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A Bunch of Battlers

They had been here now for some weeks and their life had fallen
into a pattern. Pete turned up at the hide-out each Saturday
morning and left early Monday. He was enjoying his job – for him
it could not have been better.
Robyn and Billy went once a fortnight into Bourke, to collect mail,
post schoolwork to Mr White, to shop, and use the library. They
camped out for one night each way. The rest of the time they
spent either in the snug little cave, which they had weather-
proofed with a tent fly and extra rocks along the open side, or
playing by the billabong from where they carted water each day.
On their first trip to Bourke they stopped at a little shop on the
outskirts. Robyn had promised Billy a bag of mixed lollies at the
very first shop as a bribe to get him to let her cut his hair. The
storekeeper was standing outside as they arrived. He looked at
theteddyonBilly’shandlebarsandsaidwithaseriousfacebuta
twinkle in his eye.
“Thatfellagiveyoumuchtroublemate?”
“WellhedoeslikemetoscratchhisheadsometimesandIcan’t
alwaysrideonehandedthenhegetsabitcross”RepliedBilly
justasseriously“Doyouhaveanymixedlolliesinthisshop?”
“ComeoninI’llmixsome upforyou”smiledtheman
In the late afternoon of that day, Robyn sat in the sand near a
small muddy hole in a channel of the river. She was reading
through her new sets of school work. Billy played near the edges,
poking his fingers into the mud. He looked up. Robyn was
engrossed in her reading. He took off his boots and socks and
squelched the mud through his toes. Oops, he lost his balance
and was sliding on his back. This was fun! Billy was enjoying
himself!
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