Kitten o’ nine tails.October 7, 2011
When I was in third/fourth grade, my father read me JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It took us about a year of nightly reading to complete all three books. I remember looking forward to those bedtime stories each evening. I have reread the books several times over the years and each time I am amazed that I understood the events as well as I did at that age. I think this was largely due to the fact that my father would edit the story at times – substituting words and phrases that would make it easier for me to understand.
This didn’t always work.
I remember that when we came to part where Gandalf faces the dreaded Balrog, my Dad described the Balrog as holding a cat o’ nine tails. This isn’t the phrase used in the book, but it was what my Dad thought I would understand.
When you read this you will imagine some sort of creature with a multi-tailed whip. However, my young mind was haunted by an image of the Balrog swinging around some horrible cat-beast possessing nine deadly tails. Sounds funny, right?
Not to an 8 year old.