by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.           SARDA STRIKES  (Pages 101 – 110)


Biggles soon concludes that it must have been Leroux who started the aeroplane up.  Ginger wouldn’t have done it himself and the chances of another pilot being in the district are remote.  Biggles concludes Leroux must have struck Ginger down and taken away his body.  “Without transport our hands are absolutely tied.  It would be out of the question for us to start walking about looking for him; we might spend the rest of our lives searching in a country of this size, even if it were possible to get about without supplies, which it isn’t.  It seems to me that the only thing left for us is to get to Malakal and cable home for another machine”.  Biggles and Algy discuss their options, including seizing Sarda and using his telephone.  “When in doubt, sleep on it,” is a very sound axiom, concludes Biggles.  (An axiom is a statement that is taken to be true).  The next morning, Sarda appears with some goat milk for their coffee and is cheerfully friendly.  Biggles tells him that Ginger went out on a joy-ride last night and hasn’t come back.  Sarda says he heard him go.  When Biggles suggests, Mr. Leroux, the pilot might help them find him, Sarda suggests they ring him on his telephone.  “Telephone!” exclaimed Biggles.  “You didn’t tell us you had a telephone”.  “You never asked me,” returned Sarda simply.  “That’s true enough,” Biggles had to admit.  Sarda says the phone goes to Karuli, the tobacco plantation where his boss lives.  Biggles and Algy drink their coffee.  They then start to feel ill.  “You like my milk?” sneers Sarda.  “You swine!” Biggles ground the words out through his teeth.  As Biggles and Algy collapse helplessly, Sarda removes they guns.  “I’ll be back” he says (predating Arnold Schwarzenegger by nearly 50 years).  “Algy – old son – I’m afraid – we’re sunk,” whispered Biggles weakly.  “That skunk – has – poisoned – us”.  Sarda returns with a can of petrol and splashes it all over the walls of their hut as Biggles and Algy lie helpless within it.  “Now I go outside and hark at your frizzling”.  “With that he struck the match and tossed it against the petrol-soaked wall.  With a dull, terrifying roar a sheet of flame leapt upwards”.