Cookson, 02 09 1911 4
2 September 1911
"DEAR MOTHER, I'M SHOT" continued "I was wandering. . . . . . My boy died. Died miserably and without help. And my brave little girl, who was wounded herself, never got over it. . . . She died not long after. . . . And it was her brothers's awful death that killed her! He was such a clever, quiet boy! . . . Oh dear!
"she was a brave girl. . . . Through all that dreadful night she never lost her head. Sick with her wound, bleeding and sore, she showed courage that should have shamed both the Kellys and the police. . . .That is her picture-that one on the wall near the dark frame. . . . That is her. Dear, brave little woman.
"She wanted to defy the Kellys and the police wanted us all to run out of the house to some place of safety. When they carried the dying boy away she followed. She said she didn't care if she was killed-if her dear brother was to die she wanted to die with him.
"Ned Kelly was most cruel to all of us all day. He said that if he could see his way to burn down the house and those who set the police on to him he'd do it.
"I have four children living. My son Owen is in West Australia, Terry is a policeman in the West, Headington is a farmer over there, and Tom is a schoolmaster somewhere in New South Wales.
"It was that Inspector Sadleir who made them burn my place down. They hadn't the courage to rush it and capture the Kellys.
"My character has always been good. Of course, keeping a small country inn is a rough life, but we come of a good family, and have always kept ourselves decently. My father-his name was Kennedy-was highly commended to Governor Bourke when he came out here by several big people in Ireland. My father was the first white man on the Buckland. I have lived a good life, and brought up a big family. . . . And they shot my dear, innocent, brave children-oh! the cowards! And we got no compensation! Nothing at all!"
Exhausted with the strain of her narrative, the old woman lay back upon the pillow weeping bitterly. In a broken voice she bade her visitor farewell. "I shall not be long here," she moaned; "soon I shall see my dear murdered children again! Goodbye! God bless you for letting me shake the hand of an Englishman in this accursed place.
And the big nightcap turned over to the wall, whilst the body of the wearer, convulsed with sobs, writhed under the patchwork coverlet.
It was bright sunshine out of doors-a pleasant relief from the gloom of the musty bedchamber. Scarcely a stone's throw away was the site of the old inn where the unfortunate woman had seen her boy slain, and where her own life had been wrecked. Strange that she could bear to live so near the scene of that great tragedy in which she had played so prominent a part. But she is not alone in the exemplification of this weird, inexplicable fascination for the place where the light had gone out of her life. Only a few miles away that other old woman is draining out the bitter dregs of a ruined life, in sight of the place in which she had known the only happiness of her life, and close by to where her sons met their shocking , if well-deserved, fate.
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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index