True, the old Earl died as the Bevis book foretold. But the villain did not kill him, or if he did I heared no talk of it.
As he lay dying I accompanied my lord and young lady to his bedchamber, but I was not permitted to go in. Instead, I listened at the door.
My little lord and my lady Moll came out most lachrimable [tearful]. Some sayt it was for grief. But I thought they were affrighted by the maggots. And they may have feared that their mother the Countess would kill them, or sell them to the error-ticks [heretics].
Such newes could not wait. I paced all about the house and yard and thence to the kitchen door, calling very softly, “Newes, newes, now.”
I heared some lackwit say, “Listen, even the young Earl’s Gib is mourning.” Which shows how little they knowed me, because nothing in my life has joyed me so much as the words “the young Earl’s Gib”.
So great had my reputation grown among the cats of that household, many came running. None complained of having to quit their business so sudden, or of kitlings left unfed.
To my shame, all I could tell them was that the old Earl was dead, and I had heared it with my own ears. My uncle was there, and I durst not say that I had told them not long since that this would come to pass, or give them a single word of what was festering in my head.
My uncle bade me go back into the house and see what more I could learn there.
Now here’s a strange thing. While the old Earl lay cooling, I began to hear mutterings against that Tommik.
And there was talk of the old Earl’s will. I arrkst, first myself and then my uncle, how can one have a will when he is dead?
He told me there be many sorts of wills, and he had not the time to explain every will to me.
But chiefly, there is the will we all have and that cannot be denied, because what we will is what we must have. That is to say, our own way.
And there’s another will, which is writ before you die. That will says who is to have your goods and gear when you are dead. My uncle sayt that cats do not have such wills. Only men and women do.
Such a will may be denied, because once you are dead you cannot fight for your own way. Others fight over all you leave behind you.
My uncle wished for newes of the old Earl’s written will, because he had heard there was a great fight to come. And my uncle loved a fight above all things.
Back I went among the old Earl’s gentlemen, and what I learnt there I shall tell in my next little book.