Trevor Towers was born in Brighton, England at the end of

World War II. As the son of a naval officer, he spent much of
his childhood in Malta, where his father was posted. Trevor
cherishes these memories to this day.
The family later returned to England and settled in Portsmouth.
Trevor attended the Royal Hospital School, also known as
‘Holbrook’, near Ipswich. It was a boarding school with a
strong focus on instilling its pupils with the values and skills
necessary for a career in the British Armed Forces.
Trevor subsequently spent many years in the Army; his
experiences from those days have a strong influence in his
writing. He has married twice, and has five sons.
Much of Trevor’s life has been spent travelling the world or
living overseas. Time spent in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Africa and
Asia has inspired many of his stories.
In 2004, whilst holidaying in Phuket, Thailand, Trevor and his
wife Petra were caught in the Boxing Day Tsunami. They were
swept away by the full force of the wave that killed so many
but miraculously, they survived. Despite their terrifying
experience, they fell in love with Thailand and its people, and
subsequently settled in Hua-Hin, where they still reside today.

To Petra Towers

Copyright © Trevor John Towers

The right of Trevor John Towers to be identified as author of this
work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and
78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the

Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims
for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British

ISBN 978 184963 803 6

First Published (2014)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
E14 5LB

Printed and bound in Great Britain

Chapter One

Jack held on very tightly to the end of his father’s coat tails
and was trailing behind him slightly, as they pushed their way
through the crowds. Jack himself was running at a steady trot
whereas his father was walking at a normal pace and carrying
his props as well.
The weather was damp, cold and foggy; very normal for
this time of year in London.
The little boy was cold, he was only wearing a canvas
homemade short jacket, short trousers, with a well-worn
jumper underneath it all; and his feet especially were very cold
with the holes that he had in his socks allowing the chill to get
through to his body, but he held on to his pa’s coat tail very
tightly. Not wanting to become unattached because with this
amount of people around, he would very soon go astray. Better
this way than trying to follow in his father’s footsteps; he was
already being shoved this way and that, so hang on for dear life
was his only thought.
The normal hustle and bustle of London in the early 1800s
was prominent all around them. Carriages for the rich trotted
along serenely, with the rest making up the majority being
mainly pedestrians, all seemingly to be in a hurry to get
somewhere, wrapped up against the cold wind that was now
starting to blow.
There were also electric trams which were dangerous as
they couldn’t be steered and ran along in a track either side of
the vehicle, unlike the horse drawn buses that could be steered.
The cyclists amongst the population had to very careful about
getting their wheels caught in those tracks, and end up
throwing themselves onto the road.
Jack and his father were on their way to a site where his
dad normally knew that it was a good place to make some

shillings, on a good day, but today people would not want to
stop and get cold watching a street performer. So today would
end up like one of the bad days, and that in the winter was far
all too common, for them. Bad because it would be giving
them a hard time due to the lack of money during this period.
This morning the site for the first show was aimed to be at the
front of Saint Paul’s cathedral.
Here they would hopefully find the kind of religious
people going in and out of the church, who hopefully would
be, or might be the type of compassionate people to have pity
on the young, hungry, freezing looking lad with the sad eyes
holding out a cap for some small offerings, with small, red
frozen hands.
Jack had being doing this assistant work with his father
since he was only three, barely able to walk far, and limited on
his speech but a good earner all the same. He had a sad looking
face, thin and hungry looking which suited his job very well;
people could see that the lad needed some food.
Passing people would stop to admire the sweet young boy,
and as a rule would drop a penny into the tin mug, which was
emptied quickly by Dad to make it look like they had received
nothing up to now. An old trick, then when a person wanted to
give maybe just a penny he saw nothing in the mug, so on
most occasions would double his contribution and yet again it
would very quickly be snatched up by Dad.
Jack was the elder of two children, the other being his
sister. He didn’t know her too well being a baby himself but he
vaguely remembers his mother with the big belly. He could
also vaguely remember the panic when his mother was about
to have the baby.
It was an evening in the summer when she suddenly had
pains and his father did not know why; the reason was as it
turned out to be that she was in labour. When it suddenly
happened Dad was in a fluster and sought some help from the
neighbours. They were living in a three storey house and had
rented two rooms of it for the small family. The elder women
next door had had three children, two of which were now
orphans. She knew what was going to be needed to deliver his

