105:  Scandal and the Citie

When I first met Onix, he sayt he was so necessary in his employment he had scant leisure.  I think the truth of it was, he had few friends.  His scents were so uncatly.

Once he knew Linkin and I did not distain him, he came to visit us by day.

We three were sat peaceable in our yard when I saw two lean shadows creeping along the wall.

“Greetings, friends,” they called.  “We thought it time we was better akwaynt with the new stars in our fundament.”

A lean grey tabby with an intense green stare licks her nose.
Picker, a wicked cat.
– from Shubhankar Sharma via Unsplash.

Linkin and I let that pass.

“I call myself Picker,” sayt one.

And the other, “All know me as Stealer.”

Picker sayt, “We bring newes of your lord, the Right Honourable Earl of Southampton, Baron of Itch-Filled.”

“Titchfield,” sayt I.

“Cry you mercy!” sayt Stealer.  “We meant no offence.  You’re spoke of here as the Itch-Filled queen.”

Oh, I itched.  I itched to have at the saucie sluts.

But I narrowed mine eyes most courteous, and sayt, “Titchfield is a hard word for they that have no education.”

A lean grey tabby cat with an intense green stare and the tip of one ear missing.
Stealer, an equally wicked cat.
– from Shubhankar Sharma via Unsplash.

Stealer sayt, “Not so hard as the thought of your new Countess lying in prison at the pleasure of Her Majestie and the expense of her cousin, the Earl of Essex.”

“That’s not newes,” sayt I.  “All know Her Majestie hates any fair lady loved by a young lord.”

“Has Lady Essex a place at Court?” arrkst Linkin, rhetorickal.  “Will old Lady Lester [Leicester] ever be forgiven?”

“Or Mistress Rawly [Ralegh]?” sayt Onix. “First she was in the Tower, now she molders in the country.”

“Who trod on your tail?” arrkst Stealer.

Picker continued, “We also hear your Earl makes as great of a fool of hisself in Paris as he ever did here.  He does nowt but play [gamble] at games he rarely wins.”

“Don’t all know that lords love to play?” I arrkst.  “I once did battle with a great rat in the court [courtyard] at Titchfield, while my lord and his friends hung from the windows and laid wagers on us.  I earned my lord three hundred crowns.”

“Praise the day!” cried Stealer.  “But he’s lost three thousand since.”

“Doing battle at tennis and ballon with French lords,” added Picker.

“My lord is suttle,” sayt I. “The more money he loses in France, the better their King will love him.”

They fell silent then.  One clawed at her fleas, while the other cleansed her filthie paws.

Truth to tell, I enjoyed that bout of wits.

’Twas not long ere they came me again.

“Haply, you can answer this,” sayt Stealer.  “A cat in the household of a learned doctor tells of another fair lady who’s hot for your Earl.  How stands she in his affections now he’s wed?”

“Old newes,” sayt I.  “Nigh on a year has passed since I heard she was pursuing him.  Is one husband not enough for her?”

“Perchance her husband’s dead,” sayt Stealer.  “And she a widow rich enough to hook any earl.”

Picker arrkst, “Did your lord tell of the letter she sent him before he went to France?”

Linkin cut in quick.  “He did, and he chose not to answer her.  You may guess why.”

“We can,” they sayt.  “We do.  Your lord is Essex’ creature to the core.”

And away they flew.

“When heard you of that letter?” I arrkst Linkin.

“Never,” swore he.  “But if Picker and Stealer knew more than we, they would have put a different question to us.”

Then he rose and walked about our yard, setting his mark here and there to rid us of their presence.

I sayt to Onix, “I marvel that Paws, so sober and statelie, admits those dawkins to her parlement.”

“Did you not know?” he cried.  “They’re her daughters and her spies.  Many fear them.”

Fear them?  Not I.  Like His Harryship, I loved to play.

When I was scarce more than a kit, I oft leapt into the yard where his hunting dogs lodged.  Most were in their house.  One or two might be free for exercise.  I watched them from afar ere I entered.

Oh, the joy when I cleared the wall again with their hubbubs in my ears and their hot breaths behind me!

I guessed my love of excitations would serve me well in this citie.

