By Ron Bunney

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Perhaps after a night’s sleep she could try it in small bursts. Darkness had descended by the time they came upon the next waterhole. Martin called a halt while they were still some distance away. It was already surrounded by a large number of men. Fires blazed and cooking odours overrode the bush and animal odours. Martin could imagine the furore if they walked into such a gathering in broad daylight — up close, the girls’ disguises wouldn’t fool a man in a blindfold. 84 After surprisingly little discussion, Beth accepted his suggestion that she and Christine stay hidden in the scrub.

He waved a hand at the scrub. ‘See any policemen here? ’ Martin slowly moved his hand a little further along Picky’s rump. ‘All right,’ he nodded at the pistol. ’ He shut his ears to Beth’s sharp intake of air and Christine’s barely audible whimper. Suddenly he stabbed his fingers into the scar on the horse’s rump. Picky lashed out with both hooves. One hit Gerald on his forearm while the other thudded into his chest. The revolver flew into the air as Gerald staggered back and hit the wheel of the cart.

Never mind spluttering. You’re supposed to be the know-all man. ’ ‘And why’s that do you suppose? ’ ‘No! Guns are dangerous. ’ ‘No. It’s not that. Men use guns. ’ ‘Who decided that? Sounds to me like another one of your man-invented rules. ’ ‘Well, I thought I helped a little …’ Beth hesitated for a moment. When she spoke again it was perhaps a little less vehemently. ‘But you can’t be everywhere at once. ’ Martin gave in. When he thought about it, he couldn’t actually see why a strong woman wouldn’t be able to handle a rifle.

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