NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I wrote this story to help me deal with 
the grief of losing both of my husband's beloved parents, a 
beautiful dog and a courageous cat, all within a 5-month period a 
year ago.  I needed to explore death and I used the tunnel world 
as a way to do that.  In this story, Catherine has been dead for 
several years.  If you choose to read the story, I hope by the 
end you will see that this story is not about Catherine's death 
specifically, but about what any loss can teach us, albeit the 
hard way. 
NOTE FROM BEASTFAN:  Have a box of tissues handy....   
by Linda C. Moore 
"Father...Vincent...someone HELP!" 
Vincent heard Mouse's voice before he physically arrived in the 
main council area.  Vincent and Father were looking over drawings 
of a part of the tunnel that was under repair.  Two-year old 
Jacob was happily creating some abstract structure on the floor 
from wooden blocks Cullen had made for him.  All three of them 
looked up to see Mouse bounding down the stairs with Arthur, his 
pet raccoon, wrapped in a blood-stained blanket in his arms. 
"Arthur's hurt.  Father fix, right?"   Mouse's voice was 
surprisingly calm when he finally found Father.  Father took 
Arthur from Mouse and laid him gently on the large table. 
"Father, how is he?"  Vincent asked.  Father did not answer 
immediately but began to examine Arthur.  Vincent knew from the 
look on Father's face that the news was not good. 
"Well, the poor creature's grown so large I can't find a pulse," 
Father whispered.  "I suspect it won't be a very strong one when 
I do find it.  I'm feeling an open wound on his underbelly and 
you can see there's bleeding through his nose which indicates 
there's some internal bleeding as well." 
"Mouse, what happened?" Vincent turned and asked quietly as 
Father continued his examination. 
"Arthur didn't come home last night...went uptop...likes taking, 
you know, like Mouse.  Woke up, no Arthur.  Went to look for him.  
Found him on the floor in a secret tunnel.  Scared me, but Father 
will fix, right Vincent?"  When Mouse turned to him, Vincent 
perceived that Mouse was searching his face for what he wanted to 
see: reassurance that all would be set right. 
After years of studying Father's expressions and behaviors, 
Vincent knew that the next words out of Father's mouth would not 
convey good news.  Father hesitated for a moment and said, 
"Mouse...uh...I don't know how to tell you this but Arthur is 
gravely ill.  It looks as if a dog got hold of him.  He's 
bleeding under his belly and inside.  I'm afraid he is going to 
die and there isn't anything I can do."  Father's voice trembled.  
Despite the frustrations of dealing with Mouse at times, Father 
loved him dearly. 
There was silence.  Vincent briefly put his head down, collecting 
himself, then moved over to Mouse and put his arms around him.  
"We all know how much Arthur has meant to you." 
Mouse pulled away from Vincent's protective embrace and shouted, 
"Father fixes everybody....Arthur can't die!  Get medicine above, 
right?"  He became more agitated as Father and Vincent looked on 
As Vincent watched, Father attempted to console Mouse using his 
gentlest voice. "Mouse, I'm sorry.  This is one thing I cannot 
fix.  Arthur is dying and if you want to spare him any further 
pain I can inject him with something that will...uh...let him 
pass on quietly and peacefully." 
Mouse suddenly snatched Arthur and bolted out of the chamber, his 
parting words, "Arthur's not gonna die.  Mouse will fix!" 
Vincent sensed Father's frustration.  "I'll go after him, Father.  
Don't worry. Ask Mary to watch Jacob, and then please bring your 
bag to Mouse's chamber in a little while."  Vincent kissed Father 
on the cheek.  Vincent's long strides took him quickly in Mouse's 
Of all the tunnel dwellers, Mouse was the hardest to track, even 
with Vincent's keen senses.  His name was no accident--he moved 
as quietly as his namesake. Vincent paused, tilted his head to 
listen, and heard Mouse hurrying to his chamber. 
As he walked, Vincent recalled how he had found Mouse many years 
earlier. More accurately, how Mouse had found him by scurrying 
around the tunnels watching, observing, stealing bits of food 
from William's kitchen.  One day Vincent won the "cat and mouse 
game" by stalking Mouse and blocking him as he turned a corner.  
