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A Voyage

The story doesn’t actually start with Santa Claus or Neverland.  It starts much earlier, and here on Earth.  Specifically, in the year 318 A.D. a Christian priest named Nicholas was ordained as the bishop of the Greek town of Myra.  Nicholas was a very good man, and he got in the habit of secretly giving gifts to the poor people of his area.  Nicholas became very famous, and was later made a Saint of the Church.

Saint Nicholas lived before the Church forbid its priests and bishops to marry, so Nicholas did marry and had a family, although the Church didn't record that fact.  After his death, many of his children and grandchildren carried on the tradition of secret gift giving, although none became as famous as Saint Nicholas, until much later.

The descendants of Saint Nicholas did not all stay in the Myra area.  Over the generation, they spread throughout the world, until 1507, which is the time that our story really begins.

A young Dutch lad by the name of Niek Klass was son to a fisherman in the city of Amsterdam.  Although he didn’t know it, Niek was one of those descendants of Saint Nicholas that I mentioned in the last paragraph. Niek, although poor, was very generous with the things he did have, and was constantly giving the younger children of his neighborhood small toys that he carved from spare bits of wood that he picked up around the wharves.

Niek Klass had dreams beyond being a fisherman as was his father.  Although this was long before the days that the Dutch established a seagoing empire, there were already merchants who traded out of Amsterdam.  Niek was determined to make his fortunes as a seaman on a merchant vessel, trading between the Netherlands, Denmark, and Iceland.  At age 16, with his father’s blessing, he became a crew member on the merchant ship Bruynvisch, working the sails.

From the viewpoint of his father, Niek’s chosen career was a bad choice.  On his first voyage, an enormous summer storm swept over the North Sea, and the Bruynvisch was never heard from again.

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