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Chapter 12 continues from yesterday:
They weren’t prepared for what they found. Parked in the field, alongside the still confined sheep, was a double decker lorry.
The top deck was already full of sheep. The farmer was there, with his dogs, talking to the lorry driver. It was clear to the boys what was about to happen. That’s why they were locked up there. They were waiting for transport. Waiting to be taken to their deaths. Luke and Joe stood frozen at the bus shelter. They dropped their bags of apples.
“The lorry must be late,” said Joe in a husky whisper.
“Coz they haven’t been fed for two days, they must’ve not known it was gonna be that long.”
“It’s not late!” snapped Luke angrily, “look how clean an’ shiny that lorry is! I bet they don’t wanna get their lorry dirty – they don’t want no poo and wee in their lorry so they don’t let ’em eat or drink before the journey. Their last journey!”
Joe felt a lump in his throat and his heart ached.
“That’s horrible!” he said desperately, “what can we do? We’ve got to do something!”
Luke’s eyes started to sting as he watched them send in the dogs to herd the hungry sheep onto the lorry. He picked up the biggest stone he could find and threw it as hard as he could at the lorry’s windscreen across the road. It missed.
“There’s nothin’ we can do!” he said, grabbing his bag of apples, “unless you’ve got a thousand pounds to pay the farmer for ’em, and a hundred allotments to keep ’em on!”
Still they hated themselves for doing nothing and walked away in silent misery.
Friday morning at breakfast, Luke’s dad observed how cold and wet it was.
“It’s big coat weather already,” he told his wife, “it’s amazing how quick the temperature drops once September arrives.”
“Sometimes,” Mum agreed, “it’ll probably be warm again tomorrow.” She looked at her boys. “Your big coats need a wash to freshen them up,” she remembered, “so you’ll have to wear an extra jumper under your summer jackets for now.”
“I’m not wearin’ that wool jumper!” said Luke firmly.
“Luke, it’s cold. If your Dad says it’s cold then you know it is. He’s usually hotter than the rest of us.”
“Than you,” Dad corrected her.
“Yeah,” Jared agreed, “you’re the one who’s always cold,” he laughed.
“Well then, there you go, so if Dad thinks it’s cold …”
“I’m not wearin’ that jumper! Take it back an’ get your money back! We’re not givin’ money to farmers!”
Everyone stopped eating. Dad was not impressed.
“Luke Eugene Walker, how dare you speak to your mother like that? Apologise right now!” He spoke in that slow, quiet, angry way that meant you’d gone too far. Luke realised he shouldn’t be taking it out on Mum.
“Sorry,” he said quietly, “but I don’t want you to pay money to sheep farmers. I hate farmers!”
Mum’s response was gentle.
“Luke, clearly something has upset you, but the fact remains, as I told you, that wool isn’t cruel. It doesn’t hurt them to be sheared.”
Luke tried to explain it to her in a way she would understand.
“It doesn’t make any difference,” he said, “they kill ’em anyway.”
“Not for wool they don’t. They kill animals for leather but not for wool.”
“They kill ’em anyway,” Luke said again, “they make money out of ’em for wool; then they kill ’em and make money out of ’em for meat. They kill ’em for money and they’re horrible, nasty, evil, criminal murderers and I don’t want you to give them any of our money!”
Nobody could argue with that.
“Okay,” said Mum, “I’ll take it back today.”
Joe gave Luke back the books and pens he’d left in his garden the day before.
“I forgot them last night,” he apologised.
“Me too,” said Luke, taking possession of three brand new, very soggy, text books, and two exercise books in which a lot of his work had dissolved.
“Put them on the radiator,” Joe suggested helpfully.
“Yeah,” said Luke.
The bell rang and they went their separate ways.
The story concludes on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can finish it here now 🙂
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