A drawing of the Earl’s house – The Place – at Titchfield.
The dog yard Tricks found so exciting is shown upper right.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorTricks and Linkin defended the Earl of Southampton well.

He certainly didn’t seem to be doing much to help himself – apart from maintaining the position that he’d done nothing dishonourable, and his only error was to marry without Queen Elizabeth’s consent.

However, lingering in Paris and pleading poverty while losing huge sums of money wasn’t a good look.  In late September 1598 Sir Robert Cecil had word from France that the Earl was making wagers of 2,000, 3,000, and even 4,000 crowns.

And what of Mrs Prannell (nee Frances Howard), whom Tricks last heard of in 1597?  She’d consulted astrologer Simon Forman again in early February 1598, when the Earl first left for France.  She asked: Would the Earl like her any better?  Did he tell of the letter she’d sent him?  When would he return?

By late September many people must have been asking that last question.

A late Elizabethan grey stone house, surrounded by parkland.
A view of Sir Walter Ralegh’s Sherborne Castle today.
Completed in 1594, and not so large then, it was where his wife Elizabeth  “Mistress Rawly” lived.  There are worse places to “molder”!  Anyway, she would have been kept busy.

26 thoughts on “105:  Scandal and the Citie

  1. April Munday September 21, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    I hope that Tricks will learn some wisdom from Linkin. Her love of thrills might be her undoing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. colonialist September 21, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    Picker and Stealer are no match in the repartee, though the scandals they bring are startling. Three thousand crowns, inflation-adjusted, is a frightening sum to contemplate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 22, 2017 / 10:02 am

      Particularly as the Earl’s annual income at that stage was probably in the vicinity of 10,000 crowns – or, for any youngster reading this, 2500 pounds. He was in debt before he left England, and had been selling land. Perhaps he’d managed to boost the 1,000 crowns he had for spending money in France up to 4,000, but didn’t quit once he was ahead?


  3. Dave Ply September 22, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    Tricks seems to be hitting her stride. A worthy new generation after Gib.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 23, 2017 / 1:44 am

      She’s a fast learner. Even so, after the privileged place she rose to in the country, London must take some getting used to.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dornahainds September 23, 2017 / 4:29 am

    Always such Fantabulous views of the world and its mad-crazy, still, entertaining humans …from Cats point of view. 😎😎😎🥀🥀🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      I think cats are great interpreters of human behaviour.


  5. chattykerry September 23, 2017 / 4:53 am

    I love the title! Onix sounds like she might be like Toffee my medieval once a year bather…

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2017 / 12:37 pm

      If our noses were sensitive enough to pick up Onix’s scents I think we’d like them. All those herbs and spices in the shop.

      Liked by 1 person

    • chattykerry September 25, 2017 / 2:14 am

      That’s true… Toffee smells good because she doesn’t wash herself with a cat food tongue!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Robyn Haynes September 23, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    Clever repartee! I love the idea of poor Onix with his ‘uncatly’ scent. What is ballon?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2017 / 12:30 pm

      Apothecaries’ shops must have smelled delightful – to us, anyway.

      Ballon (or balloon) was a game played by hitting a large, inflated leather ball back and forth. A player’s arm was protected by a wooden brace. It originated in Italy (pallone).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes September 24, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      Well, that’s something I’ve learned today. Kind of like volley ball?

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2017 / 5:56 pm

      I think it had more in common with tennis. In the Earl’s day it may have been played on the same, indoor, court.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes September 24, 2017 / 5:57 pm

      Right. Interesting about the arm brace rather than a bat or racquet

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi September 24, 2017 / 8:27 pm

      I think both ballon and tennis come from the much earlier game of handball, with both bats and rackets evolving from various forms of hand reinforcement or protection. The development of lighter balls would have also made a difference to what we hit them with. I don’t think arm braces are used any more – too much risk of injury. A couple of years’ earlier the Earl had hurt his arm playing ballon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn Haynes September 24, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      That makes sense. They still play handball in schools.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. claudiothecat September 27, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    The photo of Sherborne Castle is very beautiful. Would be a great place for cats to hang out:)

    Liked by 1 person

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