The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 8 page 1
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
Directly the bank was stuck up at Jerilderie I started off to Beechworth, and sent for Aaron Sherritt. His first words to me were, “Did I not tell you they would stick up a bank in New South Wales ?” I replied, “Yes, but you told me they were going to Goulbourn.” I said, “Well, what is to be done now?” He replied, “They will be back probably tonight at the Woolshed.” He told me to meet him that night at a place indicated by him in the ranges (know to the detective); he would then show me where they tied up their horses, whilst they went into Mrs Byrne’s house for supper. I agreed to his suggestion, and told the detective what I had done. His reply was, “I have known Sherritt for years, and if he likes he can put you in the position to capture the Kellys, but I doubt his doing so.” I told him Aaron felt sure they would return from Jerilderie that night, and I had arranged to go with him, and meet him at eight o’clock that night at a certain spot in the ranges, which I described, a party of police accompanying us. Having no men in Beechworth, I drove the detective to Eldorado, which was beyond Woolshed where I had a party of police stationed. As the detective was well known in the locality, and I was not, I put him in the boot of the buggy under the seat, and he remained in that position nearly all the way. I merely state this to show how cautious we had to be in all our movements. Had he been recognized driving the buggy , the friends of the outlaws would soon have heard of it. I had to take him because he had to direct the party where to meet us that night, and I had not been in the district for many years, and knew little of it.
At eight o’clock that night the detective and I met Aaron at the appointed spot in the ranges. We waited anxiously for the men from Eldorado to turn up. After waiting for an hour, Aaron said to me, “You will be late, Mr Hare. We should have been nearly three miles from this by this time.” I was very much annoyed at the men not keeping their appointment; and I turned to the detective and said to him: “Will you stick to me, as it will never do to lose this chance of getting the outlaws?” His reply was: “Yes Mr Hare, I will stick to you and do whatever you tell me to do.” I returned to Aaron and said: “All right; we are ready to go with you now.” He turned towards me to see if I meant it. I said, “Come on.”
Aaron as Guide
We mounted our horses. I followed Aaron, the detective followed me. The night was terribly dark, and Aaron took us at a good pace. The country was ruggered and broken, but he rode ahead just as if he was in his own garden. He appeared to trust his horse. And I trusted him. We rode along with out a word being spoken by any of us. He might have taken mw over a precipice, as I could see nothing before me. Suddenly Aaron stopped, and in a whisper said to me, “This is the bushranger’s country; no one ever comes in here but them.” We were then ten miles from Beechworth on the rangers at the back of Woolshed, and so we rode along, winding round a drain one minute, and over logs and rocks the next, trusting entirely to our horses. Suddenly Aaron pulled up, and I went up beside him, the detective ding likewise Aaron said, “they are back from Jerilderie. Do you see that fire in the distance?” I replied “Yes.” He said, “The bushrangers are there; I have never before seen a fire in this place, and for some reason they have lighted one, and there they are.” We all three dismounted from our horses and sat down on the ground to decide what was to be done. Aaron said, “What do you wish me to do? I will do whatever you like.” I thought “nothing ventured nothing have,” so I questioned him as to the fire being made by the outlaws, but he was perfectly convinced of it. I then told him the first thing I wanted to be sure of was whether the bushrangers were sitting or sleeping near the fire, and he had better take off his boots, leave his horse with me, and crawl along the ground as close to the fire as he could get, and see if he could recognize the voices if he could hear any, if not , to get as close up as he could and find out whether the outlaws were there. He never hesitated for a moment, and did exactly what I told him to do, and the detective and myself were left alone. We both were fully convinced we should to “do or die” that night , and we were quite prepared to take the risk. We stayed in the same spot for about ten minutes, deciding how we were to make the attack, when we heard footsteps coming towards us at a quick pace. The detective said, “He has sold us; who is this coming towards us?” I said, “Keep quiet.” We both, with revolvers in our hands, remained perfectly still until the footsteps came within a yard of us, and a voice we recognised as Aaron’s said, “Mr Hare, we have been deceived, that fire is on the opposite range and some miles away.” My first thought was that Aaron had gone up to the fire and started the bushrangers off, or else had given them notice he would bring us up to them. I questioned him and he appeared perfectly honest, and said, “If you will come with me I will convince you that what I am saying is the truth.”
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