BIGGLES IN AFRICA
by Captain W. E. Johns
XIII. WHAT NEXT? (Pages 196 – 210)
Ginger wakes up to more unappetizing zebra. “From the grunting, coughing, and splashing, there were enough animals round that water-hole to fill all the zoos in the world six times over” says Ginger. “Yes, it was a bit alarming,” agreed Biggles. After the meat and more brackish water they set off back to the telephone wire again. They then follow its course and it leads them “to a great gash in the mountains, the floor of which, nevertheless, ascended steeply”. They follow this ravine and reach the highest point and then hear and see the Dragon aircraft. “Leroux on his way home,” said Biggles. They see the aircraft go down and fade into the haze, giving them a good idea of the location of Karuli as not much more than a day’s march. They cross “‘rolling’ country: that is, undulating in rather a big way” and see a river. “We shan’t be short of water again, that’s evident,” remarked Biggles. “By James! Stampoulos tucked himself away all right while he was about it, didn’t he? If he’d searched the whole of Africa – which he may have done for all we know – he couldn’t have found a more inaccessible spot, a place less likely to be visited by any one”. They encounter a troop of baboons and have to run from them, firing their automatics to keep them at bay. Reaching the river, there appears to be no means of crossing it. Crocodiles make swimming it unappealing. Finding an old primitive dug-out canoe, Biggles, Algy and Ginger cross in that, but they are carried down-stream by the flow of the river. They are soon accompanied by crocodiles. “Thereafter, the going, short as it was, became a nightmare of horror that none of them could ever recall without a shudder”. Reaching the soft muddy bank on the other side, the canoe starts to sink and our heroes jump ashore. “Before them, not more than a hundred yards away, was a native village of low, reed-built, conical-shaped huts. From it came a shrill cry of alarm. A crowd of warriors armed with spears and clubs poured out of the huts and charged, yelling, towards the new-comers”. Biggles stops Ginger getting his automatic gun. “We can’t fight that mob, so it’s no use irritating them. We shall do better by trying to appear friendly, I think”.