by Captain W. E. Johns


Published June 1949









In this book Biggles is introduced by Ginger hearing his arrival home and saying "That sounds like Biggles now". "The door opened and Biggles entered". Algy, Bertie and Ginger wonder where he has been and he explains that he has been at the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases, having been called there by the Matron. "Bertie dropped his eyeglass but caught it neatly". "Well, blow me down!" he ejaculated. "I should never have guessed that one". A man with blackwater fever called Linton had been asking for Biggles and he had a sinister story to tell before he died. This man, Linton, has been with Angus MacKail for the past year, in South Amercia. Angus is an old member of 666 Squadron - commanded by Biggles during the Second World War. "But he was invalided on account of that crash he had in Burma (* a footnote tells us to See "Biggles in the Orient") he told me he thought of going in for farming" asserted Ginger. Apparently Angus and Linton had answered an advert in a farming paper after the war, inviting people with a little capital to take up land in new international colony that had been established in South America. "Paradise Valley, the name under which this colony advertises itself, seems to be somewhere in the region where the boundaries of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia meet". Linton met Angus on the boat going out to Buenos Aires. Linton took about 500 and Angus took the best part of 1000. They then took the railway inland and where that finished they had to travel cross-country for 300 miles to a river called the Palito. A steam launch then took them on a fortnight's journey up river to Paradise Valley. A more appropriate title would have been 'The Valley of Hades' says Biggles. "The valley is, Linton assured me, a bug-ridden, snake-invested area of sun-blistered red mud that would not of itself support a family of aboriginal Indians" adds Biggles. It didn't take Angus and Linton long to see how neatly they'd been tricked. However, getting away isn't easy in view of the location and although no force is used, the only alternative is to stay and work for the boss, a man called Doctor Liebgarten. "Some say he's a German, some an Austrian, some a Czech, some a Russian. The fact is, nobody knows except the man himself, and he doesn't talk about it". The most unusual thing about him is his teeth, they are dentures made of metal, some say steel, others duralumin. Liebgarten (which is German for 'dear garden') lives in a magnificent house set in a delightful garden in Paradise Valley where he lives in luxury. The house is surrounded by cacti creating an impenetrable barrier several feet thick with one gate "always watched by one of several negroes who form a sort of bodyguard". Biggles can't understand why a man of such apparent wealth would want to remain in such a place. Linton managed to escape. He and Angus got a native dug-out canoe. They saved up food for the journey but Angus came down with fever and insisted the Linton take his chance and go without him. "With a poisoned arrow in his leg, more than half-starved, rotten with fever he got to the desert. He couldn't remember how he crossed it, but cross it he did, and more dead than alive got to the railway, where, having no money he jumped a goods train and so reached the coast. A friendly skipper on a tramp steamer bought him back to London where he was rushed straight to hospital. "Obviously, we shall have to go and look for Angus" says Biggles. "I'll give the matter some thought during the evening. Tomorrow we'll get cracking".