by Captain W. E. Johns



XIII.                 CAPTURED  (Pages 174 – 184)


Algy gets Ginger and Kadar into the shade of a narrow street where Kadar is fascinated by the lance, recognising it a Persian work.  They hear Biggles firing the rifle and make haste.  They reach the spot where the wall has broken down that Algy entered by and a few minutes later, Biggles joins them.  “Those black devils are crawling up the hill under cover of the rocks; they’ll be at the gate in a minute or two” he says.  They make there way down to the wide expanse of maize where they are able to rest.  “In as few words as possible, yet omitting nothing of importance, Algy told the others his story”.  Biggles explains that they had got lost but did return to the aircraft to leave a message and a map for Algy.  Biggles asks Algy how many Arabs there were and on hearing there were around twenty, works out that there cannot be much of guard left on the petrol and stores if any.  They could recover the petrol and hide it.  This they then do, finding the stores apparently unguarded.  They find a nearby depression in the sand and move the petrol there and cover it.  Algy then fires his automatic as he runs into an Arab, presumably who had been left on guard but had gone to watch the goings on at the village.  The shot brings the Tuareg pouring down the hill but “from both sides of the hill, from the cacti, from the corn fields, and anything else that offered cover, came a crowd of amazing figures”.  They are wearing armour and equipped with ancient weapons.  “It’s Cambyses army” cries Kadar.  Biggles thinks they are Arabs who have found the armour but Kadar points out they are white.  “Never mind what colour they are, we had better bolt for it; we can’t face that mob” says Biggles, but turning, he finds they are surrounded.  They watch the Tuareg fight the newcomers and Zarwan bolts towards them, imploring them in broken English to protect him. “Yes, I’ll protect you, you murdering swine” snarls Biggles and he starts beating him with a camel-wane, a yard-long cane used by all camel drivers.  “At last the camel-wand broke into halves; Biggles flung the pieces aside, and hurled the now sobbing half-caste from him”.  When he has finished beating Zarwan, Biggles notices a ring of warriors around him.  Then a strange “monkey-like figure” appears and begins shrieking orders in an unknown language.  “That’s the creature we saw in the tombs, isn’t it?” said Kadar.  Biggles nodded.  “Yes, I think it’s the old lady herself,” he agreed.  Biggles party, Zarwan and three Tuareg prisoners are all seized and taken off up the hill towards the village.