Author's Note: In one of the Biggles books it was pointed out how co incidents sometimes gives more result than police work and research does. I thought about this and about how Ginger always seems to be able to stumble into a mess, sometimes literally and decided to base a story on that.
Warning: The warning is placed here for vinsmouse, who wanted a spew warning here, claiming it might be a bad idea to drink while reading the funnier parts. So please keep in mind that drinking any kind of beverage while reading this, might be hazzard'ous to the health of your screen.
Disclaimer: I do not own Biggles. I am merely playing with him and his friends. I give my word that when I am done with them they shall have come to no permanent harm. In case of damage I promise I will fix it with some chewing gum and Ginger's mechanical degree.
The Power of Coincidence
Chapter 1: Ginger Stumbles Into Trouble
In contradiction to what many believes it is not always detective works that gives the most result, sometimes it is the small coincident that leads to something bigger. Biggles had come to see this several times, how something so small that no one paid it any heed later would come to be vital. Whole battles could be turned on something that most people would have thought was beneath notice or importance. Yet it happens constantly and most often we are not even aware of it. Other times, it becomes clear when the big things are set into motion.
Normally since his men would at times leave the office and come back Biggles merely looked up to see who was entering before he continued with his work. They shared their office space and had all work stopped because someone came or went they would not have gotten much done.
Algy and Bertie was discussing some detail in the papers that was spread out on Algy's desk and Biggles had just been about to light a cigarette when the door opened and Ginger came in. While he would normally only have spared him a glance he now took a second look. Maybe it was because Ginger was very late or it might have been because he had taken a look out the window a while before and noticed the heavy rain. Whatever the reason he looked up, and now with a frown on his face. No one could tell from his appearance that he had been on a simple errand when he limped into the room with water dripping from his clothes to form a puddle on the floor. Biggles knew for certain he had not been limping when he left and did not know why he was doing so now. He looked to be quite miserable and one could safely assume that part of that would be because he was soaked all the way through to the skin, but there was also a somewhat pained expression to his face and that Biggles would be inclined to believe had been acquired at about the same time as the limp. Somewhere along the line he had also apparently picked up some large mud stains on his clothes. Algy and Bertie were looking at him as well now and it was clear they were wondering as much as Biggles were what had been going on.
"By thunder this is turning towards one rotten day," he complained as he limped over to a chair and sank down, making a face as the wet clothes clung to his body.
"Would you care to elaborate on that?" Biggles asked. "Maybe telling us what has happened?"
"Oh, nothing much," Ginger told him. "Only that I've somehow busted up my ankle pretty good, near got drowned in the rain making my way here, and had my wallet lifted along the ride."
"What?" Biggles asked in disbelief.
"By golly laddie, how'd you manage all that?" Bertie asked as he absently polished his monocle.
"I was just heading back when I slipped on a lose cobble stone," Ginger told them. "Must have twisted my ankle when I fell. I was lucky a young man nearby offered to give me a hand to the taxi station a few blocks away, by then it was raining and as the streets were slippery I was glad for the hand I tell you. There were no cars there right then so I waited and while doing so realized I no longer had my wallet, can't tell exactly when it must've happened but there was not much point in trying to take a taxi when I knew I had no money to pay for the ride."
"No, they might not appreciate that," Biggles agreed. "So what did you do?"
"Made my own way here, I did not see I had all that many options," Ginger told him and then sneezed. "I might have been lucky and someone would have drove against the promise of pay when we got here, but I did not feel like I wanted to see how long I would have had to wait to find that out."
"You could have telephoned us and one of us would have gone to fetch you," Algy pointed out.
"And you can be sure I would have if I had thought about it then," Ginger told him. "But for some reason it must have slipped my mind."
"Little wonder," Biggles told him. "Misfortunes like that tend to throw us off our track. How much did you have in your wallet?"
"About three or four pound," Ginger told him after a brief moment to think. "It's not like I can't survive without it, but it's darned annoying and not a little humiliating I tell you."
"How bad is the ankle?" Biggles asked him. "You were limping rather hard when you came in here just now."
"I don't know how bad exactly," Ginger told him. "But I can tell you right now it's hurting something awful."
