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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections


[From a Correspondent]

Is this individual still living? What of his where abouts ? What exertions have been used to effect his capture ? What has become of his children ? What of the Drouertv ? And. finally, what is to be done ?

When the intelligence of the murder of Fry*s wife first became known, a number of friends and relatives, both of himself and the deceased, proceeded to the station. They remained there a good many days, and, with the exception that one or two of the party fancied they had caught a sight of Fry on the evening of their arrival, opposite the hut on the other side of tbe Creek, uo traces of his proximity or existeuce could be detected by them during their stay. On the morning of the Sa turday, the night of which was marked by a particular occurrrnce, which we shall quickly explain, the whole party above-mentioned, together with the children of the murderer, excepting only the second stockkeeper and Mr Cardinal, a veterinary surgeon* (the latter having volunteered to stay and keep possession), left for Ade laide. At about eleven o'clock in the evening of that day the attention of these two individuals was arrested by the footstep of a man, without shoes, pacing the roof of the dairy, in which they had taken up. their quarters, which was followod instantaneously by the whole mob of kan- garoo dogs, six in number, making a rush upon the sheep, dispersing the little flock in various directions, but all which — less two — were found next day in the adjacent scrub, several being wounded, and others dead. Now these dogs had been reared with the same sheep, as if they were a brood of the same genus— were well fed, and had, moreover, plenty of animal food at that momeut at their command, which, combined with tho circumstance of the uirlevoured carcasses of their victims presenting themselves next day, prove to a demon stration that other causes than that of hunger impelled the attack by them, and must convincingly contradict the subsequent insinuation of the police to that effect. The inevitable conclusion the efore is, that tho dogs were set upon the sheep ; and then comes the question, by whom? Surely no strangers could possess such power over the dogs ; indeed, uo such person would put himself int- a position so perilous among thoin. Be sides, no voice was heard or employed to incite the at tack ! No other, therefore, than the command of their master tho veritable Fry, whose peculiar motion in kan garoo hunting, to which ho had reared and trained these dogs, could possibly be understood and obeyed in such a case. He had hitherto been compelled to keep close for some time, so that hunger must have fiercely assailed him, and he therefore avails himself of the carl eat feasible juncture, after tho departure of the m»jor part of the occupants of tho station — whoso move ments were doubtless hourly rcconnoitercd by him to procure food — placing himself for tbat purpose in tbe position that would enable him to deal to advantage with the two per.-ons iu tbe dairy, in case they should rush out and attempt bis capture. This, perhaps, very wisely, they did not do, so that Fry was able to carrj out the object which involved, it might be, the preser vation of his life — and, doubtlo-s, the sheep next day found missing, were appropriated by him for tbat purpose. '1 he night following was spent by tho par y, not in the dairy, but in tho ascent of an adjoining range. Whilst there, the dog3 rushed suddenly several times towards an object on tbe summit of the range, but on each occasion quickly returned with out anything further transpiring. Subsequently it was discovered that a wurley had been made exactly at this point, of very recent construction, and bearing, iudubitubly, evidence of its having been both the workmanship and the hiding-place of Fry. -This explains the rush of the dogs, as well as tbe celerity and quietude of their return, for 'which their master's well known sigu and frown were alone sufficient. At a later period of tho night a human object attracted the notice of Mr Cardinal coming up through a gully, aud wend ing his way along tho bank of the Creek at the foot of the range, alternately exhibiting his full and unmistaka ble proportions, or creeping upon his hands and knees, as the more exposed portions of the fringes of the river might scorn to suggest the idea of being cautious. Tbe

