by Captain W. E. Johns



V.    THE NEW BULLET  (Pages 55 – 63)


Biggles lands and sees von Stalhein standing by his hangar.  He finishes his run on the far side of the aerodrome and drops the bomb Raymond has given him onto the sand away from everyone.  He then taxis in and von Stalhein asks him if he has seen Leffens.  Biggles says he did see a blue and silver machine but the heat made visibility bad.  Biggles reports to the Count that the Australian troops are hidden among the palms around Sidi Arish.  When Biggles leaves he sees von Stalhein examining the engine of Biggles’ aircraft.  Von Stalhein examines something in the palm of his hand.  When he has gone, Biggles goes to look and finds a bullet hole in the cowling.  The bullet had lodged in the wooden panelling inside and had been dug out by von Stalhein.  Biggles also realises that he is under the surveillance of two German soldiers.  In the German mess, Biggles is listening to the Germans talking.  He is not fluent in German but he has been studying it and he hears the word “Leffens … late … new bullets”.  A pilot named Otto Brandt speaks to Biggles and says that Leffens was carrying a new type of bullet that came only yesterday.  Biggles realises that von Stalhein must have found one in his machine and it is going to be really hard to explain how it got there.  Biggles sees a Halberstadt take off with half a dozen Pfalz scouts and realises it is the photographic machine with an escort going to check out his information about the Australians.  Biggles goes to the map room to look at the position of the reservoir and memorise it.  He then returns to his room.  A knock at the door reveals the Count and von Stalhein; they want to speak to him.  The Count asks “Brunow” (as that’s who he thinks Biggles is, of course) why he has reported a division of Australian cavalry at Sidi Arish.  The Count reveals that he made up the quest.  “The story I told you of movement of Australian troops from Egypt was purely imaginary.  I merely wished to test your – er – zeal, to find out how you would act in such circumstances”.  They are interrupted by Mayer, the Staffel leader of the Halberstadt squadron with a photograph still dripping from its fixing bath.  The photograph clearly shows troops.  The Count is very pleased and leaves taking von Stalhein with him, telling him there is no time for anything else.  Biggles says to himself “the sooner I blow up the water-works the better, before my nerve peters out”.