© 2005 Erich von Stalhein
A Most Complicated Love Affair.
Erich von Stalhein and Marie Janis were sitting in front of the fireplace and they both enjoyed the warm and pleasant fire.
With their young bodies, glued together in passion, they looked into the flames and for a moment they were able to forget the real World with all its troubles.
Read here how they found each other again in Prague, six years after the armistice, which ended the Great War.
Erich von Stalhein, the once feared Hauptmann of the former German Emperors Secret Service, was on leave from a secret mission in Russia. In Russia he was coordinating the secret German pilot training by the Russians in order to evade the Versailles Treaty demands that Germany should not have an air force.
From Russia he went via Berlin to the Czechoslovakian capitol Prague for a Christmas holiday.
He had chosen Prague because of the trouble and strife in post war Germany and he wanted to have a quiet and easy
Once in Prague, while he was walking through the main street of the city centre, covered with fresh snow, his attention was attracted by a young and beautiful woman.
She was charming well dressed as well and she was carrying several shopping bags.
Without hesitation Erich von Stalhein walked straight after her en when he was almost behind her he tapped her on her shoulder. "Do you need help carrying those bags Marie," he said softly in German.
The woman turned around in astonishment.
"My God is that really you Erich?" She said with a smile when her eyes recognised the tall man behind her.
"Yes Marie. It is me Erich von Stalhein."
She dropped her bags and in an impulse she embraced him and kissed him on both cheeks.
Erich blushed by such an action, but embraced Marie too.
"It has been too long ago Marie," he whispered in her ear.
"Yes Erich, you are quite right."
For a moment they stared into each others eyes. "Are you married Marie?" Erich asked softly. "No Erich, I am not married. I am still single. In my job a marriage is out of the question," she answered. "I suppose you are single as well Erich?"
"Same story Marie. I cannot combine my job with a marriage either. Why don't we have a drink in that café over there Marie?
I think we have a lot to tell to each other."
"Swell idea Erich. Let's go."
Erich helped her carrying the bags and soon they were enjoying their coffee in the café.
"It must be 6 years ago now since we have split up our relation Erich for the second time, as I remember Erich," she said repentant. I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings just after the war."
"Well first it was Major Ramcke who found out about our affair and parted us and then your affair with Bigglesworth, which did upset me very much Marie."
"I am sorry for that Erich. I was very young and naïve in 1918.
I felt in love whilst on duty and that was not good. Fortunately I have managed to get over it."
"Ah, that is good to hear because I hate this Bigglesworth so much after my debacle with him in the Palestine."
"Well, Erich the war is over now. You should forget him like I did."
"Ok, perhaps you are right Marie but I hate the British as well and Bigglesworth is British too. Germany has become a real chaos after the war and I blame the British for this the most."
"Relax Erich. Why don't you enjoy life a bit more?" "You know how much I love Germany Marie. All our possessions have been taken off from us and the Allies let us pay the bill for all the war damage!"
"Erich, where do you stay in Prague?" Marie interrupted him.
"I stay in a small hotel nearby the centre Marie. Why do ask this?"
"Would you like to come with me and spend Christmas at my father's castle or his hunting lodge in the forest?"
For a brief moment Erich was shocked by such a proposal. "Eh… well, of course I would like that very much Marie, but will your father agree. I remember that he was a General in the Kaisers army."
"Was a General Erich. He's retired now. I am sure he would like to meet you over dinner tonight."
"Well if you are sure about that I accept your invitation with pleasure Marie."
"Ok Erich. Let's go to my car and drive off."
Erich paid the waiter and they left the café. Marie's Mercedes was parked just around the corner.
They got into the car and Marie drove off to Erich's hotel.
After he collected his gear and paid the bill he returned to Marie's Mercedes and they drove off again to the Janis castle, which was situated 70 kilometres east of Prague and north-west of Kolin.
It took Marie almost two hours to get to the castle due to the snow, which did not permit Marie to drive fast.
It was almost impossible to drive on the small roads and von Stalhein was very pleased with Marie's driving abilities.
At last they arrived safe and sound at the castle, which was situated on top of a hill.
Marie was welcomed by her father and she introduced Erich von Stalhein as her friend with whom she once had worked with in the German Secret Service.
Erich clicked his heels, shook hands and bowed respectfully for the former German General who was still wearing his uniform.
"So you are the very Hauptmann von Stalhein. I remember my daughter did mention you over dinner a few years ago," said the old General in German.
"Papa, I have invited Erich for dinner. I hope you do not mind?" Interrupted Marie.
"Then do not forget to inform Greta to put an extra plate on the table and have Max make ready the spare room for the night Marie. I expect that you'll also stay for the night Erich?" "Yes sir if it is not too inconvenient sir, I would be pleased to stay."
"Ok I will do that immediately papa," said Marie delighted.
"We will be in my study for a talk Marie. Ok Erich, come with me and let's go inside. The fire is burning in my study."
Erich followed the old General into his study. "I do not like winters now I am old Erich. The summer I prefer more."
"Winter can be also very pleasant Sir! As long as you can keep yourself warm."
"Can I pour you a drink Erich?" "Yes please Sir."
"I have a very good French cognac, you like cognac Erich?"
"Yes Sir. I love cognac very much."
They entered General Janis study and Erich was invited to take a comfortable seat near the huge fireplace.
The warmth did Erich very well after the journey by car.
He looked around the room, the wall's were filled up with a family portrait gallery, hunting trophy's and many bookshelves with thousands of books.
In this ambiance Erich was feeling very comfortable.
The General poured the cognac in the glasses and gave Erich his glass. "Prosit Erich." "Prosit Herr General. Zum wohl,"
They had a friendly casual talk the first hour but later they went into a deeper conversation about Germany losing the war and the consequences of the Versailles Treaty.
Meanwhile the bottle of cognac was several times taken to fill up their glasses again and again.
At six o clock sharp Marie entered the study. "Dinner is ready to be served gentlemen. We cannot let Greta wait," she urged the two men. "I can see you've been enjoying daddy's cognac a bit too much Erich." "Yes, quite a good cognac Marie," said Erich a bit shy because he was surprised by Marie's remark.
The dinner was delicious and after dinner they all went to the study where they enjoyed fresh grounded coffee and another cognac.
"I will retire now and leave you two together," said the old general suddenly and after some parting words to Erich and a kiss from Marie he left the study and went to his private room.
"Is he always leaving that early Marie?" Asked von Stalhein.
"Oh yes Erich, he turns in very early but he will be up at four o clock in the morning, ready to face the enemy, as he always explained to me."
"Well that's the old spirit Marie. I like that but I am afraid that I am still asleep at four o clock."
"You must sleep well Erich because I like you to come with me on a hunting trip tomorrow."
"That sounds interesting Marie. Do we go by foot?" "No, not by foot. Max will prepare two horses tomorrow morning and Greta is taking care of our lunch and some extra's.
We will ride to our hunting lodge and park the horses in the stable and after lunch we can shoot some pheasants for Christmas. We will bring Icara along with us."
"Icara?" "Yes Icara, our Belgium Terveuren shepherd dog," explained Marie. "You will like her. She's a beautiful bitch."
They talked for another hour and finally Marie showed Erich his bedroom.
The bedroom was lit by several candles and had an inviting romantic ambiance.
The room was connected to a small bathroom and the bath was half filled with cold water.
"This water is freezing cold Marie," said Erich shocked.
"On top of the stove in the bedroom you'll find a large kettle with boiling hot water at your convenience Erich and your bed is filled with some hot pitchers."
Erich took Marie's both hands. "I rather have you as my hot pitcher for the night Marie?" He said softly and kissed her on the forehead.
"Let me sleep over it Erich. It might be a pleasant idea to become your hot pitcher again like in the old days."
They kissed each other goodnight and Marie left the room.
Erich felt very excited by the long kiss and got quickly undressed and almost forgot to put hot water in the bath.
He emptied the hot water kettle and jumped into the bath ready to give himself a good soak.
The water was still rather cold but helped him to cool down and suppress his state of excitement.
Finally he dried himself, extinguished the candles one by one and jumped into the large bed, which was pleasantly warmed by the pitchers.
In no time he felt asleep and dreamed about Marie.
The next morning von Stalhein was woken up by a knock on his door.
It was Marie and she brought him his breakfast, which she put on the small table.
"Good morning Erich. Did you sleep well?" She asked him whilst opening the dark curtains letting in the bright daylight.
"As a matter a facts I did Marie. Swell of you to bring me my breakfast, said Erich thankfully.
"Greta made your breakfast. I did only the deliverance Erich."
Erich jumped out of the bed and attacked the fresh rolls, bacon and eggs. Marie meanwhile was sitting on the edge of the bed watching Erich enjoying his breakfast.
"This is delicious Marie. Pass my compliments to Greta will you?"
"I will Erich. Ok get dressed when you've finished breakfast.
I will be back in ten minutes to collect you."
"I will be ready Marie."
Marie left the bedroom and Erich finished his breakfast and got dressed.
About ten minutes later Marie returned to the bedroom.
She was wearing a complete hunting outfit, which was almost like a green uniform.
