Delahoy's Mile

Chapter 9 | Contents | Chapter 11

(C) Copyright 1970 Robert Gordon Delahoy
and Roger Vaughan Carr.


Chapter 10

Speed 1916

Bill was lean and wiry, and he had his pride. Even out in the paddocks he would not wear bowyangs, and after a time his trousers would slip so far down off his hips he would be walking on velvet, the moleskins dragging under the heels of his hobnailed Blutcher boots.

He was harrowing, giving the soil that final working before the drills moved in to sow the wheat.

Day after day he plodded patiently behind the harrows, from a distance just a little dust cloud moving slowly around the paddock, and by the end of each day was tired out and taller and broader by a sweaty layer of top soil.

After school each day Rupe would help me in pickling the seed wheat in a bluestone bath to protect our crop against smut and take-all, diseases that attacked when the new wheat came into ear.

Out method pickling was a crude arrangement, but like so many methods of doing jobs improvised by the farmers, it worked well, and could be adjusted for either a man or a boy to work.

A pole was set in the ground, with another pole hinged across it, one end being the lever you worked with, the other having a chain attached which you wrapped around the bag to be pickled. With the lever you lifted the bag from the ground, walked it around until the bag was over a one hundred gallon tank containing a mixture of bluestone and water, and lowered the bag into it. Then after a few minutes you levered it out, held it above the tank to drain, then walked the lever around until you could lower the bag onto the pickled stack.

As I was nearing fourteen it was decided I could stop home from school again when it was time to put the crop in, and drive one of the drills.

On the first day of sowing I stepped proudly up onto the footboard of the 15 run disc drill, four of our beautiful Clydesdale draught horses yoked abreast of each other in front of me. I stood them up, and away we went, doing two rounds of the paddock in fine style.

Jove, I decided. I've got the hang of this pretty quick!

Stopping the team I checked the level of the seed, surprised to find it had not fallen below the full mark. And yet it should have gone down a little, at least, in two rounds. Maybe something was jammed?

Across the paddock Harry was working with the other drill, and I hesitated on whether I should check with him. He had explained that all you did was put it in gear –

In gear! I glanced sideways, hoping Harry had not noticed, and surreptitiously pulled the gear lever from neutral.

"Gee…..!" I called, and pulled the team across onto the ground we had already covered, finding I had to fight them for the whole two circuits to hold them to it. They just did not want to work over the ground for the second time, and it was not until we had completed the first two circuits again and were starting on the fresh third that they were working easily and stopped snorting and throwing their heads.

Now they knew what they were doing.

All that first day they would turn their heads to watch me each time I stopped them at the piles of seed wheat and super to refill the drill, checking, it seemed, to see that I knew what I was doing.

It was a long and tiring day, the harsh heat of the sun and the constant dust, but the team plodded steadily on. At the end of the day when I stopped them at a pile of seed wheat and dropped the chains from the hame hooks, they each acknowledged my pat of thanks with a shake of the head or by nuzzling my shoulder.

With a billy and a sugar bag holding my lunch tin in one hand, and the reins in the other, I turned them for home, letting them pick their own pace back towards the stable through the first shades of twilight.

I was bone weary as I walked behind them, but filled with a deep feeling of pride and satisfaction. When you looked across a paddock sown down with wheat it was so orderly, you could see the evidence of your work in the even corrugations of the drills. So different for the man working in a factory down in Melbourne, maybe making munitions for the war. After a day's work he went home with nothing to see for all his labour, only the money in his pay envelope at the end of the week.

Still, that was something we never seemed to have.

But I would not change it. Not for all the money there was. Father had been right when he told Mother to see we went on the land.

The team stopped at the stable and I dropped the sugar bag and the billy by the wall, taking the hames and collars off, and undoing the throat straps of the winkers, the horses filing off down to the dam for a drink.

Harry and Bill, who was still working with the harrows, were doing the same with their teams, used to the heavy work and not as tired and weary as I was on that first day, my arms aching as I carted feed from the chaff house and filled the long troughs.

"Good job Bob," Bill said. "Suppose you'll be wanting to start before sun-up tomorrow?"

"Probably going to have his tea and get back out to work in the moonlight," Harry said as we turned up for the house, the last of the day glowing redly in the west.

But I barely managed to finish my tea before I fell asleep, and Mother sent me off to bed to recover for another of the long days we worked until nearly the end of April.

