- by Phil Middleton

My dearest Tiger, 

I have been at sea for six years, six months and six days in the year of our Lord. Each day that passes feels like another month that we have been apart. The crew of the good ship S.S Tiger grow weary and restless. They long for stable footing and dry land under their feet. These are men who have lived almost their entire lives at sea, but still, they keep houses and wives and children and holdings ashore.  

Most importantly, they also keep cats, whether as companions or as specially employed purposeful moggies. Ratcatchers, company for longing wives and playful children. They all swear their cats are what they long to see...and with that dedication I have raised the daily stipend and ration of rum for every sailor! Never before have I commanded a crew as dedicated to cats as I!

The men are sympathetic to my longing, they understand, I believe, when I am holed up in my captain's quarters, penning yet another poem to you (I trust you have received all of them). They understand that all of their food rations must be docked so as to have a small parcel couriered back to you waiting patiently at home.   

They understand when we are outsmarted by our foe once again as I am occupied finishing a painting or a scrimshaw dedication to you. You simply must see my latest which I intend to hand deliver to you when we make landfall. This time I will not be so hasty and reckless and I will remove all of the meat from the bone before I begin my etching.

Wherever did that piece of whalebone lay to rest? It does not matter, for so long as you enjoyed it as much as I did putting in the hours upon hours of work by candlelight in a ship rocking violently on these Pacific tides. 

Ho Ho, more fool me for leaving that tiny piece of edible meat on it. I was in such a hurry to complete the piece that I neglected to consider it may also be a tasty morsel for you.

Oh how I wish to see your furry face first thing in the early, early hours of the morn, softly batting my face having me wake from my slumber to feed you. I do not even feel the slightest aggravation that although you have woken me from my rest you do not eat the food I have carefully laid out for you.

To hear your enthusiasm once again throughout the evening hours as you pursue some hidden enemy throughout the household...oh and the joy as you return to the bedchambers with your prey. A soggy rodent in less-than-ideal condition and also in less than complete form. What joy you bring me. What bloody, gruesome joy you bring. 

One small thing that has always troubled me is....and I trust you will excuse me for bringing this up as I know it is a sensitive topic for you, is how you lost the use of your glorious and proud tail. 

Oh, to see the majesty of that fine and plump appendage! The tales that tail would tell! It is a fine thing indeed that you are such an efficient communicator, no need to read the cryptic and at times whimsical indications of your tail. You have found so many other ways of making your needs known to me. Your sing song mewling, your mysterious wall staring. What could it all mean? The curious leavings and their placement. Surely not spiteful? 

To know if it was at the hand of some insolent child or careless man servant who had clumsily slammed your tail in a chamber door or kitchen portal, well that can almost be excused, pardon me but you do creep about so delicately like a phantom and you do often choose the thoroughfare as your resting spot so an errant foot landing on you is possibly to be expected. 

NOW, if I were to ever find out that that injury was intentionally inflicted by some blackhearted individual...my rage simply could not be contained. If I might meet them at sea, the barrage of shot from a thundering broadside would tear through sail, timber, iron, flesh and bone with no quarter offered.

No sailor would be safe from my wrath. My vengeance would indeed be biblical in scope, be sung about on ships well into the future where kings' and queens' reigns have risen and fallen, songs and poems of my vehement fury would still be sung in taverns and afloat mighty galleons for an eon to come.

If I were ever to find the cur responsible for such an act when I make landfall, the punishment I would mete out would never be sufficient to satisfy my bloodlust. The perpetrator would beg for the gruesome drawing and quartering a judge may rule for harming my Tiger. 

I do not wish to pollute your delicate fuzzy ears, my darling, with the extent of my vengeance and the retribution I would exact for taking that from you. Kingdoms would burn. Earth would be salted and family lines would cease forever more if I ever found the culprit. His cruelty would pale in comparison to mine.

So, my dearest Tiger, I will make land in 46 more days weather and crew prevailing. I have fish from the deepest trenches of the pacific rim and exotic flightless birds for you to befriend. The finest silk for you to rest on from the farthest reaches of the mystical east, playthings and toys from beyond your wildest dreams from the architects and engineers of imagination unleashed in Europe. Forty-six more marks I make in my diary as I plot my course homeward to you. 

I dream of your flashing green eyes and long for the weight of your hefty body, comfortable on my lap. To feel your claws poke through and ladder my stockings as you knead and make biscuits on my thighs. Then, what I consider some of the highest praise from you and your aloof nature, a gentle bunting of your head against my chin or cheek. Oh, if there was a way to have this ship make further haste on these prevailing winds! Poseidon guide us! 

Well, Tiger my darling boy - there seems to be some rumbling from the crew below decks, it almost sounds as if their excitement for me reaching home to see you has reached its zenith! I hear raised, roused voices! Perhaps they are preparing to perform the song I have had them learn in praise of you!

Oh, I have them all practice this song daily right after they have scrubbed and swabbed the decks - oh the joy it brings them! I believe I also hear the clattering of sabres and loading of muskets! These loyal, cat loving men - although they miss their families and the indulgences of shore life they once again prepare to surprise me with a triumphant song in praise of you, my cat Tiger! Complete with a musket salute and guard of honour, cutlasses and arms presented for inspection! Lo! The gangplank has been deployed. Ho ho, how they know I long to see you! I must away my darling Tiger, my faithful crew wish to be regaled with another riveting tale of your adventures! Best not disappoint the men! 

46 days my companion we will meet again, and I will hold you aloft in my arms! From this life and on into the next! Whenever that may be... 

Yours earnestly,
Captain Phineas L Middenswaithe
S.S Tiger