by Captain W. E. Johns



VII.                 OVER THE ROOF  (Pages 82 – 94)


Time passes.  Smith returns with food for them both.  Smith explains how he came to be in Czechoslovakia after a fall from a horse “buckled my spine” and he came to see a Czech specialist.  He got to know the country, the people and language and stayed.  When the war came the Intelligence people were glad to have someone with his qualifications.  Biggles asks if Smith can get a message home as his people can fly out and get him.  Smith knows of a suitable landing ground and arrangements are made for Smith to radio a coded message back to London and to get Biggles and Ginger collected in the early hours of the following morning.  Biggles says he will need a powerful torch to signal to any aircraft.  Smith says he will arrange for a vegetable cart to collect them nearby at 9.00 pm.  By 7.00 pm, Smith has returned saying all the arrangements are made.  They are to come down to the shop just before 9.00 pm.  However, when the time arrives and Biggles and Ginger are about to go down, they hear peremptory knocking and the door downstairs opening.  The buzzer goes off.  Biggles and Ginger return to their room and climb out through the skylight.  The roof is wet and extremely slippery making progress to the chimney stack very difficult.  As he gets out on the roof, Ginger finds himself groping desperately for something to hold on to.  (“Groping desperately for a hold on the sloping roof” – is the second illustration between pages 96 and 97).  Ginger gets to the chimney first, followed by Biggles.  (This is the scene depicted on the cover of the book).  Biggles retrieves the rope.  They climb down to a flat roof and then on down to the yard.  “Biggles made a running knot round the chimney” so he is able to pull the rope down after their descent and hide it.  In the scrapyard they make their way to the wooden fence only to hear footsteps and voices.  It is von Stalhein with another German talking about trying to find them.  “But you don’t know this man Bigglesworth, I do.  I’ve been trying to pin him down for years, but he’s as slippery as an eel” they hear.  Von Stalhein thinks Biggles is already on his way to Berlin.  They all hear the approach of hooves and a farm cart.  Von Stalhein decides to have the cart searched and also the yard where Biggles and Ginger are hiding.