by Captain W. E. Johns



XVI.                        THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS  (Pages 171 - 180)


Gradually the people drift in and when all are gathered, Biggles addresses them.  Biggles asks if anyone wants to stay.  Nobody does.  Biggles says "If there is anyone here not prepared to accept the risk of being hurt let him say so now.  There's still plenty of time to withdraw".  Nobody does.  Biggles says the real boss behind Paradise Valley is a man called Stitzen.  An American named Cyrus Walder then speaks.  He knows Stitzen.  "Stitzen's an Austrian doctor who was lent by the Nazis to the Japanese government to carry out research work in tropical diseases.  That was before Pearl Harbour".  Cy used to be in the U.S. Signal Corps and so knows this.  Biggles ask what is he doing here and the reply is "Carrying on his experiments in tropical diseases and using human beings for guinea-pigs.  That's what he was doing in the war.  Our people wanted him because he'd been working on American prisoners".  Biggles is aware that most of the men are ex-military.  He says the women and children will stay there and the men will go with him to get the guns.  Joe suggests Biggles rides on one of the ponies that Durango's men arrived on and this he does.  (The cover picture of the first edition is Biggles with his arm in a sling leading his ramshackle army).  The guns are collected and Biggles shows Bertie and Ginger where the plans are hidden.  If anything happens to him they must get the plans to Raymond.  The guns are cleaned and one man "who's name Biggles did not know", a former commando, goes to reconnoitre the bungalow and Liebgarten's house.  "He reported that two blacks were on duty at a gate".  Biggles says "Go and get them. Take three men wiht you.  Do the job quietly if you can.  No shooting unless it's necessary to save your lives".  Biggles tells his men this "There are two ways of handling the show.  The first is to rush the place and grab everyone in it.  That is would succeed I have no doubt, but there would certainly be shooting, and shots would mean casualties.  I want to avoid casualties if it's possible ........... the alternative is to try negotiations".  Biggles sends Bertie to go and get Algy and bring the plane here.  Biggles will make a signal if its safe to land.  Biggles puts Ginger in charge and then sets off.