by Captain W. E. Johns



IX.                   BACK AT BODA  (Pages 140 – 155)


Algy did not come.  All through the long night hours Biggles waited.  Dawn came.  The day wore on.  The sun went down.  It was about half-past nine when Ginger glided in to land on the fiord by the landslide.  Ginger tells Biggles he has seen Raymond, who was in favour of Biggles flying straight back home.  Biggles shook his head.  “That won’t do.  Raymond ought to know we don’t work like that.  While Algy’s inside the country I’m not going to leave it”.  Biggles says he will have to go to Boda to fetch Algy and he asks Ginger if he has got a brolly (slang for parachute).  Ginger confirms he has.  Biggles puts the parachute on and they get into Ginger’s aircraft and take off.  The plan is to switch the engine off and glide in from the sea.  At twenty thousand feet, Biggles says “Well, here we go”.  “S’long chief,” called Ginger huskily.  “S’long, laddie” says Biggles as he dives overboard.  Ginger turns back towards Fiord 19.  Biggles lands not more than a hundred yards to the east of the aerodrome and he dumps his parachute in a ditch.  He knows the risk he is taking.  “If von Stalhein had returned to Boda, then he was virtually committing suicide”.  Biggles heads towards his quarters and meets Kristen again, who stops dead when he sees Biggles.  “Where have you come from?” he demanded in an amazed voice.  Biggles says he has been doing a job for the Gestapo.  Kristen says “But wasn’t it you who took the machine from here, the Messerschmitt, and made off with it?”  Biggles asks him what on earth is he talking about.  Kristen says a fellow named von Stalhein was looking for him and went to Stavanger when the missing Messerschmitt was found there.  Biggles says he better have a word with him and asks if he had come back. “He may have done, but I haven’t seen him” says Kristen.  Biggles says he will ring his chief.  Biggles then asks about the rumour that an English spy has been captured after being found prowling about the aerodrome, but Kristen says he has heard nothing about that.  Biggles is satisfied with his inquiries.  It might be assumed that Algy was still at large and he would be more likely be in hiding near the aerodrome boundary, watching and waiting for a chance to talk to Biggles.  Biggles decides to walk round the boundary whistling a tune they both know in the hope that Algy reveals himself.  Firstly, he needs to endeavour to allay suspicions about himself by ringing Hotel Port and speaking to von Hymann.  Biggles finds the adjutant in charge to ask permission to use the telephone and is subjected to further cross-examination about taking the Messerschmitt, but satisfies him by referring vaguely to his Gestapo duties.  Ringing von Hymann whilst being watched by the adjutant, Biggles is surprised when von Stalhein answers.  Biggles alters the tone of his voice and says “This is number 2001” and asks for von Hymann.  Von Stalhein says he is not there.  He asks Biggles his name.  “My orders were to use a number only, sir”.  “I am now asking you for your name,” says von Stalhein “What is it?”  Hendrik – Leutnant Hendrik.  “What game d’you think you’re playing?  You know I’ve been looking for you?” replies von Stalhein.  Biggles says it seems they have just missed each other and offers to go to Oslo to report to him.  He is told that von Stalhein will come to him and on no account is he to leave Boda.  Biggles asks if he will come now.  Von Stalhein says he is too busy to leave now but will be along in the morning.  They end the call and Biggles leaves the room.  Biggles doesn’t know whether von Stalhein has recognised his voice or not but he knows von Stalhein won’t wait until the morning to see him.  That was to lull him into a false sense of security.  Biggles waits and listens for the telephone to ring again and he hears the adjutant say in a surprised voice “Did you say arrest him?” and then “I’ll have Hendrik watched, and if he attempts to leave the aerodrome I’ll have him arrested immediately.  You’ll be along in – half an hour.  Very good, sir”.  Biggles “was now virtually a fugitive, yet forbidden by his code of honour even to attempt to escape while Algy was there looking for him.  Where was Algy?  In sheer desperation Biggles began walking along the boundary of the aerodrome, whistling quietly, aware that now people on the aerodrome were looking for him the very minutes of his freedom were numbered.  He broke into a run, and finally, in sheer desperation, called Algy by name.  But there was no reply”.  Looking at his watch and seeing that half an hour has passed, Biggles keeps within the deepest shadows of the hangars.  He sees a car draw up and stop outside the orderly room and von Stalhein gets out.  Biggles walks to the main road and has to pass a moonlit area where there is no cover.  He is seen by Kristen who shouts “Hi! Stop!  They want you in the office”.  Von Stalhein’s car also drives towards him.  Seeing that flight could no longer avail him, Biggles draws his pistol and waits.  As the car drew level a head appeared at the window, and he saw that the driver wore a German uniform greatcoat.  “Can I give you a lift?” said a calm voice, in English.  The driver is Algy.  Biggles gets in.  “Where would you like to go, Sir”, Algy inquires whimsically, after the manner of a taxi-driver.  “Anywhere” says Biggles and Algy swings the car into the main road and presses the accelerator flat.