98:  I Learn of London

A black, white and orange cat against a background of flames.There is little to tell of my first days, save that my unfriend Linkin friended me again.

There were none to hear him brag, else.

“The scents of my kitlinghood,” cried he, as we rode in.  “Can you not smell the river?”  He oped his mouth a little.  “And taste the cookshop wares?”

My nose had took so many smells my head was like to burst.  I hid my face in my paws, and kept my mouth shut.

I couldn’t shut my ears.  They were filled with such roarings and rumblings it seemed a great surly beast had me in its belly.

“Who does not love the place where he first oped his eyes?” arrkst Linkin. “Now all comes back to me.  ’Twas among London’s fields that I met with a skoller who put me in his pocket and took me to his chamber so I might help him in his studies.” 

I oped mine eyes, but could see little through our basket.  No fields.  Nowt but the brown boot of the manservant who rode beside us, and the grey belly of his horse. 

Thus came we to our lodging, where the children fell upon us all.

My late uncle, who was reared in the schoolroom with our Earl and his lady sister, loved little children.  I do not.

The master looked in our basket and greeted Linkin.  Then he sayt I was a pretty little thing.  The children begged to see me.

I resolved to be civil.

But the mistress (may the Queen Cat of Heaven reward her) sayt that Linkin and I must rest after our journey.

We were brought to a high room and loosed from our basket.  I whipped to the window, but could see nowt but more windows.

A view through one latticed window at others.

We were served refreshments, and straw was laid in the empty hearth so we might ease ourselves.  Such nicety pleased me.  I’d seen gentlemen make water in a hearth, but – their legs being longer than ours – they care not whether ’tis empty or has fire in it.

That night Linkin was carried downstairs to bear the mistress and the master company while they sat late over their wine.  And what scandal he returned with!

Item:  The widow-mother of the outlaw brothers [the Danvers] that killed a man and fled to France will take a new husband, upon condition that her sons be pardoned.   

Linkin sayt, judicious, “If this be true, it makes mock of the law.  I could accept a killing in their own defence.  I cannot accept a pardon fetched from the marriage of their mother to a kinsman of Queen Puss.”

Item:  The Earl of Essex is so high in the Queen’s favour she agreed to receive his mother Lady Lester [Leicester], whom she hates.

But only once.

A richly dressed red-haired woman.
Lady Leicester, nee Lettice Knollys, (c1543-1634).  After the death of her first husband she married Queen Elizabeth’s long-term favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and was banished from Court. Her son, the Earl of Essex, tried to use his influence to have her allowed back, but Elizabeth was obdurate.

The mistress (in drink) sayt that Lord Lester has been dead nigh on ten years, Lady Lester has another husband, and old Puss should deport herself like a Queen, not a jealous kitchen wench. 

The master (in drink) arrkst, “Or why have a Queen?”

How joyed we were by such wicked words.  I longed to hear more with mine own ears, but it was many days before I was permitted to go about the house.

Then came the day when the window to the leads [roof] was oped so we could step out and take the sun.

“There before us,” sayt Linkin, very grand, “is the river.  The bridge lies eastward.”

He turned hisself about.  “Now see behind us Paws [St Paul’s], where all go to gather newes.  Most convenient.”

The sights Linkin and Tricks can see from the roof indicate that they’re in the fashionable precinct of Blackfriars or thereabouts. This excerpt from Claes Visscher’s Panorama of London shows the area from the south bank of the Thames.

“Does not our Earl have a fine house in London?” (I hoped to seek a place there.)

Linkin sayt, “It lies many ways from here.  And our Earl’s in Paris.  Rejoycing with those outlaw brothers, most like.”

“And where is Essex’ house?” I arrkst, thinking one Earl’s house as good as another’s.

“He has many houses,” sayt Linkin.  “But I believe one may lie near.  Westward, where other great folks dwell.  Little dog Wattie oft goes abroad with the mistress, and knows the place that bears my name.  So he may also know where Essex dwells.”

I knew I would find a use for Wattie.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorLondon may have roared in Tricks’ sensitive ears, but it would probably seem quiet to us – even allowing for the sounds of church bells, street hawkers, carts and animals.  The population at the end of the 1500s has been estimated at 200,000 – 230,000, taking in not just the city of London itself, but also Westminster, the south bank of the Thames, and other neighbourhoods beyond the city walls.

The place with Linkin’s name is Lincoln’s Inn – probably where the master was studying law when he acquired Linkin.  I think Linkin is now about 13, so that would put the master in his mid-thirties.

Tricks’ late uncle Gib investigated the Danvers’ killing.  He went on to write an account of the Earl of Southampton’s part in helping Sir Charles and Sir Henry Danvers flee the country.

Their formidable mother Elizabeth, Lady Danvers, campaigned for them to be allowed to return without risk of execution.  She married Sir Edmund Carey, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth’s aunt Mary Boleyn, in 1598.