The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 14 page 2
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
Eexcution of Ned Kelly
After the building was burnt, the charred remains of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart pulled out of the fire and were given over to their relatives; Joe Byrne's remains were taken to Benalla, and an inquest held on them. Ned Kelly was taken to Benalla, and next day he was forwarded to the Melbourne gaol, where he was for some weeks under the care of Dr. Shields. Subsequently he was sent up to Beechworth, where he was committed for trial, and then sent back to Melbourne, where he was tried and sentenced to be hanged. He had quite recovered from his wounds before he was executed. He was allowed to see his mother, who was an inmate in the Melbourne gaol, the day before his execution, and say good-bye to her. Her last words to him were, "Mind you die like a Kelly." The coroner who held the inquest on Ned Kelly told me he seldom saw a man show so little pluck, and if it had not been for his priest, who kept him up, he would not have been able to walk to the gallows.
As for myself, I was sent to Melbourne the day after the fight, under the care of Dr. Ryan, who bestowed the greatest attention on me for some months. My wound was more serious than I thought. To use the words of the Police Commission—"In the very first volley Superintendent Hare received a bullet wound in the left wrist which rendered his arm useless. The ball passed through the limb, shattering the bone and severing the artery."
Origin of the Outbreak
I should like to add a few remarks as to the origin of this outbreak and the disordered state of the district. For years this part of the colony had been infested with horse and cattle-stealers. The number of relations which the Kelly family possessed all over the colony was surprising. There was hardly a district in Victoria, and also in some parts of New South Wales, that they could, not have found a blood-relation to have assisted in harbouring them; Joe Byrne was better, educated than any of his companions. He was very fond of writing, and was a bit of a poet. A great deal of his writings fell into our hands. They were chiefly directed against the police. Aaron Sherritt told me that when they contemplated committing a robbery, such as sticking up a bank, Byrne wrote down the contemplated plan, and then the party decided what part each of them was to take in the affair. They were most particular about where they camped not to leave any marks behind them.
On one occasion, when talking to Aaron, I inadvertently broke a twig off a tree and began breaking up the leaves. He immediately stopped me, and said, "You would never do for a bushranger." I said, "Why not" He replied, "If Ned Kelly saw any of his men break a twig off a tree when he was camped, he would have an awful row with them." When the outlaws travelled on horseback they never carried anything beyond one overcoat. This had to cover them day and night, and it seemed to me wonderful that men could exist in this manner. Sherritt quite astonished me by the way in which he used to dress in the coldest weather. I asked him if the Kellys were as hardy as he was, and could do without sleep as he could. He said that Ned Kelly was ten times as hardy.
Under the altered conditions which now exist, and the progress of settlement, there is no likelihood of another Kelly episode in the history of the colony.
I hardly think any one out of Australia could possibly conceive the hardships that men of this stamp can endure. They have an extraordinary way of sleeping; they coil ttemselvea up like dogs. I remember one night finding Aaron on my door mat, about one o'clock in the morning. He came to my quarters, and not finding me, he lay down and fell asleep; his head appeared between his knees, and he said, when camping out he always slept in that position. He could go without sleep for a longer period than any other man I ever met, and he said that the Kellys could do the same. It was doubtless a most fortunate occurrence that Aaron was shot by the outlaws; it was impossible to reclaim him, and the Government of the colony would not have asststed him in any way, and he would have gone back to his old course of life, and probably spent his days in gaol, or he might have turned bushranger himself, when he would have been quite as dangerous a man as Edward Kelly. The Government gave his widow a comfortable allowance, and she was much better off without him.
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