"You look great in that outfit Marie!"
"Thank you Erich. My father gave it to me for my birthday a few months ago."
"For you I have brought a Scottish green wax coat and hat Erich."
"Hmmmmm, that's British Marie. You know my view on the perfidious Albion don't you?"
"I know Erich but at least this is Scottish!"
"Those Jocks are no good as well Marie. Ok I will wear the wax coat as I do not want to spoil a nice day of hunting with you."
"I am happy that you recognised that Erich. Nor would I have this day spoiled."
They left the bedroom and went down the stairs and walked through a door into the inner court of the castle.
Two beautiful horses were standing next to each other and were fully packed with their needs for the hunting jaunt.
A lovely cheerful dog ran towards them and started sniffing at Erich. "He's ok Icara," said Marie. The dog barked once and jumped against Erich and licked his face.
"Ok girl enough," said Erich softly and gave her a pot on the back.
Max also arrived at the inner court now and he had a little talk with Marie in the Czechoslovakian language.
"Max said that he believed that there is more snow to come today," she informed Erich.
"Do you still want to go on hunting Marie?"
"Yes definitely I will Erich. If it starts snowing too heavy we can stay at the hunting lodge because it is well equipped and we have some canned food and potatoes there as well," she said with a peculiar tone in her voice and a wink.
"Well let's go then shall we Marie? Which horse is yours?"
"I'll take this one Erich. You get the worst one!"
"Well I have been horse riding since my 5th birthday so I will tame this horse easily. Do not worry Marie; I know how to handle horses quite well."
They both mounted their horses and said good bye to Max who saluted them.
"Does your father know where we are going Marie?"
"Yes I've told him. He wants me to bring a big pheasant for Christmas."
In a quiet pace they left the inner court through the gate.
Icara ran off loud barking in front of them knowing that there was a pleasant day for her ahead too.
Soon they reached the forest and the easy pace was changed into a trot.
In trot they were going cross country and it took them almost one hour to reach the hunting lodge.
They dismounted from the horses and took them by the reins to a place where there was a trough and some buckets. Erich tied up the horses with their reins and Marie filled up the two buckets with water, which she pumped up from a well.
"We will take our gear from the horses first and then bring them over to the stable Erich."
"That's ok with me Marie."
When their gear was taken to the balcony of the hunting lodge, they moved the horses to the comfortable stable and took of their saddles. The trough was filled with oats and more buckets were filled up with water.
"They will be fine here in this stable Erich. Even in winter it can be quite comfortable in here."
They left the horses and went to the hunting lodge.
Marie unlocked the front door and Erich carried most of the gear inside. Meanwhile Marie was opening the shutters in front of the windows.
"It is an idyllic place Marie." "Yes it is Erich and most romantic in winter with snow!" She said with a smile. "I just realize that it is the first time that I am here with a man I like very much."
Erich blushed. "Well thank you very much Marie. I am happy too being here instead of Prague."
"Can you bring in some wood for the kitchen stove and the fireplace Erich so I can make you a cup of coffee? You'll find the wood behind the lodge under a small roof."
One hour later Marie an Erich left the hunting lodge by foot.
Icara was whirling around them.
Both Marie and Erich were carrying a shotgun and Marie took the lead.
"I will guide you to the heather Erich. There we will find loads of pheasants."
Two hours later they've shot eight pheasants, which were retrieved by Icara. Erich did shoot six pheasants and Marie only two.
"I think we have enough pheasants now Erich. Let's go back to the lodge and let them hang meat."
Suddenly it started snowing a bit. "I think we must get in before this snow gets thicker and thicker Marie." "Yes let's hurry and lit the fire place, agreed Marie.
It took them half an hour to reach the hunting lodge and they were very lucky because Marie did know the right direction because they could see not any further then two or three metres. Suddenly the sun returned and it stopped snowing.
The hunting lodge was now covered with a fresh load of snow.
Now the place has become even more romantic. For a moment they stopped and looked at the beautiful scenery till Icara barked and brought them back on earth again.
They moved, as quickly as they can, towards the hunting lodge.
Erich immediately lit the fireplace and Marie warmed red wine on the stove.
The sunlight was again taken away by the clouds and another snow blizzard poured down more snow.
Erich left hanging meat the pheasants in the stable and joined Marie in the lodge again.
Sitting in front of the fireplace they enjoyed the warm sweet red wine and both stared into the fire.
Soon their lips found each other and in no time their bodies melted together in a passionate action in front of the fireplace.
Outside the lodge a crow was crowing once!
That evening Erich made a delicious dinner with fried potatoes and dried ham and eggs, which was swallowed away with a bottle of red wine.
They made themselves comfortable for the night in the bedroom while Icara guarded the lodge from the main room.
Because of the heavy snowfall they had to stay two more nights in the lodge. A decision that was not too difficult to make for the two lovers.
On the last evening Erich roasted two of the pheasants. A meal they enjoyed both very much.
The next morning it was not snowing anymore and they decided to drive back to the castle.
In time they arrived for Christmas at the castle.
In the castle they were welcomed by the general, Max and Greta.
Greta was very pleased with the six pheasants and brought them over to the kitchen where she prepared them for the Christmas dinner the next day.
Christmas in the castle was a wonderful experience and Marie and Erich enjoyed it the full.
But even wonderful times go by and the day after Christmas, Max drove Erich and Marie back to Prague where they parted.
Erich took the train to Berlin and Marie took the train to Paris.
From Berlin Erich was bound to his work somewhere in Russia and Marie was bound from Paris to Monaco where she was working for an Italian company as a clerk but in fact she was on the payroll of a German secret organisation.
This organisation was collecting information about airplane and fast motorboat engines secretly.
Nobody in Monaco knew that Marie was a well educated civil engineer instead of a humble office clerk.
They promised to write each other every week and were looking forward spending forthcoming holidays together.
Neither one of them new that there was something coming in between, which would cause a huge change in their lives!
Marie Janis arrived in Monaco and she was happy to have a short break after the long journey from the Czechoslovakian Republic.
She felt very comfortable when she looked back to the moments she has spent with her friend Erich von Stalhein during Christmas an she was looking forward to meet him in spring again.
After the short break she picked up her work again and everything seems to go well.
She did a lot of progress on collecting information on British fast boat engines, which she passed on to her secret employers so they could keep up with the British.
She must have been six weeks working when on one morning she felt suddenly sick.
She did not go to work that day and was feeling a bit uncomfortable.
All day she was hungry and when she has eaten something she felt sick again.
Also her taste was changing and she wanted to eat most strange things she never liked before.
The next day she was out getting her groceries when she suddenly collapsed in front of the store and lost her consciousness for a few moments.
A woman, about the same age as Marie, helped her to stand up.
Still she was not feeling alright and the woman suggested that she must see a doctor. She agreed to that and the woman proposed to Marie to accompany her to the doctor who lived nearby.
Marie was accompanied to the doctor by the woman who introduced herself as Marcelle Ducoste.
At the doctor's Marie told him what was wrong with her and he smiled mysteriously and did some tests.
"Will you please come back tomorrow morning Miss Janis? Then I hope that I can inform you about the results of the test," he told her.
They shook hands and Marie left the examination chamber.
Marie, now accompanied by Marcelle, who has been waiting outside the examination chamber, was brought to her apartment.
Marie was very thankful to Marcelle and they drank cup of tea together.
Marcelle, a real inhabitant of Monaco, was a friendly woman and they both liked each other from the first moment on.
She was married to Jean Ducoste for four years and they have one son, Henri.
They lived in the Rue de Mariniére number six, which was not far from Marie's apartment.
"I must get Henri now. He's with my mother and I have promised to collect him around noon," apologised Marcelle. "Please pop in for a coffee or tea when you are around Marie."
"I certainly will Marcelle."
Marie showed Marcelle out and closed the door.
The next day she returned to the doctors at ten o clock and waited in the waiting room for some time till she was invited to come into the examination room.
"Good morning doctor," she greeted the doctor. "Have you managed to get ready my medical report?"
"Eh yes Mrs. Janis. I have."
"Mrs Janis doctor? I am Miss Janis!" She corrected the doctor.
"I see Miss Janis I see," said the doctor thoughtful and looked as he could not make up his mind.
"Tell me doctor. What is wrong with me," said Marie uneasy and she stoop up from her chair.
"Well there is nothing wrong with you. You are actually very healthy Miss Janis. Only you are with child!"
Hearing this Marie sank into the chair again. "That can't be true doctor?" She said softly. "Am I with child?"
"I am afraid it is very true Miss Janis. I think you are pregnant for about two months already."
Marie started to cry and the doctor stood up from behind his desk and put his hands on her shoulder.
"I reckon that you are not married Miss Janis?" He asked her softly. "Do you know who the father is?"
"Yes doctor. I know who the father is."
"Well then get married as soon as possible and live a normal live. It happens all the time and you are no exception."
"Doctor, I cannot explain it to you but it is a very complicated situation for me and the father of the child. I cannot get married with the father."
"Is this man married?" The doctor asked her angrily.
"No doctor. He is not married and he does love me but I cannot marry him."
The doctor looked puzzled. "If you do not marry you'll have to raise the child yourself. Is that an option for you?"
