BIGGLES IN THE BALTIC
by Captain W. E. Johns
XV. HAPPENINGS ON THE ROCK (Pages 191 – 202)
Roy was asleep when the Germans arrived but they must have made a sound that awoke him. He woke up, not knowing that Biggles and Algy had returned and when he looked out of the side window of his cabin, he was horrified to see German marines coming up the catwalk. Roy grabs all the decoded messages and the British and German code-books and creeps around the rear of the hut to either destroy or conceal the code-books. There is only one direction he can take and that is towards the rear of the cave and up the narrow passageway. Roy strikes a match to burn the code-books, but he sees that the passageway continues and he decides to follow it. Using his matches sparingly, Roy tries to climb over an enormous boulder in the dark and falls, knowing himself unconscious. “Had he known that Briny and his father, the Flight-Sergeant, were somewhere in front of him, he might have proceeded up the cave with more confidence”. They had both been looking for Ginger and had gone up the cave passageway with electric torches. Briny had discovered Ginger’s broken torch. Working out that the torch must have been dropped from the high mass of rock in front of them, they both climb up and find the pool of water that Ginger fell into. They call out but there is no reply. Seeing a distance light, they turn off their torches and stare at the grey streak that had attracted Ginger’s attention. Daylight. The Flight-Sergeant thinks Ginger would have gone across, bearing in mind he had lost his torch, and he strips off and then swims on his back toward the light with his torch held over his head to keep it dry. Ginger, meanwhile, is still on top of the island – and in a bad way. The rock is wet and hard to move over. When Algy takes off on his trip to torpedo the Leipzig in the Didgeree-du, Ginger is not able to attract his attention. By the time Algy returns, it is dark and there is no hope of Ginger being seen. The plane flies out again as Algy and Briny go to bomb the depot and returns, when Algy drops Briny off and picks up Biggles spare kit. Ginger sleeps through the night and wakes up cold and stiff. In daylight, Ginger is able to attempt to climb the huge rock that overhangs the entrance to the cove, in the hope of attracting attention. When he reaches the top and peers over the edge of the cliff, he sees the German flying boat that Algy flew back and, naturally, he thinks that the base has been discovered by the enemy. It takes time for Ginger to climb down the overhanging rock, back to the where he was before and he then feels a snowflake on his face. As the snow begins to fall in earnest, Ginger contemplates climbing down the way he originally came up, even at the risk of falling. He then hears the muffled roar of an aeroplane somewhere overhead, “the engine was missing fire on at least one cylinder, in a manner suggesting that a complete breakdown was imminent”.