123:  Good Impressions

I set forth alone to Essex House, but had not gone far across the rooves before I saw Kettie, the Turkey cat.

He, being curious, followed me.  Though when he heard I hoped to espy Puss Fur-None [Elizabeth Vernon] and the Pretty Penny [Penelope Rich], he was troubled.

He sayt that if we were seen looking upon great ladies in their private garden, we might be put to death.

“Oh,” sayt I, “that’s what they do in Constantinople, is it?”

“In Constantinople,” sayt Kettie, “we cats may look upon whomsoever we choose.  Even the ladies of the Sultan’s household.  But this is no citie for cats.  The ladies here love filthie toys.”

He meant little dogs.  E’en so, he followed me and I never saw a cat climb and leap better.  This served me in good stead, as I will tell.

A lean, longish-haired grey cat with a plumy tail sitting on a grey stone wall
Kettie on the River Wall.

When we came to the wall by the river, we saw children in the garden.

These kits were striking a strange object to and fro.  Not a ball, but a thing trimmed with feathers to resemble a bird.

Then one kit, doubtless hoping to affright us, struck this bird-thing at the wall whereon we sat.  As it flew high above us, the other kits cried that it would be lost in the river.

Kettie stopped it.  He rose into the air with his paws high above his head, arched his back like a bow, and struck it down.

I swear he hung clean above the water before he straighted hisself and his feet found the wall again.

I myself have plucked fat pigeons from the air, but that was from good ground.  I would not have leapt so high above the river to strike a false bird for my verie life.

Kettie later swore that he was in the air before he knew what he’d done.  He sayt that was how he caught the meats people threw to him when he sat upon the walls in Constantinople, and he had not lost the art.

The brats below, who’d wished to affright us, were now loud in their praise of him.

I was not pleased to hear it.

As all cats know, any who wishes to enter a house unmolested must first make an impression.

A poor housewife (so I heard tell) will be most grateful for a bird she can put in the broth.  A housewife of the middling sort likes to see us bring a thieving mouse or rat.

Among the better sort, ’tis wise to win the brats first.

One below had grabbed the little bird-thing, and hit it at us again.  It struck the wall, and fell.  

This time it was I who did not hesitate.  I sprang down, seized it in my mouth, and brought it to her.

A man – the children’s tutor, I guessed – came to say they’d had their play, and must return to their lessons.  The children begged he stay to see what we cats could do.

Then two fine ladies came forth, one in white and one in the hue the mistress of our household called russet.  I call it brown.

And I knew in my soul that they were Puss Fur-None and the Pretty Penny, though which was which I could not tell.

Kettie fled, but I stayed cool.  I caught and ran and fetched to great applauds.  One of the ladies sayt I was a pretty little thing.

Then the kits were sent inside, and I came away, well pleased with my doings.

On the morrow, when I entered my own house, I guessed the master and the mistress had left in haste on some urgent matter.

The book-box was not locked.  The kits had taken out some books and were looking for lewd tales in them.

And what I discovered in one of those books left me mazed beyond all measure.

A girl of 7 in formal Elizabethan attire flanked by her two brothers, one aged 6 and the other 5. The little boys are wearing elaborate, matching doublets, and the younger is holding a small bird.
Three children, by an unknown artist, via Wikimedia Commons.  Who these children are isn’t known, but they’re from a very wealthy, probably aristocratic, family.  The little girl is holding what would have been an exotic pet: a guinea pig.
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19 thoughts on “123:  Good Impressions

    • toutparmoi February 8, 2018 / 10:47 am

      Tricky writers, the Elizabethans. Tricks may have provided the image of Kettie – temporarily suspended mid-air above dangerous waters in pursuit of an illusion – as a metaphor for her times.

      Or a device that will now enable her to make a habit of temporarily suspending us likewise.

      Or maybe she just ran out of paper.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. April Munday February 8, 2018 / 10:54 am

    I hope it was just lack of paper. I won’t be able to keep up if there are too many allusions or metaphors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 8, 2018 / 11:39 am

      Me neither. But Tricks’ uncle was a Famous Poet, given to writing deep-brained sonnets, and apples never fall far from the tree…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robyn Haynes February 13, 2018 / 10:02 am

    A lovely post Denise. Cats are so reflexive so I understood the Turkey Cat’s action. And I think they are calculating as well, to curry favour. Tricks is very canny in this manner. I wonder how she’ll use it?Interesting allusion to a metaphor for the times. I love the painting of the three children

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 13, 2018 / 11:55 am

      Thanks, Robyn. I too love the painting of the children. I would love to know who they were, and what the future held for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Claudio LeChat February 13, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    I too was struck by the painting with the guinea pig. I have read that Queen Elizabeth (I) was very fond of them and had several for pets. Strange to think that they were once thought of as exotic. Beats corgis though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 13, 2018 / 10:15 pm

      I’m surprised that the Elizabethans didn’t start eating them.

      Like

    • toutparmoi February 13, 2018 / 10:33 pm

      Or in recipes where they would otherwise use rabbit.

      Like

  4. colonialist February 18, 2018 / 8:13 am

    Interesting the way portraits of the era showed such similarity in features and the way they were painted.
    Talking of portraits, that is a striking one of Kettle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi February 18, 2018 / 2:56 pm

      Yes, Kettie is indeed a striker, in more ways than one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist February 19, 2018 / 8:58 am

      And in a quote from a play attributed to Shakespeare, could strike the ball into the hazard.

      Liked by 1 person

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