by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.   MORE SHOCKS  (Pages 64 – 79)


When the light fades to darkness, Biggles climbs out of his window and goes to retrieve the bomb.  It takes him a quarter of an hour to find it at the far end of the aerodrome.  Hearing the chink of pebbles, Biggles drops to the ground.  He sees an Arab “in flowing burnous and turban” and shortly afterwards hears an aero-engine starting up.  A plane takes off.  Biggles returns to his quarters and places the box the bomb is in on his chair.  Suddenly Count von Faubourg is standing in his doorway.  The Count says he saw the light on and wanted to thank Biggles for “a good show this morning”.  Biggles throws a cushion over the bomb box but the Count sits on it.  Biggles says the box is his cigarettes and he throws it lightly on to a chest of drawers.  The Count asks for a cigarette and reaches for the box.  Biggles offers him his own personal cigarette case saying “these are better”.  The Count leaves and Biggles examines the bomb in the box.  He sets the timer for thirty minutes so that when the small red plunger is activated, he will have half an hour before it detonates.  Biggles then sets off on his desperate mission.  “The distance to the hill on which the reservoir was situated was not more than half a mile in a straight line, but he deliberately made a detour in order to avoid meeting any soldiers of the camp who might be returning from the village”.  The reservoir is an elevated structure built of granite blocks and Biggles puts the bomb (and the box) in a cavity between the blocks and activates the timer with the plunger.  He then tries to return the way he came but finds himself blocked by barbed wire and has an anxious time finding the correct route through it.  Returning to the aerodrome he sees a plane land and Mayer get out.  He watches him examine his tail unit as if it had not been working properly.  Biggles returns to his room for a wash and brush up and then goes to the dining-room at five to eight for dinner.  The bomb is due to go off at one minute past eight.  Everyone stops when they hear the sound of a British Rolls-Royce engine.  The engine cuts out twice and Biggles realises this must be Algy dropping an urgent message.  A German pilot, called Brandt, tells Biggles to watch the Englander in the fireworks, meaning the anti-aircraft batteries firing at the English plane, an F.E.2 D, caught in the German searchlights.  The fireworks are quite different when the bomb explodes at the reservoir!  The water released causes a lot of damage to the area surrounding the hill, but not the aerodrome itself.  The Germans speculate that the passing English plane dropped a bomb.  Night bombers set off around midnight to go and bomb the Australian troops found by Biggles.  Going to bed, Biggles is awoken by a returning plane and investigating, he finds that the Arab he saw earlier has now returned.  The Arab goes to the German officer’s quarters and a light comes on in a room.  Biggles is determined to look in the window and sneaks out to do so.  Using an old oil drum for height, he looks in and sees von Stalhein at a desk.  Returning to bed he wonders whether the limping von Stalhein is in fact the “brilliant, athletic, hard-riding Arab who was known mythically on both sides of the lines as El Shereef, the cleverest spy in the German Secret Service”.