THE REWARD Chapter 3 – Friends in High Places


Mr Baitz looked down his wet nose at Molly and turned to Francis. “Do you wish to allow Molly the calf to be a witness for your client”?

I immediately looked up and meowed a ‘yes please’ to Francis who, for the first time during this case, was looking a little uncertain about the way the proceedings were progressing. With a frown on his face, he said to me, “Are you sure”? I nodded my reply.

Francis turned to the Judge and also nodded. Mr Baitz then gave Molly permission to speak.

You could have heard a pin drop in the court as everyone’s attention was focused on Molly. She cleared her throat with a nervous moo that sounded more like a grunt and received a gentle nudge from Chrissy.

Molly told the court the story of her life on the little property where she had grown up with Chrissy, the goats, the dogs, the chooks and Spook .

She explained how she and her brothers and sisters all had the time to watch what was happening around their little farm and that they had just been discussing the situation and they all agreed…..

Mr Baitz interrupted at this point. “Well girl’ get on with it. We don’t have all day you know. What did you and your brothers agree upon”?

“Your Honour, we all agree that Spook was a great help to the human family to whom he was given in that he assisted in bringing them closer to God”, blurted out Molly.

“You see, your Honour”, she continued. “By always being around and letting them know he loved them, he made them realise how important it was to love one another”.

“You will recall it was mentioned by Francis that Spook was concerned the family might get lost, so he used to follow them when they went for walks in the bush”.

“Yes”! said Mr Baitz. “We already have been through that story—could you please get to the point girl”!

“What wasn’t said Your Honour”, continued Molly, was that Spook had been suffering for a long time with a form of cancer on the edges of his ears. As you can imagine, going out in the sun was a very painful experience for him.

Whenever he followed the children, or the adults, he was showing greater love and devotion than many other domestic animals would ever show”.

Molly stopped for a moment but she was wound up now and she was determined she would ensure Mr Baitz understood the real facts in this case. With Chrissy on one side of her and one of the goats from the farm on the other, she continued to say what she felt she had to say.

“Your Honour”, she continued. “I believe Spook’s human family came to see in him all the good things they wanted to see in themselves”. “As a result of Spook’s influence in their lives, they became more understanding of each other and more concerned for what others needed before they started worrying about their own needs”. “Your Honour, this is the message Jesus taught and this is also how Spook lived his life”.

At this point the whole court room came to life. The animals were most impressed by Molly’s impassioned speech and were cheering and even jumping up and down in their seats.

The Recording Angel was so taken aback by what Molly had to say she lost the place in the big book and was busily thumbing through the pages while chaos reigned around her.

Mr Baitz picked up his wooden gavel and banged it down a few times to try and restore order. The Bulldog Sergeant was jumping up and down whoofing in order to try and calm the situation, but his deep low pitched whoofs only seemed to add to the general noise.

Francis was smiling again and stroking Spook so much that the cat’s purring sound could be heard amid the noise by Mr Baitz up on his Judges platform.

The Recording Angel at last found her place and was ready to continue following the court proceedings. Order gradually settled on the court. As the merriment slowly abated, the court room once more returned to a place of respectability.

Mr Baitz scratched at a friendly flea and announced to the occupants of the now hushed court room that he too, had known Spook’s human family some years earlier. He did not elaborate on the relationship but did say that they were very loving toward him.

However, he went on to say that one of the areas at the time he did feel could be improved upon was the love they showed to each other. He looked directly at me and said, “I am pleased to see that something has influenced that family’s lives and it would appear it has been you Spook”.

Under the circumstances, I find you most worthy to enter into the House of the Lord for all eternity”. “You shall be the first ‘St Spook’ in Heaven”.

Mr Baitz’s final words were drowned out by the cheering, shouting and crying crowd. Spook’s friends all gathered around him offering him congratulations. Everyone wanted to shake his paw and Francis’ hand.

During all this celebration, the little band of officials made their way out of the court. They were led by the Recording Angel still trying to control the pages of her big book. She was followed by the woodpecker Court Reporters and the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Anyone looking closely would have seen the faintest smile on the face of Mr Baitz and there was a definite wag of his tail as he left the court room.

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THE REWARD Chapter 2 – The Courtroom


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.

Francis answered for me. “Spook is my new friend Your Honour and I will be only too happy to represent him”.

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.

