What was they thinking, to march so soon?
I arrkst Kettie, “Do they mean to take the Tower, instead of White-Hall?”
Kettie did not know.
“I must away,” sayt I to Linkin. “Else I’ll miss the action.”
Linkin sayt, “If you’re taken, you must say you’re poor ignorant cats and never dealt in matters of state in all your lives.”
“I won’t be took,” swore Kettie. “I’ll hide now.” And he flew away home as swift as he’d brought his newes from the Lud-Gate.
I made haste towards Paws [St Paul’s].
There came men’s cries of, Murder! Murder! God Save the Queen!
For one mad moment I thought Scabface had slipped through the gate of White-Hall and assalted Queen Puss.
That were never in our plat.
But Scabface had oft spake of wishing to see the Queen risen from her bed with her hair about her face as Essex once did. I feared he may have been so temerarious as to enter her bedchamber.
Then I saw one of Linkin’s fat law-cat friends. He’d clawed his way up a tree and hung there looking fool.
This were not the day to make mock of him.
I arrkst, “Who’s been murdered?”
“None as yet,” he replied. “Some say Sir Water Rawlie [Walter Ralegh] and his friends mean to kill Lord Essex.”
“Old newes,” sayt I. “There was talk of murder last night, and Essex durst not leave his house. But he has friends in the citie who promised him aid.”
“He’ll have need of them,” sayt this cat. “The Lud-Gate is shut fast behind him. I would not be Essex for all the fishes in the river.”
I ran on, across the rooves to Cheap-Sight where Onix and I had watched Essex and my Earl going to the war two winters past. A glorious spectacle.
Now they were leading their followers back the way they’d ridden that day. Tower-wards.
Cheap-Sight Street was throng with people come from hearing sermons. Some called blessings on Essex. Others sayt these were shameful doings on a Sunday. A few men made haste to join him, and curious idlers trailed behind.
Most stood wondering.
Many cats had taken up positions whence they could see and hear all.
One sayt Essex sought the protection of the Lord Mayor and the other masters of our citie, but they were gone from the sermon at Paws before he came.
Another sayt Essex was bound for the house of the Sheriff who’d promised him men and arms.
I did not know that house. When I came to the rooves of Gracious [Gracechurch] Street I was loathe to go further, lest I lose myself.
I rested awhile, listening to cries that the crown of England was sold to Spain, and all must defend the Queen, religion, and our liberty.
Then a fool cat came by and told me that wicked earls had entered the Sheriff’s house. The cat whose place it was had saved herself by running out the back door. Some sayt the Sheriff had run with her.
“And what are their lordships doing?” arrkst I, hawtie.
“Lapping up beer,” came the reply.
That left me no wiser.
The cat sayt, “Rightly do some call Mr Secretarie [Sir Robert Cecil] a spyder. He’s spun his web most cunning. And they earls are in it.”
Then he stretched hisself and arrkst, “Know you of any place to be had in Mr Secretarie’s household?”
I was thinking the same, but I called that cat a false knave and ran on.
At least we know what Essex didn’t do, despite the oddly persistent legends. He hadn’t commissioned the Saturday performance of Richard II at the Globe, he didn’t go to see it, and he wasn’t aiming to depose Queen Elizabeth.
However, arriving in the city with the expectation that he’d be supplied with men and arms wasn’t fit conduct for any day of the week.