Friday, February 11, 2011

The Cat Speaks

In which the Cat and the woman take council together, wounds are bound and alliances formed.

Be advised, Gentle Reader, that the post you are about to read is Part Three in a serialized tale. You might want to read Part One: The Coming of the Cait Sidhe and Part Two: The Lands Beyond the Lands We Know if you have not already.


There on the steps sat the handsome black cat, the rising sun a glory at his back.

"Madame," he said in the courteous way of cats, "forgive my early intrusion, but please do invite me in, for  we have little time and much to discuss."

If the woman was startled to hear a cat speak, she gave no sign, but offered instead a little polite curtsy and a welcoming smile, and invited her guest to join her for breakfast. To this the Black Cat acceeded graciously. However, when he went to climb the steps that led from the street to the door, the woman saw that he held up his left front paw, and could put no weight upon it. Looking closer, she perceived a deep gash, all covered in matted blood, and her heart ached within her.

"Good Sir Cat," she said, speaking him fair, as he struggled to mount the steps, "forgive me, but I see you are sore injured. If you will allow it, I will pick you up and carry you into the house, and perhaps as well as some breakfast, you might permit me to see what I may do towards the tending of that wound."

The Cat smiled at her gracious words and likewise at her worried look, and bowed his handsome head to indicate his permission. With great care, the woman lifted the cat in her arms, and, carrying him inside, did what she could to make him comfortable. She cleansed his wound, which was deep but not ragged, and was as yet free from putrification and other unwholesome things. A healing salve she worked gently into the flesh, as the Cat entrusted his paw to her care while insisting it was merely a scratch, and of little consequence. To this the woman made no reply, knowing the pride of males and of cats. Still, a few quiet words she whispered as she applied the herbal salve. Her great grandmother had been a great Hedge Witch in her day, renowned as a healer, and a few small shreds of knowledge had come down to the woman from her ancestress, though much had been lost with the passage of time. The Cat remained calm and quiet under her hands, regarding the woman with grave and solemn eyes. 

When all was done, the Cat's paw was bound with a clean linen bandage, and a great bowl of thick cream placed before him. The woman sat next to him, on a low wooden stool, eating her porridge and then sipping a cup of tea sweetened with honey. She smiled at her visitor, and stroked his silky fur while he made a good meal of the cream. She did not press him, but waited politely for him to speak again, if he should choose.

After finishing his meal and seeing to the grooming of his whiskers, as best he could with a wounded paw, the Cat sat back on his haunches, curled his tail elegantly around his feet, and regarded the woman with his luminous lantern eyes.

"I have come to tell you that you are in great danger," said he. "I have come to help you how-some-ever I may."

The woman received this news with surprising calm, and thanked the Cat for his warning and for his offer of assistance. "Is there aught you can tell me, Sir Cat," she asked, "concerning the nature of this danger and what might be done to avoid it?"

The Cat told the woman of the terrible and twisted bat-like beast which even as they spoke sat sibilant upon the roof of the house, dormant but demented, awaiting opportunity to do what harm he might. The woman nodded gravely, for though she had not seen the beast with the eyes of her body, she had sensed his presence. She had feared, she said to the Cat, she had been going mad, and confessed it to be somewhat of a relief to know the thing she sensed did indeed exist outside of her own troubled imagination.

Sitting in the warm, happy sunshine which poured in through the southern window, the Cat questioned the woman closely, and she told him of the changes which had seemed to come with the coming of the November wind. She told him how she had become ill; she told him how she had become sad. She told how many things that had hence gone well had begun to go awry; how the knobby hand of poverty and privation stretched its fearful fingers her way. She told the Cat how, one icy day in winter, someone she had loved most dearly died. Her hope and her joy had abandoned her, clutched as she was in the cold, grey arms of despair.  All these things she told the Black Cat, who sat, purring in the sunlight, regarding her with his eyes which seemed to glow from an inner fire.

When she had finished telling him all this, she told him of her dream.

She spoke of the beautiful house, where things were missing; the high fearsome joy when she stood on its roof, in her dream, in the wind and the crystaline light, the whole world stretched out in all its vastness before her regard, the fearful thing that lept at her from the fire in the cavernous foundations of the house in her dream. To all she said the Cat listened with a grave and solicitous regard, hearing the things she said, and also the things she did not say.

He saw, though she struggled to put a brave and a bright face on the telling, how her hands trembled and the fear looked out from her eyes, and her voice faltered. To give her courage, he purred as loudly and as strongly as ever he might, and crept up to her side, and rubbed his warm cat body against her legs that were no longer young, and nudged her hand with his wet cat nose, encouraging her to pet him, and to take comfort therefrom.

When the woman had finished the telling, the Cat put his paws on her knees, and asked to be picked up. This pleased the woman greatly, for she had yearned to cuddle the great black beast, but would not under any circumstance have been so impertinent as to demand such a thing. Gently she picked him up, and gently held him, cradling his warm fur self against her heart and rubbing her cheek against his soft head while the Cat spoke thusly:

"The Thing-on-the-Roof is an old evil, and it has come from the North to do you harm," he told her in his melodious feline voice. "It is an ancient rival of mine, and I will give you whatsoever help I can, and perchance we may inflict upon the thing a defeat of sorts, and drive it away, or at least lessen its power for a time." The woman listened carefully to the Black Cat, and struggled to be brave, though in truth tears sprang to her eyes and her heart hammered mightily in her chest.

"I thank you, good Sir Cat," she said, rocking him gently back and forth in her arms, "for your advice and your aid." The Cat was pleased at these words, for Cats love gallantry and all things fine and lovely, being lovely and fine beings themselves.

"I will do what I can," said the Cat, "though it needs must be you yourself who must undertake most of the doing. Still, I think I may be of some aid, if you will heed my advice." To this the woman assented.

"Soon will be the first day of Summer," the Cat noted, smiling at the sun which shone in at the window. "I can only stay until the elderberry harvest, so you see the time is short. Nevertheless, it may be time enought to do what we must."

The woman nodded gravely. Gazing with great trust into the eyes of the Cat, she said at last,

"What is it then, that we must do?"

What the Black Cat replied, and how the woman responded, and what befell them next, we shall discover, Gentle Reader, when our tale continues in Chapter Four: A Closed Door.

Thanks for reading!

stlcatlady is a poet, blogger, and freelance writer of short stories, news articles, and other such oddments, many of which center around her favorite subjects: felines , philosophy, and folklore. You may contact her by sending email to stlcatlady1 at gmail dot com.


  1. More please! We want to hear more! You are a very captivating writer. I will have to scour your page here to see if you have written any books that are for sale.

  2. Awww, Mario, you are so kind. No books yet, though I'm working hard on one. And thank you for the compliment. That's what keeps me writing, knowing that someone out there is reading! *hugs n snugs!*

  3. we wanted to stop by and thank you sooo much for visiting us!We are sooo happy to meet you!!!

  4. I'm enjoying this tale very much, and continue to read. :)