Barney and the Secret of the French Spies

tighter around my neck, but I forced my fingers between it and my flesh. ‘Help,’ I whispered. I had no breath for more. No one answered. No one would answer. Harry-One-Eye and Stinky, my two convict shepherds, were miles away, keeping an eye on my main mob of sheep. Bill, my convict foreman, had taken the rest of the convict crew to the new block I’d been granted, clearing the trees along the creek flats so we could plough them. But I wouldn’t be doing any ploughing if I was dead. Strangled by a sheep. ‘Baaa,’ said the ram, pulling harder on the rope, trying to get away. I yanked at the strand around my neck, but it didn’t budge. And it was my own fault. I’d tethered the new ram instead of making a pen for him, then, when I’d bent down to move his tether so he could munch on a new lot of grass, he’d run a circle round and round me — and put a loop of rope around my neck, which was now getting tighter and tighter the more he tried to run away. Me, Barney Bean, strangled by a sheep! Of all the stupid ways to die … I’d faced the London slums as a boy and survived,


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