BIGGLES TAKES A HOLIDAY

 

by Captain W. E. Johns

 

 

XVII. BIGGLES CALLS THE TUNE (Pages 180 - 191)

 

Biggles walks in the front door. "Two negroes were lolling on chairs placed side by side in the hall. They looked as if they had been dozing". Biggles asks them if they want to go on living and explains that all the men in the valley are outside, they have guns, but we don't shoot people who surrender. "The two blacks looked at each other with dull, brutish faces". Biggles says "If you don't believe me go and have a look" and then he walks into the lounge. Here are all the villains, eight in total. They included Stitzen, Liebgarten, von Stalhein and a dark skinned man in white uniform with a blaze of medal ribbons who Biggles took to be Colonel Durango. Two others Biggles didn't know and there was the steward and Pedro, the overseer. Biggles tells them that "Every man in this valley capable of carrying arms now has a gun, a rifle or a pistol ....... the fellows outside are impatient to get at you - an attitude which I'm sure you'll understand. In order to avoid unpleasantness I've asked them to give me ten minutes with you to discuss terms. If at the end of that time a decision has not been reached I cannot hold myself responsible for what they might do. And, I may say, whatever they did would have my sympathy, if not my approval". Biggles says "Realising how they have been duped they want to leave. They lent you money. They want to take it with them when they go. That's all. If you agree to give them their money and let them go they will take no further action against you. We should require to use the launch, of course. The evacuation might take a couple of days, during which time, for your own sakes, I should ask you to retire to the bungalow and stay there. We shall have to use this house as a clearing depot while the evacuation is in progress. That's all. The matter is not open to discussion. Answer yes or no, quickly please, because I only have five minutes left". After some descent, the villains realise they have little choice and agree. Biggles calls Ginger who reports the capture of the launch with five prisoners. Liebgarten is made to open the safe and 640 is taken for Angus. Then each man of Biggles' party collects the money due to him. The drone of aero engines signals the arrival of Algy and Biggles goes to signal him to land. Biggles tells Algy "It's all buttoned up". "We'll fly the sick people, and the women and kids down to Buenoe Aires. The others will have to go down in relays in the launch". Biggles says he will write a letter for Algy to take to the British Consulate. Five hours later, the Navigator returns from Buenos Aires and Algy finds the entire valley have converged on the doctor's house. Algy brings with him Sir Gyles Sayers of the British Embassy as well as officials of the Argentine government. Biggles explains the situaion and thinks he has identified the two villains he didn't know. "A German engineer and his assistant - a fellow named Johann Kraft, one of Krupps' armament experts. He was working on a new V-weapon, the V-17, when the war ended, and he's been trying to finish it here". Biggles hands over the plans. Biggles takes a short but refreshing sleep and is woken by gunshots. Stitzen has hanged himself with the cord of his pyjamas and prior to doing this he has set fire to his room. It had been necessary to remove the other prisoners and in the confusion some had tried to escape. Durango has been shot and mortally wounded. Liebgarten and von Stalhein had attempted to swim the river. Liebgarten had been pulled under by a crocodile but von Stalhein had made it into the jungle and was still being sought. The others had been recaptured. Sir Gyles tells Biggles that the government will take over now and he can get home. Biggles says he will fly Mackail home and try to squeeze Joe and his wife in as well. "I fancy we've seen everything that's worth seeing in the Valley of Paradise".