61:  Strange Thoughts

Gib reclining on a cushion, looking thoughtful.I passed some days after our performance in sleeping.

My back pained me.  This was from walking on my legs and clawing at the air, as Lion Rampant do.

I grow too old for such frolicks.

Then, when I stepped out to take the sun in my lord’s garden, many were working there.

I fear believe this means my lord may come, with his robustious friends.  My house will be in disarray.

I went to find a private place.  And as I walked it come to me that I should write our play out fair, with all our speeches, so it can be made into a proper book.

When I saw Nero, I told him this.

“Why?” he arrkst.

I sayt, “I wish to see it imprinted handsome.  But I don’t know how this might be done.”

Title Page to Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay by Robert Greene, printed 1594
A play imprinted handsome.

Nero cannot read, and I feared he would make mock of me.

But he sayt we should ask Linkin, who lived in London once.

He led me to Linkin’s house, but we saw none but the Mad Cat there.  He was seated on their doorstep.

“Here’s sport,” sayt Nero to me.  He cried, “What, friend?  Have you forgot your way home?”

The Mad Cat looked at us, lunatick.  “One spake a word to me,” he sayt.

“True,” sayt Nero. “’Twas I.”

“Not you,” the Mad Cat replied.

“Then it was the Queen Cat of Heaven,” sayt Nero.  “Though why she speaks to you and never me I cannot guess.”

“There is no Queen Cat of Heaven,” sayt the Mad Cat.

That wiped the mirth from Nero’s face.  He sayt, “No, friend, that be wicked atheistical talk.  You talk like that, they’ll accuse you of treason and all kind of evil.”

“And hang you,” sayt I. “After they’ve stretched you to learn who your friends are.  And then they’ll hang us.”

“It is the sun,” sayt the Mad Cat.

“The sun spake to you?” I arrkst.

 “The sun will punish all who do not love Creation.  As I have told.”

“Well,” sayt Nero, recovering hisself. “He’s in no haste.  We’ve scarce seen him this summer past.”

“The harvest will be poor,” sayt I.  “We must offer thanks that we have places in households where none will starve.”  (I sought to cheer the Mad Cat with a goodly thought.)

“The sun has all the time remaining to this world,” sayt he, as if I had not spoke.  “I will not see his vengeance in my life, you will not see it in yours.  But it will come, believe me.  I know what I know.”

“If there’s no Queen Cat of Heaven,” I sayt, “who’s been talking to you all these years?”

“Mine own prophetic soul,” sayt he.

 “I always believed the moon possessed his brains,” whispered Nero to me.  “Now it seems the sun has chased her out.”

Photo of a cat standing on a wall looking up at the sky
The Mad Cat, in his younger days.

Then a gentlewoman oped the door, and called him in.  I believe she thought we meant to attack him.  We ran off.

At our next Field Day Linkin gave newes that the Mad Cat was gone from this world.

“My mistress,” he sayt, “is most grieved.  She says she brought Sugar (her name for the Mad Cat) from Cambridge when her son was but a boy in college.  Now her son’s a lawyer in London and does not come to visit her as oft as he should.”

Now here’s a thing.  Linkin sayt: My mistress.  He used to say: My master.  That’s her lawyer boy, even though Linkin has lodged with her since he was a young cat.

This means Linkin has taken the Mad Cat’s place in her household.  Will he bring us preachings from the goodly books she reads?

I looked up at the sky, and saw the Queen Cat of Heaven’s myriet [myriad] eyes watching all.

Starry sky over the wood during a summer evening.

I wondered if the Mad Cat spake true when he sayt there was no Queen Cat of Heaven.  And I arrkst myself if her eyes were nowt but sparks flown off the sun.  A strange thought.

Then it come to me that one day another cat will call our Earl: My lord.  Not in courtesy, but because that cat has taken my place in this household.

The strangest thought of all.

And yet I do not know how I may have our play printed.

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