Mouse was frightened and spent much of the next hour kicking and 
screaming, but later he seemed grateful the game was over, as if 
he had wanted to be found.  Still, Mouse was never able to make 
many close friends among the tunnel folk, except for Vincent, 
Jamie and Arthur.  Poor Arthur, poor Mouse, Vincent thought. 
When Vincent arrived at Mouse's chamber, he found Mouse huddled 
in the corner, Arthur still in the blanket in his arms.  He saw 
Mouse rocking back and forth, whispering, "Arthur, it's OK.  
Mouse will fix if Father won't." 
Vincent felt Mouse's pain as if a knife had stabbed his own 
heart.  It brought back still vivid memories of Catherine's death 
and the long night he spent beside her when he returned her body 
to the apartment.  That time was emblazoned in his mind's 
eye--watching her face for even the slightest movement that would 
indicate that she was indeed alive!  Many hours and tears later, 
he had had to leave Catherine forever.  Now he stood at the 
threshold of another scene where death would soon be an unwelcome 
but inevitable visitor. 
Vincent cautiously sat beside Mouse, not yet making eye contact.  
They sat that way for what seemed like an eternity. 
It was Mouse who broke the silence.  "Vincent, is Arthur really 
dying?" Vincent turned to look at Mouse whose face was filled 
with shock and pain. 
"Yes, Mouse, I am afraid he is," Vincent replied softly. 
"Father said he could make Arthur die now, not later.  What'd he 
mean?"  This was the first time Mouse looked Vincent directly in 
the eyes; it unsettled him. 
Vincent had thought he was prepared for that question but found 
his first words cracked out of his throat, "Mouse, you and I 
can't know for sure that Arthur is in pain because he can't tell 
us.  But Father thinks he's suffering and that it would be kinder 
to Arthur to put him out of his misery now, to let him die 
"Not ready to let Arthur go.  Mouse needs him here."  Mouse was 
Vincent was keenly aware of the coldness of the tunnel wall on 
his back, reminding him of the chill of pain in Mouse's heart and 
the chill that would soon replace Arthur's warm body.  He closed 
his eyes and threw his head back against the wall.  "I know you 
need him.  I needed Catherine, but I had to let her go, too." 
"Father gives Arthur a shot.  He dies.  That's best for Arthur?"  
As Vincent brought his head back down and opened his eyes, he 
noticed that a single tear was running down Mouse's face.  It 
paused briefly at the edge of his chin and then dropped onto 
Arthur's fur. 
"Yes, Mouse."  It was Father who replied.  Vincent had heard him 
approach. With some difficulty, Father crouched close to the 
"OK good, OK fine.  Father, do what's best for Arthur."  Mouse's 
voice trembled. Vincent sensed Mouse's fear at making this 
decision but he knew Mouse's love for Arthur was the deciding 
Vincent watched as Father tenderly put a hand on Mouse's 
shoulder.  "Mouse, I'm going to give Arthur two shots.  The first 
will make him go to sleep; the second one will end his pain by 
ending his life.  Know that you are giving Arthur a special gift 
by allowing me to end his suffering this way." 
Vincent turned to look at Father and saw that despite the calm 
delivery of those words, he was quite upset because of his love 
for Mouse.  Father's eyes were misty with tears and his hand 
shook just a bit as he loaded the first syringe. 
Vincent held Mouse tightly and asked him if he wanted to leave 
but Mouse wanted to stay "for Arthur."  Mouse insisted on holding 
Arthur as Father injected him first with the anesthetic.  Mouse 
dug his face into Arthur's fur, savoring the sounds, smells and 
warmth of his friend.  The next injection acted quickly to end 
Arthur's life. 
It was all over in a few minutes.  Vincent squeezed Father's arm 
and they exchanged knowing looks.  Father kissed Mouse and left 
as softly as he had come.  Vincent remained with Mouse. 
"Vincent, is Arthur really dead?"  Vincent held Mouse close to 
him.  Mouse clutched Arthur. 
