In Chapter 15, Widge has been handed the playbook so that he can be the prompter in case one of the actors forgets his lines. He considers stealing the book for a moment, but is prevented from doing so by the presence of his friend Sander and the other actors. When Nick arrives, drunk and late, a scuffle ensues, and Jack, the cannoneer, takes the playbook from Widge with the intention of being the prompter himself, even though he can barely read. Widge is angry at himself for not having taken the opportunity to steal the book when he had the chance.
In Chapter 16, Widge encounters Mr. Shakespeare himself, and finds him to be "withdrawn and pensive." He meets one of the actors, Beeston, who not long ago was a "lowly prentice" like Widge and Sander. Beeston tells Widge that theatre companies often steal playbooks from each other, and names Simon Bass as one of the most notorious thieves. Widge learns that Bass is an accomplished makeup artist, and that he might be a Jew, which is dangerous because, after a plot against the lives of the king and queen by a Jew was discovered, all Jews in England have been forced to renounce their faith or face banishment. Widge is elated to be given a small part in the play to be performed the next day. Sadly, as he goes back to the house, he is accosted by a strong presence and thrown to the grass.
Falconer has returned in Chapter 17 and demands that Widge steal the playbook for him by the following day. Widge practices performing fight scenes with the other boys under the tutelage of Mr. Armin, and manages to perform his lines adequately when the play actually begins. Widge realizes that he is happy with the company, and wonders how he can get out of the predicament he is in with Falconer. He knows that what Falconer wants him to do is wrong, but, fearing for his life, he feels he has not choice but comply.