sister, but she also said that Mum was in a bad way and should
go to a hospital. The distance and inconvenience was all too
much for his father and Mum had the baby at home. No doubt
a week or two later Dad had wished that he had taken that
advice because sadly, without even getting out of the birth bed
Mum died, after a five week sickness.
Jack was too young to understand any of the goings on and
all he could remember was his mother being taken away in a
wooden box.
This now left Dad with himself and a baby sister. Jack
remembers the night times when the baby would cry because it
was hungry or was not feeling well, every time his dad would
get up and seek help from the neighbours yet again.
The lady during the day would look after the two children
until Jack was three and he could then accompany his father
out to work, but his sister, who was named Beth, was of no use
not being able to walk and still in nappies, so she needed care
during the day, which was just not available with Dad trying to
earn an income.
Dad had two options; stay at home and look after the two
babies, and end up that day earning nothing so now he couldn’t
even feed them, or the second option which was to leave the
babies with the neighbour and go to work and then having to
pay the neighbour for looking after them.
Life in general was tough for the family. Dad would be out
all of the day trying to scrape together enough to feed the kids
and pay the rent. Many times just to supply enough vegetables
to make a soup; never anything special like fresh bread or even
maybe a sweet. It was a daily routine that became the normal
way of life for them all.
Jack remembered one morning, his father sitting at the one
table they owned and scribbling a letter. When he had finished
it he and folded it in half, then placed it in his waistcoat
Then quite unexpectedly he picked Beth up from the floor,
and very gently wrapped the baby in an old dirty piece of
threadbare blanket, told Jack to put his only jacket on, and then

the three of them left the house and started to walk towards the
wealthy area of Belgravia.
As they drew nearer to the area the houses became bigger,
which meant that the occupiers were wealthier than further
back down the road. They looked conspicuous in their ragged
clothing amongst the ladies walking along with their parasols
The three of them stopped on a corner of one street; his
father held out his arm to stop Jack going any further. He
reached into his pocket and took out the piece of paper on
which he had been writing, held Beth close to him and gave
her a hug that must have hurt the child. He then kissed her and
a tear fell from his cheek.
“Now you just wait here Jack and Daddy will be back very
soon, understand son?”
Jack nodded a ‘yes’. His dad at that moment tucked Beth
under his arm and casually strolled across the road junction, as
if he was carrying a package of some sort.
When he reached the very big house on the end of three
others he gently and quietly opened the large black metal gate
and swiftly climbed the five steps to the doorway.
Very carefully he lowered Beth together with the blanket
onto the threshold of the doorway, he then knocked heavily on
the door with the big iron door knocker hanging there, and
then bolted back to where Jack had been told to stay.
Once he had reached Jack which was only a matter of
yards, he stood with him peeping around the corner to see if
anybody would answer the door. It took maybe a minute
before what was obviously a maid opened the door. Once she
saw the baby she put both hands to her face and shouted,
“Madam, Madam, come quickly we have a baby left here.”
The lady of the house then appeared as well, dressed in a
blue satin dress and with her hair done up in a bun, she was
very young, about thirty and slim.
She was also shocked and surprised; she straightaway saw
the note which she bent down to pick from the baby’s tiny
hand. Her forehead frowned trying to decipher the uneducated
writing on it.

She read it out loud to the maid who now had picked the
child up from the step; Beth was starting to cry. Jack could
hear his sister crying, and he wanted to go and get her but the
strong arm of his father stopped him moving anywhere.
The lady read the note out loud enough for the maid and
the father to hear what was written on the note.
“I think it says here Maud, that my name is Beth and my
father cannot look after me so will you please.”
Both of the ladies looked up and down the street, but not
seeing anybody.
“Oh, my dear the poor thing looks hungry, come on bring
her in and we will give her some milk and clean the dear up a
bit, and then decide what we will be doing with the child.”
Jack and his Dad looked at each other and Jack was
concerned that he was to be the next one, as his father took
hold of his hand and started to walk away.
His father was not happy at dumping the baby girl but he
knew that he couldn’t give her a life anything like the life the
rich owners of that house could. He even had trouble being
able to feed the mite let alone nappies and suchlike.
They returned to their squalid accommodation; no
questions were asked from any of the neighbours with it not
being any of their business.
The two ladies who had taken Beth in both gasped in
disbelief and they both re-entered the house closing the door
behind them gently. They moved into the kitchen area and
quickly warmed some milk up for the hungry child, gave her a
wash and changed her nappy into a clean one made from a
makeshift towel. They could only feed the baby with a small
spoon, not having the proper items to cater for her.
The mistress of the house took some money from her purse
and said,
“Maud, be off with you now, and buy what is going to be
necessary to help this baby along. Get some nappies, a bottle
and some clothes if you can. Here is some money, get anything
that you think that it needs and this should be plenty.” The
mistress handed the money to the maid who was putting her
cloak on ready to go.

