been busy. Bach's paws were sore with all the padding to and fro, to and fro. He had inspected every nook and cranny of the cathedral - from the carvings on the baptismal font to the lead on the rose window, from the feathers on the great carved eagle who held up the pulpit to the underside of the organ pedals. He had personally cleaned the Bishop's throne while keeping a watchful eye on Cantori and Decani whose job it had been to clean the reredos. He had even hauled Matins and Vespers in from cleaning the cloisters to make sure that every page in every hymn book in the choir stalls was in good order. (You could never be too sure with the choir boys. They looked like angels but Bach knew better.)
He sat down on the altar steps and looked down the nave. Yes, everything was done. He would try to avoid most of the choir boys Christmas party this afternoon. It was always a noisy affair. The Bishop always seemed to buy the boys something which made a noise. The sound would invariably hurt Bach's ears. What about those things last year which whizzed around at high pitch? Bach had needed to lie down in a dark corner to recover from those.
And that was not the worst of Bach's problems. What would those wretched choir boys get for the cats? Bach felt as if he had spent the year confiscating the miniature soccer balls the cats had been given last year. It just wasn't proper to play soccer in the cathedral. He had explained this over and over. He had confiscated the soccer balls, even tried putting them in a waste paper basket in the Dean's study. Nothing had worked.
And of course the choir boys were not going to listen to his complaints. He remembered the year the choir had given each cat yo-yo. Oh, the trouble they had caused! And that fishing game! He still remembered with shame the hook which had caught in the skirt of the dress the Verger's wife had been wearing - and the resultant display of an expanse of flesh coloured corset.
The choir seemed to know exactly the sort of thing that young cats liked to play with. The soccer ball had been a paw pad too far though. Soccer was definitely an outside game.
Bach sometimes wondered when Decani had found time to read so much. All the other cats had almost neglected their duties because of that soccer ball. He seemed to have spent the entire year growling at them. Oh well, at least they were not lying in front of the fire snoozing and watching rubbish day time television. All the same Bach wondered what they would be given. He was looking forward to nothing more than a slice of salmon. (The Bishop was partial to a little salmon at Christmas and he always shared with Bach.)
The choir boys party was held in the afternoon. There was a great deal of food and fizzy sweet water. The Bishop's wife - Bach thought she was much too inclined to spoil the younger cats - insisted on the cats being given their own sardine each.
And, Bach could barely believe this, the Bishop had outdone himself! He had bought all the choir boys a tin whistle. The noise was horrendous.
Bach didn't wait to see what else the choir boys were given or whether they gave the cats anything. He slunk out of the room with his ears flattened as close to his whiskers as he could get them. Nothing, but nothing, could be worse than that. He could even hear the noise inside the cathedral. Bach curled up in a tight ball in the still empty manger and put his paws over his ears to try and drown the noise out. How could his off-spring sing-along to that noise? He had brought them up on the best organ music available, and the finest choir singing!
Some time later he went to check. If the choir boys had given the younger cats anything Bach was unaware of it. Cantori and Decani said nothing. Apparently exhausted by the festivities they seemed to be asleep under the tree in the narthex. He would have to remind them to tidy away the pine needles later. Matins and Vespers had disappeared. Cadenza, Palestrina, and Allegro were nowhere to be seen.
Bach could not find another cat anywhere so he curled up in the hay again and went back to sleep. The midnight service passed without a hitch.
Next morning the younger cats, usually sleepy after the midnight service, were all in their places under the pews when Bach came into the cathedral. He looked suspiciously at them but they all sat there looking as if salmon wouldn't melt in their mouths. They didn't shift. There had to be something going on but he couldn't find out now.
He settled into his place under the pew where the Bishop's wife was always seated. The was a shifting and settling in the congregation, an air of expectation. Bach knew what was coming. The choir had been working on it for a month. They had even brought in timpani and a trumpet for the special day.
But, this was different! Bach listened in disbelief. What was going on. He turned his head slowly to the right and then to the left. Impossible!
And there, right along the pews was every other cathedral cat. Between each of their paws was a fluorescent green ball. It flashed in time to the music. There was a look of intense concentration on the face of each cat as they patted the ball gently and exactly in time with the music. Tiny bells rang out as the choir began,
"Christians be joyful..."
Bach groaned. He knew, he just knew he would be chasing those balls all over the cathedral for the rest of the year. Then he saw the expression change on Decani's face as the young cat relaxed into the music. This time last year Decani had been such a clumsy cat. He still wasn't as coordinated as the others but he was keeping perfect time as well. "Cats be joyful too," Bach thought to himself - and then settled down to purr in time.