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a family friend who had come across the harbour from Balmain to help for the day. She could quickly walk around to report, rather than looking for a public phone.  

We waited in silence, not wishing to share our forebodings. And then we heard somebody running up the stairs.

Marina bounded into the office, grinning and waving a sheet of figures: "We won easily!" She shouted, "you should have seen the faces of the Liberals..." Then she saw my expression, and the cigarette in my hand... "What's the matter?" She said, the grin fading.

"There seems to be a swing against me", I replied, "and we have yet to hear from Balgowlah."

There was another long wait, until one by one the remainder of the booths reported in. I had beaten Meers in the other Manly booths. He was ahead in Balgowlah, but, amazingly, I had narrowed the margin in this "tiger country". The votes I had lost in my home area had been partially compensated for.

Bob sat hunched over the score sheet, meticulously adding up the votes and calculating the percentages. At last he straightened up. "You will just hold on", he sighed, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes, "Its time you were with your people at the party."

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