The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 15 page 6

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Mr Hare, however, by no means shared Captain Standish’s poor opinion of the trackers value, and on this occasion borrowed from Mr O’Connor one of the ‘boys’ when he started away with his party at six o’clock next morning. As for the expedition, it ended as all the others had done, in nothing. The police on leaving Benalla encountered a man named Nolan, one of the most noted Kelly sympathisers, who watched them intently, but as Mr Hare was then travelling directly away from the spot he eventually meant to visit he chuckled to himself, believing that for once the Kelly agents were outwitted. For the night he remained at a camping place in the Warby Ranges , having made arrangements for a start at one o’clock in the morning. The men were in high spirits at the prospect of meeting the outlaws, and cheerfully submitted to resting on the bare ground without a fire - an experience in the frosty highlands by no means pleasant but by this time very familiar to them. The way to the hut where the Kellys were expected to be lay across the railway line; and there was the usual delay in opening the railways gates at the crossing. The gatekeepers, Mr Hare found, were always very hard to wake when police were on the move, and their sleepiness he put down to sympathy with the Kellys. Just before dawn the police surrounded the house. Mr Hare knocked at the door, whereupon the owner of the hut, a man named Cleary, appeared, and the police officer demanded whether he had any strangers on the premises. Very hesitatingly he admitted that he had, and the police, rushing in, discovered Nolan, the agent whom they had encountered when they were making away from the house the day before. He said he had visited Clearly to give him news of a funeral at which his presence was desired, but seemed somewhat vague as to where the funeral was to be. In his turn he asked what brought the police. Mr Hare told him the tracker had followed his tracks, and Nolan expressed polite wonder at the tracker’s powers of working in the dark.

This expedition is typical of many others in which the same high hopes, careful preparation, and prompt action were followed by the same lame and impotent conclusion; but very often there were added great hardship and fatigue from riding long journeys through mountainous country, and spending days and even weeks at a time in the bush, without the comfort of a fire on freezing nights when the mercury was down in the twenties.

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