by Captain W. E. Johns



IV.                   LEAVE IT TO BIGGLESWORTH  (Pages 43 – 52)


“On the afternoon of the third day following the events narrated in the previous chapter, Biggles walked into his chief’s office at Scotland Yard to find the Air-Commodore waiting, having been advised by cable of the probable time of his arrival”.  This chance picking up of the castaway had practically confirmed what was suspected.  Biggles had flown to London on a B.O.A.C. Comet as a passenger.  “As he told the others frankly, he was beginning to feel the strain of so much flying.  Someone else could fly him for a change.  It would give him an opportunity to relax”.  Robinson, despite his experiences, had refused to fly and had chosen to join the crew of a collier that would be returning to London by sea in about a week.  “Biggles gave him a little money and, at parting, warned him to say nothing about the submarine he had seen, or the German who, until his death, had shared his lonely isle.  Later he was to regret that he did not charge him to remain silent on the whole business, but he felt that he could hardly do that without arousing the man’s curiosity.  It did not seem altogether necessary, anyway”.  Biggles says to the others, that rather than kill time, after a couple of days rest, they might as well go and explore Hog Island for signs of recent occupation.  While they were at it, they could make an air reconnaissance of all the islands in the Crozets group as there might be other survivors from Robinson’s ship.  In London, Raymond asks Biggles what the news is.  “The news is, whoever got that brilliant idea of a potential enemy exploiting unoccupied islands, should be promoted right away,” answered Biggles seriously.  “He was dead right”.  Raymond says it was Major Charles, of Security Intelligence and he is on his way over now.  Charles arrives and they listen to what Biggles has to say.  “The position is, at least one Russian submarine has been surveying the Crozets and the islands in the Magellan Strait.  That’s as much as I know for certain.  When I say surveying I mean they’ve actually been ashore,” Biggles tells them.  Charles asks how Biggles learnt of all this and Biggles “went on to tell of the finding of the castaway and what he learned from him”.  Biggles concluded “I grant that most of this is hearsay; but I’d stand guarantee that every word of it is true.  I thought you’d better hear about it before I did anything else”.  They discuss what to do.  If the Government protest, the usual Soviet practice was a categorical denial.  A protest will just tell them they know what is going on.  Biggles doesn’t think things have gone far yet and he hopes to “queer their pitch but putting – er – obstacles in the way”.  He suggests they get evidence first and “when they realise that we’ve rumbled the racket they might call the whole thing off without any fuss.  That would suit everybody”.  Discussion ranges from setting up their own bases on the islands, which would cost too much, to laying mine fields, but there are too many islands.  Biggles says he will take Raymond’s orders.  “Maybe it would be better if we didn’t give him any orders,” said the Air Commodore, looking at Major Charles.  “I say leave it to Bigglesworth.  He’ll think of something”.  Biggles agrees.  Without orders, he can’t break them.  “You need know nothing,” went on Biggles.  “I don’t mind taking a rap if I overstep my duties.  But things may not come to anything drastic”.  “I feel we shall be skating on thin ice, but I can’t think of anything better,” confirmed Major Charles.  “I’d like Bigglesworth, though, to be a bit more explicit about what he calls putting obstacles in the enemy’s way”.  “How can I answer that until I know what I’m faced with?” protested Biggles.  “You’ll have to leave that to me”.  Biggles gets up to go when Raymond says he should have told Robinson to keep his mouth shut.  The Cape Argus newspaper has got hold of Robinson’s story and the headline is “Castaway picked up by plane from the Crozets”.  Biggles reads the article.  It says Robinson was a survivor of the Kittiwake and he was rescued by an aircraft.  There is no mention of a submarine or the German.  Charles says the enemy will know a German sailor was put ashore and will want to know if Robinson spoke with him.  They will wonder if the German was also rescued.  Agents will be after Robinson to find out.  “I’ll get after Robinson as soon as I get back,” said Biggles, trying not to show his chagrin at what he felt was a bad slip on his part.  “I’ll warn him.  I might just catch him.  The Lady Alice – that was his ship – wasn’t due to leave for a week.  Biggles says he will also send a cable to Algy in advance to warn Robinson.  Biggles then left the office.