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.He picked up and hurled a stone at one man who came after the others had stopped.He retreated.Frayle, in a bath wrap, appeared at the storehouse door."Is the stuff ready?" shouted Biggles."Yes, it's all here.""Help us to get it on board.Tell Jones to punch on the nose anybody who tries to get near us.""You do have some quaint ideas," said Frayle, as he complied."Maybe that's why I'm here," murmured Biggles.In ten minutes the big machine was loaded to capacity with bundles of British and American stores, labelled CHUNGKING."What about something to eat before you go?" suggested Frayle."No, thanks," refused Biggles."It's a long trip.""We can manage.""Not even a last drink?" queried Bargent."Not even a last drink," decided Biggles firmly."I make a point of doing one thing at a time, and the thing at the moment is to get this pantechnicon to China.Get 35aboard.So long, Frayle.I'm aiming to be back for tea." "I'll have it ready," promised Frayle."Put a guard on my Typhoon.Don't let anyone touch it.""Okay."Before Bargent had properly settled himself in his seat Biggles had opened the throttle, and the big machine was bellowing across the arfield."Have you made this trip before?" asked Biggles, as he throttled back to a steady cruising speed of just over two hundred miles an hour."Four times.""You must be lucky.""Maybe so.But I reckoned it couldn't go on.No sense in riding your luck too hard.""I suppose that's why you were trying it on again today?" said Biggles smoothly."Pah! It had got to come sooner or later, and after seeing the others go, I thought the sooner the better.""Desperate fellow," murmured Biggles."Well, we shall see.Keep your eyes skinned.""I suppose you realise that we're flying without gunners in the turrets?" said Bargent suddenly."That's asking for trouble, isn't it?""I have a feeling that we shan't need guns on this trip." "Why not?""Put it this way.Guns couldn't save the other crews.If guns can't stop this rot what point was there in bringing gunners? In the event of things going wrong we should only push up the casualty list.My gosh! That's pretty rough country below." Biggles was looking below and ahead at a terrible yet magnificent panorama of mountain peaks that stretched across the course from horizon to horizon."It's like that pretty well all the way to China," asserted Bargent."Where it isn't mountains, it's what the books call untamed primeval forest.Anyone going down in it wouldn't have a hope.They say it's unexplored."36"Let's hope we shan't have to explore it," returned Biggles."Let me know if you see anything queer, in the air or on the ground."After that the two pilots fell silent.The Wellington droned on, devouring space at a steady two hundred and twenty miles an hour.Mountains, groups and ranges and isolated peaks, many crowned with eternal snow, rolled away below.Valleys and depressions were choked with the sombre, everlasting forest."It's about time we were bumping into something." said Bargent once, after looking at the watch."We must be half-way.""Begins to look as if this trip is going to cost you a hundred cigarettes, my lad," said Biggles slyly, with a sidelong glance at his companion."If I don't lose more than that I shan't grumble," murmured Bargent.Two hours later the airport of Chungking came into view."That's it," confirmed Bargent."What's the programme when we get there?""We'll sling this stuff overboard and start straight back," replied Biggles."We're not stopping for lunch?""We're not stopping for anything."Bargent shook his head."You certainly are a queer bird," he muttered."So I've been told.But never mind the compliments.As soon as we're in, jump down and keep the crowd away from this machine.I don't want anybody to touch it.I'll push the stuff out.They can collect it after we've gone.I shall leave the motors running.""Okay."As soon as the Wellington was on the ground a crowd of Chinese surged towards it; but Bargent held them off, gesticulating furiously.Biggles was throwing the stores out.A Chinese officer came forward, speaking English.37"That's close enough! " shouted Bargent."Here's your stuff.Some more will be corning through.""You in Bleat hurry," said the Chinaman, impassively."We've got to get back,"answered Sargent."No want any petrol?"Bargent looked at Biggles."No! " shouted Biggles."We've got enough to see us home.""You no stay to eat?" questioned the Chinaman."Not to-day, thanks," returned Bargent."I've got a date with a girl in Calcutta, and she'll jilt me if I'm not back on time."The Chinaman grinned."Me savvy.""Okay, Bargent! " shouted Biggles."Get aboard.We're on our way."The South African picked his way through the pile of bales that Biggles had thrown out of the aircraft, closed the door and resumed his seat.The engines roared, and the machine swung round, scattering the crowd, to face the open field.In another minute it was in the air again, India bound."Get those cigarettes ready," said Biggles.Bargent laughed.help you smoke 'em.""Oh, no, you won't," declared Biggles."I reckon I shall have won 'em."There was no incident of any sort on the home run.There was no flak; no aircraft of any type, friend or foe, was sighted.As they glided in to land Bargent swore that he had never felt better in his life.Frayle, in uniform, greeted them."So you got back?" he cried in a voice of wonder."If you think this is a ghost plane, try walking into one of the airscrews," invited Biggles."You'll find it hard enough, I'll warrant.""Well, that's a mystery," said Frayle."Not quite so much of a mystery as it was," returned Biggles."What are you going to do now?"Biggles glanced at the sun, now low in the west."I want 38to get back to Dum Dum before dark, but I've just time for a snack.""You think it's safe to use the route now?""I didn't say that," answered Biggles quickly."The Chinese now have a little to go on with, so you can afford to keep everything on the ground till you hear from me again.Yes, I know we got away with it this time, but that trick may not work again.By changing the planes at the last minute we slipped a fast one on the enemy.More than that I can't tell you for the moment.I want you and Bargent to keep your mouths shut tight about this show.If you talk it may cost you your lives.Keep the machines grounded.I'll be back.Now let's go and eat [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]