by Captain W. E. Johns



XIX.                        A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT  (Pages 235 – 253)


Biggles asks Jock for the letter and is given it.  He says if the worst comes to the worst he will have to destroy it.  Biggles rejects any use of the motorcycle as it would be two noisy and could only carry two when there is five in their party – Biggles, Algy, Ginger, Fred and Jock.  Reaching the area of the aeroplane, Biggles reconnoitres to see if the troops stationed there have gone.  Biggles finds the plane has gone.  “Jock fired an explosive curse”.  “Swearing won’t bring it back,” said Biggles calmly.  “By gosh, this is a blow!” murmured Ginger.  Biggles asks Jock how far are they from the nearest aerodrome and is told the Corpidello would be the nearest, some ten to twelve miles away. They hear a car coming and put a tree across the road.  Two officers get out of the car to move the obstruction and Biggles holds them up with Ginger’s pistol.  “The pointed muzzle of a pistol is an argument understood anywhere, by any one”.  The officers speak some English and have wings on their jackets, so Biggles takes their tunics and caps as well.  Fred climbs a telegraph pole to cut the wires so no one can telephone ahead.  Biggles suspects that the officers were going off to fly bombers to carry out a dawn bombing raid.  Arriving at the aerodrome, they see six Caproni bombers stood out in front of hangars.  Algy and Biggles wear “the borrowed plumes” and they drive right up to the end machine on the right, which has its engines running.  With a plan to take over the machine Biggles says “England, home and beauty”.  “Scotland for ever!” growls Jock from the floor of the car.  As the car pulls up, Biggles gets out and punches a mechanic in the jaw “and he went down like an empty sack falling off a shelf”.  (Biggles’s fist shot out with all the weight he could put behind it - is the illustration on page 247).  Another mechanic is in the pilot’s seat and Biggles drags him out by the throat and passes him to Jock to deal with.  Biggles pilots the heavy bomber off the ground.  Biggles thinks they are between seventy and a hundred miles from the Pyrenees and they fly towards France.  Chased by five Fiats, Biggles finds a pass in the mountains and is under fire for the last part of the journey.  “One of the engines coughed, coughed again, and went dead, smoking.  The bomber roared on, Biggles pressing on the joystick to overcome the torque of the single engine.”  They crash land at a customs post on the frontier with France.  Our heroes are mainly unharmed in the crash, Algy just having a trickle of blood on his lips.  They meet the frontier guards and customs officers.  “It took some minutes to calm them.  The discovery that they were British did more in this direction than anything Biggles could say”.