Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Robert Rundle, Cat Lover

You wouldn't expect to meet a cat lover during the fur trading era.

I was reading about Paul Kane's trek across Canada in 1846, when I met Methodist minister, the Reverend Robert Rundle, who worked with the Cree. 

Rundle was the first Methodist minister to travel to the plains, encouraged by the Hudson's Bay Company in an attempt to counter the missionary efforts of traveling Catholic priests.  He joined Paul Kane's brigade at Fort Carlton as he was on his way home to Fort Edmonton.  
Reverend Robert Terrill Rundle
1811-1896 (Wikipedia)

Rundle traveled with a cat. He so loved this large hairy, orange cat that he trundled it about in a small case carried before him, rarely letting the case or the cat out of his sight. He was afraid the cat might be eaten.

Here's a snippet from my novel-in-progress, Rivers of Stone, featuring Reverend Rundle and his cat:

The next morning, smoke from cooking fires hung close to the stockade as Kane, Rowand and Reverend Rundell prepared to mount their skittish horses. 

The Cree pressed close for they all wanted to formally shake the hands of the travelers, especially Reverend Rundell.

Rundell had taken great care to tie a string, nearly 4 feet long, to the pommel of his saddle at one end and to his beloved cat at the other. Then, he tucked his cat into the large front pocket of his capot. “She’ll travel safe this way,” said Rundell.

As the crowd clustered close around Rundell’s horse, it began to pitch and plunge about. Suddenly, the cat leaped out, startling the horse and the Cree. The cat fell to the ground, but the string held true, and the cat scrabbled against the horse’s legs, causing it to leap about. 

Mr. Rundell could not keep his seat, and the horse flipped him over its head. The Cree screeched and yelled as the string broke, and the cat scampered to safety.

Kane bent over laughing, along with the rest of the brigade.

“Damn cat’s going to kill him,” said Rowand.

Sweat poured from Rundell’s face as he got up and rescued his cat. The cat’s body crouched tight against Rundell, and its ears twitched at the crowd. Rundell brought it over to Cat. “Would you take care of  my cat?” asked Reverend Rundle. “I fear Puss has had enough of horses.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be happy to take charge of her. Poor thing.” Cat thought the cat looked fat enough to make a good meal. Ah well, at least it has a traveling case.


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