Beryl is less than delighted at the idea of taking in the boys, until she realizes that she can keep their social services payments. However, far from filling the role of their mother, she shows the boys no love and even attempts to keep Harley chained to the house to prevent him stealing and misbehaving.
Carl is miserable in Wattle Beach. His size and awkwardness make him feel self-conscious and unable to make friends at school. Even the townspeople of Wattle Beach regard the boys with suspicion, believing all the Matt clan to be useless no-hopers. All Carl wants is a family and the security of knowing that he is loved.
When, at sixteen, Carl stops receiving any social security benefits, Beryl forces him to leave school. He finds work with Skip and Joy Duncan who run a rusty run-down barge from Wattle Bay to the nearby island. When Carl first starts to work for them the business is losing money, largely because of competition from a rival barge company. Before long however, Carl, reveling in finally belonging to something, shows initiative