by Captain W. E. Johns



XIII.                        AN ALARMING DISCOVERY  (Pages 159 – 171)


“Algy was incapable of speech, and for a while he could only yammer foolishly”.  “What are you doing here?” he managed to get out at last.  “What do you think? Making sand-castles with my little spade and bucket?” replies Biggles.  “What are you playing at, anyway?”  Algy explains he is about to blow up a supply dump.  Briny comes running up, swinging a rifle.  “Be careful what you’re doing with that thing, you fool,” snapped Biggles irritably, for what with shock and fatigue he was in no mood to be polite”.  Briny asks “What have you been doing, sir, if I may make so free as to ask?”  “Riding around the front in a hansom cab with Hitler,” grated Biggles with bitter sarcasm.  Biggles gives a quick explanation of what has happened to him and Algy confirms it was he who “slung the mouldy” (mouldy being slang for torpedo).  Algy tells his story and says they found the remains of Biggles machine.  “So, thinking you were a gonner (‘goner’ is misspelt with two ‘n’s here instead of one and that error remains in every edition of the book, including the paperbacks) I went mad dog.  I had a crack at the Leipzig first.  Then I went home for a time-bomb”.  Biggles asks for a jacket and Briny gives him the flying-jacket he is wearing.  Biggles wants to go back to base.  He says the dump can wait and he’ll send Ginger to attend to it later.  Algy says Biggles won’t be able to do that as Ginger has gone missing.  Biggles asks if the spare machine is still in the cave and when told that it is, he is not seriously upset about Ginger, as it is obvious that he can’t be far away.  It strikes Biggles that if the dump is to be destroyed, now is the time to do it, as the Germans would cause a search to be made for him (following his escape) and the sandbank, being the nearest land, would be one of the first places they would look.  As the aircraft is a two-seater, Biggles suggests Algy takes Briny home and then returns with Biggles’ spare kit while Biggles gets everything ready for the big bang the moment Algy returns.  Algy tells Biggles where the dump is and that it is made of corrugated iron and it is all locked up.  Biggles tells Algy to bring back a drill and a hack-saw so they can get in, there may be some petrol they can take.  Algy and Briny take off and Biggles takes the time-bomb and goes to find the storage dump.  Biggles sets the bomb at the rear wall.  Algy returns and taxis into a sheltered creek about two hundred yards from the storage dump.  He has bought hot coffee and Biggles kit.  He tells Biggles there is still no sign of Ginger.  Using the equipment Algy has bought, they cut their way into the back of the storage dump and enter.  They are surprised at the amount of stores and spare parts there, not just for the navy but also for aircraft.  Hearing the noise of a multi-engined plane coming in to land, Biggles and Algy turn off their torch and come out of the storage depot.  Biggles looks for the time-bomb he left outside but Algy says he took it inside as he thought it would make a better job of it inside.  It has been left behind.  Biggles and Algy daren’t risk trying to return to find it in the dark and decide to leave in their aircraft that Algy has left in the creek, the Didgeree-du.  On returning, they find the tide has come in, but the aircraft has not floated as its wheels have sunk into the sand.