by Captain W. E. Johns



XVI.                        IN DEEP WATERS  (Pages 190 – 205)


It was with some trepidation that Biggles and Algy saw Ginger climb into the aircraft with the yellow wheels.  Biggles wishes they could have kept together.  Biggles is able to take off before curious mechanics come over to the Caproni.  Flying low, Biggles follows Ginger’s flight.  They see Ginger drop behind to join them, then they see the whole formation coming.  “I’m afraid this is going to be awkward” says Biggles uneasily.  Biggles decides to bolt for it as there is no other way.  Algy then spots the Fiats and Biggles sees another Caproni diving for home.  Biggles flies on into Franco country but Algy sees Ginger’s aircraft (it has yellow wheels) streak out of the fight and follow the wrong Caproni.  Biggles goes after him but his aircraft is slower and of course, it does not occur to Ginger to look for another Caproni.  They see Ginger draw level with the wrong aircraft and then be shot down.  “He’s afire!  screamed Algy”.  They are relieved to see Ginger bail out.  “Thank God!  He’s got a “brolly” says Biggles.  “The relief with which they both saw Ginger’s parachute open can be better imagined than described”.  Biggles flies near Ginger who “although he was unaware of it – was only a few yards from the others, but they might have been poles apart for all the hope they had of getting together”.  They see Ginger’s plane crash and set fire to the surrounding countryside.  They see Ginger crash into the trees and worry that if he has been knocked unconscious and the fire spreads, Ginger may burn to death.  Biggles determines that they have to land.  To the north the country is more open and Biggles lands on a long narrow piece of ground near a road that winds through the valley beyond.  Algy estimates they are three miles away from Ginger and they intend to run and help him but suddenly a hundred or more soldiers run from the pines fringing the landing ground.  “Trust us to land besides a regiment,” said Biggles bitterly.  The soldiers are Italian and Biggles asks if anyone speaks English.  Two soldiers answer yes; one had been a waiter in London.  Biggles is able to get the Officer to send men to the burning plane to try and rescue the pilot, Ginger.  Biggles explains they have escaped from Barcelona, where they were prisoners.  They are told to wait and if they try to escape, they will be shot, but they are given cigarettes to smoke.  The soldiers sent to look for Ginger return without him.  A car arrives to take Biggles and Algy, with an escort, to an unknown destination.  After twenty minutes they arrive at an encampment around a large private house and they are taken before four men, all officers of senior rank.  Two are Italian and Biggles suspects one is German from his close-cropped hair.  Here, Biggles gives their names as Bigglesworth and Lacey and is surprised to be asked if the pilot shot down was Mr. Hebblethwaite.  (‘Your names?’ he demanded in a peremptory voice - is the illustration on page 201).  They are accused of being English spies.  Biggles is told that “a week ago a British spy in Rome managed to get possession of a very important document which concerned operations in this theatre of war”.  The spy went to Barcelona to denounce to the Bolshevik leaders a certain important official, but the official was warned and the spy killed.  Biggles is told that the official was Goudini and he was their chief agent in Barcelona.  Biggles is accused of shooting Goudini but Biggles says he was killed whilst attempting to murder somebody and “if he was a double-crossing spy he deserved all he got”.  Biggles is asked for the letter but he hasn’t got it.  Taken back to the car, Biggles and Algy are driven away.