The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 21 page 1

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With three of their number dead and the fourth a prisoner, the career of the Kelly gang ended once and for all on the day the hotel at Glenrowan, riddled like a sieve with police bullets, went up in flames, but for months afterwards the sympathisers remained in sullen, threatening mood, and while Ned Kelly lived the gang and their exploits were a constant topic of thought and conversation all through the country.

In the final stages of the Kelly drama events moved quickly, and changing emotions rapidly succeeded one another in the minds of law-abiding citizens. The horror occasioned by Sherritt’s cold blooded murder was followed by intense excitement and eager expectation when news came that the outlaws were surrounded at Glenrowan. Excitement gave place to relief as hope was converted into the certainty that the Kelly gang was no more, and afterwards with reflection there came somewhat contemptuous regret for the unheroic part that circumstances had forced upon the police in the affair. They did their duty in the main, and Superintendent Sadlier was undoubtedly right in determining that the lives of none of his constables should be avoidably sacrificed, but the shooting of innocent civilians was hard to explain away or forgive, and to friends of law and order the story of Glenrowan was scarcely more a source of satisfaction than of shame. To the Kelly sympathisers the gang not unnaturally became more than ever heroes with their death, and over the charred remains of Hart and Dan Kelly, which were given to their relatives, a wake was held at the residence of Mrs Skillion, where at fierce vows of vengeance were registered. The fire had rendered the bodies unrecognisable and no one was able to see by what wounds they met their death; but the popular theory was that, finding the case hopeless, they had taken off their armour and shot one another to prevent falling into the hands of the police. Reardon, the platelayer, and other witnesses, who had heard Hart and Dan Kelly conversing together in the hotel, were convinced that this was the case, but Ned Kelly, when asked his opinion, said he believed they were too cowardly to voluntarily accept death.

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