The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 5 page 3
Captain Standish did like the proposition, but his answer arrived too late for Mr Sadlier to act upon it, and the incident is only mentioned here as a further indication of the strange sources of information to which the authorities were driven, and the very undesirable proteges whom, to further the ends of justice, they were oblige to take under their wing. Without being able to take any further steps Mr Sadlier returned to Benalla, and during the next few days there appeared in the Mansfield papers circumstantial and elaborate accounts of the way in which Kennedy met his death. These accounts doubtless filtered through from members of the Kelly family, and were contributed to the press by friends or sympathisers, under a pledge of secrecy as to the informants which was scrupulously preserved. The Kelly account of Kennedy’s shooting differed considerably from that of M’Intyre in so far that the sergeant was reported to have kept up a brisk fire on the outlaws before he fell wounded by them, but Ned Kelly admitted that he gave Kennedy his coup de grace while lying on the ground. It was from merciful motives, he said, since he could not find it in his heart to leave a wounded man alone in the bush; but other reports said that Kennedy had begged hard for a chance to live as long as he could, that perchance he might see his wife and children again before he died. At any rate, the statements of eye witnesses bore out the conclusion at which the medical had arrived by examination of the body; namely, that the gun shot wound had been inflicted by a charge fired from a muzzle held almost against the unfortunate man’s breast.
There were other mysteries in connection with the affair which have never been wholly cleared up, and it appears now, not only that many of the people near Mansfield had exact knowledge of the Kellys’ position in a fortified hut near Stringy Bark Creek, but that from some private source of information Kennedy knew far more about the matter than M’Intyre or Lonigan. Also it seems that there must have been an eye witness of the tragedy unknown to M’Intyre, who saw only the four outlaws. Such, at any rate, seems the only explanation of the fact that a mysterious traveller, who was never identified, riding through Strathbogie on Sunday evening, when M’Intyre was wearily making his way towards Mansfield, told people whom he met: ‘There are two or three police shot in the country.’ He indicated the direction of the Wombat Ranges with his hand, and said no more, and his statement was put down as an idle tale until M’Intyre’s report confirmed it. Sunday evening is the time now accepted as that when this report reached the ears of people at Strathbogie, twenty miles from the scene of the murders. But Saturday, the day of the tragedy, was the date given to an agent of Mr Sadlier’s by very respectable men who claimed to have heard it. Mr Sadlier considers that they mistook the day—the truth of their statements he did not doubt. This may be so; but, on the other hand, the informant may have ridden away at top speed; while another possible and somehow gruesome explanation of the mystery is that the Kellys, who doubtless were perfectly acquainted with the movements of the police, had deliberately planned to surround the camp by Stringy Bark Creek, and murder its occupants. In such a case the rumour on Saturday may have been a prediction of events from one who had been in the Kellys’ confidence, and had left their society before they stained their hands with murder.
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This document gives you the text of the report about the KellyGang for this day. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. This document is subject to copyright.