"Algy, why don't you take him home so he can get a dry change, then I think you'd better take him to the doctor and have a look at that," Biggles decided.
"Sounds like a good idea, come on Ginger," Algy helped him to his feet and supported some of his weight by letting him lean on him.
"Darned bad luck that," Bertie muttered as the two of them had left.
"You can certainly say that," Biggles nodded. "Well, Algy shall make sure he gets home safe and gets dry."
"Yes, and I should like to hear his story in more detail later," Bertie said as he put the monocle back into his eye. "Our young friend does seem to manage to land himself into the thick of it every now and again, does he not?"
Biggles gave a small smile at that as he had to agree, he could count several times from memory when Ginger had managed to get himself into trouble of one sort or the other. Algy was quite some time in getting back and by then it was not raining anymore. He came back alone as well, but Biggles had rather expected that.
"Well?" he asked as Algy hung up his coat and hat."
"I got him home easily enough," Algy told him. "And took him to the doctor just as soon as he was dry and had had a drop of tea to warm him. He twisted that ankle pretty good so the doctor said he ought to stay off it as much as possible for a week or two. I left him back home and told Mrs. Symes we would be taking supper at home instead of going to the club as we had planned. I rather thought it was best that way."
"A good call," Biggles agreed. "Let's finish up here so we can be on our way home. I fancy he shall be getting bored if we leave him alone for too long."
That had the two of them snickering as the redheaded boy always seemed to be the first one of the four to get bored and itching to get moving.
When they got home Ginger was in the sitting room with a book in his hand and his foot propped up and he greeted them cheerfully. Biggles suspected that Mrs. Symes had been fussing over him a great deal and had probably been able to improve his mood with her ministrations. She certainly had a soft spot for the youth and Biggles rather thought that sometimes it was her maternal instincts that came into play.
"So, how about you tell us the whole story now?" he asked as he sat down and lit a cigarette.
"Not a whole lot more to it than the short story," Ginger told him. "At least not that part of it."
"What do you mean?" Biggles asked.
"Well, It happened as I told you," Ginger started. "I tripped on a cobble stone and busted up my ankle, somewhere along the way I got my wallet lifted and I had to walk through the rain."
"So what is the other part of it?" Biggles asked.
"I think I know who lifted the wallet," Ginger told him with a smile.
Biggles gave a low whistle, it was a rare thing for someone to be able to pinpoint when someone had been in their pockets after it had happened. "How did you figure that out?" he asked.
"I think it was the young man who helped me," Ginger told him.
"Why do you think that?" Biggles asked thoughtfully.
"Algy, come here please," Ginger said as he stood up. Algy did as he asked and stood beside him. "Now, before when you helped me out, how did you do it?" Ginger went on.
"I'm not sure I understand," Algy told him.
"I couldn't really walk on the foot, so how did you help me," Ginger explained and Algy nodded with understanding. He stood closer to him and slipped one arm around his waist while Ginger placed his own over his shoulders. As a result, Ginger came to be rather closely pressed against Algy's side.
"Now, he was somewhat taller than me and you, so his arm was higher up," Ginger said and Algy nodded, moving his arm up and around his back.
"Now do you see it?" Ginger asked and Biggles nodded. Algy's hand was in the perfect place for slipping inside Ginger's coat, exactly where the inner pocket was and where he would find the wallet.
"You have a point there," he nodded as Algy helped Ginger to sit down again. "It would not be very hard to do it. Providing a pickpocket was close enough to see what happened he might have decided to take the opportunity."
"Or he decided to make the opportunity," Ginger said mystically.
"Whatever do you mean old boy?" Bertie asked curiously.
"Well, I've been thinking about what the doctor told me, that it seemed that the cobblestones here in town was getting treacherous," Ginger told them. "He told me that two days ago he had treated another fellow who got hurt falling on a cobblestone. That chap landed on his wrist, a kind young man helped him along. He went on to say that the lad had apparently had the worst luck for he had dropped his wallet somewhere the same day."
"Did you tell him about yours?" Biggles asked and Ginger shook his head.
"No, to tell you the truth I did not think much of it before I got home. At that time it was hurting a bit too much for me to really think about anything else. It was when the painkiller he gave me really started kicking in I started putting it together, and that's another thing. As bad as it hurt he wouldn't have to be an expert, I wouldn't have noticed either way. I was too preoccupied with the pain to even think of the possibility."
