BIGGLES IN AFRICA
by Captain W. E. Johns
IX. BIGGLES SUMS UP (Pages 137 – 147)
“What happened to those n****rs at the finish?” asked Biggles as they land at Insula. (This is the fourth Biggles book to feature the use of the very offensive “N” word by W. E. Johns. The word appears four times in this book, once in Chapter VIII, “Savages” and then once this chapter “Biggles Sums Up” and twice in Chapter XI, “Crashed by a Rhino”. Of course, in its day, the word was in regular use and not considered offensive at all, otherwise it would not have appeared in a children’s book, where even mild expletives are watered down. The word remained in all Oxford editions of this book, however, as early as 1962, in the Armada paperback version, the word in this chapter was changed to “darkies”. In the last edition published in 1985, where the book is one of five books featured in THE BEST OF BIGGLES, a Chancellor Press Omnibus, the word was replaced with the word “savages”). Algy says they were going east. Biggles decides to hide the petrol and oil before the enemy can attack their supplies and put them out of action. Biggles says “Harry’s rescue must be our first consideration. The bringing of his abductors to justice is a secondary affair, although, naturally, we shall do that if we can”. Algy asks if they are in a position to launch an attack on the enemy stronghold. “Frankly, I don’t think we are,” admitted Biggles. “We’ve got to locate this place Karuli before we do anything else”. “What are you going to do – fly round and look for it?” asks Algy. “I’m not going to walk, you can bet your life on that” replies Biggles (although he will turn out to be wrong). A movement in the distance catches Biggles’ eye and Algy sees Antelopes. Ginger suggests “knocking one of them over and having steak for supper”. Biggles thinks “it’s a rattling good idea if it can be done”. Whilst Ginger and Biggles hide the petrol, Algy takes the rifle and goes out on an Antelope hunt.