BIGGLES FLIES WEST
By Captain W. E. Johns
III. THE LETTER (Pages 57 - 67)
(This chapter starts with "Dear Dick" and finishes with "Your Affec. FATHER" and a map on page 67. The entire chapter is the letter itself). The letter tells how Dick's father was on the "Seadream" when it sank and he found himself in a boat with a man named Deutch ("a nasty looking man with a round scar at the end of his mouth") and three others. It was about a fortnight before they sighted land, an island they recognised at Providence in the Caribbean Sea. “Deutch and me both knew it by the funny shaped hill at the end, both of us having watered there in the old sailing days”. Unable to land, the current carried them south-west and took them to another unknown island. By this time two of the sailors had died, Tom Allen and Joe Stevens, and only Dick's father, Deutch and Charlie Bender are left. On this island, there are coco-nuts to eat and milk to drink. “Deutch’s temper now that he couldn’t get liquor was awful”. Dick's father and Deutch fall out when Deutch wakes up and curses Dick’s father for having no water handy. “I like a fool ups and tells him that I ain’t no lackey, whereupon he comes at me with his knife, and I, not having nothing to defend myself with, runs off with him after me”. Whilst fleeing for his life, Dick's father comes to a place described as “a sort of dip, or dell-hole, a mossy place filled with bushes and creepers and things, and thinking as how it would make a good hiding place, I jumps into it”. The ground opens up and Dick’s father falls through the timbers of Louis Dakeyne's ship. Here he finds Dakeyne's skeleton and the gold doubloon on his desk. “Likewise there was a bit of paper and an old feather sharpened to a point, wot I believe the dead man had been writing on the paper, which is the yellow piece I am putting in this letter”. Returning to the other two, hoping that Deutch has calmed down, Dick's father accidentally drops the doubloon through a hole in his pocket. Deutch wants to know where he's got it and comes at him with a knife. Charlie gets in the way and is stabbed in the throat and killed. Dick's father flees and hides until an American schooner called the "Portsdown" puts in for water and rescues both him and Deutch. The “Portsdown” is plagued with problems on the way to Boston and the letter goes on to say that Dick's father intends to work a passage home but if he can't find a ship, he'll give this letter to a sailor homeward bound. The letter concludes by telling Dick that in case anything should happen to him (Dick's father) then Dick should try and find the island forty or fifty miles south-west of Providence and the wreck is marked on the map enclosed. (Page 67 then shows the map drawn by Dick’s father).