Kittehs! Time now for Cats o’ Myth and Legend! which is always great, but you will purr your furry little head off when you realize today’s bit of cat lore features ME . I know. Exciting, right? My fur is filled wif static electricity just finking about it.
Well, okay, mebbe the story is not about ME, ‘xactly. but my Grandma. Not even Grandma Nell, who you met ‘tother day, but a “great, great, great greater than great, gosh that was a long time ago,” Grandma – the celtic Queen of Cats, Spit-Fire.
Queen Spit-Fire was teh wife o’ Irusan, who shows up in a lot of older-than-dirt stories from the British Isles. And like this one, King Irusan battles humans while protecting all the kittehs in his tribe. But the way humans tell this story, teh truth gets a bit glossed over. In fact, they just up and leave out the entire heroic ending. Which is why we is so lucky that we has Grandma Nell to set teh historical record straight. I added a few cultural references to bring teh whole story up to date.
so, get comfy. this is no short lol cat video to watch while yer boss is not looking. Go curl up on a couch, pop some corn and enjoy!
So…Once Pon Teh Times…
…there was a King Guaire of Connaught who loved to throw parties. He was famous for stuffing his guests wif piles o’ gourmet food served by a crackerjack staff. One day, the King invited the famous Bard Seanchan, Chief Poet of Ireland, to attend. Now, Poets back then was quite different than today – they was not weepy romantics gathering rose buds as they may. No. Bards were sought-after entertainers wif mad satirizing skillz. Peeps hung on Seanchan’s every word and laughed themselves silly over his mockery and bullying ways…not unlike certain Radio Talk Show hosts o’ today. LimBards, you might say. Anyway, King Guaire longed to host someone so popular, so he invited Seanchan the Bard and a bunch of his fans for a three-day gorge fest.
“Seanchan! How lovely to have you here!” the king exclaimed on the first day of the party. “My other guests will be delighted by your wry commentary. Pray, good man, come! Eat, drink, enjoy, and if the mood strikes you, favor us with a poem or a song or amusing conspiracy theory.”
Seanchan, however, sulked through the party and refused to eat or talk to anyone. The King noticed and checked on his guest.
“How now, Seanchan? Don’t you like Turduckin? Haggis? 4 and 20 Blackbird Pie? No? Ah, c’mon my Bard. I ordered these dishes up for you. Why so glum, my famous friend?”
Seanchan bade the King to talk to his chubby hand.
“I have never had worse days or worse nights or worse meals in all my life,” replied the Bard and he ate not for three whole days.
The King was stricken. He had never had an unhappy house guest before. He was also a little worried that he would be the next target of sarcasm, blabbing to everyone after he left that King Guaire was a poor host. So he sent for his chief servant – a handsome, clean-cut young man.
“Here, lad,” says the Lord, “take Seanchan a special meal in his room.”
When the servant tried to serve the Bard, Seanchan knocked the dishes to the floor.
“But why, Bard? What’s wrong?
“I’ll have nothing from you, with your dirty fingernails and your long hair and your Occupy tee shirt…what are you, some kind of voter-fraud hippy with a forged birth certificate?”
Seanchan also added some other unkind suggestions about the servant’s sexual orientation that i won’t repeat here, but suffice it to say that the servant rolled his eyes, cleaned up the mess and left Seanchan to stew. The other guest heard about it and laughed at Seanchan’s wit and also took pot shots at the servant. In a hurry to make the Bard happy, the King then sent his niece, a lovely girl young girl, to take him a piece of cake. But after a bit, the child came back down, sobbing.
“He called me a prostitute and a feminazi and “the white-house dog,” whatever that is…and then he accused me of making taxpayers pay for the cake!”
The guests roared with laughter, but the King patted the child on the back and decided it was time to send Seanchan packing. He called the Bard down and ordered him to leave.
“What? Aren’t you even going to feed me?” the Bard groused.
The guests blew raspberries. The King rolled his eyes and bade the kitchen maid to fetch an egg.
The maid crept back into the great hall, head bowed. There is no egg. A mouse must have eaten it, she explained, embarrassed.
“A MOUSE? ha!” snorted Seanchan, “I don’t believe it. She probably stole the egg and ate it, her and her entire illegal boarder-crossing family…where is your green card, Senorita?”
“Ditto!” someone in the back of the royal hall yelled, but the King seethed with anger.
“Seanchan, honest to God, I have had about all I can take of you…”
the King muttered through gritted teeth. He waved in the Royal Guard who stepped forward with their swords drawn.
“Uh…” Seanchan quavered for a second, and then brightened, “well, fine, but let me tell the mice what I think of them!”
and he marched into the kitchen unleashed a torrent of criticisms, half truths and trumped up charges against the mice. The mice, small, gentle and not terribly fast with come-backs or fact-checking, sputtered with indignation, then fell over dead.
“And yer mothers were all cadillac-driving welfare cheats!”
he bellowed as the last mouse grabbed at his heart and collapsed under the kitchen table. The Bard surveyed his destruction and was well pleased.
