Cookson, 16 09 1911 3
16 September 1911
CAPTURED BY THE BUSHRANGERS
AN EPISODE OF THE KELLY TIMES continued On arriving at Mansfield I found a wagonette waiting for me. In this I deposited my luggage, and while the driver was waiting for station mail I had time to look about me. The main street presented the appearance of a small garrison town. Artillerymen were marching about in two's and threes, troopers in top boots and breeches, with revolvers on hip, others mounted. I had not heard the name of Kelly mentioned since I left Melbourne, but I could observe the fact that the powers (both civil and military) were well represented here, and it did not require a very keen perception to guess that the bushrangers were not very far away. On arrival at Mount Battery I presented myself to the manager, who was a true type of the Australian squatter - hospitable to a degree, brusque and unceremonious in his manner, true as steel, and a gentleman.
I entered upon my duties with a will, and soon adapted myself to the many strange and varied surroundings of my new occupation. I was not long at the station before I realised the importance of the advice given me by my old friend at Melbourne. I found strong sympathy with the bushrangers. The police authorities resorted to every stratagem the brain could invent in order to obtain information of the bushrangers. A swagman (tramp) would walk up to the homestead and ask for a job, and I would refer him to the manager, but ultimately that gentleman told me that I must deal with all tramps myself, adding, "You must refuse them all point blank. It won't suit my book to have policemen working on this station."
I replied that I could not see the relation between a policeman and a tramp. "Well," said the manger, "I'll tell you. Every other man that applies for work is a policeman in disguise. However strong my desire to see the district cleared of the outlaws is , if it was known that I employed a policeman I should be boycotted, not only by my own station hands, but by all the cockatoos in the district. "Why," he continued, "If it had not been for the mess you got into with 'Wild Wright' I should have been compelled to let you go, but when you were fined that saved your bacon. A good many people took you for a 'trap.'"
It must not be though that I was a bruiser, but like Britishers I could resent an injury or an insult. It happened on one occasion that my horse was tied to a post at the front of the Mansfield Post-office, when I saw "Wild Wright," who was the worse for liquor, strike the animal on the head. The consequence was that I pitched into him, and we had a "rough and tumble." A limb of the law, having seen the affair, summoned us, and we were both fined for a breach of the peace. As Wright put it, "the police could not catch the Kelly gang, so they caught us," and, as the station manager said to me, that saved my bacon by removing the suspicion that I was connected with the police force.
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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index