1:  I Begin a True Relation of My Life

Torn Page-from painting by  Jan de HeemI have been very dumpish and full of discontentments since my little lord was took and I was brought to this strange house.

Yesterday I heared one say to the Countess, “Your ladyship, that Gib has been at the books again.  Look!  He has pulled down those and clawed a page from this.”

Her ladyship sighed and sayt, “When next I see him I shall tell him to have a care, and return them to the shelves.”

The man made no answer.  He thinks her a fool.  But after she had quit the room he sayt, “If I see that Gib, I’ll sink him in the river and say he ran away.”

Whither would I run?  I cannot feed myself, for I was took from my mother too soon to learn, and I have no friends to teach me.  Those here who should be my friends give me evil looks, and some have offered to fight me.

But always I turn away with mild eyes, keeping my ears pricked and my coat flat.  (I mean the coat I was born with, not the coat my lord gave me).  That shows I take no offence and will give none, though once I have my proper place in this household it may be otherwise.

We shall see.

Meantime, rather than read her ladyship’s books, I thought it meet that I should make some little books of mine own and set down a true relation of my life so far.

I have some pens put by.  (I cannot cut quills for myself).  When that bloodie knave who wished to drown me was abed I crept into his chamber and made free with his ink and paper.

Writ this foul night by me, Gib.

A Shelf of Books, from a painting by Barthelemy d'EyckP.S.  Yesterday, after that bloodie knave had gone about his business, I came from my hiding place among the books and raised my tail to set my mark on all that I could reach.

That will make him know his place.  And in my next book I shall tell of my birth and my bringing up, and of how I made my lord’s akwayntance.


Toutparmoi - Editor's NoteThere is no date or place name on the original document, but it was probably written at Cowdray House in Sussex around December 1581.

The writer signs himself “Gib”, written as “Kip” in the original documents.  (See About These Posts for a comment on his use of consonants.)  Later in the papers there are indications that he was named Bevis after the legendary hero Bevis of Southampton.  However, Gib is the name he uses so I’ve stuck with it.

According to the OED, Gib (short for Gilbert) was a popular name for cats, leading to the use of “gib” to mean a cat, especially a male cat, and later, a castrated one.

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9 thoughts on “1:  I Begin a True Relation of My Life

  1. Shafali July 19, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    I can imagine the scene, Gib. The bloody knave must’ve not had a clue of who might’ve marked his books while he was gone about his business, but what if he finds out who did it? Would you not become a marked cat then, Gib?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. honestme363 August 10, 2015 / 8:35 am

    Seems I have some catching up to do with Gib. I am sure I will love the perspective he will offer ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 10, 2015 / 8:44 am

      Thanks! He has his own view of the world, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfurling August 31, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    ‘Mmmm, intriguing concept,’ she said (stroking her whiskers). Though not particularly a cat enthusiast, this character could change her perceptions.
    She is looking forward to reading the other posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. godschildshari February 19, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    My feline friend, the Lady Emma and I look look forward with eager anticipation to future perusals of the cunning Gib’s machinations and memoirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 19, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad the Lady Emma appreciates Gib’s efforts.

      Like

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