by Captain W. E. Johns



VII.                 A NASTY SHOCK  (Pages 70 – 86)


Algy says “If you can get us out of this hole, I shall tell the world that you are a very clever fellow”.  Biggles grins.  “In that case I shall have to see what can be done about it”.  Ginger suggest they break out or give Goudini the letter.  Biggles says giving him the letter would give Goudini more reason to keep them.  Biggles says that Goudini would have got the envelope and be pretty sure they know more about the letter than they pretend.  Biggles speculates about Frazer’s mission and is sure that he is dead.  Biggles says Goudini will be taking the hotel room to pieces looking for the letter.  Our heros ask for some food and it is provided.  There is a small heavily barred window and although it is not yet quite light, there are some uniformed figures passing by.  Biggles hears an American voice and calls the soldier over.  He is a legionnaire fighting for the Spanish government.  Biggles explains part of their situation (saying nothing about the letter) and asks for a file or a hacksaw to get out.  The man, who Biggles thinks could be a Spaniard from the States or South Amercia, returns with a small hacksaw and soon Biggles, Algy and Ginger have cut through two bars, giving them enough room to get through and escape into a gravelled courtyard.  It appears the place is a barracks as well as a prison.  Biggles speaks in French to two French officers and says they have come to join the legion.  They are directed to a quartermaster’s stores.  Here they find a Spanish N.C.O (non-commissioned officer) called Pedro, who speaks many languages.  Pedro is about to go for coffee but Biggles gives him a hundred-peseta note and they are allowed to help themselves to kit whilst Pedro gets his coffee.  Biggles, Algy and Ginger are now able to get uniforms and boots.  They walk towards the guards at the main gate where “with typical Spanish slackness they had propped their rifles against the wall” and all three of them are able to just walk out.  They decide they have to get back the precious letter and so find a taxi and ask to be taken to the Hotel Valencia – Biggles had noted the name when they went in.  They go by horse drawn cab and Ginger is incensed by the driver’s whip-cracking.  Biggles says they will see a lot of cruelty to animals in Spain.  Returning to the waste plot of land, Algy recovers the ball of paper with the ornament in.  Suddenly from all sides, men in the uniforms of the Guardia Civil close in on them.  Goudini has laid a trap for them and they have walked straight into it!  Ginger had not gone with them as he had be told to “keep cave” (old school slang meaning to be on watch or remain vigilant from the latin word for ‘beware’).   Biggles shouts “Ginger!  Catch!” and throws the ornament to him.  Ginger catches the precious package and then runs down the avenue “like a rabbit making for its burrow with a terrier at its heels”.  The police chase after him.