The Argus at KellyGang 2712/1878 (2)
The bank was closed at the usual business hour, 3 o’clock, and at a quarter to 4 o’clock the two clerks were engaged in balancing their books, while Mr Scott, the manager, was in his room close by. A knock was heard at the door, and on its being opened a bushman presented a cheque of Mr Macauley’s, saying he wanted it cashed. The clerks declined to cash a cheque after hours, upon which the man pushed his way in, saying, “I am Ned Kelly.” He was immediately followed by another of the gang, and both drew their revolvers and forced the clerks to go into the manager’s room, which was just behind the banking chamber. As soon as they got in Ned Kelly ordered Mr Scott to go and tell the females in the house what visitors they had. In addition to Mr Scott and the two clerks, there were also in the house Mrs Scott, her family of five children, Mrs Scott’s mother, and two female servants. Dan Kelly kept watch at the back door. As soon as they were all assembled in the passage, Ned Kelly demanded the money in the bank. As Mr Scott kept one key of the strong chest, and Mr Bradley, one of the clerks, the other, Mr Scott replied that it was not altogether in his charge. Kelly at once turned to Mr Bradley, and putting his revolver to his head, said he would hold him responsible for the money, and he had better get it at once. After some hesitation Mr Bradley handed him over the keys. Kelly then proceeded to search the strong chest, and appropriated about £1,500 in notes, and nearly £500 in gold and silver.
All the inmates were then driven away to Faithfull’s Creek station, and the whole affair was managed so cleverly and quietly that no one in the township knew that anything unusual was going on. On arrival at the station, the men were placed amongst the other prisoners, but the ladies were allowed to find accommodation for themselves in the house, whilst the other captives were allowed a breath of fresh air. Ned Kelly took the money out of his cart, and securely strapped it on the front of his saddle. About a quarter to 9 the ruffians prepared for a start, but before doing so Ned Kelly locked the captives all up again with the exception of Macauley, whom he ordered to detain the rest of the prisoners for three hours longer, at the same time impressing upon him the fact that the gang would be in the vicinity, and if he let any of the prisoners go before the hour fixed he would be held responsible for it.
Kelly and his mates then rode away in the direction of Violet Town. About half an hour afterwards Macauley allowed the prisoners to come out of the store to get some fresh air, but did not allow them to depart until the time fixed previous to their departure. Soon afterwards information was conveyed to the headquarters of the police, and by 4 o’clock in the morning a party of troopers with a black tracker had arrived. The tracker followed the trail of the gang for some distance, and found that the ruffians had doubled back towards the Strathbogie ranges. A few days afterwards 50 additional armed policeman were sent up to the district, and 50 of the Garrison Corps were sent in detachments to guard various townships where branch banks have been established. The gang have since kept themselves in strict concealment amongst the ranges, and the police have been unable as yet to discover their whereabouts.
It is now well known that they have many sympathisers, who furnish them with food and information as to the police arrangements, and it is considered by some that before they can be suppressed the Habeus Corpus Act will have to be suspended, so that their friends may be arrested and detained for a time. The leader of the gang has written a voluminous letter to a member of the Legislative Assembly, in which he relates his history, and alleges that his mother and other friends, who are at the present in gaol for assaulting a constable, have been wronged by the police. He asks for no mercy for himself, but demands that justice shall be done to his friends, and threatens to do diabolical acts if his request is not complied with. The letter is evidently written for the purpose of exciting public sympathy.
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