"I might part the possession of the child to a convent doctor.
I have no alternative to raise the child myself," she said helplessly.
"Are you sure?" Said the doctor astonished.
"Do not worry doctor. Please help me to have this child born.
I promise I will take very good care of her as long as I live and he or she will have everything of which I am able to deliver."
"How do you think you can manage that?" Asked the doctor not convinced.
"Well money is not a problem. I can take care of that doctor.
I will see to it that he or she gets a proper education like I have had. Perhaps I will not send the child to a convent but leave it with a family, which I can support."
The doctor shook his head thoughtful.
"I hope that you'll revise this decision Miss Janis," he said disappointed. "Once you've made that decision, and it is done, you cannot take it back. You must think it over seriously."
Marie left and went home where she was alone with her thoughts.
The next day she went to work again and told her colleagues that she had a touch of flu.
After work she went to the Rue de Mariniére number six where Marcelle Ducoste lived.
She was welcomed by Marcelle herself and they both had a long talk over several cuppa teas.
From that moment on Marcella and Marie became firm friends and visited each other several times a week.
In secret she informed Marcelle that she was actually born in the Czechoslovakian Republic and that a marriage was no option for her.
At the same time Marie learned from Marcelle that she was not able to have anymore children although she and Jean really wanted to have more.
Finally one day Marie asked Marcelle if she wanted to adopt her child after it was born and take care of it for the rest of her life.
Marcelle did like the idea at once and passed on the question to her husband Jean who was a bit reluctant to the idea but Marcelle managed to persuade him in the end.
From that moment Marcelle started faking being pregnant again and everybody was fooled by the cushion she was wearing underneath her cloth.
In secret Marie, Jean and Marcelle made several agreements for the future of the child.
Marie was going to give some money every month to support the Ducoste family and the Ducoste's were free to raise the child their way as an inhabitant of Monaco.
Marie had only one wish. She wanted her child to learn the Czech language in private.
Jean Ducoste asked her why and Marie explained him and Marcelle that Europe was going to become a big mess in the near future. Learning the Czech language might give her more opportunities in life.
Meanwhile Erich von Stalhein was kept ignorant about Marie's pregnancy and Marie wrote him that there was no possibility in meeting each other in the near future due to her work.
This to Erich's disappointment but he had to except this as his work in Russia became more and more secret and there was no possibility to go and visit her in surprise.
Being three month's pregnant; Marie left her work in Monaco and went to her father who felt suddenly very ill.
A few weeks later the old general died and left Marie behind in loneliness.
Now she had to take care of the castle but she left the castle in the good hands of Max and Marie as caretakers and left for Monaco again.
September the 16th 1925 Marie gave birth to a beautiful daughter at her apartment.
The baby was delivered by the doctor and Marcelle.
The next day the proud father, Jean Ducoste, reported the birth of his daughter Jeanette at the Monaco Town hall to have her officially registered.
The first year Marie visited almost every day Marcelle and Jeannette to watch her grow up.
Both she, Marcelle and Jean loved the little beautiful girl with her big black eyes and dark hair.
Jeanette grew up peacefully in Monaco.
When Jeanette was almost four years old Marie was ordered to Rome, Italy.
Benito Mussolini came into power and she was to become an attaché at the German Embassy in Rome.
Nights long she was crying in her bed, longing to see Jeanette but that was out of the question.
The French and Italian borders were closed and going back to Monaco was only possible via Germany.
Every day everything became worse and she also lost her contact with Erich von Stalhein who was now under new and secret orders.
Once a year she went for a few weeks of holiday home to the Czechoslovakian Republic and when she arrived at the castle she found several letters from Marcelle and Jean.
This was the only contact with Monaco left till the Nazi's came into power, which made the contacts more difficult.
As she had already foreseen, Europe became a mess with the fascistic regimes of Germany and Italy, preparing for war.
As working for the Germans, she was not a Nazi at all.
Like Erich von Stalhein, who was from Prussian descent, she was from noble German/Czechoslovakian descent and like Erich she despised Nazism.
But serving Germany was her only way to stay in Italy near Jeanette and far from the reality of war.
Especially after Germany took over the Sudetenland she was determined to stay in Italy for the time being.
Finally the Second World War broke out in September 1939.
July 1940 most of Europe was conquered by the Germans.
The Italians attacked France and Monaco came under Italian rule.
Marie was by German order attached to the Italian secret service staff as the German attaché.
This was a job which served her well. From a distance she was able to see her daughter Jeanette again.
However there was not the possibility of reuniting with Jeanette and her family again.
This would also have affect on the relation between Jeanette, her mother and herself. Was she to know already that Marcelle was not her real mother, she asked herself daily.
Therefore she did not take any action to see her daughter again.
However one day it has come to her attention that Jean Ducoste had died a few years ago already and that the Ducoste's were involved in some sort of resistance against the Italians.
Henri, Jeanette's stepbrother, was a pilot in the Free French Air Force and was in England.
From her position in the Italian secret service she managed to keep the Ducoste's out of sight of the Italians.
One day the Italians were trying to capture an Italian Princess who wanted to defect to the Allies.
As this was an Italian matter Marie was only involved indirectly and she did not have any particular interest.
First when the name of the British agent, who was involved in this case, was mentioned at the headquarters of the Italian secret service, she took interest in the matter.
The name of this agent was a certain James Bigglesworth, Marie's 1918 lover.
What actually happened in Monaco during that period can one read in the book "Biggles Fails to Return", a splendid story written by Captain WE Johns.
Marie made a quick decision. She disguised herself and contacted Marcelle secretly when the net was closing around Biggles by the Italian secret service.
This saved Biggles life like she had done before in 1918.
Even Biggles would never know who was the angel, which helped him and his friends going safe through this adventure.
Also Jeanette did not know and with Ginger and Biggles she left for England out of Marie's sight again.
1945 Germany lost the war and Marie went back to her castle in the Czechoslovakian Republic, now occupied by the Russian communists.
Soon she was not anymore able to leave the country for Monaco to find a sign of life from Marcelle and Jeanette.
In the Czechoslovakian Republic she lived a rather retired and lonely life till Erich von Stalhein popped up in her life again.
A woman's plan
Marie Janis life in the Czechoslovakian Republic under the Russian occupation was not too easy but she could manage.
As a member of the important Janis family she was left in peace by the Russians and stayed with Max and Greta in her castle near Rodnitz.
Every day had the same boring routine and she was left with nothing more then her thoughts.
She never received a sign of life from her daughter Jeanette or Madame Ducoste, which depressed her very much.
She desperately wanted to know how Jeanette was doing but due to the Iron Curtain, no information became available.
However one morning she was surprised. Max announced a visitor who wanted to speak with her.
"Did he tell you his name Max?" She asked curious.
"No mum he did not, but I am pretty sure that it is your old friend Hauptmann von Stalhein."
Hearing this brightened her instantly. "Show him in Max," she said delighted.
A moment later Erich von Stalhein entered Marie's living quarters.
"Marie. You look very well after so many years," said von Stalhein friendly and for a moment his cold steely blue eyes turned warm.
"I am delighted to see you here Erich," said Marie and they kissed each other.
For a moment all her sorrows were over and next to the fireplace she and Erich had a long talk about the years that had gone by in each others absence.
Erich explained to Marie that he had joined the East German Secret Service and a bit reluctant he told her about his debacles with Bigglesworth and his comrades several times by now.
"Why don't you leave Bigglesworth in peace Erich? Accept for once and for all time that the British have won the war.!"
"I can't Marie. I have been ordered to infiltrate the British secret service but I ran out of ideas. This Bigglesworth is too clever and he has a wonderful team of assistants as well.
I think you'll remember that chap Algernon Lacy from the Great War and just before World War II Bigglesworth's team was extended with Hebblethwaite and later that aristocrat Lissie.
The easy days are over. I must come up with a plan because dealing with the British is my main task now."
Hearing the name Hebblethwaite started to ring a bell in Marie's head.
From the period she was working in Monaco during World War II she remembered the young Hebblethwaite who escaped together with Jeanette and Bigglesworth.
An escape she had taken secretly part in without the knowledge of the one's involved.
Madame Ducoste did tell her at that time, after the escape, that Jeanette and this Hebblethwaite were in love but due to the development of the war she never knew whether this affair had finished or was not continued.
Well, this information she should not tell Erich, which obviously would make him mad.
But a brainwave came up into her mind.
While Erich still was complaining about Biggles and Co, a fantastic plan was being developed in her mind.
"Erich," she interrupted. "If you want to infiltrate the British Secret Service I might have a plan."
"Do you have a plan?" Asked Erich surprised.
"Yes as a matter of facts I have Erich."
She informed Erich about the escape of Biggles and Co from Monaco during the war and avoiding of course, telling him her part in this. She obviously did not tell him about his daughter Jeanette either.
Her plan was easy.
Erich should find out the whereabouts of Jeanette Ducoste and try to bring her into the Czechoslovakian Republic.
With Jeanette here in Czechoslovakia it would be easy to inform Hebblethwaite in London that Jeanette Ducoste was in trouble, which would force him to save her.
