by Captain W. E. Johns



XII.                 DESPERATE MEASURES  (Pages 186 – 200)


It is past midday when they get back to the fiord.  Things have calmed down but there is wreckage everywhere.  “Biggles noted that, as so often happens, the sailors and the airmen, members of two services, kept apart from each other, as if they were acting under separate orders – as no doubt they were”.  Algy, under guard, sits a little apart from the others.  Biggles has a shrewd suspicion there must be a proper hue and cry for them as Brandt was bound to have been picked up by now.  After an hour, a Dornier flying-boat belonging to the squadron arrives and Biggles resolves that this will be the machine that carries them to safety.  The pilot is none other that Schaffer, whose uniform Biggles is still wearing.  Schaffer is suspicious of Biggles.  “What Biggles did not know, and perhaps it was as well for his peace of mind that he did not, was the extent of the hue and cry that had been started from him”.  Biggles “knew that the German was wondering if he ought to cross-examine him there and then, and perhaps accuse him of being a spy”.  Instead, Schaffer walks a short distance away and takes the other officers with him.  Biggles knows that they are talking about him.  They would perceive that there was something very odd in the manner in which he had appeared, from nowhere, so to speak.  And the same with Algy.  If he had been shot down, where was his machine?  After the German officer’s discussion, Biggles notices two airmen with rifles are never far away from him.  Schaffer says he is flying to Oslo and invites Biggles to come with him.  Biggles agrees.  Clearly Schaffer doesn’t want to arrest someone who might turn out to be a member of the dreaded Gestapo.  He will leave that to someone in Oslo.  Algy is taken to a beached supply ship which will be used as a temporary prison.  Schaffer doesn’t know Biggles is a pilot and they sit side by side in the Dornier.  Schaffer thinks he has nothing to fear as “no one but a lunatic – or, of course, another pilot – would interfere with a man at the controls of an aircraft”.  They take off, but when they are out of sight of the fiord, Biggles gently takes Schaffer’s revolver from its holster.  Schaffer catches him in the act.  Biggles says “I’m sorry Schaffer, I must ask you to let me have this machine.  I should be sorry to have to hurt you, so I hope you’ll be reasonable about it”.  “Then I was right,” hissed Schaffer, “You are a spy”.  “It would be futile to deny it,” admitted Biggles.  Schaffer abandons the controls and attacks Biggles.  They fight it out.  “Look out, you fool!” yelled Biggles, “You’ll kill us both”.  “Now if there is one thing a man cannot do it is fly an aeroplane and fight at the same time”.  The plane stalls and plunges earthwards like a stone.  Biggles yells “Wait!” and grabs the joystick to level out the machine.  Biggles whips out the revolver.  “One move and I shall have to shoot,” he threatened.  “Believe me, I don’t want to have to do that, Schaffer, but if its to be one or the other of us, it isn’t going to be me”.  Biggles goes to land the aircraft on the water, when he is attacked and machine gunned by another aircraft.  Glass and splinters fly.  Schaffer goes for a machine gun in a small chest, but Biggles banks the plane and Schaffer falls over backwards.  Biggles is able to land on the sea, fifty yards from a cliff.  Biggles asks if Schaffer can swim and tells him to get going. Schaffer says “We shall meet again”.  “Perhaps,” smiled Biggles.  “If we do I hope it will be after the war.  Look me up at the Aero Club, and I’ll stand you a dinner in return for the use of your uniform”.  Biggles taxis away and looks around for the attacking aircraft.  “He gasped when he saw the machine overhead, for he recognised it at once.  It was Ginger’s seaplane”.