The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 8 page 4
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
Bred in the Bone
On another occasion we were expecting the outlaws to bring some money they had stolen from the bank to Mrs Byrne's. Amongst my men I had one who was a thorough larrikin, and Aaron took a great fancy to him. I sent him to Beechworth for some supplies, and Aaron met him on the way, and they both rode into Beechworth together. My man was taken for one of the Kelly spies, especially as he was in Aaron's company. The people of Beechworth at once became alarmed, seeing Aaron and his companion riding about the streets—no one knowing the companion was a policeman. Numbers of people went at once to the police station and reported that Aaron and another suspicious person, riding good horses, were seen in the outskirts of the town. The constable was delighted to have a chance of being seen with Aaron, and made the most of his opportunity.
On the way back to my camp Aaron took the constable into his confidence; he told him that he felt certain that the bushrangers would return from Jerilderie after they had stuck up the bank there, and the first place they would come to was Mrs Byrne's. Aaron said to him, "I want you to join me in a scheme, and if it comes off we shall have the best of the arrangement." The constable said, "What is it ?" He replied, "I feel sure the Kelly gang will return from Jerilderie either tonight or during the course of this week. Joe Byrne will be leading a pack-horse, with the gold and notes fastened up in a brown cloth coat. Directly Mr Hare opens fire on the men, the pack horse will, in all probability, break away with the treasure. You and I can go after the horse, catch him, and take his pack off in the bush, hide it, and let the horse go; and next day, in the excitement, we can slip away and divide the cash. It can do no harm to any one, because some one will get it, and we might just as well have it as anybody else," The constable appeared to agree to Aaron’s suggestion, and told me what had passed between them. I told him not to tell any one else in camp about the arrangement, and to lead Aaron to believe that he would assist him in the matter. Unfortunately the Kellys did not put in an appearance, and so the matter fell through.
I must give one more narrative about Aaron, just to show the peculiar kind of man he was, even on the chance of being thought tedious. He came to me one morning and said, "Mr Hare, I want to go away for a couple of days to look after some cattle of mine. I will be back within two days." I questioned him closely, what cattle he was going after, and asked him if he wanted any money. I had not engaged him at any fixed salary, but whilst he was watching with me he used to ask me for a pound or two, and I gave it to him. He often refused to take money from me, as he thought I was paying him out of my own pocket, whereas the Government refunded me all I paid him, and he only took sufficient to pay his expenses. Before he started off after his cattle, I said to him, "Are you sure you have got enough money to pay your way?" He replied, "I have a pound of the money you gave me last time;" and away he started, and returned according to his promise.
Some few days after this, Mrs Byrne went to the police station, and reported that a valuable horse of hers had been stolen from Woolshed, and, after inquiry by the police, it was found in the possession of Mrs Skillian, Ned Kelly's sister. She produced a receipt for it, as having purchased it from Aaron, and signed by him, for the small sum of £3 or £4. Mrs Byrne obtained a warrant for Aaron's arrest, for they all suspected he was then a spy of mine. I spoke to Aaron on the subject, and he admitted that he had taken the horse and sold it to Mrs. Skillian. He said, "I could not help doing this. I did not want the horse, but I felt I must do something to old Mrs. Byrne. She has not behaved well to me lately, and her conduct towards me is so cool that I could not resist the temptation of stealing her horse”
All the time Aaron was with me, only the police who were actually in my party were aware he was working for me, and most of the others were delighted to hear there was a warrant out for his arrest. They made every effort to capture him, but could not find him. I was greatly annoyed with him, because it crippled his usefulness immensely. However, he kept out of the way of the police, and when I was relieved from the district I left it to my successor to get him out of his difficulty. I don’t quite know how this was managed, but I was told he was directed to be at a certain spot one day, and a constable was ordered to go there and apprehend him. The constable afterwards took great credit for his capture, not knowing that his arrest was an arranged matter. He was brought before the police-court, but the evidence was not sufficient for the magistrates to commit him for trial, as the horse was not forthcoming, and Aaron was acquitted. I am not quite sure I am right in all the details of what occurred with reference to his arrest, but I was told that this was how the matter was managed.
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