78:  The Wondrous Night

A figure in a shroud, standing in a churchyard.We are nigh unto the time when dead folks come out of their holes in the ground and creep about the houses.

Such wan and woeful things they are, we cats fear them not.  We help them in their hauntings.

I’ve writ of this before, when I was a young cat.

I’ve learnt much since.

All Hallow Even is the night when men and women are most afeared, though they’re none too bold on any night. 

Cover page of The Terrors of the Night, or, A Discourse of Apparitions, by Thomas Nashe, printed 1594.This is not to be wondered at, for they have eyes ill-made for seeing, and ears too small for hearing.  And their whiskers (if they have any) lie too close to their mouths to be of use.

Certes, by night they are great fools.  They trip and drop their silly lights, and knock into things that any cat could see.  All the while swearing and blaspheming most horrible.

They believe darkness is the kingdom of the devil.

And if the poor dog they have with them for their safety do but let a fart, they believe it a whiff of brimstone. 

I believe that what they see and hear by night are the fruits of their foul fancies, their mad and melancholick imaginings, the corruptions of their consciences.

A stained cover page of Lewes Lavater's book on Ghosts and Spirits, Walking by Night. 1596 edition.
A literate cat seems to have marked this book for future reference.

Certes, few are cute [sharp] enough to glimpse a ghost, but on Hallow Even most hide theirselves in their houses for fear of what may befall them.

Last night we assembled at our Field, and told of all the merry tricks we know to strike terror in their timorous souls.

Night is our queendom, where none observes us but the Queen Cat of Heaven.

And on this wondrous night everywhere is ours.  We slip about soft-foot, and hear and see all.

I made a verse that I gave out:

First, let’s knock down all the trenchers!

T’will affright the kitchen wenches

whisp’ring spells within their bed,

seeking dreams of dolts they’ll wed.

Next, beneath the windows lie,

wail and waul till babes do cry!

Then across the rooves we’ll leap;

none below will dare to sleep.

On to churchyard dank and drear,

climb the yew tree, there to hear

boastful braggarts, bold with booze,

walk for wager – which they’ll lose.

Drop behind them, claw their breeches!

See them flee, and hark their screeches!

The cats liked my verse so well they called for Nero to lead all in singing it.

A black cat with narrow yellow eyes, looking thoughtful.
Nero, contemplating the joys of All Hallow Even

He has a fine voice.

Then they arrkst me if I would tell of horrid monsters when next we met.

I could scarce believe mine ears.  I feigned unwillingness.

Not long since, they scorned my poetick fictions, and wished to hear me slander great folks.

But now many young cats say they’ve never heard my famous Teasel Puss and the Man-Bull.  Or Purrsa, Purrsie and the Petrifying Witch.

It seems my tales may be in fashion again.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorAnd here we’ll leave Gib for a while, looking forward to Hallowe’en and a new audience at the Cats’ Field.

His humble editor is taking a break, so there’ll be no posts for a month or so.  I’ll try to keep up with your blogs, but may not be able to leave comments, or reply to comments on this one.