by Captain W. E. Johns



VIII.                OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN  (Pages 148 – 167)


The air in Biggles room is sultry and Biggles soon smashes the glass of the window to get some fresh air and a better view by leaning out.  He sees a dark figure moving furtively through the trees.  The face turned upwards at the sound of breaking glass.  Biggles slowly realises this is Ginger!  How he got here, Biggles doesn’t know.  From his high vantage point, Biggles can see a green-uniformed guard approach.  Unable to shout a warning, Biggles hits upon the unusual idea of singing one – to the tune of ‘God Save the King’.  “Look out, there is a Hun, Quite near you with a gun, He has a dog; He is com-ing your way, He’ll see you if you stay, I’ll let you know when it’s O.K. – Do-n’t make a noise”.  Ginger hides.  When the guard has been gone ten minutes, Biggles sings another verse.  “The Hun is out of sight, Round the wing on your right, Keep your eyes skinned.  I hav-en’t got a hope, Unless I get a rope. You’d better go and do a slope. To-o Lon-don Town”.  He then adds “Hip-hip, tell Ray-mond … hip-hip, tell Ray-mond!”  Ginger climbs the nearby ivy which reaches to the roof but not to Biggles’ window.  Biggles can hear him.  “That you, Ginger?” he said softly.  “O.K., Chief, I’m coming,” was the whispered reply.  “For God’s sake take care you don’t fall,” breathed Biggles, as in something like a panic he understood the perilous climb in which Ginger was engaged”.  Ginger gets onto the roof and moves to within five yards of Biggles window.  He throws him a home-made rope consisting of all the reins out of the harness-room in the castle, buckled together.  Biggles asks Ginger how deep the moat is, but all Ginger can tell him is that he couldn’t touch the bottom when he swam over.  Guards come with food for Biggles and he hides the “rope” under his bed.  They notice the smashed window but appear to have no fear that Biggles can escape that way.  After they have gone, Biggles takes his life in his hands and uses the “rope” to climb out of the window.  (He began to lower himself hand over hand - is the illustration on page 161).  Before he is half-way down Biggles starts to slip on the leather reins as they are too thin to grip with his knees, and the heavy dew that was falling had made them greasy.  He manages to get to the end of the “rope” but then he falls into the moat with a terrific splash.  Ginger climbs down the ivy and meets Biggles climbing out of the moat.  Biggles says “I am nothing for this Jack Sheppard business; it’s too unnerving”.  (This is a reference to a notorious English robber, burglar and thief who lived from 1702 to 1724 when he was hanged.  He was famous for escaping from custody on four occasions, mainly by using knotted sheets.  W.E. Johns also has Biggles refer to Jack Shepherd in Chapter 14 of Biggles Defies the Swastika and in Chapter 4 of Biggles Sees it Through).  Ginger, who is also soaked through says “The water seems particularly wet to-night, doesn’t it?  “And your ear will be particularly thick if you try to be funny,” growled Biggles.  Ginger wants to take Biggles back to Miss Carstairs’ Falcon but Biggles tells Ginger that he suspects Algy may be here.  “We can’t go without him, or at any rate without making sure that he isn’t here.  Moreover, these skunks have got the diamonds.  I shall have to get them back, too”.  Biggles says they will discover his escape within half an hour.  But they won’t think of looking for him in “The Schloss – castle”.  Ginger says “Good name.  Well, go ahead; I should have thought you’d have all the sloshing you want for one night”.  Ginger tells Biggles about the out-buildings of the castle including a little power-station that he has seen.  They go and look at it.  Biggles tells Ginger “If I manage to get into the castle, and get into a jam, I’ll whistle.  If I do, run in here and switch all the lights off”.  Seeing a row of tall, church-like windows on the first floor of the castle, with several windows open, Biggles and Ginger get a ladder to look inside.  Biggles goes up the ladder and disappears inside the castle.  Whilst he has gone, Ginger hears footsteps approaching and puts the ladder flat in the bushes, lying flat on the ground beside it.