The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
Generally when we left the stock yard in the morning, Sherritt would leave us and go to his own hut on the ranges, or else to his father’s place, which was between our camp and Beechworth; but sometimes he would come into our camp and get his breakfast, and perhaps stop a part of the day. Very often he had to carry provisions for us from Beechworth during the night. He was always ready to do anything for me, and yet many of the men distrusted him. I never did from the first moment I took up with him, and his end showed I was right in my opinion of trial. Of a night, whilst I was watching with him, he would sit beside me and tell me the adventures of his life, and give me information of many things that were formerly unexplained. He told me how he, Joe Byrne, and Ned Kelly used to steal horses wholesale, and how they used to dispose of them, and the way they changed the brands of the horses so that the most experienced hand would not discover the trick. It was as follows:—Supposing a horse was branded H on the near shoulder, they would turn the H into H B (conjoined) by getting a pair of tweezers, pulling out the hair, to make a B, and then prick the skin with a needle dipped in iodine. This burns up the skin, and for about a month afterwards it looks like an old brand. New brands were also put on in this fashion, and they never could be detected. After branding the horse' they had collected, they would make for some squatter's station where they were unknown, ask permission to put their horses into his stock yard, on the pretence that they had met a stranger who wanted to purchase the mob of horses, this stranger being one of their own party. Generally speaking, the squatter or some one belonging to the station would walk down to look at the horses, and he would hear them making bargains about the price of each animal, so as to lead the people of the station to believe that it was a genuine sale. At last they would agree to a price, and then would ask the squatter to allow them to go into his office to draw up a receipt, in which all the brands could be entered, both old and manufactured ones. After the receipt had been drawn up the squatter would be asked to witness it, and the supposed buyers would start off towards Melbourne , and the seller appear to return back to New South Wales. If by chance any of the horses were claimed by their owners, the receipt would be produced, and they would so avoid being arrested.
Aaron used to tell me they made raids on horses from about Wagga to Albury, took them a back track to Melbourne, and on their return would pick up a number of horses in Victoria and take them over to Wagga or Albury for sale. One of the party used to act as the master, and the others as his servants; the master always going ahead and making arrange. meets where the horses were to be paddocked for the night.
For hours did Aaron relate anecdotes to me of the same description as the above, and he enlightened me greatly into the ways and the life of horse-stealers. I cannot refrain from telling another of his stories. I was sitting beside him one night, when he had brought us some very hopeful information, and we were all very elated at our prospect of success. I said, "Well, Aaron, I feel sure you will get the reward offered for the Kellys." (I had promised him be should have the whole sum of £8000 if it was upon his information that the Kellys were captured.) At this time his young woman was getting rather suspicious that he was working for the police, although she used to meet him of an evening very near our camp and walk with him. I asked him how he would like the reward disposed of, supposing he got it? He said, "I should like to have a few mares and an entire horse, and get a nice farm." I told him he should get a respectable girl, marry her, leave all his old associates, and begin life again amongst new people. He agreed with all I said, and turned round apd said to me, "Mr Hare, do you think, if you got me the best mares you could buy, and got me the best entire horse you could purchase, that I could withstand the temptation of taking my neighbour's horses and selling them? No, I could not, no more than fly."
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