Cookson, 19 09 1911 1 (2)
19 September 1911
THE OUTLAWS' STRONGHOLD
MR TURNER IN CAPTIVITY
DAN AND HIS INEVITABLE RIFLE continued
Byrne, from his treatment of me, would have conveyed to an outsider the impression that I was a guest rather than a captive, and I noted, with a mind to future contingencies, that the leader did not repose too much confidence in him. After linding a fire, he hung a billy on the chain, and busied himself in making preparations for the repast. Ned Kelly caught and hobbled the three horses belonging to the gang. He then went to corner of the fence and removed there-from a heap of brush, which, when cleared, away, exposed a most cunningly devised gate, which swung on a green-hide hinge, and was of sufficient width to allow the passage of a horse. Outside the gate was a good space of open, alluvial flat, with abundance of natural grass. The horses evidently knew their pasture ground, as they, of their own will, walked through the open gate out on the flat. After securing the gate, and throwing the brush carelessly over its division, the leader returned to his companions. The evening meal being prepared, I was again taken into the hut, my hands being released. I seated myself at the bark table, Byrne bringing in a variety of fool. I was not too fastidious, but the slovenly and untidy surroundings induced, to put it in its mildest form, a feeling of repugnance; but all things considered. I made a fairly good meal. Dan Kelly, with a tin plate between his knees, was seated in front of the hut door, with his face turned towards me, and his rifle by his side. The leader, who ever seemed to be haunted with an air of anxious expectancy, was taking his food seated on a log, with his face towards the creek. Byrne occupied the same seat, with his back to the leader. As they partook of their repast, they conversed in a low voice, which reached no ears but theirs.
When he had finished his meal Byrne hobbled old Bismark, and allowed him the run of the enclosure, where, though the feeding was not abundant, it would suffice for a few days. All the party having finished their meal, and darkness coming on, they entered the hut, and a slush lamp being lighted Dan, from an empty gin case, produced a well-worn greasy pack of cards, and the three bushrangers sat at the bark table and commenced a game of cut-throat euchre. I being allowed to sit at the innermost end of the table, and Dan facing me with the usual weapon between his knees.
A GAME OF EUCHRE
The leader rose from the table, and stooping beneath a bush stretcher, he after sore difficulty, brought forth an old sugar bag, and as he placed it on the table I heard the undoubted jingle of coin. He then produced a pocket book. After consulting a leaf that contained a number of figures, he took from the bag a handful of sovereigns. Of them he counted out ten to each of his confederates and the like amount to himself, and replaced the bag in its former hiding place. The play between the gang was for a sovereign a corner. The stakes were placed on the centre of the table, the first man out taking the pool. As play proceeded it was evident to me that Dan was a cheat. He continued winning the others gold until they were tied of the one-side monotony of the play, and threw down their hands.
"Make it a four-handed game," said Byrne.
"Who'll make the fourth?" said the leader.
"His nibs, here," replied Byrne pointing to me.
"Can you play euchre?" inquired Ned, after some hesitation.
"Well," said I, "I have learnt the game since I have been on the station, but unfortunately I have no money." This caused a general laugh.
"Look here," said Byrne. "I'll lend you five 'quid' if you'll give me an order on the station manager for that amount, or if you're in luck's way you may win and pay me in gold."
"I'll give you an order on the manager for ten pounds if you'll present it to-morrow, and that without troubling for a loan," replied I.
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