Kit,now 16 years old, is learning the skills of a merchant venturer. He sets sail from Harwich with Captain Stephen, bound for Lisbon and other ports. They first encounter and overcome a barbary corsair; later they rescue a young woman from an evil wizard. Finally, reaching the port of Bristol, they battle with and defeat a renegade merchant who has failed in business and taken to piracy.
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A chilly morning in early spring found Kit, sixteen years old, grown tall and broad of shoulder, and brimful of hopes and promises, standing on the dock at Harwich with Captain Stephen, watching their three-masted trading vessel, the “Harwich Venturer,” as the last of the cargo was being loaded.
Kit’s head was full of anticipation of his real first foray into the world of shipping and trade, a prospect that both thrilled and daunted him. No stranger to adventure, this time he would have responsibilities in commerce – a world even more frightening than that of simple magic. As the pair stood watching the seemingly chaotic activities of dockworkers and seamen, scurrying about on errands and loading onto the ship the last of the cargo – bales of English woollen cloth, fine items of furniture in their straw-packed crates, and barrels of beer and cider, Stephen explained to Kit that some of the goods had been specifically ordered by merchants, while others were being taken on board on the presumption, based on long experience, that a handsome profit could be readily found in one or other of their ports of call.
He pointed out, as an example, a group of bales of scarlet woollen broadcloth. “The mill that wove that,” he said, “hoped they could sell it all for soldiers’ uniforms. But the baron, whose troops they were to outfit, was bought off by his enemies, so needed an army no longer. Now the mill has asked me to find a market for the cloth among the Portuguese and Spaniards, who are renowned for frequent skirmishing over land claims.”
As they were talking thus, a splendid carriage, with a coat of arms emblazoned on the doors, and drawn by four plumed white horses, clattered along the cobbles and came to a stop on the dockside. A footman lowered the carriage steps and handed down an elegantly dressed lady. She looked about her, and spying Kit and Stephen, called out, “Good morning, gentlemen, how go your preparations? When will you sail?” Kit ran to her, and, bowing, said, “Welcome Lady Letitia; is his lordship not with you today? We shall hoist our sails and move out within the hour, I believe, all going well.”