Cookson, 18 09 1911 3

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18 September 1911

(full text transcription)



MR TURNER'S NARATIVE CONTINUED continued I determined to avail myself of the first favorable opportunity and make an attempt to regain my freedom. Having secured my wrists, the gang now formed themselves into something like order for the journey.

Dan Kelly undid the bridle rein at the off-side of old Bismarck, leaving the near-side buckled, thus forming a leading rein. This he took in his right hand, and mounting his own horse allowed Bismarck to drop to the rear, thus forming single file. Ned Kelly took the lead. Then came his brother leading the captured horse and rider, then followed Byrne bringing up the rear, and moving off in Indian file we commenced the march, the front and rear man each carrying his rifle in the right hand, with the butt resting on his thigh.

Strict silence was enjoined on my part, and it was evident that the leader had placed the same restrictions on the other members of the gang. Not a word was spoken. Each man in front of me was ever on the alert, searching right and left with the keenest scrutiny. If any unusual sound was heard, the leader, without turning in his saddle, would raise his right hand above his shoulder, which was the signal to halt, when they would pause and listen, with their rifles brought to the ready. Every movement was conducted with the strictest silence, and when assured that there was no cause for alarm, the leader, with a forward side motion of the hand, would convey the order to resume the march. We followed the downward course of the range, and on reaching the bottom turned to the right, and on reaching the projecting point turned in the same direction that I had taken in following the cattle, except that on coming to the scrub into which the cattle had rushed they veered to the left hand, leaving it behind; following the level ground around the bottom of an opposite range, until they came to a creek, the course of which they followed for about a mile. Here the leader crossed. The other members of the party followed in the usual order. Still following the course of the creek, they came to a natural space. Here they turned to the left into dense scrub.

We came to another range, over which we went, and down the opposite side. Then rounding the foot of another range we ultimately took the rising ground until we came to the summit, and here we halted. The leader turned to the right-about, and for the first time since the commencement of the journey he addressed the others. He told them to dismount, and Dan Kelly, obeying the instructions of his brother, loosened one of my wrists, tying the other end of the green-hide rope to the stirrup-iron of his own, saddle, at the same time repeating his former caution to me not to attempt to escape under penalty of sudden death. The leader then dismounted, handing his bridle over to his brother, who took charge of the horse that Byrne rode, while the latter sat on a log with his rifle between his knees. Dan Kelly with me and the four horses took a position immediately behind Byrne. The leader of the gang, with his rifle at the trail, then cautiously descended the hill, the whole part, watching him until his movements were hidden by the scrub. We had waited in silence for some time, when I heard what to me sounded like the distant call of a mopoke. The sound appeared to come from the bottom of the range, the direction that the leader of the gang had taken. After a short interval of silence the call was repeated, the sound coming from the same direction, but a greater distance away than formerly; and a peculiarly in connection with the second call was that it was much louder, and it echoed and re-echoed though the ranges. The sound died away in the distance, and all was quiet for some time, when the tall form of the leader was seen emerging from the scrub on his return to the party on the hill. On regaining them, he took his horse from his brother, and re-forming into the previous order, he led the way down hill. At the bottom of the hill their further progress was retarded by a wide, deep creek, on the other side of which stood the bushrangers' camp in a clearing of considerable area. On arriving at the creek at the bottom of the range the bushrangers gave me the full use of my hands, and then ordered me to mount old Bismarck, at the same time standing with their rifles at the ready. No doubt this proceeding was adopted as an intimation to me that any attempt to escape would be hopeless. The leader then asked me if I could sit my horse while it jumped the creek, to which I replied "I would try," "Come on, then," said Ned, and facing his horse to the water the animal cleared it in good style. Old Bismarck followed, and landed on the opposite bank without any mishap. Here I dismounted, and, as directed, stood a few paces from my captor, who, standing with his rifle ready for a shot, called to those on the opposite side to come over. This order was obeyed, Dan Kelly and Byrne following in the same order. I was relieved of my horse, and my hands were bound as before. The leader by my side, and his confederates bringing up the rear with the horses, we all went towards the camp.

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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index