Cookson, 02 09 1911 1

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2 September 1911

(full text transcription)




"It was very dark. We went on to the gatehouse, Dan Kelly marching along with a rifle to mind us. The men who were working there were camped near my place. That was because they had no chimney on their tents, and they used to use my fire to cook with."

The old woman paused to make the pillows trifle easier, and to settle the awful nightcap more comfortably.

"Oh, but I'm glad there were no police at the hotel when those wretches called that night!" she continued, in excited tones. "They'd have killed them all. They were ripe for murder. They had determined to wreck the special train and to kill everyone who escaped death in the smash. They would surely have killed any police they met that night. And if they met them in my place they would have murdered my innocent children as well.

"They found that they hadn't the proper tools to pull the line up with, so they came back. They got the porter in charge, but he said he didn't know how to take it up.

" 'You know how to do it!' shouted Ned Kelly, levelling his revolver at the porter. 'Ned,' said the porter, 'I tell you I never worked a day on the line in my life, and know nothing about it.' They believed him, and went down to Reardon's. They took Reardon along, and the other men, and made them pull up the line. The other men were platelayers.

"After the line was destroyed the Kellys took the other men to the gatehouse. They had no down on any of them-only on me and Reardon. They used to think that Reardon was spying upon them, with me. My daughter came to me at the gatehouse. I might say that Steve Hart was sick, and didn't want to go out that night, but they made him. They were all strangers to me at first. I knew nothing at all about them.

"After the night's work-it was morning when they finished-Ned Kelly asked the men if they'd like to go into their tents and get breakfast. They'd been out since 1 o'clock, and said they were hungry. Dan Kelly turned to me and said, 'Here, Mother Jones, you'd better see if you can get them anything to eat.'

"So they all went to my place-to the hotel. But there was not enough bread, The men got some from their tents, and with that and what the girls found they made shift for breakfast. My poor little daughter, after having been up all night, had to wait on them.

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