Is Timmy forgiven? Joey writes an epic poem and Biggles invites all three kittens to try the delights of catnip for the first time with hilarious results...

 Garfield breathed a sigh of relief and Charlie suddenly sprang into the room like a Sergeant Major. ‘What’s going on here?’ he asked, taking in the cuddle and kiss scene knowing that Timmy must have done something. ‘It’s alright Charlie,’ Garfield began, ‘Mum has it all in hand.’

‘You sure?’ he asked, ‘I can put him on a charge, if you like. He can clean the bathroom with bald toothbrush.’ Garfield shook his head. ‘There is no need for that,’ he said, ‘all’s well now.’

‘O.K then,’ Charlie gave Timmy another stare and strode out of the room. Timmy nestled into Mum’s neck for another reassuring cuddle before he met up with Charlie later to be interrogated to within an inch of his life. But he knew Garfield would watch out for him. Garfield was a mate, and he wouldn’t let any of the kittens down. He knew Charlie meant well and wouldn’t really hurt any of them but Charlie could go over the top sometimes and it took Garfield to intervene otherwise who knows where he would have them marching to at 3.00 in the morning.

Joey was the quietest kitten. He had taken ages to learn his name and it was thought that sleeping with his head in Mum’s trainers (deck shoes) was in someway responsible for this slowness. He was very poetical and sat on the window sill watching as the butterflies danced in the afternoon sun or the birds came for their daily peck at the fatballs hanging in a row on the fence.

He would lick the stub of his pencil and began scribbling like crazy. Sometimes he wrote ferociously for ages and then he would screw up the paper and throw it forlornly in the bin. Then he would just gaze out of the window as if waiting for inspiration to come to him. Billy and Timmy used to laugh at him at first but once Billy had had his near death experience he stopped laughing and began to encourage Joey.

Timmy hadn’t liked laughing at Joey anyway, and only did it because Billy did, so now he stopped laughing at him and he, too, encouraged him with his poems, finding words which rhymed for him.

The first snows came early that winter and Billy, Timmy and Joey, who still weren’t allowed out yet, all sat on the windowsill and watched as the world changed to white. Charlie went out in the garden to explore. He loved snow and he ran out up the path dancing and prancing, leaving little paw prints wherever he went. As he was ginger and white, all that could be seen of him was flashes of ginger because the snow came up to his belly.

Joey sat mesmerized as the snow fell languidly. He felt a poem of epic proportions begin forming in his mind and he just about had enough time to write it down because the words came tumbling over and over, not wanting to stop.

Little snowflake dancing by the window
On your journey from the sky;
You’re so sweet and gentle
As you flutter by.

As I watch you on your journey
Falling gently from the sky
Falling one on top of each other
And that is how you lie.

Billy and Timmy applauded wholeheartedly and Garfield and Biggles shouted out ‘Encore! Encore!’ Joey bowed low and nearly fell off the windowsill in the process. Billy, Timmy and Garfield all caught their breath but Biggles burst out laughing and poor Joey, with a little red face, smiled.

Every one had forgotten about Charlie who had disappeared in a snowdrift which had completely enveloped him. Just a ginger patch like a freckle could be seen wading about in the garden. He came indoors and waited in the kitchen for the ritual towel drying. Billy, Timmy and Joey clamored around him asking for information about the snow, what did it feel like, what did it taste like, was it cold, was it hot, so many questions they asked and Charlie suddenly felt very, very tired.

With a flamboyant wave of his paw, he motioned the kittens to be silent and had a quick wash. Then he headed to the front room where he sat on the sofa next to Mum, who was reknitting the stitches that Timmy had kindly cast off for her, and fell asleep. Walking about in the snow was tiring – but it had to be done so that he could explain all about it when the time was right to the kittens.

The kittens were too young to experience the snow this year, but next year they would be playing out in it and having fun. They could build a snowcat and he would help them. He felt very proud of his charges. They had done their lessons well and graduated from Charlie’s Really Advanced Feline Training with honours.

As he slept on, Mum knitted away. Joey tried to write some more verses but got stuck and Garfield told him that two good verses were better than four average verses. Biggles had just emerged from a catnip session and was feeling happy about life and everyone, and invited Billy, Timmy and Joey to try it.

Within minutes three little ginger bodies were writhing and rolling about in the catnip, giggling and enjoying the sensation.  They wrestled about rolling on top of each other, and tumbling over and over, covering themselves in catnip. Eventually, they tired of the new game and fell asleep, just where they lay, on their backs, legs splayed out in all angles.

Only Garfield remained awake, looking first at Biggles as he lay asleep on the other end of the daybed and then down at the three little ones. There was no doubt, Charlie had done a brilliant job of educating them and they were a credit to him. From being a juvenile delinquent he had become a serious little cat interested in all sorts of educational issues. And this had been borne out in the behaviour and vocations of Billy, Timmy and Joey.

Once they had their operations, they would be able to go through the Cat Flap – Gateway to the World! He couldn’t wait to show them the wonders of what lay beyond the back door in the Great Outdoors!

© Pauline Dewberry 2003

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