The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 17 page 2

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When Mr Nicolson received this news he had only about a week longer to spend in the district and he employed it as actively as possible, among other things arranging to have a watch kept on the Glenrowan hotel where the Kelly sympathisers had taken to gathering and indulging in disorderly conduct. He also paid a visit to Mrs Sherritt, from whom he learnt that she had lately seen Joe Byrne, and that he had told her they ‘could go anywhere if it were not for her sanguinary son.’ There upon he determined on one more effort to catch the outlaws in that neighbourhood, and arranged that a party of police should be sent to live in concealment in the house of Aaron Sherritt, who had been recently married to a Beechworth girl and was living with his wife at his old quarters in the gully at Woolshed.

On June I Mr Nicolson’s connection with the Kelly pursuit finally ceased, Mr Hare coming up to Benalla to take over the charge of affairs. His supersession was a bitter pill to Mr Nicolson, more especially as he felt that he had been misrepresented by Captain Standish and to some extent by Mr Hare. The meeting between the two officers was therefore not particularly cordial, though outwardly friendly relations were maintained, and at the police office in Benalla Mr Nicolson gave to the new leader a rough outline of what he had been doing and what he had hoped to do. This conversation took place in Mr Sadlier’s presence, and when, at a later date, Mr Hare accused Mr Nicolson of having withheld information from him, and of having treated him in a grudging spirit, Mr Sadlier emphatically asserted that he considered the accusation most unjust. Mr Nicolson, in his opinion, had told Mr Hare all it was possible to tell in the time, and he himself, being perfectly acquainted with all the work, was in a position to supply any details that had been overlooked. Mr Hare, who had an unfortunately keen eye for faults in his brother officers, also made it a subject of complaint that Mr Nicolson had withdrawn police from watch parties and dismissed all the agents without giving him (Mr Hare) notice of his action; but on enquiry, a telegram from Mr Nicolson to one of the senior constables was produced, in which it was stated that all further orders were to come from Superintendents Sadlier or Hare, and that Detective Ward had instructions that no further authority or supplies for the agents were available. From this it seemed clear that Mr Nicolson only intended, in a business like way, to terminate his own responsibility for the payment of agents and the movements of them or the police, leaving Mr Hare unhampered, to make his own arrangements. When the substitution of Mr Hare for Mr Nicolson was first mooted, Mr Sadlier had written to the former, urging him, as a friend in the strong terms, not to accept the command in Mr Nicolson’s place. He wrote entirely in the public interest, believing that Mr Nicolson’s tactics were likely to soon bear fruit in success, while he did not believe in Mr Hare’s. To do Mr Hare justice, he did himself protest strongly against being sent to take command, saying he had tried once to catch the outlaws and failed; but he based his main objections to undertaking the work upon the score of his age and state of health, and urged that there were other officers in the force senior to him who should be sent to try their hands. He, however, expressed himself in such an unfortunate manner that to some of these senior officers it appeared that he was casting a slur upon their courage, and suggesting unwillingness on their part to undertake a difficult and dangerous duty, while he did not rise to the generosity of putting in a good word for Mr Nicolson who had begged to retain the command a little longer. Mr Hare’s protests had no effect. Captain Standish and Mr Ramsay both considered him the best man for the duty. He was told that the public were growing more and more indignant at the outlaws’ long unchecked career, and, with carte blanche in everything, he went up in obedience to orders and threw himself heartily into the work.

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