Today I walked to the stable, and greeted the horses with “What newes?” For horses go hither and yon, and hear much that you may coax them into telling. If you have patience.
“Say now,” one arrkst me. “Do we know when your friends will next meet at the Cats’ Field?”
“When the moon is fat and the night fair,” I answered. “Unless we are summoned to hear hot newes.”
“Do we know when a fat moon may be?” arrkst another.
“Nay,” sayt the first, “we do not know.”
The other sayt, “Then how may we know what befell that poor cat whose ship was set afire?”
“Yea,” sayt a third. “From one great moon to the next is a long time to be swimming.”
They was talking of Nero’s tale of the Spanish Main. Some fool cat has told it to them.
And they believed Nero and his friends were even now in the sea, making for the shore of Darien [Panama].
I never knowed horses that could be so easily gulled.
“Now hear me,” sayt I. “That cat did not drown. He’s here now.”
“Where?” they arrkst.
“In his master’s house, about his business.”
“Say now, how know we that?”
I did not endeavour to explain. Instead, I offered them a different tale.
“Nay,” they sayt. “We have but room enough in our heads for one.”
“That I can believe.”
“Yea,” they answered. “All fear for that poor cat. And we know that if he does not drown he may be ate.”
After more talk, too tedious to recount here, they wished to know if those cats were like to drown or be ate too.
How is it the horses know Nero’s tale but none of mine?
Have the stable cats been so carried away by the prideful sail of Nero’s great verse that he is all they can speak of?
No, because Nero told the first part of his newest tale plain. (Certes, he was so hot to leap up after Linkin the Law Cat gave newes, he had not time to prepare his rhyme.)
Then do they love his unquenchable spirit? A spirit well-fuelled, I might add, by the spirits his old captain and his pot-companions [drinking buddies] consume by night.
Then it come to me that Nero hisself had been by. And for why?
To advance his reputation at the expense of mine.
First he creeps about the stable. Soon he will approach the house. He desires my place as the young Earl’s poet.
How glad I am that my young lord is kept beneath Lord Purrlie’s heavy paws and safe at college in Cambridge. Nero cannot woo him there.
But why has my young lord not sent for me? I may avenge myself by making his family the matter of my next tale.
The wicked cats here will not complain if I spread slander.
And I’ll punish Nero by keeping away from our next Field Day. If pressed to go I’ll say I am in pain. I can learn the finish of his tale from my sister or the kitchen cat. (If I so choose.)
I set my mark against the stable walls. A little here, a little there.
That will serve to warn all cats who come by. And I care not what the stable cats may think.
Cats are contrary. Sorry as I am to leave Gib in such an ill-humour, this is the last of his journal for the year.
Your humble editor is taking a break, and will be back in January.
Have a Happy Christmas!
P.S. The cat in the bottom right of this picture could be another example of what the spy cat Master Grey referred to as hedging bets.