BIGGLES IN THE BALTIC
by Captain W. E. Johns
X. GINGER GOES EXPLORING (Pages 124 – 135)
Ginger had been awakened by Biggles and Algy taking off. Annoyed with himself for having overslept, Ginger complies with the orders left by Biggles that he is to stand fast until the search party returns. He has breakfast, visits Roy in the signals room and then decides to explore the extremities of the cave. “It is often fascinating, if futile, to speculate what might have happened if certain events had gone otherwise than they did, or to trace the tremendous consequences of incidents which, at the time, seemed of trivial importance”. Ginger does not tell the Flight-Sergeant where he is going, had he done so, Algy would have been told Ginger was missing and no doubt looked for him. Everything would have been different. But Ginger does not tell the Flight-Sergeant where he is going as he doesn’t plan to be away long. The cave rapidly diminishes in size and becomes a narrow tunnel, then it becomes very high, so that it is more in the nature of a giant crack or fissure. Ginger finds the body a dead seagull and wonders how it got there. Later, he finds a small pool of fresh water and he realises that rain water must make its way down into the cave. Ginger suspects he has found a way to the top of the rock, which would command a much wider view of the ocean. The floor begins to rise steeply, strengthening this belief. Ginger comes to the face of an overhanging rock, some twelve feet high over which flows a steady trickle of water. It is covered with green slime. Ginger collects and piles up loose rock, forming a cairn, from which he can reach the top of the obstruction. Climbing up, Ginger has two serious problems, his dangling legs strike the cairn and knock it down and his torch falls out of his pocket and smashes on the ground below. Ginger remembers he has a matchbox in his pocket, but with only three matches left in it. Seeing a patch of reflected daylight in the distance, Ginger tries to make his way to it but he falls into ice-cold water. “To fall into a pool of cold water at any time is bad enough, but to do so in utter darkness, in such a place as Ginger now found himself in, was terrifying. Swimming towards the patch of light, Ginger finds he can eventually touch the bottom. Staggering on, Ginger reaches an aperture where he can see blue sky and he finds a sheer drop of some four hundred feet. Indeed, his precarious perch actually overhangs the abyss and is some twenty feet below the top of the cliff. Ginger realises that his only way back to base is back the way he came. His three matches are now soaking wet and he tries to dry them out in the watery sunlight that reaches him. Ginger hears a distant aeroplane and realises that he can be saved if he can be seen. He attempts the terrifying climb of some twenty feet to the top of the rock and waves frantically, only to see the aircraft glide out of sight round a shoulder of the rock. Sick with disappointment, Gingers sinks down with his chin in his hands and gazes disconsolately at the empty sea.