I looked down the railway platform to see Uncle Onslow weaving in and out
of the crowd. He hung on to his hat as he leapt over a pile of suitcases, apologizing at the same time to a woman who scuttled backwards in fright.
'Made it,' he gasped. Dad gave a big sigh behind me, but my uncle and I just grinned.
'I thought you'd forgotten,' I said.
'Forgotten? Would I miss saying goodbye to my favourite nephew and a future champion jockey of New Zealand?' The train whistle blew, making us all jump.
'Come on, Wee Jack,' said Dad. 'You'd better get a move on.'
I nodded, turning to my family. Mum swept me up in a hug. 'Are you sure this
is what you want, son? You don't have to go.'
'Of course it is,' said Dad. 'He's fourteen now, dear. Old enough to go out into the world.' Mum let me go and dabbed her eyes with a screwed-up hanky.
'He's only going to Hastings,' said Robert. My big brother punched me on the shoulder. 'Anyone would think you were going half way round the world.'
My little sister Annie pushed Robert away and wrapped her arms around my middle, smiling up at me. 'He's just jealous because you're leaving Ormondville and he has to stay on the farm. I heard him telling his cobbers.'
'Why you -' Robert grabbed at her scarf. She squealed and dashed off down the platform with him close behind.
Dad handed me my suitcase. 'Grandfather says to give you his regards. he couldn't be here. Farm business.'
I glanced at Uncle Onslow, who just shrugged. I hadn't really expected Grandfather to come anyway.
Dad stuck out his hand. 'Make us proud, Jack. Remember how we raised you, and work hard. This is your chance to make something of yourself.' He pulled me close for a quick hug, then stepped back as the train whistle blew again.
Uncle Onslow walked with me to the carriage steps. 'You're a natural, Jack. Just remember that. You'll be racing in no time.'
I lugged my suitcase up the steps and shuffled inside along the aisle to my seat. When I looked out my window, Robert and Annie had returned. All but Robert smiled and waved. He stood with a scowl on his face and his hands shoved deep in his pockets. I stared down at him. You should have stayed home with Grandfather, I thought. Just wait, big brother. I'll show you both. I'll be just what Uncle Onslow says. I'll earn my colours and win races by ten furlongs. You'll see.
I grabbed the seat in from of me as the train jerked. Mum clung to dad's arm as another whistle blast filled the station and the train began to move.