Maud arrived back at the house with an armful of goodies
for the baby and between them they fed Beth again, this time
from a bottle and then bathed the child in a warm bath;
unbeknown to them it was the first bath the child had had in its
short life.
That evening the captain came home from the barracks, he
went straight to his drinks cabinet and poured himself a
generous shot of whisky. He nearly choked himself when his
wife came into the room carrying a child.
“Look Bertram a baby,”
“I can see that,” he exclaimed, “but whose is it?”
“Nobody’s, it was left on our doorstep this afternoon by
we don’t know who, with this stupid note.” Jane said.
The captain took the note and said,
“My name is Beth, my father cannot look after me, will
you? What confounded cheek.”
“I think that we should call the police on this, we can’t just
become an orphanage when somebody wants us to be.”
Jane was very quick to respond.
“Darling you know we have always wanted a child and we
have tried and tried without success so there must be
something wrong with one of us. Can’t you see that this is a
blessing; now we have one that is young enough to be mine,
and I think that we should keep it.”
“But can’t we get into trouble, for that it is kidnapping
“And who is going to report it stolen? The people who left
it here? Oh, do come on Berty, you know what it would mean
to us and our marriage don’t you? Please let us keep it.” Then
she stopped to think a moment. “Alright I will make a deal
with you. We will look after the baby until its parents show up
and want to claim her then we will hand her back without a
word of complaint from me I promise.”
“Oh alright then Jane but don’t come complaining to me
when I say that I told you so when they come, or indeed if the
police find out about this She is a sweetie though. What’s her
name again, Beth? Are we going to keep that name, I like it?”
“Yes of course we are it sounds nice,” Jane said.

“So any questions from anybody, you have had a child
“Yes sir and proud of it as well. Come along Beth we have
to get you ready for bed,” as Jane handed the baby to Maud. “I
will be along in a moment Maud, thank you.” Maud left the
room with the baby wondering where to take it, but also
understanding that Madam wanted to speak to Sir in private.
“Berty, you haven’t just said yes to keeping Beth to keep
me happy have you?”
“No Jane. I think that I like the idea, the more I think about
it the more I like it, but we must always keep it a secret from
people And what do we tell Beth when she is older, do we say
that we found her or claim she is ours?”
“We will worry about that later. Oh it is going to be so
nice now we have our own daughter, Berty and what we both
have always wanted isn’t it?”
“Yes, but keep it secret.”
Jane went to join Maud in preparing the baby for bed; a
very nice makeshift crib had been made in the tin bath.
“It will do for one night. We will go out tomorrow Maud
and buy some more clothes and a proper cot.” Jane said
smiling at the thought now of having a daughter at long last.
Early the next day they were both up and both washing and
feeding the baby Beth.
Jane had to claim her turn to hold the baby because Maud
wanted to do it all. Then Jane turned to Maud and told her in a
soft voice,
“Maud there is something I want you to understand As you
know, because you were there last night when I spoke with the
master, we agreed that we would, rather than put the infant into
an orphanage keep and look after her until she was old enough.
However, this must be kept secret from any person, friend or
foe of the family, which includes your own relations. If there
are any questions asked Maud, then Beth is my baby, and it
will do you good to remember that as well, so leave us alone
and I will call you if I need you.”
Later that afternoon Jane and Maud took Beth, wrapped in
a blanket, to the town to buy anything that the baby could

need. She got everything, and that was everything from a pram
to a new teddy bear.
It was two days later when Jack’s father could see that his
young son was concerned about what they had done a couple
of days back. His father tried to explain to such a young brain
why he had done what he had, by dumping Jack’s sister, but it
all fell onto ears too young to understand.
Jack’s father was just another street performer. He had
talents that he had learnt as a child; talent such as walking on
stilts, and flame eating, juggling and throwing knives. He
started straight away to teach Jack to do his job, which
amounted to carrying some of the props to the site with his dad
and then handing them to his dad as and when he needed them.
From there on he was used as a part of the act.
The one part of his job he detested was when he had to
stand against a board while dad threw knives at him, missing
as they should, by up to an inch at times but every now and
again, one would pinch his skin being so close and he was not
allowed to whinge. When he was not actually part of the act
being the target for the knives then his job was to get the
pennies in; this alone was a special skill.
His father had no other trade. Jack was now five years of
age, born in 1795. He had been trained to look sad and forlorn,
cold and hungry, this would work the heartstrings of the many
public onlookers, who hopefully just wouldn’t be able to resist
but to donate.
Jack lived with his father in a candlelit two roomed, smelly
part, of a six roomed boarding house. They had moved, due to
not paying the rent, from the other house where his mother had
died. But the new one was not much better. There was just the
one dirty cracked window which allowed a shaded light into
the room; a space for cooking occupied one corner and the pot
for the toilet was curtained off in another. The second room
was the main bedroom in which they both shared the same
bed. Other rooms in the house were rented and occupied by
drunks, crooks or prostitutes.

