IT was easy to find a ship to my liking; for all kinds of trading vessels go out from London to every country that is known.
One day I met an old sea captain who had been often to the coast of Africa. He was pleased with my talk.
"If you want to see the world," he said, "you must sail with me." And then he told me that he was going again to Africa, to trade with the black people there. He would carry out a load of cheap trinkets to exchange for gold dust and feathers and other rare and curious things.
I was very glad to go with him. I would see strange lands and savage people. I would have many a stirring adventure.
Before ten days had passed, we were out on the great ocean. Our ship was headed toward the south.
The captain was very kind to me. He taught me much that every sailor ought to know. He showed me how to steer and manage the vessel. He told me about the tides and the compass and how to reckon the ship's course.
The voyage was a pleasant one, and I saw more wonderful things than I can name.
When, at last, we sailed back to London, we had gold enough to make a poor man rich.
I had nearly six pounds of the yellow dust for my own share.
I had learned to be a trader as well as a sailor.
It would take too long to tell you of all my voyages. Some of them were happy and successful; but the most were unpleasant and full of disappointment.
Sometimes I went to Africa, sometimes to the new land of South America. But wherever I sailed I found the life of a sailor by no means easy.
I did not care so much now to see strange sights and visit unknown shores.
I cared more for the money or goods that I would get by trading.
At last a sudden end was put to all my sailing. And it is of this that I will now tell you.