by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.                   A DIFFICULT SITUATION  (Pages 59 – 69)


Algy lights a cigarette from a half-empty packet on the mantelpiece and says “Barcelona – where the nuts come from.  We’re not nuts, we’re mutts” (old English slang meaning a stupid person).  Biggles says he is going to get rid of the letter.  It’s in code so it can’t be read.  In the current circumstances, any “foreigners carrying coded messages are likely to get short shrift, and you can’t blame the Barcelona government for that”.  Biggles takes a cheap china ornament and pushes the letter into a hole in the base.  He then wraps the ornament in newspaper and throws it out of the window onto a piece of waste land beyond the yard.  Biggles then takes out his Spanish money and divides it between himself and his comrades.  There is a knock at the door.  The door can’t be opened and a voice speaks sharply in Spanish.  No comprendo,” called Biggles.  “English – Ingles.”  He turned to the others.  “This is an awful nuisance not being able to speak the language properly,” he muttered impatiently.  “Open the door,” ordered a voice outside, in English but with a strong foreign accent.  Biggles explains they are locked in.  The hotel manager or secretary opens the door to let in Goudini and four other black-coated men.  Goudini says “Give it to me” in English.  (‘Give it to me,’ he demanded - is the illustration on page 63).  “Give you what?” asks Biggles.  “The paper”.  “What paper do you mean?” asks Biggles.  Goudini tries a different tack.  He says he is Juan Goudini, Deputy Commissar Special Intelligence and Propaganda.  Biggles says his name is Bigglesworth and explains how he and his comrades come to be in Spain.  Discovering that a man had been stabbed to death in a bar, as strangers with no passports, they tried to leave by the back door.  They were attacked and then taken by a motorist to this hotel.  Goudini says there was another man in the Casa Reposada and the man gave Biggles a paper to take to England.  Biggles says if he thinks they have a paper then he suggests Goudini finds it.  Goudini has them stripped naked and searched.  They put they cold and damp clothes back on and are then taken away.  Biggles demands to see the British Vice-Consul but they are told that the British consulate has been bombed and completely wrecked and all those within were killed.  They are taken to a “forbidding-looking building” and locked in a fairly roomy cell.  Biggles says “We’ve had what you might call a fairly active day, haven’t we?”