One girl who also lived there was a girl named Martha.
Martha was a young prostitute about sixteen years of age,
shabbily dressed in addition to being very thin.
She loved children and due to some medical reason she
herself could not bear any of her own, so in her mind it was
safe for her occupation, but she showered so much love and
attention onto Jack that she might have been his mother or
even a sister to him. Also she was his only friend; she lived
above him and would always ruffle his hair and give a friendly
smile when they met, as well as a small kiss on the cheek.
Sometimes even the odd sweet, if she had had a good night.
Jack would spend a lot of his home time with her playing, as it
suited her working hours which were normally during the
Sometimes she would have a drunken client who was not
very quiet and Jack’s father would complain to her about the
noise from upstairs while he was trying to get to sleep. There
was an occasion when his father was asked by Martha to throw
out one particular Irish drunkard, whom she had snared as a
customer. He had become violent towards Martha but his
father soon sorted that man out for her. It made her feel safe
having a man around should she need one.
Today they were going to perform in Petticoat Lane. It was
a Monday and normally it was the busiest day of the week for
that area. When they had arrived Jack’s father started to bolt
his stilts together and Jack unpacked the throwing knives and
the clubs for juggling from an old canvas bag. The show would
start with the knife throwing part to bring in the interested
audience; Jack was not very excited about this part, because he
had in the past collected a few small cuts and now had the
scars to prove it; not serious enough to need hospital help, but
enough to make him wary of his father’s throwing skills, even
now at the tender age of five.
He helped his Father unfold the board which he was to
stand up against. Jack then placed the throwing knives at the
place, three yards in front of the board knowing this to be the
point from which his father would be throwing them. His
father was now putting the stilts on. Twelve knives in total and

each one was capable of killing him if thrown in correctly. Of
course this was the thrill that the audiences were to be paying
Dad had put on the stilts now and was hauling himself up
against a lamp post, once he had reached the full height and
steadied himself he was ready to start the act
A couple of minutes passed before he was told by his
father now standing high on his stilts.
“Alright Jack give me the knives and then stand in your
position.” Jack knew the routine, after all he had been doing it
for three years already, he walked to the board and turned to
face his father. Back hard up against the board legs apart and
arms outstretched, eyes closed. He could hear his dad drawing
in the crowds
“Come along, come along, and see the death defying knife
throwing. Razor sharp knives all at a living soul, roll up, roll
up, it’s free. Come along now my own son will bravely be my
target for today, roll up, roll up, come around, and come
Then he threw the first knife which landed to the left of
Jack’s head.
“Razor sharp knives, never been known to miss, but this
could be the first time, gather round peoples, see for your-
selves the death defying act.”
Thwack, thwack, thwack, three more in rapid succession
landed around Jack’s legs, they landed heavily to insure that
they would stick into the board. No more speech from Dad he
was concentrating now on the head and arm shots. Thwack
after thwack hit the board and finally Jack after counting the
twelve opened his eyes, took a bow then took off his ragged
cap off and went amongst the audience to do his other job
which was to collect the monies.
He, after getting the maximum monies returned to the
board and started to take the knives out for the next show.
“Right get ready Jack, here we go again.”
Jack did as he was told as he had done for every show, and
he walked over to what was now a shredded board with many
splintered scars, and stood in front of it. His father started to

call for the passers-by to stop and watch the death defying
show, all over again, which was about to begin; many would
listen and just walk on by, but some would stop to watch. Jack
would take up his stance as he had done many a time before,
arms outstretched, and legs apart, eyes fully closed out of fear,
and he would start to breathe heavily as well. He could hear his
father shuffling the throwing knives and separating them one
by one. He also could hear the grunt of his father, and gasp of
the audience as the knife found its target somewhere on the
board, immediately followed by the next one and the next,
thwack, thwack, one after the other until all twelve were in
their places. Jack couldn’t count, but he still knew at what time
it was over: it was when the crowd cheered. This time, none of
the knives had touched Jack, or his clothing so he jumped from
the board and took off his cap, taking a bow then ran around
quickly making sure he got every member of the audience. As
he passed them he bent down and collected the juggling clubs
from the ground and handed them up to his father, followed
promptly by returning to and quickly mixing amongst that
audience collecting pennies or half pennies plus many
farthings, where he could; rarely there would be a threepenny
piece or even a sixpence or a shilling in the cap. Not that it
meant anything to him not knowing the difference, but it made
his father a happy man if ever it did happen. His father
meanwhile would start to juggle six clubs, up and around, and
around they would go, with him acting as if he was about to
fall off of the stilts for effect. The average take for Jack was
one shilling and four pence, but ten show times a day, then this
was what sufficed to keep them alive.
Lunch would be a muffin from the lady who always would
be near when they both needed her to vie her trade, if the
takings were good then they might even have two each. Or a
meat pie if his Father was feeling really happy with the
As dusk fell they would do the last show, and then pack up
the props and make their way home on a horse drawn bus, tired
and weary if they had made enough that day otherwise they
walked home, Jack would normally fall asleep, until their stop

