by Captain W. E. Johns



IV.                   ROUND THREE  (Pages 81 – 107)


I   -   At nine o’clock the following morning, Biggles reports in to the office in Lombard Street, where Stella is delighted and the two partners jubilant.  As for Biggles “Algy’s inexplicable silence left him moody and taciturn; but following his own policy of secrecy he did not disclose the sinister fact even to his employers”.  Biggles returns to the airport to find out there is still no word of Algy.  He decides to get Ginger to fly to Paris solo, by an indirect route, using Buc Aerodrome instead of Le Bourget.  “We’ll diddle the swine again” he tells Ginger.  Biggles rings a Mr. Lindson (‘Lindy’ to Biggles) of Consolidated Air Lines at Croydon Airport and arranges to hire a Cormorant.  The plane is for Biggles and Ginger to fly the gold to Croydon where the gold will be loaded on Ginger’s hired Cormorant whilst Biggles flies their empty Cormorant on the standard route.  “If we pull it off, nobody need know how we did it, least of all our own people, who might not approve of such unorthodox methods.  ‘They’d probably think I was raving mad to entrust forty thousand jimmy o’goblins worth of gold to you”, Biggles tells Ginger.  (Jimmy O’Goblins is an old-fashioned British slang term meaning pounds as a unit of currency, especially the gold sovereign when they were current).  Ginger asks to fly the empty machine (recognising that is more dangerous).  “Another word from you and you’re fired,” snapped Biggles.  “You do as you’re told”.


II   -   When Biggles took off from Croydon in his own Cormorant he was convinced that an attempt would be made to get the gold”.  As he crosses the French coast, Biggles is attacked by a dark brown monoplane and he is forced to land.  The landscape consists almost entirely of forest and there is only one field where a landing might reasonably be attempted.  The wind is such that Biggles has a minor crash.  The undercarriage collapses and the nose bores into the ground, smashing the propeller.  A car pulls up with three occupants.  “Will you kindly explain the meaning of this?” Biggles asked, in a cold fury that was certainly not feigned, as they ran up.  (“Will you kindly explain the meaning of this?” Biggles asked as they ran up - is the illustration on page 93).  “Quit bluffin’, Mr. Smart Alick Bigglesworth,” snarled one of the two men who had been in the car.  His accent was a curious mixture of American drawl and harsh, low German”.  Biggles denies he is Bigglesworth and pretends to know nothing of any gold.  Finding nothing, the men leave in their vehicle.  “Biggles watched it go with a half smile on his face, for there was nothing he could do except make his way to the nearest village”.  Biggles telephones the makers of the Cormorant aeroplanes to make arrangements for the recovery and repair of his plane.  Biggles then gets a taxi to Beauvais railway station and catches the train to Gare du Nord in Paris.  Getting a taxi to Buc Aerodrome he finds Ginger handing over the bullion boxes to the bank under the eyes of M. Boulanger and two plain-clothes policemen.  Biggles tells the French police officer what has happened.  “I’m afraid it is not in France that we shall find the ringleaders of this gang,” he observed shrewdly.  “I’m inclined to agree with you,” replied Biggles.


III   -   It is dusk when the hired Cormorant glides down to the aerodrome at Hardwick.  Biggles sees a neat black and white three-seater Falcon standing outside the hangar.  Biggles also sees a girl.  “A girl!  By Jove! you’re right.  Good gracious, it’s Stella Carstairs” says Ginger.  “I didn’t know you two were on visiting terms,” he remarked suspiciously.  “Neither did I,” declared Biggles.  Stella has heard from her father that Biggles was shot down and she says it is also in the newspapers.  Biggles warns Stella to get back to Heston before dusk.  “You seem very anxious to be rid of me”.  “Biggles shrugged his shoulders and looked at Ginger helplessly, for the female mentality was one of the things he did not understand”.  Biggles then gets a phone call – from Berlin.  It is the same voice that spoke to him in his rooms.  “No doubt you are wondering what has happened to your partner, so I’ve rung you up to set your mind at rest.  He is quite safe with us, and will remain so provided you do us a small service in return”.  Biggles is told he will be asked to fly some diamonds to Amsterdam.  Instead, he must hand the diamonds over at a large field two miles south of Aix-la-Chapelle.  Biggles tells Stella that Algy is a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.  When Stella goes to leave, it is too dark to fly, so she leaves her aircraft and takes a public motor-coach instead.  Biggles tells Ginger and Smyth about Algy.  Then he gets a phone call from Cronfelt telling him about the parcel of diamonds to be shipped to Amsterdam tomorrow.  Biggles tells Ginger he can’t come with him.  He will make this flight solo.