Spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jul 8 16:48:48 EDT 2003

Robyn replied to me:

>>The plurality of cat-slaughter is your thesis, not mine, anyway; so the
>>onus is on you, not on me, to provide textual evidence to demonstrate "all
>>the cat killing in Stalky".  I know of one example: where are the others,
>I don't have a copy, as my books are in storage. My memory of the text is
>that I was put off by reading about the dead cat in the attic, and I put
>the book down when I got to the second cat incident. That's why I said
>"cats" plural.

Ah, all is now explained....  It's a slightly mad feeling, being given a
reference one knows doesn't exist; but if you abandoned the book at that
point, then you wouldn't have found out what was actually going on.  The
second "cat" is a verb not a noun, and "catting in the hedge" isn't
"hunting cats beside the road", it's


is this a family list?  Oh.  All right, I'll try to be suitably oblique.
"To cat' describes what one does when one is the victim of liquid laughter
or a technicolour yawn.  If at sea, "to make an offering to Neptune", or in
the works of Georgette Heyer, "to cast up one's accounts".

So it's ok, it's entirely about self-inflicted suffering, not damage to any
third party feline or otherwise.  I agree that's a fairly nauseating
episode.  :-(  The cheroot that caused the problem was probably that
terrible thing, a Wheeling stogie.

It occurs to me (because I just mentioned that Thing) that Kipling uses
tobacco as a cause of trouble and a bad idea at least twice even apart from
the often-quoted "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke".
Stalky and Co catch it hot from King because they get caught out of bounds
because they were smoking, and the odious Harvey falls overboard because he
has been smoking and is being unhappy at the rail as a result, in *Captains
Courageous*.  That's a far cry from some of the Boys Adventure Writers of
the time, who advocated taking up smoking if one planned to go to any
country where there was malaria "because it will keep away the
mosquitoes"-- which I wouldn't have thought very good advice to any Nice
Young Chap who wanted to keep fit, meself.


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