Master Seb drawed me dog Little Beggar fer me t’ show you. Beggar’s me bestist frend and a rite scamp, master says

Jack, the would-be apprentice

Master Seb says I can tell you fings about me – so long as Tom checks wot I spelt. But I don’t wont him seeing stuff wot I ain’t never telled nobody, do I? So this is wot appened.

I wos little when plague comed to our village. Don’t know wot it wos called but our nearest town was Lester. (Tom says it’s spelt L E I C E S T E R – spellin’s daft, ain’t it?) Anyways, Pa died first which weren’t no loss, him bein’ always drunk an bashin’ Mam about. Then me older bruvvers, Will an Arry, then the babe, then Mam. So it was just me an big sis, Maudie wot wos left. No buggers wonted us, did they, so we comed to London by a roundabout way. We knowed bout London cos we’d eard tales.

On the road we joined up wiv a band of ackribats, doin’ tricks, balancin’ an jugglin’ an singin’ – stuff like that. They used t’ make ’emselves into a tower o’ people an I’d clime up, bein’ little an good at climin’, an balance at the very top. Then folk’d clap an cheer. I liked that, didn’t I? An Maudie could sing an look sweet an pretty – tho’ she weren’t always sweet t’ me – but everybody liked Maudie. She used t’ kilt up er skirts an dance a merry jig an folks’d throw money like it wos rainin’ pennies. Ailfred wot wos our – wot wos it ’e called it? mannijer, that’s it – wos pleased wiv Maudie an she got the best bits o’ meat, when there wos any, an a new dress so’s she looked fine. At Camebrig where sckolers comed t’ see us, a fat merchant wiv a fur cap takes a likin’ t’ Maudie an Ailfred – that bugger – goes an sells Maudie t’ the fat deval. We cried lots a tears but she went all the same, didn’t she. An only I wos left outta all our fam’ly. I wunder wot Maudie’s doin’ now? Rich prob’ly an fat.

I stayed wiv them ackribats and learnded t’ play a little drum wots called a tabor – that’s ’ow comed I got called Jack Tabor see – an t’ juggle an do summysorts – wotever they’re called. But I never liked Ailfred much an I knowed ’e never liked me neever so when we comed t’ London I was gonna run away from ’em, wasn’t I. But I ’ate penwork, don’t I, an I telled you some o’ me tale but me arm akes now so I’ll tell you more a nuvver day.

Is me spellin’ too bad? Ope not.

JACK