by Captain W. E. Johns



XIV.                        AMBRIMOS GETS HIS ANSWER  (Pages 174 - 185)


For Biggles and Ginger the day passes slowly.  "It was a nightmare of heat, noise, flies, and the overpowering stench of filth."  Towards evening, a caravan comprising men, women and children - presumably the slave part - forms up.  Biggles says "So Ambrimos is in that racket, too.  What a skunk the fellow must be.  Anything for money".  Biggles and Ginger are taken outside to face Ambrimos who asks if Biggles has thought about his offer.  "There was nothing to think about," Biggles told him.  "You know the alternative" his is asked.  "You told us.  There's no need to make a song about it."  Ambrimos says "Very well.  Stiff-necks, they call you British.  I can at least find a way to loosen yours."  They are taken to a ancient fig tree and from one branch that spreads out at a right-angle from the trunk, two ropes, each with a noose at the end hang side by side.  Below these a rough plank has been placed across two packing cases.  They are going to be hanged.  Ginger draws a deep breath and says "Looks as it we'd had it this time".  "Ginger was thinking desperately.  Of all the perilous positions they had ever been in, this was the most hopeless.  For the first time in his life, Ginger abandoned hope."  Biggles smiles a curious apologetic smile.  "So long, laddie," he said.  "Sorry I brought you into this.  We've had a long run and I suppose it had to happen sometime."  A shot in the distance distracts that attention of everyone.  Shortly afterwards, Bertie calls out "Hi!, what's going on down there?"  "They're hanging us" yells Ginger.  Biggles snatches a knife from the Sudanese hangman and kicks him off the plank when suddenly there is a tremendous explosion followed by a low roar.  An instant later a wave of water some twenty foot high comes into sight.  Biggles and Ginger quickly climb the ropes which were meant to take their lives and now in fact save them.  "Every man, and everything else in the wadi except the tree, had been swept away by the raging water which still filled the wadi although most of its early force had been spent."  Ginger says "If any of these W*gs (The word “w*g” appears twice in this book, once in this chapter and once in Chapter 13, “Zahar Settles a Debt”.  The use of these words are obviously highly offensive, but they were not considered to be when the book was originally published for children in 1951.  It is interesting to note that the book was never reprinted as a hardback after the 1950s and it was never printed as a paperback) are left alive they'll be really angry."  The rush of water had practically swept the wadi clean.  The banks had been undermined in places and collapsed.  Biggles checks the Gurra plantation.  "Either the plants have been washed clean out of the ground, or else they are buried under tons of silt" he reports back.  What had become of Ambrimos and his men is in doubt.  They would have been carried for miles before being deposited, either dead or alive and most probably dead.  Biggles, Bertie, Ginger and Zahar return to the Moth aircraft and as it won't fly with four, they taxi it back to the abandoned aerodrome.