Cookson, 20 09 1911 2

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20 September 1911

(full text transcription)


ALONE WITH BYRNE IN THE HUT continued " 'Under present circumstances I should like nothing better,' was my reply.

"Very well," said Byrne, "have a nip first," and, pouring out some of the liquor and adding some water, desired me to drink it, but I merely tasted the contents and placed the pannikin on the table.

Byrne then produced the pipe that had previously been taken from me. This he filled and handed to me. Since the departure of the brothers Byrne had assumed quite a different attitude in regard to my security. He even went the length of relieving himself of the burden of his rifle by standing it in a corner of the hut. I noted with curiosity the restless, undecided actions of my guard, who was continually leaving and re-entering the hut. At last he sat down, and, taking up the bottle said to me "Have another nip."

" 'Thank you, no," said I.

"'Well, here's luck," said Byrne, and, suiting the action to the word, he put the bottle to his mouth and drank a good draught of the raw liquor.

" 'How long have been in the force?" asked Byrne.

"What force?" was my reply.

"Why, the police, of course."

"I have told you before, and I repent it, that I have not now, nor have I at any time, had any connection with the police."

"We've only your word for that." said Byrne, "and Ned and Dan don't believe you." "Well," said I, "why don't you satisfy yourselves by communicating with Mount Battery? You would get the truth of my statement confirmed."

"No, fear. That's not good enough. It won't do for us to go to the station."

"What are you going to do about me? Surely you don't intend keeping me here always?"

"Well." Said Byrne, "Ned's going to keep you a week. Some of us are bound to meet some of the station hands before the week's out, and if you're not a 'trap' they will inquire about you."

"Well, suppose they don't inquire about me?"

"Why, then we'll know you are a 'trap,' and, as Dan told you, 'traps' don't live long in these parts."

The time specified by the leader of the gang had passed, and I ventured the supposition to Byrne that their return might be expected any moment.

"They won't be back before night," was the reply. "What Ned told you about coming back soon was only bluff."

I took a very favorable view of the circumstance. I had the best part of a long day before me, and other things being in my favor I determined to make a bid for liberty. It was evident, too, that as his consumption of drink increased, the more was Byrne inclined to be communicative. He produced the cards, saying to me. "What can you play besides euchre - that's only a blooming black-fellow's game?"

"I can play whist, ecarte, or cribbage," I replied.

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