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A Sergeant and three constables set out from Mansfield town
Near the end of last October for to hunt the Kellys down;
They started for the Wombat Hills and thought it quite a lark
When they camped upon the borders of a creek called Stringybark.
They had grub and ammunition there to last them many a week,
And next morning two of them rode out, all to explore the creek,
Leaving Mclntyre behind them at the camp to cook the grub
And Lonergan to sweep the floor and boss the washing-tub.
It was shortly after breakfast Mac thought he heard a noise
So gun in hand he sallied out to try and find the cause,
But he never saw the Kellys planted safe behind a log
So he sauntered back to smoke and yarn and wire into the prog.
But Ned Kelly and his comrades thought they'd like a nearer look,
For being short of grub they wished to interview the cook;
And of firearms and cartridges they found they had too few,
So they longed to grab the pistols and ammunition too.
Both the troopers at a stump alone they were well pleased to see
Watching as -the billies boiled to make their pints of tea;
There they joked and chatted gaily never thinking of alarms
Till they Heard the fearful cry behind, "Bail up, throw up your arms!"
The traps they started wildly and Mac then firmly stood
While Lonergan made tracks to try and gain the wood,
Reaching round for his revolver, but before he touched the stock
Ned Kelly pulled the trigger, fired, and dropped him like a rock.
Then after searching McIntyre all through the camp they went-
And cleared the guns and cartridges and pistols from the tent,
But brave Kelly muttered sadly as he loaded up his gun,
"Oh, what a ... pity that the ... tried to run."
'Twas later in the afternoon the sergeant and his mate
Came riding blithely through the bush to meet a cruel fate.
"The Kellys have the drop on you!" cried McIntyre aloud,
But the troopers took it as a joke and sat their horses proud.
Then trooper Scanlan made a move his rifle to unsling,
But to his heart a bullet sped and death was in the sting;
Then Kennedy leapt from his mount and ran for cover near,
And fought, a game man to the last, for all that life held dear.
The sergeant's horse raced from the camp alike from friend and foe,
And McIntyre, his life at stake, sprang to the saddle-bow
And galloped far into the night, a haunted, harassed soul,
Then like a hunted bandicoot hid in a wombat hole.
At dawn of day he hastened forth and made for Mansfield town
To break the news that made men vow to shoot the bandits down,
So from that hour the Kelly gang was hunted far and wide,
Like outlawed dingoes of the wild until the day they died.
From Stewart & Keesing's excellent Australian Bush Ballads. Radio National in Australia recently had a great show about Nancy Keesing - well worth a listen - link.
The illustration to this post is Sidney Nolan's Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek (1946).