“T’is well, but the cat is most to blame, for it was their duty to suppress the votes…I mean, mice, and it was they who should have protected my tax cuts…uh, I mean, egg. And I shall start with the King of them all, Irusan, son of Arusan, for I know where he lives with his wife Spit-fire and his daughter Sharp Tooth and her brothers, The Purrer and the Growler. But I shall begin with Irusan himself, as he is King and answerable to all cats.”
So the Bard stuck his head out a tower window and yelled across teh rolling hills of Connaught, barking insults and tirades that could be heard all the way to the Royal Cave of Irusan.
“Irusan, monster of claws, who strikes at mice but then let’s them go, you hunt like a girl. You’re as useless as the UN. Let yer tail hang down, you lazy beast, for even the mice laugh at you.”
Now Irusan heard these words in his cave, and he said to his daughter Sharp-tooth: “Seanchan has satirised me, but I will be avenged. Just you wait until I tell Arianna Huffington about this…”
“Nay, Father,” said Sharp Tooth, “bring him here, alive, that we may all take our revenge.”
Her Dad had to admit that this was a better plan.
“Send thy brothers after me,”
he growled as he put on his game face and marched off to the castle.
When Seanchan heard that Irusan was on his way to kill him, he started to shake. “Protect me!” he begged. The King smiled and suggested he ask the kitchen staff for help. Seanchan turned to the maid and tried flattery, but she dropped a dead mouse down his tunic. Then the servant lad tossed him out into the street and the King’s niece dropped the slice of cake on his head. Then they slammed the door shut.
Standing in the street, the Bard felt the ground rumble. Then, after he picked icing out of his ears, he heard a roar, like a tempest of a fire in full blaze. Suddenly Irusan appeared before him, as large as a bull and just as angry and vindictive; kicking up dirt, snorting, snarling, with red eyes and curls of smoke coming from his nose. Before anyone could bat an eye, Irusan scooped up the poet, tossed him over his shoulder and marched back across the country side.
“Irusan, son of Arusan!” the Bard tried with a nervous laugh, “long time no see old buddy! My, but you’ve grown. How healthy! How fit!”
When the King o’ Cats refused to answer, Seanchan tried again:
“But Irusan! What have I done to offend thee? T’was all in jest! I’m an entertainer! It’s like professional wrestling. Everyone knows I don’t mean half the stuff I ever say, right? why don’t you put me down and we’ll agree to disagree…oh please Irusan, son of Arusan, spare me! I invoke the name of the saints…pleeeeeeease don’t kill meeeeeeee.”
And as Irusan marched off at full steam to deliver the Bard to his bloody end, they went past the forge of Saint Keiran. The Saint was hard at work but couldn’t believe what he saw.
“What!” exclaimed the saint; “is that the Chief Bard of Erin on the back of a cat? Has Guaire’s hospitality ended in this?”
And he ran for a red-hot bar of iron that was in the furnace, and struck the cat on the side with it, so that the iron passed through him, and he fell down lifeless.
“Now my curse on the hand that gave that blow!” said the bard, when he got upon his feet.
“And wherefore?” asked St. Kieran.
“Because,” answered Seanchan, “I would rather Irusan had killed me, and eaten me every bit, that so I might bring disgrace on Guaire for the bad food he gave me. Now I have to go back to that wretched party. Thanks for nothing, Father.”
Now, for some reason, the Human story ends here, and even has Seanchan going off to be invited, incredibly, to other parties, but let Grandma Nell tell you what really happened.
Back at the cave, Queen Spit-Fire heard the fiery yowls of her husband and she flew like a furry bullet to Kieran’s forge. She bent over her lifeless husband and purred in his ear. Irusan, son of Arusan, King o’ Cats, shuddered and shook and coughed up a fur ball before returning to the land o’ the living.
What happened? did I use up another life?”
“Not to worry, my dear. why don’t you go home and I’ll take care of everything here.”
She gave St. Kieran a stern look and the Saint muttered, “my bad, your Kittehship. won’t happen again.” The Queen reached out her paw and pinched the Bard by the ear.
“You and I have business to discuss, Mr. Poet…”
she hissed and dragged him back to the castle. She kicked open the door of the great hall and marched in, to the shock of party guests settling down to breakfast in the great hall.
“Here! I bring you your great hero, this so-called Bard – mocker of women, laborers, the under-class, children even. This Great Bully whose cruelties you so enjoy. And here! I give you a piece of him to share,”
and she unsheathed a single gleaming claw and sliced into the Bard’s ribs where she withdrew a heart, black as coal and shriveled to the size of a pea. She flicked the pitiful stub onto the great hall table and it landed with a plunk into someone’s bowl of Raisin Bran.
“There! Good luck finding that. And while you hunt for it, consider what happens to the human heart when you spend all day demonizing yer fellow man and debasing the national dialogue so that anyone who disagrees with ye is a Nazi and some such nonsense. And keep in mind that your own heart may not be much bigger if you continue to cheer on Bullies such as he.”
and wif that, Spit-Fire, Queen o’ teh Kittehs, dropped the Bard on the stone floor and went home and lived happily eva after.
many fanks to teh book “Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland,” by Lady Francesca Wilde, where we lifted some quotes directly, probably the best ones. the rest springs fresh from Sparky’s own fevered imagination.