"Yes, Mouse, he is," Vincent replied. 
"What does dead really mean?  Arthur is still here...see."  Mouse 
tenderly moved Arthur toward Vincent to show him. 
Vincent reached out to Arthur and gently stroked his fur.  "Yes, 
Mouse, I see the Arthur you lived with every day.  Please do this 
for me--take your hand and put it on your chest."  Vincent 
recognized Mouse's familiar puzzled look but Mouse did what he 
"What do you feel?" Vincent asked. 
"Breathing.  Heart beating.  Warm."  Mouse's voice was almost a 
"Now take your hand and hold it right here on Arthur."  Vincent 
gently guided Mouse's hand to Arthur's side.  "What do you feel?" 
"Nothing.  Cold.  No breathing, no beating."  Mouse's voice was 
flat and unemotional. 
Vincent heard Mouse's words but more vividly felt Mouse's 
understanding of the point he'd been trying to make.  He 
continued, "Mouse, we're all made up of bodies that breathe and 
hearts that beat.  Someday each of us will stop breathing and our 
hearts will stop beating.  That's what we call the death of the 
"Like Catherine?"  Mouse looked at Vincent with sincere empathy. 
"Yes, Mouse, like Catherine, Winslow, Ellie, Margaret and the 
others who have died from the world Above and Below."  Vincent 
ended the sentence with a deep sigh. 
"Arthur was my only friend besides you and Jamie.  Others died, 
didn't see them again.  No more Arthur now, right?"  As Mouse 
said this, he looked up at Vincent, his eyes filled with sadness. 
By this time, Vincent could not hold back the tears that trickled 
down his cheek. His sorrow was, of course, first for Mouse, but 
for himself as well.  It had been two years since Catherine had 
died and never a day passed that he did not think of her.  He 
knew how painful the longing was to see her again, to hold her, 
to feel her breathing against his chest.  Some people would say 
that Arthur was "just an animal" and there could be no comparison 
between the loss of someone like Catherine and the loss of 
Arthur, but Vincent knew better.  Arthur was as much a part of 
Mouse's life as Catherine was of his. 
"I'm afraid so."  Vincent tried not to let Mouse see his tears or 
hear his voice quiver in sorrow.  It was useless. 
Neither could speak for a moment.  Mouse continued to rock 
Arthur's lifeless body; Vincent's mind reeled with thoughts of 
his own loss and that of his friend. 
Vincent felt the need to communicate to Mouse his personal 
reflections about these losses.  "Mouse, let me tell you 
something I've learned about death. Scholars and ordinary people 
alike have studied it for centuries.  No one knows for sure what 
happens when we die but there are many who believe we are made up 
of not only a body but something called a soul.  Do you know what 
a soul is, Mouse?" 
"On the bottom of my shoe?"  Mouse answered seriously.  Vincent 
couldn't help drawing closer to his innocent friend, if only to 
hide his smile from Mouse.  He would have to try to explain this 
concept another way. 
"No, Mouse, not that one.  This soul I speak of is something we 
cannot touch--the sole of a shoe is something we can see and 
touch."  Vincent was calmer and his voice was once again 
"Yeah.  So?"  Vincent could tell by Mouse's answer that he didn't 
yet understand what Vincent was trying to convey. 
"Some think a soul is something we can neither see nor touch but 
exists even after death."  Vincent struggled for words to explain 
something that was almost inexplicable. 
Then he had an idea that might help Mouse understand.  "Mouse, 
you know how electricity travels, don't you?" 
"Through wires.  Mouse knows everything about electricity."  
There was a small spark of pride in Mouse's voice.  Vincent 
noticed Mouse had relaxed his hold on Arthur's body and had 
lowered it to his lap. 
"Have you ever seen electricity?" Vincent asked. 
"Seen sparks when I've done something dumb.  Crossed wires once."  
Mouse shifted nervously; Vincent knew Mouse didn't like to admit 
when he'd done something wrong. 
