The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 14 page 5

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There is much reason to doubt whether the existence of Mr Hare’s camp was from the very beginning a secret to the outlaws or their friends, though its exact position may have been unknown. The police horses were put in Aaron Sherritt’s paddock, where their presence was likely to be observed and to excite suspicion; and it appears that almost from the inception of the enterprise Mrs Byrne had observed policemen’s tracks, which the sympathisers always recognised since the constables wore distinctive boots, while such carelessness as casually leaving about soap, whittled sticks, and sardine tin argues very badly for the intelligence with which the ambush was conducted. Some five days after Mrs Byrne caught sight of the police Mr Hare came to the conclusion that it was useless to waste more time in the gully and left the camp, though his men were kept there for about a fortnight longer.

During the time Mr Hare was in the camp Sherritt spent his days as a rule at his own place or his mother’s, which was near it, but he occasionally put in a few hours with the police, when he told the superintendent much of the ways of horse stealers generally and of himself and the Kellys in particular. For his own part he confessed that, even if he obtained the reward and fulfilled his ambition by purchasing a fine stallion and some good mares to breed first class horses, he still would find more pleasure in stealing than in breeding them. One of the best dodges for altering brands, he explained, was to pull out the hair with a pair of tweezers to add or change a letter, and to paint over the depilated part with iodine, which made the skin appear as if it were branded in the ordinary way, and this process, he said, he and the Kellys had often executed with great success. For Ned Kelly’s determination, resource, and powers of endurance he had an almost superstitious admiration. Mr Hare had expressed astonishment at his (Aaron’s) ability to sleep upon the ground when the temperature was below freezing point, uncovered by any blanket and not wearing even a coat, and he asked if the outlaws possessed the same iron constitutions. According to Aaron, Ned Kelly had twice his physical powers in every way, but he considered himself a better man than any of the other three.

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