by Captain W. E. Johns



V.                    KNOTTY PROBLEMS  (Pages 62 - 77)


As Biggles walks down the drive deep in thought, he realises that mentioning Zahar was a mistake and he may have put his life in danger.  A car leaves Ambrimos's residence and Biggles can guess where it is going.  If the car returned with Zahar in it, Biggles would want to know, but how would he get to see inside the dark car at night?  He has to do something "for the thought of Zahar dying as a result of his own indiscretion lay heavily on his conscience".  Biggles goes an gets on of Ambrimos' cars, an American Buick.  He parks it in the entrance to the drive and turns the headlights on.  When the mystery car returns, Biggles can clearly see three Arabs in the back and one is Zahar.  Biggles opens the car door and calls him out.  When one of the Arab escorts goes for a knife, Biggles pulls out his automatic.  Biggles takes Zahar and escorts him away, explaining that if he entered that house he would never leave alive.  Biggles has no doubt "that the Sultan was concerned with Hamud and the gurra racket.  His anxiety to get hold of Zahar was proof of that".  Zahar explains that he used to carry hashish for Ambrimos.  It was carried on moulting camels under their hair.  The Sultan was not only a seller of hashish but also a producer of it.  "He grows it in the country of the Danokili, on the other side of the Red Sea, at a place called El Moab" declared Zahar.  "There, in a wadi, he has a great store of water saved from the time of the rains, and this makes it possible to grow the plant even in the dry season".  Zahar goes on to say that some drugs are moved by aeroplane and there is much sabkha, such as surrounds the Wadi al Arwat.  The significance of this remark is not lost on Biggles.  Biggles asks Zahar to meet him are the aerodrome at the hour of sunrise.  Biggles is well satisfied with his evening's work.  He feels that the pattern of the gurra racket was beginning to take shape.