Vincent paused to choose just the right way to explain the next 
part of the analogy.  "What you saw was not the electricity 
itself because no one can see electricity.  When electricity 
flows through a light bulb, it gives light. When there's no 
electricity, there's no light.  Even when there's no light, the 
electricity is somewhere even if we can't see it." 
"Yeah, I understand electricity.  Don't understand what that has 
to do with Arthur."  Mouse's honesty often annoyed others but 
Vincent knew Mouse meant well. 
"Let's say the soul is like electricity.  When Arthur was alive, 
it was as if the electricity was in him.  Now it's as if the 
light bulb has burned out--electricity can't light it but the 
electricity has not gone away--we just can't see it."  Vincent 
hoped he was getting through to Mouse at some level. 
"You mean Arthur's body is no good now like a burned out light 
bulb?  Where'd the electricity go?"  Mouse's response gave 
Vincent hope that he had made some progress.  Vincent relaxed and 
shifted his body to a more comfortable position. 
"Well, some would say his 'electricity' or soul is in a place 
called heaven. Others would say he's on 'the other side.'  No one 
knows for sure, but I believe that when we die there is something 
of us that lives on somewhere, especially in our hearts.  Every 
day I think of Catherine.  Sometimes I even feel her with me."  
The last sentence was hard for Vincent to finish because he 
suddenly felt as if Catherine was there urging him on. 
" miss her like I'm gonna miss Arthur."  It was 
not a question, rather a bittersweet statement of fact. 
"Yes, Mouse, I miss her.  What I want you to know is that even 
though Catherine and Arthur are gone from our sight, they will 
live on in our hearts and in our memories.  I do not know what 
happens when we die but I do know that I remember all the times 
Catherine and I had together.  I will remember her and so she 
will live inside of me always.  If you remember the times you had 
with Arthur, then Arthur will live inside of you."  Vincent 
lightly tapped Mouse's head with one hand and with the other he 
covered Mouse's heart. 
"Think Catherine and Arthur are in the same place?"  Mouse half 
smiled as if that image gave him comfort.  "Arthur liked 
Catherine...don't want him to be scared without Mouse." 
Vincent was deeply touched and somewhat amused by the image of 
his Catherine with Arthur on her lap smiling down at them both.  
He pulled Mouse close to him and kissed him on the top of the 
head.  "It is quite possible that Catherine and Arthur are 
together.  I'd like to think that, too, so that's how we shall 
choose to imagine it." 
Again, there was silence.  "Vincent, what do we do now?"  Vincent 
sensed that Mouse could feel Arthur's body growing colder. 
"It's our tradition to say good-bye to our friends.  Arthur must 
have a proper memorial service."  At that moment, the reality of 
Arthur's death must have hit Mouse because he burst into tears 
and clung to Vincent.  Vincent could make out only some phrases 
among the sobs: "should have fed him better food...should have 
spent more time with Arthur.....Mouse spent too much time 
finding, taking for himself...never brought good enough stuff to 
him."  Vincent just let him weep while his own tears ran down his 
cheeks and mingled with those of his friend. Before the crying 
was over, Arthur's fur was washed in a mixture of tears from both 
Mouse and Vincent.  Vincent knew that this was not the end of the 
Mouse's grieving, not the end of the guilt and the regret, but 
just the beginning. 
Sometime later, Mouse sat up and blew his nose on the back of his 
sleeve.  In a different situation, Vincent might have tried to 
impart a lesson in etiquette but now was not the time.  "Vincent, 
this hurts bad.  Almost like when Cullen stuck the knife inside 
me.  But there's no knife.  Did you hurt like this when Catherine 
Vincent knew it was important to answer this carefully, to let 
Mouse know that was he was feeling was normal.  "Yes, Mouse, I 
did.  I also felt guilty that I could not save her.  Later, I 
became angry that she had been taken from me. Those are normal 
reactions when someone close to us dies." 
"I'll never love a woman.  Hurts too much to lose Arthur.  Never 
have another friend like Arthur, either."  Once again, Vincent 
was touched by Mouse's honesty. 
Vincent sighed deeply.  "Give yourself some time to heal before 
you make such decisions." 
