And I am yet to meet them all.
But I go too fast.
I lodge in the chamber of the man who would have all believe he can read. He likes to sit alone of an evening to sup his ale and eat his pie (of which I have a share).
What a waste of waxen candles. He has a great store of stubs that he must have stole when my lady Moll and all were here.
Of a morn, I visit the kitchen to see what I may beg.
One time, the kitchen cat was eating a sawsits [sausage?] under the table.
I snapt the last of it, and she made no complaint. Instead, she arrkst me if I would do her the honour of accompanying her to the Cats’ Field, where all go for newes and entertainment.
I waited by the kitchen door on the appointed evening. She was late.
She sayt her kitling had been froward [naughty], and would not lie quiet until told that the Man-Bull will hear her and come to eat her.
“What?” I cried. “You know of the Man-Bull here?”
“We do,” she sayt. “For as some cats range far, so your tales are spread.”
Then she told me she gave newes of my coming hither at their last Field day, and all were fire-hot to make my akwayntance.
As we made haste along, I heared a strange, soft thrum. Then a great screech, followed soon after by a voice lifted in song. My companion sayt she feared the entertainment was near its end, but no matter. They would stay for us.
All assemblies I had been to were most quiet, save for when the cats called their liking of a tale. Or screamed aloud in fear, real or feigned.
I knew not what to think.
As we ran onto the Field a black cat was walking from the centre of their circle. All heads turned to us, and another screech went up. I checked myself, for I thought they meant to attack me. And true, the black cat did come at me, but with ears held high. (I could not see his tail.)
He greeted me by putting his nose to mine. Twice. On both sides. Which I thought most unseemlie on first akwayntance.
He was well-scented with tobacco smoke and wine. And he’d rubbed whiskers with an old man not long since.
Then a cat who stood on the wall looking at the moon sayt, “We must have a goodly tale, whereby we might learn something. Pray tell us, Sir, of the tricksie Fox and the patient Cat, so we may be minded that they who wait shall have their reward.”
“And what be you waiting for?” called an old queen cat. “The moon to give you back your wits?”
Another screech from all.
The standing cat seemed about to answer, but a young cat leapt up beside him and whispered in his ear.
The other cats called, “Give us Teasel Puss.”
“Friends,” I sayt (wishing no offence to any), “I thank you for my welcome, but the hour is late. I shall make a start when we meet again.”
“Signore,” called the black cat, “A mere taste, un gusto, per favore.”
I took his meaning, so gave out the prowlook [prologue] to my tale. There came that strange thrum again, and I saw that the cats seated in the circle were striking their tails upon the ground to the measure of my verse.
When I ended some called for more, but the black cat accused the pied cat beside him of striking him with his tail. The pied cat bristled up. Other cats bristled up too, hoping for a fight.
But most ran off. As did the kitchen cat and I.
And though I know this place to be the very kwintessence of wickedness, I do believe it may be the true place for me.