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”.