If I were not allergic to cats, there would be nearly nothing I would like better than a party of purrs: cats and kittens, calico and tortoiseshell, shorthair and shaggy, Siamese and Persian, piled and purring all over me, the very essence of happiness. I would not require all of this ecstasy for myself; I could share it equally with others and receive a purparty of a purr party.

Purparty need not be part and parcel of feline furr and fang. A collection of furniture, purple and arty, would serve as well. Or a pie. Or a proprietorship, or other things with less propriety. Most likely, though, it would be an estate. An estate due equally to several, and severally to equals: coparceners, which is to say co-inheritors. To each their purparty.

The pur is not the one in E pur si muove, ‘And yet it moves’, Galileo’s purported recantation of his recantation. Rather, it is the one in purport and purpose and purloin and purchase: all come from Middle French, which made it from Latin pro ‘for’. And the party is from Latin partita ‘divided’, which is also the source of the parce in coparcener and, of course, part and party. A purparty is a portion or share, especially an equal share in an estate.

And what kind of estate would that be? For me, a country pile. Pile of fur and ferns, that is. If I were living on great green grounds with lawns and trees and flowers, I would be sure to have lots of cats on it. If I had to share it, if I had but a purparty of it, I would make sure to have a room or two inside (OK, three: a library, a kitchen, and a bedroom – I could share the bathroom), and to have the lushest part of the outside – so long as it had cats that I could share part of a bench with.

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