by Captain W. E. Johns



VIII.                THE TOMBS OF THE DEAD  (Pages 102 – 114)


Ginger, having “drunk to repletion” sees against a rock wall, in a semi-reclining position, a skeleton (but strangely, no one comments on it or thinks the water might be poisoned).  Biggles wants to return to Algy and Kadar suggests they would travel more easily by moonlight.  Stepping outside Biggles is surprised to see a shadow moving.  A stain slowly converges on the fissure entrance to the cave.  To their horror, Kadar realises the moving shadow are scorpions, “thousands of them, millions of them”.  Biggles stamps on a leading one, and lighting matches they find a black fissure that leads deeper into the cave.  Biggles uses leaves from his note book as spills and lights them.  They are then caught in a stream of bats leaving the cave.  Biggles says “First, scorpions, now bats – my word!  The Tuareg knew what they were talking about when they named this place the Region of the Devils” (a reference to the whole desert area).  Biggles thinks it might be sensible to wait until daylight so they can see if there is any exit from the caves.  They have been going uphill so he hopes to be high enough to spot the machine.  They carry on and the cave opens out into a lofty chamber.  They find a number of small cavities, or compartments – the tombs of the dead.  They find a body on the ground and are shocked when suddenly it sits bolt upright “then with a wild screech, the figure leapt to its feet and bounded across the floor”.  (With a wild screech, the figure leapt to its feet and bounded across the floor”- is the illustration on page 111).  Biggles mutters “I don’t believe in spooks, but if this place isn’t haunted I’ll eat my helmet”.  To make things worse they are then attacked by bats “and they all bolted incontinently” to a small tunnel where they see crimson light ahead.  It is the dawn they see and the passage terminates in the side of a steep hill down which then then tumble until they are able to pull themselves up.  “The Tuareg are right”, announced Biggles with absolute conviction.  “This is, without doubt, the Kingdom of Devils”.