by W. E. Johns



5.         SUSPICIONS AND ALARUMS  (Pages 72 – 93)

(The word alarum is not a typing error; it means an alarm, especially a call to arms)


Worrals returns and introduces the dog, Maginty, to Frecks and Janet.  “He’ll let us know if strangers come snooping round” says Worrals.  Frecks and Janet have not seen anyone, nor found anything whilst Worrals has been away.  Janet buries a dead dingo that looks like it has been poisoned.  Maginty, the dog, disturbs a man in the distance.  A “blackfellow”, but not the one they had seen before.  “He struck me as a much taller man” says Worrals after the man has faded into the gathering gloom.  Over supper and coffee, Worrals tells Frecks and Janet about her trip to Adelaide and Oodnadatta.  Worrals says “Moran is a crook, and he either wants Wallabulla, or he wants us out of the way so that he can get his hands on the opal, which he knows is here”.  He has called in two confederates, Raffety and Barola.  By a remarkable co-incidence Aunt Mary has died.  “If she died a natural death, it was an astonishing stroke of luck for Moran, for the one obstacle between him and the opal no longer existed”.  But Aunt Mary’s secret has died with her.  Now he is after Charlie who may know more than is good for him.  “What about Charlie’s personal feelings in the matter?  They ought to be taken into consideration.  Even savages are not altogether devoid of such fundamental virtues as affection, loyalty, and gratitude.  Charlie must have been very fond of Aunt Mary, or he wouldn’t have stayed with her for years.  She was perhaps the only person who had ever shown him kindness”.  He might want revenge, speculates Worrals.  Moran’s first reaction after her visit will be to get in touch with his confederates, particularly if he has a murder on his mind.  “The opal might take second place to a fear that we might learn too much, and call in the police.  That’s why I say we shall see more of Moran – and why I’ve bought the guns” says Worrals.  Worrals realises that Aunt Mary’s letters and photos are nowhere to be found and speculates that Moran has them.  That would be how he knew about Janet.  During the night, the girls are disturbed by a commotion outside, including a wild scream.  Going outside they find a spade by Aunt Mary’s grave and fresh blood.  There is a swishing sound in the air and Worrals realises it is a boomerang.  They return to the cabin and when there are no more disturbances, they go to sleep.