by Captain W. E. Johns


7.     CHAPTER 7 – (UNTITLED)  (Pages 87 – 99)  (68 – 76)



“Biggles and his party walked back to the car”.  Biggles says he wants another word with the policeman.  He will take the East Grinstead road and might overtake him.  They find the policeman talking to a motorist.  Biggles asks who lives at Lotton Hall and is told it is Mr. Nestor Zolton.  “Unusual name.  Is he British?” asks Biggles.  “I don’t know.  He might be.  If you mean is he a coloured gentleman I’d say no, although he’s dark, as if he might have been born in Cyprus, or somewhere like that”.  Biggles ascertains that Zolton walks with a stick and his car looks like an ordinary taxi.  The policeman has heard a rumour the man has retired after make a pile of money out of shady gambling joints in London and that Zolton breeds dogs for a hobby.  Biggles drives past Lotton Hall and notices a big meadow on the south side of the place that would be big enough to put a small plane down in.  There were no farm animals in it.  Biggles adds “We must be careful not to let our imaginations run away with us”.  They continue on their way back to London.  Biggles goes to see Raymond and is told that the case is now one of murder as “the unfortunate driver of the van who was coshed defending the mail died this afternoon without recovering consciousness”.  Biggles tells Raymond what they have discovered and they discuss possible theories for what has happened.  Biggles returns to his colleagues to say the case is now one of murder and he then rings Inspector Gaskin on the intercom telephone to ask if he has anything on Nestor Zolton of Lotton Hall, in Surrey.  The eventual answer is no.  Biggles and the team go to examine thousands of photographs of known crooks to see about the three men they saw that afternoon and whether “we may find their mugs in our records”.  They find nothing to assist.  Biggles sets out their lines of enquiry.  Working on the basis the bag was dropped from the air, it was either the pilot double-crossing his pals or he may have run into trouble.  If something went wrong, the weather may have something to do with it.  Algy is tasked with finding out the weather conditions on the night of the robbery and the following days, such as cloud conditions and direction or force of wind.  He is then to contact every landing ground within fifty miles of where the bag was found to find out if any aircraft was in the air or brought in during the period in question.  Biggles thinks the crooks will return to the spinney and he tasks Bertie with keeping an eye on it.  Bertie asks if there is any objection to him carrying a gun.  Biggles says “Please yourself, as long as you only use it in an emergency”.  Ginger and Minnie are tasked with keeping Lotton Hall under observation.  “I shall stay in the office on reserve,” informed Biggles.  “If anyone has anything to report he can ring me there.  Or if I hear nothing I may run down about twelve noon to see how you’re getting on.  That would save you dashing off, perhaps some distance, to find a telephone.  Now, as we look like having a busy day tomorrow I suggest we have an early night,” he concluded, getting up.