Cookson, 08 09 1911 2
8 September 1911
SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE METHODS Power's methods were extremely simple. He always worked alone-when Ned Kelly was with him his only part in the robberies was to look after the horses. Waiting till a coach came along Power would corner the driver with a double-barrelled gun and offer him the sudden alternative of surrender or having the top of his head blown off. Always the driver put his hands up and kept them there, whilst Power turned out the passengers and made them empty their pockets on to the ground. This done, he would compel them to sit down somewhere in sight for perhaps a couple of hours or more, while he took toll of everybody else who came along the road. It was no unusual thing for this bold bandit to commit a score of daring robberies in a day.
But notwithstanding his threats, he never hurt anyone in the course of his exciting career of a year and a half. He would probably have had much longer liberty but for the treachery of a friend whom he trusted. This friend was employed by the police to ramson from Power, for the sum of £15 a valuable gold watch that the bushranger had relieved a neighbouring squatter of. He ascertained the locality of Power's hiding place in the mountains from a family whose house was on the available road to it. Then, in consideration of being granted the whole of the reward of £500 that was offered for the apprehension of the knight of the road, he undertook to lead Superintendent Hare and a party of police to the place. They had to use the greatest caution in passing the house, because there was a novel kind of sentry on duty there most of the time in the shape of a peacock, that screamed shrilly on the approach of any stranger. But they did get past it, and, after getting lost in the mountains several times, saw the smoke of Power's fire. Creeping up to the place they caught the robber asleep in a rude shelter, with his feet projecting. He was rudely hauled out and handcuffed.
But the bushranger behaved very kindly to his captors. They were starving, and he showed them where to find his food supplies, whereby they all had a hearty meal. Then he was taken to Wangaratta, 50 miles away, and lodged in Gaol. He got 15 years penal servitude, was liberated when he had served 14, and was appointed to a position of trust on a station owned by the late Sir William Clarke.
One of this picturesque rascal's most notable exploits was performed near Bright. Having looted a store or two and bailed up a few vehicles, he was riding away in different clothes and on a different horse, when he encountered a party of three young men armed to the teeth, who were looking for him. He volunteered to confront them with Power and riding into the bush with them suddenly did so. Having disarmed the party he made them strip to the skin, burnt their clothes, and told them that they were at liberty to go home.
A HUMAN BRIGAND
Power had a rooted dislike for hurting anyone. But he nearly had to shoot a Scotchman once. He had levelled a toll upon all the traffic on a public highway one morning, and had no trouble, with the persuasion of his double barrelled gun, in inducing the drivers to transfer to him anything valuable that they had about them. But the Scot refused point blank. He said he only had £9 and it had cost him much hard work to earn the money. Part with it he would not. Then ensued one of the strangest arguments ever heard. Power tried all the persuasion that he could think of. But the Scot stuck to his coin. The-this is bushrangers own account of the affairs he told the victim that his living dependent on that money being handed over because if people once got the idea that he was not game to enforce his threats on accusations of resistance his job would be gone. Then he gave the Scot five minutes to consider the desperate alternative of parting with his money or his life. "While he was thinking it over," said the bushranger in relating the incident afterwards. "I got behind a tree and prayed hard to Almighty God that the man would give the money and that I should not have to shot him. And at the end of five minutes he did."
Ned Kelly had left Power some months before the latter was captured. But it must be apparent that his association with such an extraordinary man could not but have vastly influenced his after life. Indeed, he has admitted that it did. Power was a very real hero in the eyes of the people. And young Kelly certainly regarded his example as one to emulate. There was one thing about the bushranger, however, that his youthful confederate did not approve. Power was possessed of an ungovernable temper and young Kelly, having been threatened on several occasions with direful, even mortal consequences if he did the thing that the older man had forbade, ultimately broke off the strange partnership and escaped. Not unnaturally, was believed by some people that Ned Kelly, being in fear that Power would shoot him for deserting, helped the police to find the bushranger. But that is not so. The younger man had, however, developed into promising Material for mischief during his life with Power. And it only needed provocation to start him out on a career of crime and violence. Unfortunately, that provocation can came all too soon in the shape of the foolish conduct of Constable Fitzpatrick in attempting to arrest Dan Kelly at the home of the family.
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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index