by Captain W. E. Johns



V.                    UNPLEASANT CONSEQUENCES  (Pages 53 – 61)


“As Biggles sped southwards on the regular B.O.A.C. service to the Cape it was the unexpected development of the embarrassing newspaper publicity about Robinson that was chiefly on his mind”.  He had three days to ponder on this as he travels.  The moment he lands, he jumps into a taxi and goes to the dock where the Lady Alice was berthed.  At the gangway he finds a sailor who looks like the skipper, talking to one of his officers.  He shows his Scotland Yard badge and asks about Robinson only to be told that he is not there – he has disappeared – and the skipper had advanced him five pounds as well.  He was last seen at a nearby pub one evening “having a drink with a couple of loafers who didn’t look like seamen”.  The skipper says his companion saw them and that man gives Biggles a description.  “They were a bit too well dressed to have honest business at the dockside.  They were both about forty, I’d say, and wore dark suits.  One was a stocky sort of bloke.  The other was taller, and thin, with prominent cheek bones, as if he could do with a square meal”.  Biggles is worried and wonders why Algy didn’t obey the cabled instructions.  If warned, Robinson would have avoided the men and clearly Algy hadn’t been to the ship as the skipper would have mentioned it.  Biggles goes to their hotel and finds that his friends are not there and have not been seen for two or three days.  It was Thursday when they went out.  There is a cable waiting for Algy and Biggles asks to see it, only to find it is the one he has sent.  “Algy had never received it.  It had missed him.  That explained the position with regard to Robinson”.  Biggles calls a cab and goes to the marine airport.  One Sunderland aircraft is there and one has gone.  He is told it took off a couple of days ago, about daybreak.  Biggles then taxis to police headquarters and asks for the Chief Inspector.  He shows his papers and inquires if any bodies have been picked up in the last week.  He is told a sailor has been found, with no identification on him.  “Dead?”  “No, but mighty near it”.  He was found in the harbour having been coshed over the head and tipped in.  He was lucky that a fellow heard the splash and pulled out his unconscious body.  He had a fractured skull.  They go to the hospital together where Biggles is able to identify the man as Alfred Robinson from Wapping in London.  Biggles says he was attacked by Russian agents but it is all top secret and he can’t explain any more.  Biggles asks the police inspector to keep an eye on Robinson and warn him to keep his mouth shut if he comes round.  “If the people who knocked him on the head discover that he is still alive, it’s more than likely that they’ll try and make a better job of it”.  Biggles asks that if Robinson comes round and is able to describe his assailants, no arrests are made until “we’re ready to deal with them”.  The policeman drops Biggles back at his hotel.  Biggles goes to his room to think and get some rest, arranging to be called at five in the morning, when he will take the remaining Sunderland boat and go and look for his comrades.