Colonial Cats in History: The Bristol Channel Flood 1607 Part I
For my first post, I’m going to write about my Great-Great-etc. Grandfather, Salt. He had such an exciting life, I’m jealous. All I do is lay around the house all day. But not Salt.
He started life on a farm near the abandoned abbey at Glastonbury. The farmer thought he had too many cats already so he tried to get rid of Salt, but my Great-Great-etc. Grandfather wasn’t having it. Thank goodness.
He escaped the farmer’s clutches and ran away. Salt was only two months old at the time. He was terrified to be on his own in the vast countryside. He spent days trying to find food, and escape foxes, hawks, and stoats. He finally found a kindly old tom named Henry who took him under his wing, and told him he would help him get to Bristol. From there Salt could join the crew of a ship.
This sounded exciting to Salt. He was grateful to have a friend like Henry.
Henry led Salt to a barn that until recently had been part of an abbey. This was nothing like the barn where Salt had been born. That was a shoddy, drafty place with holes in the mouldy thatch and gaps between the shrunken boards.
The roof of this barn soared over Salt’s head. A hundred cats would be required to keep this space free of vermin. Then Salt saw many eyes staring back at him and knew this territory was already spoken for.
Henry nodded to the other cats and went to a hay wagon that was waiting for transport. He grabbed Salt by his scruff and tossed him into the hay. They snuggled down to wait for the wagon to leave and transport them to Glastonbury. From there they would find another wagon to take them to Bristol.
Salt woke when the wagon lurched forward. He got up and stretched his tiny legs one after the other, then arched his little back to get all the kinks out of his spine. There was a strange throbbing in Salt’s bones and the hair stood up on his back. But he didn’t want to look like a kitten in front of Henry, so he watched patiently as the bigger tom shook out his tired limbs.
After only a few minutes on the road, the horse reared up in his traces, and began bellowing and fighting to turn back. The wagoner yelled and cursed at the horse, pulling at the reins, but the horse broke free. Salt watched as the horse turned and ran away from the road.
At that moment he knew, they had to get higher. He could see the cats swarming out of the great barn. They tried to leap onto its roof, but it was too high. Instead they followed the horse and the other farm animals toward a great hill. By now the barnyard was bedlam. Henry urged Salt to follow him up the giant hill. But could Salt’s short kitten legs carry him so far?
Okay, I’ve been at this for two whole hours, I must take a nap. I’ll continue the story next week.
For more information about the Glastonbury Abbey Barn where Salt and Henry spent the night, visit, The Rural Life Museum.
For more information about Salt, you can read Salt and the Sea Venture.