45:  Lackwits All

I feared the worst when I stepped into the centre of our circle to tell my newest tale.  That is, the romance of Sir Waine and the cankered cat.

Two young black cats standing in devil pose.Straightway some cats rose up on their legs and clawed at the air, feigning to be devils.  Or the souls of women.

It come to me that they might not wish to hear a romance.

They listened to the first part most respective, but I guessed they was hoping for a bloodie end to it.

They screeched with joy whene’er they thought Sir Waine might be slain.

All returned to hear the second part, but then came the snibs and scorns, the fleers and flouts.

One queen cat marvelled that Sir Waine’s servants were joyed by his return.  She arrkst, “Who would want him back after they had the house to theirselves?”

The lackwit does not understand the management of a great household.

I sayt that in Sir Waine’s absence the steward watched over all.

A serious looking ginger and white cat.

Linkin the Law Cat (and Know All) sayt that the steward had been lining his own pockets, more like.  Stewards must be watched, too.

Another called that there never was such a cat as a hunting leopard, and my tale was all lies.

Lies?  The geck knows nowt of poetickal fictions.

Nero the Sea Cat leapt up then.  He spake very large about leopards, saying he’d seen some in Italy, and many more in Constantinople.

A detail from a painting showing a youth with a cheetah seated behind him on his horse.
– from Benozzo Gozzoli c1461.

They were as his good friend and fellow poet (me) had told.

And while I was thinking of a courteous way to tell Nero I was not his fellow, but a far better poet than he, a cat called that doubtless Nero’s tail was bit off by a hunting leopard.

Nero answered, “True.  He snapt at my bum, but I outran the spotted clown.”

And so he got the screech that should have been mine.

My sister called that she liked my tale well, even though it was fool.  “It was,” sayt she, “a comedy.”

“A comedy?” arrkst another.  “With no blood, nor no scruffing?”

“Our mad friend’s the best for comedy,” came a call.  “I do love his preachings.”

The Mad Cat was not present to hear himself praised above me.  He’s seen fourteen winters, or something like, and keeps by his fire when the nights turn chill.

I believe he would have liked my tale, there being no scandal in it.

There was worse to come.  After all had run off, my saucie sister told me she’d thought of a better ending for my tale.

She sayt, “When Dame Cat leaps from the bed with the curse half-broke, and Sir Waine speaks of trickery, she bites his head off.  The lady in the bed becomes a hare again.  Dame Cat chases her about the house, and kills her.  Then the servants rejoice to have Dame Cat as their mistress, because she makes no work for them.”

It’s a sorry day when I must take counsel from the likes of my sister.

I sayt, “I wished to tell of virtue, not of vice.”

“Small wonder all found it tedious,” sayt she.

Well, those ingrates will get no more tales from me.

They may kiss mine arse, as my sweet friend Smokie was wont to say when any vexed him.

A dappled white and grey cat, looking thoughtful.
Gib contemplates a deep-brained sonnet.

I intend to live retired in my house and write deep-brained sonnets.  Which I will tell only to my private friends (when I’ve found some friends).

And I shall begin with one about Smokie, who never wronged me.

I have writ the first two lines.

Shall I compare thee to a puff of smoke?
Thou art more furred, and less fumiferous.

Oh, I think that will be good.