Chapter 1

"If you need ever us, you will always know where to find us again," he had said. He had promised her that they would all be there if they needed her. He hadn't kept his promise though; his heart couldn't take it. A week had gone by, and the only news they had was Muta saying that she seemed perfectly happy and content, without a trouble in the world.

He had been reading, a cup of tea cooling beside him, a book of classic verse by one Mister "Banjo" Patterson and he found himself yearning for the life the poet so vividly described. Men took to the road, all their possessions in the world upon their backs in a pack, more commonly called a swag or Matilda. These men worked only as it suited them to work, travelled as they pleased, and valued a good cup of tea - though they drank it from an empty tin more often than a teacup, and boiled the water in a bucket they called Billy.

Over a month, without even realising he was doing it, the Baron slowly packed up those things he could not and would not leave behind into a swag. The Matilda Waltzer's Union described it in detail – an outdated document the instant it was written, though an interesting piece of colonial history nevertheless.

Now he was walking, his swag on his shoulder, his cane in his gloved hand and his hat between his furred ears. He had felt in a daze at first, and he still wasn't sure where he was going or why, but that was all right – a swaggie, as he understood, didn't have to worry about things like that.

He had walked out of the Bureau with his now meagre belongings after Toto and Muta had both gone to sleep. He'd left them a note on his desk, saying that he was gone. Don't look for me, it said, I don't want to be found. Be good chaps, keep the Bureau going, and try not to fight so often. H.

The H was for Humbert, perhaps everyone knew him better as Baron, but his name was Humbert, and it always had been. There were times he had wondered if it were such a fine name though, even if the artisan had given it to him in love. Whatever the answer may have been, the Baron had never avoided his name, everyone seemed to think his title suited him better as a name though…

He walked. He left the refuge, the city, and the people he knew and cared for; all were behind him. He kept walking. Mountains gave way to plains, and eventually he came to the sea. The sea… it looked wonderful. While he was resting in the shadows, a man took his grandson upon his knee, and the Baron heard the silver-haired man tell the child that the sea had no memory.

"All the sadness, the lost hopes and dreams, the sea takes those away. When you're out there, nothing but the future matters – where you're going, not where you've come from. There was a time when even tomorrow didn't matter upon the sea, simply surviving the storms and the waves. There are few places left quite like the sea," said the old man, and the Baron could see the spark of a happy youth spent on the ocean hidden within the wrinkled gentleman.

"The sea," he said to himself, considering the port before him, all the docked vessels and their destinations. One ship was a restored antique of a craft, a tall ship with miles of rigging and great white sails. It was visiting from Australia, an historical craft, teaching about the lives of the explorers as it travelled the world, and it was leaving the next day for its home port. He slipped aboard at midnight.