by Captain W. E. Johns



XI.   A NIGHT FLIGHT  (Pages 121 – 131)


Biggles is awoken by noise and going to the far side of the oasis he sees some four thousand or so Arabs assembling.  “He was glad that whoever was in charge had not decided to use the oasis itself as a meeting-place, or he would have been found, but a moment’s consideration revealed the impracticability of such a course; a body of men of that size could only parade in the open”.  The Arabs set off towards the eastern outposts of the British army in what can only be an attack.  Biggles returns to the Halbertstadt that he had left at this oasis when he was forced down in the sand storm.  He puts the unconscious Mayer in the back seat and writes a message addressed to Algy warning of the pending Arab attack.  Biggles then flies the German machine over Kantara, braving the archie barrage, and drops his message over the aerodrome.  Biggles then flies the still unconscious Mayer back to Zabala.  In a state of complete exhaustion, Biggles lands and is helped out.  He manages to say “Mayer … get Mayer … mind his leg”.  “Then darkness surged up and around him as he fell into a sleep of utter exhaustion”.  When Biggles awakens, the Count arrives to say that he is recommending him for the Iron Cross.  “It was not worth such an honour,” protested Biggles uncomfortably, for the idea of being decorated by the enemy did not fill him with enthusiasm”.  Mayer has been sent by ambulance to Jerusalem, having told the Count what Biggles has done.  The Count asks how Biggles was taken prisoner and Biggles explains how the sand storm forced him to land and he was captured by Arabs.  “They’re unreliable devils, these Arabs” says the Count.  “I wouldn’t trust them an inch.  They’d betray either side for a handful of piasters and would cut the throat of every white man in the country if they could, or if they dared.  Von Stalhein thinks a lot of them though, perhaps because he knows how to handle them.  He was out here before the war and knows their habits and language”.  The Count tells Biggles to come to the mess as he wants him to meet Kurt Hess.  “He’s our crack pilot in the East.  He has scored twenty-six victories and is very proud of it”.  A Halberstadt arrives and Biggles see von Stalhein get out, in German uniform, and limp back to headquarters.