Bill Marlock had been shearing all the morning, with long slashing cuts before which the fleece fell, fold upon fold. He was the "ringer" of the shed, and his reputation was at stake, for Norman Campbell was running him close. To-day was Saturday, and it was known from the tally that Bill was only one sheep ahead, and that Norman was making every effort to finish the week "one better" than the record shearer of Yantala woolshed. The two men were working side by side, and eyeing each other from time to time with furtive glances. Norman suddenly straightened himself, and, quick as a frightened snake, thrust his long body across the "board," with the sheep he had shorn in his sinewy hands, and shot it into the tally pen among the white, shivering sheep. Then he dashed into the catching pen, and seized the smaller of two sheep that remained. At almost the same moment Bill had his hands upon the same sheep, but took them off when he saw the other man was before him, and was obliged to content himself, much to his chagrin, with the "cobbler," a grizzled, wiry-haired old patriarch that every one had shunned.
When Bill carried out this sheep there was a loud roar from all the shearers who caught from that pen, followed by derisive laughter.
"Who shaved the cobbler?" was shouted from one end of the shed to the other.
When almost every man had slashed and stabbed Bill with these cutting words, a whisper ran round the "board" that Norman had beaten Bill in his tally, and that the beaten man was groaning over his defeat and climbing down from the position of the fastest shearer in the shed.