The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 14 page 3
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
Disgusting behaviour of Katie Kelly
Katie Kelly, no doubt, was a most loyal sister to her brothers, and must have sacrificed a great deal for them; day and night she was always on the alert, and assisting them in every possible way. Of course she was very flash, and liked being noticed. When appearing in any of the townships, she always rode a good horse and wore a lot of jewellery; but it was noticed that if there was a long interval between the bank robberies, the jewellery disappeared. Katie behaved in a most disgusting manner after Ned was hanged; the evening of his execution in Melbourne she appeared on the stage of a music-hall with a bunch of flowers in her hand, together with her brother Jim, and exhibited herself to the public on payment of a shilling entrance fee. When the curtain rose, she smiled and bowed to the audience, and felt proud of having so much notice taken of her. The Government put a stop to these exhibitions, and she afterwards went to Sydney , but she was not allowed to exhibit herself there either. The notes stolen from Euroa by the outlaws were very soon afterwards circulated amongst their friends. They were aware the numbers of the notes were not known, and persons passing them could not be convicted of receiving stolen property; and all debts incurred by their relations were at once paid with National Bank notes, which were, without doubt, the proceeds of the robbery. Subsequently the bank authorities took the numbers of all notes sent to their country branches, so as to endeavour, if possible, should another robbery take place, to be able to trace them. But in this case there was a further point in which the officials failed, for they neglected to take the numbers of the notes they paid over the counter, and when the stolen notes got into circulation, they found they bore the same numbers as those sent from Sydney to Jerilderie, but they could not swear they had not been paid over the counter.
It was currently reported that Steve Hart, who was a very undersized man, was in the habit of riding about the country dressed as a woman. I never believed it, and I feel sure Ned Kelly would not have trusted him away from himself, for fear of his surrendering and turning informer against his companions. Wherever Ned Kelly was seen, Hart was always with him, and Byrne and Dan Kelly went together. The horses stolen from the police at Jerilderie some months afterwards found in the mountains at the head of the King river in Victoria, which the gang were known to frequent. It was a strange coincidence that none of the rifles stolen by the outlaws from the police at Jerilderie or the Wombat ranges were used by them at Glenrowan, but they had most inferior and obsolete repeating rifles which had been cut short, and no proper aim could be taken with them, as they were not sighted.
Jerilderie is about 120 miles from Benalla and the outlaws, with a change of horses, could have been back in their hiding-places in thirty-six hours after they left Jerilderie. Possibly they would ride by night only, and lie in the thick scrub during the day. Parties of police were sent out to watch the different crossing places directly we received information of the robbery; but at that season of the year, the Murray being low, there were dozens of places where they could cross, and no one knew the river better than they did, and in consequence they were able to return without being interfered with.
What the Gang cost the Colony
I need hardly say that the cost of the search for, and the subsequent destruction of, the Kelly gang came to a very large sum. Mounted constables were brought from all parts of Victoria and stationed in the Kelly country; besides, special men were engaged, and many incidental expenses incurred. After the destruction of the gang a return was asked for in the Legislative Assembly showing the cost of effecting the capture of the outlaws, and it was then stated that a sum of thirty or forty thousand pounds had been spent; whereas if the salaries and wages of those engaged in the search had been included in this estimate, the cost would have been over £115,000—a large price to pay for the capture of four desperadoes and the destruction of a gang of malefactors. However, this apparently excessive expenditure on a series of thief catching expeditions has had results which reach further, and are of much greater value to the colony of Victoria; for the habitual criminal in Australia has been taught that, however romantic and exciting the career of the bushranger may appear, as a trade bushranging does not pay; while the criminal classes have been shown that he Government of the colony is not to be played with, that crime will be followed up and put down with a determined hand, and that no considerations of economy, no saving of trouble, no sacrifice of time, energy, or even life will be allowed to stand in the way when the law has to be upheld by the Executive. To the wisdom of such a policy let this fact bear witness— The execution of the last of the Kelly gang destroyed the "Last of the Bushrangers”.
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