5:  About the Earl and his Wife

Kitchen Cat with fish, from a Clara Peeters painting.My uncle had employment in the kitchen.

I knowed him well, because he came often to the stable to beg a rat from my mother when he had none to show for his night’s doing. Sometimes he would bring a chop bone or a fish head for us kitlings to nibble on.

And wherever my uncle went he gathered newes, so there was little he did not know.

By good fortune I found him in the kitchen that day.

He told me that the Earl had shut away his wife the Countess (my uncle knew not where) because she had fallen in with a common fellow.

An Elizabethan girl in a pink gown.
Mary Browne (the Countess) at the age of 13 in 1565. This was probably painted shortly before her marriage to the Earl.  By Hans Eworth (c.1520-1574).  Via Wikimedia Commons.

In short, she had hoist her tail and let this fellow seize her by the scruff.

I, being young and ignorant, could see no harm in that, but my uncle explained that women and men do things different.  A woman may permit only one man to put kits in her belly while that man liveth.

That was newes indeed.

I arrkst if the Countess had a kit in her belly, but my uncle had no report of it.

So then I arrskt how the Earl knew she had hoist her tail for this fellow.

My uncle had heard tell that the Earl received the newes from a gentleman of his household, though the Countess sayt that the gentleman lied.  She did not deny that she was akwaynted with the common fellow, but swore she’d done no wrong.

When the Earl told the Countess he would put her from him and keep my little lord and his lady sister, she writ him a letter protesting her innocencie.  She sent this letter by my lord who handed it to the Earl thinking to do well.

The Earl refused to read her letter.  He raged enough to set my lord a-yowling, and his sister too.

My uncle chanced to be resting below the window that day, and he heared this with his own ears.

To spare the Earl’s ears the young lady was led away to her chamber, and my lord to the stable to see how their horses were lodged.

I guessed that was how I came to have my place in the Earl’s household, as I have told.

A Cat playing with a small dog, a detail from a painting by Adriaen van UtrechtAnd (sayt my uncle) a very good place it was.  I was free to go where no other cat durst, and the house dogs, little ruffians that they be, did not trouble me.  I could not wish for better employment.

I wished to know the name of the common fellow who scruffed the Countess, and that of the gentleman who carried this newes to the Earl.

My uncle told me I arrskt too many questions.

Then, under guise of cleansing my ears before he sent me on my way, he whispered, “There are some who believe the Countess to be a much-wronged lady, but few such dwell in this house.  No more questions.  You would be wise to save your tongue for licking your paws and keeping your nose clean.”

But I was given to impudencie, and I heeded him not.


One thought on “5:  About the Earl and his Wife

  1. Soul Gifts December 31, 2015 / 6:37 pm

    “she had hoist her tail and let this fellow seize her by the scruff” – LOL!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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