Royal Commission report day 52 page 3 (2)

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 53)

[[../../people/peC/curnowThomasT.html|Mr Thomas Curnow]] giving evidence

17597 Continued

They said that they had ridden hard across country, often being up to the saddle-girths in water, to get to Glenrowan, and that they had had the line torn up at a dangerous part, and were going to send the train and its occupants to h—l. About one o'clock I was standing in the yard of Jones' hotel, thinking of the intentions of the gang, and I keenly felt that it was my duty to do anything that I could to prevent the outrage which the outlaws had planned from being accomplished, and I determined that I would try to do so. While standing in the yard Dan Kelly came out of the hotel and asked me to go inside and have a dance. I said that I could not dance in the boots which I had on. Ned Kelly then came out of the hotel, and hearing me object to dance because of my boots, said, ‘Come on; never mind your boots.’ I said to him that it was awkward to me to dance in those boots, as I was lame, but that I would dance with pleasure if he would go to the school with me to get a pair of dancing boots. It flashed across my mind that, in passing the Glenrowan police barracks to reach my house, Bracken, the trooper stationed there, might see us and would be able to give an alarm. I knew that Bracken had been stationed at Greta, and felt sure that he would recognize Ned Kelly. He (Ned Kelly) said he would go, and we were getting ready, when Dan Kelly interfered, and said that Ned had better stay behind, and let him or Byrne go with me. Some one else also urged Ned Kelly not to go away, and said that my house was near the police barracks. Ned Kelly turned to me, and asked if it was. I said, ‘Yes; we shall have to pass the barracks. I had forgotten that.’ He then said that we would not go, and I went into the hotel, and danced with Dan Kelly. After we had finished dancing, Ned Kelly said that he would go down to the police barracks and bring Bracken and Reynolds, the postmaster, up to Jones's. I laughed and said to him that I would rather than a hundred pounds that he would, and asked to be allowed to accompany him when he went, and to take home my wife, sister, and child. He gave me no reply. The intention to do something to baffle the murderous designs of the gang grew on me, and I resolved to do my utmost to gain the confidence of the outlaws, and to make them believe me to be a sympathizer with them. I saw clearly that unless I succeeded in doing this I should not be able to get their permission to go home with my wife, child, and sister, and consequently should not be able to do anything to prevent the destruction of the special train and its occupants by giving information to the police in Benalla, which I purposed doing if I could induce the outlaws to allow me and mine to go home. The outlaws kept a very sharp watch on their prisoners without seeming to do so. About three o'clock in the afternoon Ned and Dan Kelly caused several of their prisoners to engage in jumping, and in the hop, step, and jump. Ned Kelly joined with them and used a revolver in each hand as weights. After the jumping was concluded, I left Jones's and went to Mr. Stanistreet's house to see my wife and sister. They came out to meet me, and noticing the red lame scarf wrapped round my sister caused me to think, ‘What a splendid danger signal that would make.’ The idea of stopping the train by means of it then entered my mind, and made me still more anxious for liberty. I went with my wife and sister into Mr. Stanistreet's house, and saw Hart lying down on a sofa. He had three loaded guns by his side. He complained to me of having swollen and painful feet, caused, he said, by not having had his boots off for several days and nights. I advised him to bathe them in hot water, and requested it for him. It was brought, and he did so. Shortly after Mr. Stanistreet and I were walking about at the back of his house, and Mr. Stanistreet expressed a wish that an alarm could be given. Mrs. Stanistreet came out to us, and I asked them if they thought it would be wrong to break a promise given to the outlaws. They said that it would not. I then asked Mr. Stanistreet had the outlaws taken his revolver from him. He said they had not. I saw what use this fact could, be made of by me in my efforts to gain the confidence of the outlaws, and to make them believe that they could safely allow me to go home. I said to Mr and Mrs Stanistreet that we had better go inside, for I was afraid of being suspected by the gang if they saw us in private conversation, and we did so. I do not know whether Mr or Mrs Stanistreet suspected the use I intended making of my liberty if I got it; but afterwards I heard Mrs. Stanistreet saying to Ned Kelly that he ought to allow me to take my sister, who was in delicate health, home. I was sitting in Mr Stanistreet's when Dan Kelly came in enquiring for a parcel in a small bag which he had lost. He seemed very anxious about it, and examined the house throughout in search of it. He could not find it, and went to McDonald's hotel to see if it was there. He came back unsuccessful, and I went to Jones's with him, and he searched there, but failed to find it. When he gave up searching it, I requested him to tell Ned that I wanted to speak to him. I was near the door of Jones's kitchen then. He went into the hotel and brought Ned Kelly out, and I told him that Mr Stanistreet possessed a loaded revolver from the Railway department, and advised them for their safety to obtain it, as some one might get it and do them an injury. They thanked me, and I perceived that I had in a great measure obtained their confidence by telling them this.About dusk I heard Ned Kelly saying to Mrs Jones (they were standing between the hotel and the kitchen, which was a detached building) that he was going down soon to the police barracks to capture Bracken, and that he was going to take her daughter down to call Bracken out. Mrs Jones asked him not to take her. Ned Kelly said that he did not intend to shoot Bracken, and that her daughter must go. I advanced to them, and said to Ned Kelly that I thought it would be better for him to take Dave Mortimer, my brother-in-law, to call Bracken out, because Bracken knew his voice well, and by hearing it would suspect nothing. Ned Kelly, after a pause, said that he would do so. He then went to Mrs Jones's stable, and I followed him, and asked would he allow me to take my party home when he went down for Bracken; and I assured him that he had no cause for fearing me, as I was with him heart and soul. He replied, ‘I know that, and can see it,’ and he acceded to my request. ....

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