The Alchymist’s Cat | Chapter 8


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘At last,’ he cackled, ‘that beribboned maypole has entered my web and is in my power.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: The business with Lingley is a lot of fun, providing a moment of relief in what is essentially one of the darkest sections of Deptford canon. In particular I find his battle of wills with Spittle hilarious – they’re both rather pathetic specimens in a lot of ways, so seeing them try to have a face-off is pretty amusing.  Plus, they are opposites. We have Sir Francis; flashy, titled, upwardly-mobile but oblivious to his own buffoonery, and we have Spittle; learned almost beyond the comprehension of mortal minds, brewing the elixir of ultimate power in his cramped attic room, but vile in personality and malignant in intention.

Unlike Matt, I don’t really feel that sorry for Lingley due to his past mistreatment of Molly, whom I love. We all knew that that gaudily attired gentleman was going to put his foot in it with the King somehow and ruin his own chances, and it was just bad luck for him that he chose to seek Spittle’s advice in the matter. I only wish that Spittle could be similarly humiliated – that would be very satisfying to see after the sorrow and pain he has caused thus far.

The dreadful old sinner shows no sign of being undermined yet, however. As in Chapter 6, this chapter shows us the origin of a few of Jupiter’s favourite Tips and Tricks For Evil Godliness, in this case the glowing red eyes. I would absolutely love to see the scene where Spittle banishes Lingley from the shop as hand-drawn 1970s horror movie poster. Imagine Spittle looming over all, flames falling from his gnarled hands, murderer’s grin all over his face, stringy hair standing on end. In the foreground, Lingley backs away, puny dagger falling from his grasp, and behind, Will looks suitably terrified as Jupiter hovers in the doorway to the attic, watching and learning.


Matt’s Thoughts: It’s a strange thing in the world of Jarvis that we can have two unlikeable characters – in this case, Lingley and Spittle, but one will turn out to be that much more nasty than the other, and we end up feeling sorry for the lesser of two nasties. If that makes sense. (It made sense in my head when I wrote it.)

It is fairly true to the times, that someone’s rise to power (or fall) could depend on a single encounter in the monarch’s court, so the stunt that Spittle pulls is pretty diabolical. You feel that although Lingley is pretentious, he simply didn’t deserve anything as bad as what happened to him.

And in his calling by at midnight, we miss the chance to see whether the Philosopher’s Stone would have worked. (My money is on it not working.) But all of this dastardly scheming is about to be trumped by something even bigger and nastier again – the real-life history of London in the 1660s …

One thought on “The Alchymist’s Cat | Chapter 8

  1. You know, I had honestly forgotten Molly’s connection to Sir Francis Lingley until rereading the book this time around. I guess it’s kind of something you skim as a child and over the years, I haven’t gone back to this volume in the Histories nearly as much as, say, The Oaken Throne. But really, the story of Molly is far more fascinating that I even remembered. To make one more connection to Disney, she reminds me of Megara from Hercules, another woman whose heart has been hardened toward men by learning harsh lessons. In fact, there is an episode of the animated series where, as a teenager, she dated Adonis (yes, the mythical one who coincidentally is mentioned in a later chapter’s title)… and he acted much how you would imagine Lingley acted toward Molly.

    That’s quite a dangerous thing Lingley does in this chapter… trusting someone who knows a language you don’t (and hates you) to give you a few phrases to say in the hopes of impressing native speakers. His naivete is what doomed him. I immediately thought of this scene when I saw the Frasier episode where he wants to learn a speech in Hebrew but the Star Trek-obsessed Noel (who believes Frasier went back on a promise to get him an autograph he wanted) teaches him Klingon instead to humiliate him.

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