The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
It would take me too long to relate one tenth of his anecdotes, nor had I any guarantee as to the truth of them, but I may give one or two for a sample. He stated that he had robbed a number of stores and draymen, at Bright. The morning before he committed the robbery he changed his clothes, putting on very old ones, and mounted a miserable old roan horse which he had picked up for the occasion, leaving his own horse and clothes in some secure place in the bush. After committing the robberies, he started off to his retreat in the mountains, riding in the most unfrequented passes. About sunset in the evening, he met three young men who appeared to him like office lads, or bank clerks; each of them had a revolver round his waist. They came up to him, and said, "Eave you seen a man riding a roan horse?" at the same time describing the dress Power had worn in the morning. He replied, "No; who is he?" The young men replied, "We are looking for Power the bushranger, who has stuck up a number of drays and stores near Bright this morning." Power then told them he had seen no one answering the description they gave. Power asked them where they intended spending the night; they said they were going towards Myrtleford; he said he was going in that direction also, and would accompany them in their search for Power. They rode along talking about the robberies, the three young fellows never dreaming they were talking to Power.
After they had gone some distance, Power got them in a certain position, and ordered them to hold up their hands on pain of being shot, at the same time pointing his revolver at them and informing them he was Power the bushranger. He made them all dismount from their horses, undo the belts of their revolvers, let them drop on the road, and move away from them. He then ordered them all to undress and place their clothes on a log, even down to their shirts, and ordering them away from the log, lit a fire and burnt every article! He let their horses go, and then told them they might return to Bright, and inform their employers they had seen Power! I never could ascertain whether this story was true, beyond the fact of his having stuck up the stores and draymen on that road.
Another story Power told me is worth recording. He said he had stuck up a number of draymen on the road between Avenel and Seymour, and after stopping some eight or nine of them and seeing another approach him, he stepped from behind a tree, and ordered the driver to "bail up," calling out, "I am Power, the bushranger," at the same time covering him with his double barrelled gun. The drayman pulled up his horses, and Power demanded his money, but the driver, who proved himself to be a Scotchman, most positively declined to hand it over. He said, "I have worked hard for my money, and have only £9 upon me, and nothing in the world will induce me to give it up." Power replied, "You see all these gentlemen here," pointing to the drivers of the other waggons, "have given me up all their money, and you will have to do the same." The drayman still remained obdurate, and Power then said to him, "Look here my good man, you see the position I am in; if I allow you to pass without giving me your money, my occupation will be gone. I am a bushranger, and make my living as a highwayman. Suppose I let you pass, the next person I stick up will also refuse to hand over his money, and the public will say I am afraid to shoot a man. I will therefore give you five minutes to think over the matter, and if after that time you still refuse, I will have to shoot you." Power said to me, "I did not want to shoot the poor fellow, so I left him and went behind a tree and prayed to God to soften his heart, and the Lord answered my prayer. At the end of the appointed time, I again called on the drayman to hand over his cash, and he handed it to me without a murmur."
Power was a most careful man in his dress. No one would have thought he was a bushranger, his clothes were always so clean and neat, and he always rode splendid horses (of course, stolen property). After his capture I was a good deal with him. I drove him to Beechworth in my buggy, and he talked all the way; and subsequently I was asked by Captain Standish to bring him from Beechworth to Melbourne by coach, and all the way down he related his adventures and experiences since his escape from Pentridge. On his arrival in Melbourne by the coach, which carried the mails, we stopped at the post office, where a large crowd awaited his arrival. He put his head out of the coach window and took off his hat to the people, and then, when the coach arrived at Cobb's office, he wanted to make a speech to the crowd, but I prevented his doing so.
On the way from Beechworth after the sentence was passed, he thanked me for all my kindness towards him, and told me he would like to make me a present of a magnificent black mare he had in the mountains (telling me where she was). I asked him how she came into his possession, but he replied, “You must not ask me that question." I said, "Did you get her on the square?" His reply was "No." “then I can have nothing to do with her," I replied. He afterwards offered me his pipe, but as I was not a smoker I declined the offer.
Power was put on his trial at Beechworth, charged with highway robbery under arms, which meant sticking up the Myrtleford coach and robbing the passengers. He pleaded guilty to one charge, and was sentenced to fifteen years in Pentridge; he served over fourteen years of this sentence, and was then released. He was afterwards employed as game-keeper to Sir William Clarke, at Bald Hill Station. I had a conversation with him whilst there. He appeared very dissatisfied at the unexciting life he was leading. He was a hale, strong man even then, very fond of telling his experiences to any one who would listen to him.
Our guide, L-, I never saw again after leaving him at the hollow tree the morning of Power's capture. I had letters from him, and paid the £500 reward promised to him, to a gentleman he named, who paid him portions of the sum as he required it, but he made no good use of the money. He squandered it, and it became known in the district that he had informed against Power, in consequence of his having so much money at his disposal. He was galloping his horse one Sunday after he had drawn the last instalment, and in riding home from the hotel, where he had been drinking heavily, he fell from his horse and broke his neck. Power himself never suspected L-, but thought the Quinns had given information, or, as it is termed, "put him away;" he thought it quite impossible for our party to have passed Quinn's house unobserved.
I might add that afterwards the squatter who had given us £15 to obtain his watch, and through whose instrumentality the capture was made, sent in an application to the government to refund the amount, but the Chief Secretary point blank refused the request.
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