We had already had rain on and off by the time we finished the sowing, and our hopes for the season were high as we cleaned the drills ready for storing in the machinery shed until next year.

When we had cleaned them and put them in the machinery shed we had to block them up off the floor to keep the white ants from eating out the wooden fellies of the wheels. We even had to make sure during the year that no sand blew into the shed and built up in drifts against the wheels, as this made little ramps the white ants were quick to find. The softwood of the Mallee pines did not seem to attract them particularly, it was the hardwood of the fellies, or anything else made of this timber, which they searched out for food.

With the drills cleaned and blocked-up we took life a little easier until the wheat began to shoot, and along with the grain the mallee roots still in the ground sent up their suckers.

Like all the other farmers we dealt with this using a shoot cutter, or slasher. A steel head you bought and fitted to your own handle. There never seemed to be a handle offered for sale, so we cut our own from mallee sticks, shaping them down to about the width of a pick handle.

The head was a twelve or fourteen inch steel blade about three inches wide and sharpened on both sides. It lay flat on the ground when the handle was upright. Holding the handle with both hands it was swung from side to side, chipping the mallee suckers off on both strokes.

We generally worked about a chain away from each other, making a three of four chain swathe across the paddock, taking a few moments off at the end of each run to have a yarn, then starting a fresh span. And hell, how my arms ached as I longed for the sun to slide down the western sky as I swung that monotonous stroke, or cut at the steel of the blade with the twelve inch file carried at the back of my belt.

Sometimes I wondered if the sun would ever move from the apex of its path, and drop towards the blessed relief of the house and a chair to fall into.

"I saw Mr Thrower in Speed today," Mother said during tea one evening. "He wants you boys to go in and see a new plough he has for sale. It's something new for Mallee farming."

"They're always trying to sell you something," I said, and started in surprise as Bill's foot connected with my shin under the table. "What….."

"Yes," Bill said loudly to cover my voice. "If it's something new we better go in and have a look at it." He half turned to me. "Have to leave off shoot cutting for a day though."
A day off shoot cutting!

Bill drove the three of us into Speed the next morning, letting the ponies pick their own pace as we yarned.

"Of course we can't afford a new plough," Bill said. "But it's a good chance for a yarn and a bit of a break."

But when we saw the new plough we began to think again. It was a stump-jump. A five furrow mouldboard plough, but unlike the conventional type which to a jolting stop, and usually broke something, each time you hit a stump, the shares and mouldboard of this one kicked up and over the stump without damage.

"And when the stumps rot a bit, when the white ants get into them," Jack Thrower told us, " it will pull them right out of the ground. Just pick them up and put them on a rail truck for Melbourne and there's money in your pocket."

"Jove," said Bill, impressed.

"The Melbourne housewife really goes for the heat they produce." He patted the demonstration model with affection. "Specially made for us in the Mallee these are."

After we left the agent's Bill was in quite a hurry to get the messages done and collect the mail so we could get back home to discuss the business of affording a new plough with Mother. It was a topic of conversation which cropped up regularly after that.

The rains came in week after week, and the crop was coming along well as spring moved into the Mallee, the paddocks green again after the burnt yellows of the summer and the cold bare earth of winter.

Back from their wanderings came the plover, those beautiful, brown plover, swooping down from the sky to choose their nesting sights to raise their yearly young. Skylarks spiralled up, up into the blue, their crystal song ringing down to us as we paused in our work, and the magpies swooped down in the reckless, erratic dive that seemed to herald imminent destruction against the earth. But each time they flattened out in a long glide no higher than two feet from the ground, the crazy sky-divers dropping to perch and lift up their beaks in a carol of joy.

The Mallee had come back to full life.

Well, I've got some more on that new plough," Bill said as we sat around the fire. "These people, Rawlings, who make it are somewhere in Coburg, just out of Melbourne. Says they make a seven furrow as well as the five now."

"If you work that out at a furrow to the acre a day," Harry said thoughtfully. "Why….., we could plough and fallow at about seven acres a day."

"That's, um…..," Rupe was pencilling on the side of his homework. "Jove! Forty nine acres a week!"

"Break it down!" Bill protested. "We're not working Sundays."

"Oh, yeah, I forgot that," Rupe conceded, figuring again. "Anyway, that's still forty two acres a week and that's not real bad."

"It's the money though….." Bill got quite depressed about it at times.