came. A little bit of supper and then he would put himself to
bed on a hard boarded bed. His father would sit by the candle
puffing away at his pipe, and very rarely he would have a visit
from one of the other renters in the house, for a glass of ale.
This was Jack’s normal day, seven days a week, rain or
shine, ill or healthy. He had been doing this job since his
mother had died when he was only three. Now he was five he
was a hardened performer himself, being very skilled at
knowing how to look pleadingly at the audiences, holding out
his dirty little cap when collecting their pennies.
It was later in the summer when they both turned up in the
Soho area to put on the show. Many people were around, and
the show went on as normal, until his father for the very first
time, left the show area, and walked over to a two decked
horse drawn bus and started juggling to the passengers on it.
Jack being alert ran quickly and collected pennies from the
passengers on the lower deck as the carriage rolled by very
slowly, while his father performed. He also held a hat in his
teeth for payment from the top deck passengers. This becomes
part of the show from there on. But very sadly, it was not for
very long.
One afternoon they were performing to a bus load of
passengers; now his father could easily go around a bus twice
before it cleared his area. But due to his haste this day one of
his father’s stilts got snagged in the opposite tram track. This
caused him to lose his balance which in turn brought him down
onto the road with a crunch. He looked a helpless mess as he
lay there with the one stilt flat on the ground and the other at
an angle to the road still with a leg in it.
Some people looked on as a fast moving electric tram type
bus came the other way on the track with the one stilt stuck in
it. Directly in its path was Jack’s father lying there and making
no attempt to clear himself from the oncoming bus; he was
The driver saw at the last moment the body on the track
and was powerless to do anything except put his brakes on, but
sadly the momentum and speed of the fully laden tram did not
allow it to stop. It ran over the body.

The noise of a scream could be heard as somebody who
was watching became horrified. The body of Jack’s father was
squashed beneath the main body of the tram and was rotated
along underneath it while his head went under the front iron
wheel of the tram itself. The wheel squashed the head like an
The sound and the crunching of his head could be heard
above the screaming of the onlookers.
Blood and brains went all over the road, the lifeless body
lay there now tangled up like a rag doll.
Jack screamed, as did a lot of other people, the scene was
horrific and bloody. Jack stared at the scene in front of him, for
what seemed like an eternity but it was only a half of a minute
at most, he then dropped his cap of pennies, once he realized
what had happened before his very eyes and just ran away as
fast as his little legs would go, it did not matter where to or to
anywhere specific, just away from that place, that horrible
He felt very lonely, and also extremely frightened, and
crying very loudly, almost screaming as he ran and ran. He
knew nobody; he was shaking with the fear that now possessed
him. People watched him as he approached them running and
screaming, but nobody attempted to stop the child, everybody
just stared on in amazement. Jack was not aware as to just how
far he had run or for how long, all he could see was his father
lying there in the street, dead. Jack wanted to find Martha but
he did not know his way to the big house as he always called
it; he knew she would be there. He was completely lost. He did
not recognise any of the area he was in, but also he didn’t care,
all he wanted was to find the one friend that he had in the
world. He sat down on a bench alongside the big river and just
cried himself to sleep. For three days and three nights Jack
wandered the streets of London lost and be-wildered. He was
hungry, in addition to being tired, unhappy, as well as still very
frightened. He would run up to a big person and hope to be
cuddled only to be cast aside as a waif would be.
The clothes that he had were filthy now and the dirt on his
person was ground into the skin, and his hair was matted.

Being only five he did not notice the state he was in. He didn’t
know that he was hungry and dirty.
The odd passer-by took an element of pity on the child and
would give him a penny, not including when he, many times,
would be mistaken as one of the children who would earn their
parents their keep, by being put on the street to beg, and the
parents never too far away.
It was one Friday morning a week later while Jack was still
sat on the bench still snivelling about his father’s untimely
death that a kindly looking portly lady stopped and sat with
this little boy. She put her arm around him and pulled him into
her ample bosom. Jack cried harder while the lady patted him
on his head and consoled the child with soft words of
“There, there, there. It can’t be that bad can it?”
Jack looked up into this lady’s kind eyes, his own were red
with tears rolling down his cheeks, saying, “My Daddy’s gone,
I want to see Martha do you know her?”
“No dear I am sorry I don’t, but where is your mummy?”
The lady said quietly.
“She has gone too,” Jack replied.
“So there is nobody to look after you? How old are you?”
“What is your name?”
“Jack,” he replied.
“Are you hungry Jack?”
Jack suddenly realized that indeed he was hungry, and so
he nodded a ‘yes’ to the lady.
“Come along then my dear, let’s get you some food and
then I will take you home for a big hot bath and some nice new
clean clothes, shall we?”
Jack felt happy that somebody else cared, he needed the
cuddle and the heavy arm around his shoulders. At last after
three days he felt a little bit more secure.
In his three days he had not spoken to anybody, not even
the other waifs that he saw, not realizing that he himself was
one as well.

