by Captain W. E. Johns



X.                    MELANCHOLY NEWS  (Pages 117 - 129)


Tug arrives at the International Pilots' Club which turns out to be a private house.  There has been no mention whatsoever of Stellar Skyways and it is only at dawn the following morning on arrival at Croydon Airport that Tug sees a Pacemaker aircraft with the Stellar flying dragon insignia and he can be certain he is on the right track.  Tug is told to deliver a letter and flying with him is Ivan.  During the journey Tug is asked if he knows someone called "Bigglesworth".  Tug says he thought he had heard the name.  He is told the Bigglesworth is running an air cop service for Scotland Yard and that is why they are flying to Africa today.  He and his friends has some shocks coming, Tug is told.  Stopping at Cairo, Ivan is redirected to go to Rome and Tug is asked to fly down to Kudinga alone.  This he does and he meets Mr. Kreeze, who opens the important letter in front of him.  Included are four separate photographs of Biggles, Algy, Ginger and Bertie outside the entrance to Scotland Yard.  Tug finds himself in the office when Kreeze confronts Bertie with the photograph but Tug is then sent out.  Later he sees Bertie and Kisumo walking along the track towards the forrest and afterwards he hears three gunshots.  Kreeze comes and speaks to Tug and then speaks to the Doctor within Tug's hearing.  Tugs hears him tell the Doctor that Lissie is a police spy and Kisumo was told to liquidate him.  When Kisumo doesn't return, Kreeze organises a search of a dozen men and Tug is amongst them.  In the forrest they come upon a scene of blood and carnage.  Kisumo has been virtually torn in half.  There is a dead buffalo and Bertie lies covered in blood.  "It's plain enough to see what happened" says Kreeze, "It's the old story.  Lissie and Kisumo must have been walking along the path when the beast charged from cover at close range.  They to the buffalo, but it finished them first.  It would - the devils are like that.  Well, there's nothing we can do about it now.  We'll set a guard to keep the hyenas off till morning, then bring them in".  Tug thinks Kisumo shot Bertie through the back of the head and the report had disturbed the buffalo which then attacked.  Kisumo had fired two further shots and then gone down before it's charge and the mortally wounded buffalo died afterwards.  Tug is desperate to let Biggles know what has happened.  Back at the compound, Kreeze gives Tug a letter and complains "Those infernal n****rs (This is the eighth Biggles book to feature the use of the very offensive “N” word by W. E. Johns.  The word appears once in this book, only in this chapter.  Of course, in its day, the word was in regular use and not considered offensive at all, otherwise it would not have appeared in a children’s book, where even mild expletives are watered down.  The word remained in all Hodder & Stoughton editions of this book and also in the 1963 Armada paperback version.  When Armada republished this book in 1983 the line was changed to “Those men ….).  that I left to guard the bodies, bolted.  A few minutes ago they came tearing back shouting that they had been attacked by a lion".  Tug is told to give the letter to the booking clerk at Cairo.  Six hours later, Tug hands the letter over in Cairo.  As Tug leaves the airport building he is pestered by an Arab for alms.  "Tug's answer was short and not very sweet.  His mood was far from charitable".  But the Arab is in fact Biggles!  (making his first appearance for 70 pages).  Tug tells Biggles that Bertie is dead.  "Are you sure?" questions Biggles.  "As sure as I'm standing here" returns Tug.  And Ginger has disappeared he adds.  Biggles says he and Algy have a room at Constantino's Restuarant and he tells Tug is to "slip along" and he will follow.