Mother looked up. "I've been thinking about that. It's about time we trucked away some of the pigs. You could easily select a load of good baconers."

No-one had given the pigs a thought. The sties were to the north of the house, about three hundred yards away, and apart from feeding them boiled wheat, seeing them feeding in the horse paddock, or when the wind came in from the direction of the sties, you never really remembered them.

"By Jove!" Bill exclaimed. "I never give them a thought."

Rupe had, but not in that connection. It was when Charlie McDougall came over to perform a surgical operation on the young boards. The same operation he performed on the colts and the bull calves. Rupe had been watching Charlie perform the castrations, and it worried him.

"You know what Bob," he said thoughtfully when Charlie had gone. "If I was born an animal I'd like to be born a she one."

"What's up Rupe?" He seemed to be troubled.

"Well, the she ones only cop the branding iron, but hell!" He shuddered. "What they do to the boy ones!" He clenched his fists and shook his head as though trying to chase an image from his mind.

"Well you couldn't have the place running with bulls and boars and stallions….."

Rupe shrugged. "I s'pose not," he agreed reluctantly, unconvinced, "but I don't think it's fair….." and he wandered away puzzling to himself why man must interfere so drastically with nature.

Several days after she had suggested selling some pigs, Mother went down to the sties with Bill and Harry to choose the ones she thought were ready to send away. She had helped Father in the butcher's shop at Great Western, and Bill had decided she would still have a good idea of which animals were suitable.

Standing outside the sties where the pigs had been yarded, Mother pointed out her selections, and Bill and Harry would push in amongst them and mark the chosen baconer with a dash of red paint.

The next day Mother went in to Speed and ordered a railway truck to send them in, and early on the appointed day we yarded the pigs and brought down the wagon, the Rawling, which we had fitted up with wide netting sides, yoking only two horses to bring it down to be loaded.
Dropping the tailboard of the wagon Bill and Harry moved in amongst the pigs, picking out the marked ones to load. But they seemed to have sensed their fate, and where normally you could not kick them out of your way, now they had gone crazy, the whole mob galloping about the yard in terror, giving Bill and Harry a hard time before they had the wagon loaded.

But Bill's arithmetic on how many cubic feet a baconer needed in a wagon was quite out, because there were still marked pigs moving amongst the mob in the yard.

"Bob," he called. "You and Rupe get down off the fence and the get the May & Miller."

"Be a relief not t'see your smirking faces," Harry muttered darkly, climbing slowly up off the ground yet again.

"Yoke Bell and Gyp!" Bill called after us.

While we were away they yarded the rest of the marked pigs into a smaller area, and when we brought the wagon down, loaded them quite easily.

"I'll go up and make a cup of tea," Mother said.

Rupert and I went up with her, because, Rupe said, "I've got a funny feeling Harry's likely to throw me in the wagon with them." He was most aggrieved. "He did look funny, didn't he? With that old sow standing on his back trying to eat his next out?"

"Never mind," Mother comforted. "I'm sure Harry wouldn't really."

"Huh!" Rupe muttered to himself, quite certain in his own mind of his fate if he stayed.

After a cup of tea we yoked four more horses, two abreast, to each wagon, and, with six in hand, Bill led off for Speed, oblivious to the squealing, his mind already seeing that shiny new seven furrow mouldboard plough.

It was after dark, and Mother, Rupe and I had finished our tea when they arrived back, walking into the kitchen when they had fed the horses, and bringing with them the full aroma of pig.

"Your tea's ready," Mother said. "But you'll want to bathe first?"

"After tea." Bill sat down and stretched, unaware apparently, he had filled the kitchen with a tangible memory of those pigs. "I'm feeling pretty hungry."

Mother sighed and went to the oven for their meals. After all, selling the pigs had been her idea in the first place, so she would just have to put up with this result.

After tea Bill and Harry had their baths and changed into fresh clothes, coming back to sit at the fire. They were both really worn out, and Harry was beginning to doze, a look of concern crossing Mother's face when she noticed.
"You boys deserve a break. You can afford one now. Why not go into Speed tomorrow night to the meeting they're writing about in the paper? Our Federal Member of Parliament will be speaking on farming and production, and another gentleman on conscription.

"Might be interesting," Bill agreed. "Hell, I'm tired. Remind me in the morning. I'm off to bed."

The next day at lunch Mother brought the subject up again. "The three of you older boys could go in."

"Yes. Think I will," Bill said. "What time does it start?"

