Cookson, 19 09 1911 3

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19 September 1911

(full text transcription)

A GAME OF EUCHRE continued

"Not me," said Byrne, "I won't present no order; but I'll lend you a fiver all the same." Thinking it best to conciliate my captors as much as possible, I accepted the loan of £5, and on a leaf torn out of the leader's notebook I wrote in pencil an order for that amount, and, handing it to Byrne, remarked, with a smile, "I have made it payable to bearer; so you need not present it in person unless you wish."

We then cut for partners, and I deemed it a bit of good fortune to be mated with Byrne. I entertained a secret dread of the youngest member of the gang, concluding that his passionate nature might lead him to extremes at any moment as the play proceeded.

The whisky bottle was produced, and between them Byrne and Dan soon emptied it, and from some hiding-place outside the hut another was soon produced. At the conclusion of the game my partner and I had won a considerable amount of the others' gold, and after redeeming my order and counting the money I found that I had a balance in my favor, which I tendered to the leader of the gang, who declined to take it, telling me to keep it until they played again, at the time replying. "Life is short; enjoy it while you can."

The leader drew from his vest pocket a beautiful gold repeater. I was near enough to observe that it was beautifully chased, and bore an inscription, which by the dim light, I could not decipher; but it was a valuable timepiece, I felt sure, and the thought occurred to me that it was not at present in possession of its rightful owner.

"It's about time to turn in," said Ned returned the watch to his pocket. And passing through the door, he went out into the bright moonlight of the night. The other two members of the gang, were by this time considerably under the influence of the liquor they were imbibing, made their preparations for retiring. Dan, who appeared to take upon himself the especial guardianship of me, threw a couple of blankets and some empty bags to me, and, pointing to the end of the hut, said, "You make your bed there," There being nothing but the bare floor at the spot indicated. I prepared my resting-place on the floor, merely divesting myself of my outer garments and boots. Before I lay down, Dan, from the old gin-case, produced a pair of handcuffs, which he snapped on my wrists, at the same time remarking, "If you're a trap you'll understand the bracelets." I felt this indignity very keenly, but deemed it wisest not to reply to the insulting remark of the drunken bushranger.

The leader of the gang returned, and sliding the iron door into position, the whole party retired to their bark stretchers. All though the night I lay with all my faculties keenly on the alert.

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