A Letter From Hell - Bandit the cat's reply
by Bev F.
Author's note: I made the mistake of reading Jack Simpson's letter from
Bandit, and he insisted on dictating this reply:
I'd thought to hear the last of you, you blackguard! We go back a
long way, don't we, Jack? When I first came to the Lamb I was a
young tom, I was, and had many lessons to learn. Betty - dear
Betty - took me to her very cosy bosom and warned me against
you. Said I was needed there at the Lamb because the other poor
cat who'd had the position of rodent remover had burned to death
- set on fire by you, you whoreson .
I can tell you, I'd a mind right there and then to go back the rough
and ready world of the dockyard, and warm beds and buxom
barmaids be damned! Burned to death! I might have lives to
spare, but to lose one in such a horrible manner .... Well, I may
be a cat but I'm not stupid. I wasn't about to let you chase me
away from my warm bed and buxom barmaids. Mostly I kept out
of your way - though you did manage to get in a good kick once
in a while. Made my ribs hurt something fierce, you did, but you
never drove me out. I think you hated that, Jack. I think you
knew I could see right through to your black heart. I could see
those young middies edge away from you as you sat drinking
yourself into a foul mood, and poor Nicky, the stable lad -- well,
I'd found him a few times crying in the hayloft after I'd seen you
leave (and I guess that was the start of my ministering to the sick
and unhappy.) Somehow, in my little cat brain, this didn't seem
right to me ...
'Twas never a more heartening sight could have met my eyes than
to find you in the Lamb on That Fateful Day, bleeding I hoped to
death. You've only got one life, Jack, not like we lucky felines,
and I can't say I was unhappy to think you'd lost the use of it. Of
course, I was to learn later we were not to be so lucky as to be
rid of you.
That Fateful Day - the day I became a ship's cat! At least I had
no need to share Justinian with you, and God knows what
devilment you'd been up to there, before I came. And matters
went along quite nicely too until you showed up again - and why
Mr. H. ever picked you up out of the ocean, I'll never know. That
boy just always acts first and thinks after. I do know poor Archie
was beside himself and even Mr. H. looked like he wished he'd
saved a cask of beef gone-off instead of you.
But if I were you, Mr. Simpson, I would be very afraid. Because
- I KNOW WHAT YOU DID! I saw you cut poor Archie adrift!
I saw you shoot Mr. H! And if humans would only take the time
to learn the language of felis catus, I'd have said so, and saved
Mr. H. having to fight a duel with you - but then Captain Pellew
would not have become famous for an impossible shot, and I
might not have started my distinguished career in the sickberth, so
perhaps all turned out for the best. I do thank the good Captain
(even though he still blames me for that bullock) for killing you
outright and not merely wounding you, as you did Horatio (and
what kind of a bad shot are you anyway? Here you go jumping
the gun - ha! ha! - as it were, and you just gave him a very
romantic wound that I'm sure the ladies will gush over in future, if
Mr. H. ever meets any ladies that don't have him all tongue-tied,
that is.) If you'd been wounded, either I'd have had to extend to
you the benefit of the soothing feel of my exquisite fur coat (while
barfing up the odd hairball in disgust) or refuse to treat you at all,
in which case I'd have been banished from the sickberth for good.
Oh, where was I! Oh yes. But if I were you, Mr. Simpson, I
would be very afraid. As you know, cats have nine lives. Now,
during my illustrous career, both at the Lamb and on the
Indefatigable, I've lost a few of them. I like to think that those
ghostly replicas of myself are already sleeping quite comfortably
on some cloud up there in Heaven. I know you are in Hell
(because that's the postmark on your letter, and besides, where
else would you be?) - and I know my lives are in Heaven (being
the exemplary kind of cat that I am.) but I'm sure something can
be arranged - a little slumming in the bilges, as it were.
You hated me at the Lamb, Jack, because I was too fast for you
most of the time. Just imagine six or seven of me, tripping up your
feet, always keeping just an inch away from the toe of your
bloody hard boot. And I think I'll bring my friends along with me.
Just imagine your ears ringing with every good curse Master
Shakespeare ever thought up, courtesy of my old foe Falstaff.
And worse - you fancier of little boys - to hear flowery words of
love from my dear friend and admirer - Juliet. Because, Mr.
Simpson, Falstaff and Juliet are rats, and as such , are much finer
creatures than you will ever be!
(Someday there'll be nine of us to bedevil you!)