||Oxford University Press
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James Cook was born in 1728, in Marton. His family did farm work, and they lived in a small cottage with earthen walls on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. As he grew up, he helped on the farm; but he also tried to learn to read and write and soon became very good at arithmetic. When he had any free time, he went down to the coast to watch the ships passing by. They were carrying coal down to London, where King George II had his court. James' secret dream was to be a sailor. He longed to visit London, and cities in foreign countries as well. Perhaps he might even travel on a ship to lands that nobody yet knew about. At the age of 17, James got a job. He became a shop clerk in the nearby village of Staithes, selling groceries and sewing materials. This was a good job for a farm boy, and James worked hard. He did not say much, so people never really knew what he was thinking. He seemed happy enough in the shop, but in his heart he still wanted to go to sea. James read every book he could find about the world's great oceans. European seamen had been making maps of the Atlantic Ocean for centuries. But to James's surprise, the huge Pacific Ocean was still a mystery. Some geographers believed that a continent full of people existed down there. They thought that it "balanced out" all the land at the top of the world...