by Captain W. E. Johns



V.                    GOUDINI AGAIN  (Pages 49 – 58)


Silence follows.  Biggles thinks rapidly – how can the man know they have the envelope?  Biggles asks what he means.  The man says he saw Frazer kick it across the floor to Biggles.  He has trailed Frazer from Rome to Barcelona.  Biggles asks if the man is a friend or an enemy?  “Neither - or both, whichever suits my book” was the curious reply.  Biggles sees no choice but to hand over the letter and he reluctantly puts his hand in his pocket.  At that moment the lights go out – it’s another air raid!  Biggles knows he cannot move towards the man as he would no doubt shoot at the slightest sound.  Instead Biggles goes towards a door he saw to the left-hand side of the room when he first came in.  The stranger tells him to “keep still!”  As the bombs exploded, Biggles goes for the door.  The stranger fires into the ceiling and the flash reveals the whereabouts of everybody.  The stranger fires at Biggles but only hits the doorpost as Biggles gets through the door and finds that it leads into a bathroom.  Biggles sees a key in the lock and locks the bathroom door.  There is a window with a forty-foot drop into a yard so there is no escape that way.  When the lights come back on, Ginger and Algy are lying on the floor – the safest place with bullets flying.  The stranger tries the bathroom door and finding it locked says “Open this door, curse you!”  The door swings open.  Biggles is standing by the window with his arm out of it and the envelope in his hand.  Biggles calls down to a porter and the tosses the envelope into space.  The stranger leaves the room and locks the door behind him.  Biggles tells Ginger and Algy that the letter is in his pocket, it was just the envelope he threw out of the window.  They see through the window, the stranger approach the porter, some money change hands and then – without looking at the contents due to his haste – the stranger hurries to his car.  He is too late, however, as another car pulls up.  The stranger goes for his gun but is shot dead by the side of his car.  Goudini, the hunchback gets out of the car.  He searches the body and finds the empty envelope.  Then he looks up at the hotel window.  Biggles says it was the hunchback that killed the man in the bar-restaurant and now he is coming into the hotel.