The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 8 page 7

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)

Aaron’s Alibi

When she was out of sight I put my hat and great coat on Aaron, and started him off over the back of our camp, so that if the old woman had seen him walking away she could not have recognized him. When he was gone we set ourselves to watch the old woman closely, as she was bent on finding out how many men we had there. She was evidently under the impression that she had not been seen by any one in the camp. She descended the hill and commenced ascending the one behind us. We could see her crawling down the hill upon her hands and knees evidently with the object of looking into our camp to see what she could. I told Senior constable Mills to go up the hill and give her a good fright and drive her off. He ascended the hill in the direction he saw her coming down, unobserved by her, and lay behind a rock with his rifle in his hand. The old woman came down to the very rock he had taken shelter behind, and just as she was going to take a good observation of our camp, the senior constable sprang upon her and roared out. She almost died of fright. She had not the slightest idea any one was near her. For a moment she shook from head to foot, but soon recovered herself and began to slang the senior constable, and tell him she would get her son with the Kellys to shoot the lot of us, as they did Kennedy's party. After some conversation she left and went back to her home.

Nothing transpired that day until dusk, when Aaron reappeared as usual. I asked him what he had done with himself after leaving me that morning. He said he had gone to an intimate friend of his and shown himself, and some time afterwards had drawn attention to the early hour at which he had called. I asked him what he intended doing, if he meant to go that evening to see his young woman. He said, "Oh, yes, I must go and see if the old woman recognized me this morning." I said, "Don't you funk it?" He replied artfully, " But I must find out if she knows it was me." He went on, "I have brought a penny whistle, and I will commence playing it within a hundred yards of the house, and perhaps my girl may come out to meet me, and I can find out from her whether the old woman has said anything about me."

Break-up of the Camp

He left us just as we were going to the watching-place, and about twelve o'clock came as usual and sat down beside me. He told me he went with his whistle straight to the door of the house, but his young woman did not come out to meet him. He walked inside and continued playing. When he got inside, there was a strange man (a neighbour) in the room. The old woman said nothing to him, but he said, “I watched her countenance, and I felt sure she had not recognized me." After a little while, the old woman went outside, and he followed her. She said, "A nice trick you have been playing on me." He said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Who could have put the police into that camp in the mountains but you?" He replied, "I don't know what you mean." She told him how she had discovered our camp, and said there were thirty men in it. He pleaded ignorance, but she said she felt certain he knew all about it. She asked him how it was that she could find us out and he could not. He replied he could not tell. She said, "Well, you go there to-morrow and see for yourself"

From that time I thought it was useless my remaining there any longer, but all my men begged me to stay, and so did Aaron. I stayed for two nights longer, but two old women discovered our watching-place. My men and Aaron pleaded that Mrs Byrne had no means of communicating with the outlaws, as she did not know where they were to be found, and they were sure to seek Aaron out before going to her place. However, I could not see the use of staying any longer, so I left, though the men remained for two or three weeks longer. I was not sorry to leave the spot. It was a most uncomfortable place to sleep in. The days were terribly hot and the bitterly cold.

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