The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 13 page 1

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)


Just as they were about to put this newly conceived plan into operation, Mrs Skillian, sister of the Kellys, dressed in a dark riding habit trimmed with scarlet, and wearing a jaunty hat adorned with a conspicuous white feather, appeared on the scene. Father Tierney earnestly requested her to go to the hotel and ask her brother and Hart to surrender. She said she would like to see her brother before he died, but she would sooner see him burned in the house than ask him to surrender. This, in fact, was the procedure which the police had decided upon in order to bring the outlaws from their cover. Some 700 people by this time had arrived on the platform.

The police opened up a heavy fire on the hotel from the front and rear. This was done in order to cover the operations of Senior constable Johnstone, who rapidly approached the house on the north side with a bundle of straw, which he placed against the weather-boards and set fire to. It was known that Martin Sherry, an old man, was still in the house, and when the last prisoners had escaped he was alive, though badly wounded. The thought that the unfortunate man would be sacrificed, and perish in the flames with the determined bushrangers who had made so long a stand, caused a feeling of horror to pervade the crowd.

Kate Kelly at this juncture came upon the scene, but the only expression which escaped her lips was the one uttered in heart-broken accents, "My poor, poor brother." Mrs Skillian exclaimed, "I will see my brother before he dies," and then sped towards the hotel, from the roof of which by this time tongues of flame were beginning to ascend. The police ordered her to go back, and she hesitated.

The End of the Gang

Father Tierney emerged from the crowd, saying he would save Sherry. The brave clergyman was encouraged on his mission by a cheer from the spectators. He walked boldly to the front door, was lost to view amongst the smoke, and directly afterwards a mass of flames burst from the walls and roof of the dwelling at the same instant. A shout of terror from the crowd announced the fear that was felt for the safety of the courageous priest. Constable Armstrong, with some other policemen, rushed into the building from the rear, and a few seconds afterwards their forms, with that of Father Tierney, were seen to emerge, carrying with them Sherry, who was in a dying state, and the dead body of the outlaw Byrne.

On reaching a place of safety they stated that Dan Kelly and Hart lying upon the floor apparently dead. Nothing, however, could be done to rescue their remains from the fire. Soon afterwards the building was completely demolished, and on a search being made amongst the ruins, two charred skeletons were raked out from the smouldering debris. Wild Wright, Hart (the brother of Steve), and other well known friends were witnesses of this terrible scene. All the bushrangers were clad in the same kind of armour as that worn by Ned Kelly, which weighed as much as ninety seven pounds, and had evidently been constructed by some country blacksmith out of ploughshares. The marks on Kelly's armour showed that he had been hit seventeen times with bullets.

The unfortunate man Sherry died soon after being rescued from the burning building. Ned Kelly was brought on to Benalla by the evening train, and lodged in the lock up, to a wait the inquest to be held in the morning.

The statement of Constable Bracken is to the effect that the first intimation of the presence of the gang at Glenrowan was on Monday night at eleven o'clock , when he was bailed up by Ned Kelly. He had been confined to bed through illness. Whilst a prisoner in the hotel he courageously managed to steal the key of the front door, which enabled him to escape in time to warn the police that the outlaws were in the house.

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