The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 19 page 2

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train had started that night from Melbourne with Mr O’Connor, his wife and sister (who meant to remain in Beechworth), pressmen and black trackers. Due at Benalla at 12.30, it had been delayed for half an hour by smashing through a railway gate and injuring the breaks—a delay which probably was the salvation of its occupants, for half an hour earlier it would have steamed past Glenrowan unwarned. At Benalla Mr Hare was in waiting, with a body of constables and horses ready trucked, while another engine was under steam, Mr Hare intending to proceed to Beechworth and await the black trackers there if the Melbourne special should be much longer delayed. This engine it was decided to use as a pilot, and by way of further precaution against surprise Mr Hare proposed to place a man in front of the locomotive, strapped on as a security against falling, with instructions to keep a keen lookout. This plan, however, was abandoned, and with all its occupants in the highest spirits the train steamed out of Benalla, the pilot engine 150 yards in front carrying one or two of Mr Hare’s men armed and watchful.

When Mr Curnow’s red light brought the pilot to a standstill, the warning whistles checked the train behind, and as soon as it stopped Mr Hare with his gun in readiness, jumped down from his carriage and met the guard of the pilot engine approaching him. The signaller, he told Mr Hare, had gone, and the only news he gave was that the Kellys had pulled up the line beyond Glenrowan. The guard had said he would go on to Glenrowan station, draw up there, and await the special which was following. Begging him for God’s sake not do so, as he would certainly be shot, Curnow had then hurried away at top speed, saying he must go to his wife.

Very much in the dark as to the Kellys’ movements, but believing them to be in the neighbourhood of the torn up rails, Mr Hare put more armed men upon the engines and ordered a slow advance to the station. As the trains drew up to the platform there was no sound anywhere; no one stirring, and not a sign of life, beyond a light in the window of the stationmaster’s house, about a hundred yards distant from the station. With another gentleman, Mr Hare hastened to the house, where they knocked at the window, and it was opened by Mrs Stanistreet, the stationmaster’s wife, who was crying, and in great distress. Only a few minutes before, her husband had been taken by the outlaws to the hotel. With some others they had kept him confined in his own house all day, so that they might force him, with a revolver at his head, to make any signal which the train might require assuring safety before running express past Glenrowan, but all chance of that happening was over, and he also had been removed to the hotel prison house. Mr Hare, however, could learn nothing from the distracted Mrs Stannistreet but that her husband had been taken away by the Kellys not ten minutes before - as Mr Hare thought into the Warby Ranges . Accordingly he returned to the station and gave orders to detrain the horses with a view to pursuit.

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