The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 9 page 1

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For some weeks after Mr Nicolson’s and Mr Sadlier’s expedition on which the black trackers shirked duty, although many conflicting rumours of the Kellys’ doings reached the police nothing authentic was reported, and the time was devoted to search parties on no particular information, such as Mr Nicolson described. The prisoner Williamson, who seemed to have access to some mysterious fund of knowledge, gave warning to Inspector Green that the gang might be expected to raid one of the banks in some North Eastern township, and mentioned in particular Seymour, which is only about sixty miles from Melbourne, and considerably south of the district known as the Kelly country, in which the bushrangers were most at home. There is some conflict in the evidence as to whether Mr Nicolson got express notice of this warning. Captain Standish afterwards claimed that he did, and in fact that Mr Nicolson mentioned it to him. Accordingly the Commissioner, leaving Mr Nicolson to take measures on his own account, spoke specially to Mr Hare, who, though resident in Melbourne, had charge of the police district immediately adjoining the North Eastern, and including Seymour within its limits. Acting on Captain Standish’s instructions Mr Hare took measures to give considerable extra police protection to Seymour and all other townships up the railway line as far as Avenel, beyond which the stations were under Mr Nicolson’s charge, and Mr Hare also warned the managers of the banks that there was likelihood of a raid being made upon them. More police had been applied for by Mr Sadleir and Mr Nicolson for the work of pursuing the outlaws, but both of them assert that they had no word of expected danger to the banks, and therefore no special measures were taken to avert it.

Mrs Skillion’s long expeditions had led them to suppose that the Kellys were hidden away deep in the mountains, intent upon nothing but evading pursuit, and the police saw good cause to believe from such reports as reached them that the gang was about to make another attempt to escape into New South Wales. Among the men who gave Mr Nicolson real or fanciful accounts of what the Kellys were doing was Patrick Quin, husband of Ned Kelly’s aunt, and himself a relative to the outlaws; and he claims to have given warning of an intention on their part to stick up one of the banks, but this Mr Nicolson denies, and adds that, coming from such a source, he would in any case have given little weight to the information.

Thus, without any further developments, weeks passed by until Monday, December 9, when Patrick Quin, the man mentioned above, came into the barracks yard at Benalla just after Mr Nicolson and party had returned from a search expedition in the direction of Mansfield, and asserted that he had very important information. This information was to the effect that the Kellys were living in a basin among the hills on the King River, in wild country some seventy miles from Benalla, far beyond Glenmore, the residence of another Quin, close to which the bushranger, Power, had been captured by Mr Nicolson and Mr Hare many years before. Quin wished Mr Nicolson to meet him near this basin on the following night, but Mr Nicolson, having no reason to trust the man, refused, pointing to the jaded state of his horses, and asking how it was possible to travel them another seventy miles within a few hours of their return. He had consulted with Mr Sadlier, and believed, as after events proved to be the case, that the offer to meet the police on the King River was merely an attempt to put them off the track.

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