When Hebblethwaite arrived in Czechoslovakia and he was still in love or is in love with Jeanette, he would be an easy victim to be converted working for Erich.
What she did not tell Erich was that when Jeanette was here in Czechoslovakia again, she would finally tell him the truth about his daughter.
It was a mean plan developed by a desperate mother, but worth a try.
Erich, as a member of the East German Secret Service, would be able to find out the whereabouts of Jeanette and develop a daring plan to bring her to this country.
"That is a very good plan Marie. I see you still have not forgotten your lessons from the Wilhelmstrasse," he said and his affable smile occurred on his lips.
"This will finally help me to infiltrate the Biggles team."
Erich von Stalhein stayed for a few more days in the Janis Castle and together with Marie he developed a master plan.
Being together again they enjoyed both very much their company and when Erich left after a few days to the castle where he had his quarters, he left Marie alone again behind.
It took von Stalhein more then three weeks to find out the whereabouts of Jeanette Ducoste.
To his surprise she was working for the Surete in Paris and he also found out that she was able to speak the Czech language.
This made his plan quite easy.
Through his secret channels he managed to disclose a secret to the Surete about the development on a new supersonic jetfighter by the Czechoslovakian engineers.
He was also able to have Jeanette being recruited for the job.
Finally the action was about to begin and von Stalhein drove to the Janis castle and invited Marie to come to his own castle to await further developments.
Marie agreed and they left for von Stalhein's castle the same day.
From his castle von Stalhein was daily informed about Jeanette's movements and finally she was captured in Prague.
When Marie was informed about Jeanette's capture she felt very comfortable and was planning to inform Erich about the truth but a letter from the KGB in Moscow, directed to Erich telling him that he was ordered to go directly to Moscow.
The reason for going to Moscow was that he had to stand trial for being negligent in capturing Major Bigglesworth.
There was only one option left for Erich to survive. Hebblethwaite must be converted to work for him as soon as possible and he informed his superiors about his daring plan.
For the time being he was given leave to continue with this operation. In the event of a possible escape he was told, that Russian Spetsnaz were on guard to prevent such an attempt.
Under these circumstances Marie did not want to tell the truth to Erich but she was determined to save her daughter once and for all.
Can love last forever?
Jeanette Ducoste looked through the small window from which she could overlook the dark green forest in front of the castle. From there she could watch the sunset in the west.
The young woman was there standing in a room on the top floor of the west tower of a Bohemian castle in the Czechoslovakian republic where she was held beyond her will by Russian KGB interrogators.
It was already the third evening, she was looking through that window.
She was not particularly interested in the sunset, which was taking place that very moment.
It was the west that was on her mind. And not only the freedom and the benefits of the free countries on the good side of the Iron Curtain but also the love of her life in the same west, Ginger Hebblethwaite, a red haired young British male with whom she one's have been very much in love.
Now, after so many years she was madly in love with him again and he was about to arrive in one of the forthcoming nights. But was she really happy on welcoming Ginger in the Czechoslovakian Republic?
Six weeks before, Jeanette Ducoste managed to get into the Czechoslovakian Republic, in order to get more information on the development of a supersonic jetfighter plane build by communist Czechoslovakian engineers.
Of course she went undercover as a representative of a French travel organisation, which was developing new cheap holidays in Eastern Europe.
However, her passport was bearing the name Marcelle Latour and her occupation was travel agent.
The passport was not a fake. It was a genuine passport issued by the French Government.
It was actually made for the French secret security service, the Surete.
The first two weeks she operated from her hotel in Prague and there seems to be no trouble at all in getting the information she wanted so badly. And that was not a problem to obtain because she spoke the language very well.
To her surprise however one night there was a knock on her door and sleepy she climbed out of her bed to open the door wondering why somebody was visiting her this time at night.
When she opened the door, she saw three ugly middle aged men and one of them told her in a harsh voice in French, "you are Jeanette Ducoste, aren't you?"
"No, I am not. I am Marcelle Latour, she answered surprised.
Another man started to laugh and she heard him saying in the Czech language to the others that he was convinced that she was Jeanette Ducoste.
Without a warning the three men entered the hotel room and the door was closed behind them. One of them grabbed her by the arm and showed her an old photo.
"And who is this then?" he said.
When she looked at that photo she was startled. It was a photo, taken years ago and made in Southern France on the beach.
There she was sunbathing together with a red haired young man, Ginger Hebblethwaite, the love of her life one's of which she lost sight years ago.
"We know that you are Jeanette Ducoste and we also know that this man is Ginger Hebblethwaite, an assistant of Major Bigglesworth of the British Secret Service. Does he happen to be in Prague right now? Tell us where this Hebblethwaite is now?" He asked grimly.
She could not deny that it was herself on that beach but she could not figure out why they want to know Ginger's whereabouts of today. At least those men did not know the real purpose of her visit in the Czechoslovakian Republic.
"I do not know where he is. I have not seen him for years," she told them honestly.
"But you were in love with him?" replied the man.
"Well, I have been in love with him then. Today I am in love with Cain and tomorrow with who knows? Some love can't last forever," she replied casually.
"You are under arrest young lady. Grab your gear and come along with us."
"On what charge you are arresting me?" She asked him.
"Do not waist my time woman. I can arrest everybody I want in this country," he said determined.
Knowing that resistance would be impossible she went to the bathroom where she dressed herself.
Back in the room the men were waiting impatiently and several times they told her to hurry up.
Finally she closed her suitcase and pulled it from the bed.
"Here carry this for me, will you?" She said angrily to the ugliest man.
The man wanted to return the suitcase but kept it in his hands because another man, obviously the boss, told him to do so in a language she could not understand but probably it was Russian.
All four left the room and the hotel.
Jeanette was pushed into a black car of Russian make, which was parked in front of the hotel and they drove off.
Two hours later the car was driving through a large dark, damp and unpleasant forest and halted in front of the gate of a big medieval castle.
The heavy wooden door of the gate was opened by an armed man and the car drove on to the square.
When the car was parked they all got off the car and they went inside the castle.
Inside she was taken up several stairs, and she assumed that she was taken to the top of a tower because the stairs were circling round.
At the end of the stairs she was pushed inside a room roughly and the door was closed behind her and locked.
When her eyes had levelled with the darkness she examined the room.
There was no electric light to be found or a candle to lit.
There was only a small table with a chair and a bed under a small window with iron bars.
She lay down on the bed only to find out that it was very uncomfortable.
Meanwhile she was thinking about the whole situation. "Did I go wrong somewhere?" She asked herself.
A few hours later she finally felt asleep nervously.
She thought that she had been sleeping for just ten minutes, when she was woken up roughly by two guards and taken downstairs into a large hall where she was brought in front of a well dressed tall blond man with steely blue eyes.
In one of his eyes he sported a monocle. He was smoking a cigarette through an amber cigarette holder.
"Good morning Miss Ducoste," he welcomed her friendly in French but his eyes remain as cold as ice.
"Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is von Stalhein and I am in charge here. It is my pleasure to welcome you. Did you sleep well?"
"Von Stalhein?" She asked him puzzled. "You are German?"
"As a matter of facts I am German yes," he said. "Is there a problem?"
"Oh no sir, not at all, I was just wondering because those pigs you sent for me last night were Russians and Czech collaborators I assume."
"Well one cannot always choose his own staff but I reckon they have behaved themselves well or did they do not?" Said von Stalhein with an affable smile.
"Well they were a bit rough to me but at least they were decent in the end."
"Oh well. If they have been not I would have them punished," said von Stalhein.
"Please join me at the breakfast table miss Ducoste. You must be very hungry," he invited her friendly.
They walked to a large table in front of a huge fireplace where Jeanette was to be seated in front of von Stalhein.
"Please help yourself to the bread. Can I pour you a cup of coffee?"
"Yes please," she said politely trying to take advantage of the occurred pleasant situation.
"You must be a very important officer," Jeanette suddenly asked him.
For a moment von Stalhein blushed. He was not prepared to answer questions himself when he was about to begin to ask the questions himself. For a brief moment he almost forgot his role of being polite but in time he was back in the role he wanted to play.
"Well, of course I am an important officer and I am in charge here," he answered politely to her question.
For a short while they had a casual talk while they were enjoying their breakfast.
But suddenly von Stalhein took over the conversation and she was cornered. "Where is Hebblethwaite?" he asked sharp but not unfriendly.
"I do not know Herr von Stalhein. I have not seen him for years now."
After more then one hour of fierce but friendly interrogation, Jeanette was brought back to the tower and locked up again.
She could not tell anything to von Stalhein because she has not seen him for years and left von Stalhein puzzled in his hall.
Her lunch was brought in her room by the two guards and she was left alone again.
A little later she was taken down and brought before von Stalhein again, who was not friendly anymore.
"Have you decided to tell me the truth now?" He asked her grimly.
"I have told you the truth Herr von Stalhein. I do not know where he is honestly."
"Well, then sign here please," von Stalhein asked her.
"Why do you want me to sign a white paper?"
"Because I am ordering you to do young woman!"
"And if I do not want to sign this paper?" She said with a firm voice.
