"Come, Maud," cried my mistress. It was the start of a new day. She is a pleasant enough sort of woman, as they go. She always feeds me on time and gives me drink and meat when she can. I like her as much as is possible. Outside the house the city of Winchester was beginning to stir as if in anticipation for the day of work ahead. This day would be a day of heat and fire; I could feel it in my bones. What this meant was that it was time to sleep, all day if necessary. While my lethargy bothers my old mistress, she will soon see that my rest is well deserved as she finds the gifts that I have bestowed upon her.
"Maud, get out of here you mangy cat. Look at that mess! I'm not picking up your dead mice anymore, I swear." The anger in her voice surprised me--somehow she fails to grasp the significance of these offerings. I, the lord of this house and the king of my domain, have given her a great gift. I don't proclaim to understand humans, and thankfully I never will. Her lack of understanding disgusted me, so I decided to explore the city before it got too hot.
A butterfly landed on a cornflower and flexed its wings in the middle of the City Square. Moving as only I could, I began to stalk my doomed target. As I leapt to take my prey, a cry wrenched my attention from my victim.
"Don't touch God's creature you skulking fiend." It was clear that the man was addressing me. His vestiges indicated that he was a town councillor on his way to a meeting. The butterfly no longer interested me, so I decided to lick my paws instead.
"Come here, puss," he said affectionately. Unceremoniously I was lifted from the ground without a by your leave. I was petted for some seconds as the man continued on his way to the city hall.
Inside I was treated to some scraps of meat until the man lost interest in me and deposited me on the central table. It occurred to me that this was because the dogs on the floor would have torn me limb from limb if I were on the ground. I napped, as there wasn't anything more constructive to do.
The noise of a spoon repeatedly hitting a chalice aroused me from my slumber. My ears pricked in frustration, but the noise continued. Soon the spoon ceased, and a voice replaced the call to attention.
"Councillors of this city who have gathered at the King's request, hear me." The murmurs of the other councillors abated as this man looked at each one in challenge.
"We have long known that we in Winchester look after our own. Of late, this is becoming harder and harder as men leave the city to help repel the Danes. We look after the young, the old, and the infirm. What do we get in recourse for our work?"
"What are you suggesting, Edwin; that we kill them?" interjected another councillor, with a smile on his face. Laughter filled the hall at the idea, but this was quickly extinguished by the look given them by Edwin.
"No, not at all," he said. "We love our children, our wives, and our aged. But what of those who are aged who settled here as the aged? We should send them on their way, to look for kindness elsewhere."
The council considered this course of action, and many thought it had merit. Until a younger man pointed out that there was only one such woman in the city--"The owner of that there cat I believe," he said, pointing at me.
"Then let us begin with her, and set the example for others in future years," assented Edwin.
"But how can we proceed without upsetting the city? For she is well liked for the aid she affords the afflicted. What say you, Edred?" asked the younger man. All eyes turned to a black robed man, indicating his office as city judge. He looked tired, with a gaunt face and eyes sunk deep into his skull. He wheezed,
"It is with her potions and remedies that she is most vulnerable for we can cause suspicions of witchcraft to surround her person with little effort. All we need now is an incident or two with which we can blame her." The others seemed to agree to the proposition, and talk descended to other topics, mostly about the reinforcement of the city wall. I confess that the conversation lost my interest at this point, and besides, the sun entered the hall and touched me, which makes me drowsy at the best of times. Sleep also helps me formulate ideas for my plan of action.