Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Adventure  ➡  General

The Bear the Girl and the Dog

p={color:#000;}.

The Bear the Girl and the Dog

by

George Thomson

 

Copyright 2016 George Thomson

Shakespir Edition

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapters 1 to 8: The Child and the Speaking

Chapters 9 to 28: The Girl and the Presence in the Room

About the Author

CHAPTER ONE

 

Bailey rubbed her eyes hard. She saw nothing. She closed her eyes, held them shut, then opened them again. Blackness. Nothing. She was frightened, she knew she was lost but she had to be brave. She had her friends to look after.

She could not see, so she stopped and listened. At first there was nothing to hear and then, close by there was a slight whimpering sound. She knew what that was; it was Duncan. It was comforting to know that she was not alone. She did not feel so lost now and called softly, “Duncan.” “Here I am,” he said.

A cold, wet nose pressed against her leg and she put her hand on his head. “I’m all right now,” Duncan said, “but where is Bear?” He was worried. Bear could not find his way so well in the dark.

“I don’t know,” said Bailey. “Let’s call out together.”

“BEAR!” they yelled, “Where are you?”

“I’m here,” said Bear. “I’m coming. Keep talking so I can hear where you are. I can’t see. I’ve never known it so dark before.”

“Hey, don’t stop talking. I need to know where you are.”

Suddenly they were all together again. They linked hands and said loudly,

 

“Paw to paw, hand to hand

Together we will stand.

We are not afraid.

We are the Bailey Bunch.”

 

“Does anyone know where we are?” Bailey asked. She looked at Duncan. He was often the first to know things. Duncan shook his head. “I don’t know. I can’t smell anything, nothing at all.” He found that even harder to take than not being able to see. His whole world was made up of the scents around him.

Suddenly Bailey had an idea. She didn’t quite know where the idea came from, or how she knew; it was as if someone had told her from somewhere deep within herself.

“We are in The Before.”

“The where?” said Duncan and Bear together.

“The time before there was anything,” Bailey said. “Before anything had been made. I don’t know how we got here, but that’s where we are.”

They sat for a while in the middle of total nothingness, holding tightly onto each other. Suddenly Duncan’s nose twitched. He gave a little yelp and said, “There is something out there.” He was always the first one to sense things.

“I’m scenting something,” he said. “It’s strange. I’m not smelling it with my nose. I’m scenting it from inside of myself.”

They all stood and listened with what was inside of them. After a little while they became aware that they were not alone.

“There are lots of them,” said Bailey.

“Millions,” said Bear.

They began to see that there was an endless number of beings that could best be described as energy, or spirit.

“They are all one,” Duncan said.

“No,” said Bear. Bear was very wise———sometimes. “They are all different but they act like one.” Together they became aware that one of these beings stood out from the rest. The effect on the Bailey Bunch was astonishing.

Immediately, Duncan lay down in the particular way that said so clearly, “I will do whatever you want. Just give me a pat, or maybe a biscuit.”

Bear had his paws over his eyes as if what he was seeing was just too much for him to be able to look at.

Bailey fell flat on the floor. She could not stand. “The Great One!” The words caught in her mouth, “The Mighty, The Always, The Too Big to Understand, The God.”

They watched and listened. As they listened, there was a sound, like the most beautiful music they had ever heard. What made it so beautiful was that all the music, the action and everything that was done was moving in exactly the same direction as The Great One was thinking. “I would like that kind of music to be in my life all the time,” exclaimed Duncan, not quite sure what he was saying.

Bear was looking very hard at something a little further on. He drew their attention to another being in the group. “So beautiful,” they all said together.

Then they noticed that something very special was happening. The one they saw as The Beautiful One was able to know exactly what was in the mind of The Great One. Like the leader of a great music band he directed the music, the action, and everything that was done so that it all blended together with the mind and intent of The Great One. That is how it all became so beautiful.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Duncan often seemed to know things before the others. It was like that now. He said he smelt them and got his knowledge that way. It was a mystery to the rest of them. He looked at Bailey and said, “The Beautiful One; his name is Lucifer. He is the angel of light and the director of music.”

“Duncan,” said Bear in his silliest voice, “I most humbly bow to the knowledge of your most noble nose. I freely admit that I do not have a nose of your quality. I believe I did once, further back than I can remember, but now it’s stuffed!”

