by Captain W. E. Johns



V.            THE END OF THE TRAIL  (Pages 68 – 76)


The caravan doesn’t arrive and just as the sun is sinking on the following day, “ a party of those mysterious, blue-veiled warriors of the desert, the dreaded Tuareg” arrive at the oasis.  “Without showing by sign or movement that they had seen the hated Roumi, the white man – which they must have done – they passed on, as sinister, as evil, as impassive as death, their shrouded figures the embodiment of hostility and cold malevolence”.  The next day and night pass and still there is no sign of the long overdue caravan.  Biggles calls a council of war.  They can’t get back to civilisation, but they can survive at the oasis on dates and water.  Using the petrol they have, they can fly for about an hour, which would be seventy-five miles out at cruising speed, and still get back to the oasis.  The longer they wait, the more petrol they will lose by evaporation.  They take off and fly in the direction the caravan would have come and find the remains of the caravan.  Faced with the dilemma of trying to land – and possibly not being able to get off the ground again if the sand is too soft – they risk a landing.  Algy runs out to explore the scene of the tragedy.  “In his life he had seen some unpleasant sights, but that which now met his eyes nearly made him ill”.  Biggles asks “is there any petrol?”.  “No” replies Algy.  “Not a drop”.