stock-keeper, on being roused from sleep, just as tbe waning moon was .about to withdraw her f ivouring light for the night, identified in.the individual, without doubt or hesitation, tbe person of Fry his master. And, as a further confirmation of the fact, it was found on tbe following morning that one of the sheep, which was observed there tbe previous evening, and thought to be in a fair way of recovery, had been taken away (her sucking lamb being left), without any of those traces which must inevitably have attended the removal by other than human bands, or, iu fact, than that of Fry, A day or two afterwards this couple of heroic defen ders of Fry's forfeited domain were greeted by the ar rival of the head stockkeeper, — and on an evening, a couple of days later, arrived Sergeant-Major McCulloch and another police officer. Tho tramp of steeds quickly brought out tho inmates, with cocked siuns, but which they laid aside on ascertaining the identity of their visi tors. An accident, however, which occurred shortly afterwards, may require our being a little minute in ex plaining how it arose, especially as it has been reported that it originated in nervous trepidation on tho part of the individual, from a fear thit it was a visit from Fry. After a short conversation the Major and his companion volunteered to water their own horses, and, pointing to the water-hole, the others were going back into the dairy. The head stockkeeper, who had set down his piece, on returning through the avenue which led to the dairy, used it, butt-end dowu, in the shape of a walking

stick. Now, the entrance to the dairy requires persons of even ordinary stature to stop, - and, in the dark com ing against an old door, which had been placed against the uprights of the dairy door (the two having been used together to reader] an insidious attack impractica ble by an aggressor), the hammer of tho guu was caught by it, and the exposion produced : tbe contents, from the inclined posture of the body, grazing tbe skull of the individual, but doing no material injury. The police men, at the report of the gun, hurried back to the dairy, appearing as if much frightened, tho Sergeant saying, ' 1 thought the report proceeded from the stock-yard, and that it was Fry,' whilst his more pious companion, apparently astounded at tho bush-bred heroism of the wounded stockkeeper, rebuked him for not falling upon his knees and praising God for his deliverance. After the policemen had made things right with their horses for the night, they were admitted into the dairy, where they remained till next morning. They then set out upon an excursion for the day, visiting Mr Bow man's station, and returning again in the eveniug to stay that night. The following morning, partly from want of rations, and partly to procure tbe requiste medical aid for the wounded, the party left for town. The policemen, also, then left the station, saying they should pay tbe natives a visit, and it is said that in their return they went 15 miles out of their way in order to avoid a district with which Fry might have been fami liar. This is the sum tota' of their search for that ill fated person, who, they boldly asserted when they came back, was not in existence. Strange, that full ten days afterwards. Fry was seen in broad day-light, aud that ho has since been noticed upon several occasions. Whilst we write, a rumour has reached us that ho has been seen in the neighbourhood of the Horaosh-e jluring the past week. Amongst the other erroneous statements made by * To whose s'&Hl and kindness Fry'* splendid little horse, which he he had so much injured that its recovery wm pronounced tmposible. are owing its being re-instated to soundues*.

