by W. E. Johns



10.         MORAN MAKES AN OFFER  (Pages 161 – 173)


Frecks and Janet consternation when they discover Worrals is missing is made worse when they find Maginty, the dog, dead.  There is a patter of footsteps and Worrals hurries in.  Worrals says she was out looking for Charlie and that she ran back as fast as she could when she heard the machine coming.  Worrals and Frecks and Janet exchange stories whilst they have tea and something to eat.  Worrals thinks Barola will die on the journey to Oodnadatta and that Moran and Raffety will return.  They have to find Charlie before they do return.  Worrals says that Moran was rushed into leaving and “from his point of view the ideal thing would be to liquidate the three of us.  He may try to do that if he can think of a way without laying himself open to suspicion”.  Worrals says their best hope is to find Charlie as he knows where Aunt Mary is buried and a post-mortem will reveal that she was poisoned.  Worrals wonders what made Charlie bolt and realises that the piece of opal that Raffety put on the table has gone.  Worrals goes outside and finds that Yoka’s body and spear have also gone.  Returning to the kitchen, the three girls are surprised by the silent arrival of Moran, pistol in hand.  He is followed by Raffety and they have found and captured Charlie and have got him with his hands tied behind his back.  Moran said Barola died before they got five miles and they drove back and stopped a mile away and came back quietly, not knowing if the police were in the plane.  They walked right into Charlie and captured him.  Charlie had buried Yoka.  Moran has taken from Charlie a jam-jar that he had been to fetch.  It contains a note from Mary Carter – written on her death-bed – to her niece, with a map showing the opal field.  Moran offers to give the note to the girls in exchange for “the deeds of the estate and a promise to keep your mouths shut about what’s happened here”.  Worrals asks for time to think over the offer and to give their answer in the morning.  Moran agrees and says they will be watching the house.  If anyone tries to leave they will meet a piece of lead coming the other way.  If the answer is yes, all they need to do is wave a handkerchief through the window.  Moran and Raffety leave but they take Charlie with them.  The girls decide to take turns mounting a guard whilst the other two sleep.  Worrals says “To-morrow ought to see the final show-down.  Meanwhile, we’ve got to think – and think hard”.