Princessa was never meant to be a seafaring cat.
The lake outside the palace was brimming with shimmery orange creatures, and in her jeunesse Princessa had peered into the crystal depths, imagined perhaps spearing a little snack with her rose-petal paws.
But her mother had warned her never to stick her nose too far out over the water’s edge. “Your great-great-grandfather died in a tempest on the tropical Atlantic,” she’d proclaimed.
“Ooh, I never knew that! Was he a pirate?”
“He was an idiot. Now don’t ask so many questions; it’s disrespectful. And don’t you even think about dipping one claw in that nasty water, or I’ll bathe you four times before supper.”
Thus, Princessa was undoubtedly and emphatically never meant to be a seafaring cat. Or even one that liked water.
Whenever her bald-legs girl would drag her into the bathing chamber to share an hour of perfumed bubbles and rude fountains urinating soapy water, Princessa would dread the infernal sprinkling of wet drops on her whiskers, would huddle in a towel cave and monitor from afar for symptoms of drowning.
Whenever rain came scuttling down the windowpanes like little mice, Princessa would preen in the very most well-worn cranny of her sitting-room throne, contemplating the day when she would extinguish that rodential lineage (somehow without getting wet in the process) and put an end to the ceaseless pattering.
No, Princessa was a dry-land cat from the whitest tufts of her ears to the midnight pit of her heart. A cat for tiny crevices between tattered books, for caviar dinners in quavering candlelight, for a warm bed to return to between night patrols down the vast desert halls of this high-ceilinged abode she called home.
That’s why, when the human-of-the-rough-and-blubbered-chin first brought up the Mediterranean cruise one night over oysters, Princessa was overtaken by a suffocating hairball. She was tempted to laugh at this ridiculous jest, but her claws burned with the terrifying notion that just possibly it was not…
It was not jest. Three weeks later, the imperial huntress found herself lolling back and forth on a loathsome vessel, out of sight of any land, miles above the delicious mysteries flickering in schools below the surface.
Her stomach growled. Princessa was dreadfully sick of ship’s fare. Her ego was sick. It wasn’t fair nor precedented, that an obvious figure of political and cultural importance should be cast upon the waves with a troop of accordion-strangling, slobber-footed rope-throwing men. Her humans may be enjoying it, poor misguided slaves. But Princessa was the central sun of a cosmos plunged in blackest tragedy. She could not enjoy one moment.
Not one moment, that is, until destiny rose on the horizon, proudly flying the Jolly Roger…
Image credits in order of appearance:
By Steve Slater – Flickr: fish pond at the botanical garden, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22861838
By Andrzej Otrębski – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22729038
Cornelis Verbeeck (circa 1590–after 1637) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons