Biggles and the Gun Runners
W. E. Johns
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Biggles retires from the Air Police in the hope of being recruited elsewhere. He is hoping to infiltrate a gun running racket who are believed to be selling guns to rebels in African countries and helping to provoke civil war. After advertising, Biggles is approached by a Count Alexander Stavropulos and offered a generous wage to fly for him. Biggles is taken by plane to Noriovika, a village in northern Greece where the Count has a private airfield. Here, he is shocked to find Roderick Canson, a crooked ex-RAF pilot who Biggles has previously seen imprisoned in BIGGLES AND THE BLACK MASK. Luckily, the Count already knows that Biggles is an ex-policeman so Canson cannot expose him. Canson and a pilot called Jumbo Brady are sent on a routine delivery to Africa but a message is later received that their Constellation plane has crashed in an area known as the Sudd. Biggles is assigned as co-pilot to Sandy Grant and they are both sent out in a another Constellation aircraft to rescue Canson, Brady and their cargo. On route, Biggles and Sandy are forced to land by a military plane piloted by Lieutenant I'Nobo of the Congolese Air Force. I'Nobo searches their plane, finding nothing, but says he has been tipped off that a Constellation is smuggling guns to rebels in the Congo and he has orders to stop it. Canson, who has seen the plane come down, makes his way to them and tells Biggles that his Constellation was also forced down, but has not yet been found by the Congolese Army. Biggles, Sandy and Canson return to Canson's Constellation aircraft. Canson is adamant that his cargo is farm machinery and he is astonished to find it is actually guns when Biggles opens the crates up. The guns are hidden in the surrounding bush, as to be found with them would mean death for all of them. During the night, Canson returns to Biggles' aircraft and steals it to escape, leaving Biggles and Sandy stranded with the original Constellation which is bogged down and can't be flown. Canson gets his comeuppance when I'Nobo shoots him down in flames, an event shown on the dust cover of the book. Brady returns to join the party, having been away seeking help. He is followed by Sergeant Ducard of the Congolese Army, with whom Biggles soon falls out. Lieutenant I'Nobo arrives just in time to stop trouble. Ducard and his men leave, but then one of them, called Christmas, deserts, to escape from Ducard and join Biggles and the others. This brings Ducard back and another dangerous confrontation is only avoided by the timely arrival of Algy and Ginger. They have come out to the Congo with the Count, who is trying to sort out what is happening with his planes. He truly has no knowledge of any smuggling as he received the items for delivery ready packed and the Greek Government set a trap for the real culprits behind the smuggling operation.
The same as on the previous occasion. It may have been a little more brisk, although this was to be expected if he had work to do-the alleged business trip, legitimate or otherwise. On this point Biggles was still keeping an open mind. He was still without a scrap of evidence as to the real purpose of this unusual engagement. ‘Are you ready?’ was all the Count had said when he presented himself. ‘I’m ready,’ stated Biggles. ‘Good. Then we might as well get along.’ Below, at the main hotel.
Mentioned several items, all of which seemed reasonable. But he had admitted frankly that he had never seen the goods. The labels could mean nothing. He obviously believed them, having no reason to doubt them. Anyway, he didn’t care what he carried. Biggles was tempted to go outside to see what was going on, but he thought better of it, feeling that while curiosity might be pardonable, it might be indiscreet to show too much interest at this stage. He was stubbing out his cigarette prior to.
Water, the home of countless wading birds, storks, flamingoes and the like. Always the view was restricted by tall reeds, scrub or elephant grass, so that it was practically impossible to keep a straight line of march. The elephant track that Canson had mentioned, when they reached it, made the going easier, the animals, from instinct or experience, keeping to reasonably firm ground. They saw no elephants, but there was an uncomfortable moment when they encountered a solitary old bull buffalo.
So decided, murder them all; and if later he was questioned he would doubtless have an explanation ready. The irony of it was, although he couldn’t say so and expect to be believed, Biggles was where he was as a result of working on behalf of the government Ducard represented. In trying to stop the gun-runners he was now one of them. ‘I’m going home,’ stated Ducard. ‘Goodbye,’ returned Biggles, without looking up. ‘Don’t fool yourself,’ Ducard said. ‘You are coming with me.’ His tone of voice.
Bump us off.’ ‘I’m staying,’ returned Sandy briefly. Biggles lit a cigarette. There’s no doubt that had there not been an interruption, the next minute would have seen the end of the affair; but at this desperate juncture there came a sound that turned all eyes to the sky. An aircraft was approaching. Before his eyes picked it up, Biggles of course had no other thought than I’Nobo. But when he saw it, one glance was sufficient. It was not the fighter. He was still staring, trying to identify.