Interview with a Ginger Cat
Why, exactly did you choose me again? Oh, yes. Because, for some unfathomable reason, I was seen as the most "approachable" by your editors. Very well. Ask your questions, and I will answer those I choose to answer. Honest answers not guaranteed.
You’re going to ask me about my history, correct? And as a superhero (how odd that sounds) I can’t truly be expected to give anything away that might identify my friends and loved ones to your readers, who well may include my enemies, now can I?
Oh, all right. Here. I will tell you a story. I leave it to you and your readers to decipher which parts are literal, which ones are allegory, and which ones are outright lies. Does that sound more reasonable? I promise that most any question you might ask about my past, my "origins" if you must, will be answered in the story. As I said before, honest answers not guaranteed.
Once upon a time… Now do you want to hear this story or not? It’s the best I’m willing to give on where I came from, and you’ll have to accept it with all my "flourishes," as you call them. Good. Glad we could come to an understanding.
Once upon a time, in a house on the edge of the woods, lived a cat with an herb wife and her family. The herb wife had found the cat some time before as a kitten lost and hurt in the woods, and she brought her home and nursed her back to health. In thanks for this, the cat lived with the herb wife and made sure to keep the mice out of the house, kept the herb wife’s daughter Lilly warm at night, and generally was a much more companionable cat, at least so far as the family was concerned, than most of her kind.
Now the herb wife… what do I mean by herb wife? Why surely you know the term. No? Fine. I suppose under modern terms, one might call her a Wiccan, though she hardly followed any "old ways." I wouldn’t call her a witch, for you see, that was her sister. And in this case, I mean witch with all its negative connotations. Well, except the ugly part. Any way, this witch had taken this path because she was envious of her older sister, and wanted everything she had.
First, the witch managed, and how I’ll never know, to poison her sister and make her ill, so that the herb wife could no longer go and help the people in the village. A job that her sister took over easily, for every witch and herb wife alike knows the good and the bad of the plants. Lilly did her best to help her mother and the cat spent what time she could with the herb wife, doing her best to keep the woman warm and just being there to let the herb wife know she was not alone. And what time she did not spend with the herb wife, she spent comforting poor Lilly. The witch came by to help, though actually to hinder, Lilly’s efforts and she did the comforting of the herb wife’s husband, which, as it would, led to nothing good for the herb wife. Soon the witch moved in, in theory to better care for her sister. The cat was chased out of the house, and the witch’s mongrel dog was soon sleeping before the hearth where once the cat had slept.
Now, any sensible, ordinary cat would have moved on at this point, but this cat stayed, for she had to do something to help. All she could do, though, was stay beside Lilly outside the house.
And as all too often happened in those days, especially when helped along with poison, the herb wife died. And that was the final straw for the cat. As Lilly sat crying outside the window, the cat, who had been sitting beside the girl, got up and stretched.
"Well, that’s it then," said the cat. Of course the cat could talk. We are in a fairy tale after all.
"Well, that’s it then," Said the cat to a very startled Lilly. "I think it is time to move on. Will you come with me? I think there is nothing for you here."
"But... my father..." the girl said in a rather shaky voice. The cat just snorted.
"Your father made his choice. Let your aunt have what she wants. It will be better for you to come with me, or mark my words, when she has her own babe, you’ll suffer your mother’s fate."
And that was all the more encouragement the girl needed. They left that very night.
Hmmm? Of course she wasn’t a typical empty brained fairytale heroine. She wasn’t always the cleverest of girls, but Lilly wasn’t a fool either. She’d learned her mother’s trade, so had a means to make her way through the world. And the cat was sure to be a good companion, as she had been at home.
After some time, they came to a small little kingdom… yes; there were a lot of them in those days… that was in a rather sorry state. The prince was presumed dead in a war, and the king dying. Well, it was easy enough for Lilly to use the skills her mother had taught her to bring the king back to health, and he was so grateful that he and his wife adopted the girl. And with the king back in good health, the kingdom followed soon enough, so the people accepted Lilly as their new princess. As it seemed, except for the lack of a prince to marry Lilly, that this was as good a “happily ever after” as the girl was going to get, the cat bid her friend good bye, promising that she would come back if needed.
Well, the problem with wars, in those days, was that often what wasn’t completed with one generation was left for the next. And soon the kingdom to which Lilly’s adopted family had lost their son returned to try again to conquer their neighbor. Unfortunately this time, they were successful, and Lilly found herself a political prisoner.
Oh, of course you can see where this is going. In the dungeons, she discovered the prince and they fell in love. Then the son of the conquering king saw Lilly, and he fell in lust with her, and offered her a bit of a devil’s bargain. Her beloved’s life for her hand in marriage. It was only now, trapped as she was in the tower, that she called on the cat.
"Well, this is something of a pickle." Said the cat. "But you and your family were always kind to me. Your mother saved my life, and so I will save yours and his."
The cat slipped out of the window of the tower and down to the dungeons, where she found the prince.
"You know," said the cat, rather startling the prince. "They’re going to kill you after the wedding."
The prince looked at the cat. "I know. But Lilly will live, so it is okay."
"Very noble. I think she’d rather live with you, though. And as I owe her, I may just see to it that it happens."
The prince snorted incredulously. "How?"
"I’m working on that. I can get the keys to you, but I can’t get you out."
"Get me the keys and I can get myself out."
The Cat shook her head. "And raise too big a ruckus in the process. Now if only..." and here the cat got an idea.
"I’ll be back."
And here the cat left. And for several days, neither the prince nor Lilly saw her, and they wondered what she could be up to.
Yes, I know what the cat was up to. She was off finding a friend of hers; you may know his story as well. A French cat known as Puss? Please don’t be dense. At any rate, Puss was willing enough to help her, for there is nothing like helping a damsel in distress for a hero.
On the wedding day, Puss slipped into the prince’s cell and the two exchanged forms at least enough for the prince to escape and the guards to be fooled. And up in the tower, Lilly and the Ginger cat exchanged forms as well.
Lilly and the prince ran off to find their own home deep in the forest, and there indeed they lived happily ever after.
The cat, on the other hand, dressed as she was in Lilly’s wedding dress, went to the chapel to meet with Lilly’s captor, and so complete was her mimicry of Lilly’s form that no one was the wiser until the priest asked for her "I do", to which the cat answered
Jumping out of the dress, the cat took her own form again, and went on her merry way.
There you are, that’s how I began as a hero. As I said, take your choice as to what was truth and what was not. I will give this, though. There’s a reason I know the cat’s part better than the girl’s.
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