Time passed.  There was some quiet talk between the two friends 
but mostly silence and physical closeness.  Vincent finally took 
Arthur's body from Mouse. "I promise to take good care of him.  
You need to think of what you want to do for a memorial service.  
You decide how you want to honor Arthur's memory." 
"Know already what Arthur would want.  OK good, OK fine.  Know 
what to do." Mouse's voice revealed both his conviction as well 
as his weariness. 
The day of the memorial service arrived.  Cullen had made a 
special wooden box and Vincent had placed Arthur's ashes inside 
as was customary in the tunnels.  The day before the service, 
Mouse had asked Vincent to say some "important words" at the 
service and said that he would take care of the rest. 
At the appointed hour, Mouse's tunnel family collected at the 
Mirror Pool. Their faces revealed their surprise as they saw 
dancing lights bouncing off the water and walls, filling the cave 
with beautiful kaleidoscopic images.  Mouse and Jamie had brought 
electricity to the Mirror Pool and the lava lamps that Mouse was 
so fond of collecting were in a circle around Arthur's casket.  
Mouse had also selected some of Arthur's favorite food from 
William's kitchen and had placed it inside the circle of lights. 
Finally, after everyone had gathered, Vincent and Mouse entered.  
Mouse's eyes were red from crying, but as he started the service 
his voice was unusually strong. 
"Thanks for coming.  Vincent told me death is like a burned out 
bulb.  When a bulb is good, electricity makes it light.  When a 
bulb burns out, no light. But electricity is still somewhere.  
Brought lights here to remind me of when Arthur was not dead."  
Mouse stopped abruptly--emotion caught up with him and he seemed 
embarrassed.  He turned to Vincent.  "Vincent has important words 
to say now, right Vincent?" 
Vincent saw there were quite a few in the crowd who didn't 
understand Mouse's impassioned introduction, but their affection 
and sympathy for him were obvious. 
Vincent softly cleared his throat and noticed that his mouth was 
dry. Surely, he could not be nervous.  Yes, Arthur was Mouse's 
beloved friend but it wasn't as if he were about to speak of 
Catherine...and yet, that was it!  What he felt now was exactly 
the sadness and pain he had felt right after Catherine died.  As 
he looked around the room, he noticed other teary-eyed friends 
and wondered if they, too, were thinking of Catherine and Ellie 
and Winslow and Lou and Margaret and the others who had passed 
on.  Any death makes us recall the losses in each of our lives, 
Vincent mused.  However, today they gathered to honor Arthur and 
that is what he wanted to do for Mouse. 
"Mouse has asked me to say 'important words' and that is not a 
responsibility I take lightly.  As I sat in my chamber this 
morning, I remembered when I first met Arthur.  Mouse was 
attending a series of my classes; we were reading "The Chronicles 
of Narnia" by C. S. Lewis.  Mouse loved the stories and never 
missed a class.  We were beginning the last volume and Mouse was 
late, which I thought was unusual.  When he arrived, I glanced up 
from my reading and was surprised to see the head of an animal 
sticking out of his vest!  I continued reading but each time I 
glanced up, I noticed this animal's head moving.  In a few 
minutes, a tiny creature crawled out of the warm vest, startling 
many in the class.  I stopped and Mouse introduced us to Arthur.  
I remember Mouse telling us of how he'd found this raccoon above 
in a garbage can.  I could see that Mouse and Arthur had already 
become fast friends."  Vincent glanced at Mouse, who grinned as 
he reviewed his own memories of that first day with Arthur. 
Vincent continued.  "As many of you know, C. S. Lewis not only 
wrote marvelous adventure stories but was a man of great depth of 
character and thought.  In honor of my first introduction to 
Arthur and acknowledging Mouse's appreciation of Mr. Lewis, I 
offer these, his words, as 'important words' for all of us who 
have been separated from loved ones.  I hope it reminds us all 
that to love is the only choice we can make, even though it 
brings us pain at times such as these." 
    "There is no safe investment.  To love at all is to be         
    vulnerable.  Love  anything, and your heart will certainly be  
    wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of     
    keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not     
    even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and      
    little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in   
    the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that         
    casket-- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change.  It  
    will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable,  
    irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the  
    risk of tragedy, is damnation. 