In fact, we know that Bear had been stuffed completely and sewn back together again. It is amazing that he can do the things he does and be so wise.

Bear said, “Right now, stuffed nose or not, I smell a rat. In case you don’t know Duncan, that means something is wrong.”

They all stopped and went totally silent. What could be wrong in such a perfect place? Then Bailey spoke. She was beginning to sense things before they happened, but not with her nose like Duncan. Her knowing came from somewhere deep within herself.

Later, Bailey came to understand that this knowing came from The Great One himself. She said, “It’s Lucifer, the one who controls all the harmony and togetherness. He is going to steal some of the music for himself. He wants to become The Great One.”

As they watched, that is exactly what began to happen. The music became awful. It was as if two different pieces of music were being played at once. There was no harmony, no togetherness. It was very like the day when Duncan and Bear had a fight. They had stood real close, facing each other, both shouting awful things and not listening to anything that was being said.

The Great One acted. He looked directly at Lucifer and slowly lifted his right hand from his lap. For a moment he pointed, leaving no doubt that it was Lucifer who was receiving his attention. Then, with a flick of the finger he motioned away to the left and downwards.

For a moment there was a stunned silence, then came a blinding light, like the biggest lightning flash you ever saw. It took Lucifer and those who had supported him away, out of sight, down below.

The Great One took his place again in the kingdom where peace and unity had once more been established. He looked over the whole kingdom and pronounced, “The time of The Before is finished. The new worlds have been brought into being.

In darkness and despair, they have been made. The one who, in his time here, was known as Lucifer has become the Prince of Darkness, the ruler of the new worlds.”

Bailey turned toward The Great One and saw that he was filled with great sadness. He had lost many friends, perhaps for ever.

Bear, Duncan and Bailey looked at each other and knew that this adventure was over. But they also knew that it would not end here. The Great One would have plans for the future. They were confident that somehow he would bring them back to show them what he would do next.

The scene began to fade.

They were home.

CHAPTER THREE

They all felt it, something like spinning, a swirling motion. They knew they were being taken on a journey again.

“We’ve arrived,” Bailey announced as the spinning stopped.

“We’re somewhere,” said Duncan. His nose was twitching violently. He didn’t like what he was smelling. It smelt bad, evil.

They stood quietly, listening. Everything was silent. But wait. There was something, a slight snuffling sound. It was Bear. Bear was crying. “I want to go home. I’m frightened. Its dark, very, very, very dark, and everything is squooshy.”

They could see that everything Bear said was true. It was squooshy. Whatever they were standing on was, well, just as Bear had said, squooshy.

Suddenly Bailey knew what to do. She whispered to Bear and Duncan, “Hold my hands and make a circle.” Then they all said loudly

 

“Paw to paw, hand to hand

Together we will stand.

We will not be afraid

We are the Bailey Bunch.”

 

Bear squeezed Bailey’s hand and Duncan’s paw and said, “That was good. I don’t feel frightened anymore. It’s good to belong together.”

Duncan knew that he was the only one who had a chance of exploring in the dark. He pointed his nose to the ground and sniffed. He turned slowly in a complete circle. Nothing. How could it be so completely without scent? It was. He held his nose higher to pick up any scent from further away and did a circle again. It was the same, nothing! He reached up, put his front paws on Bear’s chest, and pointed his nose up as high as he could stretch. He sniffed. He sniffed again.

“I have a scent!” he exclaimed. “It’s a long way up, something good. Ahh, I remember that smell. It’s the energy, the power, the force we met in The Before. It’s the spirit of The Great One. He is moving around up there, as if he is checking out where everything is, looking for a way in.”

With this knowledge, they waited. They knew The Great One would not stand by and allow such darkness and evil to remain. Duncan was the first to notice when something began to happen. He said, “The Great One is here. Listen! He is saying something.”

What they heard started as a whisper, then became an earth shattering, booming voice. The words came through clearly, “Let the light shine.”

“Wow, I can see,” they all said together.

“Amazing,” Bailey said. “Four short words from The Great One and all the darkness is gone.” They wondered how the fallen Lucifer, Prince of this world, was feeling now. His darkness had been penetrated.

