62: Quarrels

Gib looking up, thoughtfully.My lord will soon be of full age.  We cats see no need to celebrate the day of our birth, but my lord’s birth day will bring baked meats with rich sauces and gravies.

I have no quarrel with that.

My lord’s sister (Lady Moll) and her husband are come, bringing their cook.  He trod on my tail, and showed no remorse.

When I presented myself at supper, Lady Moll cried, “Here’s old Bevis!”  (Me.)

She offered me a morsel from her plate.  I was civil and accepted it, but did not stay to be called “old” twice.

And I was troubled by the strange folk in the house.

At dawn I went to see my sister at her barn.  I hoped to rid myself of my ill humours by quarrelling with her.

My visit started well.  My sister was placing her night’s rats by the barn door.  She sets forth crepusculine [in twilight] to catch a rabbit for supper.  Then she dispatches rats.  She says it’s best to watch for them with a full belly; that gives her patience enough to match their cunning.

“Touch not they rats,” she snarled at me.  “I’ve counted them.  As will my master, before he gives me a dish of milk for my pains.”

“I’ve no need to steal your rats,” sayt I.

“Oh, have you not?  With our Earl here, you’re like to want a gift for him.  An offering for his table.”

I must confess I hadn’t thought of that.  I was wondering if I should snap one and run off when I saw Nero and Linkin coming to us.

They sayt we should have a meeting of our Company to talk of our play, and if we should make another.

My sister was against it.  She sayt all the kitlings have been froward [naughty] since our performance.

“They fight and swear most horrible.  They should be heeding their mothers and learning to hunt. Winter is coming, and the harvest is poor.  Who to protect it but we?”

Two kittens play-fighting on a plank of wood.

“What?” arrkst Nero.  “The kits have learnt the words that you, as our Queen, gave out?”

“I spake the words I was told.  His Gibship here wrote them.”

“Her Majestie swears most horrible,” sayt I.  “That much was true.  But before we make another play I should like to see this one imprinted.”

“Ah,” sayt Linkin, judicious.  “First, a seller of books must buy it from us.  And none will, because it has not been enacted in London.  Nor could it be.”

I sayt, “I could write that it was enacted by the Earl of Southampton’s servants in divers places.”

“You could,” sayt Linkin. “But it would never be licensed.  It slanders the Earl of Ox-Foot [Oxford], our Earl’s mother the Countess, and old Lord Purrlie [Burghley].  And worst, the Queen’s Majestie.  That’s treason.  No printer would touch it for fear of his life.”

I knew he spake true.  But, being ill-humoured, I was of a mind to take him down a peg.

I sayt to Nero, “Lawyers always tell you what you may not do.  Never what you may.”

“You sought my advice,” sayt Linkin.  “I gave it.”

I sayt, “I shall change the play so it slanders none.  I shall lay the scene in some papistical country like Spain or Portugal where they know not how to conduct theirselves.”

“Nor sue for slander,” sayt Nero.

“I shall make the Queen a Duchess,” sayt I.  “And change all the names to foreign ones.”

“Lay it in Italy,” sayt Linkin.  “All love to hear of Italy.  Call the Queen the Duchess of Milan.”

“With Ox-Foot set upon by pirates while he sailed from Fence [Venice] to Milan?” arrkst Nero, wide-eyed.

(Linkin should have kept that suggestion to hisself.  He’s a law cat, not a sea cat.)

“I composed a fine speech on Ox-Foot’s fight with pirates,” sayt Nero.  “It would weary my brain to make another on brigands.”

A close-up of a black cat
Nero, a vexatious sea cat.

I was vexed with Nero then.

I made the entire play save for Ox-Foot’s words and the lewd song at the end.  Yet now was Nero speaking as if his speeches were all!

“It would weary my brain,” sayt I, “to change my play entire.”

Yes.  My play.  We are a Company, but mine was the invention.

“Our play was ever fool,” sayt my sister.  “But all begged my brother for a tale of blood and scruffing, and so he brought it forth.  We joyed ourselves by mocking the great folks that he’s heard tell of.  But why make his tale even more fool to have it imprinted?”

“True,” sayt I.  “It will not serve.”

“Then I’ll take my fee,” sayt Linkin, law cat to the last.  He seized one of my sister’s rats and fled.

Certes, his mistress will praise him when she receives it.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorI was doubtful about posting this account of petty feline squabbles, because it adds little to our understanding of Elizabethan literature or history.  However, I’m aware of what veterinarians refer to as transferred (or redirected) aggression in cats, so I thought a cat’s perception of such behaviour might be interesting.

Gib, upset by the birthday preparations, goes to quarrel with his sister.  (The Earl of Southampton turned 21 on 6 October 1594.  This entry in Gib’s journal must have been written not long before then.)

When Linkin and Nero arrive, Gib decides to annoy Linkin instead.  He looks to Nero for support, but then Nero annoys him.

Linkin, offended by Gib and Nero, takes it out on Gib’s sister by stealing one of her rats.

I’m glad that we humans, when miffed, don’t carry on like this.

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22 thoughts on “62: Quarrels

    • toutparmoi July 14, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      I’m sure the cats have plenty of squabbles – it’s just that Gib doesn’t usually record them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Mick Canning July 14, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    No, you are right. Humans would never carry on like that. Otherwise we would be at each other’s throats the whole time…oh, hang on…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. April Munday July 14, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    Old Bevis, indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gib decided to leave home and go looking for tales elsewhere. Perhaps he misses the Mad Cat more than he realises.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toutparmoi July 14, 2016 / 11:23 pm

      He could always move in with his sister. However, I suspect he’d miss the sauces and gravies he’s so fond of.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 15, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      So she takes out her frustrations with Zuzu on you? It sounds like Charley’s always safe, however.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Claremary P. Sweeney July 17, 2016 / 9:44 am

      She loves Charley. ZuZu and I are tolerated, but she is getting a bit better, especially when she wants me to let her use the lap top for cat videos. The girl loves her cat videos, especially Maru.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel McAlpine July 17, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    I will refer to this episode (with full attribution of course) when mentoring those who are thinking about being a writer, rather than writing. Gib deals briskly with their typical foibles and concerns, one after the other: copyright, censorship, litigation, fact vs. fiction, payment (ha ha) and auteur vs ensemble. Go Gib!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 17, 2016 / 2:33 pm

      And by the time Gib’s dealt with all the quibbles, both he and his businesslike sister realise he won’t have anything left that’s worth publishing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rachel McAlpine July 17, 2016 / 3:45 pm

      Perhaps he needs one default response to all these quibbles: “Not my problem. Get over it. I’m busy.” You can see what a lovely empathic therapist I would make, can’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mitchteemley October 12, 2016 / 10:41 am

    When I was growing up we had a big bruiser of a tomcat named Mr. B who was the lion king of the neighborhood. My mom, whom he adored, teased him relentlessly, but he never laid a paw on her. Instead, he would immediately seek me out and claw me. Transferred aggression, indeed. .

    Liked by 1 person

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