by Capt. W. E. Johns



12.   BACK TO THE SEA  (Pages 156 – 168)


“The long walk across the moonlit wilderness had a strange effect on Frecks; and perhaps on Worrals too, for she rarely spoke”.  As the day dawns they reach a rocky outcrop that leads towards the sea.  They are at a point where the plateau ends and then abruptly drops several hundred feet to a deserted beach but there is no easy way down.  They finish the last of their fruit and chocolate and make plans to contact a passing boat in due course.  Suddenly they hear an aircraft and they wave to it.  Worrals signals “SOS” in Morse code with her mirror.  When it is clear that they have been seen, Worrals signals “Operation Distaff.  Arms dump buried centre of oasis twenty miles east” in Morse code twice.  The plane drops a message with a streamer and Worrals reads “Operation Distaff.  Message received.  Picked your man up from canoe twenty miles south.  He brought us along.  Have story from him.  Stand by.  Will send help”.  Mali must have pinched a canoe and got away and Melinos must have the Air Force out to watch for them, Worrals speculates.  Turning round, Frecks is shocked to see that Sheikh Abd-el-Katil and a dozen or so of his men are galloping towards them.  The signalling has given their position away.  Knowing it is futile to try to run or fight, the girls calmly await capture.  To Frecks surprise they are put on two horses and taken back to oasis.  She expected to be shot on the spot.  Worrals says that Cosmo will want to know how much they know, and he can only do that while they are alive.