Arthur was never so glad as when the Nungil State School closed down. Well, it wasn’t so much that it closed down, but an old Maple Leaf war truck became available and was converted into a school bus, so the 10 or so kids from the Nungil State School could get the bus (such as it was) into Kulpi State School.
Arthur was the littlest one; in that capacity, before the days of the bus he always got the farty seat on the way to school.
What fascinated him most was the way the old mare’s bum winkled as she ambled along – in and out, in an out, in time with her pace and the effort of pulling the sulky along the dusty road.
He had a bonza view from his spot on the floor of the sulky, under everybody else’s feet. If you liked horse’s bums, that was.
You had to keep an eye on that bum, because out of the blue the winkling motion would give way to an explosion of soggy farts; fair in Arthur’s face.
The big kids, Pat and Peter and Lex, and Mr Creevy the schoolteacher (whom they picked up at the Brymaroo Pub on the way into school), all sat along the wooden bench seat above Arthur’s head.
Lucky jokers. It wasn’t great being in the farty seat. But if you were the littlest, there was nothing else for it. You had to fit in somewhere.
Pat drove; Pat was the biggest kid – she was 10 – and her father owned the mare – and the sulky for that matter. She wasn’t a bad driver either. But when it was time to catch the mare, and horses the other kids had ridden to school and left for the day in the horse paddock next to the Nungil State School GEEZE wasn’t that a nightmare! Kids and horses going hell west and crooked, darting in and out of the pepperina trees and everybody yelling at Arthur – even though (well perhaps because) he was the smallest one – to block ‘em as they whizzed towards him, kids and bridles and halters in hot pursuit.
No fear! What – did they think he was silly or something? He was out of there! Right behind the nearest pepperina tree.
But once you had her in the traces, and were on the way home, there was no stopping that mare. Pat’s dad Bill fed her on oats; that was the problem. She was always in beautiful condition, with a lovely dappled bay coat, and quite fat.
But the oats made her fart.
© Jane Grieve – www.janegrieve.com.au