"Eight o'clock. We'll have an early tea and you can be away by half past five. That should give you plenty of time."

After the early tea the three of us left in the hooded single seater buggy, driving Chester and Snowy. It was a clear night, and we really spanked along, Snowy putting on a show. He was a time test trotter, and with neck arched, he would really pump his legs up and down, making the pace for Chester.

The crowd in Speed surprised us all. Buggies and jinkers everywhere, and men standing in groups under the verandahs, in shops, and even in the middle of the street.

Bill selected a spot in the mallee bushes away on the east side of the hill, and we unyoked the ponies and tied them one each side of the buggy to the wheels. Harry and Bill put the rugs on, and I opened butts of oats and chaff so they could feed. Then we walked down to join a group under Jack Thrower's verandah.

The talk was mostly of the season and how well it was shaping, and the new varieties of wheat some of the farmers had been trying. One particular variety was proving very successful, a short straw wheat producing many more grains than usual to each head, and generally superior to the long straw type.

While the men were talking my attention was drawn to the small groups which would suddenly break away from discussion and walk off down behind the hall.

"What's going on down there Harry?"

Harry winked and said quietly, "There's a bloke doing a bit of sly-grogging set up in the bush behind the hall."

"But that's not allowed."

"Ah well," Harry said, "with no hotel, and no policeman here in Speed, no-one's going to do anything about it, are they? Anyway, a few drinks are not going to do anyone any harm."

"No…..I suppose not….."

"Come on you's blokes!" someone shouted. "Meetings about to start."

At the doorway to the hall we were introduced to our Federal Member, and the gentleman, whoever he was, who was going to speak on the war.

The stage was set up with a table and chairs, a jug of water and glasses on the table, the Union Jack draped along the front, and little flags all around the walls.

The crowd came in slowly, a few words to the men at the door, then finding a seat, the hall beginning to fill in dribs and drabs, until the beer rant out and quite a crowd cam in all together, mostly younger men, finding standing room only at the back.

They mostly wore football guernseys, open at the neck and showing plenty of hair, and they smelt of stale perspiration, tobacco and beer. It was strange how, after a few drinks, their trousers seemed to hang differently, their eyes showing a dreamy, dreary look, shoulders hunched forward, hands either on their hips or in their pockets, swaying gently back and forth on their heels, a silly, faraway look on their faces.

I heard one of them say there was another load of beer on the way from lascelles, and might arrive by the end of the meeting.

A gavel tapped several times on the table, and talking died away. "Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Your attention."

The chairman of the meeting duly introduced the Honourable Member and the other distinguished gentleman, and made a sign to a younger man at the piano, who struck up with the opening bars of the National Anthem.

We all stood and sang 'God Save the King', and sat again. Our Honourable Member cleared his throat for our attention before telling us how delighted he was to be amongst us again, and how difficult it was to pay us a visit, which could not be more frequently organised owing to the time he had to put in at the Parliament and the awful demands the war was making on his time.

And then he really got into his stride. The war was making constant demands and asking the greatest of sacrifices, and we, the farmers, were doing a magnificent job, but would have to produce even more.

And he was afraid that as enlistment of young men had fallen off, the Government might have to consider bringing in conscription, but his friend beside him would speak on that subject.

At question time Mr Brown stood up and asked, "Would the Honourable Member please explain why the price of machinery is continuing to rise while the price of wheat remains the same?"

"I'm glad you asked me that question," our Member said, and went into great detail about the rise of wages in the steel industry to twelve shillings a day; how the miners at Broken Hill and the coal miners were getting increases; that to protect the local machinery manufacturers the Government had had to place a duty on imported farm machinery…..

My head just whirled with the figures he gave out. I just could not keep pace with him, and was quite relieved when he sat down, repeating his opening sentence as a clincher. "I'm glad you asked me that question."

Mr Brown stood up again, perplexed. "But you've not answered it. What you've said is just so much hog-wash."

"Order! Order!" the Chairman demanded.

"I am in order," Mr Brown said.

I liked Mr Brown. He looked so reliable and determined.

"You set the price of wheat in the wheat pool," he went on, " and we have to accept it and like it." But everyone else can fix their own prices for the goods we farmers need, and that's not right."

Even the whispering at the back of the hall had stopped.

