There is a lot to be said for having a pet. If you are in the happy position of being able to feed your family adequately then adding another mouth has merit. I confess to being fond of dogs, but I know some find their exuberance wearing. Others look to the cat for companionship. I know the feral cats who stalk our wharf, warily avoiding unheeding heavy boots as they hunt for their lunch. A disregarded fish head or a rat, responses leaden through overeating, both make a good lunch for our stalking feline. As I pass them I will give them the time of day and occasionally one of them might even rub against my leg.
I have been told that pets take on the character of their owner, whilst others say that owners are drawn to pets who share their natural characteristics. I trust that the latter is untrue, otherwise I would be forced to regard many of my cat owning patrons as somnolent potential murderers, prevented only from rending and devouring their prey by a happy lethargy. I personally subscribe to the theory that, in reality, the pet and the owner retain their own characters. This I state very firmly before mentioning that Maljie is the proud owner of a cat.
Some have claimed you can no more claim ownership of a cat that I can claim possession of those felines prowling along Fellmonger’s Wharf. They hold that you merely share a house with them. This may indeed be true, I am not qualified to comment. But I would point out that Maljie’s cat will wander into meetings, following an agenda entirely of its own. There it will survey the company, assess their worth and then curl up and go to sleep.
Now have you noticed how you can infuriate some people purely by sitting quietly and reading? Imagine the passion you can arouse them to by merely sleeping. Personally I think the problem lies in the unbalanced nature of those who feel that nothing is ever achieved without frantic and largely unfocused activity. How many of these folk realise that some of the finest poetry is produced behind closed eyes? I confess in these matters my sympathies lie entirely with the cat. Yet busy people insist that the cat must ‘do something.’ Yet these folk are the first to complain if the cat deposits half a rat on their bed for them.
In the case of Maljie’s cat, Maljie and Margarita felt that their cat might benefit from intellectual stimulation. So it would be provided with toys. At the same time, Laxey discovered that there was a fashion for building castles for cats. He pointed out that this gave the cat exercise as it climbed through the castle before sprawling and sleeping at a higher level. I confess that I couldn’t see why the cat would bother. After all it could do that now. It merely had to climb the stairs and sprawl on one of them. It had all the advantages of the castle plus the chance than it might witness somebody tripping amusingly and plunging past it.
Now it might have remained as a discussion topic if I hadn’t mentioned the concept of the cat castle to Lancet Foredecks who was quite taken with the idea. To him it was an essay in performance art, rich in symbolism and redolent with metaphor. Not only that but he might have a legitimate reason to purchase some toy soldiers to go with it.
Lancet bearded Laxey and importuned him for funding. Laxey merely pointed to a large tree that had been felled (and Maljie had requisitioned for firewood). “That will keep her in firewood for a decade or more, so feel free to take some of that.”
A lesser artist would have regarded this as a ‘brush off’ but not Lancet. It was all part of the performance. That very evening a troupe of mimes cut the fallen tree into lengths and stole away with it. Two days later, Mottam Wheel, owner of one of the city’s largest wood yards, arrived at his yard to discover his great saw was working. A beast of a thing, a spinning blade taller than a man, was powered through complex gearing by a large wheel in which people normally walked. As he watched, he realised the wheel was being powered by capering demons and sylphs. Closer inspection indicated that they might be people dressed in appropriate (or in the case of the sylphs, inappropriate) costumes. Lancet himself, dressed as a demon prince was planking the wood. Mottam, one of the most easy-going men I’ve ever met, checked that Lancet was doing the job properly, then opened his gates and charged folk admission to see the performance. Two hours later, Lancet and his ensemble left with their planks and half the takings.
Now came the construction of the castle. Lancet spent a day just sketching. He did some research, mainly looking at the illustrations in ‘Castles of the Demon Realms,’ by Silvan Hart. This was initially sold as a guide book, profusely illustrated. It was later denounced as a confidence trick, a creation of the author’s imagination. Since then various mages have commented that it seems to have been widely read in some demon realms and has provided a template for demon lords considering refurbishment.
Eventually Lancet started work. Wisely he backed a dray into his workshop and started creating the castle on the dray. A week later, learning that Maljie and her sister Margarita would be out, he had the castle drawn round to the house. Here he made his first unfortunate discovery, the damned thing wouldn’t fit through the door. To be honest, given that it hung over both sides of the dray I could have pointed this out as a potential problem at the start.
Still he was not defeated. Learning from Laxey that the two ladies intended to go on a short retreat at the Shrine of Aea the Blessed on the coast not far from Candleman’s Cove. Lancet measured the doorway and worked out how to cut up his castle so he could pass it through the doorway and reassemble it in one piece once inside.
Maljie and her sister set off for their retreat, with Laxey tasked with ‘looking after the cat.’ Lancet and his artistic comrades arrived and swiftly carried the castle inside and started to build it. They then came up against another problem. The castle was too large to assemble in any one room. Lesser minds would have given up at this point but not Lancet. Rather than just knock a wall out so that the castle would fit, instead he assembled the castle in three different rooms but put holes through the walls so that the three sections still communicated. Admittedly this meant that there had to be a considerable shifting and rearranging of furniture, but they didn’t have to discard any. On the other hand, Maljie’s bedroom now contained more armchairs that was perhaps considered normal. Laxey then tentatively introduced the cat to his new home. Rather to everybody’s surprise, he appeared to like it.
Unfortunately Lancet and I had to be in Avitas when Maljie returned to discover what had been done so I’m not entirely sure how she took it.
We’re on tour still, promoting ‘Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights,’ and today things continue across with Willow at
Her blog is interesting, especially if you like poetry