by Captain W. E. Johns



VII.                 DOWN THE RIVER  (Pages 75 - 85)


When Ginger set off to contact Algy he wasn't expecting any delays or difficulties.  However travelling down the river bank he comes across the cactus hedge that forms a barricade around the Doctor's property.  To get round this, Ginger has to wade into the river and the mud is hard going.  However, the cactus extends along the river bank and Ginger has to wade far further than he initially expected.  He then comes across another obstacle.  A small tributary, a mere brook, that ran at right angles across his path.  It comes from the cactus hedge and enters the river like a drain.  The water is not very deep but the mud appears to be bottomless when tested with a bamboo cane.  The vegetation here is all dead as if poisoned.  Using his cane, Ginger is able to fairly easily break down the vegetation and Ginger forces his way towards Doctor Liebgarten's garden with a view to crossing the brook higher up.  After ten minutes, he finds a place he can cross and he is then just about to start fighting his way through the cactus back out to the river again when he hears something.  It is the Doctor's voice.  Ginger has to stop and wait as breaking down the dead cactus creates a noise.  Another voice speaks and a conversation takes place in German.  The unknown voice says "He says the treatment must be suspended.  On no account must he be liquidated or allowed to die.  He may be needed".  The Doctor then says "The Oberhaupt understands the position I hope?".  Ginger knows that "oberhaupt" means "chief" and that must mean the Doctor is not the head man of the concern.  There is someone else over him.  Further snatches of conversation are heard and Ginger thinks there a four men talking.  One says "Erich should be back tonight and he may have news".  When the conference breaks up, Ginger risks exposing his position by trying to look at the men.  He sees four white men, one of whom is Liebgarten.  Two of the men are clad in white overalls and the fourth wears a jacket and trousers of pale blue material such as those worn by an engine driver.  On looking at his watch, Ginger sees he has wasted half an hour and he now has to get back to the river and continue the journey to reach Algy before he leaves.  He arrives twenty minutes late but Algy has waited and is just taking off.  Ginger shouts but is not heard in the roar of engines and Algy leaves without Ginger getting a chance to speak to him.  Ginger then has to return to Biggles and gather some flowers on the way.  When Ginger meets up with Biggles at the Doctor outside Liebgarten's house, Biggles asks Liebgarten is he can see the body of his friend and pass his last respects.  The Doctor tells him that is not possible as Angus has already been buried.  Biggles asks to go to the grave to put a wreath on it.  He is told it is at the end of the forest and it is too late to go now.  As they go into, Liebgarten's garden, Biggles asks him about the cactus hedge and asks if he is afraid of something getting in.  Liebgarten says he is afraid of something getting out - Elizabeth, the panther is left to run loose at night.  She takes care of the vermin.