by W. E. Johns



X.    TIME IS SHORT  (Pages 173 - 191)

(On original publication this instalment was called "Worrals Works Fast")


Carl is leaning back on his chair, "in an attitude of bored indifference" on the back two legs and Worrals notices he is on a rug.  Worrals sinks to the floor as though she is exhausted and then pulls the rug sending Carl toppling over.  Running back to the tunnel, they are able to lock the door behind them.  They then make for the rectory.  The door at the top of the stairs has been left open so the two girls are able to get to the hall.  The door from the library opens and the two girls get inside a massive oak chest under the window to hide.  Luckily is only contains some croquet mallets at the bottom.  Frecks is worried about being locked in.  "Don't forget the mistletoe bough.  If it locks we shall be ....."  Worrals kicks her to keep her quite.  In their hiding place they hear Corton and his men arrive, obviously having got through the locked door.  The spies think the girls have gone straight out of the front door.  Corton says furiously "We shall have to get out of this.  If those girls have got away anything can happen.  We'll all get out and make an end of the place before it can be raided. We've finished our chief work here, anyway.  The mines are all in place under the bridges."  Corton says there is a map showing where they are in his pocket.  Carl asks Corton how he will destroy the house.  Corton says he has a high-explosive bomb on a time fuse and a few well-placed incendiaries.  The authorities will just assume the place was hit by discarded bombs.  The police will find the body of the old man upstairs, the real Corton, in the wreckage.  Corton and Carl talk about a concealed plane they have, a converted American Rockheed, cleverly fitted with a sliding panel so it can show either R.A.F. markings or the Swastika, depending where they are flying.  "We shall be the friend of everyone, so nobody will interfere with us."  In due course, Corton and his men leave the house and the girls are able to get out of the wooden chest.  Worrals knows she has little time to find the real Corton before the bomb goes off and she goes upstairs to where she herself was held captive.  Finding the real Corton locked in a different room, she uses the croquet mallets to break him out.  The real Corton is sent off to the village to get the police, but told that on no account must anyone come near the house as it is about to blow up.  Worrals and Frecks are going to go after the spies.  "We're going to stop them - I don't know how, but we're going to," declared Worrals aggressively.  "We'll put the machine out of action."