"And even if you had felt a tug at your jacket you would not have thought any of it since you were just about pressed against him," Biggles nodded. "It would be safe to say you felt the contact constantly. I'm beginning to see what you are getting at here."
"But isn't it too obvious?" Bertie asked.
"I don't think so," Biggles told him. "Apparently the other one thought he had dropped the wallet and I think that is what most people would think. The difference is that Ginger here is a police and we tend to be a mite bit more suspicious. We react to things that anyone else down on the street would not think twice about."
"But I still don't understand quite how they would do it," Algy said. "Most people hardly have enough on them to be worth the trouble."
"Actually, since I waited here all alone for you fellows to get back home I did some thinking about that," Ginger smiled. "There are parts in this town where not many people move around unless they have a certain amount of money. Just look at where we live, how many do you see walking around this part of town that have no more than five pound in the bank?"
"You are right on there Ginger," Biggles nodded. "If I set up something like that I would do it in a place where it was likely plenty of people with money would be."
"The question is," Bertie said slowly. "How do we find out if that is really what is happening?"
"Someone needs to be there to help the victim," Ginger said. "I don't know if they use the same place, but I know where I fell, we could go there tonight and check if there is anything queer there, if there is, it'd be easy enough to keep the place watched and act if we see anything."
They were interrupted then by Mrs. Symes announcing that there was a boy at the door who said he had found Mr. Hebblethwaite's wallet and wished to return it. Biggles told her to send the boy in and he came in, offered the wallet to Ginger and told him where he had found it. Ginger dug into his pocket and found a few coins, giving the boy twenty pence for his troubles which had him grinning and he left with a hurried thanks.
"I would say that is further evidence something is going on here," Biggles said carefully when the boy had left.
"Why do you think so?" Bertie wanted to know.
"Well, for one thing, how did he know which one out of the four of us the wallet belonged to?" Biggles wanted to know. "Ginger, do you have your identification in there?"
"For sure," Ginger nodded opening the wallet. "The money is still here. I think they saw the card saying I was a police and decided it was too dangerous. By giving it back and sending a boy saying he had found it, they're hoping I won't figure out what really happened."
"I'm afraid I don't follow," Bertie said as he took to polish his monocle. "How would that let the boy know who Ginger was?"
"If the fellow said he lifted it from a redhead, the boy would know," Biggles pointed out. "Otherwise, he would have had to ask which one of us it was."
"Ah, yes, certainly." Bertie admitted.
"And besides that, he is lying, I know I did not drop it where he said he had found it," Ginger told them.
"Are you sure?" Biggles asked.
"Certain sure," he nodded. "I walked that way true enough, so they must have seen me there and figured it was a safe call to make, but about two blocks from there Tommy stood with his shoeshine kit."
"Ah, yes, I know him," Biggles smiled. Ginger had a soft spot for the eleven year old with his shoe shine kit. Ginger normally did not care much about his street urchin childhood, but whenever he saw the boy he would let him put a shine to his shoes and he was probably Tommy's most faithful, and best paying customer as well. Ginger who had grown up in the slum of a miners town knew all too well how it was for a lad with a poor family. Ginger would give him twice what he asked for the shine or more, and quite often would slip him a piece of gum or a bit of candy if he had any on him. The two of them got along well and Ginger had even taken him with him to a picture show once or twice.
"Well, I asked him how things were, and he said it was his brothers birthday soon, you know the little tyke he has with him every now and again, so he was trying to save up to a present. I gave him a pound and told him it was a bit of an advance. At first he didn't want to take it, but when I told him that he agreed. I couldn't very well have taken the money from my wallet unless I had it, but I guess whoever saw me didn't see me do that. It's not exactly common to pull out a wallet to pay a shoe shine boy, most people do it with change from their pockets.
"You're quite right," Biggles agreed. "So the boy was lying, most likely someone told him to because a boy seems more innocent. Yes, I think we really might be on to something here. I want to give it some thought before we decide on what to do though."
"Fine with me," Ginger shrugged. "Just let me know what you decide, okay?"
"I will," Biggles promised.
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