Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 1 Story: The Cat Who Would Be King

PUSSY-CAT, pussy-cat, where have you been?
I've been to London to look at the queen.
Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, what did you there?
I frighten'd a little mouse under the chair.

(traditional nursery rhyme)

~ ~ ~

There was once a cat who was sure that he was destined for great things.

"Without a doubt," he said, "I am destined to rule over all these other cats. In fact, I feel that it is my destiny to rule over all the creatures, those that walk on four legs as well as those that walk on two legs. I will be the king of everyone!"

Of course, a king needs a kingdom, and this cat — we'll call him Rex — was sure that the tiny house where he lived, with its tiny front porch and even tinier garden, was not a kingdom worthy of his majesty.

In short, Rex decided to go to London. He had heard that the queen lived in London. Ergo: to London he must go.

~ ~ ~

PUSSY-CAT, pussy-cat, where have you been?
I've been to London to look at the queen.

Before going to London, Rex decided to dress the part. Searching diligently through the rubbish bins up and down the street, he found a long piece of red cloth to wear as a cape (he looked very regal, or so he supposed!), along with a crown.

He meowed with special delight when he found the crown; it fit his head perfectly — and just as Arthur had found his sword in the stone, Rex realized that this crown in the rubbish was a divine sign confirming his right to rule. Purring with anticipation, he licked his lips as he thought of all the fine food that would be served at his coronation banquet.


~ ~ ~

It was a long way to London but, by wise use of public transportation, Rex arrived at Buckingham Palace, slipped past the guards, and made his way inside.


Rex was on a mission: find the queen, propose marriage (how could she refuse?), and then begin his reign as King of All Cats and, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Head of the Commonwealth, and Defender of the Faith.

He was not quite sure about the Defender of the Faith part, but he hoped it would involve mice.

And that hope, as it turned out, was his undoing.

On this way to the queen, Rex proudly pranced through a long corridor, and that corridor was lined with chairs, polished and gilded and resplendent in their loveliness.

And beneath one of the chairs was... a mouse.

And a very fine mouse it was. Rex could not resist. Tossing off both his cape and his crown, he ran full tilt after that mouse...




... and was caught by a housemaid ...

... and thrown out of the palace.

End of adventure.

~ ~ ~


PUSSY-CAT, pussy-cat, where have you been?
I've been to London to look at the queen.
Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, what did you there?
I frighten'd a little mouse under the chair.

It was a long way back home for the erstwhile Rex. He decided he had had enough of London, yawned, and curled up beside the little fire in his little house, dreaming of .... mice.

~ ~ ~

Author's Note. As you can see by reading the original rhyme, it just says the cat went to London to see the queen and ended up frightening a mouse. That reminded me of the story about how Aphrodite, the goddess of love, changed a cat into a woman so that the cat-as-woman could get married to a man, but she ended up chasing a mouse during the wedding festivities, and this made Aphrodite angry, so she turned the cat back into a woman. For my story, I decided that this cat in the nursery rhyme wanted to be king, so he went to London... but he got distracted by a mouse and didn't get to be a king after all. The word "rex" means king in Latin. Meanwhile, the title is inspired by one of my favorite movies, The Man Who Would Be King (based on a story by Rudyard Kipling).

Bibliography. This story is based on the nursery rhyme "Pussy-Cat, Pussy-Cat" in The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang.

Something extra...

As often with nursery rhymes, there are all kinds of YouTube videos about the rhyme. Watch this Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat video at your own risk: the weird tune and bizarre animation will get in your head and your won't be able to get rid of it!

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