by Captain W. E. Johns


10.   CHAPTER 10 – (UNTITLED)  (Pages 121 – 130)  (91 – 97)



Ginger had reached to within twenty to thirty yards of the edge of the spinney when he hears the crash of Bertie falling out of the tree.  Ginger approaches with caution.  Suddenly Ginger is in a collision with a running man.  Ginger recognises the ex-R.A.F. man and sees, the bandage, knowing why he has it.  The man scrambles to his feet and says “Get me out of here, if you will I’ll tell you something that’ll make it worth your while”.  The man says the people he works for are after him and will kill him if they catch him.  Ginger asks if it is something to do with the kit bag.  The man is willing to tell Ginger anything he wants to know if Ginger will help him.  Ginger declines, saying he is there to meet a friend.  The man says if his friend is a man with an eyeglass the gang have got him.  “Ginger looked at his watch.  It was just on noon.  Would Biggles come, as he said he might.  He didn’t know.  But he thought it would be a good thing if he heard what this man had to say.  Bertie should take no harm for a little while”.  “All right,” he said shortly.  “If I help you get clear of this mob will you play straight and tell me the truth about this business?”  (This seems strange.  Ginger has gone to help Bertie as there is a known gun man there and having heard that they have Bertie, he just decides to leave him to his fate?).  The man agrees he will.  Ginger asks the man his name and he says “Varley”.  Ginger takes the man towards Bertie’s car.  On route he asks the man what all the fuss is about.  The man says it’s gang warfare.  Two gangs and the racket is dope.  “The hard stuff.  Heroin”.  Zolton is a Greek Cypriot and the others are his bodyguards.  The leader of the rival gang is another Cypriot, but Turkish.  His name is Alfondari.  “They hate each other’s guts over the troubles in Cyprus.  They both run night clubs in London but that’s only a cover for peddling dope”.  The man says he didn’t know all this when they offered him a job, but if he squeals, they will murder him.  “Murder means nothing to them”.  Hearing a car coming from behind, Ginger turns and sees Biggles’ old Ford car (a Ford Pilot) cruising along the road.  Ginger stops Biggles and both Ginger and Varley get in the car.  Biggles drives on and pull over to a wide grass verge, where Varley is still willing to talk.  He says he wasn’t involved in the mail robbery.  His job was to fly a parcel to a cottage Zolton has near the New Forest.  Zolton doesn’t keep any heroin at his home address.  He posts it by registered mail to a little hotel in Bloomsbury called the Marqus marked “to be called for” and when he wants it, he goes to get it.  The rival gang got to know about this and the mail robbery was to get the drugs.  It wasn’t about the money.  Zolton “daren’t risk losing the stuff because his customers would be clamouring for it.  You know how they get when they can’t get it”.  Varley’s job was to fly the mail bag from the field by Lotton Hall down to the New Forest but he had to turn back with engine trouble and so he tried to drop the bag as near as he could to Lotton Hall.  “But the wind was tricky and I saw the bag fall in that little wood”.  Varley says he was able to land at the airfield at Sparham, but he buckled his undercarriage.  He hired a car to get back to Lotton Hall and told Zolton, but he didn’t believe him.  They can’t find the bag anywhere.  “Joe Chandler, one of the gang, lost his temper and shot me (Johns later changes this surname to Garsen)”.  Varley says that when he left the R.A.F., he advertised in the papers for a flying job and Zolton took him on as his private pilot.  Biggles tells Varley the kit bag was found and handed to the police and the registered mail has been delivered in the ordinary way.  Zolton’s parcel of heroin would be at the Marquis Hotel in Bloomsbury.  Biggles asks Ginger about the whereabouts of Minnie and Bertie.  Ginger says “according to this chap” Bertie got tangled up with the gang.  Biggles tells Ginger to go and find Bertie and tell the gang that the kit bag was found, handed to the police and the mail delivered.  Biggles adds “As it’s unlikely the gang will have any further interest in you, you’d better try to find Minnie and call him off from whatever he’s doing.  He needn’t waste any more time scouting round the big house”.  Biggles says he will take Varley back to the office and see that he’s safe.  Ginger is dropped off.  “He realised Biggles had some scheme in mind but did not waste time trying to work out what it was.  Still perplexed he set off along the hedge towards the spinney to carry out his orders”.