by Captain W. E. Johns



VIII.       THE MANEATER  (Pages 78 – 93)


The Kingfisher lands at Magube Drift and the stores are unloaded.  Worrals tells everyone about what happened in Cape Town.  “I’m not so foolish as to suppose that one can tell a cock-and-bull story like that to the police and get away with it,” she concluded.  “It was a case where the truth would have done no good – it would have sounded more like fiction than the story I told.  All the same, when that inspector at Cape Town learns how he was tricked he’s going to be very angry; he’ll try hard to find me, you may be sure, and no doubt Shardwell will be only too happy to help him”.  With regard to Mahomet’s body, Worrals thinks that Shardwell has ordered the natives to move it.  “I’d bet that Shardwell didn’t reckon on the Ovambo using the fabric of Bill’s machine as a shroud”.  Worrals concludes that “We shan’t see Bill again if we sit here and wait for him”.  “Alive or dead, he’s in one of two places – either at Shardwell’s property up north, or in the Ovambo country”.  Worrals decides to fly up to Shardwell’s claim to look around and she asks Dick to go with her and Frecks.  Dick takes with him a heavy calibre rifle that was left to him by a big game hunter called Captain Stevenson.  He was killed by a Leopard when he was asleep.  After flying twenty minutes they reach Shardwell’s claim and land.  They find a padlocked hut and are able to lift a sheet of corrugated-iron roof to see inside.  There is nothing but picks and shovels.  Frecks sees an African native against the skyline and Dick thinks from the shape of his shield that he was from the Herero tribe.  Shortly afterwards another African comes out calling and waving.  Dick recognises the man as Ingoona, the former gun-bearer to Captain Stevenson and a good friend.  Ingoona is leading a hunting party after a wounded lion that is a man-eater.  The lion is thought to be in the nearby donga which is filled with dry rushes.  Dick agrees to help kill the lion and he and Worrals allow the natives to beat the lion out of cover towards them.  “Worrals watched, fascinated, conscious that her heart was beating rather faster than usual.  “This is a new sort of thrill,” she remarked to Frecks, who was standing by her left elbow”.  The lion appears unexpectedly and attacks a native and the others, including Ingoona, who go to help.  Worrals, with a rifle and Frecks, with her automatic, run to help as well and fire shot after shot into the lion’s flank and kill it.  “Strangely enough, none of the natives was badly hurt, Ingoona least of all.  He had three nasty gashes in the shoulder, but he took the wounds as a matter of course”.  The first-aid kit is used to put some antiseptic on the native’s wounds.  “In Africa”, says Uncle Dick, “you never know quite what is in the programme”.