by Captain W. E. Johns



IX.                   WHAT HAPPENED TO GINGER  (Pages 108 - 121)


"The explanation of Ginger's 'uncanny disappearance was really perfectly simple.  It may have been its very simplicity that caused it to be overlooked".  Ginger is sitting on the gold worrying himself sick wondering what has happened to Biggles when he has the sensation that the gold has moved slightly.  Trying to stand he sits down again.  "The movement was involuntary, induced, it seemed, by giddiness.  Then he thought he understood.  He was ill.  Something was the matter with him - probably a recurrence of malaria contracted in the tropics".  (Although there is no footnote reference to it, the previous book, BIGGLES TAKES A HOLIDAY was set the jungle of South America).  Ginger looks at the hulk of the "Starry Crown" and he thinks that it is further away than it had been.  Then he sees "a black irregular line, a line that widened as it appeared to cut a zig-zag course across the ice".  By the time he gets to it, it is eight to ten foot wide, too wide to jump from a slippery take off.  Slowly the ice parts and Ginger floats off.  There could be no question of swimming.  The cold would be paralyzing.  Ginger realises that his only hope of getting off is if the aircraft comes quickly and they are able to drop him the collapsible rubber dinghy, as long as that is not punctured by ice.  Ginger drifts off to the north-east.  Time passes and Ginger hears the drone of an aircraft.  He later hears a faint pop and thinking it could have been a pistol shot he fires his gun in reply.  There is no further shot in reply to him.  Ginger is desperately worried and tired but he dare not sleep for fear of not waking up again - being frozen to death in his sleep.  Then he sees a ship.  He lets out a wild yell and has been seen.  The ship is the 'Svelt' and suddenly Ginger realises that this is Lavinsky's ship but anything is better than dying slowly on a floating island of ice.  The gold is pretty well covered with snow already and Ginger finishes covering it so Lavinsky can't just take it.  A rope is thrown down and Ginger is hauled up on deck.  Ginger says he is the member of a British air exploration party and he explains the ice broke off and went adrift.  The man Ginger is speaking to surprises him when he says "I reckon you're a member of the party that found the ship".  They have intercepted the radio message meant for Algy.  Ginger says there is a madman on the ship, a big fellow with red hair.  The man Ginger is speaking to, identifies himself as Lavinsky, and recognises the description.  Lavinsky asks Ginger is there is gold on the ship.  Ginger says he is pretty sure there isn't.  "We'll go and see" said Lavinsky.