Von Stalhein smiled mean. "Then young lady I will inform my Russian KGB partners that you are spying on that secret supersonic jetfighter, which is being developed here in this country."
Hearing this her world collapsed. "How did he know?" She asked herself.
"Now sign," von Stalhein ordered her and finally she signed the white paper.
"Bring her upstairs and lock her up," he ordered his men.
"So, you are not letting me go after all?" She cried while she was dragged away.
"All in good time Miss Ducoste. I will decide what to do with you later," she heard him saying.
Back in the tower, lying on her bed, she started to cry unable to find some clues.
That evening her dinner was brought with a bottle and a candle with some matches as well.
On the plate she found besides her food a note.
With trembling hands she opened the note and started to read,
If you look through your window you may hear some night in the near future the sound of an aeroplane.
In this plane is probably your friend Ginger Hebblethwaite to be found.
Sooner or later he will arrive here because I am sure that he wants to save his great love Jeanette Ducoste from this castle.
I have been so kind to write him a letter, signed by you, asking him to save you. This letter will be send tonight to his home address in Mount street London.
I am sure he will not leave you here behind at the mercy of the communists.
The sign, given with a flashlight, will be green-green-red!
If you see this sign he will land his aeroplane.
Only on the ground he will not find you in his arms but me instead with a pair of handcuffs to his great surprise.
Thank you very much for your cooperation.
Erich von Stalhein
"You bastard," she screamed angrily tearing the note apart. "If only I can get my hands on you some day."
Ginger gets framed.
Friday at 5pm Ginger Hebblethwaite closed the door of the Air Police office at Scotland Yard and locked it.
All day he has been in the office typing records and reports in order to archive the latest aviation developments in Great Britain.
He did not like this kind of work but being alone in the office and nothing interesting at hand, he had to do the job.
Biggles and Bertie were in Canada visiting an old friend and Algy went on fishing salmon in Scotland for a holiday.
Algy, as second in command, promised to stay in contact with the office every day in case something serious happened and he needed to assist Ginger.
However nothing serious had happened and Ginger left the Scotland Yard building with the prospect that he was having the apartment in Mount Street the whole weekend for himself.
He jumped into a cab and ordered the driver to go to the restaurant where the chaps daily went for their dinner.
After dinner he walked to the apartment and collected the mail from the security warden on the ground floor.
There was a nice postcard with an aeroplane sent by Biggles and Bertie from Canada, a bill and a letter addressed to him.
This letter to him made him very curious because it was posted in Prague!
Arrived in the apartment he jumped into the couch and switched on the reading lamp next to the couch.
There was no address of the sender on the letter. Only his name and address and a postmark telling him that the letter was posted in Prague 2 days before.
Carefully he opened the envelope took out the letter.
When he unfolded the letter a photo was falling on his knees.
He grabbed the photo and looked at it.
His heart was pounding heavily when he recognised the good looking girl on the photo.
It was Jeanette Ducoste, his onetime girlfriend with whom he had fallen in love some years ago.
He immediately was overwhelmed by a warm feeling when his thoughts went back to the wonderful period they had spent together years ago.
When Jeanette went back to France they lost sight of each other and due to his work he never managed to follow her to France. He even wanted to marry Jeanette but Biggles told him that he was too young for such an adventure.
Quickly he started reading the letter.
My dearest Ginger,
I hope that you'll read this letter in time because I am in serious trouble.
After I went to France again I started to work for the French Government in a secret service and a few days ago I was trapped in Prague in the Czechoslovakian Republic by KGB officers.
I managed to escape from them and now I am hiding in a lodge in a large forest.
I cannot escape the country by myself because my passport is taken by the KGB.
I have written this letter to you because I cannot send it to France and I know that you and your friends are experienced enough in such operations overseas.
I gave all the money what was left in my pocket to have this letter send to you by a passer-by.
Please Ginger help me to get out of here before it is too late and they catch me again!
Soon I will be running out of food too.
I have made a drawing of a field nearby where you can land a light small plane.
I will be waiting for you every night from now on.
When I hear you coming I will signal green-green-red with my flashlight.
Be careful Ginger! This is a dangerous country.
"Those Bloody communists," he shouted angrily. "How can I help this girl escape now everybody has left?"
For a moment Ginger was feeling very helplessly not knowing what to do now.
Then he thought of contacting Commodore Raymond at his home occurred but calling Raymond was no option.
If he was telling Raymond about the request by Jeanette he would be ordered not to take any action and grounded till Biggles was to return home.
Again he looked at Jeanette's photo and his common sense was easily overtaken by his emotions caused by his love for this girl.
"I must save her," he said in a soft voice but very determined and took out of a drawer the big atlas with him to the table and switched on the lamp, which was hanging above the table.
He opened the Czechoslovakian map and started to study it.
On a piece of paper he wrote down some information and when he was finished he made a telephone call to the duty officer at Croydon Airport and ordered that the tanks of the Air Police Auster were to be filled up and an extra fuel tank also was installed and filled.
After this phone call he wrote a message, telling where he was going just in case he would fail to return.
'If everything went well he could save Jeanette this weekend and would have been returned by Sunday night already,' he thought relieved.
In his room he took a small suitcase from under his bed and put in his toilet gear and some clean clothing.
One hour later he started the Auster and departed from Croydon Airport into the dark night heading in the direction of France.
From France he was heading towards Southern Germany where he made a stop over near the border with the Czechoslovakian Republic and have his tanks refilled.
He was very tired after the flight that lasted the whole night.
Therefore he went to a small hotel next to the airfield and booked a room for the day in order to get some sleep and good food before he was continuing his daring flight behind the Iron Curtain.
Around 10pm Ginger started the engine of the Auster and was a few minutes later airborne again.
Nobody of the air control officers knew that he was bound for a jaunt behind the Iron Curtain. They were only informed that he was on his way to the north of Germany.
In the air he directed the Auster towards the border with the Czechoslovakian Republic and switched off his radio.
He was certainly not planning to tell somebody about his plans and he did not want to hear the calls when they for sure would ask him to identify himself.
At full speed he passed the border and to his great surprise he did it unnoticed.
Passing the border unnoticed might be due to the weekend he thought and continued his flight towards the field where he was to meet his beloved Jeanette.
45 Minutes later he reached the point where he was supposed to find the field and throttled back.
With trained eyes he searched the ground for the green-green-red sign but all he could see was a very dark ground.
Once he passed the silhouette of a large sinister castle and from one of the towers he saw a little white light flickering but nothing else.
Suddenly his eyes noticed some green-green-red dots in the distance and he turned the Auster's nose into that direction.
For a moment his thoughts became emotional again having the pleasant foresight closing Jeanette into his arms again in a few moments.
Pushing away those happy thoughts with some difficulty he was now concentrating on the green-green-red sign which came nearer and nearer till he finally found the field.
The sign was repeated again and again and Ginger professionally made a quick S turn and landed the Auster easily.
When the Auster had stopped he switched off the engine and opened the cockpit door and looked around into the darkness which surrounded him.
There was no sound to be heard and he shivered a bit because it was damp and cold.
Suddenly a dark silhouette came out of the forest, which appeared to be a woman sporting a headscarf and she was running towards the Auster.
"Here I am Jeanette," he said in a soft voice and he got off the plane to welcome her in his arms, a moment he has been longing for since he left England.
When the woman reaches Ginger she flung herself into his arms and put her arms around his neck.
Right at the moment Ginger wanted to kiss her the whole place was flooded by several bright flashlights.
The woman with her arms around his neck was not a woman at all. It was a male and he recognised that male immediately!
"Von Stalhein, what are you doing here with your arms around my neck?" He cried in utmost astonishment.
"Welcome in the Czechoslovakian Republic Mr. Hebblethwaite.
I was expecting to find you here," von Stalhein said with a mean smile. "I reckon you did not expect to find me here but that's of a minor importance."
Ginger, being confused completely was surrounded by armed men and handcuffed.
Next to the field he was pushed into the backseat of a big car and guarded on left and the right by two armed men.
Von Stalhein was sitting next to the driver in front of him when the car drove off.
"It is only a small drive Mr. Hebblethwaite and then you and I can have some rest before we will start a little conversation tomorrow morning."
Ginger said nothing. The impact of being captured by von Stalhein instead of the warm welcome by Jeanette he had been longing for has been too much for his nerves that moment.
The car drove on to the castle and stopped in the square.
Ginger was dragged from the backseat of the car and brought over to his new dwelling, a damp prison cell in the cellar of the castle. They took off his handcuffs and locked the door of his cell and left him behind with his thoughts.
Getting together by fate
The dungeon Ginger now was locked up in was very dark. There was no light at all and with only his hands he followed the wall.
Finally he bumped into something on the floor. It was a pile of straw obviously to be used as a bed.
Still confused and very tired he laid himself down and soon he was asleep.
The following morning two guards brought him some porridge for breakfast and with reluctance he started to eat the stuff.
Through a small window, blocked by firm iron bars, some fresh air was coming into the damp dungeon as well as a little bit of light.
After his awful breakfast Ginger examined the iron bars but they were too strong to break with his bare hands.
He went back to his bed of straw and laid himself down again.