Bear’s eyes were open in amazement. He had a slightly puzzled frown, and then said, “It is the time of The Speaking. I remember reading something in The Ancient Book of Writings. It said, “In the beginning there was The Speaking and The Speaking was with God. The Speaking was God.” They thought Bear was very wise and full of knowledge.

The light that was shining now was different from the light in the world they knew. This light was coming from The Great One himself. The sun and moon had not yet started to shine. Everything was now under the control of The Great One. They knew that now, when darkness came again it would be for a purpose and would be followed by what we know as day.

Then the whisper of The Great One was heard within each of them. It told them that this was the end of the first time period in the time of The Speaking, with its own end and its own beginning. They would miss nothing by sleeping now.

“This squooshy stuff is good for sleeping on,” said Bear as he dropped off to sleep.

When they woke, a soft light was filtering through the mist. It was beautiful and good.

“It’s starting to feel like The Place of The Great One before Lucifer was thrown out,” said Bailey. “It is becoming the kingdom of The Great One instead of the kingdom of The Prince of Darkness.”

Bailey, Duncan and Bear became aware of a growing sense of a Presence, a strong energy. It was so powerful that they had to sit down. The air seemed to vibrate, and a voice that they were beginning to recognise as that of The Great One spoke again. It said, “Make a space between the waters.”

“What on earth is that supposed to mean!” Duncan exclaimed with a woof. Bailey responded by saying, “Let’s just wait and see.”

It wasn’t long before the mist began to clear. It rose up above them and formed into clouds. “Of course,” Bailey said. “The clouds are the waters above the earth.” She lowered her eyes. She could now see what they were standing on. It was not like anything she had seen before. It looked like water, sort of. It was not liquid, not muddy, just almost solid, squooshy.

Bear was looking up. His eyes had grown as big as saucers. “The Great One! He has made the sky. I love it. It’s like home,” he said in amazement, jumping up and down all the time.

Bailey was getting to know how things worked here. She lay down and indicated to the others that they should do the same. This was the end of the second time period with its own end and its own beginning, sleep time.

When they woke, Duncan rubbed his eyes and looked puzzled as only Duncan can. He sniffed all around to make sure. He was sure. “You moved me while I was asleep,” he said accusingly.

“We did not,” said Bear and Bailey together, but they tucked the idea away in the back of their minds. They might just try it for real sometime later.

Duncan looked into their eyes and said, “Well, somebody did. We were way over there,” as he pointed to their right. It all looked the same to Bailey and Bear.

Whatever had really happened, they knew Duncan’s nose would not have let him down. Somehow they had been shifted, in the night. They looked carefully all around. There didn’t seem to be any danger. They relaxed.

Then, there was a surge of power all around them. The Great One was gathering himself for action. They were so used to The Speaking now that Duncan said without thinking, “The Speaking is back.” The voice of The Great One boomed out as he addressed himself to the waters. “Waters,” he said.

Bailey couldn’t see any water, except for a few clouds floating by. She watched the clouds to see what would happen.

“Waters,” The Great One said again, “Gather yourselves together in one place.”

At that moment, something very frightening began to happen. They were so fearful that, without even thinking, they grabbed each other’s hands, formed a tight circle and shouted.

 

“Paw to paw, hand to hand,

Together we will stand.

We will not be afraid,

We are the Bailey Bunch.”

 

Their shaking stopped. They knew they could face anything if they stayed together.

The scary thing was happening under their feet; a slipping, slithering motion was taking place. What they were standing on seemed to be moving away from under them. Somehow, it was changing. The three of them clung to each other, needing company badly.

Soon, everything became still again. They were now standing on solid ground. They all looked around and Duncan said, “I love it here. It’s getting better all the time.” Then he swung his eyes around to the right and gave a yelp of surprise. As far as the eye could see, there was water. He pointed with his nose, as dogs do, and said, “Out there, that’s where we were before we were moved in the night. We would have drowned.”

They all felt a great sense of wonder. “Do you think we should thank The Great One for moving us?” said Bear. Straight away, within themselves, they all felt an answer.

“I will always look after you,” The Great One said.

CHAPTER FOUR

Bear and Duncan were lying on the ground, preparing to sleep. Bailey was still standing. They looked at her with a question in their eyes. Bailey often let Bear and Duncan decide what they should do next, but they always looked to her to see what she would do before they acted. She was their leader.

“There is something still happening,” said Bailey. The Great One is still here. I can feel the power gathering.

