97:  An Unfortunate Traveller

When we came to our first night’s lodging, Linkin and little dog Wattie were carried into the house.  I remained in the stable, and slipped from my basket to ease myself.  With much relief, for I’d held all in that day.

Two wooden buckets with handles made of rope.The boy was busy with the hens.

Then I went into the yard and took a drink from a bucket he’d left ready to wash the horses’ legs.

The boy lay in the straw that night, as did I, but he never saw me.

It was in the stable at our second night’s lodging that I was struck by the pains we queen cats know too well.

That were no marvel, but these pains came untimely.  I hied me to a quiet corner, where I brought forth three kits with neither fur nor breath.  I covered them with straw, much troubled in my mind and body.

Had I imbreathed some poyson from the herbs?  Or did the kits guess I had no safe place to bear and rear them, so chose to leave me and this world together?

Sure, they were more safe with the Queen Cat of Heaven than they could be with me.

A black, white and orange cat walking across some hay.We set forth again at first light and continued without any further mishap.  Until the fourth day, that is, when I was discovered.

“I must see,” sayt the mistress, “how my little garden is faring.”  She lifted the lid of my basket, and gaped on me.

Then she sayt, “Good Lord.”  And, “Oh, no.”

I do not think she could believe her eyes.  I narrowed mine, to sweeten my looks.

Her maidservant laid rough hands on me and pulled me out.  I offered no resistance.

The mistress told the boy to take the basket down.  When he set it before her she fell on her knees, lifted first one pot then another, and heaved great sighs.

Then all began to speak as if I were not present.

The servants sayt they’d seen me while they were making ready, and that I was oft in the yard with Linkin.  They swore they’d thought I’d run off when Wattie came out.

Wattie, hearing his name and knowing all were displeased, put on a face of shame.

The boy also wore a sorry face.  “I tended to the horses and the fowls,” he sayt. “But I know nowt of herbs, and never thought of them.”

“The fault’s not yours,” sayt the mistress. “I should have looked to them myself.” 

Her maidservant sayt, “Some may yet be saved.”

“And therein lies the lesson for us all,”  sayt the mistress.

She rose and dusted down her gown.  “Well, we go to a house in mourning, but here’s a tale and a task to cheer my little grandchildren.”

True enough.  Though I believe my late uncle would have found fit matter for a sonnet on all things broken in the bud.

The servants fell to marvelling that I’d lain so quiet, and not leapt out along the way.

The mistress sayt, “We can’t abandon her here, so nigh unto the citie.  She’ll never find her way home.”

Musick to mine ears.  But what came next was not so pleasing.  “Put her in with Linkin, and let us hope they will not fight.”

Linkin raised his voice in protest, but none took his meaning.  So he contented hisself with giving me evil looks.

I contented myself with thinking on all I hoped to see.  The houses where Queen Puss [Bess] dwells.  Queen Puss herself.  A play.  The Tower.  The bridge with bad men’s heads on spikes.

Heads on Spikes, somewhat out of proportion. A detail from Claes Visscher’s panorama of London from the south bank of the Thames.

Linkin took my thoughts, and made mock of me.

“You think you may walk one little way to see a palace, and another little way to see some other thing?  You country clot.  The citie is vast, and a cat can scarce go safe about the streets.  Masterless ruffians [dogs] haunt every corner, and set upon us for sport.  We must leap along the walls and leads [rooves] when we go abroad.”

“May we not go by water?” I arrkst.  “I’ve read many in the citie do.”

“How?” arrkst Linkin.  “Slip aboard a boat as Nero does, knowing none will harm you for love of your master?  You’re not in Titchfield now, you mooncat.  Creep onto a citie boat, and you’ll be cast in the river.  What a Know-Nowt.”

I lost patience then.  “You know nowt of what we queen cats must endure to make our ways in this wicked world,” I cried.  “Keep your unkind thoughts to yourself, you fat slug, or get you to hell where you was hatcht.”

“Why, I was hatcht in the citie,” sayt Linkin, soft and sly.  “You may well find it hell.”

Editor's Note. Small image of a quill pen.The house in mourning Linkin’s mistress refers to is that of her lawyer son, whose wife has died.  Linkin’s mistress is going to run his household, presumably until he remarries. 


22 thoughts on “97:  An Unfortunate Traveller

  1. leggypeggy July 27, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    Your use of ‘arrkst’ made me chuckle. A lot of Australians say it that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi July 27, 2017 / 1:31 pm

      I’m sure all cats do. They do a lot of arrksing, specially about food.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Robyn Haynes July 31, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      You’re right It’s a pet hate of mine along with brought instead of bought and advocado instead of avocado – I could go on.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Christine Valentor July 27, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Awww! Poor little kitty lost her kittens and now has to deal with the atrocious Linkin! I think I am becoming attached to this cat 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi July 27, 2017 / 8:40 pm

      I think Linkin’s tongue is sharper than his claws, so to speak. He’s always been very proud of his city connections, so he’s not going to miss a chance to lord it over poor Tricks.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. April Munday July 27, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    I’m glad that Tricks has someone to guide her in the city and I hope she takes his advice sometimes. She had more compassion for her kits than I would have expected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 27, 2017 / 7:51 pm

      She surprised me, too. But she was educated by her Uncle Gib, who occasionally demonstrated fine feline feelings.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. brendakane2013 July 27, 2017 / 11:53 pm

    Amazing! Can’t get enough of the story. Sweet, with all her feelings so sincerely spelt out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 28, 2017 / 12:24 am

      Tricks was raised by her mother to be a barn cat, and then taught to write and read by her Famous Poet uncle. That has to be a winning combination.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Amused Onlooker July 27, 2017 / 11:59 pm

    Well atleast they didn’t abandon her by the road! Poor Tricks. I hope she takes well to the city.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 28, 2017 / 12:27 am

      Tricks is a survivor, like all clever girls must strive to be.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The Amused Onlooker July 28, 2017 / 5:50 am

      That she is! Queen cats need to be clever and resourceful, even four days after giving birth to kitlings.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. trashonthemonocacy July 28, 2017 / 1:49 am

    Oh, poor Tricks, to lose all of her kittens and then be found out! At least the mistress did take pity on her (and find her a bit amusing)…I think I may have liked the lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 28, 2017 / 1:56 am

      I think you would have. The cats have referred to her as a puritan shrew, but I think puritans have had a bad press. Some had strong words to say on the treatment of animals.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Robyn Haynes July 31, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    So sad to lose her kits. How brave to embark on such a journey – ignorance must be bliss. No city cat would pass up on a country life if they knew of it but I wonder about the reverse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi July 31, 2017 / 5:24 pm

      I do too. But cats are adaptable creatures, and seem to survive almost anywhere. At least Tricks won’t have to learn to live with all the cars that infest our cities.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Claudio LeChat August 1, 2017 / 10:05 am

    Go Tricks! I’m sure she will take us on a thrilling journey of life on the streets of London.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. dornahainds August 3, 2017 / 8:08 am

    Oh, the woes of tangling with such as Linkinn. And the poor babies lost… 🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mitchteemley September 14, 2017 / 9:57 am

    “Some may yet be saved.”
    “And therein lies the lesson for us all.”
    Bittersweet truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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