Cookson, 24 09 1911 4
24 September 1911
ALLEGED RETURN TO AUSTRALIA
"The other day, in George street, Sydney, I met the insistent party, the connection of the Kellys, who introduced that strange deputation in the bedroom at Pretoria, eight years ago. We got in conversation, and I asked him what became of his outlaws.
"'You never believed me, or them,' he said, reproachfully, and with that quiet earnest ness characteristic of the Australian bushman.
"'Well, I was interested; that was something. But surely you did not expect me to swallow the yarn?'
"'No yarn at all. The gospel truth. I tell you,' he insisted hurt.
"'Well, a romantic and circumstantial narrative, calculated to excite the curiosity of creation.'
"'You needn't laugh. It's been no laughing matter. They've been free and all that; but not as free as you or I. They've had to be careful.
"'Well, what became of them? I saw them last in Capetown."
"'I know. They told me. They shipped next day in a meat boat back to Argentine, on the sheep and cattle runs, as we call them. A couple of years ago they came back to Australia.'
"'Never. That's too daring.'
"'Yes, they're daring all right. I'm always anxious about them.
I wonder if the police would interfere.'
"'I don't know. They are officially dead, anyway; and the rewards were paid. I don't think their affidavits would convince the Crown they are the capitally offending customers.'
"'That's what I hear."
"'Tell me about them.'
"'Well,' he drawled slightly, 'they've been all over Australia, in the cities, but mostly in the bush, at odd jobs. They went all over the Kelly country. They called at the hut of that old shepherd, near Glenrowan, but only a few posts and slabs were standing. They wanted to thank the old man, but found he died years ago. Nobody recognised them in their get-up and changed appearance. They visited Aaron Sherritt's house, and climbed over the Strathbogie Ranges, where the police were shot. Yes, they've been over their old tracks. Strange, isn't it?"
"'Rather. Where are they now?"
"'They're in Australia. That's as far as I ll say - for reasons. But, as they took to you and trust you, maybe, someday, you'll meet them again. But it wouldn't do for me to say any more. You know.'"
There are more than two weak points in this story. It bristles with them. But the yarn is hard and hopelessly up against the fact, as testified to by everyone who was in the hotel - and survived - that there were no such two men shot as this imaginative gentleman states. Byrne was shot - and identified. Hart and Dan Kelly were shot 0 and identified by Father Tierney, Constable Armstrong, and others. Sherry was shot - and subsequently removed, only to die. Mrs Jones's two children were shot - one fatally. But this was the extent of the killing. There were no others. And in order to have the two outlaws alive again two other corpses had to be found. And there were not any more corpses. Every person in that inn on that fateful night has been accounted for. The whole story of the escape is stupid and useless besides being preposterous.
Dan Kelly and Steve Hart are dead - and no one can have reasonable ground for doubt on the fact. In the name of justice let them rest.
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the previous day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index Cookson_index.html