Jack held the lady’s hand tightly and walked off with her,
not knowing her but already liking her, being the first to pay
him any attention, and an element of kindness as well.
“My name is Mary,” the lady said. Jack didn’t answer, or
show any recognition at all. He was in a different world. Now
that he felt his troubles were over even if it was just some food
and clean clothes. A pie man approached with a tray of hot
pies hanging off of his neck. Mary ran after him, stopped him
in his tracks, and purchased two hot meat pies for Jack, both of
which were soon guzzled down by this very hungry child.
“Well,” she said, “you did have an empty tummy didn’t
you? Tell me what your name is again?”
He sheepishly looked up to the lady and said very clearly.
“My name is Jack.”
“Oh! That is a nice name, and tell something tell me Jack,
what is your second name?”
Jack just looked bewildered at the lady, and shrugged his
“Okay you don’t know your second name, so tell me
where do you live, do you know that?”
Again Jack shrugged his shoulders.
Mary look baffled but there again how many children of
this age would know that information, but she still persisted.
“Jack, how old are you, and where are your mummy and
daddy now?”
“I am five and my mummy and daddy have gone away.”
Mary was now beginning to get the picture and she
suspected that he had been abandoned by his parents.
They had both reached the required bus stop. Very soon
after, a horse drawn bus stopped.
After a short hesitation from Jack seeing the bus he broke
into tears seeing the remains of his father on that road again
and was reluctant to get onto the bus until Mary lifted him on
to it.
“Come along now don’t mess me about, I am taking you
They then got onto and it took them both to the area in
which the lady lived.

It was a small house with two bedrooms and neighbours
attached on both sides.
A small plot of garden was to the front aspect of the house
with many other houses of the same style surrounding the area.
It was painted a brown colour, whereas the others were in
different colours. Three clean un-broken windows were in the
front wall with a black door to which they were headed..
Jack’s mind now was full of questions, starting right back
to when his mother had died and the dumping of his sister and
even more recently the horrific death of his father. He thought
about Martha and wondered if he would ever see her again
because everybody else who he knew had left him so I suppose
that she has as well. He couldn’t understand why these people
all had gone away as he called it.
And now he had another friend, this lady called Mary.
How long would it be before she went away as well; he held
her hand a bit tighter.
Mary smiled down at him and thought what a lousy life
this kid must have had to be dumped by his parents. How
could a mother put him down in a street of London and just
walk away. She must have been very desperate, after all there
were orphanages for the likes of Jack. Why wasn’t he put into
one of them, and given a fair chance in life?
Her mind went to her own family, her sisters and brothers
all of who had children, but in her own life it was her husband
who up to now had decided children were not for his liking so
that they had none to date.
Maybe Jack would be an influence on him and who knows.
He was a chimney sweep and needed a boy to help him in that
job and this was the main reason that Mary had brought him
She was fumbling into her bag to find the keys to the door
while Jack looked around. There were a couple of people
about, one of whom was very interested in what was going
where he was standing. It was strange until the stranger called
“Hello Mary.”

Mary responded with just a wave of recognition and
mumbled under her breath “Nosey dragon”. Jack tried to smile
at the lady but was still in a state of tears, he was so sad.
Mary would have to organise some clothes for the boy but
first get some food into his tummy and the dirt off his body. So
it was bath, food and then measuring and then bed for this
young man.

Chapter Two

When the lady opened the front door of the house it looked
straight into the one main large room. Jack was confronted
with furniture he never knew or had ever seen before. A sofa
against one wall, and a small table for cups to be put on, in the
middle of the room. There were pictures hung around the
walls. Pictures of people and fields and then there was a table
and three chairs against the end wall. There was a vase of
flowers that gave a scent to the room, curtains hanging by the
windows; Jack was bewildered, he had never seen this before.
To him it felt like he was in a palace.
Sat in a wooden chair at the table was a black man, who
frightened Jack enough to make him suddenly turn into the
lady’s dress front again, to hide his eyes.
“It’s alright darling, this is Bob my husband,” Mary said
putting her arms around Jack to comfort him.
Jack slowly turned to face the now smiling man. His teeth
were showing now but not much whiter.
“Have a wash Bob you are frightening the child,” the lady
“Yes alright I will but, well, well what have we here?” Bob
“He is my new friend that I met on the embankment crying
because he lost his mummy and daddy,” Mary replied quietly
and with a wink of the eye.
“Oh I see, and what is your name little man?”
Jack who was now that little bit more comfortable with
this black man, replied “Jack”.
“Jack Who?” the man asked.
“I don’t know,” Jack retorted.
“You don’t know your second name? Where do you live
then? ”“
“I don’t know that as well.”
“Leave him alone Bob, he is only five years old.”

