by Captain W. E. Johns



V.            ALONE WITH A LION  (Pages 85 – 100)


Ginger had been left on guard with the Express rifle.  After some time, Ginger sees two men opening the rush-plaited doors of the hangar.  One is Sarda and the other is a short, stoutish man.  Ginger decides to wait for an act of sabotage before revealing his presence.  Ginger is totally surprised when the short man gets in their aircraft and starts it up.  Ginger is literally blinded by dust blown back by the propellers.  Ginger drops the rifle, gropes forward and is able to find an open a door and secretly get on board the aircraft before it takes off.  Ginger suspects the pilot to be Leroux but is rather at a loss as to what to do.  If he reveals his presence, he can hardly force the pilot to go anywhere as the carrying out of any threat to shoot him would only lead to the machine crashing.  The pilot soon lands and leaves the aircraft.  Ginger then looks out to see where he is.  “In the dim starlight he could just see that in all directions except one the ground was flat”.  Ginger decides to fly the aircraft back but gets out to look at the hundred yards in front of it, to see if it is clear from obstructions for him to take off.  After walking seventy or eighty yards, Ginger comes upon a creature in the darkness that he assumes to be a lion.  Contemplating this problem, Ginger hears the Dragon aircraft start up and has to fling himself flat as the aircraft takes off over him.  The beast appears to have gone but Ginger is alone on the veldt.  “What would Biggles do in a case like this, he asked himself, but he could find no answer until a solitary tree about a hundred yards away caught his eye”.  Ginger goes towards it, but then he realises there is a lion trotting along behind him.  “The desire to run was almost uncontrollable”.  Ginger edges towards the tree and the lion growls, so Ginger gets out his matches and lights a fire and this makes the lion back off.  Ginger makes it to the tree and, with some difficulty, climbs up it.  He then has to think what to do and what Biggles and Algy would be thinking.  All he can do is try to get back to Insula but that could mean “walking fifty or sixty miles across wild-beast-infested country without a rifle, and without food or water”.  Ginger waits for dawn.