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  ― 331 ―

L'Envoi

MY uncle, Daniel Rowe, and his councillor, David Gardner, were captured near the spot where they had sprung from the train, each having been severely injured from the fall. They were sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour, on the evidence of the mine owner and his friend, my gentlemen fellow passengers on that memorable journey. John Robin made good his escape, and returned safely to Sydney, where he assumed command of the Push during my uncle's incarceration.

Through the goodness of my wife, I subsequently repaid to the Push and to my uncle every farthing which I had cost them for my maintenance and education from childhood upwards. Since the day that I departed from Australia, taking with me the Push Book, the Dogs' Push have not once engaged themselves in any crime of moment. No mysterious disappearances have occurred, no Push murder has been committed in or near the district, and not even a solitary assault upon a policeman has been reported. Nevertheless, I continue to watch their conduct narrowly, and four times each year I send a letter to my uncle, warning him of my unabated vigilance and unrelaxed determination. Six years have passed, years of almost perfect happiness for my wife and me, whose only cloud, other than memoried sadness, has been the custody of the Book, with the duties which that custody involves. And yet even that is not all a curse. We recognise it as the fief on which we hold our happiness from fate, and it forbids us to forget, neglect, or value lightly the blessings we enjoy, because of the shadowy possibility, haunting ever like a spectre, of a task which may one day devolve upon us, and which, should occasion arise, we must fulfil. It is our constant prayer that Destiny may avert that task for ever, and that the terrible weapon we hold


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may never be wielded except as now—a sword of fear, to compel the perverse hearts of my old associates to the paths of rectitude.

My greatest hope is this—with the Push crime was never a necessity, but rather an evil habit into which they had allowed themselves to fall. The whole universe is ruled by habit, the stars revolve in their courses steadfastly of habit, the old earth gives us day and night, summer and winter, from the same cause, and even the sun shines, of habit. We call this habit law, fixed and unalterable, but it is really no such thing. The fixed and unalterable law of the universe and Nature is habit. A course commenced becomes presently a custom. Divert that course, the direction changes, but not the destiny. The moon was once a living world like ours revolving round the sun perhaps as we do now. Its course was diverted, it died, but its habit continued, and it now speeds round the earth a dead thing, but a thing of habit still. Therefore my hope is that the Push, its course diverted from evil, will assume the habit of virtue, and continue in that custom as steadfastly as in the old.

As for myself, I am now a student at an English University, and it is my purpose to become a surgeon, because that profession affords to its votary a wider scope than any other to confer benefits upon his fellow creatures. I cannot rid myself of the conviction that I owe to the world reparation not only for the death of Edward Shaw but also for those lives wasted by the Push since I was first constrained to join their ranks. I shall strive to pay my debt by doing all within my power to save or help prolong the lives of friendless beings who would otherwise sink to death in lonely poverty and pain, unattended, uncared for, unremarked. In London there are many such who perish day by day. I have seen; I know. London will be my future home, and there I hope to find my destiny. My wife approves; she is my counsellor, my helpmate, guide, and constant friend.

A last word. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw are both long dead. Poor Edward Shaw's sweetheart lives with us. She is a generous and helpful woman, who knows my story, and yet


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bears me no resentment. Her life is devoted and made sacred to a memory. My wife and she share my ambition. They are together studying the art of nursing the sick, and when I am prepared to enter the arena and do battle with disease, they will be ready to perform their parts in the common work, which as yet it is our dearest joy to anticipate in contemplation.

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