In the days of our story, voyages by ship were longsome, dangerous adventures--not two easy weeks in a safe engine-powered ocean liner--but two or more hard years powered only by the wind in your sails to far Cathay around the stormy Cape of Good Hope and back and good luck to you.
And oftentimes a brave ship loaded with trade goods and hardy sailormen did not come back at all.
A trading voyage was a risky gamble--sometimes to win much and sometimes to lose everything.
So waiting for your ship to come in was never easy--especially for a boy like Dick who had bet his entire wealth--his cat--on the success of the voyage.
Now, Dearest of All, we are coming to the part of the story which is most mysterious.
Almost all of us hope someday to hear the voice of the Great Whatever It Is, but it is a privilege few receive.
In fact, some people think it is simply poppycock. They think, since they never hear the voice, that the Great Spirit of Life is mute--that it never talks--and it never does--to them.
But Dick Whittington, as a boy, was one of those rare lucky ones who hear the voice.