by Captain W. E. Johns



IV.           BIGGLES BAITS THE TRAP  (Pages 83 – 94)

This story was originally published in THE WONDER BOOK OF COMICS (1949) by Odhams Press Ltd and ran from pages 125 to 134 in that book.  The date of the agreement between Johns and Odhams Press for this story was 12th September 1947 and Johns wasn’t allowed to republish the story until twelve months after they published it, or thirty months after the date of the agreement.  This summary also points out the changes between the original version and the version in Biggles Takes the Case.


Biggles banters with Ginger and then says he is taking him to “pinch the priceless pearls of the Rajah of Rantipana”.  Algy and Bertie are on leave but Biggles has had to get in touch with them to get them on an urgent job.  A gang of jewel thieves carried out a big diamond robbery in Paris last week and the diamonds were in New York the following day.  The New York Police report that one of the men suspected of being connected with the jewel thieves is now in London.  Biggles thinks that is because he is to do another job, particularly as the Rajah of Rantipana is on his way to the U.K. from India for the Far East Conference.  He is due to land at Gatwick Airport at two-thirty that day.  He has with him his celebrated pearls, says Biggles, and the story has appeared in the newspapers at the request of Biggles.  Ginger says the pearls should be chained to someone’s wrist.  “The Frenchman carrying the diamonds last week tried that and got his hand cut off at the wrist, as a result of which he died,” said Biggles coldly.  Biggles has a plan.  He has arranged to steal the pearls at Gatwick and will then run to the cockpit of a Mosquito where Ginger will be sitting with the engines ticking over.  Biggles thinks the gang will have their own aircraft at Gatwick.  Ginger says “So we set off, flat out, with the Rajah’s regalia, hotly pursued by the thwarted thugs?”  The plan is to fly to Margon, a nice quiet little airfield near Lyons, in France.  Biggles says that when the crooks arrive at Margon, he will “pull the string and they’ll find themselves in the bag”.  “You’ll look silly if they bump you off and get the pearls,” declared Ginger.  “If I’m bumped off I shall be past caring what I look like,” answered Biggles lightly.  They both take their guns and leave.  At two-thirty precisely, the Rajah of Rantipana’s private blue and silver monoplane lands at Gatwick.  Airport officers, government representatives, reporters and cameramen are all waiting.  Biggles has a camera hanging on his chest.  As the Rajah arrives at the reception gate, there is a blinding flash followed by a dense cloud of white smoke.  Biggles snatches a blue morocco case from the Rajah’s secretary and runs to Ginger in a waiting Mosquito.  A man in the crowd draws a pistol and fires at Biggles.  Ginger fires into the ground near the feet of the pursuer, fearing they may be a member of the Rajah’s staff or a genuine detective.  Biggles get in the plane and explains that a smoke bomb must have exploded and that someone else went for the jewel case as well.  “I socked him on the jaw, got clear and ran”.  Making sure they don’t fly too fast; Biggles soon spots they are being followed by a red-painted Volting aircraft.  (This is the pen and ink illustration at the beginning of the story on page 84).  Ginger lands the Mosquito at Margon in France, where the airport manager is expecting Biggles.  Biggles and Ginger go to the refreshment room where there are only two customers, one a French parson and the other a mechanic in blue overalls with a beret pulled on at a rakish angle.  Biggles orders tea and biscuits and waits.  The Volting lands and three men come into the room.  One was the little dark man who had chased Biggles at Gatwick.  Another, a tall good looking man with cold grey eyes, asks Biggles to “Hand them over”.  The blue pearl case is on a spare chair and the man snatches it.  “If it’s the Rajah’s pearls you’re looking for you’re on the wrong track” says Biggles.  “Where are they?” grates the man.  “In the strong room at the Savoy Hotel, London, I imagine, by this time”.  “Who are you?” the man asks.  “Detective-Inspector Bigglesworth of Scotland Yard” replied Biggles.  (In the original story the reply was “Sergeant Bigglesworth of Scotland Yard”.  This was because Biggles was promoted to Detective Air-Inspector in the book “Another Job for Biggles” published in February 1951.  This story was written in 1947 but when it was collected and published in “Biggles Takes the Case” on 3rd April 1952, the rank had to be changed for continuity purposes).  The man immediately pulls his pistol out but there is a gunshot and the man clutches at his shattered arm and drops his pistol on the floor.  Air Constable Bertie Lissie, disguised as a French priest has shot the man.  The mechanic is also on his feet with his pistol at the ready and it is Algy Lacey.  The pilot of the Volting, hearing the shot, rushes in and all four of the crooks are arrested.  Biggles tells them a cordon of French police are round the building “all burning to avenge their comrade whom you murdered last week in Paris”.  Biggles hands the men over to a French inspector.  Biggles says they have time to finish their tea before returning to Scotland Yard.