by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.                   TRAGIC NEWS  (Pages 67 - 75)


Whilst Pedro sits on the step outside, Biggles tells Ginger, "this silly game is about played out.  The position in a nutshell is, they've got Angus.  I'm convinced of that, and I'm not going home without him".  Biggles is concerned about Algy waiting back at the plane until 5.00 pm.  Biggles asks Ginger to slip out the hut the back way whilst he keeps Pedro chatting and go and see Algy and tell him to go and come back each dawn until they light a smoke fire to bring him down.  If Ginger sets off now, he should reach Algy before he leaves.  Ginger is to come back with a bunch of flowers as the explanation to Pedro when Ginger is eventually missed will be that he has gone off to collect flowers as he is interested in botany.  Biggles sits and chats with Pedro to give Ginger time to get away.  During to conversation, Pedro draws a knife and throws it accurately at a lizard, killing it.  Pedro notices Ginger has gone and becomes most anxious.  Biggles says he has gone looking for flowers and if he returns and finds they have left he will merely go on back to the Doctor's house.  Biggles and Pedro set off on the return journey to the Doctor's house and Biggles finds reasons to stop and delay as much as he can.  As they return, Liebgarten is waiting at the gate and asks what has happened to Ginger.  Liebgarten says the natives are hostile.  Biggles says he will wait at the gate for Ginger and Liebgarten waits with him.  Shortly after, Ginger arrives, with a great bunch of orchids and lillies.  Liebgarten warns him not to go wandering off again.  There are many deadly snakes around.  The steward who served drinks earlier appears and speaks with the Doctor.  Liebgarten then tells Biggles and Ginger that he has bad news for them.  "Mackail is dead".  His body has been found in the forest where he had apparently gone to cut wood and he had been bitten by a poisonous reptile or centipede.  Biggles says this will prolong his visit, not shorten it.  He will stay on "until I've destroyed the reptile that killed my friend".  "Ah, quite so.  A perfectly natural reaction," agreed the Doctor.