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Authors: Valerie Wilding

Shakespeare's Globe

BOOK: Shakespeare's Globe
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I Was There...

For John and Laraine Harris

with love

While this book is based on real characters and actual historical events, some situations and people are fictional, created by the author.

Scholastic Children’s Books,

Euston House, 24 Eversholt Street,

London NW1 1DB, UK

A division of Scholastic Ltd

London ~ New York ~ Toronto ~ Sydney ~ Auckland

Mexico City ~ New Delhi ~ Hong Kong

First published in the UK by Scholastic Ltd, 2014
This electronic edition published 2014

Text © Valerie Wilding, 2014

Illustrations by Peter Cottrill
© Scholastic Ltd, 2014

All rights reserved

eISBN 978 1407 14710 9

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage or retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical or otherwise, now known or hereafter invented, without the express prior written permission of Limited.

Produced in the UK by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

The right of Valerie Wilding to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen



I went home with my dog, Hoppy, one pot of honey, three duck eggs, a cut lip and a bashed nose.

Instead of sympathy, all I got from Aunt Meg was, ‘Where is the fish, Billy? You didn’t get the fish? Now what shall we do?’

‘Big Tom was lurking by the fish stall, and I didn’t want any more of this,’ I said, catching blood drips in my hand.

Just then, Mother came through the back door and saw me. She dropped her laundry basket, grabbed a clean rag and dabbed at my face.

‘Those ruffians again?’ she asked.

I nodded. ‘Big Tom. He tore my jerkin, too.’

‘Never mind,’ said Mother. ‘Jerkins mend, so do lips and noses.’

I smiled. It made my mouth sting.

‘He didn’t get the fish!’ wailed Aunt Meg. ‘What will we have for dinner?’

‘We’ll have fish!’ said Mother, crossly. She hates it when my aunt falls to pieces, as she calls it. Mother is strong-minded. She has to be, with Father away so much.

‘Billy and I will go to the market together while Susan is having her nap,’ she said. ‘There will be plenty of fish left.’

Susan is my little sister. She’s quite sweet, but everyone fusses around her because she’s always getting sore throats or fevers.

‘I’ll put Hoppy in his doghouse,’ I said. ‘Another walk would be too much for his gammy leg.’

As Mother and I set off, I told her what happened.

‘Big Tom and his mates were throwing stones at a kitten,’ I said, ‘so I picked it up and put it behind a wall. Then they started on me, so I punched Big Tom.’

‘Good boy, Billy,’ said Mother. She likes kittens. ‘I’m glad you stand up to those ruffians.’

I stopped talking then, because my lip hurt.

I call Aunt Meg’s cottage ‘home’ but it’s not really our home. I hate it here. It’s all grass and trees and cows, and there’s nothing to do. I wish I was back
in London. It’s the finest and biggest city in the world. From our house in Little Thames Lane it’s a long walk to the countryside. Thank goodness.

But we must stay here, because London is full of plague. The last outbreak was in 1593, when I was little. All I can remember are bells being rung during burials, and seeing carts taking bodies

When it broke out this time, Mother stopped me seeing my friends. No visitors came, and people wouldn’t speak to others without covering their mouths and noses. Everyone is terrified
they’ll find huge buboes swelling under their arms, or hideous black spots. If they do, they’re likely to die horribly. Hundreds of people have died already. There are red crosses on
doors all over the city warning, ‘Plague here – keep away’. That’s why Mother decided that we should come to stay with her sister at Kinglake Manor.

Sounds grand, does it not? Me – William Watkins of Kinglake Manor.

Of course, we’re not staying in the manor house! Aunt Meg and Uncle Jem live in Gate Cottage on the Kinglake estate. My uncle is the gamekeeper and my aunt does sewing for the ladies of
the big house. She’s pretty, and fun when she’s not fretting about fish.

It’s not my fault I’m unhappy here. Big Tom and his mates make my life miserable. They call me ‘maggot head’ or ‘Willy goat brain’.

I know why. I cannot catch frogs with my bare hands or trap rabbits, and I’ve no wish to climb trees to steal apples.

Catch frogs? I’m sure I could, but who would want to? As for trapping rabbits, it’s not worth it. Uncle Jem keeps us supplied with meat. And I’m definitely not going to steal
fruit, or anything else. I’d never take the chance. Imagine being locked up and whipped or, worse – hanged! Zooks, even being put in the pillory for people to pitch rotten cabbages at
you would be bad enough.

