by Captain W. E. Johns



XVII.       HARE AND HOUNDS  (Pages 190 – 199)


Two hours later, Biggles is with Raymond and he is handed notices confirming that El Shereef is to be executed.  The notices are for official orders and also for the press.  Biggles insists on returning to Zabala.  “I don’t want to go, sir, don’t think that, but I think it’s up to me to try to get the truth about von Stalhein’s game while I can come and go”.  Biggles climbs into the cockpit of his Bristol aircraft and flies back.  Much to his astonishment, Biggles is attacked by a swarm of German Pfalz aircraft.  (He was roused from his reverie by the distant clatter of a machine-gun - is the frontispiece illustration taken from a line on page 191).  He keeps trying to show them his top plane, the top of his wing that has the white bar on, so they will know it is him, but it is no use.  Eventually he flies low over the ground “hedge hopping” - if there had been any hedges to hop – across the desert, dodging to avoid the attacking planes.  He makes it to Zabala and makes a hasty emergency landing.  Speaking to the Count, Biggles is angry at being attacked.  The Count has no explanation.  When the Pfalz pilots land they are surprised to find that Biggles is the pilot.  They say there are no marks on his wings.  Biggles looks at his Bristol aircraft and finds the white markings gone.  He was flying a different plane!  Biggles tells the Count “the only suggestion that I can offer is that a change of machines took place while I was at Kantara”.  The Count asks to see Biggles in the Count’s office.  Before Biggles goes, he asks one of the German pilots why they were waiting where they were.  The pilot says that von Stalhein had said they might find some British machines there.  At the Count’s office, Biggles is asked about his mission.  He tells the Count he was too late.  “Sheikh Haroun Ibn Said, better known as El Shereef, of the German Intelligence staff, was tried by Field General Court Martial this morning and sentenced to death for espionage,” said Biggles in a low voice.  “The sentence was carried out within an hour on the grounds of the undesirability of keeping such a dangerous man in captivity”.  Biggles goes to see his damaged Bristol aircraft and also checks the other British aircraft there.  The engine of the Sopwith Pup is still warm.  “I’m right,” he thought.  “That’s how it was done”.