again. That meant the Choir School Cats and the Cloister Cats had been playing soccer in the Cathedral.
The Cathedral Cat purred in frustration and padded off to find Matins and Vespers. They would be two responsible. They always led Decani and Cantori into mischief.
Or maybe, Bach thought to himself, it was the fault of the Senior Chorister. He had been the one to give the miniature soccer ball to the four cats.
They could play with it in the cloisters of course but this weather they preferred to be inside. Who could blame them when it was raining, especially when it was that particularly nasty thick sort of rain that was almost-but-not-quite-sleet?
But they were not supposed to play soccer in the Cathedral. Bach had told them that more than once. If there were no humans around they could play Hide and Seek or Chase Tails around the walls as long as they didn't leave a mess. If there were humans around then they had to sit very quietly in the places where they could not be seen.
All the cats who lived in the Cathedral Close liked to go to organ practice. They would settle themselves on the kneelers and nap to the sound of Tallis and Byrd, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Handel, Mozart and Tavener. Bach liked to lie there with his stomach flat to the top of the kneeler and let the deep growling of that long ago other Bach flow through to the tips of his whiskers.
But right then he was prowling through every possible place looking for Matins and Vespers. He couldn't find them anywhere.
He knew all the hiding places in the Cathedral. He had been playing those games when he was a mere kitten. He knew the Close as well as he knew his own fur. They weren't there.
Their mother, a tabby named Cadenza, had no idea where they were. She went off rather crossly to find their sister Terce so that they could sweep the nave with their tails. Bach rather disapproved of that. He thought the Matins and Vespers should do it themselves.
But they were nowhere to be found. They had not been in for breakfast at the Deanery. They were not there for supper either. They were not shut in anywhere - or not anywhere that Bach or Cadenza could hear. Decani and Cantori had no idea and claimed they had not been playing soccer in the Cathedral. Bach did not have time to lecture them about that anyway.
He did another circuit of the entire Close. He listened carefully to the humans. No accidents had been reported. Had they, contrary to instructions, been exploring a car? Had they been kidnapped?
Bach could not settle. He prowled backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, until even Cadenza told him to sit quietly. There was, she told him, nothing they could do. He still worried.
By then it was very late. The Cathedral was filling for Midnight Mass.
Bach watched everyone coming in. All the other Cathedral cats were on their kneelers in the Dean's stall but there were two blank spaces. It would not be Christmas without Matins and Vesper!
Where were they? The procession started and Bach had to put a paw firmly over his mouth to stop himself from howling. All the other cats were doing the same thing.
And then, from under the Bishop's cope, like a hair's flash of lightning came Vespers and then Matins. They were on their kneelers almost before Bach realised they were there. He watched them fold their paws neatly in front. They curled their tails just as they had been taught. They stared straight ahead at the feet of the choir.
What had they been up to?
Bach purred a sigh of relief. He wouldn't even ask. After all, it was Christmas.