The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 10 page 8
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
An Easy Imprisonment
"Ned Kelly and Byrne then went from the railway crossing to Mrs Jones's hotel, preceded by the majority of their male prisoners, and I was with them. When we reached Mrs Jones's there were, including those who had just been taken over, about fifty persons in and about the hotel, all of whom appeared to be prisoners of the gang. We were allowed to go about in the hotel, except into one room, which the outlaws used, and of which they kept the key, and we were allowed outside, but were forbidden to leave the premises. Dan Kelly, a short time after I entered the hotel, asked me to have a drink, and I drank with him at the bar. I said to him that I had been told they had been at Beechworth during the previous night, and had shot several police. I asked him whether it was true. He replied that they had been near Beechworth last night, and had done 'some shooting,' and that they had burned the 'devils out,' alluding to police. Byrne came in the bar, and, looking at Dan Kelly's glass, said, 'Be careful, old man.' Dan Kelly replied, 'All right,' and poured water into his brandy. While talking with Byrne and Dan Kelly, I expressed surprise at Glenrowan being stuck up by them, and they said that they had come to Glenrowan in order to wreck a special train of inspectors, police, and black trackers, which would pass through Glenrowan for Beechworth, to take up their trail from there. They said that they had ridden hard across country, often being up to the saddle-girths in water, to get to Glenrowan, and that they had had the line torn up at a dangerous part, and were going to send the train and its occupants to h—1.
"About one o'clock I was standing in the yard of Jones's hotel, thinking of the intentions of the gang, and I keenly felt that it was my duty to do anything that I could to prevent the outrage, which the outlaws had planned, from being accomplished, and I determined that I would try to do so. While standing in the yard, Dan Kelly came out of the hotel and asked me to go inside and have a dance. I said that I could not dance in the boots which I had on. Ned Kelly then came out of the hotel, and hearing me object to dance because of my boots, said, 'Come on; never mind your boots.' I said to him that it was awkward to me to dance in those boots, as I was lame, but that I would dance with pleasure if he would go to the school with me to get a pair of dancing boots. It flashed across my mind that, in passing the Glenrowan police barracks to reach my house, Bracken, the trooper stationed there, might see us, and would be able to give an alarm. I knew that Bracken had been stationed at Greta, and felt sure that he would recognize Ned Kelly. He (Ned Kelly) said that he would go, and we were getting ready, when Dan Kelly interfered, and said that Ned had better stay behind, and let him or Byrne go with me. Some one else also urged Ned Kelly not to go away, and said that my house was near the police barracks. Ned Kelly turned to me, and asked if it was. I said, 'Yes, we shall have to pass the barracks. I had forgotten that.' He then said that he would not go, and I went into the hotel, and danced with Dan Kelly.
"After we had finished dancing, Ned Kelly said that he would go down to the police barracks and bring Bracken, and Reynolds, the postmaster, up to Jones's. I laughed and said to him that I would rather he did it than I, and asked to be allowed to accompany him when he went, and to take home my wife, sister, and child. He gave me no reply. The intention to do something to baffle the murderous designs of the gang grew on me, and I resolved to do my utmost to gain the confidence of the outlaws, and to make them believe me to be a sympathizer with them. I saw clearly that unless I succeeded in doing this, I should not be able to get their permission to go home with my wife, child, and sister, and consequently should not be able to do anything to prevent the destruction of the special train and its occupants, by giving information to the police in Benalla, which I purposed doing if I could induce the outlaws to allow me and mine to go home. The outlaws kept a very sharp watch on their prisoners without seeming to do so.
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