The Argus (38)

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The Argus continued with its report of the KellyGang at Glenrowan

see previous

Carrington's account

We put her into one of the compartments of the carriage, and then learnt definite news about the outlaws. She said they were all well armed, and that the four of them were there, and that they had a lot of people bailed up in the hotel. The poor woman was almost wild with excitement, and it was at first difficult to get any clear statement from her.

About an hour and a half before this occurrence, we had sent away the pilot engine to Benalla for assistance, and it was intended that it should have taken Superintendent Hare and the two ladies, but through some mistake it went away by itself, and the other engine had to go afterwards, taking the wounded man and Mrs O'Connor and her sister.

Just before daybreak Senior-constable Kelly came up to the platform from the east end, and told us that he had been making a wide tour round the house, and that on the top of the range he had found a quilted skull cap and a rifle near a large pool of blood. He at once came to the conclusion that the outlaws, or some of them, had escaped, especially as there had been no firing from the hotel for over an hour and a half. Daylight came at last and with it Sergeant Steele and his men from Wangaratta. They at once joined the other police and considerably strengthened the cordon around the inn. And now occurred the most sensational event of the day. We were watching the attack from the rear of the station at the west end, when suddenly we noticed one or two of the men on the extreme right with their backs turned to the hotel, firing at something in the bush. Presently we noticed a very tall figure in white stalking slowly along in the direction of the hotel. There was no head visible, and in the dim light of morning, with the steam rising from the ground, it looked for all the world like the ghost of Hamlet's father with no head only a very long thick neck. Those who were standing with me did not see it for some time, and I was too intent on watching its movements to point it out to others.

The figure continued gradually to advance stopping every now and then, and moving what looked like its headless neck slowly and mechanically round, and then raising one foot on to a log, and aiming and firing a revolver. Shot after shot was fired at it, but without effect, the figure generally replying by tapping the butt end of his revolver against its neck, the blows ringing out with the clearness and distinctness of a bell in the morning air. It was the most extraordinary sight I ever saw or read of in my life, and I felt fairly spell-bound with wonder, and I could not stir or speak. Presently the figure moved towards a dip in the ground near to some white dead timber, and, more men coming up, the firing got warmer. Still the figure kept erect, tapping its neck and using its weapon on its assailants. At this moment I noticed a man in a small round tweed hat stealing up on the left of the figure, and when within about 30 paces of it firing low two shots in quick succession. The figure staggered and reeled like a drunken man, and in a few moments afterwards fell near the dead timber. The spell was then broken, and we all rushed forward to see who and what our ghostly antagonist was. Quicker than I can write it we were upon him ; the iron mask was torn off, and there, in the broad light of day, were the features of the veritable bloodthirsty Ned Kelly himself. We soon stripped him of his armour and carried him to the station, and placed him on a bunk in one of the rooms. He complained very much of cold feet, and we filled a kerosene tin with water, made it hot, and placed it to them, having previously cut off his boots. He fainted once or twice, but uttered no word of complaint about his wounds. I had several conversations with him, and he told me that he was sick of his life, as he was hunted like a dog, and could get no rest, and didn't care a — what became of him. I asked him what the armour business meant, and he said he intended to fight it out, and "paste as many of the traps" as he could before they had him. His idea was to barricade the hotel, and fight through the windows, and for that reason he had only got armour made for the upper parts of his body. He told me several times that Byrne, Dan Kelly, and Hart had escaped, and that the only people in the hotel were those they had stuck up. This, of course, was a lie, and what his object was in telling it it is difficult to say.


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