49:  I Ride in Triumph

Dappled catWe cats are curious, so I allowed my young friends to seat me in the cart.

My friends are called Puss [Bess], Moll, and Harry.  Those are the names of Her Majestie, our Earl’s sister, and our Earl hisself.  I believe their mother and father are ignorant, and know no other names.

We went towards the bridge.

There was more folks about than usual.  Or more young wenches, I should say.

I kept my eyes wide and my ears pricked for strange dogs.  My friends’ eyes were wide, too.  They looked back often.  I guessed they feared their mother might come after them.  I’ve seen her pulling weeds in the garden, and know her to be fierce.

Then I caught the sound of horses.  But no wild musick, as there was when Her Majestie last came hither.

I nosed the air as best I could.

Above the leafy scents of my conveyance and my company, I caught a whiff of tobacco smoke.  And another of old man.  Two scents that Nero always has about him.

A black cat, looking watchful.He was peeking from behind a wall.  He kept low, with his ears laid flat and sideways, but there was no mistaking him.

My friends halted.  Moll and Harry sat with me by the road while Puss took the cart some way off.

I know Nero does not love Her Majestie, she being so careless of all the poor sailors who have suffered hurts and maims for her sake.  I was of a mind to join him and learn why he waited there.

“Hold him,” called Puss. “Don’t let him run away.”

I knew they could not hold me if I chose to flee, so I lingered, ever watchful.

A small wreath of ivy, lying on a gravel path.Harry put the garland of ivy he carried about my neck.  Moll sayt it was not fine enough. 

Puss sayt that ivy signified fidelity and it looked well.

I believe ivy is a fit garnish for a poet.  (As are bays, though I know not what they are.)

But I feared that, had I need to run, my garland might slip low and trip me.

All heared the sound of horses then.  Moll lifted me. She clasped me tight about my breast, but my belly was exposed (unseemlie) and my toes touched the ground.  Harry seized my feet, and so I hung between them. 

I felt fool, but kept my countenance lest Nero should make a song of this to spite me.

Then what do I see but a knot of young gentlemen riding towards us.  I do not like young men, gentle or otherwise.  They oft take pleasure in setting their dogs on us cats.

Time to take my leave.  As I gathered my strength to break free, Puss stepped into the road, and made a curtsey.

One gentleman raised his hand, and all drew rein.

“Well,” sayt he, “what have we here?”  And oh, I knew that voice.

Puss made another curtsey, and sayt, “Your lordship, we have brought your cat to greet you.”

“My cat?” sayt he.  And again, “My cat?”

All with him laughed.

My friends seemed dismayed.  Then, of a sudden, my lord handed his reins to another and sprang down from his horse.

He was most gracious.  He arrkst my friends their names, which he sayt were excellent.  And then their father’s name, and what he did.

He praised my garland of ivy so high that little Harry was overwhelmed, addressed him as Mr Earl, dropped my feet, and fell down on his bum.

My lord helped him rise.  Then he took me from Moll, and held me with one arm about my back.  I was affrighted, and gripped his shoulder with my claws.  His hair was ticklesome, and so long I could see nowt behind us.

When he remounted his horse and took his reins in his free hand my heart near failed me.

My lord told another to give my friends each a penny for their pains.

“So much, your lordship?” arrkst the saucie rogue. “You may be offered cats where’re you go.”

“Their father is my servant,” sayt my lord, most cool.

I never rode by horse before.  I knew my uncle travelled in a knapsack on his cook’s back, to the great wonderment of all.  I’d told of how the cankered cat rode behind Sir Waine, as if it were the most natural thing in all the world.  But I?

I’d done no more than sit upon their backs while they stood in field or stable.  So I took courage, as we poets must when we find ourselves in the midst of things that once were marvels or mere fancies.

I knew Nero had his eyes on me.  And I remembered how he sayt ’twas passing brave to be the cat that walked in triumph through Constantinople.

Well, I’m the cat that rode in triumph to Place House.

Place House (now known as Titchfield Abbey). From an 18th century illustration.
Place House (now in ruins, and known as Titchfield Abbey). From an 18th century illustration, though it probably didn’t look very different in Gib’s day.  The Earl of Southampton’s country seat.

14 thoughts on “49:  I Ride in Triumph

  1. April Munday April 7, 2016 / 5:06 am

    I shall be within a few miles of Place House this evening and I shall think of Gib riding in state towards it.
    I am sorry that his friends treated him in such an unseemly manner, but glad that he has been reunited with his earl.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 7, 2016 / 10:47 am

      Gib would be honoured to know a fellow poet was thinking of him so many years later.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wade April 7, 2016 / 8:15 am

    Yes, well done on the first triumphant ride!

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 7, 2016 / 10:49 am

      He’s a stout fellow, our Gib, in more ways than one. He handled that adventure well.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Wade April 8, 2016 / 4:34 am

      There is much to admire in Gib.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. daveply April 7, 2016 / 10:26 am

    Interesting development after so many cat years. I’m curious as to what will ensue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 7, 2016 / 10:57 am

      Cats are contrary. I fear Gib may not take kindly to sharing his house with an Earl and his retinue after all these years. But we shall see.

      Liked by 1 person

    • daveply April 7, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      I suspect the retinue in particular may not show proper respect. We shall see indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Robyn Haynes April 7, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    Oh Gib, what a tale for you to tell. Nero is sure to be impressed and even overlook the unseemly show of belly. I wonder what the horse thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 7, 2016 / 6:49 pm

      I suspect the horse was as bemused as the rest of the Earl’s retinue.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. roshendalal April 8, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    lovely! most of my cats are fearful. The only one who isn’t is little fat black girl Ashi. And just to share, I lost my most precious Sweetie on 3 March.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi April 8, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      Over the years I’ve known a few bold cats, but most I’ve had have been very cautious. Please accept my sympathy on your loss; I came to your post on Sweetie’s life and her last days via your Facebook page, and thought I’d left a comment there, but obviously not. Our old companions are with us through so many of our life events they seem to gather up our memories, and take some of our past with them when they go.

      Liked by 2 people

    • roshendalal April 10, 2016 / 3:22 pm

      Thanks–glad you read the post–I’ll check if there is a comment there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi April 10, 2016 / 3:25 pm

      No – there isn’t. I checked. I shared your post to my Facebook, but didn’t comment, though I meant to.

      Liked by 1 person

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