As far as Monk’s saw mill, distant about thirteen miles from Mansfield , and situated in comparatively settled country, no difficulty arose about the route. On arrival there a guide was necessary, and Mr Pewtress called up Mr Monk, told him of the murders, and asked him for direction and assistance. It was then about half past nine. Rain was falling in torrents and the night was pitchy dark. Mr Monk at once consented to guide the party to Stringy Bark Creek, also inducing two of his men to join it; and at ten o’clock the searchers resumed their journey, riding in melancholy silence in single file through the forest, with no sound but the rain pattering on the leaves, an occasional mournful cry of a mopoke, or the crashing of a wallaby through the undergrowth. None but bushmen born and bred could have steered a course through such country on such a night; but under Monk’s leadership the creek was reached some time after midnight, and dismounting from their horses the party began their search for the bodies. Only the police inspector, the constables and one volunteer entered upon this melancholy work, the other men waiting with the horses about a quarter of mile from the camp. The bodies of Lonigan and Scanlon were soon discovered where they had fallen in the comparatively open ground. Striking matches to examine them, the police were able to see that they had both been shot in several places, and that they lay upon their backs; while their pockets, which were turned inside out, had been rifled of everything they contained. No signs were seen of Kennedy, and recognising that further search by night was useless, the police sat down upon a log—the same log from which M’Intyre had seen his comrades approaching a few hours before, and waited for daylight. Then the other men came up and inspected the dead bodies and the camp, before making search for Kennedy.
Ashes where the tent had stood showed that it had been burnt down, and all the property possessed by the police had been either removed or destroyed by the bushrangers. The horses, which, next to the firearms, were the prize most coveted by the Kellys, were, of course, nowhere to be seen.
For a long time, with heavy rain falling, the search party diligently beat through the scrub and grass trees searching for Kennedy, whom they had little hope of finding alive, but neither were they able to discover his body, and at last Sub Inspector Pewtress gave orders for a start upon the journey home. Dr Reynolds had examined the bodies of the murdered men and assured himself that by no possibility could any life be left in them, so nothing remained but to convey them back to Mansfield for inquest and burial. How to carry them was a question which presented some difficulty; but the police inspector, who had puzzled the men at the saw mill by asking for a rope, had foreseen the task in hand. The bodies were roped together, and slung like packs, one on either side a horse’s back. The horse chosen to carry this burden seemed to have some instinctive horror of travelling with it. The weight did not trouble him; but, looking backward, he could see his ghastly load; and eventually he was only persuaded to stir from the spot where he stood when blindfolded by Mr Pewtress.
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