The Argus (36)

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The Argus continued with its report of the KellyGang at Glenrowan

see previous '

Carrington's account

" Dear —,–A special train starts for Beechworth at 9 to-night.–Yours, —."

There was no help for it. The invitation was too pressing to refuse, and in a few minutes I had left the cheerful fire and the hot toddy, and the comfortable armchair behind me, and was on my way to the Spencer street station, having previously requisitioned a felt hat, a big pair of woollen gloves, and three pound notes from another friend. On the platform I met the representatives of the three morning journals. Knowing that we had a long ride before us, we organised a foraging expedition in the neighbourhood of the station, but only succeeded in annexing a small loaf of bread and a little whisky and water in a bottle. We waited a long time in the expectation that some of the heads of the police, perhaps even the chief commissioner himself, would take advantage of the special, but we waited in vain, and it was three minutes to 10 when the train—consisting of engine, one carriage, and brake-van— passed out of the Melbourne yard on its most eventful journey. We picked up O'Connor his black trackers at Essendon, and Mrs O'Connor and her sister.

The first exciting event was dashing through the Craigieburn gates. In the press compartment we felt nothing of the shock beyond something striking the framework of one of our windows, as if a stone had been thrown with great force. Shortly after the train drew up, and we then heard of the accident, and saw that the step of our carriage had been carried away, as well as the brake of the engine. Things were very soon patched up, and in a few minutes we were on the road again, dashing along at a rattling pace. The great speed we were going at caused the carriage to oscillate very violently, and at times it seemed fairly to bound along the line. The night was intensely cold, and we were delighted when we got to Seymour and found that a cup of warm coffee was ready for us, which was thankfully received.

We reached Benalla at half-past 2, and Superintendent Hare and his men now joined us together with two trucks containing the troopers' horses. All sorts of rumours were flying about at Benalla. Some had heard that the Kelly sympathisers intended putting logs across the line; others told us that the line had been torn up, and that the Kellys were waiting to rake the train. All the persons on the platform seemed to have heard or anticipated something, and it was this that induced Superintendent Hare to tie a man in front of the engine to keep a look-out. But he subsequently changed his mind on finding that another locomotive, with steam up, was ready in the yard. This engine, with red lights hung behind, was utilised as a pilot and went ahead of the special at a distance of about half a mile. One volunteer only joined us at Benalla, and although there were a large number of able-bodied men on the platform, none of them seemed to care about a trip after the outlaws. This was in marked contrast to the state of things at the same place on our return journey. Then nothing was to be heard but such expressions as, "By Jove, I'd have given anything to have been with you:" "I wouldn't have missed it for a hundred pounds; I wouldn't, indeed," &c. As the special left Benalla we had on board 24 souls, made up as follows :—Superintendent Hare and seven troopers, Inspector O'Connor and five black trackers, one volunteer, two ladies, engine-driver, stoker, and guard, and four pressmen.

When within half a mile of Glenrowan station the train began to draw up, and on looking out we saw that the pilot was coming back again. Our train drew to a standstill in a small cutting, the top of the embankment of which was a little higher than a railway carriage, so that, if the bushrangers had felt so disposed, they could have poured their fire through the roof very comfortably, and it would have been most difficult to return their compliment with any effect.


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