by Captain W. E. Johns



XVIII.     AN UNWELCOME VISITOR  (Pages 200 – 212)


“Yes, that’s how he did it, the cunning beggar” muses Biggles as he walks back to his room and changes back into his German uniform.  Biggles is then distracted by a commotion at the main gate.  He sees a German N.C.O. with a man in civilian clothes.  When he sees the man’s name written on the side of his suitcase “his fingers gripped the window-sill until his knuckles showed white through the tan”.  The name on the suitcase was ‘L Brunow’.  Biggles goes to the gate and “waved the N.C.O. aside, and indicated by his manner that the newcomer was known to him, and that he would accept responsibility for him.  At the same time he picked up the suitcase and held it close to his side so that the name could not be read”.  Brunow asks if Biggles can speak English and Biggles, pretending to be a German, says “A leedle”.  Brunow asks to see the Count as he has an important message for him.  Biggles says the Count is not there and invites Brunow to his room so he can have a drink after his journey.  Biggles plies Brunow with brandy and soda “the amount of brandy that he poured into Brunow’s glass nearly made him blush”.  Brunow drinks deeply and is soon talking more than he should.  He says there is a spy at Zabala.  “They believe it’s a fellow named Bigglesworth, who’s disappeared from France, though it beats me how they found that out.  But whoever he is, he’s here at Zabala”.  Biggles asks Brunow if he wants another drink and the instant he said it he knew he had gone too far.  Brunow is suddenly suspicious of Biggles’ motives and realises that this man must be Bigglesworth.  Brunow attacks Biggles with the brandy bottle and they fight, Biggles grabbing him by the throat so he can’t shout for help.  For Biggles “it was the first time in his life that he had actually made physical contact with one of the enemy, and his reaction to it was shattering in its intensity; it aroused a latent instinct to destroy that he had never suspected was in him, and the knowledge that the man was not only an enemy but a traitor fanned the red-heat of his rage to a searing, white-hot flame.  “Yes,” he ground out through his clenched teeth, “I’m Bigglesworth – you dirty traitorous rat”.  They topple over as they grapple, but Biggles is able to hit Brunow on the head with his Mauser pistol and knock him out.  He quickly pushes the body under his bed as the noise of the struggle will have been heard.  A tumbler has been smashed in the fight and Biggles pretends to be asleep on the bed when von Stalhein arrives and opens the door and looks in.  Von Stalhein says nothing and leaves.  Biggles hopes that he thought Biggles had been drinking.  Biggles pulls Brunow from under the bed and ties him up and gags him.  Biggles needs to get rid of Brunow.  “To murder a man in cold blood was unthinkable”.  Biggles thinks he will get the two-seater Bristol out and fly him to the British lines.  He speaks to a German N.C.O. and tells him to get the plane out so he can practice night flying.  He then dismisses the Germans saying it will be some time before he is ready to go.  As he walks back to his room, he is intercepted by von Stalhein.  “I’ve been looking for you.  I came up to your room, but you seemed to be – well, I thought it best not to disturb you,” he smiled.  Biggles nodded.  “I had a drink or two and I must have dropped off to sleep,” he admitted”.  Von Stalhein says they have just had a new prisoner bought in and he won’t talk.  Von Stalhein wants to try the old trick of putting another so-called prisoner in with him “in the hope that confidences would be exchanged”.  Biggles puts on his British uniform goes to the barbed-wire cage by the fort where wooden huts hold prisoners.  Biggles is marched up, a door opened and he is put in with a British officer.  “It was Algy”.