Several hours later the door of his dungeon was opened by two guards who ordered him to come along with them.
From the dungeon they brought him up to the ground floor and pushed him through a door into a large room.
"Ah good morning Mr. Hebblethwaite. I hope you've had a good nights rest in my special dungeon," said von Stalhein.
"You mean getting a good pneumonia in that draft and damp dungeon of yours," averred Ginger.
"Well, I am so sorry but the best rooms for my guests are occupied at this very moment. Perhaps later I will try to upgrade your accommodation in this castle."
"Ok von Stalhein, why have you been dragging me into this country by faking that Jeanette Ducoste was here to be saved?"
"Well the letter we've sent you was a fake but the signature wasn't a fake at all," said von Stalhein with a smile.
"Jeanette Ducoste is now within my power and one word from me and she will be taken down to Moscow and trialled for spying, which will end in a death sentence or a lifetime imprisonment in Siberia."
"I cannot believe that this innocent girl is a spy von Stalhein. I know Jeanette quite well and she is a sweet beautiful girl."
"She was innocent and sweet Hebblethwaite. When you first met her she was only seventeen. Today she's older and lost all her sweetness and innocence. She's a mature woman now."
"I do not believe you von Stalhein. If you have her then release her immediately and send me to Moscow instead," said Ginger angry.
"Send you to Moscow? No Mr. Hebblethwaite. I am not sending you to Moscow. I hope to send you back to London shortly!"
"Have you gone crackers von Stalhein? First you mislead me with a fake letter and then you will send me back as soon as possible?"
"I have not gone crackers as you British say. You go back to London and start to work for me!"
"Well you can forget that von Stalhein. I will never work for you."
"Oh yes you will," said von Stalhein turning his lips into the well known affable smile.
Von Stalhein gave some orders probably in Russian because Ginger could not understand a word of it and two guards grabbed Ginger by his arms.
Two other guards left the room.
"As a precaution I have ordered my men to hold you because you might become a bit emotional at the next scene," von Stalhein explained coldly.
Two minutes later Ginger heard screaming and shouting in the corridor behind the door and when the door was opened a young woman was dragged into the room by two guards.
He recognised her immediately. It was Jeanette Ducoste. He felt his blood boiling and he tried to free himself from his guards but he failed.
"Let go of me," Ginger shouted.
"Yes leave us in peace," said Jeanette angrily.
"Both of you be quiet now," ordered von Stalhein gruff.
"You will be together soon enough as I have finished what I have to say to you both."
Both Ginger and Jeanette stopped their fight and waited for what von Stalhein might have in store for them.
"Well Mr. Hebblethwaite, you can see that I have cornered you. Miss Ducoste is safe and sound and in good health. If you want to keep her in such good shape you must start to work for me."
"You are a pig von Stalhein. Do you really think that Biggles will agree if he finds out? He has nothing in common with Miss Ducoste so that will not work after all," Ginger said with a smile. "You better release the girl and send her home and send me to Moscow instead," repeated Ginger his proposal from before.
"I think both of you should have intimate talk about this matter before you can make a well-considered decision," said von Stalhein while he lit a cigarette.
"You're a crawler von Stalhein. I cannot believe you," was Gingers puzzled reaction.
"Well Mr. Hebblethwaite, I can understand that you are a bit reluctant in believing me but I hope that you both have a pleasant day.
Miss Ducoste's room is in one of our towers. I will have both of you taken to her room now. Tonight at dinner we will discuss the matter again. Oh, if you decide not to comply with my request, Miss Ducoste will have your cold and damp dungeon instead of that rather comfortable room in the tower for the night."
"You are a pig von Stalhein and will always remain one," said Ginger wryly.
Von Stalhein gave an order in Russian and both Jeanette and Ginger were taken away and brought over to the tower room.
When the door was slammed they were finally together again after so many years.
In less then seconds their eager bodies stick together followed by a long enjoyable kiss.
"I will never let you go out of my sight again Jeanette," said Ginger softly. "I love you Ginger. Our love last forever."
Time was flying by as Jeanette and Ginger had only eye for each other since they were locked up together in the tower room. The passionate morning was finally interrupted by two guards who were delivering the young lovers their lunch.
"That's what he's up to," exclaimed Ginger over his lunch suddenly in embarrassment.
"You know what his goal is already Ginger, so what is he up to now then you think?" Asked Jeanette puzzled.
"Jeanette listen, he has put us here together alone so we would bolster our love for each other," explained Ginger."
It is all very human Jeanette.
This man is a genius although he has never received an arrow by Cupid as far as I know. He knows I will never let him send you to Moscow now."
"I see, yes you are right Ginger. It would have been much easier for you to say no if we weren't together this morning."
"My god, the man has trapped us again. We must think of a way to get out of this mess Jeanette."
Suddenly there was a knock on the door and the door was immediately opened.
A pretty woman in her late thirties was entering the room and closed the door behind her.
"So you are the famous Ginger Hebblethwaite, aren't you?" She informed in a low voice. "Well yes madam. I am Hebblethwaite but I do not know who you are." said Ginger in embarrassment puzzled by the new surprise.
"I do not think that you know me but I was once a good friend of your boss Biggles. Long time ago he was my lover but the Great War destroyed our love too fast. Let me introduce myself. My name is Marie Janis and I am, lets say, Erich von Stalhein's girlfriend."
"How can you live with such a vicious man?" said Ginger in astonishment.
"Well let's keep it easy, we know each other for many years now and for his country he's a very good man. Only sometimes he is overdoing things and got carried away like he does now with you both.
I think he is underestimating the Russian KGB a bit too much and is still busy with his private war against Biggles."
"But Madam, he has the power over us now. What can we do?"
Asked Jeanette helpless.
"You could escape from the castle and leave the country as soon as possible," She said with a smile.
"And where can I find a saw to saw those iron bars?" Ginger sarcastically asked.
"Here is a spare key and a map of the castle Ginger. I am sure you will manage to get out of the castle tonight," While she passed them on to the surprised Ginger.
"Only watch out for several KGB officers who are wandering in the forest. They cannot be trusted as they are not under von Stalhein's command."
"But tonight von Stalhein wants to know Ginger's decision whether Ginger will work for him or not," said Jeanette.
"Tell him that you'll work for him and he will not separate you both. You must trust me," said Marie Janis assuring.
"Well I must go now. Wait till after midnight before you go and get the hell out of this country."
"Yes Madam, thank you very much," Jeanette and Ginger said both the same time.
"Just say hello to my good old friend Biggles when you return home safe and sound. And you Jeanette do not waist this Ginger boy. He's worthy to spend your life with."
"You bet I will never loose sight of him again," assured Jeanette.
Marie Janis took the dishes and left the room again.
Now relieved from the pressure by the good news Jeanette and Ginger enjoyed once again a passionate afternoon in their top floor tower room.
Ginger and Jeanette's finest hour.
Both Ginger and Jeanette were looking forward to the dinner date with von Stalhein in his quarters. In fact they were a bit impatient. They wanted to convince von Stalhein as soon as possible and get over with the dinner in order to start their escape.
Inside his sock Ginger kept the spare key and Jeanette kept the map hidden under her cloth. They did not want to leave the key and the map in the tower room.
Finally when the night had fallen over Bohemia, two guards came to collect the young lovers and with their arms tight around each other they walked down the stairs.
Like glue they were sticking together when they entered von Stalhein's premises.
"I see that you both have had a swell day together," were his welcoming words.
"We have had indeed Hauptmann," confirmed Ginger.
"I reckon now that you will work for me Mr. Hebblethwaite.
To send such a nice girl to Siberia or even have her shot, would be a severe waist."
"If you give me the guaranty that no harm is to be done to her I consider myself working for you,"
"Do sit down both of you and we will discuss this matter over dinner," said von Stalhein.
A roasted sucking pig with loads of fried potatoes, German style, and a large plate of delicious savoury salad was brought in by von Stalhein's servants.
"Let me be a good host for you young lads," said von Stalhein friendly and he started to cut the meet for his guests.
The dinner was superb and the young lovers were starving. "Eat as much as you can Jeanette," said Ginger with wink to Jeanette. "Suppose he put you on porridge from tomorrow on."
"Mister Hebblethwaite. It is not my intention to have you both living on porridge as long as we cooperate.
So I will make an agreement with you. Jeanette stays in the castle while you are in England. Tomorrow you will fly back to England with the aeroplane in which you arrived here.
When you are back in England I will give you instructions by an agent of mine who will contact you and give you my orders.
Do not tell Bigglesworth about me or Jeanette will be eating porridge the rest of her life. If all is well and you give me the information that I want and I will finally release Jeanette. And by releasing Jeanette I intend to bring her to Paris and hand her over to you in person. Do I make myself clear mister Hebblethwaite?" "You sure did Hauptmann. Fair enough. I'll do the job and when it is done you will release Jeanette in Paris," said Ginger faking being relieved.
"It might take four or five weeks before you both see each other again so I suggest you both take an early night," said von Stalhein pleased as a punch.
Soon as they have finished their coffee they thanked von Stalhein for the delicious dinner and were brought upstairs to the tower room again.
