Having arrived inside the court, I took a moment to look around and much to my surprise there were many present whom I recognised instantly. They were friends who had passed into the next life while I was still alive on earth. It certainly made me less concerned when I saw their smiling faces and felt the warmth of their presence.
I heard a familiar ‘moo’ and looked over to see Chrissy gently chewing away as if we were still in the old milking shed we used to call ‘Cow Cathedral’. It got this name because it had a stained glass window through which the morning sun would shine and fill our world with colour. She was smiling at me with those big beautiful eyes of hers.
A friendly ‘yap, yap’ caught my attention and there was my good friend Stripey still jumping about and as lively as ever. If it wasn’t for the seriousness of the situation I feel sure he would have come running over to me for a lick and a playful wrestle.
I really never thought I would see these special friends again and was quite surprised to see they were happy and here in the Court with me. However, this was not the time for reminiscing as I was still uncertain what was going to happen to me.
I kept close to Francis and just meowed a gentle greeting in the direction of the public gallery where my friends were located. This would have to suffice for the time being, but I hoped I would get the opportunity at some later stage to once more get together with them, as I am sure we would have a lot to talk about.
Just then a rooster crowed three times and immediately a silence descended on the Court. The Recording Angel, who had relieved Francis of the big book he had carried for her, led in a small procession of wood pecker court reporters and a Bulldog who was the Sergeant-at-Arms.
The Recording Angel announced to all present that they must stand for the judge, His Honour, Mr Baitz.
I concentrated on the Judge. He looked a wise and kindly Basset hound who seemed to have a permanent frown, but he must have been happy enough for his tail was wagging.
His ears were long and hung down, just like a judge’s wig. His eyes were a little bloodshot and this gave him a sad appearance, but I suppose he could be excused for this as he must have seen and heard many stories of cruelty towards animals here in the Court of Life and Death Decisions.
He told us the Court was in session and we should sit.
Everyone sat except the Recording Angel who had the big book open on the desk in front of her. “If it pleases your honour”, she said looking up at Mr Baitz. “We have before us today a cat called Spook”.
The Angel then buried her head in the big book and proceeded to read out the details of my life for all to hear. How embarrassing! I wasn’t game to look at my friends in the gallery behind me for fear they would laugh at some of the things I had done. I just sat and tried to hide my face behind my front paws. Meanwhile the Recording Angel just droned on and on and the Judge listened intently.
When the Angel had completed her reading, Mr Baitz looked over toward me trying to hide and beckoned me to come forward. I looked at Francis who nodded as if it was OK, so I did as I was asked.
The Judge asked me if I agreed that the story I had just heard was in fact about my life. I nodded in agreement, still uncertain where all this court procedure was going. He then asked me if I would like to have Francis represent me, or would I prefer to answer my own questions.
I looked back toward Francis and gave him my most pleading look, just like the one I used when I wanted to be fed in the evenings back on the farm.
At these words, those in the public gallery started clapping and cheering. So much so, that the Bulldog Sergeant had to call for order in the court and I could see Mr Baitz was not happy with the noise.
At that time I failed to understand why the sudden uproar had occurred. It was only afterwards I learned that Francis was friendly with all the animals in the court and had the distinction of having never lost a case.
Francis came forward, picked me up and sat with me on his lap in the witness box as quiet once more returned to the court.
Mr Baitz looked over and directed his first question to me. He said, “Well Spook, you certainly have had a short but interesting life, but tell me, what did you do for God while you were alive”?
Now if all the questions were going to be this hard I thought I am surely doomed. Before I could splutter out some sort of a response, Francis answered that I had kept the Lord’s Commandments, especially the one that required me to honour those whom the Lord had given me to be my guardians.
Francis continued, explaining how I had saved the family from a number of mouse plagues by working hard to catch the mice before they could wreck havoc.
“Is there anything else”, Mr Baitz snorted, licking his constantly damp jowls with a very healthy looking pink tongue.
“He was very loyal”, replied Francis. “Even though it is not usual for a cat to venture far from his home, Spook would always accompany any of the family who went walking in the bush beside the farm property. He did this to protect them and to ensure they never lost their way”.
“Umm”! said His Honour, seemingly unmoved by what had been said so far. The audience was hushed. Things did not seem to be going so well for Spook.
Francis, sensing the Judge’s attitude hurriedly proclaimed. “He was a very forgiving cat Your Honour”.
“Oh”! said Mr Baitz. “Can you give me an example of how he showed forgiveness to others”?
Francis recounted the story of the day I had got myself all settled on top of the dining room table in a position where I could see and hear all that was going on in the house. Unfortunately, I was unaware that the moulting season had started and that I had left a trail of white hair all over the table.
Francis told how the master of the house, seeing the mess I had made, was so furious with me that he literally kicked me down the stairs and out the back door. He explained to Mr Baitz that I had soon forgiven the master for his action and that it was not long before we were both friends again.
In trying to impress Mr Baitz, Francis went on to mention how from that time on I had been very careful to generally restrict my visits inside the house to only those times when I was invited in by a family member. Although Francis did add that sometimes when it was very hot outside, I would often sneak in, but would always go out again if the master clapped his hands. This story was completed by Francis emphasizing that I was a very obedient cat.
Mr Baitz looked down from his raised platform with those sad bloodshot eyes of his. He could see me sitting on Francis’ knee looking and feeling somewhat uneasy about the proceedings. He said to me, “All you have told me is really only what the Lord expected of you. The question I asked you and the one that must be answered before I can make an effective judgment in this case was, ‘What did you do for God during your life”?
Their was a murmur in the audience. Things did not appear to be going all that well for Francis and Spook. One animal was heard to say to another in the back row, “Surely Francis could not lose a case”?
“Silence in the court”, growled the sergeant and quiet once more settled on the concerned audience.
The silence was broken by an interruption from that section of the court, which I learned later, was especially reserved for those animals who had been honoured in a special way. These animals had given their lives to help humans maintain theirs and they all wore inscriptions on the bells around their necks that read, ‘Order of Jesus — Presented for giving totally that others might live’.
All eyes turned towards this area of the court where four calves were conducting an earnest conversation. Spook looked over and recognised his four friends, Bambi, Coco Pops, Molly andJessica. He was so excited at seeing them he all but jumped out of Francis’ lap to go over and say hello. But he was interrupted by the booming voice of Mr Baitz.
“Unless one of you four are to be a witness in this case, I would request that you please keep quiet”. He said this while pointing a large stumpy paw toward the calves.
She deliberately stood beside Chrissy, knowing she needed her mother’s presence to give her the courage to say what she felt she had to say. It was also her way of stopping her legs from feeling like jelly.