3:  I Receive My Coat

A curious spotted kitten against a blue background.My duty in the household was to attend my little lord’s lessons, where I watched him at his tasks and played with his pens most discreet.  

One time, when our tutor left the room, my lord sayt that he would teach me my letters. 

Taking my paw, he put his pen between my claws.  I could not hold it, so rolled upon my back to fight it.

Da Vinci cat cartoon.
A Da Vinci Cat demonstrates the Writing Position

Then I made to cleanse my belly where ink had spattered, bracing myself on my paw and thrusting out one leg for balance.

So it was that my lord put the pen between the toes of my foot, and I contrived to scratch some ink on the paper he offered me.

Our tutor came back, and I learnt no more that day.  But I continued to watch my lord very close, and observed how he made his marks with his pen.

One fine morning, when we both wished to be outside, my lord drew what he sayt was a coat, and showed it to me.

Wriothesley Coat of Arms.It was like no coat I had ever seen.

Then it come to me that it must be a cote for doves.  For at the top there were four birds each sitting in his own hole, and below them a ladder.

To me they looked more like filthie stinking gulls than doves, not fit to eat.

Beside the ladder (but kept from it by a wall) was a great hungrie cat, reaching up to grab those birds, but the wall prevented him.

My lord told me that cat’s name was Lion Rampant.  I never knowed a cat with that name nor would I ever wish to, for I think he would eat me if he could.

Above the head of Lion Rampant was a window at which a starveling kitling stood.  He was safe from hungrie Lion, but he could not reach those birds neither.

A tragick spectacle.

And my lord wrote under the picture, “Ung par tout y tout par ung” which he sayt was, in the tongue of the Conker [Conqueror], “One for all and all for one.”

I could not fathom the meaning of it.

Then he drew another coat.

Gib's coat of arms.This was a fine spotted cat, so full-fed he was not troubled to catch the birds that sat about him.

And all beneath the same collar of spikes, which my lord sayt was an Earl’s coronet, and that was a fit coat for me because one day he would be an Earl and I would be an Earl’s cat.

We did not know how soon that day would come, and what dangers it would bring us to.

My lord sayt he wished to colour the coats, and was looking for some other inks when our tutor came in.

He cried, “What folly is this?  A coat for a mere cat?”  And he seized my coat and scrumpled it and flung it to the floor.

I leapt after it, while my lord let out a screech fit to shear my ears clean off my head.

Whereupon the door opened, and the Earl himself entered.

Editor's Note. Small image of a quill pen.The tongue of the Conker (i.e. William the Conqueror, who invaded England to claim the throne in 1066) is Norman French.