By Captain W. E. Johns



VI.                   RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH  (Pages 55 - 66)


Biggles finds the crashed plane and the dead pilot, Thomas Grafton Moorven, a lad of about twenty.  He examines the body thoroughly and then the crashed aircraft but finds nothing unusual.  He does find in the cockpit however, a slip of greaseproof paper about three inches square on which is printed WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF CHARNEYS, LTD., LONDON.  NOT FOR SALE.  SUPPLIED FOR THE USE OF H.M. FORCES ONLY.  It smells faintly of mint.  Biggles screws it into a ball and tosses it aside.  Having found no explanation for the crash, Biggles decides to burn the plane and the body with it as he is not able to dig a grave.  He is about to do this when he hears trampling and crashing through the undergrowth.  Hiding, Biggles sees two Japanese soldiers arrive.  When they abuse the body of the dead pilot, Biggles, in an uncharacteristic display of violence, shoots them both dead.  "You swine" he says.  "You utter swine".  One of the Japanese soldiers runs and Biggles shoots him.  He then "walked forward and with calculated precision fired two more shots at point-blank range.  His lips were drawn back, showing the teeth.  "You unspeakable thug," he rasped.  The man lay still."  Biggles then burns the plane with Tommy's body in the cockpit and the two dead Japanese soldiers across the tail unit.  Biggles makes his way to the river and Tug returns in a Gipsy Moth float-plane to pick him up.  With Tug is a Hurricane being flown by Angus Mackail.  Tug tells Biggles that three Hurricane pilots failed to get back, Grainger, Larkin and Moorven.  As Biggles is about to board the Gipsy Moth, the accompanying Hurricane suddenly pancakes into the river.  Biggles is able to pull Angus out but he is unconscious.  This is the picture on the front cover of the first edition of the book.  The Gipsy Moth is only able to take two people so Tug flies Angus back whilst Biggles sits on the river bank to await his return.  He puts his wet cigarettes out to dry.