by Captain W. E. Johns



IX.           THE HORROR IN THE POOL  (Pages 115 – 129)


The bats don’t pursue the airmen but after hanging over the mouth of the cave like a dense black cloud, they stream back inside.  The hill slopes down to a central basin and an oasis with palms and other foliage.  In places the palms have been cleared leaving open spaces for corn.  There is also a village on a hill, although most of the buildings appear to be in ruins.  There was no movement of any sort which suggested the whole place was uninhabited.  “The Lost Oasis” breathed Kadar.  Biggles says they have to find Algy quickly as he might start off to look for them and get lost and not be lucky enough to find the water.  Firstly, however, they need food before they make the journey back to Algy, so they decide to go to the village.  As they climb down the hill, a great stone bounds down towards them and they manage to avoid it.  “Was that an accident, or is that animated mummy we saw in the cave trying to be unpleasant?” mutters Biggles.  At the bottom of the hill, the village still seems far away so they gather dates instead.  Kadar goes on ahead through the trees and finds a pool of clear water.  Ginger strips off to bathe in it.  Biggles screams at him to get out.  Ginger gets out just in time before an enormous crocodile surges up onto the bank and then halts, with its great jaws open.  (Ginger scrambled madly over the sand away from the death-trap - is the illustration on page 121).  The creature is a good twenty foot long.  After filling the water bottles and collecting and eating dates, Biggles, Ginger and Kadar begin the long climb up the hill.  Passing the entrance to the tombs, they climb to the top of the hill from where they can see they are on the top of the cliff immediately above the fissure that gave access to the pool inside.  In the distance they can see the palms they missed when they landed and the wadi they walked down, although they can’t see the sand covered aircraft as it is some five miles away.  With his birds-eye view, Biggles sketches a plan.  They then go back through the cave and the tombs where they find the bats sleeping.  They reach the pool in the cave and find no scorpions there.  They then use Biggles sketch plan to find their way back to the aircraft, marking the way by building small cairns with pieces of rock.  Finally, reaching the Tourer aircraft they find Algy – and the rifle – have gone.