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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

On the way home, Jordie had bought them each a hot chocolate, not just one to share.

“Our luck is changing,” he’d said as they curled their hands around the steaming cups, feet dangling over a little bridge, the lights of the Stave playing over the water. Kaz had looked down at their reflections on the bright surface of the canal and thought, I feel lucky now.

The boy who sold the mechanical dogs was named Filip and the man he knew was Jakob Hertzoon, a minor mercher who owned a small coffeehouse near the Exchange, where he arranged for low-level investors to split stakes in trade voyages passing through Kerch.

“You should see this place,” Jordie had crowed to Kaz upon arriving home late that night. “There are people there at every hour, talking and trading news, buying and selling shares and futures, ordinary people—butchers and bakers and dockworkers. Mister Hertzoon says any man can become rich. All he needs is luck and the right friends.”

The next week was like a happy dream. Jordie and Filip worked for Mister Hertzoon as runners, carrying messages to and from the dock and occasionally placing orders for him at the Exchange or other trading offices. While they were working, Kaz was allowed to stay at the coffeehouse. The man who filled drink orders from behind the bar would let him sit up on the counter and practice his magic tricks, and gave Kaz all the hot chocolate he could drink.

They were invited to the Hertzoon home for dinner, a grand house on the Zelverstraat with a blue front door and white lace curtains in the windows. Mister Hertzoon was a big man with a ruddy, friendly face and tufty gray sideburns. His wife, Margit, pinched Kaz’s cheeks and fed him hutspot made with smoked sausage, and he’d played in the kitchen with their daughter, Saskia. She was ten years old, and Kaz thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He and Jordie stayed late into the night singing songs while Margit played the piano, their big silver dog thumping its tail in hapless rhythm. It was the best Kaz had felt since his father died. Mister Hertzoon even let Jordie put tiny sums down on company stocks. Jordie wanted to invest more, but Mister Hertzoon always advised caution. “Small steps, lad. Small steps.”

Things got even better when Mister Hertzoon’s friend returned from Novyi Zem. He was the captain of a Kerch trader, and it seemed he had crossed paths with a sugar farmer in a Zemeni port. The farmer had been in his cups, moaning about how his and his neighbors’ cane fields had been flooded. Right now sugar prices were low, but when people found out how hard it would be to get sugar in the coming months, prices would soar. Mister Hertzoon’s friend intended to buy up all the sugar he could before the news reached Ketterdam.

“That seems like cheating,” Kaz had whispered to Jordie.