BIGGLES FLIES WEST
By Captain W. E. Johns
IX. WHAT HAPPENED TO DICK (Pages 138 - 151)
When Algy and Ginger found Dick's jacket, he was in fact unconscious under the seaweed nearby. When he comes round it is night time. “Instantly he was violently sick, evacuating vast quantities of sea-water”. It was impossible to believe that the others had all been drowned, but it was equally impossible to believe that they had been saved. “Sick with weariness and grief, he sank down on the sand and buried his face in his hands”. Remembering that his father used to say “the sea always gives up its dead”, Dick starts walking down the beach looking for the bodies of his comrades. Finding nothing, he sits as near to the forest as he dares to go, beyond the high-water mark. Dick was nearly asleep when he saw a ghost, a man dressed as an old-fashioned pirate, pass by in the darkness. The ghost is even holding an enormous cutlass. Dick runs away in terror. Seeing a pile of rocks ahead, Dick makes for the clump of coconut palms that rise up from the rocks. He is seeking a fallen nut from which he might be able to quench his thirst but he sees an aircraft. Initially thinking it is the one they arrived in, he runs towards it and then he recognises it as the Sikorsky aircraft and he realises that Deutch and the others must be there. Creeping towards their camp, “making no more noise than a shadow” he sees six figures and realises that Algy and Ginger are there and that their hands and wrists are tied. Dick struggles to untie Algy, who is awake. Algy whispers “the razor” and indicates what he means. “A few yards away a gigantic negro (‘black man’ in the Red Fox reprint) in a blue coat lay stretched out on the sand; beside him, half open, lay a razor”. Dick goes to get Pedro's razor but he wakes up just as Dick reaches out for it; Dick runs for his life, avoiding a slash “that had the weapon reached its mark it would have taken his head from his shoulders”. Pedro chases him. “The negro (‘man’ in the Red Fox reprint) was leaping down the rocks in hot pursuit”. A shot rings out and sand spurts from under Dick’s feet, urging him to even more frenzied efforts. “The negro (‘man’) was not only racing along in his footsteps but had halved the distance between them”. Dick’s strength has almost gone and as he reaches the next barrier of rocks, he knew he could not run much further. Dick goes and hides in one of several holes in the rocks. Pedro starts searching the holes one by one. Pedro finds Dick and pulls him out of the hole by his hair, raising his razor to slash his throat when a gunshot goes off. Dick feels himself fall and then looks up. “The negro (‘man’) was still standing there, although the expression on his face had changed. He was no longer smiling. The horrible grin had given way to an expression of comical surprise”. Then his legs collapsed and he pitched forward onto his face. Then Dick sees a pirate, in his left hand he still carried the cutlass; in his right was a smoking pistol. It is Biggles. (A Close Call - is the illustration on page 149).