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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: (urth) Chenille's dagger
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 02:34:35 -0500

Crush writes:
>Well, Crane *does* give Chenille the dagger, but it was originally owned by

That's not how I read it. It's on the page before that "friend" quote. (279,
paper) "He'd got it specially made for me, or anyhow the picture put on."
The "he" is Crane. He did the same thing with the needler he gave
Hyacinth--had it engraved with the namesake flowers.

> Poppy was flat out lying when she said there was a guy named Cat who
>she and sometimes Orpine serviced. Note that the only person who can
>contradict this story is dead.

The guy named Cat is irrelevant. It was Orchid who jumped to the conclusion
that the dagger belonged to a man named Cat--because of the cat image on the

>This is why Musk becomes so agitated when
>Silk carefully studies the knife. Everyone is looking for the owner of the
>knife as if he is responsible:

The owner of the knife _is_ responsible for Orpine's death--Chenille.

>The "cat" on the handle is a "civet" (or so I read it). "Civet" is a type
>feline but it is also a musky yellowish fluid taken from glands in the anal
>pouch of the civet used as a perfume. So civet is a type of musk. Silk when
>studying the picture ponders the drop of blood and considers its possible
>association with Blood the person. So the picture is of a "civet with

The cat on the handle is an ordinary cat. The specific description of the
handle's image is: "a scarlet cat strutted with a tiny black mouse in its
jaws. The cat's fiery tail circled the hilt." There is no "drop of blood".
Two pages later Silk is thinking about the pictured cat, which reminds him
of the images on the needler. He goes on thinking:

    "Blood's name . . . If the dagger had been made for him, the picture on
its hilt would have shown blood, presumably: a bloody dagger of the same
design, perhaps, or something of that sort. The cat had held a mouse in its
jaws, and mice thus caught by cats bled, of course; but he could recall *no
blood* in the picture, and the captive mouse had been quite small. He was no
artist, but after putting himself in the place of the one who had drawn and
tinted that picture, he decided that the mouse had been included mostly to
indicate that *the cat was in fact a cat, and not some other cat-like
animal*, a panther for example. The mouse had been a kind of badge, in other
words." (emphasis added)

>Furthermore, Silk considers the mouse in the cat's mouth. He decides it is
>"badge" of some sort. Well whose badge is the mouse? Apollo's - denoting
>patronage of medicine. Another connection between Silk and Apollo.
>Musk owns Silk's mantaeon, so he has Silk in his power just as the cat has
>the mouse in his mouth.

The mouse in the image is a "badge" only in the sense that it identifies the
cat as a cat.

Silk continues thinking:

    "The cat itself had been scarlet, *but hardly with blood*; even a large
mouse would not have bled as much as that, and the cat had presumably been
tinted to indicate that it was somehow burning. Its upright tail had
actually been tipped with fire." (emphasis added) (255-56, paper)

The cat on the dagger hilt has nothing to do with Musk. The title of the
chapter in which Orpine was murdered is "The Cat With The Red-Hot Tail". The
next chapter, where Silk interviews Chenille, explains the image.

    "Do you know, Patera, I'd never even seen chenille, not to know it was
my flower anyway, till he [Crane] brought me a bouquet for my room last
spring? And I love it--that's when I did my hair this color. He said
sometimes they call it burning cattail." (279, paper)

This is repeated about three pages before the end of chapter three in LAKE,
when Chenille was at the manse.

    "Crane was a friend, just like I said yesterday. He was nice, and he
brought me things, when he didn't have to. You remember about the bouquet of
chenille? Little stuff like that, but nice. Most of the girls like him, and
sometimes I give him a free one. He's got a thing for big girls. He sort of
laughs about it."

What the exact connection between "chenille" and the plant "cattail" may be,
I don't know. I would speculate that it is because cattail has "long, brown,
fuzzy, cylindrical flower spikes" (Webster's), which probably look something
like a caterpillar. At any rate, the text makes the connection. Crane gave
personalized gifts to both Hyacinth and Chenille, engraved with images of
their names because neither of them could read.



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