by Captain W. E. Johns



VII.         LOST IN THE DESERT  (Pages 88 – 101)


Biggles, Algy, Ginger and Kadar wait for the air to clear.  Biggles warns Algy to go steady with the water.  “We don’t know where any more is coming from”.  Getting out they find they have landed in a narrow wadi or valley. Around them are barren hills with no sign of life other than one or two stunted palms.  Biggles wonders if there may be an oasis nearby and speculates that if there is, it could by the Lost Oasis of Zenzura.  Kadar talks about seeing a cairn of stones and Biggles quips “what we need is a nice heap of scones”.  If they don’t find water within twenty-four hours, when the sun comes out they will be “frizzled like kippers on a grill”.  Biggles, Ginger and Kadar (all with sun glasses) go to explore leaving Algy, with a rifle, to guard the aircraft from any Tuareg that may drift in and steal what little food they have.  The heat is intense and there is no escape as there is no shade.  They don’t perspire as “the fiery heat of the desert dries all moisture as fast as it exudes through the skin”.  They climb a hill and then head for lower ground where there is better chance of finding water.  Biggles suggests they should not go any farther without a bigger water supply or without Algy and only when the sun has gone down.  They go up a hill and descend but realise it was the wrong hill.  Before long they are totally lost.  Biggles takes out his pistol and fires three shots at regular intervals.  There is no response.  They are plagued by flies “once Ginger in a fury turned and slashed at them with his helmet”.  They soon begin seeing things.  But there are only rocks and sand.  (Tall, mushroom-shaped rocks, like a forest of gigantic toadstools - is the illustration on page 99).  Biggles gives the last of the water to Ginger.  Finding a cave, a mere crack in the rock, they see “imprints on the sand such as a large bird might made”.  Rushing inside they find a pool of pale-green water and they bury they faces in the cool liquid.