38:  The Mad Cat Tells His Dream

With all afeared of the Spanish, we was in need of merriment when next we met at the Cats’ Field.

A black cat looking thoughtful.
Nero the Sea Cat

Nero sayt, “Courage, friends.  They may have an empire on which the sun never sets, but we can muster as many ships as they.  And their ships are sailed by honest mariners, with soldiers to do the fighting.  Whereas our sailors, lacking honest employment, are well used to sea fights in hopes of bringing home a little Spanish silver.”

That newes cheered us.

A drawing showing the design of English ships by master shipwright Mathew Baker (1530-1613). The guns are close to the waterline, not mounted on deck, and he's drawn a fish along the hull to emphasise its shape.
A drawing by master shipwright Mathew Baker (1530-1613) showing the design of English ships.  He’s added a fish, to emphasise the shape of the hull.

Then the Mad Cat rose to say the Queen Cat of Heaven had appeared unto him.

All desired him to speak, then sat ready to make mock of him.

Beautiful black and white cat holding a paw up.He began:  “Last night, after I had drank my milk and eat of my egg, I laid me down to sleep.   And as I slept I dreamed a most fearful dream.”

“That’ll learn you to eat egg,” a cat called.

A screech went up.

“Behold,” sayt the Mad Cat, “I saw the Queen Cat of Heaven treading upon the waters.”

“What colour was she?” came a call.

“She was every colour we have seen, and colours we may never see.”

“If we may not see them, how know you they were colours?” arrkst Linkin the Law Cat.

“I speak not of the colours of this world,” sayt the Mad Cat.  “We need not trouble ourselves with them.”

A bright red poppyAnother cat called, “True.  I care nowt for red, though men and women do praise it most high.”

The Mad Cat did not heed her.  He sayt, “The Queen Cat of Heaven sees all and waxes wroth.”

(I whispered to Nero, “He stole that line from me.”)

“For I saw in my dream that she has laid back her ears, she has brought forward her whiskers, and her eyes are grown so great they will engulf this world.  She is weary of the wickedness of men and women.  And of whom is she most weary?”

“The Spanish!” called some.  (Nero whispered, “He’s winning them.”)

“True, friends,” sayt the Mad Cat. “The Queen Cat of Heaven has sighted their ships.  And what more has she seen?”

None could guess.

“A most papistical painting on the ship that carries their doleful Duke.  And who is in this painting?  A woman, friends.  She that some call the Queen of Heaven.  Our Lady.”

I arrkst, “And do they show a cat with her?”

“They do not.  Instead, they have with them a ship they call The Cat.  Is this a great galleon with painted sails and many cannon?  No. ’Tis but a floating turd with fewer guns than I have claws.  And the Queen Cat of Heaven is offended.”

Many cats called they were offended too.

“Friends, we’ll be avenged.  There is a port in this land that the Queen Cat of Heaven do watch very close.  Its name is Mousehole.  And she has seen a vessel put out of Mousehole, and upon that vessel she bestows her feline favour.  They shall have safe sight of the Spanish and bring warning.

“I saw in my dream that the Queen Cat of Heaven is snorting.  She will snarl anon, and scatter their ships.  And I saw in my dream that she twitches her tail.  Soon she will lash it and make heavy waves against them.”

“You stole that conceit [idea] from me,” called Nero.

“I know what I know,” sayt the Mad Cat, and walked from the centre of our circle.

There was tumult then.  Many called their liking of his newes.  In a house nearby a child woke and began to yowl, so we hushed lest we be chased off.

Invincible Armada - English School, 16th century - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

I arrkst, “But what of they poor sea cats that sail with the Spanish? Yes, and the dogs and horses too?”

The Mad Cat narrowed his eyes, as is courteous, and turned his face from me.

“Friend,” he sayt. “When I told of the beauteous garden where all was peace and love, was’t not you who wished for his dinner of herbs to be served with gravy?  And can you have gravy without you shed innocent blood?”

Oh, that were cold claws unto my heart.  Were he not crack-brained, I’d have struck him a blow then and there.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorThe Queen Cat of Heaven was unkind in her estimate of El Gato/The Cat, a cargo or supply ship that the Spanish called an urca and the English a hulk.  (Not a hulk in the usual sense of the word, i.e. a ship afloat but no longer considered seaworthy).

El Gato was one of the Spanish ships that made it back to Spain, so the name must have brought some luck.

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6 thoughts on “38:  The Mad Cat Tells His Dream

  1. April Munday January 23, 2016 / 9:06 am

    The Mad Cat is not as mad as he seems, if he knows how to steal the best lines. I’m surprised they can bear to talk so much about the sea, but I’m glad they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 23, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      Nero’s sea tales are popular, and some of the other cats are sure to have sea-faring relatives. As Mr Streamer explains in Beware the Cat (1584), “There be few ships but have Cats belonging unto them, which bring newes unto their fellowes out of all quarters.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday January 23, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      I didn’t realise that cats were so well-travelled. No wonder they have so many stories to tell.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robyn Haynes January 23, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    The language is a delight to me. I want to ‘wax wroth’ next time an inconsiderate driver cuts me of. : )
    Seriously though, I am learning so much of the place of cats in history.

    Liked by 1 person

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