by W. E. Johns



4.         WORRALS TAKES A TRIP  (Pages 49 – 71)


The next morning, Worrals flies the five hundred miles to Adelaide.  A car takes her the eleven miles from the airfield into the city and she goes to the office of Mr. Harding, Aunt Mary’s lawyer.  Worrals liked him on sight”.  She explains who she is and finds out that Harding already knew that Aunt Mary was dead before Janet told him as the death had been reported to Dan Terry, the mounted constable at Oodnadatta, a hundred miles east of the property.  Charlie had reported the death to Dan Terry and he had gone and seen the grave.  Worrals finds out that Harding knows about the opal and he had advised Aunt Mary to go and see a man called Felix Moran, who “handles most of the opal business in these parts”.  Harding provides Worrals with Moran’s address.  Harding confirms that he hasn’t mentioned the opal to a soul and he is confident that Aunt Mary knew not to mention it as well.  Worrals then goes to see Felix Moran, “whom she disliked on sight, just as the reverse had been the case with Mr. Harding, the lawyer”.  Worrals shows Moran the opal that Aunt Mary had and asks him about the meeting with Aunt Mary.  “Was anyone else present when this interview took place?”  “Are you implying that I would be likely to betray the confidence of a client?” says Moran.  “I’m not implying anything,” answered Worrals.  “I’m merely trying to ascertain some facts.  You haven’t answered my questions”.  Moran says the interview was conducted in private and dismissed Worrals.  Worrals speaks to Moran’s secretary, pretending to be an opal-gouger, and asks if she knows other opal traders.  Worrals describes the small dark man with a nasty scar across his forehead and finds out his names is Manila Joe Barola.  He works with a big red-headed fellow called Luke Raffety.  The secretary says “They have a black with them, a frightful-looking Arnhem-lander, named Yoka”.  Worrals finds out that the three men were at that office not long ago, but the secretary no longer knows where they are.  Moran comes out of his office and ends the conversation.  Worrals goes back to see Mr. Harding and asks him to organise a permit and licence from the police for her to buy guns.  Worrals then goes to Prince’s for lunch, when to her surprise and distaste, Felix Moran arrives and tells her that he has had her followed.  He asks Worrals to get Janet Marlow to sell him Wallabulla and he will give her ten per cent.  Worrals shakes her head.  “How very crude you are!  You know, Mr. Moran, the more I see of you, the less I like you”.  Moran leaves and Harding arrives, having previously arranged to meet Worrals, with the firearms permits and Worrals goes and buys two thirty-eight calibre automatics and a twelve-bore shot-gun and ammunition.  Worrals then flies to Oodnadatta and goes and speaks with the Australian Mounted Policeman, Dan Terry.  She explains who she is and Dan expresses an interest in meeting Janet, having seen photos of her as he was friendly with Aunt Mary.  He tells Worrals how Charlie told him of Mary’s death.  “He used blackfellow yabber-yabber.  What he actually said was, as near as I can remember: ‘Mary make plenty wonga; stomach belonga her walk about plenty, finish her up quick-time.’”  “Making wonga is the blackfellow’s way of saying fun and games – dancing, and so on” explains Dan.  “You must understand that no white man ever has, and ever will, understand just what goes on inside a black-fellow’s head ……… one thing he said struck me as a bit odd; he mumbled something about Mary being the richest woman in heaven”.  Dan goes on to say that Worrals is not the only person asking about Charlie and looking for him.  A Felix Moran was after him as well.  Moran offered Dan fifty pounds for the information and later doubled that to one hundred pounds.  Dan explains that Charlie didn’t use to live in the house with Mary but in a “wurlie” – “A blackfellow’s house.  A bough-shelter.  Sort of a wigwam”.  Worrals asks Dan to tell her any information he finds out about the whereabouts of Charlie before he tells Moran.  Before she leaves, Worrals pets Dan’s dog, only to find out that the dog is due to be put down as it doesn’t have an owner.  When Worrals leaves to fly back to Wallabulla, she takes ‘Maginty’ the dog with her.