by Captain W. E. Johns



XIII.                A GRUESOME REFUGE  (Pages 189 – 198)


Ginger, hearing a commotion, finds a hiding-place in the huge nests on the prop-like supports in the trees.  There is an overpowering stench.  Ginger sees Biggles sprinting for his life – to a boat that Ginger knows is not there!  When Biggles trips and falls, Ginger moves forward in his hiding place causing the whole structure to slide.  Ginger’s fingers close over something soft and he looks down.  “Staring up at him was a face: a human face – or what had once been a human face, if the face of a Malay Dyak ever is human.  It had not been a pretty thing to look at in life.  In death it must have been awful, but in the advanced stages of decomposition it was so utterly dreadful that any description of it would fail in its object”.   (In the 1994 Red Fox reprint, Biggles and the Secret Mission, the line “if the face of a Malay Dyak ever is human” is removed).   Ginger jumps clear.  “Subconsciously he was aware of a number of men recoiling away from the spot, of a confused noise of shrieks and groans”.  Biggles’ pursuers have fled.  The structure collapses, throwing its grisly tenant clear on to the rocks, and Ginger flees as well and runs straight into Biggles.  Biggles asks about the boat and Ginger says it has gone.  “An octopus took it”.  Biggles says then need to get away “in case these coffee-coloured pole-cats come back”.  (In the 1994 Red Fox reprint, Biggles and the Secret Mission, the description “coffee-coloured” is removed).  Biggles explains that Ginger must have found a grave.  They bury their dead high up in trees on this island.  Reaching the beach, Biggles says he found nothing.  Ginger tells Biggles he has seen a submarine coming out of the cliff.  Biggles says he wouldn’t mind lying low, “but as soon as these johnnies have recovered from their fright they’ll be back, and I don’t like the look of the weapons they carry”.  “What sort of weapon is it?”  “A thing called a kris – a cross between a cutlass and a cleaver.  Nasty”.  Biggles says they need to be sure there is no chance of getting the boat.  “Come on, let’s go and have a dekko.  Keep your eyes skinned for w*gs” (a footnote tells us the word “w*g” is R.A.F. slang for natives, normally Arabs).  (In the 1994 Red Fox reprint, Biggles and the Secret Mission, the last two words “for w*gs” are removed so the chapter just ends with “Keep your eyes skinned” and the offensive word is not used).