by Captain W. E. Johns



XVII.                       AN UNEXPECTED MEETING  (Pages 206 – 217)


Meanwhile, Ginger has found it is further to the top of the hill than he thought.  The heat is intense and the fragrance of the pines overpowering.  Hearing people coming, Ginger climbs a tree to hide.  Ginger can’t see the Caproni but does see a couple of isolated houses which offer “hope of slaking his raging thirst”.  Hiding from Italian troops, Gingers heads towards the nearest house, keeping amongst the trees parallel with a road.  A motor cycle with a dispatch rider passes and to Ginger’s intense chagrin and annoyance, it stops outside the house for which he was making.  Ginger waits for the dispatch rider to leave and whilst he does so a car passes by with Biggles and Algy in it!  “For a few seconds he stood rooted to the ground in stunned consternation and amazement.  Then, prompted by something he did not stop to consider, he made a rush for the motor cycle”.  Taking the motor cycle he chases after the car.  When they pass by the Caproni standing beside the road, Ginger begins to suspect what has happened.  The car he is following slows as a section of the road is being repaired by some workmen.  Pulling up stationary being the car, Ginger is surprised to hear an English voice say “Blimey, if it ain’t Ginger!”  One of the workmen is Fred Summers!  They are prisoners of war as Fred has been captured.  As the car moves off, Ginger says “Feel like a ride, Fred?” and Fred quickly jumps on the back of Ginger’s motor cycle.  Ginger drives off in a cloud of dust.  Shouting, Fred tells Ginger there is a prison camp a couple of miles ahead and Jock is in there.  In all the excitement, Ginger “had forgotten the very existence of Jock McLannoch, and the letter which had been the cause of all their troubles”.  The car takes Biggles and Algy to the prison camp.  Ginger hides the motor bike amongst the trees.  Ginger explains his pals are inside and he asks Fred for details of the prison camp.  Fred elects to stay with Ginger and help him.  In the tool box of the motor cycle, Ginger finds a pair of strong pliers with an edge for cutting wire, together with a small file and a heavy wrench.  As the prisoners return from building the road, walking in a rough column, Ginger and Fred slip in amongst them, avoiding the view of the guards.  They march onwards towards the camp.