58: Hindrances

A dappled cat, sitting upright.Nero and I have offered parts to sundrie kitlings. 

We told them they need only do as they are bid, and not be affrighted should we feign to kill them because all is in play.

“Which is,” I sayt, “why what we do is called a play.”

A few gave us the look direct.  That is, eye to eye.  This was not insolencie: they have yet to learn behaviour.

When a kit looks at me in this wise I lay a paw upon its head so it knows to look away.  But I believe Nero may not have been as kind.  Some blabbed to their mothers.

So now we are visited by fool queen cats seeking assurances that their little darlings will not be harmed.

They hinder our work.

Then my sister sent word that she’d brought forth her kits (of which two remain for her to rear).  Our performance must be delayed until leaf fall, when they kits will be of an age to accompany her.

“Accompany you? Where?” I arrkst.

“When I step forth as Ghost, they’ll be maggots.  And when I step forth as Queen, they’ll be my maids.”

Then she sayt (can you credit it?) that I must come oft to her barn to instruct her in her speeches.

“And do you require owt else of me, your ladyship?” arrkst I, sarcastical.

“A fish or two from our Earl’s kitchen would be welcome, your Gibship.”

I believe I spake too soon when I sayt a play would be easy work for a poet.

Linkin brought better newes to me and Nero.

The Mad Cat has spoken at the Cats’ Field against our doings.  He arrkst Linkin to lead him thither, saying he’d forgot the way.

But he preached most mighty.  He told how his ears never have been clean since he chanced to hear us talk of our bloodie play.  And, in turning players, we have made of ourselves painted sepulchres and double-dealing ambodexters.

Some called that they hoped to see our play, for they might learn something thereby.

Reprint of the Title page of the 1583 edition of the Anatomie of Abuses by Philip Stubbes,“Learn something?” cried the Mad Cat.  “True, so you shall.  If you will learn falsehood and deceit, if you will learn to swear and blaspheme both heaven and earth, if you will learn to kill, steal, rob, and rove, if you will learn to practise idleness, to sing lewd songs, to scoff and mock, to flatter and smooth, then see a play.

“If you will learn gluttony and envy, to become proud, hawtie, and arrogant, and to commit all kind of sin and mischief, these good examples will be painted before your eyes.”

All listened most respective.

“Repent!” called the Mad Cat.  “The dreadful day is nigh.”

One arrkst Linkin, “When comes this dreadful day?”

Linkin, not wishing to be pressed for informations, sayt, “You will be warned when our play is readie,” and made haste to lead the Mad Cat away.

We marvelled that the Mad Cat could preach so well against us, but no longer know his way to our Field or home after.

Linkin sayt, “He ever was crack-brained, and now he’s old to boot.  Whene’er he loses hisself his mistress near runs mad, calling, “Sugar, Sugar,” and fearing he’s met with some misfortune.”

Sugar.  I’ve known the Mad Cat all this time, but I never knew what his mistress calls him.

I saw Nero counting on his claws, so I arrkst Linkin, “How many winters has our mad friend seen?”

Linkin sayt he did not rightly know, but he believed fifteen or sixteen.

“A great age,” sayt Nero, but continued counting.  I arrkst him why.

He sayt, “I think our play has all of what he preached against, saving a lewd song.”

But I am out of paper, so will set down the remains of our play when I have more.

Two fierce dogs and a wild-eyed cat are raiding a pantry. One dog has a joint of meat, and the other a string of sausages. The cat is waiting its chance to grab something.
A Pantry, by Frans Snyders (1579-1657).  This thieving crew has seen too many plays.

Toutparmoi - Note from the Editor

The name Sugar probably refers to the Mad Cat’s being in a sack when his mistress saved him; a little joke on her part.  Elizabethans were so fond of drinking sack (dry white wine) sweetened with sugar that “sack and sugar” was a common term.  A bit like our “rum and Coke”.

His mistress’s readings from Philip Stubbes’ Anatomie of Abuses must have made a great impression on the Mad Cat.  However, we have Linkin’s word that her lawyer son (Linkin’s master) went to plays, and bought play books.  The Mad Cat’s mistress probably did too.  Perhaps her readings from Stubbes were meant as a warning to her servants that they shouldn’t let plays influence their own behaviour?


21 thoughts on “58: Hindrances

  1. chattykerry June 16, 2016 / 9:20 am

    Wonderful. We are currently having a problem with kits having seen too many winters and crack-brained…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. daveply June 16, 2016 / 10:21 am

    This morning I photographed 60 kitlings at the humane society. I wouldn’t say they were insolent exactly, but they sure didn’t want to stay put!

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2016 / 10:37 am

      60? You’re a hero! I have no idea how Gib and Nero plan to control their younger cast members when it comes to the actual performance. Though I’m sure Gib’s formidable sister will keep her two in line.

      Liked by 1 person

    • daveply June 16, 2016 / 10:49 am

      It is the biggest batch I’ve had in one session. Still, I only did one at a time, and sometimes a wrangler would help with the more unruly ones. I can’t say I blame them though, they’d travelled 18 hours to get here and my little table was the first taste of freedom they had the whole time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. April Munday June 17, 2016 / 12:25 am

    The little darlings made me laugh. Gib certainly has a lot to contend with in putting on his play.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi June 17, 2016 / 11:30 am

      He has. I fear his kits will not conduct themselves nearly as well as the companies of boy players who were popular in Elizabethan London, but Gib never lacked for ambition. Incidentally, is the playwright Anthony Munday among your ancestors?

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday June 18, 2016 / 8:55 am

      I’d love to think so, but I doubt it. There’s a more or less contemporary composer called William Munday who is also probably not an ancestor.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel McAlpine June 17, 2016 / 7:06 am

    Great PR! We expect a lewd song from Nero to be added forthwith. Just one word of advice: no tutus. Bring in the tutus and the production is in serious trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 17, 2016 / 11:35 am

      Philip Stubbes was a remarkable writer, in more ways than one. I’m not surprised the cats all listen so respective to the Mad Cat’s preachings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rachel McAlpine June 17, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      I don’t know Philip’s work but modern parallels are not hard to find. Thanks for the clue.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 19, 2016 / 1:24 pm

      Cats are very mindful of their credibility. That’s why they generally stick to fur coats.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. camilledefleurville June 18, 2016 / 1:31 am

    This is a compelling blog. I follow it, finds its entries too short, and wait eagerly for the next post. Meanwhile I share it with my friends who do seem to appreciate it greatly as well. I learn as well. Discovered Philip Stubb(e)s, and “sack and sugar”, for instance. A whole education and istruction through “playing”.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. larrypaulbrown June 18, 2016 / 5:16 am

    I have concluded that your play is not much different from our entertainment today. Mad Cat must have been a prophet, or perhaps, being as old as he was, he understood feline (and human) behavior very well.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Robyn Haynes June 19, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    The Mad Cat has such a low opinion of thespians -‘painted sepulchres and double-dealing ambodexters?’

    I loved that Linkin used Mad Cat’s rantings to make sure they had covered all aspects of what makes a good play.

    Another entertaining episode Denise. I’m looking forward to the chaos that surely will ensue on opening night. The kits will make sure of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mick Canning June 21, 2016 / 5:50 am

    I’m really warming to the Mad Cat. I certainly think he could be onto something.

    Liked by 1 person

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