by W. E. Johns



9.     CLOSE QUARTERS  (Pages 111 – 125)


After Worrals had gone into the gorge, Frecks sat on a boulder to wait.  The rain stops and a falling stone alerts Frecks.  “Standing on the slope some thirty or forty feet above, staring down at her with an expression of utter amazement on her face, was Anna Shultz”.  Shultz raises her hand in a perfectly normal greeting and comes down to talk to Frecks.  Frecks sees that Wolfe is also moving towards her.  Shultz approaches and says “Hallo!”.  She asks who Frecks is and what is she doing there.  She asks if it was Frecks who fired the shots.  Frecks says it may have been her friend and she says that she and her female companion are looking for someone who is on a trip somewhere in this part of the world, but they think they have landed at the wrong lake.  Shultz invites Frecks to her cabin to have a cup of tea.  Frecks finds it hard to refuse.  Shultz takes out a cigarette and Frecks lights it for her, then Frecks drops matches one by one, every so often, to leave a trail for Worrals to follow.  Shultz says she is German and she and her husband were trying to fly to America when they ran out of petrol and had to land here.  She introduces Frecks to Doctor Wolfe.  Frecks goes with them into the “Box”, the cabin of their plane, where she is given tea and biscuits.  Frecks says they intend to leave in the morning.  Frecks says that if the German couple are stuck, why don’t they come back with them?  “This project was received with a silence that lasted for so long that the atmosphere became embarrassing”.  Shultz says they have some rather heavy luggage and asks for a lift only part of the way, to one of the lower lakes.  Frecks agrees to do this and they arrange to meet the following morning.  Doctor Wolfe makes an excuse to go outside and shortly afterwards, Shultz follows him.  Frecks thinks for a while then goes outside and says she has to be going.  Wolfe offers to escort her back to her plane as it is getting dark, but Frecks declines.  “The age of helpless damsels has passed,” she says.  Frecks walks away, to the place where she should have waited for Worrals.