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The narrative begins with the narrator, Lemuel Gulliver, describing his childhood and the events that led him to become a seaman. He tells the reader that he is the third of five sons and that he was sent to a Puritan college at the age of fourteen. Afterwards he became an apprentice to a surgeon in London, during which time he also learned about navigation and mathematics in preparation for a future on the sea, "as I always believed it would be some time or other my fortune to do." Next he studied "Physick" (medicine) because he thought it would be "useful in long Voyages."