“May it please Your Honour”,’ said Molly coming forward. “I would like to speak on behalf of my friend Spook”.

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.

Continue to Chapter 3

THE REWARD Chapter 1 – The Calling


Was I dreaming, or did I hear the horse drawn coach approaching in the distance? I’m still not sure, but I do know I was peacefully sleeping on top of my special lookout point, high above the ground, when I must have stirred and moved.

The next thing I felt was a sharp crack on the back of my head. I meowed in fright, more than pain, and realised that my time for ’the journey’ had come.

Oh! if only you could have seen the coach that drew up beside me. The outside contained hundreds of stars that glittered in the sunshine of my back yard. The inside contained plush purple velvet seats with matching carpet on the floor. From this interior came a warm light that seemed to be inviting me to step inside and enjoy the journey.

Two beautiful white horses were in front and seemed only to be attached by a pair of golden reins. They had stopped beside me and were patiently waiting.

As I looked at the coach in amazement, I could plainly see it had a name inscribed along one side panel. It was called ’The Spirit of St. Francis’.

I looked around me and knew this would be the last time I would see, what for me, had been the most beautiful location at which to live. It was certainly a lot more inviting than what I could remember of the paddock where the old car in which I had been born lay slowly rusting away among the weeds and thistles.

I was able to look down on the river through the tall shady trees at the little wharf where the children had had so much fun with their friends from the property on the other side of the bank. I could hear the familiar sounds of the many birds that inhabited the area and behind me was the home of my human family.

Here lived my friends who seemed to radiate a warmth towards me that constantly made me aware I was loved and wanted.

While I knew in my heart that I had been truly happy here, for some reason I was excited about the unknown future that lay ahead for me. Outwardly, I said goodbye to all the wonderful things of my world and prepared myself for what would be my journey into eternity.

As the darkness of this life slowly closed around me, I felt my spirit being gently lifted up and placed into the soft interior of the coach.

The horses pranced a little and then we were off on a trip through the stars and beyond.

The trip was relatively short and I instinctively knew I had arrived at my destination when the coach slowed and gently came to a stop. Outside the coach I could hear singing and laughter and I felt a sense of happiness in the air.

A kind faced man opened the coach door. He was dressed in a full length brown outfit with a rope tied around his waist and he was wearing sandals. He smiled at me and introduced himself as Francis. Instantly I knew I liked him. I gave him a hello meow and started to purr so he would know I wanted to be friendly.

Francis gently lifted me from the coach and placed me on the ground so he could close the door and send the coach on its way. I smooched around his bare ankles, warming them up for him, just like I used to do for my family back on the farm.

He looked down at me and thanked me for my concern as he picked me up and welcomed me to what he referred to as ‘The Court of the Most High’. He told me he was going to help me through what would be the final stage of my journey.

Just then a big gong sounded and all went quiet around me. Uncertain as to what was happening I stayed close to my new friend Francis.

In front of me I could see an Angel behind a desk that had a cross on the front of it. With all these things happening around me I thought it was odd that I did not feel at all scared.

Francis was the first to speak. “Recording Angel, I bring before you another of my special animal friends”.

The Recording Angel looked over at me gently nestled in my new friend’s arms and asked for my name. Francis turned to me, placed me on the ground and said, “Tell the Angel your name little one”.

I looked up at Francis and then at the Angel and quietly announced that my name was Spook.

“Ah, ha”, muttered the Angel as she thumbed through what appeared to be a well used massive volume. I could hear her muttering names as she progressed through the alphabet.

Under the general heading of ‘Cats’, there seemed to be pages of Felix’s, Garfield’s, Puss’s and Puddles’. Then I heard her mention names starting with ‘T’. Under this category came the Tabby’s, Tiddles’ and Tom’s. There was more muttering and licking of fingers as the Angel flipped through more pages until at last, with a sigh, she exclaimed she had found it.

“No wonder I had difficulty finding your name little one as there is only one Spook in the book”.

Armed with this information, the Recording Angel stepped out from behind her desk and after inserting a feather from her wing to mark the page, she closed the big book, gave it to Francis to carry for her and asked us to please follow her.

We were led further into the Court of the Most High and then through large double doors on which was a sign that read, ‘You are now entering The Court of Life and Death Decisions’.

Now this was starting to get scary for I had no idea why I was here, nor where I was being taken. I just felt comfortable and safe knowing that Francis was with me.

Continue to Chapter 2