Cookson, 27 08 1911 2
27 August 1911
THE KELLYGANG FROM WITHIN
THE OUTLAW'S MOTHER
THE CLOSING YEARS OF A STRENUOUS LIFE
OLD MRS KELLY DRESS A WEIRD OF WOE
Towards the middle of a long, wet spell, right in the middle of winter, two men fared slowly and damply in a small two-wheeled vehicle along a partly submerged road in the vicinity of Glenrowan - scene of the historic and tragic smashing of the most bold and most widely feared gang of bushrangers that have ever shed, the lurid light of violent crime upon the history this Commonwealth.
Rain had been falling incessantly for weeks. The entire countryside was under water. In the towns the streets and many of the houses were flooded. In the bush, all was thick, chilling wetness. The lofty crests of the towering ranges were shrouded in thick mists - had been so for long. In the foothills the pelting rain whistled mournful dirges amongst the thick and sad colored foliage.
It was colder in the open country, and the deluge seemed even more pitiless than amongst the timber. For here the atmosphere was indeed "a nipping and an eager air." And the keen wind found out the weak places in the drenched clothing of the travellers and took all advantage thereof. It was in no sort an agreeable exertion - rather one of the most dismal that could be imaginal this side of the Styx. But the wayfarers, plodding slowly and grievously discouraged through the deluge, had started on their long drive with a fixed objective whose present attainment certain exigencies of time and business made imperative. So they drove steadily on, through muddy lagoons, through artificial cataracts where the road descended from some cutting in a rise, splashing along over wide areas of water that would have been much easier of negotiation in a boat. And at the end of a long and wet and wearisome journey they found the hut of the farmer they were after, only to discover that he was not at home.
No; his good helpmeet could not say when he would be at home. He had gone away a morning or two before, in the unostentatious, purely casual manner in which the brotherhood of the bush are accustomed to fare forth upon their expeditions. And that was all that the lady knew. She expressed a personal opinion, as she chased out a small black porker that had joined the family circle at the fireplace end of the hut, that her husband would be found ploughing at another farmer's place, miles away. But she was not sure. Noting is ever sure in the bush - nothing, that is, concerning the movements of its human denizens. It was, of course all very annoying - such a long, wet, dismal pilgrimage for no purpose. But the lady was by no means sorry for the diversion provided by the visit. She had few amusements, and in the lonely places of this vast continent - places where the next neighbour is perhaps a Sabbath day's journey away - any diversion is welcome; which possibly accounts for the toleration by the white people of the bush of that rascally and dangerous nuisance, and alien hawker.
It was warm in the hut, for the fireplace occupied the whole of one end of it and the fire was in proportion. Squatting before it on the hard clay floor were several sturdy youngsters and various domestic animals and birds. The furniture was scant and crude. But the hostess made tea and showed with pride her collection of faded photos, and other treasures carefully preserved to brighten some what the general dullness of the bush life to which she had sacrificed herself. And she was outspokenly sorry when the strangers left. They also were sorry to leave, for it was warm and dry in the big hut, and it was cheerful work and before the travellers say many wet and chilly miles yet to be traversed.
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