Previously on Beware the Cat: Mr Streamer is trying to make a magical medicine that will allow to him understand cats. After some adventures he has collected a dead hedgehog and some other animals.
Layer 1: framing narrative spoken by Baldwin
Layer 2: main narrative spoken by Streamer
I’m including two sections here. It goes on a bit and is very heavy on Mr Streamer’s detailed erudite nonsense and not for the faint-hearted. Hard going at times as it really isn’t meant to make sense. Apparently many of the alchemical and astrological references are garbled and incorrect versions of genuine sixteenth-century alchemical beliefs. The best bit are the detailed instructions for making some weird ear pillows using a fox tongue marinated in wine and then fried. Its like John C Wright doing a Heston Blumenthal impression.
Detailed instructions are given in the next few sections into how to make a set of substances that will give you superhuman hearing. Don’t try them – they sound gross.
Mr Streamer Makes His Medicine
Back at my lodgings I laid the dead animals out. Thomas (who I told you about earlier) brought me a dead cat, which for doing evil things they had that morning caught in a snare set for her two days earlier, which was so exceedingly fat that after I had taken some of the grease, the inwards and the head, to make (as I made Thomas believe) a medicine for the gout, they parboiled the rest, and at night (crusted and fared with good herbs) did eat it up every morsel, and it was as good meat as was or could be eaten.
But now mark, once Thomas had departed with the rest of the cat, I shut my chamber door to me and flayed the hedgehog, wishing often that Dr Nicholas or some other expert physician could make the dissection using their better knowledge of the anatomy. The flesh I washed clean and put it in a pot and with white coin Mellisopoholus or Motism, (commonly called balsam), rosemary water, being four parts of the first and two of the second. I made a broth and set it on a fire and lighted it, sitting it on a limbic, with a glass at the end, near the mouth of the pot, to receive the water that distilled from it. I had a pint of wine which I put in the pot, then, because it was about the solstitium. and that in confections the hours of the planets for the better operation must be observed, I waited until ten o’clock before dinner at which time Mercury begins his lucky reign. Then I took a piece of the cats liver, a piece of the kidneys, a piece of the milt, and the whole heart, the foxes heart and the lights, the hares brain, the kites maw, and the urchins kidneys. All these I beat in a mortar until they were in small pieces. I then made a cake of it and baked it upon a whole stone until it was dry like bread. While this was baking I took seven parts of the cat’s grease, and as much of her brain, and five hairs of her beard, three black and two grey, three parts of the fox’s grease, as much of the brain, with the hooves of his left feet, the like portion of the urchin’s grease and brain with his stones, all the kite’s brain with all the marrow of her bones, the juice of her heart, her upper beak, and the middle claw of her left foot, the fat of the hare’s kidneys, and the juice of his right shoulder bone. All these things I pounded together in a mortar in the space of an hour, and then I put it all in a cloth and hung it near a basin in the sun. Out of this dropped, within four hours, about a half a point of oil, very fine and clear. I then took the galls of all these beasts, and the kites too, and served them likewise, keeping the liquors that dropped from them.
Mr Streamer Consumes the Medicine and Makes More
At twelve o’clock, when the sun began his platenical dominion, I went to dinner, but I ate no meat except the boiled hedgehog. My bread was the cake mentioned before. My drink was the distillation of the hedgehog’s broth, which was exceedingly strong and pleasant in taste and savour. After I had dined well, my head felt so heavy that I could not choose but to sleep for awhile.
After I woke up again, which was within an hour, from my mouth and my nose came exceedingly such yellow, white, and tawny stuff as I never saw before, nor thought that any such could be in man’s body. When a pint of this stuff had come forth, my rheum ceased, and my head and all my body was in exceeding good temper, and a thousand things which I had not thought in twenty years before came so freshly to my mind as if it had been then presently done, heard, or seen. I perceived that my brain (chiefly the function of memory) was marvellously well purged, and my imagination also was so fresh. So much so that I could show a probable reason what, and in what sort, and upon what matter everything which I had taken had wrought, and the cause why.
To be occupied after my sleep, I cast away the carcass of the fox and of the kite, with all the other garbage, saving the tongues and the ears, which were very necessary for my purpose. This is how I prepared them,—I took all the ears and scalded off the hair, then steeped them in a mortar, and when they were all a dry jelly I put in a handful of rue, fennel, lowachtsic, and leek blades, and pounded them afresh. I then divided all the matter into two equal parts, and made two little pillows and stuffed them therewith, and when Saturn’s dry hour of dominion approached, I fried these pillows in good oil olive and laid them hot to mine ears, (one to each ear ), and kept them there until nine a clock at night. This helped to comfort my powers of understanding but because as I perceived the cell perceptible of my brain intelligible was yet so gross by means that the filmy panicle coming from dura mater made to stroil opilations by engrossing the pores and conduits imaginative, I desired to help that what this gargaristical fume whose subtle assertion is wonderful. So I took the cat’s, the fox’s, and the kite’s tongues and soaked them in wine until well near to jelly and then I took them out of the wine and put them in a mortar, and added to them an ounce of cat’s dung an ounce, mustard seed, garlic, and pepper. Then beating this altogether until incorporated, I made lozenges out of the mixture.
And at six a clock at night, I had supper with the rest of the meat which I left uneaten at dinner. When Mercury’s reign approached, which was about two hours later, I drank a great draft of my stilled water, and anointed my head all over with the oil I had made, and then with the water which had come out of the galls I washed my eyes. So that humours would ascend into my head by evaporation of my veins through the chin bone, I took an ounce of alhakghi powder, which I had for a like purpose not two days afore bought at the apothecary. With this, I rubbed and chafed my back from the neck down to the middle. I then heated it in a frying pan my pillows afresh and laid them on my ears, and tied a kerchief about my head.