee, emptied the dregs over the side and started to turn.

A hundred yards to starboard there was a sudden surge in the oily water. It boiled in a white froth and a submarine broke through to the surface, strange and alien like some primeval creature in the dawn of time.

Janvier stood at the rail, trapped by surprise. As he watched, the conning-tower hatch opened and a young officer in peaked cap appeared, followed by a sailor who immediately hoisted a small ensign. A sudden gust of wind lifted it stiffly, the red, white and blue of the tricolour stand-ing out vividly against the grey clouds.

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Categories: Higgins, Jack