Mr Brown thought a moment, then continued. "I admit the working man in the coal mines and the lead and zinc mines at Broken Hill are entitled to a fair wage, and share holders are entitled to a fair return on their investment. But some of these companies are making huge profits, and still you ask the farmers of Australia to tighten their belts and work harder!"

Mr Brown seemed to have shaken our local Member. He stood up slowly, seeming unsure, and finally said he would take the subject up with other Members when he returned to the Parliament, and give the matter every consideration and see what could be done.

Several other farmers stood up and asked questions and sat down again, and then the distinguished gentleman beside our Member stood up and produced graphs which he hung on a blackboard, and launched himself with great feeling into the landing at the Dardanelles. How the flower of Australian manhood had covered themselves in glory, and how he would emerge from this war as a nation in our own right, and not just a colony of England.

"And now," he continued, "on the battlefields of France our men are showing the Germans that Australians are men to be respected!"

And the atrocities the Germans had committed in the invasion of Belgium and France! They had even tied young girls, from the towns they had invaded, to the wheels of their guns and raped them!

And in this war the Generals of Britain and Frances were giving pride of place in spear-heads of attacks to Australians, and they required at least twenty thousand men a month from us to keep our Divisions up to fighting strength.

But if men did not come forward to enlist to fill these numbers…..Ah, then he was afraid conscription would have to be introduced. It was the only fair way.

He stopped, poured himself a glass of water and drank it down, and fixed us all with a determined look. "I know of families where the men have not enlisted, yet their fathers migrated to this country in the late eighteen hundreds and made their homes here, and reaped the wealth of this country!"

And then he sat down, looking very pleased with himself. Dead silence. Not a sound in the entire hall.

This man had touched on a very serious subject. There were hundreds of German families in the Wimmera and the Mallee who had done a magnificent job in the settling of this land. In fact, all over Australia the German settler had played his part.

Then from the silence emerged the first whispered comment, and neighbour turned to neighbour, and the hall began to fill with sound again.

Slowly, Mr Otto Schwartz stood up. He looked slowly around the hall, then turned to the stage.

"Mishter Shpeaker. Iam an olt man. My vife and I came from Shermany and settled in this country in the year eighteen hundred and forty. We love this country, but I can shtill remember my Shermany. Is that a crime? My two boys, Otto and Carl, died on the shores of the Dardanelles. My other son, Rinoldt, is fighting in France with the AIF. Fighting against his own cousins!"

He lifted a hand to his face, brushed his hand quickly across his eyes, jaw stiffening as he fought to control the emotion.

"Now I haff only two boys home to work the farm!" His voice trembled. "I not only shpeak for myself, I shpeak tonight for the thousands of Sherman families in this country!"

Tears were running down the weathered cheeks, but his voice was stronger, the tremble leaving it.

"Oh Gott! Vot you say I cannot belieff. That my sons' first cousins would do the awful thinks you say? No! I cannot belieff it of the Sherman soldier!"

He turned and cried out to the hall at large. "You people all know my family! You know hundreds of Sherman families! Have we not proved to you that we are goot peoples? Haff we not shared the making of this great land with you? We know not what this awful war is about. We only know our sons have gone to fight and die for Australia! But cannot you understand that our hearts also bleed for our people in Shermany? The land of my birth?

"I try to tell you, but with my little English I cannot say what I want to say!" And with sobs shaking the broad bent frame, he dropped down into his seat and buried his face in his hands.

Again the deadly silence.

And then one of the men from the back of the hall pushed his way up to the stage, and swaying back and forth on his heels, hands on hips, trying to focus his eyes on the speakers, he pointed at them, and after several false starts and a hiccup, said: "Yesh, yesh, I've got'ta queshtion I'd like to ask my queshtion ish….." He swayed gently forward. "Lishen spshort, lishen spshort….." He pointed at the last speaker. "You know sho much about the bloody war why aren't you over there instead of telling the other blokesh what they ought to do?"

One of the older men stepped from the body of the hall and tried to lead him away, but the drunk shook him off.

"Fair go, fair go, I"ve got'ta lotta queshtions to ashk thish gen'lemen, and he never, never anshere, anshwered m' old cobber Schwartzies queshtion….."

He hadn't. Had made no move to even attempt to. But was there anyone who could find an answer?

Again the older man tried to lead the drunk away, this time using force.

"Watch y'self!"

And that was all it took. The detonator, and sparks crackled down the length of the hall, flared into a fist fight at the back, and exploded into riot, all hell letting loose.

