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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, May 24, 2015

an australian pioneer recalls a wonderful cat

spot illustration PD
Robert D. Barton was born in the Australian outback, two hundred miles outside Sydney, in 1842.  In 1917 he wrote his memoirs.  They're a clearheaded look at the grit and pragmatism needed to be a pioneer then and there - yet, as the anecdote below shows, there was room for kindness when faced with a couple of surprise feral kittens. . .
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At Burren, too, I had what I may call a wonderful cat. There was an old carpenter, who built my house (it took him a long while to do it, because he was a hatter that could not work with anybody else, but he did it most thoroughly, seasoned all the timber, so that when it was put up—with pine timber—it never shrank). There was a cat came from somewhere, and took up with old Thomas, and never left him. If anybody else- came she disappeared like a shot, but she used to follow him like a dog, even when he went out into the bush to fell timber, and when he was dressing it she used generally to be between his legs. When the house was finished, of course, the old man went away, and the cat was only seen occasionally, and was very wild. However, she had kittens under the house, and heavy rain coming on, she found it was necessary to shift the kittens, and she brought two into my room, and was lying on the bed with them when I came in. There was a broken pane of glass in the window, through which she went like mad when I opened the door. Of course, it gave me a start, and I meant to wreak vengeance on the kittens, but when I went to take hold of them they put up their tails and me-owed and made every demonstration of friendship, and I could not knock them on the head as I had intended, but took them on to the verandah, and put them in the wood box, where the old cat allowed them to remain till they grew up.
One of these kittens was a yellow tom, the other a black, brindle colour, which was christened Mick.
* * *
The "wonderful cat" is Mick, and now that we know Mick's origins Mr. Barton follows with a few pages of good stories about this animal, whom he clearly enjoyed and respected.  I will share one or two in the next couple of days.

Barton, Robert D., 1842-. Reminiscences of an Australian Pioneer. Sydney [N.S.W.]: Tyrrell, 1917. 133-134.

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