by Captain W. E. Johns



II.            KADAR’S STORY  (Pages 35 – 49)


Kadar says his father is an honorary assistant curator of antiquities at the Cairo Museum.  He asks Biggles if he has ever heard about the Lost Oasis.  Ginger says he has, he remembers “reading something about it in a paper called Popular Flying”.  (This is a reference by W. E. Johns to a magazine he helped found.  Johns was the editor of ‘Popular Flying’ from the first issue in 1932 until 1939.  The article really did appear in the August 1932 edition of the magazine and no doubt gave Johns the idea for this book).  Kadar says that he has the article in his pocket.  Kadar tells Biggles about Cambyses and his attempt to plunder Jupiter Ammon near the Oasis of Siwah.  “Cambyses’ army left the Oasis of Khargah but never reached Ammon.  Nothing more was ever heard of it.  Not a man returned.  That night the army disappeared as completely as if the earth had opened and swallowed it up – as indeed, in a way, no doubt it did.  And this brings us to the Lost Oasis, named, some say, Zenzura”.  Kadar tells of rumours of an oasis far out in the desert and believes it could be peopled by the descendants of the survivors of Cambyes’ ill-fated army.  Kadar asks Biggles what would you call a hot day in England?  Biggles replies eighty degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.  Ninety degrees is a rarely experienced heatwave.  Kadar asks him to imagine one hundred and fifty degrees in the shade – if there was any shade.  Kadar gets the Popular Flying article out of his pocket and reads from it.  Kadar wants to search for the Lost Oasis, not just for the wealth that was carried by the army, but for the historical aspect.  Kadar says he has already made three journies into the desert to listen to Bedouin rumours.  Kadar has heard about inscribed stones and a very old man who was once lost in the desert and saw a strange lance sticking up out of the sand, made of “dark-coloured wood unknown to him and reinforced with carved brasswork”.  Kadar says this was at the base of some rocky hills “not far south of a straight line taken between Khargah and Jupiter Ammon”.  However, Kadar says all his plans have come up against an impasse.  A man called Fuad Zarwan, half Turkish and half Greek, has been to see Kadar and offered to fund an expedition if they kept what they found.  Kadar said he turned that down as it was dishonest.  “I must explain, in case you do not know, that every antiquity now found in Egypt becomes automatically the property of the Government, which is only right and proper, or Egypt would soon be denuded of the treasures of her romantic past”.  Most of the finds go into the museums but the finder is recompensed for his trouble.  Kadar says the other night his notes and plans were stolen, but he has them memorized.  He needs an aircraft to get there before the thief.  Kadar wants to establish a base at Semphis, a small uninhabited oasis to the west of Dakhel and send petrol and stores there by caravan and then explore the surrounding country by aircraft.  His father, who is wealthy, will fund the expedition.  Biggles is interested and wants to think about it.  He asks Kadar to return in the morning and he will then give him his views.