by Captain W. E. Johns


5.     CHAPTER 5 – (UNTITLED)  (Pages 58 – 71) (47 – 56)



“Not exactly a game,” Biggles answered evenly.  “We had a reason for coming.  May I ask what you’re doing here?”  The man says he is looking for something and he asks if they have seen an old army kit bag lying about.  He says he had been there the other day for a picnic with some friends and they had brought the bag to carry the food and equipment and forgot to take it with them.  He said he had come back for it.  Biggles says he can help, he didn’t like seeing litter about so he shoved it under a bush and he shows it to the man.  The man is astonished to find it empty and asks Biggles about it.  Biggles says it was empty when he first saw it.  The man says there might have been some letters in it.  Biggles offers to post any letters to the man if he finds any.  The man says “No.  Forget it” and leaves.  Biggles tells Minnie to go after him and see where he goes.  “This is where you can practice your Red Indian stuff”.  Biggles is sure the man is involved in the theft, but “suspicion isn’t proof”.  “He came here to recover it.  Of that there’s no doubt whatever”.  The discuss the R.A.F. tie and decide he was probably in the Service, which means he could be a pilot.  Ginger wonders why the man waited a week before coming back for the bag.  Biggles says they don’t that he has waited.  He might have been searching for days and couldn’t find it as it wasn’t there.  Suddenly, they hear the sound of a pistol shot from the direction that Minnie had taken.  They hear running footsteps and Minnie appears.  Biggles asks if a shot was fired at him.  “No,” panted Minnie.  “At the fellow who came here.  They got him, too.  I dashed back to let you know”.  Minnie had followed the man by being the other side of a hedge.  When Minnie reached the road, he saw two cars, one of which looked like an ordinary London taxi.  There were two men standing besides it.  The man he had been following made for what looked like a Cortina car.  One of the two men shot him.  “They were young, and looked like two ordinary fellows such as you might see anywhere.  Both had long hair.  (This is the swinging sixties of course, the book was written in 1968).  One had side whiskers – you know, mutton chops, I think they call them”.  The man who had been shot was put in the back of the taxi and both vehicles were then driven off.  Minnie got the first three letters on the number plate of the Cortina – YXB.  It was either dark blue or black in colour.  “Well done, Minnie.  You did everything possible.  You were right not to take risks” says Biggles.  They speculate about whether the man who came for the bag had somehow betrayed the gang.  The two men followed him and shot him.  Whether he is dead or not, they don’t know.  Biggles suspects the two men have just driven the body away to get it out of sight.  They will come back, looking for the bag.  Biggles sends Ginger and Minnie to keep watch on the edge of the spinney so they will know when they have arrived back.  “This’ll be a spot of practice for Minnie, if nothing else,” remarked Biggles to the others, as he lit a cigarette.