By Vincent Serventy
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No! thought Matt, but then he realised they had no choice, the intruder could break down the door. Tom jumped out of bed and shifted the wooden bar. A dozen men poured in. The bearded faces looked grim. The boys had no trouble recognising them as sealers. They had a fearsome reputation in Albany. Then two more came in, carrying another man on a rough stretcher. They lowered him on to their father’s bed. ‘Poor bastard,’ said one of the sealers. ‘Bitten by a seal. Got him in both knees. Stupid old Sam not watching out for the klapmatch when he was killing her pup.
They became heartily 53 sick of this and only their fear of their father’s anger kept them hard at work. Trapping tammars was a chore, but they had become used to trapping possums back in Albany so it was like the old days. Looking after the hens and the vegetable garden was also like it was back home. They had become tired of carrying water from the well Somers had dug near the creek. They dug another well near the hut which also gave plenty of water and got rid of one boring job. Matt collected everything.
He saw it smile, and smiled back. Then Matt returned with a fish. ‘My turn. Give me the fish,’ ordered Tom. He held it out to the nearest dolphin and again the gift was accepted. ‘Get half-a-dozen fish this time,’ ordered Tom. Soon a new game began. The boys would splash, the 57 dolphins would come in and take a fish. A few minutes later they would do it all over again. They repeated this until all the fish had gone. Swimming to the nearest animal Tom gently gripped the slippery back fin and Matt followed with the other dolphin.