Later at the Sherritt selection, a rapping at the door was answered by Jack. Aaron stood at the threshold dressed in his town clothes with a bottle of whiskey in his hand.
“Evening, brother,” said Jack, “Keeping well, I see.”
“I came upon this rough looking beggar along the track,” Aaron replied. He stood aside and Joe walked into the light. He looked sickly and tired but shook Jack’s hand firmly.
“Evening, Jacky; thanks for all the running about you’ve been doing for me.”
The arrivals entered the house with Dan Kelly a short distance away in the bush guarding the perimeter. The Sherritt brothers were joined by their sister Anne who greeted Joe with a kiss. Anne resembled her brothers closely, her features heavy and broad. Anne was also very much a larrikin like her brothers and her crush on Ned Kelly was common knowledge.
“How’s my Neddy?” Anne asked Joe.
“You know Ned. Always got something on the boil,” Joe replied.
Everyone took a seat around the dining table and all eyes were on Joe, who sat at the head. He pulled his leather riding gloves off and planted them next to his hat on the table in front of him.
‘Now, Joe, what was it you wanted to meet us for?’ asked Aaron.
‘We’re getting ready to come back into the open. Ned’s got his sights set on robbing a bank in Yackandandah.”
“Alright, so do you want us to keep the traps off your tails?” asked Aaron.
“No, that’s not why I wanted to meet. You see, he’s got this idea about wearing armour so we can just burst in and raid the place. It’s foolish. But I have my own ideas.”
Aaron and Jack sat forward and gave Joe their undivided attention.
“I don’t think hitting the bank in the daytime is wise. There were too many errors at Euroa and Jerilderie. Ned was sloppy and let the people at the business end of his pistol dictate how things played out,” said Joe, “You remember when the bank at Mount Egerton was stuck up a few years ago?”
The others nodded in the affirmative.
“That’s the kind of job I reckon we need to do. Quiet; at night; as few witnesses as possible. We get the manager out of bed and clean out the safe. If he doesn’t have the keys I’ll need someone to come with me to find the cove that does. We keep the bankers covered and I take the booty with me. We split up and reconvene at a mutually agreeable location. What do you think?”
Aaron and Jack took a moment to process the information.
“Where do we fit into this?” asked Jack.
“I want you to help me and Dan stick up the bank. I need fellas I can count on.”
There was an awkward silence over the room before Aaron spoke out. “It’s certainly a tempting offer but I don’t know how wise it is for us to start getting in on the bank robbing caper at this stage.”
‘Can I say something?’ said Anne, “Joe, you know that there’s a chance that if you turned the others in that you could get a pardon. Wouldn’t that make more sense than causing more problems for yourself by robbing more banks?”
“I don’t think so. This way we rob the bank like Ned wants, we’ll just do it more efficiently than he will. When he sees the result I have no doubt he’ll come around to my way of thinking,” replied Joe, “Besides, it would take a real mangy dog to give his mates away when they’re wanted for a hanging offence. Wouldn’t it?”
© Aidan J. F. Phelan, 2020