BtC 15/22. Mouseslayer takes over

Previously on Beware the Cat: Mr Streamer has gained superhuman hearing. He finds a place where he can spy on the cats that meet on the roof of Aldersgate.

Layer 1: framing narrative spoken by Baldwin

Layer 2: main narrative spoken by Streamer

Layer 3: The council of cats

Part three of Beware the Cat is a change in voice, pace and style. The anti-Catholic themes are more overt and the comedy is more conventional. Aside from the very start of part three, Mr Streamer’s voice takes a back seat and instead we here from a new character: Mouseslayer the cat.

Mouseslayer is defending herself in front of some sort of assembly of cats. The charge is that she refused to mate with the cat called Catchrat (who we learn later is not a very nice cat by any standard). In fact, the trial aspect plays little role in what follows. Instead, Mouseslayer recounts various stories from her life.

Below, I include the initial narration from Mr Streamer and the beginnings of the meeting of the cats. Next up will be Mouseslayer’s first story.


BY this time waning Cynthia had come which the day before had filled her growing horns and freshly yielded forth her brother light, which the reverberation of Thetis trembling face, now full by means of spring, had fully cast upon her ; where she must needs lose every day more and more, by means Thetis sullen face would make her to cast beyond her those raids which before the full the spring had cause her to throw short, like as with a crystal glass a man may by the placing of it either high or low so cast the sun or a candle light after any round glass of water, that it shall make the light thereof, both in waxing and waning, to counterfeit the moon.

You should understand, chiefly you Mr. Willet, as my lord’s astronomer, that all our ancestors have failed in knowledge of natural causes. It is not the moon that causes the sea to ebb and flow, but the ebbing and flowing of the sea that is the cause of the moons both waxing and waning. For the moon light is nothing save the shining of the sun cast into the element by the opposition of the sea – as also the stars are nothing else but the sun light reflected upon the face of rivers and cast upon the crystalline heaven, which because rivers always keep like course, therefore are the stars always of one bigness ; as for the course of the stars from east to west, is natural by means of the suns like moving, but in that they ascend and descend, that is, sometimes come northward and sometimes go southward, that is caused also by the suns being either on this side or on the other side likenlightical. The like reason followed for the poles not moving, and that is the situation of those rivers or dead seas which cast them, and the roundness and eg form of the firmament.

But let this pass (although in my book of heaven and hell, shall plainly not only declared, but both by reason and exposition proved) I will come again to my matter when Cythera, I say, as following her brothers steps, looked in at my chamber window and saw me neither in my bed nor at my book, she hide me apace into the south, and at a little hole in the house roof peeped in and saw me where I was set to hearken to the cats, and by this time all the cats which were there the night before were assembled, with many others. Only the great grey cat was not present at first but as soon as he arrived, all the other cats did showed their respect, as they did the night before. And when he was set, he began speaking in his language, which I understood as well as if he had spoken English.

The Great Grey Cat Convenes

“Ah my dear friends and fellows, you may say I have been a lingerer this night, and that I have tarried too long, but you must pardon me for I could come no sooner. When this evening I went into a barrel, where there was much good meat, to steal my supper, there came a wench. Not thinking I had been there, she pushed the lid down, and I had much to do to get out. Also in the way as I came here, over the house tops in the gutter, there were thieves breaking into a window, who scared me so much that I lost my way and fell down into the street, and had much to do to escape some dogs.

But seeing that by the grace of Hagat and Hag I am now here, although I perceive by the tail of the great bear and by alhabar, which are now somewhat southward, that the fifth hour of night approaches, yet seeing this is the last night of my charge, and that to-morrow I must again to my lord Crammoloch,” (at this all the cats spread out their tails, and cried, “Hagat and Hag, save him !”) “Speak now, good Mouseslayer, and that time which my misfortune has lost, recover again by the briefness of your talk.” 

“I will, my lord,” quote Mouseslayer. This was the cat which I told you about who stood before the great cat the night before continually mewing, who, in her language and with her tail, had made curtsey,

Mouseslayer shrunk in her neck and said, “By virtue of your commission from my lord Crammoloch (whose life Hagat and Hag defend), who by inheritance and our free election enjoyed the empire of his traitorously murdered mother, the goddess Grimalkin, you his chief counsellor, my lord Grisard, with Isegrim and Polinoers your assistants ; upon a complaint put up in your high deeds by that false accuser Catchrat, (who bears me malice because I refused his lecherously offered delights,) have caused me to come before this honourable company to declare my whole life since the blind days of my kitlinghood. You remember, I trust, how in the past two nights I have told you of my life for four years space, so you might perceive how I behaved all that time. I shall begin where I left off last night…”