What is an example of foreshadowing in The Shakespeare Stealer?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One interesting example of foreshadowing is when Widge is leaving the Globe after his second attempt to copy out a verbatim record of Hamlet. He is trying to catch up with Falconer but is distracted by the fire and jostled by a scraggly "fellow" who smiles and politely apologizes. When Widge catches sight of Falconer, waiting for Widge to hand over to him the table-book with the charactery writing transcription of Hamlet, Widge finds that his leather wallet is empty. He has his wallet, but the table-book is missing from it: "The pouch seemed flat and empty. My heart suddenly felt the same."

Because of the foreshadowing effect of a sudden mystery, we suspect that the scraggly-bearded man had something to do with the loss, but Widge does not; he instinctively blames himself. Since we don't know for sure if the man acted as a pickpocket (or if he knew Widge had written down a transcript of Hamlet), Widge's encounter with the man foreshadows Widge's future understanding of that event (will Widge make the connection and was the table-book lifted by the man?) and foreshadows the resolution of the deeper mystery contained in the encounter: Who was that bearded man?

Then someone jostled me from behind, bringing me to my senses. ... [It] was only a thin fellow with a red nose and a scraggly beard, smiling apologetically. "Begging your pardon, my young friend," he said and moved off through the crowd.

We might suspect it was Shakespeare in disguise (like Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare would have been an expert at disguises), but was it perhaps Burbage in disguise? Was it merely a street pickpocket who got lucky (or unlucky, depending upon his perspective)? Who was it? The event foreshadows the answers to these questions and the solutions to their mysterious hints. (Another instance of foreshadowing occurs just before this one when Widge narrates seeing Julian present in the fire bucket line.)