The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 12 page 2

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)

Barricading the Windows

However, when within a mile and a quarter of Glenrowan, just opposite Playford's and De Soir's paddocks, the special came to a sudden halt. Danger signals from the pilot engine were the cause, and in a very few seconds the pilot came back with an intimation that a man, in a state of great excitement, had stopped the engine, and had stated that Glenrowan was stuck up by the Kellys, who had torn up the lines just beyond the station in order to destroy the party which they knew would pass along the line in the special. The news and the stated intentions of the gang had not a cheering effect, but the police displayed an eagerness for action. The members of the press barricaded their windows with the cushions upon which they had previously sat, and in response to the request which some of the number made, the lights in the train were extinguished. It was then ten minutes to three o'clock, and Superintendent Hare was not long in determining what to do. The man who gave the information disappeared in the forest as soon as he had imparted his news, and his story was accepted with caution; but it was soon made apparent that he had saved the lives of those in the train, which to a certainty would, along with the pilot engine, have been hurled into a deep gully just below the Glenrowan Station, and behind a curve in the line which would have prevented the conductors from seeing the pilot go over the embankment where the rails had been torn up. Mr Hare, with one or two of the police, proceeded in the pilot engine to the railway station, closely followed by the special. On arriving at the station the horses were quickly got out of the trucks by the men, whilst Mr Hare, with one or two men and Mr Rawlings, proceeded towards the Glenrowan Hotel to seek information. Mr Rawlings, when he left Benalla, jocularly made a boast that they would bring back the remains of the outlaws. He little thought at that time that his prediction would prove to be absolutely correct.

The township of Glenrowan consists of about half a dozen houses, inclusive of two bush hotels, Jones's Glenrowan Hotel being about 200 yards from the station, on the west side of the line, whilst M'Donald's Hotel is about the same distance-on the other side of the line. In an instant the men on the platform were convinced, by the report of a shot fired from Jones's Hotel, that they were in the presence of the desperate outlaws. [This is an error; no shot was fired until we were within sixteen yards of the hotel.] The next few minutes were productive of painful excitement. The police abandoned the horses and rushed to their arms. The black trackers sprang forward with their leader, and soon took up a good position in front of the house. Mr Hare could be plainly seen by the light of the moon. He walked towards the hotel, and when within about twenty-five yards of the verandah, the tall figure of a man came round the corner, and fired. The shot took effect on Mr Hare's wrist. Senior constable Kelly and Rawlings were close to him, and the former promptly returned the fire, which was taken up by Hare, although wounded, and Mr Rawlings followed his example.

Just before Superintendent Hare was wounded, Constable Bracken, the local policeman, who had been made prisoner in the hotel, courageously made his escape, and running towards the railway station, quickly spread the information that the Kellys, with about forty prisoners, were inmates of the hotel, which was a weather-board building, containing about six rooms, inclusive of the bar. Behind the building there was a kitchen, the walls of which were constructed of slabs. Into this the police fired. When about sixty shots had been sent into the walls of the building, the clear voice of Hare was distinguished above the screams of the terrified women and children who were in the hotel, giving the order to stop firing. This was now repeated by Senior constable Kelly to the men who, under cover, were surrounding the house at the back, but the Kellys fired three or four more shots, after which one of them gave vent to coarse and brutal language, calling to the police, "Come on, you —-wretches, and you can fire away; you can never harm us." A few straggling shots were then fired, the sharp sounds of the rifle being echoed from the mount called Morgan's Lookout, at the foot of which the fight took place.

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