“What are we going to do with him then?” Bob asked.
“Well I think that we should look after him until we can
find his real mum and dad and until then, well, you know
already don’t you, now please go and wash because he thinks
that you are a black man.”
Bob left the room and went into one at the rear of the
house; very soon Jack could hear the splashing of water from
that room.
A few minutes had passed, when Bob came back into the
room, now as white as all other men.
Jack could not understand, and confused he looked to the
lady for the answer.
“Jack don’t worry Bob is not a real black man, he is a
chimney sweep and every day he cleans people’s chimneys
and gets covered in the black soot that is in the chimneys so
don’t worry.”
Jack didn’t’ know what a chimney was, but just listened
any way.
“What is a chimney please?”
“Well I never you, don’t know what a chimney is. Where
did you come from, not to know that?” Mary exclaimed and
then took Jack to the centre of the room where on the wall was
a fireplace.
“This is what you call a fireplace.” A blazing fire was
throwing out a lot of heat. “In there you would burn wood and
coal to heat the house up; above it, this funny shaped thing is
called a chimney.”
Jack recognised the fireplace from his previous rooms.
“This is what Bob does daily. He goes to small ones like
this or the much bigger ones and cleans all of the soot out of
“Now for you Jack, let’s get you cleaned up shall we?”
Mary ran a tub of hot water for Jack who had never had a
bath in his life, so he was a bit frightened, but more nervous
when he was told to strip down and get into the hot water. But
by now he felt that he could trust this kind lady who didn’t
want to hurt him, so he obediently stripped off his dirty clothes
and stepped into the tin tub. He sat down as he was told to and

enjoyed the warm if not hot water as it soaked into his tired
dirty body.
Mary said,
“Well let’s start at the top shall we?” and she then
proceeded to pour hot water onto Jack’s head.
“Now close your eyes Jack because if any of this soap gets
into your eyes it will sting, so eyes closed now.”
Jack closed his eyes while Mary lathered up a yellow bar
of carbolic soap to wash his hair. She rubbed and rubbed really
hard to get it clean. After rinsing all of the soap out of his hair
she proceeded to scrub and wash the rest of the filth from
Jack’s body until he was red all over and even sore in some
places. When she eventually took his small body out of the tub
the water was filthy. Very soon it was all over and Jack was sat
in front of a log fire with a towel wrapped around him. He felt
clean and warm, but more importantly he felt secure at well.
When he was dry and ready, Mary came down from upstairs.
“Right young Jack, I have made a nice warm cosy bed for
you so come on let’s go and have a look for it shall we,” she
said putting her arm around Jack’s shoulders.
Jack willingly stood and went up the stairs with Mary
where there were two doors, she pointed to one door and said,
“That is our bedroom and you are not allowed into there,
do you understand?”
Jack nodded holding his blanket together. They opened a
second door which was the smaller of the two rooms. In the
centre was a single bed with blankets on and a pillow, a small
rug on the wooden planked floors. On the wall was a picture of
a horse and another of a rabbit, there was also a small mirror
on the top of a chest of small drawers.
“Now,” Mary said, “this is your room young Jack, you
must keep it clean and tidy at all times, okay? Now come on
into the bed and I will tuck you in.”
Jack dropped his blanket and clambered into his new bed,
he was excited because this, as far as he knew, was the first
bed that he had ever had to sleep in which was only his.
Mary tucked in the sides of the blankets and bent down to
kiss Jack on his cheek; again to Jack this was a first.

Quietly she left the room and closed the door saying,
“Sweet dreams laddie and we will see you in the morning.”
Jack was warm still from the bath and he snuggled down
into the clean cold white sheets of the bed. He was asleep
within fifteen minutes.
He had decided that he liked Mary, she was a very nice
plump lady who would cuddle him and even kissed him on the
head just like Martha used to.
He overheard Mary and Bob discussing him one evening
when he was in his proper bed in a proper bedroom, upstairs in
a room by himself. They were not arguing but they were
talking quite loudly. He didn’t understand what they were
talking about, but in fact it was about him. He heard Mary first
with a raised voice.
“But you know that we cannot just take a child of his age
off of the street and call him our own, that is kidnapping.”
Mary said aggressively.
“Well what are we supposed to do, just let him roam
around the streets all lost and parentless?” Bob was answering
in a thoughtful slow manner. “Or maybe just hand him over to
the authorities who will just chuck him in a home for waifs.”
“Or more like, for sure into some workhouse somewhere?”
Mary responded. “For all we know Bob, his parents are out
there looking for him right now as we talk.”
“But he said, that both of them have gone away, I suppose
that he meant that they had died don’t you, or maybe they had
just thrown him out. I really don’t know what to think.” Bob
“Well as I far as I am concerned we have not adopted him,
nor are we kidnapping him, all we have done is taken him in,
fed him and looked after him, until we find his real parents,
that is if he has any, he does not even know his surname poor
little wretch.”

