by Captain W. E. Johns



XX.         THE NIGHT RIDERS  (Pages 226 – 236)


Biggles flies to Jebel Hind.  He is hoping that von Stalhein will not know it is him.  “Suppose he does discover who I am, what can he do about it?” thought Biggles.  “If he hits me over the back of the head, the machine will fall and we shall both go west together, for he couldn’t possibly get into my seat and take over the controls without first throwing me out; and he wouldn’t have time to do that before we crashed” he thinks.  Biggles flies on to Galada and then turns to Wadi Baroud.  During the journey the hot air from the rocks rises and sucks in cool night air and this creates bumps.  There is a particularly bad bump at this stage but Biggles flies on.  He sees the lights of the British aerodrome at Kantara in the distance and gently eases the nose of the machine to it.  In due course, he is flying directly towards the aerodrome but there is no complaint from behind.  As he flies overhead, Biggles spins the plane down and lands quickly.  He jumps out with a gun in his hand and says “Stick up your hands, von Stalhein”.  There is no reply.  Looking in the rear cockpit, Biggles is shocked to find it empty!  British personal arrive and try to arrest Biggles but he reveals that he is English and soon Major Raymond arrives. (Major Raymond was amongst them – is the illustration opposite page 232).  Raymond says that Algy is back and Brunow is where he can do no harm.  An hour later, meeting with Major Raymond and Algy, Biggles says about the disappearance of von Stalhein “I think it was, without exception, the biggest shock I have ever had in my life – and I’ve had some, as you know.  It was also the biggest disappointment.  I’ll tell you straight, sir, I could have burst into tears when I landed and found he wasn’t there.  I couldn’t believe it, and that’s a fact.  When I think of all the trouble I went to, and risks I took – but there, what’s the use of moaning about it?”  Biggles is certain that von Stalhein has parachuted out but he thinks he can still be caught with personal assistance from Major Sterne.  Raymond says he is difficult to get hold of but agrees to ask the General to send out a message for Sterne that he is needed urgently at General HQ.