by Captain W. E. Johns



XVII.                       BUTTONED UP  (Pages 204 - 211)


After half an hour, Biggles, Bertie, Ginger and Tug go and join Major Grattan.  Kreeze and Robinson have been caught and disarmed.  Doctor Dorov has been mortally wounded resisting arrest.  "Before he died he boasted that as he was on the list of Nazi war criminals he had cheated the Allies after all.  Originally a Czech banker of repute, he had turned quisling, and as head of the Nazi forgery and counterfeit document department during the war, he had ill treated prisoners who happened in civil life to be engravers, draughtsmen, and the like, who refused to work for him.  Stephan (sic) and George had been two of his associates at that time".  White is hiding in the bamboo swamp.  "George had last been seen making off across the plain with some natives.  There was little chance of his reaching civilization.  For the rest, the entire staff had been rounded up.  Two American negro gangsters, disguised as African natives, had been killed in a gun fight.  Three policemen had been wounded, but none seriously".  Biggles goes to get White out of the bamboo swamp.  White offers Biggles ten thousand, then fifty thousand pounds to get him out of this.  Biggles says "You're wasting your time.  Are you coming out or do I have to fetch you?".  "The answer was a stream of blasphemous abuse".  Biggles pursues White but is "confronted by a spectacle so appalling that for a moment he could only stand as if petrified with horror".  White has been bitten by a snake and is writhing around with it (this is the illustration depicted on the book cover).  Biggles kills the snake and they try to treat him, but White dies.  Major Grattan recognises "White" as Kravas - an Armenian.  "He has the reputation of being one of the wealthiest men in the Middle East.  He keeps up a magnificent place in Cairo".  Biggles and co. return to Cairo in the Pacemaker.  Here they meet Air Commodore Raymond at the Stellar office.  Raymond has made contact with the Continental police "with the result that every agency, booking office and taxidermist distributing centre was raided simultaneously".  Raymond says "We found some interesting staff at this so-called pilots' club at Croydon.  We've got Black.  We soon located the machines, and the company's pilots, including Ivan, were arrested as they landed".  It turns out the booking clerk at Cairo, Louis, was a nephew of Kravas and he has turned King's Evidnece and shown the authorities his uncle's secret depository.  It contains details of everyone employed by him, not only in the Stellar concern but in all his rackets.  Biggles says as it is winter at home, they might as well make the best of the sunshine for a day or two.  The Air Commodore agrees, and so do Bertie, Ginger, Algy and Tug.