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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas - page 99 / 129





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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

three men. Then one of them asked him to let him go for a doctor, which he agreed to, but no sooner was the man on his horse than Morgan shot him dead.

Another time he came just in the same way to a farm, and after ordering everybody into the parlour, under the muzzle of his pistol, he made the farmer’s wife sit down and play the piano to him. He had allowed her to leave one of her children in the neighbouring room because it was very ill.

Presently the child began to cry, so one of the girls said she would go and comfort it. But the moment she was out of the room she slipped out by a back door into the bush and ran as fast as she could to another farm near by and gave them the news that Morgan was there. Then, without waiting, she bravely got back again to the sick child, and when she had recovered her breath she came back into the parlour as if nothing had happened.

The bushranger made them give him food, but meantime, without his knowing it, the farm had been quietly surrounded, and when at last he came out, intending, as he told the farmer, to take the best horse in the stable, he suddenly found a gun levelled at him, and the next moment he fell mortally wounded, cursing the finer for “shooting him down like a dog.”

But it was about all that he deserved.

I used when a boy to read about these bushrangers and to think them great heroes, but since I have come to learn what they really were my admiration has gone out. They were a cowardly lot, and only scored because they were armed and murderous fellows in a peaceful land where farmers went unarmed and lived in a friendly way among their neighbours.

And for this reason there were very few police, and they were more for show than for active fighting work. So for a time the bushrangers had it all their own way in a vast country where they could easily hide themselves.

The last of the bushrangers were the Kelly gang in Victoria some thirty years ago. Ned Kelly and his brother and two other men went about robbing farms and stealing cattle, they murdered several policemen and entered two villages and robbed the banks.

This went on for many months, till at last a proper hunt was organised and they were caught in a village where they had got most of the inhabitants into the hotel under threat of death if they tried to escape. Some police arrived by train and attacked them. The imprisoned villagers in escaping from the hotel came under fire of both sides. The attackers, unable to get the desperadoes to come out, set fire to the place.

Ned Kelly, the leader, came out, but he was dressed in armour which he had had made out of ploughshares to cover his head and body; but a shot struck him in the legs and brought him down and he was captured.

The others were shot in the house and were found dead. Kelly was afterwards tried in Melbourne and sentenced to death. He boasted that he would make a speech from the scaffold, but when the time came boasting had gone and he died a felon’s death.

His sister held a grand mourning reception that afternoon, open to the public, and she made her appearance on a music-hall stage the same night to receive their sympathy. But she did not get as much as she bad hoped for. Such theatrical nonsense finally put an end to any admiration that anyone might have felt for the bushrangers.

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