Mary continued,
“Other than that the conversation is over, as far as I am
concerned. Now leave me alone because I really have to make

the lad some more clothes, the ones he had have had it, and are
falling apart.”
By now Jack was fast asleep in his nice new warm bed, a
proper bed for the fifth time in his life, rather than the straw,
flea infested mattress that he and his father shared.
He was still so exhausted because of those days of
perpetual crying and not eating with very little sleep and just
being simply very frightened.
Bob sat quietly for a while, and then as if a light came on
in his head he suddenly burst out and said.
“Got it! Mary, Why! Can’t he become my climber? Since
Peter died I have found it very hard work. “It means that at the
very least he will earn his keep?”
Mary looked up and said, “I think that he is too young to
be climbing those chimneys don’t you?”
“Total rubbish woman,” Bob exclaimed,
“Albert has two boys, who are five, and they are up and
down like little monkeys. Jack will take a little training but I
am sure he will be just the job.”
Mary thought that this was an answer to her thoughts on
possibly losing the child she so much wanted to keep, and if
they got caught by the authorities, then he was working for
them and lodging in their house, and it also meant that she
could keep him, so she agreed to it all. Jack would take Peter’s
place as a climber for her husband. Secretly, although Bob had
not clicked, this was all part of Mary’s plan since seeing the
boy, a future climber for her husband whom she did not want
climbing up those very large filthy chimneys, which he found
he had to just to be able earn and income. He was paid on
quantity of soot removed not time on the job and Mary had
noticed that the income was beginning to be getting lower.
Jack was not the first boy climber that they had used. They
had in the past another lad called Peter.
Peter had been a previous climber for Bob; he had come
from a mother who just couldn’t keep him at home due to the
costs involved so she sold him on to Bob as a sweep’s boy. He
was six when he first started, three feet high, lanky and skinny,
just the right condition for this job. He was for three years an

asset to Bob, very quickly learning the trade allowing Bob to
clean as many as eight chimneys a day. But he put on weight
and got bigger by the day, sometimes getting stuck within the
thinner parts of the chimneys.
When this did happen, on most occasions Bob would light
a small fire in the grate, and that as a rule would work, creating
a fear in the brain of the climber of being cooked and so due to
panic they would shake themselves loose; sooner or later they
would descend This was one way to force the boy to free
himself but there was one time when the fire was lit and Peter
was really tightly stuck and could not free himself. He
suffocated in the smoke from the fire. Bob pulled and pulled
on the tethered rope that was attached to Peter as always, but
he just could not move the lad, until he was dead and lifeless.
Jack was of a similar build and height, if not smaller, so
Bob was pleased that Mary had agreed to use the boy.
The following morning while Jack was still asleep Bob sat
down with Mary to write Jack’s details down in the book to
show that he worked for them rather than just lived with them.
“Right, his name is Jack. Jack what?”
“I don’t know, and neither does he,” Mary said. “I suppose
we had better make one up?”
“Hmm!” Bob mumbled, “what about Anybody, or even a
Nobody, that’s what he is after all?”
“Okay,” Mary readily agreed. “Jack Nobody is his new
name.” So she wrote in the book ‘Jack Nobody’. Once the
paperwork was completed Mary returned to her sewing.
Mary, had spent all of her evening sewing together from an
old blanket, a pair of breeches and a matching jacket together
with a cap. The blouse she made from an old pillow case. She
had just finished, sewing and cutting Jack a new outfit, of
trousers, jacket, and a blouse, plus a cap. All in darkish
colours, so as they would not show them to be dirty so quickly.
She placed them by Jack’s bed while he was sleeping.
When at long last Jack woke up, he found them and
happily put them on. These were the first new clothes that he
had ever had. After he had put them on, Mary took him, and he
was shown to a mirror. Again another first, for the first time he

had seen himself in a mirror, he’d seen himself many times in
the reflection of a shop window but never in a mirror and he
became startled and stood back a bit.
Mary was making porridge for their breakfast while Bob
went to his shed in the garden and collected what was left of
Peter’s working tools, amounting to a bucket and a stiff hand
brush plus the tethering rope.
The next day would be a Monday and he wanted to get
Jack started as soon as he could.
Mary had washed Jack’s old clothes and asked him to put
them on, and then she sat him down on a chair by the table
with the intention of explaining to Jack what was in store for
him tomorrow in the way of going to work with Bob.
“Now then Jack,” she started. “Tomorrow you will be
going to work with Bob.”
Just then Bob came in.
“There is no need for that Mary. It will all make sense to
him once we have done one. Come along sonny, get your boots
on and we will get away. Let me show you some chimneys.”
Jack slipped his boots on and loosely tied the laces in a
They left the house and passed many people making their
way to church.
“We don’t go to Church,” Bob said. “Too much work in
the week and Sunday is my day off.”
“Now then Jack how old are you?”
“Five,” Jack answered a bit shyly,
“I think that you are older than that, you are a big boy
maybe six or even seven, and do you know what a chimney
Jack shook his head, he did and there again he didn’t.
“Right, look up there on top of that house; see that block
on the very top with a bit of smoke coming out of it?” Bob
asked pointing up at a chimney.
“That is a chimney, and it is my job to go to these houses
and clean them of any black soot that will stick to the inside of
them. Now there are many chimneys that are too small for me