BIGGLES IN SPAIN
by Captain W. E. Johns
II. A SWIM IN THE DARK (Pages 21 – 30)
For a long time they paddle to the coast. The sea is warm and calm. Gradually night falls. Ginger is alarmed by a porpoise and after six hours they cease swimming and float. Biggles realises they only have a few pounds between them to use to get home and not only is there a civil war on in Spain but they only speak about a dozen words of Spanish. The current carries them along the coast and slowly but surely they make it to coast. Seeing the lights of a big city, they are surprised when they disappear. They then realise it’s a blackout as there is a bombing raid taking place. General Franco’s planes are bombing the city. Eventually Biggles discovers he can stand and they wade ashore. They need to find dry clothes or a way of drying theirs and something to wear on their feet as they are in socks. Walking into the city they see a tall statue of Christopher Columbus and Biggles says they are in Barcelona. “It’s years since I was here” says Biggles. Even though its night time and the moon has risen, Biggles finds a change bureau at the station and changes three (wet) pound notes into pesetas. Finding a shoe shop – apparently still open – they purchase three pairs of cheap-looking rope-soled sandals. Ginger suggests a cup of something hot and some sandwiches. They go into a bar restaurant called ‘Casa Reposada’, (which translates from the Catalan, as ‘Leaning House’). Biggles translates it as meaning “home of quiet – or, more literally, home of repose”. “There was nothing to indicate that the trouble Biggles feared was waiting for them inside”.