by Captain W. E. Johns



XV.                 THE MAILED FIST  (Pages 161 - 171)


Biggles regains consciousness to find Mrs. Clarke looking after him.  Suddenly "two big negros, dressed in white drill suits, strode into the room.  Both carried whips".  They go to drag Biggles out and Mrs. Clarke tries her best to stop them.  One of them whips her across her arm.  "You swine," said a voice, thin, but clear, as taut as a bow-string with passion.  It is Joe Clarke who has returned.  "You cowardly swine".  "The guilty negro must have read something in his eyes for he made a dash fro the back door".  Joe shoots him dead.  The other man attacks Joe causes him to drop his gun.  The man draws his knife but Mrs. Clarke picks up the gun and shoots him four times.  "Joe looked at Biggles.  "There's a woman for yer," he said proudly.  "You're a lucky fellow, Joe," answered Biggles, who for once had been a helpless spectator in a scene of violence".  Bertie and then Ginger arrive with great concern for Biggles and are pleased to find him recovering.  Brigham has also arrived and is a bit scared that they have killed tow of "Durango's men".  Biggles is told that Colonel Jose Durango is a Mexican who tried to start a revolution but it came unstuck.  Liebgarten was involved as well as Durango wanted to make the country Nazi.  There are nine or ten "negros" who were some sort of bodyguard to Durango.  "Durango's half a negro 'imself, yet they boss it about 'ere as if they owned the earth, the dirty lot of skunks".  Mrs. Clarke says "I suppose they'll call this murder?".  Biggles smiled grimly.  "They can call it what they like.  If ever I saw a case of justifiable homicide, this was it, and I'll swear to that in court - if it ever comes to a court case, which somehow I don't think it will".  The two dead men are buried behind a big patch of cactus outside.  Biggles holds a conference with everyone and confirms that everyone wants to leave.  Biggles says he is going to muster the strongest force he can raise and he has the guns for them as well.  Biggles asks how many British in the valley want to go home.  "Everybody wants to go home, but they ain't all British," answered Joe.  "For the time being we'll stick to those we can trust.  How many English speaking are there?"  There are 12 British including a Canadian, an Australian and a South African.  "That's fine," said Biggles.  "The Empire seems to be nicely represented.  We'll show this bunch of crooks what we can do when we get together.  Two "Yanks" are also to be included and with wives and children the numbers swell further.  Biggles sends Joe and Brigham to go and bring all these people to Joe's house.  "Simply ask them if they want to go home, and if they say yes, tell them to pack anything they want to take with them and muster here as quickly as possible".  Biggles tells Ginger there is nothing they can do about Algy and Angus at the moment.  By the time it is light "the show should be settled one way or the other".