    The only safe place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly  
    safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is Hell." 
As Vincent finished, he could hear the muffled sniffles of those 
around him. Mouse's eyes overflowed with tears.  For a moment, 
Vincent felt the unity of all those assembled, joined by an 
essence of those who had passed on.  He especially felt the 
presence of Catherine as he looked at Jacob who stood beside 
Mary. After all, his birthday--miraculous as it was--was the day 
Catherine had died. Vincent stopped, bowed his head and closed 
his eyes to conjure the image of a smiling Catherine with Arthur 
sitting happily on her lap.  A warmth enveloped him. 
Mouse, wiping his eyes on his sleeve as he walked, went to the 
center of the circle of lights and picked up the box.  He had 
witnessed enough tunnel memorial services to know what to do 
He opened the box of Arthur's ashes and sprinkled them on the 
water.  He took the food and added it to the Mirror Pool.  
"Arthur, Vincent says you'll be here." Mouse clutched the area 
over his heart.  "I will always remember you.  You were Mouse's 
best friend." 
It was over.  One by one, Mouse's friends--his surrogate 
family--offered their condolences to Mouse which he shyly 
accepted.  Vincent stood in the corner watching, knowing that 
even though the memorial service was over, the grieving was not.  
Father, seeing Vincent standing alone, came and stood beside him.  
"You know, Mouse will go back to his chamber and there will be no 
Arthur.   For some, that is harder to deal with than the actual 
"I know, Father," Vincent replied.  " It's necessary for him to 
have some time alone.  I promise I will look in on him 
regularly."  Vincent was not surprised by Father's sensitivity.   
After all, Father had suffered many losses of his own. 
Almost a month later, Vincent was writing in his journal when 
Mary came to the entrance of Vincent's chamber.  He rose quickly 
to greet her.  "Mary, please come in." 
Vincent detected a nervous edge to her voice as Mary started to 
speak. "Vincent, I'm worried about Mouse.  Have you noticed that 
the twinkle in his eyes seems to grow dimmer every day?  And 
William just told me that Mouse hasn't been coming to meals.  I'm 
afraid Arthur's death has hit him harder than we expected."  
Mary's concern was obvious.  Her uncanny way of knowing when to 
intervene on someone's behalf always amazed Vincent. 
"Yes, Mary, I've noticed that Mouse is not himself.  I know 
there's a period of mourning after a death, but when does it 
become a serious problem?  I'll talk with Father and see if we 
can help Mouse through this."  Vincent affectionately patted 
Mary's hand. 
He rose immediately after Mary left and went to Father's chamber.  
Father was reading so Vincent waited a moment before interrupting 
him.  "Father, have you noticed Mouse seems still to be mourning 
Arthur's death?  I know from my own experience it takes the heart 
a long time to heal, but I'm worried. Mouse is not eating.  He 
shows no interest in his projects.  Mary's worried about him. 
What can we do?" 
Father thoughtfully looked up over his reading glasses.  
"Vincent, when you think about the time after Catherine's death, 
is there anything that made the grief at least tolerable?" 
Vincent sat down across from Father and was silent for a few 
moments.  He was thinking back to his quest for his son and what 
it meant to finally find him.  "Little Jacob."  As he said the 
words, Vincent knew exactly what Father meant in regard to Mouse. 
Vincent rose quickly, moved to Father's side and kissed him 
gently.  "As always, Father, your wisdom is wondrous."  With 
that, Vincent swiftly left the chamber, knowing that Father was 
sitting there with a smile on his face at Vincent's last words.  
He also knew Father was flattered but unsettled as well since he 
never knew what action his words might inspire in his son. 
Early the next morning, Vincent went to Mouse's chamber.  He 
expected Mouse to be awake.  "Mouse?" 
"Vincent, I'm here."  Mouse was lying in his bed, still groggy 
with sleep.  His chamber was a mess, more so than usual.  It was 
obviously time for Vincent's plan. 
