57:  More of Our Play

My pen flies along so speedy it makes my foot to ache.

I made a fine speech for Lion, heralding the return of the Earl of Ox-Foot, and praising the blood of cooks most high.  I never knowed the joy of lapping a cook’s blood before I writ of it.

Small wonder that my quill should aid my flights of wicked fancie, for whence come quills?  From cunning crows and ill-humoured swans.  Birds most dangerous.

A swan on a calm river.

Nero came by.  He, readying hisself to play Ox-Foot and devise his speeches, wisht to know more of his evil doings.  He seemed most apt to learn, then arrkst, “What of my tail?”

His tail?  Then I remembered that in every tale Nero tells he has a different explication for why he does not have one.  They who see our play will expect to hear another.

I sayt, “Ox-Foot loves all that is Italian.  Could you say tails are out of fashion in Italy, and you had yours cut off?”

“I’ll think on it,” sayt Nero.

Next, several kitlings came to us, saying they’d heared there was to be a performance.  They hoped they could take part.

Kitlings are wearisome.  They know all they should not, and nowt that they should.  But we spake of them at the next meeting of our Company.

The title page of Endymion by John Lyly, which was played before the Queen by a company of boys. Printed 1591.
A play by John Lyly for a company of boy actors.

Linkin sayt, “Be not hastie.  My master says the best players in the city are boys, not men.”

“But,” sayt my sister, “can our little asses carry it off?”

“We need not give them great speeches,” sayt Linkin.  “They could play attendants and the like.”

Nero sayt, “Ox-Foot must be accompanied by a pretty kit or two, if all you tell of him is true.”

I let that pass.  I sayt, “We’ll need a little maggot to accompany our Ghost.”

A dappled cat.
Gib’s Sister.

“What?” cried my sister. “We have the Ghost?”

 “We have,” sayt I.  “Hear this.  Actus Secundus.”

They pricked their ears.

“The Earl of Hamton is on the leads [roof] of his house, taking the air.  Then what do he see but the Ghost of his father, wailing: Hamton, Revenge.

“The Ghost says his wife (the Countess) was hot for Ox-Foot, so they hatched a plot against him.  While he lay inebriate, Ox-Foot dropped a maggot in his ear that ate his brains. Now he (poor Ghost) is in hell.”

“Was this,” arrkst my sister, “before or after Ox-Foot farted at the Queen and fled to Italy?”

“Before,” sayt I.  “Now Ox-Foot has returned, and the Ghost seeks his death.  The Ghost vanishes, but a little maggot stays to tell young Hamton that Ox-Foot, not the Ghost, is his father.”

“You was ever fond of maggots,” sayt my sister.  “I well recall when we were young – ”

Nero brake in.  He arrkst, “Why is Ox-Foot not in this Act?”

I sayt, “He’s there in his infamy.  All hear how he killed the old Earl of Hamton.  But he’s elsewhere with the Queen when the Ghost speaks to young Hamton.”

Nero sayt, “Ox-Foot could be shown in the shadows, gripping the Queen by her scruff.  Then all would know that.”

Title page-Tamburlaine- Christopher Marlowe
A play-book: Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great.

“That will not serve,” sayt my sister.  “For I’m to play both Ghost and Queen.”

“Who’ll play Hamton?” arrkst Linkin.

I sayt, “Our kitchen cat.”

“Better that she plays the Ghost,” sayt my sister.  “For she left us not long since.”

True.  The kitchen cat that friended me when first I came here is gone from this world.

“Her daughter has taken her place,” I sayt.  “And yesternight, when I went to the book-room to read plays, what did I see?”

“Play books?” arrkst my saucie sister.

“That same daughter.  Seated bold-arst upon a carpet that some knave had took from the table and left on a chair.  I was about to bid her go the way of all flesh, that’s to say to the kitchen, when it come to me that she could play the young Earl of Hamton.  She was willing.”

Linkin arrkst, “When does Lord Purrlie enter our play?”  (Linkin is to play old Purrlie.)

“Actus Tertius,” sayt I.  “Which, in English, means the Third Act.”

“I know that,” sayt Linkin.

A dark brown cat seated on a carpet in shades of burgundy, green, and gold.
The kitchen cat

21 thoughts on “57:  More of Our Play

  1. larrypaulbrown June 9, 2016 / 3:22 am

    Alas, my kitling days are long past, but I do remember them well. Thought I had the world by its tail until someone told me that the world had no tail. Then I wondered what it was I had latched onto if not the world’s tail. Still wonder even today.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toutparmoi June 9, 2016 / 11:05 am

      Maybe it was the other way round, and the world had latched onto you? But you managed to escape its grasp, even if you did leave your tail behind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. April Munday June 9, 2016 / 5:36 am

    What joy! Maggots and ghosts and battlements. Gib’s on good form. How jealous Shakespeare must have been.

    Did you know that, if Wikipedia is to be believed (and I think it might be on this point) Ox-Foot was a descendant of Joan of Kent and Thomas Holland? I haven’t come across it in a more reliable source yet, but I’m sure I will now that I’m looking for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 9, 2016 / 11:19 am

      Re Ox-Foot, no! But it sounds plausible. In a small society, there are all sorts of kinship connections.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Soul Gifts June 10, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    I must say that the cats have an interesting feline twist and way in creating plays. Maggots !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 11, 2016 / 9:00 am

      Gib’s sister was right – Gib’s been obsessed with maggots ever since his exasperated uncle told him that reading books had put a maggot in his brains. Gib seems to believe that some maggots inspire you, others kill you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Soul Gifts June 11, 2016 / 2:15 pm

      Ewwwwww 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 11, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      When I was a youngster, people used to talk about someone having “a bee in their bonnet” meaning they had a strange or obsessive idea. I think that having “a maggot” was an earlier version of the same saying. I wonder what versions of this saying exist in other countries?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Soul Gifts June 11, 2016 / 6:33 pm

      I’ve heard the bee saying – still gets used. Would be an interesting bit of research that one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • fiftywordsdaily June 12, 2016 / 11:47 am

      I’ve never really thought this unusual before, but my mother always says someone has a bee in their bonnet, to the extent that I’m starting to think she has a bit of a bee in her bonnet about it….

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 12, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      It’s not an expression I’ve heard youngsters use, though I use it sometimes, and people always know what I mean. Whereas if I said someone had a maggot…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel McAlpine June 12, 2016 / 12:06 pm

    I am astonished that nobody so far has commented on the beauty, talent, and personality of the young cat in the final portrait. Not a single offer to start a fan club! Yet surely this is the star of the nascent theatrical event. Humans are strange, truly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 12, 2016 / 12:50 pm

      More of the ingenue, I fear (or ingenu? she’s playing a male part). Nero has already made his mind up as to who the star will be.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. colonialist June 12, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Forsooth, this is verily going to put to shame a similar tail penned (in an enclosure) by some human or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 12, 2016 / 11:33 pm

      I believe we may be close to solving the puzzle as to who wrote Shakespeare. Or some of the works attributed to him, anyway.


  6. Claudio LeChat June 12, 2016 / 11:22 pm

    The young cat in the final portrait is a real beauty. Beautiful eyes and an expressive face. Super model material.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 12, 2016 / 11:35 pm

      Perhaps you could start the fan club, Claudio?


  7. Claremary P. Sweeney June 28, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    What a motley cast of characters. Methinks this should be great fun, though quite bloody in the making.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dornahainds August 5, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    This series has become a delicious little morsel of mine. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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