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Experiment 1

Fair Weather

page 13

Fair Weather.

The truck came up the drive, the cans swaying and banging dully. The toy stood in the separator room watching his boss opening the paddock gate, then he walked quickly through the bails down the race towards the pig-sties.

The farmer looked up as the boy approached. Then soowling, "You shifted that drum out like I asked you to, didn't you ?" The boy hung his head, "I'm sorry," he said, "I forgot." "Forgot", jeered the man, and jerked the lid viciously from a can. The whey at the sudden suction slopped out into his boots. "You're a bastard aren't you?" his lips set, "Aren't you ?" The boy grabbed a bucket and started to mix some pollard with the whey; his hands trembled so that some of the white meal fell on the ground.

The farmer jumped off the tray of the truck and walked up to the boy. "Look at me" he snarled, jerking the bent head up. Tears were in the boy's eyes. "What the hell are you blubbing at ? I haven't touched you yet." The boy tried to turn his head, but the man jerked it back. "Don't we feed you well, work you decent hours, and pay you well ?" Ah! Don't we ? You're an ungrateful little bastard, aren't you ?" He shock the boy. "The missus tells me you were arguing with her at tea last night."

"I wasn't arguing", protested the boy tearfully. "What did yoy say ? You weren't arguing ? I'll be the best judge of that. What did you say to her ?"

The boy started to stammer, "She said I should have lived in her young days - the teachers then put the fear of God into useless things like me, and I said, if we fear we hate. And we are supposed to love God."

"You hate," the man spat. "You haven't got the guts to hate a mouse, have you ?" Then the boy, with an air of strange pride - "No I haven't," he said.

The farmer pushed him against the sty fence. "Get along and feed the pigs, jump to it, and remember that I don't want to hear any more of your bloody nonsense." He swung page 14up on the truck again. The boy filled the trough and turned. "I'11 leave," he said. "You can get someone else."

The man's shrewd eyes met those, tearful yet determined, of the boy. "I'll be well rid of you," he said, slipping into the cab of the truck. Then, slamming the door, "You young fellows from the city are all the same, you haven't the guts to stick anything. Well if you can't stick it,get out." He slipped the truck in gear and backed out of the paddock.

At dinner time the farmer sat and over each mouthful glanced surreptitiously at the boy. He knew that if the boy left he would be hard to replace; none of the local lads would work for him, they knew him too well. But he was not particularly worried. He had planted seed in the earth and that had taught him something; all you needed was the right earth and fair weather. Well, the boy had a spell of fair weather in the morning after the storm, and the seed planted in his head should grow; it had grown last year.

After finishing his meal the boy got up, and shoving home his chair looked at the farmer. The farmer looked up at him, "Had a good dinner son ?" He queried benevolently.

"Yes, thank you," the boy replied. He was thinking - the old man has his spells - he wasn't so bad, but he didn't want to be fed well, nor paid well, only show a little kindness He would show him that he could take it.

At the door the boy turned, "I'll stay," he said briefly then went out.

The farmer grinned to himself. It had worked again. He looked at his wife. "Younknow, isn't it peculiar. I shifted those awes again this morning, for the seventh time this month; they still broke away at the gate. Sheep never learn by experience."

His wife, abstracted, polishing the stove, smiled vaguely at him. "Perhaps they don't want to, Henry," she replied.