by Captain W. E. Johns



V.                    WHAT HAPPENED TO ALGY  (Pages 108 – 121)


When Algy took off from the beach in his Bulldog, he was not expecting a long chase.  He follows the cars for hours “although he congratulated himself on his foresight in having an extra petrol-tank installed against just such an emergency”.  The car stops near a large field and the men transfer the bullion boxes to an aircraft.  Algy then follows this monoplane when it takes off.  The monoplane goes to land just as Algy runs out of petrol.  Algy sees a “small village in the near distance, backed by a fir-clad hill surmounted by an imposing castle”.  Algy makes a faultless landing in a field and makes for the nearest village.  “He pulled up suddenly, as instinctively he read the names over the windows.  Hymann …. Schmidt …. Wilhelmmayer ….  “Good heavens!” he breathed, with a sudden pang of apprehension.  “I’m in Germany!”  Algy is soon approached by armed men who discover he is English and ask him for his passport.  When he can’t produce it, he is taken away and locked in jail.  In due course a motor-car arrives and three men get out, two in green uniforms and armed.  The third “was obviously an officer of superior rank”.  “A monocle gleamed in his right eye and accentuated the sardonic smile that played about his thin, clean-shaven lips.  How long Algy stared he never knew.  His brown eyes met the cold blue ones of his vis-à-vis (French for ‘face to face’) unflinchingly, and for some seconds without recognition”.  Then it dawned on him.  “Good heavens!” he breathed, through lips that had turned dry.  “It’s von Stalhein”.  Algy tells him he thought he was dead.  “I hoped you would,” answered von Stalhein simply.  But we of the German Secret Service do not die so easily.  It has been said that, like the cat, we have nine lives.  The occasion you no doubt have in mind, when I was shot down and crashed following the ingenious coup planned by our mutual friend Bigglesworth, was my eight life.  I had one left.  I still have it”.  “Then make the most of it, for you won’t have it long,” Algy advised him grimly.  “You try keeping me here and Biggles will be after you like a starving tiger”.  Von Stalhein tells Algy he is to be taken to the castle.