Men went down, benches crashed, chairs flew through the air.

"C'mon!" Bill yelled urgently, and grabbing me by the arm dragged me to the side door, Harry fighting alongside, the three of us struggling with the bolt as the weight of men jammed it.

"All together!" Bill roared, "pull!"

The bolt slid and the door burst open, catapaulting us out into the blackness, a great wave of brawling manhood rolling out after us and from the other doors, the night deafening with the screams and curses, and you ducked and dodged the wild punches as best you could.

And then the night split open and a great bolt of lightning struck down and a thunderclap shook the ground, tearing open the clouds and loosing the water in a great deluge.

Harry and Bill and I ran for the door and into the hall, deserted now, but throbbing with the crash of rain on the iron roof, and, as though nothing had happened, the caretaker came out with his broom and began to sweep.

But the rain drove the men back inside, in ones and twos, then a stream crowd, water running from their hair down their faces, dripping from their soaked clothes, some of the water red with blood.
And as suddenly as it had started the rain stopped, and in the suddent quiet the men spoke almost in whispers.

"Sorry mate, no harm meant."

And then the quiet broke again at a shout from the door. "Right'o chaps! The beer's arrived!" And for those who liked a drop it was the call to move again, and they streamed out into the night.

I looked up at the stage. Our distinguished speakers had taken their opportunity and slipped away, leaving their beloved electors to sort out their own affairs as best they could. Which they mostly did, it seemed to me, when commonsense prevailed.

Harry and Bill were talking to some of the other men, and then the ladies arrived. They had been at a Red Cross meeting down at the school, and seeing their husbands and sons with black eyes and cut lips rose up and very shortly showed who was boss. In very plain language told them what they thought of them, before leading them, chastened, away to their various vehicles.

"Come on," Bill said, and the three of us went out into the night, walking down through the bushes to the buggy and ponies, and yoked them up.

"Storm's gone," Harry said. "May as well put the hood down."

The air was clean and fresh, the sky deep velvet black, the bright points of the stars within reach of a high-stretched hand. The Southern Cross stood above us, the two pointers alive with bright sparkle.

"Well Bob, how'd you enjoy it?"

"Aw… was interesting. I was just looking at the Southern Cross Bill."

"You know," Harry said thoughtfully, leaning back in the seat and turning his head upwards. We're one of the only countries in the world God has given a cross to. It's a reminder he gave his only begotten Son to save mankind – and we crucified him. Still don't seem to have got the message, do we."

Bill looked up a moment, then turned his eyes down and moved the ponies off. "Pretty good fight."

"Yes," said Harry, "the silly buggers. Some of them can only think of booze and fight. I remember reading somewhere where an English General said if he had an army of well-fed Englishmen, half-starved Scotsmen, and half-drunk Irishmen, he'd conquer the world."

"Chuck a bit of German blood in with that," Bill said, "and you've got the dinky-di Australian."

It was so true of our land where most families had intermarried amongst the different nationalities in the New World.
"Y'know," Bill mused, "Mr Brown made a good point about the big companies. They've only just made this great profit and they go and put the price of steel up, and up goes the price of farm implements!"

"Well, there's not much you can do about it," Harry said. "I remember what an old Irish priest at Jeparit said. Big companies are a problem. You can neither save their souls nor kick their backsides."

Bill was impressed. "By jove yes. Get up Snowy. Get up Chester."

Running for home the ponies quickly put the miles under their hooves, waiting, impatient, as the gate was opened and closed, and finishing the short distance down to the stable in a dash.

Walking from the stable up to the house, Rowdy and Clyde jumping around us, Bill warned: "Not a word to Mother about the fight. It would only upset her."

We went quietly to bed, trying not to disturb Mother or Rupe, but I heard a quiet sight of contentment from her room. She had stayed awake to be sure of our safe return, and I whispered goodnight at her door.

In the morning Harry woke me with a shake. "Breakfast's ready." He always rose early and got things going.

"How did the meeting go?" Mother asked when we were all seated around the table. "Was it interesting?"

Harry and I looked to Bill. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

"Well, I suppose as meetings go you'd say it went pretty good, and I'm sure we all learned something." He leaned back in his chair, forehead creased in thought, and nodded. "Yes, you've got to get out and discuss things with your fellow man, and when you quietly talk it over, you generally appreciate the other fellow's point of view."

I could still see those faces distorted in rage.

Chapter 9 | Contents | Chapter 11