So they pick on me because I’m different. I don’t want to be a farmhand or butcher, like them, or go to sea like my father. I want to be a player. I want to be a player, acting on
the stage at the Globe playhouse in London!

I remember telling Uncle Jem about my ambition.

‘That’s stupid, lad,’ he said.

‘It’s not,’ I told him. ‘I’ve even stood on the stage.’

‘Ha! You’re jesting!’ he said.

‘It’s true,’ I said. ‘I help at the Globe.’

‘Doing what, lad?’

‘Anything. They call me Billy-Odd-Job,’ I said proudly. ‘And Master Burbage and Master Shakespeare said that one day I can have a part.’

He didn’t believe me. But they did say so. And I believe them. One day, I’ll have a part in a play by Master William Shakespeare!

As Mother and I crossed the bridge into town, I said, ‘I wish we were back in London.’

‘So do I,’ she said, ‘in our own lovely house, with Jane helping to look after us, but we can’t be.’

Jane was our maid and not more than a year older than me, so she was fun. She left London, too, to live with her family in Kingston, a village further up the River Thames.

Mother smiled. ‘At least you have Hoppy.’

That’s true. I’d never have had him if I’d stayed in London.

We crossed Limping Lane, which made me smile, because that’s what Hoppy does. Limps! Actually, he runs with a funny little hop, because of his gammy leg. He was attacked by a big dog when
he was a pup. The stable man at the manor gave him to me.

Hoppy’s the cleverest little dog in the world. I’ve taught him to beg, shut the door, and dance on his hind legs. If I clap twice, he bares his teeth and growls, looking so fierce.
Yet the only thing he would ever bite is a bone!

I looked at the tiny cottages and tiny lanes in the tiny town. How much longer would we have to stay with Aunt Meg? I was bored in the country. I missed helping at the Globe. How would I ever
become a player if I never went near the playhouse? The plague was ruining my life.


Mother pointed along Cake Lane, which opened into the market place. ‘A crowd’s gathering,’ she said, as more people headed that way talking excitedly.

I walked faster, but Mother stopped me. ‘Come in here,’ she said, pulling me into the apothecary’s shop.

‘Good day, Mistress,’ said Master Bottell. ‘May I make something for you?’

The apothecary was polite to Mother, because she looks like quality. That’s what Aunt Meg said, in a very sharp voice. She is jealous of Mother’s clothes. Father is secretary to a
rich merchant, and they go to far-away countries to buy silk. Mother gets so much gorgeous stuff to make gowns that she often gives some to Aunt Meg, who shouldn’t grumble.

‘Nothing, I thank you,’ said Mother. ‘Such a crowd…’

‘I understand.’ He fetched her a stool. ‘But they are simply excited because an acting company is in town.’



‘Acting company?’ I said. ‘Do you mean a company of players, sir?’

‘I do.’

My heart leapt! Plays, in this very town, just like at the Globe! Well, not as grand as at the Globe, but plays all the same.

‘Which company, sir?’ I asked.

‘The King’s Men, no less. They will be several days here. Have you watched a play, boy?’

‘Yes, sir!’ I said. ‘My father permits me to help at the Globe playhouse in London. It belongs to the Chamberlain’s Men. Father says it’s better that I work for
Master Shakespeare and Master Burbage than run around the streets making mischief. He went to school with William Shakespeare in Stratford upon the Avon and—’

‘That’s enough, William,’ said Mother.

When she calls me William, I know she means it. I didn’t want a cuff round the ear to go with my cut lip and bashed nose. She dislikes me being at the Globe, but cannot disobey
Father’s wishes. It annoys her when I speak of it.

But the apothecary said, ‘You know William Shakespeare?’

‘I do, sir.’

‘William Shakespeare, the poet? The great play writer?’

‘Yes, sir,’ I said.

,’ said Mother. ‘Master Bottell doesn’t want to hear any more about William Shakespeare.’

He seemed most interested to me.

‘Mother, may I go and watch them preparing for the plays?’ I begged.

‘Certainly not.’ She rose and turned, swishing her skirts. ‘Come, we have fish to buy.’

By the time we’d bought our trout the crowd had thinned. Two of the company’s carts were still waiting to enter the inn yard.

BOOK: Shakespeare's Globe
3.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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