the police, they report that what has been mentioned about Fry's intercourse with the King Willinmies, Bobby Robbinsons, and other natives, was untrue ; since they had interrogated them upon the subject, and been answered in tbe negative. But the Major should have paused ere he circulated any such report. The police, officially, do not rank high in the good graces of tbe aborigines, and personally they are regarded as tnrapable of conferring much favour. Then, on the other hand, Fry had not only rendered himself a terror to tbem, but had likewise been their great friend and benefactor— feeding tbem on many necessitous occasions — and thus, whilst they dreaded his displeasure, ho bad won their affection. No motive would therefore induce them to disclose their knowledge about Fry, except that of a great reward, and their being convinced of the certainty of being able to take him. ~8ow, then, what is there to justify the apathetic in difference with which this grave affair has been treated ? Has Sergeant McCulloch, dospite all the renown which attaches to his career in the service, at Mount Gambler and other out-station?, exercised the neassary vigilance ? We employ the term necessary in the present instance in contradistinction to tbe ordinary ; since the extraor dinary character of the man, and the aggravated nature of the crime — a crime perpetrated iu cold blood, for no ascertained or definable cause, and upon an object who should have been nearest and dearest to the murderer, whose threats remain unexecuted of yet another mur der, and to be followed by that of personal 6uicide npon i]irnself ; — a character ihus, and atrocitios these, we say, imperatively demand tbe exercise of vigilance and activities the most efficient and spirited that human suffering and peril could prompt, or official insinuation aud experience suggest. First, then, for the capture of one so dangerous and deluded, there should have been several more officers— and in disguised habiliments; then they should have employed a nocturnal search, for a series of nights — and ' not by keeping within doors, armed to meet a visitor, exhibit fears for their personal safoty, and restricting their investigation to a day's ramble, leave the murderer *? monarch of all he sur veyed,' at liberty to possess himself of his former ac commodations, and to live and roam through the bush at his pleasure. It occurs to us that this contrasts very disparagingly with the efforts of Mr Commissioner Tolmer nearly two years ago, for tha capture of tbe notorious bushrangers he traced 'even across tho waters of the mighty deep ' to Kangaroo Island, and thence to Port Lincoln, bringing them unceremoniously to the bar of justice ! Surely, if it was desirable to employ the most indefatigable means, and for officers to confront peril and danger, in order to take the itinerant burglar, it is far more important that no lack of atten tion, vigilance, courage, or force be employed to reach the systematic murderer ! The man who could niako himself terrible in his happier days, is surely not to be permitted to molest society, and make victims of its members in cold blood, at least until every preventive means has been resorted to, to intercept the execution of such awful deeds. Fry has several small children, and ho was also the owner of considerable property in stock, &c. Are these children to be deprived of their rights, become probably unprovided for, and the property squandered ? . From its peculiar description, it will, unless prompt measures be taken, become difficult to identify it, and a very brief period would in fact suffice to produce its annihilation. Ou the part of the children, the relatives aro deterred from going to take possession, through fear of Fry ; and ho is a character of whom the public at largo stand undoubtedly in danger. Under these circumstances, dobs not it devolve upon the authorities, as an obvious and imperative duty, to bestir themselves in this matter, with that effectiveness and perseverance that shall j realise his capture, if living, or the ascertainment of the fact, if dead ? Indeed, vre conceive it would be a righteous application of the public money, and a proper appreciation of the exigency of the occasion, and its own ' part and lot ' in this affair, were the Government immediately to offer a reward of £100 or £200 for Fry's apprehension; and were such a prize proclaimed to morrow, wo feel persuaded he would be produced in proprid persona within twenty days. Two things before we close, our remarks require a passing notice. It has been said that Fry is a maniac, and tbat the murder of his wife arose out of jealousy. We caunotbeiievw either. *Hoii, it is true, a, man of strong passions, sufficiently impetuous upon occasions, when stron-^'y worked upon, to produce temporary in sanity. His attempt at Gepp's Cross to commit suicide was during one of those aberrations. He bad brought a large herd of cattle into Adelaide, after the sale of which, gambling and drinking . superadded, induced delirium tremem, during which he made tbe attempt just adverted to. But tbat he is a maniac is contradicted by the whole, tenor of his life, and perhaps by nothing more than the shrewdness with which he has manoeuvred to elude his pursuers, and secretly to provide himself with the means of subsistence. The charge of jealousy, the object of which has been imputed to bis head stock keeper, appears equally unfounded. He had been uni formly Fry's companion and confidential friend. They were rarely separate iu their excursions, and to the last there was not the slightest abatement of mutual confi dence. Even when at Gepp's Cross he would constantly have bis stockkeeper with him, and none but him (his wife also being there) would he allow to prepare the meat ho ate. Then in Mrs Fry, a plain*, home-bred au-l virtuous woman, there was nothing to warrant a breath of suspicion of her infidelity, or the slightest imputation upon her charac ter ; facts which will be attested by all who knew her, including those whose opinion will be most credited, her domestic servants. Some other cause than that of in sanity or jc tlousy must therefore be assigned for the murder. Now, whilst at Gepp's Cross, incidents trans pired which prompt the inference that some foul deed blackened the soul of Fry at some previous part of his history. It is a fact that Mrs Fry, whilst there, ex hibited symptoms of very extraordinary depression and unhappiness, — apart from what arose out of the then particular act of her husband, since it was some time after her arriving there— and after that, it was observed that Fry, however languid or in want of sleep, would never lie down until his wife had got into a slumber. He would likewise inquire with great eagerness, almost every morning, of tbe stockkeeper wh - occupied tho ad joining room, whether he had been talking in bis sleep ; which was frequently the case. The belief is, that it was in this way Mrs Fry first became acquainted with

some horrible crime her husband had perpetrated, and that she subsequently adverted to it, which suggested to Fry the expedient of killing her, and thus extinguish, with her life, the knowledge of the guilt which haunted him.