Cookson, 04 09 1911 4
4 September 1911
THE CREDIT SYSTEM The Byrnes seemed to be pretty hard up sometimes. They ran in a long score with me." Resuming the old storeman reminiscent it. "Then things got worse and worse and they had no tucker at all. So one day Mrs Byrne came along and said she was ashamed but they had nothing and would I let her have a bag of flour. Well, I knew she had cattle running in the hills, and she said she'd sell some of them and pay me . Of course, a man had to keep sweet with the people there, when they got in on him at all. He had to keep them going if he wanted to get his own back. So I packed the cart with a bag of flour and about 12cwt. of other food, and started off.
"Along the road, about dinner time, I met Mrs Byrne's two sons, Joe and Paddy. They said, "Hello, where are you going with all that stuff?" I answered 'I'm taking this to your mother.' 'What,' said Joe. 'My God, we owe you £45 now?' 'Well,' I said , 'never mind, here's another £20 worth.'
"Joe, he seemed astonished. He thought for a while, and then he said, with a big oath, to his brother, 'Look here, I'm going to pay this man if I have to rob a bank.'
"Two days later the Bank of New South Wales at Jerilderie was stuck up and cleaned out.
"I got paid. Oh, yes. And after that the Byrnes' always paid cash for what they got.
"When they robbed the bank at Jerilderie Joe Byrne sent Aaron Sherritt £100 by another man. But Aaron says he never got it. Joe thought he did through, and there was always trouble between them after that till Byrne went down and shot Sherritt. And when he shot him Byrne firmly believed that Sherritt had got the money. But I know he never did.
"All the Sherritt family were in the Government service. I know, because I had to give them money and stores. I used to pay them all with Government cheques. Of course, they daren't go near the police. I used to do very well out of both parties. Business was good and brisk, for that while.
"There was a time when the police wanted Joe Byrne to turn Queen's evidence against the other fellows. And they let him know about it. But all they got back was, 'No; I'm in it, and I'll stick to it!'
"I used to take stores to that cave where the police were hidden so long. It was a fine hiding place. The police had powerful telescopes that they could watch nearly all the surrounding country with. This cave was close to Mrs Byrne's place. It was full of bottles and tins and things. They were not allowed to light fires and lived fat -and cut it thick. They had plenty of liquor and they had fires when they wanted. It didn't really matter. They were watching Mrs Byrne to see if any of the gang came to see her, or if she went out to communicate with them. The police thought she didn't know they were there. But I know that she did. I know that she knew it all the time. They were surprised that they didn't find out anything. But I wasn't interested in their hopes. I just served them with stores.
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