by Captain W. E. Johns



XVII.      DEATH STRIKES AT IMPALA  (Pages 174 – 183)


Worrals, Joe and the inspector fly to Impala and see the Junkers taking off.  The Junkers gets into difficulties and crashes.  Joe lands the Monospar and he and the inspector go to investigate the crash, leaving Worrals in the machine.  They find both Shardwell and Gronk dead.  Worrals knows what has caused the Junkers to crash because she filled up the petrol cans with brine.  Her motive had been to stop Shardwell and Gronk taking off and normally a pilot runs up his motor and taxis slowly to a good position before taking off.  Had Gronk done that, the water would have made its presence felt.  But seeing the Monospar approaching, Gronk had rushed into the air without the customary precautions.  “Bad pilotage had caused the crash.  When his engine had cut out, Gronk still had a good chance of getting down – at any rate, without serious injury to himself and his passenger, although the machine would have been damaged.  He should have glided straight on and risked the consequences.  Instead he has made the fatal blunder of turning back”.  The bodies are put in the resthouse.  Worrals, Joe and the Inspector discover that Shardwell and Gronk have emptied all the petrol cans.  Worrals however, has her secret supply that she can rely on.  Suddenly, from the south, another aircraft arrives.  This is a Rapide and it contains Dayne, the financier behind Shardwell and Gronk.  Dayne is confronted with the behaviour of Shardwell and is horrified to hear what he is told.  He knows nothing of their methods.  Worrals says “I felt sure that as Shardwell was in your employ, you were the head crook and claim-jumper.  I apologise.  We all make mistakes”.  They ask Dayne to fly to Magube Drift and meet them there.  Worrals and her colleagues need to go via Hansvelt to pick up their friends.