By Captain W. E. Johns



XVII.                       THE END OF THE TRAIL  (Pages 170 - 180)


Biggles runs down the steps and finds Taffy Hughes and Johnny Crisp.  Taffy has been stabbed in the leg.  Biggles runs to the lorry where Ferocity Ferris is on guard but he has seen nobody.  Bertie and Tex had gone to grab Larapindi's car and Biggles runs down the side street to where the car is parked.  Here he finds Tex holding the native driver of the car at gunpoint.  Tex says "a little feller in European clothes shot out of a side door.  When we shouted to him to stop he had a crack at us and then bolted towards the river.  Bertie went after him".  Biggles runs to a long wharf at the rear of the warehouse and hears shots.  Larapindi has got away in a powerful motor-boat.  Biggles returns to Larapindi's car and tells his team to call an ambulance for Taffy and then drive the lorry up-stream to try and stop Larapindi getting to the aircraft hanger he knows he has somewhere up the river.  Biggles then races off to Dum Dum airfield.  "In the short drive that followed Biggles took risks which in the ordinary way he would have considered unjustifiable".  Biggles climbs into the cockpit of a Spitfire and then flies up the river.  Seeing lights on the ground, Biggles realises the lorry is signalling to him and he flies towards it, almost colliding with the Gull that is Larapindi's aircraft.  To Biggles surprise, someone in the cabin opens fire on him with a machine-gun, presumably a mobile one.  Biggles shoots the plane down.  Biggles cruises back to the airfield and then goes out in the ambulance to the crash site.  Two bodies are in the wreck.  Larapindi and his pilot.  Biggles meets with Air Commodore Raymond who says that five Japanese airmen have been found hiding in the warehouse.  It must have been a rendezvous for enemy pilots forced down on the British side of the lines.  Additionally, Larapindi's safe has interesting contents.  He had done a deal with the Japanese for a high political position in India should the country be taken by Japan.  Biggles confirms that Mackail, Harcourt and Taffy, his injured pilots, are all right.  (The book finishes with an error.  "I want to have a little wager with Tug" says Biggles.  "I am going to bet him that the hole in my arm is deeper than the one in his leg".  But it was Taffy who was stabbed in the leg and not Tug, who was unharmed.  The error remains in all versions of the book up until the 1992 Red Fox paperback when the line was corrected to refer to Taffy).