22: I Am Friended

The strange cat and I sat a while.  We kept our eyes narrow, and looked not upon each other but on the night air, while I became akwaynted with his scent and he with mine.

I knowed he was a gib cat like myself.  But there was a smell about him that I could not place.  It come sharp to my nostrils and troubled me a little.

Then I caught the smells of leather, and of a man full-grown.  Two women next.  Fresh milk, a house dog, a boy.  And a whiff of horse.  None of these was an offence to me.

A Blue Cat by twilight.After a time he settled with folded paws, and I did the like.  We studied the grass beneath our noses.

I was still minded of the spy cat Master Grey, who told me he would find me.  Thinking this cat might have been sent to gather my spy newes (of which I have none), I spake first.

I sayt, “By night all cats are grey.”  For I believe this saw [saying] is how we spies know one another.

He kept his eyes to the ground and replied, “I am grey by day also, whilst you are spotted.”

That set me about, I do confess.  For if these were the next words we spies must say (or something like) I knew not how to reply.

Then it come to me that here might be the onlie chance I would have to rid myself of that bloodie knave who wished to drown me.

So I sayt, “There’s a knave in my household who guards the book room.  I heared him say that the sooner the Stew Queen chases the Great Queen from her place and takes it for herself, the better pleased he’ll be.”

All this cat sayt was, “I am not akwaynted with they queen cats, but if this knave meddles in their business then hanging were too good for him.”

And I thought: He knows nowt of policy nor papists, so he does not serve Master Grey.  Which meant I could not hope that Lord Purrlie [William Cecil, Lord Burghley] will take that bloodie knave hence and have him stretched.

A door with a cat hole dating from around 1450-1500.
This door with a cat hole dates from around 1450-1500, and came from France. It’s held in the Walters Art Museum.

Then this cat told me he has a very good place in the smith’s household, where all call him Smokie.  

When the weather is fair he keeps thieving birds and mice from the garden his mistress tends, and rats from the little house where her fowls are lodged.

But when it’s cold he stays in their shop [the smithy] and deals with rats and mice there.  He is accustomed to the shop noise, and there’s a hole cut in the door for him so he might go from shop to house as he pleases.

Then came musick to mine ears.

Smokie sayt that the men and women who come to the shop bring many tales and much newes, but he had never heared any so good as mine. 

He hoped we might be friends.

Smokie also sayt he knows a cow, and goes with the young mistress to milk her.  His young mistress sometimes squirts milk at him instead of in her bucket, and he tries to catch it in his mouth.

A sport that ends with him wiping his face with his paws and then licking them clean.  And he sayt I would be most welcome to join him at the milking and take a squirt of milk there.

Oh, what a sweet fellow this Smokie is.  I do love him alreadie.


Toutparmoi - Editor's Note

The “bloodie knave” and Gib clashed over territory (the library) in 1:  I Begin a True Relation of My Life.

The “Stew Queen” and the “Great Queen” are Mary Stuart Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I of England.  Gib learnt about politics and religion from the spy cat Master Grey in 14:  I Am Turned.


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26 thoughts on “22: I Am Friended

  1. Claremary P. Sweeney September 17, 2015 / 11:23 pm

    Two cats conversing! Right up my alley. And I loved the photo of the French door with the “doggie door” built (kicked) in. I’ll read this to ZuZu and Roxie when they wake up this morning. Clare

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi September 17, 2015 / 11:28 pm

      I love that door! And if you click on the link in the caption, you’ll get a quote from Geoffrey Chaucer about someone peering through a cat hole.
      BTW, I’m a tad surprised your cats wake up after you do!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Claremary P. Sweeney September 18, 2015 / 12:06 am

        I’m up all the time. They coax me into feeding them and then go back to sleep. Roxie was running around the inside of the house with a garden snake today and when she reappeared, the snake was not there. I’ve been waiting for her to bring it to me as I sit reading blogs in the downstairs bedroom.I don’t want t turn the lights out!

        Liked by 1 person

        • toutparmoi September 18, 2015 / 12:11 am

          Don’t blame you. Fortunately, we don’t have snakes here in New Zealand. Not that I dislike them – I’d just like to see them before they see me. Might Roxie sneak a snake into your bed?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. DitrieMarieBowie September 18, 2015 / 1:06 am

    Oh cats. Clawing at the door to go out, no in, no out, no in, no out, since the 1400s. Hehehe. I like Smokie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 18, 2015 / 1:23 pm

      The cat hole may have made a major contribution to civilisation. How could anyone design a printing press (or the like) if they’d had to keep jumping up and down to let the cat in and out?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. daveply September 18, 2015 / 5:05 pm

    One of my volunteer jobs is in a humane society cattery. Some of the cats are housed in colony rooms, and I can just see a couple of them introducing themselves to each other with this sort of conversation. Fun stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfurling September 19, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    Oh that Smokie is indeed a sweet fellow. What a great picture of the cat door dating so far back. Why should I be so surprised?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. daveply September 22, 2015 / 3:26 pm

    I finally finished catching up on the series. Good stories, one and all. Give yourself about 20 more virtual likes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. brendakane2013 September 23, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    What a splendid raconteur. Just enjoying these cat tales so much…I am an old woman recalling with fondness my Grand father (from Yorkshire) using the same terms…nowt, and lots, n’lots of bloody things…bloody this and bloody that so I love the tone of the stories. Thanks so very much.
    I have a tiny tabby and although stone deaf, she is a tremendous communicator.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2015 / 6:23 pm

      Thanks – I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Gib’s tales. I love regional accents and dialects, the history of words, and all the variety of the English language, past and present.

      Like

    • toutparmoi October 1, 2015 / 8:24 pm

      Cats are strange like that. Or maybe a bit like us? As a long-term cat-watcher I’ve observed some inexplicable friendships, and some surprising enmities.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jmnowak October 4, 2015 / 3:25 am

    Aahh, that knave needed to be dealt with good and proper! But, pray tell, how does that cat hole keep out the mice and rats?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. toutparmoi October 4, 2015 / 8:52 am

    I think they were relying on the cat to do that!
    When I saw that early cat hole in the picture, I wondered more about draughts, but it may have been an interior door.

    Like

  9. amanpan October 14, 2015 / 8:07 am

    Precious story and I love your use of the English language, whether it be a regional accent or dialect. The door with the cat hole is like the icing on the cake.

    Liked by 1 person

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