When the door was locked Jeanette put her arms around him and kissed him tenderly on his lips. "Oh Ginger. You are going to save me! You are my hero and you'll be that forever."
"Well dear let us start to make a plan for tonight," interrupted Ginger Jeanette's sensual mood. "We need our strength for the coming night." "You are right. I am sorry Ginger. I am so madly in love with you that I almost have forgotten that we have to get out of this castle and country first before we have our freedom back." Ginger kissed her on her forehead. "You're a sweet woman Jeanette. I love you. Ok let's prepare for our escape."
They rolled up two blankets and put a piece of a sheet around it to keep it together.
They put their socks over their shoes to muffle the sound made by the shoes.
Ginger found an old cork and with the candle he burned the end of the cork till it was black.
With blackened cork he made Jeanette's white face black and Jeanette did the same with his face.
By the light of the candle they studied the map till they knew the route by heart.
There was only one problem. Where was the Auster?
Because Ginger had passed the castle on his in-flight he had a raw idea in which direction they must go but he was no too sure at all about it.
"Now we must wait till after 12 ó clock Jeanette," said Ginger softly and they sat on de bed glued to each other and waited.
Finally around midnight Ginger walked to the door and opened it with the spare key. He peered down the stairs and everything seems to be alright.
"Ok Jeanette. Let's go," he whispered. "Leave that door ajar in case we have to run back fast."
Foot for foot they crept down the stairs and there was nobody to be seen.
"The guards must be asleep," said Jeanette in a soft voice. "Do not count on that. I am sure they are on guard with their guns at the ready Jeanette."
Finally they arrived on the ground floor where they halted. Ginger opened the door to the courtyard. "It seems ok to me," he said to Jeanette and he was about to enter the courtyard when they heard machinegun shots fired nearby. In no time the whole place had become an inferno of shots and explosions.
Ginger closed the door quickly again. "What's going on Ginger? Have they seen us?" said Jeanette worried.
"They cannot have seen us Jeanette. Something else must have happened."
The shooting has stopped and they heard footsteps running in the distance.
Ginger opened again the door carefully and peered outside into the courtyard. Vaguely, by the dim light of one lantern he saw two men, dressed in uniform, standing in front of the door, which leads to von Stalhein's premises.
"I see soldiers Jeanette. Are those soldiers Czechoslovakian soldiers?"
"They look more Russian soldiers to me Ginger."
"Well I do not know what is happening but this is our chance to get out of the castle unseen as long as those soldiers are occupied at von Stalhein's door," said Ginger.
Both he and Jeanette crawled along the wall on their hands and knees till Ginger bumped into something. It appeared to be a dead body, probably one of von Stalhein's guards who was shot just before because his body was still warm.
Next to the body Ginger found a machinegun.
He grabbed the gun and found also some more rounds on the belt of the unfortunate man.
"I might need this machinegun in the future Jeanette," he whispered to Jeanette.
"I am scared Ginger. What is going on here?"
"I do not know but von Stalhein may think of his own story, we got our story lets go."
They continue the crawl towards the gate and they saw that door of the gate has been blown up.
This would easy their escape at last. When they finally wanted to leave the castle through the gate they were attracted by another scene. The door to von Stalhein's premises was opened and von Stalhein and Marie Janis where pushed outside by two men. Their hands were tight behind their backs. On von Stalhein's face was blood to be seen and Marie Janis looked also very affected.
Suddenly one of the two men started to shout in a language, which both Ginger and Jeanette could not understand.
"That must be Russian," said Jeanette to Ginger. "You probably are right Jeanette. I know von Stalhein speaks that language."
"Look what's happening Ginger!"
Both saw that one of the men started to beat up Marie Janis while the other was shouting at von Stalhein and suddenly knocked him down.
They heard Marie crying in fear and anger.
"Those communist bastards, I must at least help Marie," said Ginger angry and he palled in the cock of his machinegun.
"Stay put," he ordered Jeanette and in the shadow of the wall he moved as fast as he could towards the place where in the courtyard where von Stalhein and Marie were held by the soldiers.
Slowly Ginger reached the scene. "Put your hands up all of you," he shouted while he pointed the machinegun at the four men.
For a moment the four men were startled and von Stalhein looked at him in unbelief.
One of the men however wanted to point his gun towards Ginger but he was too late. Ginger machinegun fired and the man was dead before he hit the ground.
"Do not force me to kill you all. Drop your guns and put your hands in the air."
The other men dropped their guns and put up their hands at last.
"Be careful with them Hebblethwaite. They are Russian 'Spetsnaz' or commandos," warned von Stalhein.
"Jeanette, come over here and collect their guns," ordered Ginger.
"Are there more of them von Stalhein?" Asked Ginger in a hurry.
"In the forest there are more of them I reckon," said von Stalhein.
Jeanette collected the guns from the ground and wanted to release Marie and von Stalhein but Ginger did forbid it.
"You can only release the woman and take care of her.
First I want to know what von Stalhein is up to before I will release him." He deliberately did not show that he has met Marie Janis before and Jeanette did understand this as well.
"You are a most clever man Hebblethwaite. Now I understand why Biggles always wins the game. If only I had members like you in my staff I would not have failed so many times."
The three men were put against the wall with their hands up against it.
"Where is you car von Stalhein?" Queried Ginger.
"Around the corner and the key's are also there," replied von Stalhein.
"Ok Jeanette, get that car and bring it here," Ginger ordered.
Two minutes later the car stopped in front of them.
"Shall I drive you?" Said the woman suddenly. "I happen to know the roads here."
"And who are you if I may ask? Said Ginger deliberately.
"May name is Marie Janis. I am von Stalhein's girlfriend. Please do not worry about us. I think von Stalhein's game in the Czechoslovakian Republic is over. We need to fly from this country as well as you both."
"Ok, if you feel ok after that beating up you can get behind the wheel and Jeanette will sit next to you. Von Stalhein you will sit next to me in the back. Do not play one of your fancy tricks on me or you will be eating lead."
They all jumped into the car and Marie drove the car flat out from the castle leaving the Spetsnaz behind.
"Stop nowhere Mrs Janis. Just step on it. "Do you think it was a good idea to leave those commandos in the castle Hebblethwaite?" Asked von Stalhein. "As I did not want to take them with me leaving them behind was the only option." "There are more options Hebblethwaite." "You mean to shoot them for example Hauptmann?" "Well that's an option," said von Stalhein free of any emotion.
"Well maybe you would have done that but no, I am not that kind of person Hauptmann.
Do you think my plane is still out there in that field Hauptmann?"
"I have left it where you landed it Hebblethwaite."
"Thank god, that's a relief then. We can all fly back to the West tonight," said Ginger.
"As long as you not take me to Britain it is fine with me," grumbled von Stalhein.
"Do not worry Hauptmann. I do not have enough petrol to reach Jolly Old Blighty in one go. When we land in West-Germany you and Mrs Janis are free to go."
The car drove on at high speed into the direction where the Auster was left behind in the field.
The roads through the forest were very dark. Despite all this, Marie Janis did drive very well.
When they reached the field, von Stalhein suggested switching off the headlights.
When the car could not drive any further Marie stopped the car and they all got off.
There was no sound to be heard in the forest and quickly as they were able, because von Stalhein's hands were still tightened behind his back, they walked through the trees towards the field.
"I hope she'll start in this damp mess," said Ginger worried.
When they reached the Auster everything seems to be alright.
Ginger checked the Auster as far as he could in the dark and found it ok. Suddenly from one corner of the field a small torchlight was directed to the Auster and they were caught in the beam. They heard a shot and a bullet was passing close by with a whistle.
Marie Janis response was sudden and unexpected by the others. She grabbed the machinegun out of Jeanette's hands and fired a full magazine in the direction of the torchlight.
The light went out and they heard somebody scream.
"Now get into that plane all of you," she shouted.
Both women took the backseats and von Stalhein squeezed himself in between into his seat in the front.
"Is it not about time that you have me released?" He said in anger.
"Free him Jeanette. I must concentrate on the start now," ordered Ginger.
Ginger switched on the ignition and pushed the starter button. The propeller turned slowly but it took some time before the engine started to his great relief finally.
The next worry was that there were more people around the field and he would not like to take off with a cold engine.
But he had no choice. A window in the back of the plane was smashed by a bullet.
"Anybody hurt he shouted." "No were all alright," he heard Marie Janis shouting. "Get this plane airborne," shouted von Stalhein. "If they get us were done."
Ginger, with no option left, opened the throttle and the Auster moved forward faster and faster.
Suddenly the rumble of the wheels stopped and the Auster was in the air.
Ginger did several quick prayers hoping his engine would not cut off and his prayers were heard. The engine kept on running and Ginger directed the Auster straight to the West.
"Who would ever have guessed that I am saving your ass von Stalhein," said Ginger with a smile.
"Why don't you shut your mouth and keep on concentrating on flying Hebblethwaite," grumbled von Stalhein next to him. "Were not yet out of the country. There are a lot of "Flak" batteries in front of us."
As he was saying this in front of the Auster several searchlights popped up and their beams searched the sky for the Auster.
