by Captain W. E. Johns



XV.         BIGGLES SPEAKS  (Pages 225 – 235)


Collison gives them water and explains that the drums have told every native within a hundred miles that three strange white men are in Limshoda.  Biggles sits down with Collison and tells him the story of what has happened so far.  The exchange is initially hostile.  “Now look, Collison; I’ve been a soldier.  I was a soldier while you were a kid squealing in a cradle, so I’m not ignorant of military procedure.  If you are going to take things for granted because a renegade Frenchman shot a cock-and-bull story into your ear, you’re heading for a court martial.  This is a bigger thing than you imagine.  I’m not threatening, but by the Lord Harry, I’ve been through too much to stand for any nonsense, from you or any one else” says Biggles.  Biggles explains they are looking for Harry Marton and he suspects that Leroux wanted Harry’s plane for dope running.  Biggles asks if runners can be sent to get their kit bags as he has documentation to confirm what he is saying.  “The biggest dope racket that any one has ever run in the Middle East is operating between Karuli and Cairo”.  Collison stared.  “What is the dope?”  “Hashish”.  (A lengthy footnote then tells us all about hashish.  “Hashish is an insidious drug used widely in Egypt and the Far East, where it is called bhang, or Indian hemp.  Produced chiefly in Greece, it is smuggled in large quantities into Egypt, where it is in great demand in spite of the vigilance of the special officers whose duty it is to combat the traffic.  The history of the tricks that have been employed to smuggle the drug into the country would fill a volume.  Most of the big men in the ‘trade’ are Europeans, chiefly Greeks and Armenians, although the actual distributors are natives.  To a vast number of Egyptians hashish is what tobacco is to other races, and while the demand for it exists no doubt unscrupulous traffickers will risk imprisonment for the large sums of money successful smuggling produces”).  Biggles says the smell of the aircraft that was destroyed earlier reminded him of something.  “At the time I couldn’t remember what the smell was, or what it reminded me of.  Lacey and I once had a spot of trouble with a Greek in the Red Sea; curiously enough his name was Stampoulos, and he may be the same man for all I know, although it isn’t an uncommon Greek name.  I saw some hashish then, and just now the whole thing came back to me”.  (A footnote tells us to see ‘The Sheikh and the Greek’ in the book of short stories entitled Biggles Flies Again).  Collison asks about Marton and Biggles tells him he believes he is a prisoner within ten miles, at Stampoulos’s alleged tobacco plantation.  Biggles says that to waste time now would be fatal as if word gets out they are talking, Harry Marton will disappear for ever.  Biggles says as long as he gets young Marton and his Dragon aircraft back, Collison can have “the hashish crowd”.  Collison agrees to go with them.  “Find us a biscuit or two and a tin of bully, and we’ll be ready to trek just as soon as you are” says Biggles.