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When I was a little girl of maybe 6 years, my two older brothers and their friend Norman had a gang called " The Silent 3 ". They had a clubhouse in the old coal smithy down the back of the property not far from the chook yard. It was an old corrugated iron shed that had been lying unused for years and was the perfect place for The Silent 3 to claim as their gang headquarters. Inside was a dirt floor and it housed the bones of many possums and other creatures who had gone in there to die. 

In this smithy, a plan was hatched that could have seen my Teddy Bear die from grief. Let me tell you how it happened.

The bones and skulls had been gathered up and displayed on the walls of the smithy and the atmosphere was dark, mysterious and somehow exciting to a little 6 year old tomboy who yearned to be a grown up and reach the grand old age of 8 or 10. On the few occasions I had managed to gain entry to the smithy, I marvelled at the round table they had and the apple crates strategically positioned as seats for the fortunate members of this powerful gang that plotted war against the neighbouring gangs of kids.

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One day, I plucked up the courage to ask to join their privileged ranks.  The leader of the gang, my oldest brother, told me that they would hold a meeting and decide what to do. I waited and was finally given their answer. If I could pass a series of initiation tests, I might be considered. 

My first challenge was to go into the neighbouring farmer's paddock and touch the electric fence for 5 seconds without flinching. In itself, an easy enough thing to do if I wore my gumboots ( I hoped) because, as every country kid knew, rubber boots could be a big help in such situations.

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gumboots do not necessarily protect you from electrocution. Do not try this at home. It could be a load of rubbish.

I agreed. 

The only problem was that, on the other side of the electric fence, was the farmer's bull. He was a huge creature, known for his rage and extremely bad temper. It was rumoured that, when stirred, his eyes would turn red and steam would come out of his ears. His nostrils would flare which was a sure sign that flames would soon spew forth from his nose and he would charge at any unsuspecting kid and trample them to death and then devour the lifeless body in one gulp.

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I was a plucky kid and I felt that if I was armed with my gumboots and teddy bear as my trusty sidekick, I could thwart the bull's evil intentions and triumphantly saunter back down the paddock to a hero's welcome at the Smithy and an apple crate to sit on as reward for my brave and plucky act.

The morning of the initiation arrived and I set off up the hill and headed towards the electric fence. The bull was grazing in solitude about 50 feet from my destination. Teddy assured me that it would be Ok and, together , we would pass the test with flying colours.

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not a photo of Shaydee aged 6. But you get the drift.

I walked the 6 zillion miles, heart pounding and clutching Teddy as though our lives depended on it. After all, as he whispered to me,  they probably did. By the time I reached the dreaded electric fence, I transferred Teddy to my right hand and extended my left to achieve my goal. Each second burned like minutes. Victory was within my grasp.

Except the bull had seen me approaching. His head had been raised and his eyes drilled straight down into my very soul. His nostrils flared and he snorted. I knew that his charge was imminent. I could almost feel the heat of the flames and the wrath would be upon me in less than a heartbeat. 

I got a mental picture of Teddy lying alone in my bed with its clean white sheets and him sobbing into the pillow that his beloved friend had been trampled to death and eaten by a rabid bull and I, his trusted companion, had failed in my duty to keep him safe at night when everyone knew the monsters came out.

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not Teddy. He was smaller and rather better looking. Photo also not of young Shaydee

It was at that moment I KNEW that I had to sacrifice my task in order to save Teddy. 

I turned tail and ran, back down the paddock and over the stile to the safety of home ground. 

My brothers and Norman stood there laughing and clapping their sides. I looked at them with defiance in my eyes and declared

" I wasn't scared. Teddy was! " 

My brother looked at me and announced sagely " it's OK. We'll think of something else for you to do next time. "

And they did. 

I never did get to join the Silent 3. But Teddy is still very much alive.

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