As spring came on, the mistress made ready to return to the countrie. When a carrier came to take her bed and boxes, I fled to the garden of Essex House.
I saw Scabface on the wall. He told me that poor Lady Essex was now allowed to lodge there with her kits and her old mother.
I prayed that were true and that I might join her. I watched Essex House as close as I’d done when I first sought entry there.
Then Onix came in search of me. He told me Linkin was gone from this world.
That set me about. ’Tis true I never loved Linkin as I loved my mother and my uncle. At times we had bickerings, but he gave me good advices and he was the last of my old friends.
Onix sayt, “I saw his obsekwies [obsequies]. Two of your master’s kits digged a fine hole, and when they went into the house I had a mind to make a survey of it.
“Then Luvvie came forth. He told me your yard and house were now his, and I might not enter without he say so. I sayt that no upstart incomer could tell me where I may and may not go in Black-Fryes.”
(Onix had turned verie bold after our doings at Essex House. He thought hisself a hero. Other cats thought he was, too.)
He sayt, “Luvvie swore he spake in jest. Then he sprang into the hole and cried:
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of the flat a mountain you have made.
“He leapt out right quick lest any take him at his word, and arrkst me how I liked his speech. Sure, he’s mad.”
“He’s a player,” sayt I. “He can’t cleanse his arse without seeking applauds.”
“Then,” continued Onix, “I saw the master hisself bring Linkin forth and set him in the hole. The kits covered him with earth while the old mistress applied her kerchief to her eyes. Last night Linkin’s friends came dropping by to mark his grave. Luvvie watched all from a window, but durst not say them nay.”
“Did you see Picker and Stealer?” I arrkst.
“Not I,” sayt Onix. “But Luvvie sayt they’d enkwired for you.”
Thus was I undone. It shames me still to think on it, so I’ll be brief.
I returned to our yard, and found Linkin’s grave.
Luvvie came forth and I arrkst him, “What newes from Picker and Stealer? Is Snakes-Purr found?”
“Best you seek them at Paws [St Paul’s],” sayt he, puffed-up and prideful. “This yard and house are mine.”
I told him not to talk so fool. “You’re not at the Glob now,” sayt I, and turned to go.
He struck me a blow on my tail and fled into the house. I flew after him.
Too late I heared the mistress cry, “Ah, there she is!”
Doors banged. A maidservant seized me. I had wit enuff not to struggle. I guessed Luvvie was lurking prick-eared in some corner.
I was conveyed to a chamber that had no chimney. The next day I was thrust into the basket Linkin and I had entered the citie in.
I did not blame Onix for my capture. He’s a truthful cat. I guessed Luvvie had lied to him about seeing Picker and Stealer.
“This one’s fearless,” the mistress was saying of me. She told the new mistress the tale, famous in our household, of finding me in her herb basket on the way to London. And then of how I smelled of gun smoke after the day of trouble.
Luvvie came creeping by as I waited to be set on the horse that was to carry me. He peeked into the basket and sayt most sweet, “Are you joyed to be going to the countrie?”
“I am,” sayt I, cool. “’Tis time I returned. When Queen Puss dies, my Earl will be set free. Place House at Titchfield must be cleared of vermins. ’Twere no fit place for you. My stout kits will take revenge on Snakes-Purr. Their sire is but a mouse-babe compared to them.”
(I knowed Luvvie had not forgot the beating Scabface gave him.)
“Remember,” I sayt, “y’are sworn to give what aid you can to bring Snakes-Purr down. Or ’twill be the worse for you. Believe me.”
I could see he did. I almost believed myself.
And there, in the spring of 1602, Tricks’ memoirs end. Poor Tricks. Outsmarted by an ambitious actor who knew that if the mistress couldn’t find Tricks he’d be taken to the country instead. However, I don’t doubt that she became a leader in the cat community at Titchfield.
Eventually she must have assumed her uncle Gib’s old position as Keeper of the Book-Chamber at Place House. This would explain why her memoirs survived along with Gib’s “little books”.
I still have a few papers left to transcribe, but fear they may be forgeries. Why? Well, the writing is very like that of Tricks, but she was dismissive of her kittens’ levels of literacy.
And as I’ve said before, I can’t be the only person to have deciphered these papers. They could well have passed through the hands of an unscrupulous researcher in the late 18th or early 19th century when people became increasingly curious about the lives of famous writers. In the absence of information about Shakespeare, William Henry Ireland and John Payne Collier created their own. They’re unlikely to have been the only forgers around.
On the other hand, the remaining papers may well reveal more about Shakespeare. As Gib used to say: We shall see.
I’m taking a break from posting, but I’ll catch up on my blog reading and check out a few new blogs. Have a Happy Xmas and New Year!