Ginger did not want to loose time in gaining more altitude and kept on flying as low as possible.
Flying low is very difficult for the searchlight operators to catch him in their beam but made him an easy target for light anti aircraft guns.
Suddenly a stream of tracer bullets where heading in his direction and he hit the right rudder pedal very hard to avoid the stream.
The Auster took some hits in the port wing but without seriously damaging it.
The Auster continued to fly westwards and Ginger was pretty sure they would make it for the border.
Suddenly two streams of tracer bullets were head on and Ginger could not avoid them both. Several bullets hit the Auster and the instrument panel was smashed. Glass splinters found their way into von Stalhein and Ginger's faces. The engine had stopped and the cockpit was full of smoke.
"Open the window's to let this smoke get out of the cockpit," ordered Ginger.
He looked through the open window and reckoned that he was at about an altitude of 400 feet.
There was no more shooting to his great relief but now where to land the Auster properly almost without sight.
Ginger switched off the petrol and the contact and the Auster was descending very fast.
Because of this speed he was still in control of the Auster and through the side window he saw that he passed a river.
On the other side of the river he reckoned that there must be a field where it was possible to make a forced landing. Through port side he spotted next to the river a large field as far as he could see and he turned the Auster to the left.
"Prepare for a crash landing," he warned the others.
"Be sure you have fastened your seatbelts tight."
Only moments later when the plane was almost on the ground he pulled the stick backwards, the Auster stalled and hit the ground.
It looked as he had made a perfect landing but in the end the Auster collapsed forward into a ditch and stopped with a shock and kept standing on its nose.
Everything became as quiet as before. No sound was to be heard.
Only the smell of petrol became stronger and stronger. Ginger realized what was about to begin and unlocked his safety belt and helped von Stalhein to unlock his belt. "Get the hell out of this plane everybody," Ginger cried in utmost fear.
"I can't unlock my safety belt," cried Jeanette anxious.
Together with Marie Janis they managed to unlock Jeanette's safety belt, which was damaged.
They jumped off the Auster and ran to a safe distance.
Suddenly there was a big swoosh and the Auster was set ablaze.
A car with a blue flashing light was approaching fast and stopped at distance of 100 yards.
It was a green and white police car. "You've made it to West-Germany Ginger. You have saved us," said Jeanette. That is a West-German police car," she said relieved and put her arms around him.
"Be careful with my face Jeanette. It has glass splinters all over."
Von Stalhein did the talking in German to the police officers and 15 minutes later an ambulance arrived at the scene and both von Stalhein and Ginger were taken to a hospital where the glass splinters were taken out. The girls were ok and had only some scratches.
Von Stalhein and Ginger stayed in the hospital to recover and Marie and Jeanette spend the night in a hotel nearby the hospital.
The next day they arrived early in the hospital to visit their beloved friends.
Von Stalhein and Marie Janis had a long talk in German and Ginger and Jeanette were too busy with themselves.
Suddenly Marie Janis tapped on Ginger's shoulder. "Ginger. Whenever you see Biggles tell him that I am proud of you and give him my best regards. Erich and I will have a short walk now before lunch." Then she kissed him tenderly on his forehead and left the ward.
When lunch was served von Stalhein and Marie Janis did not return to the ward.
A nurse searched the hospital for them but both had vanished into thin air.
Just after lunch a well dressed gentleman arrived in the ward.
It was Commodore Raymond from Scotland Yard.
"Ah there you are young man Hebblethwaite," he said friendly.
"Are you able to tell me the whole story?"
"Yes Sir. I will give you all the details."
Ginger introduced him to Jeanette Ducoste and told the Commodore the whole story.
"So you went all the way down to the Czechoslovakian Republic to save this young good looking girl," said the Commodore severe when Ginger had finished his story.
"I am sorry Sir. I love this girl and von Stalhein played a dirty trick on me. He must be somewhere around here you know. You can ask him yourself."
"Do you really think I find von Stalhein here in this hospital Hebblethwaite?" Queried the Commodore.
"No Sir. I am afraid not. I think he and Marie Janis left the hospital before lunch."
"It is a pity because I would like to have had a nice chat with von Stalhein but he can be anywhere by now.
Ok Hebblethwaite. Under the same circumstances, without Biggles and Algy being around, I probably would have done the same although it was very naïve of you.
I remember that a long time ago another young British pilot had fallen madly in love with a beautiful woman.
She was actually a German Spy. I shall spare you the details of this love affair and not reveal his name, but later he turned out to become a great pilot."
"Sir is it possible for me to have some leave. I like to spend this leave in Paris with Jeanette Ducoste," asked Ginger politely.
"Oh yes please Commodore Raymond," interrupted Jeanette.
"I need to see Marcel Brissac of the Surete as soon as possible.
I happen to have some valuable information for him."
The commodore looked puzzled because he was not yet informed that Jeanette Ducoste was a French spy.
"So you are a spy too?" He said resentful.
Jeanette blushed. "Well yes Sir. I am a sort of spy and I have fallen in love with Ginger already years ago but we were parted because I went to France and then we lost sight each other."
"Well, at least we can say that love can last forever," said the Commodore in resignation.
I will see to it that your air tickets to London are altered in Paris.
Two hours later Ginger was dispatched from the hospital and together with Jeanette and the Commodore they took a taxi to the airport where they left for Paris.
The Commodore stayed behind to give the local police the details about the crash of the Auster. Of course he did not reveal what really happened to the local police. That was up to the Foreign Secretary in London.
Ginger and Jeanette spent five wonderful days in romantic Paris and Marcel Brissac and his girlfriend Marcelle showed them all the ins and outs of Paris.
A few days after their Paris jaunt, Biggles and Bertie returned from Canada and found Ginger and Jeanette in the apartment in Mount Street. At the same time Algy returned from Scotland and Ginger had a lot to explain.
Biggles was very angry about the whole affair but Algy calmed him down. "Did you forget your affair with Marie Janis Biggles or did you not. It is about the same kind of story!" said Algy.
"Oh yes Biggles. I almost forgot to say. You have the best regards from Marie Janis. She helped us escaping from that castle and later we saved her from those blasted communists," interrupted Ginger.
"Marie Janis?" said Biggles softly his face pale," Is she still alive?"
"Oh yes Biggles she's safe and sound and she's von Stalhein's girlfriend."
With an angry and upset face Biggles stood up from his chair and left the room hastily to the corridor. He put on a raincoat and left the apartment slamming the door into its hinges.
"What did I say wrong," Ginger said in unbelief.
"Nothing Ginger," said Jeanette reassuring.
"It is just another case of "love can last forever" again."
Ginger Hebblethwaite and Erich von Stalhein were attended in the German hospital after the crash of the Auster in which they all escaped from the Czechoslovakian Republic.
From there Erich and Marie left Ginger and Jeanette for a short walk from which they never returned.
With a local train they left for Munich.
That evening, when they had arrived in Munich, they booked a room for the night in order how to deal with the new occurred situation.
Marie was very sad and suddenly she started to cry.
Erich tried to comfort her, thinking that the impact of the crash was responsible for this, but finally she told him to sit down and listen to her story.
"Erich," she began with a trembled voice. "Do you remember Christmas 1924 when we spent a few days in that hunting lodge?" "Yes Marie. I remember. That was a very pleasant occasion in my life and I hope in your life too?"
"Yes Erich. It was very pleasant but please be prepared for a big shock."
"A big shock? What happened then?"
"I am sure you remember that we promised to see each other more often but that never happened again Erich."
"That was due to our work Marie. I have never blamed you for that."
"I was to blame Erich. It was entirely guilty."
"You were guilty Marie, what are you talking? It was the situation, which was to blame."
"No Erich. I was pregnant from you."
"Pregnant? Were you pregnant? You've never told me Marie."
"I did not want to spoil your career Erich," said Marie tears now rolling all over her face.
"And the child, was it a boy or a girl?"
"It was a healthy beautiful girl Erich."
Erich poured him another large glass of schnapps, which he drank in one draught.
"What happened to this girl Marie is she still alive?"
"This girl is very much alive Erich.
Today you left her in that hospital behind with Ginger Hebblethwaite."
"Jeanette Ducoste is my daughter?" Screamed Erich and suddenly he felt very tired.
"Yes Erich she's your daughter."
"Does she know that I am the father?"
"No Erich, she does not know and she also does not know that I am her real mother as well."
"We must go back and inform her Marie. She's entitled to know."
"No Erich, we will not inform her that we are her real parents.
I had hoped to be reunited with her in Czechoslovakia and inform you and Jeanette about the truth but now things have changed again I think we must leave it this way. Jeanette has had a wonderful youth in Monaco and a proper education.
Telling the truth might upset her now."
"Yes Marie. I think you are right but please tell me all about Jeanette. I am longing to get to know my daughter better."
"I will tell you all I know Erich."
That night Marie told Erich everything she knew about Jeanette till they finally went to bed at 04:00 hours.
The next day they parted. Marie was going back to the Janis castle in the Czechoslovakian Republic and Erich von Stalhein vanished as usual in thin air.
The next time they would meet each other again will be in
'Biggles Looks Back' written by Captain WE Johns. End