by Captain W. E. Johns



II.                    PLANS AND PREPARATIONS  (Pages 25 – 40)


Ten days later, Biggles and his team are at Kampala, the largest township in Uganda, where a furnished bungalow, conveniently near the local airport has been put at the disposal of Scotland Yard by British Overseas Airways.  “A native cook, an elderly negress named Lulu, had been “laid on” by the same company to attend to the kitchen arrangements”.  Biggles has bought three aircraft with him.  A Mosquito with full war armament, on loan from the R.A.F., a Proctor and an Auster.  “All were fitted with long range tanks and high-frequency radio telephony” (A form of radio communication primarily intended for the exchange of information in the form of speech).  “A considerable amount of equipment, which need not be detailed but which covered everything Biggles thought he was likely to require, had been carried out by one of the big machines of the B.O.A.C. regular service”.  “Kampala has been chosen as the most central spot from which to operate.  To the north lay the Sudan, Ethiopia, and the most easterly point of French Equatorial Africa.  To the west spread the vast territory of the Belgian Congo.  To the east Kenya.  To the south were Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland”.  (Of course, many Africa countries have changed names since this book was written).  As to the plans if and when the marauders are located, this has been left rather in the air.  Suggestions of calling up police or troops might be easier in theory rather than practice.  The first thing is to find them.  Bertie had said that a cunning fox would never kill on its own doorstep, thus betraying the whereabouts of his lair.  Following this logic, the place to look for the Black Elephant’s line of retreat was in a district where there had never been a raid.  Biggles agrees there may be something in that.  Mishu has been fetched from Nairobi by Algy in the Proctor.  He is a middle-aged man, tall, sinewy, thin-lipped, proud, and somewhat taciturn.  He speaks English fairly well from long employment by white hunters.  Mishu is of the view that the Black Elephant is certainly not a Zulu and is of the opinion that he was a poacher that Major Harvey hounded out of his district in the past.  That would be why Harvey was murdered on sight.  Mishu is going to look for the Black Elephant and kill him because of what he did to Harvey.  Biggles ask Mishu to join his party and Mishu agrees.  “Biggles spent a good deal of time studying the pattern formed by the many outrages committed by the bloodthirsty negro”.  Biggles studies maps, but Mishu suggest that the maps are unreliable as they do not allow for the seasons, where rain creates water in areas the map says are only desert.  Mishu says the presence of the Black Elephant, or his tracks are bound to be seen.  Biggles asks why they are not reported.  “Mishu’s explanation was simple.  The Kaffirs – as he called Hottentots – were afraid to speak, for fear the Black Elephant would return and slay them”.  A week passes and then a message is received that the Black Elephant has struck again at Ulunga in Northern Rhodesia, attacking and wiping out a safari.  Biggles suspects the Black Elephant will travel north, either up the west or east side of a lake running some four hundred and fifty miles north and south.  Mishu suggests that he be taken to his tribe, called the Illumbwa, on the Tanganyika side of the lake where he can listen for local gossip and watch for tracks.  Biggles suggests that Ginger takes Mishu to the Illumbwa Reserve in the Auster and then stays there in a tent.  There would be no point burning a lot of petrol dashing to and fro to see if Mishu had anything to report.  Biggles says there is enough daylight for Ginger and Mishu to make the trip today.