by Captain W. E. Johns



XIV.                        VON STALHEIN AGAIN  (Pages 172 – 190)


For the best part of an hour, Biggles and Algy try to free the plane from the sand but to no avail.  They will have to wait for low tide and dig it out.  Their fear is that the German flying boat will take off after sunrise and see their aircraft.  They decide to go back to the storage depot and see if they can hear anything.  Making their way back to the hole in the corrugated iron, Biggles and Algy see that the Germans have set up lights inside the supply depot.  Biggles says he is going inside the retrieve their bomb and see if he can hear the Germans discussing anything.  He does this but hears nothing of any significance.  Returning to Algy, Biggles says he has an idea.  He wants to steal the German flying boat.  Biggles sends Algy back to their aircraft to cover it in mud and rushes and disguise it as best he can.  Biggles looks around and sees that the Germans have left the key in the door to the supply depot.  It should be easy to lock them in. Returning to meet with Algy, he gets paper and a pencil to write a note for the Germans to tell them about the hole in the corrugated iron at the back.  He wants to give them a chance to get out before he bombs the place.  Biggles sends Algy to get the German flying boat ready for take-off, then he quietly closes the door and locks it and slips the note under it.  With Algy flying, so Biggles can sleep, they take off.  Algy laughs and tells Biggles this huge flying boat will never fit through the cave entrance to their base.  Biggles sleeps and is awoken by Algy when they arrive back at their base.  There is no one around.  They find Roy asleep at his desk sleeping the sleep of exhaustion, with the British and German code-books beside him.  They find a message that Roy has taken and decoded, telling them there is an enemy supply depot suspected to be on the sand dunes north of the Gutte Channel and it is vital that it is destroyed.  It is obviously the place they have just left.  Algy says he will go back and blow it up whilst Biggles gets some sleep.  Algy takes the Platypus, which already has a single 112-lb. bomb slung on the central bomb-rack.  He also takes the time-bomb with him just in case and a sub-machine gun from the stores.  Biggles goes to his bed and falls fast asleep.  Biggles awakes to find Von Stalhein tapping his shoulder with a pistol.  (‘You know, von Stalhein, you’re becoming a perfect pest,’ he muttered petulantly - is the illustration on page 187).  Biggles asks how Von Stalhein found them and Von Stalhein holds up Biggles’s map with pencil marks on it that bought him almost directly to Bergen Ait.  Biggles says “I deserve to be shot for such criminal folly”.  Von Stalhein asks Biggles where his friends are and this allows a ray of hope to shoot through Biggles’s mind.  If the Germans had found Roy and the British code book it would have been a disaster.  Von Stalhein has a firing squad outside and allows Biggles to have one last cigarette before taking him out of his room to where a squad of marines, under an N.C.O., are waiting.