In addition to the regular police several detectives were employed by the Government in the search for the Kellys, and they travelled the country from end to end, never actually meeting the outlaws but occasionally obtaining reliable information as to their movements. The difficulty was, however, that, if not when the information was received, at least by the time it could be communicated, the Kellys were probably miles away from the spot where they have been seen; and the dangers and hardships the detectives underwent led to no particular result beyond the very useful one of making the police acquainted with the character and sentiments towards them and the outlaws of people throughout the district. The service was certainly one of considerable danger, for any detective who might be discovered was extremely likely to get a bullet through him when wandering in some remote locality. Detective Ward, who had been enquiring into the Kellys’ movements before they murdered the police, and who had furnished the information on which Kennedy’s party set out, was in the habit of travelling through the Kelly country in various disguises, appearing sometimes as a miner—at others as a farm hand, a stockman, a selector in search of land—and in all his journeys he succeeded in escaping recognition.
Both the Kellys and the police lived and moved and had their being in perpetual distrust of many of the men on whom they had to depend, and the distrust on both sides seems to have been justified. Several of the police agents besides Sherritt played the part of friends of the Kellys. It was, in fact, their ability to do so that gave them their chief value as agents, but while they took money from and professed to help both sides, there was reason to suspect that they did help the outlaws at least as much as the police. Being paid by the latter for information furnished, they sometimes concocted imaginary tales, and at others gave true intelligence when it was too stale to be of any use. They probably realised that with the capture of the Kellys their occupation would be gone, and that, though some part of the reward might come into their hands, it would be impossible to them to take blood money and afterwards live in safety in the North Eastern District.
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