Today I stepped out to the garden, where I saw two of my young friends, Harry and Moll. (I believe Harry and Moll are named for my lord and his sister. They also have a sister named Puss, but she was not there.)
They was raking leaves. I joyed myself by leaping in the heaps they made. Their father wore a sorry face, but he sayt nowt to discourage us.
He knows full well I am our Earl’s cat and may do as I choose.
Then I walked to my sister’s barn. Nero and Linkin were there, and we all sat snug in the straw. Being private, we spake free.
Linkin sayt, “My mistress’ son, who was my master once, has writ from London. The great rains of summer that spoiled the crops, and kept us ’neath our roofs, have alreadie made high the price of food in the citie. When winter comes, many will hunger.”
“I knew it,” sayt my sister. “But we have good places here, and are safe from being ate.”
“Those who have no employment beg and steal,” sayt Linkin. “There is hatred of incomers, and some say they should be chased back to their own lands. Meanwhile Her Majestie the Queen hides in one of her palaces, and dines with her wolvish friends.”
Nero lamented (as he always do) the lot of sailors and soldiers who give service in Her Majestie’s wars, and are then cast into the gutter. He sayt, “She boasts of their loves. She should think on their lives. Best that she were made away with.”
“Her physition [physician] hoped to poison her,” sayt Linkin. “He was in the pay of the King of Spain. He swore to his innocencie, but none believed him. We may never know the truth of it.”
Then Linkin told of Sir Water Rawly’s plans to seek a city of gold. Many say it can be found by voyaging up a great river.
“Spanish lies,” sayt Nero. “I’ve sought it myself, to no avail.”
“When was this?” arrkst Linkin.
“After I was cast ashore on the coast of Darien,” sayt Nero, very smooth.
I watched the barn kits toying with some little rats that my sister or her grown daughter had given them.
I have no love for rats. They are fierce, thieving villains, full of cunning. A cat that knows not how to kill them may take hurt from their foul teeth. And I hear tell they’ll snap new-birthed kitlings if their mother is not watchful.
But (it shames me to confess) I pitied those ratlings, who were too small to know what danger they were in.
Well, kits must learn their trade. Had I not been took so young, and educated in my lord’s household, I too would have toyed with little rats and mice and thought nowt of it.
There are some who say that education should not be given to those who have neither the wit to contain it, nor the means to support it. It makes them fit for nothing. I’m thankful I have both wit and means. Else I might go hungry.
The kits begged a tale, so Nero told of travelling up a great river in search of gold.
As he sat on the side of the boat, a monstrous thing he’d taken for a floating log seized his tail in its great teeth.
This water monster would have swallowed him entire, had he not struck it a blow on the nose.
My little niece sayt she longed to see the world.
“Best you stay safe in this barn,” I sayt. “Else you’ll lose your tail, too.”
“But I’d have a tale to tell,” sayt she.
I fear she may grow to be more saucie than her mother.
Roderigo Lopez (c1517-1594) has the unenviable distinction of being the only royal physician executed in England. The chief agent of his downfall was Queen Elizabeth I’s reigning favourite, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1565-1601).
Dr Lopez was said to have incurred Essex’s enmity by telling “some secrecies, how he had cured him [Essex], and of what diseases, with some other things that did disparage his honour”. However, this quote comes from the memoirs of Bishop Godfrey Goodman (b.1583), who is careful to say that he wasn’t an “eye or ear witness” to what he writes of in his book The Court of King James. He probably heard the Essex gossip from a source he considered reliable, so it may be true. Or it may not.
Neither Queen Elizabeth nor the aged and ailing Lord Burghley appear to have been convinced of Lopez’ guilt, but they did nothing to protect him. Dr Lopez was a Portuguese Jew; that would also have made him a target of suspicion, even though he conformed to the Church of England.
Sir Walter Ralegh/Raleigh (c1554-1618) – extraordinarily talented, and another of Elizabeth’s favourites – was determined to discover El Dorado, said to lie on the Orinoco. The belief in its existence seems strange to us, but the riches from what are now modern Peru and Bolivia made a City of Gold more credible then.