Crusoe Boys by Vincent Serventy

By Vincent Serventy

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Somers was interested in the thick rim of salt along the edge. ‘It will be easy to carry the bags to the beach,’ he explained. ‘All you’ll have to do is bag the salt clear of the edge. We can knock up a wheelbarrow to carry the bags. This salt will make us plenty of money among the sealers and settlers. ’ The boys didn’t look so happy. Bagging salt in the hot sun didn’t seem much fun. ‘Come on,’ said their father, ‘let’s head for Home Beach. ’ It was nice to be back home and have a quick lunch.

Or at least he hoped so. The bustle woke Sam. ’ 62 ‘I’m Matthew and that’s Tom on the bed. That’s Spot. ’ ‘Ah! You’ll be Somers’ boys. We heard you were to make your home on the island. And good English names you’ve both got. So you’re going to look after me. I’ll soon be off your hands. Old Sam won’t be kept in bed for long, just from a couple of bites from a badtempered klapmatch. ’ ‘Klapmatch? ’ asked Matt. ‘A female, boy. A female seal. It was a klapmatch that bit me. ’ asked Matt with some surprise.

A few hours later clouds piled up on the western horizon and that night it rained hard. The same thing happened a week later and Matt realised he had made a kind of barometer. When his salty leaves became damp it meant rain; when dry, fine weather. This helped them to decide when to start burning the branches on the salt piles since it gave them a few hours’ warning of rain. The boys waged constant war against the goannas which raided the fowl yard. They found the smallest hole and pushed their long, slim bodies through.

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