Vincent fidgeted with his cloak while talking with Mouse.  "It's 
been almost a month since Arthur died.  How do you feel?" he 
In a weak, sad voice, Mouse replied, "Strange.  Lonely." 
"I know that feeling well.  Remember when Catherine died and I 
found Jacob?" Mouse nodded.  Vincent continued.  "Jacob cannot 
replace Catherine, but I've watched him grow and even in the 
depths of despair he has made me laugh and brought me much joy."  
Vincent spoke in his normal voice, but he had trouble containing 
what was hidden under his cloak. 
"Jacob's a good kid.  So?  I'll never have a kid."  Mouse replied 
emphatically, almost angrily. 
"No one knows what the future holds.  In the meantime, I have a 
favor to ask and it is something we must deal with immediately."  
Something under his cloak continued to distract Vincent.  He 
finally reached inside and pulled out a kitten...a yellow tabby.  
The kitten's ribs were evident even under the fur; its eyes were 
red and swollen, its coat was matted and dirty.  The kitten 
obviously needed food and attention. 
"Mouse, please help me.  One of the helpers just brought this to 
me and you know how Father feels about animals in the main 
chambers.  This kitten was abandoned and is in great need of 
care.  Since I can't keep it, will you keep it for me?"  The 
kitten was relieved to be out from under the cloak and was 
attempting to crawl up Vincent's vest. 
Mouse was intrigued but cautious.  He tried to look away, but 
Vincent saw Mouse's eyes dart back to the kitten.  By the time 
Vincent disengaged the tiny cat from his clothing, it was too 
late for Mouse to refuse because Vincent immediately dumped the 
wriggling kitten in Mouse's lap.  The kitten crawled up Mouse's 
arm and sat purring on his shoulder.  Mouse could not hold back a 
smile that ran from ear to ear. 
"Sure, Vincent.  You do me favors.  I owe you.  What's its name?" 
"I thought you should do the honors.  I must go now, Father will 
be waiting.  Can you take care of this little one?"  Vincent 
tried to suppress a smile so Mouse didn't catch on that this was 
a contrived situation. 
"Mouse raised Arthur from this size.  Arthur was like a cat.  No 
problem.  OK good, OK fine."  Mouse took the kitten from his 
shoulder and cradled it in his arms.  Vincent flashed back to a 
similar scene when Mouse had cradled Arthur in much the same way. 
Vincent walked away, knowing his plan would work.  Catherine's 
words rang in his ears from one of their last conversations which 
had revolved around Vincent's anger at the loss of their bond: 
    "Maybe the gift will return to you in another form.            
    Something you never even dreamed of...and if one gift is       
    lost, there are other gifts waiting to be found." 
He was not quite out of earshot when he heard Mouse say, "Vincent 
gave, Mouse takes care of.  You look like Vincent.  Name you 
Vincent couldn't help smiling as he wondered what Catherine would 
think of the unexpected gift called "Vinnie."  As he walked into 
his chamber and saw little Jacob asleep in his bed, he realized 
that for the first time he truly understood what she had meant 
about gifts.  As a tear, composed of one part joy and one part 
sorrow, made its way down his cheek, he lifted his head toward 
the heavens and whispered, "Thank you, Catherine, from Mouse and 
from me." 
About The Author 
This is Linda's first B&B story.  She found the show in February 
1994 while struggling to find a cure for the cancer that was 
stealing her yellow tabby cat, Zonker, from her family.  She 
says, "The show and the friends I met through it comforted me 
during those hard times and the much harder times to come."  One 
of her unexpected gifts was being able to write about Zonker's 
death by euthanasia on December 28, 1994, and as a result to find 
some comfort for the pain of losing her in-laws, Jacob and 
Elizabeth Moore, and one of the family dogs, Laddie, during a 
5-month period a year ago. 
But there have been other unexpected gifts as well.  She's been 
told that the story has helped others deal with deaths of their 
loved ones.  The Moore family has also been blessed by three 
additions to the household: Joy and Kelley, two beautiful Golden 
Retrievers, and Lucky, a kitten Zonker would be proud of. 
You can reach Linda at