“The Speaking,” Bear said. “It has not finished.”

The silence was disturbed by a whisper, so quiet it could only just be heard.

“Land, I’m asking you to give me plants.”

It seemed that even a softly spoken request from The Great One brought obedience, even from the land itself. When they saw what was happening their eyes opened wide in excitement. They could not stay still. They were running around looking, touching, tasting, and for Duncan, smelling. Everywhere there was grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and fruit; plants to look at and plants to eat and, for Duncan, plants to smell.

This was the end of the third time period in the time of The Speaking. Each period had its own beginning and its own end.

They slept.

They woke.

Duncan and Bailey woke at almost the same time and put their hands up over their eyes. It was so bright. The sun was shining, which seemed very strange. They were puzzled. Why should it seem so strange for the sun to be shining? Then it dawned on them. Until this morning, there had been no sun in the sky. Looking around they could see a faint moon just sinking behind the horizon.

They knew that while they had slept, another Speaking had taken place, the sun and moon had been made to shine. The fourth Time Period had come and gone.

They did not dare sleep again for fear of missing something important. They waited. The sun crept across the sky. It was good to have the sun. They could watch the passing of the day. They knew what time it was and it was getting late. Had they made a mistake by not sleeping for a while?

No, it had not been a mistake, there was a slight rustling as if the wind was moving the leaves, but there was no wind. Soon, the rustling became a more distinct sound. It could now be distinguished as the voice of The Great One. He was talking to the water and the sky, asking that the water be home to the fish and the air a place for the birds. That is exactly what happened.

It seemed that no word The Great One spoke could be ignored. In all of this, somehow, even Duncan knew that this was not the time or place to chase or catch birds. Everything was so beautiful.

The fifth Time Period had come to an end.

As they were dosing off to sleep they could not help wondering how Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness was feeling as he saw his darkness and his beloved mess of confusion disappearing. Everything was clearly now under the control of The Great One.

Though the earth remained the home of The Prince of Darkness it was no longer completely his kingdom.

When they woke they realized somebody had shaken them. He was still there, standing beside them.

Bailey looked at him. He appeared to be quite an ordinary man, not someone she should be afraid of. He introduced himself by saying, “My name is Alias. I am a messenger of The Great One. I have been sent to stand beside you for the next Speaking. I know that some of you will find what is about to happen very exciting, but it is important that you do exactly as I tell you.

While they were still talking together, they thought they heard something running through the forest. That was strange because they had not yet seen any animals, except for Bear and Duncan and they were still here.

Certainly, something was out there. Now Duncan could smell it. He began running in circles, trying to get a better scent.

“Duncan, Heel!” said Alias, in a commanding voice. Immediately Duncan was quiet and still beside him. “You did not hear it, but The Great One has spoken. There are now all kinds of animals around us.”

“Oooooooh,” said Bear, frozen to the spot. “A Bear, a real big bear! Ooooh! Yes, that must be what I was like before the stuffing!”

The bear was coming toward them. It was very close now. Duncan, Bailey and even Bear were not quite sure if they should be afraid. They looked toward Alias. He said, “He can see you and hear you but will not harm you.”

Then the bear was there, nose to nose with Bear, as if he wasn’t sure what to make of him. Then he said, “I greet you, noble Bear. You are a beast of great wisdom, among worthy friends. Take my greetings back to your time and tell your friends that they will be welcome to come and live in this kingdom when the time of The Great One comes again. If they recognise him as king, they will be welcome here.” Then he strolled away into the forest.

All this time Duncan had been standing still beside Alias. Bailey had never seen him stand still for so long. The truth is that Duncan was so astonished he was totally unaware of what was happening behind him.

Then he heard a breathing sound close behind him. His nose kicked into action. He could not mistake that smell. It was the smell of dog!

He spun around and snarled. Quickly the snarl died on his lips. He was looking straight into the eyes of the most beautiful dog he had ever seen. Alias smiled at the meeting. He was pleased. He had expected to have to take stern measures to restrain Duncan. He knew how excitable he could be.

Duncan found himself liking this dog very much, but he was afraid. He had seen what had happened with Bear. What would this dog say to him? Would she speak about the bad things that he had done – or thought? He knew that this beautiful creature would know everything about him. He trembled.

Finally, the dog spoke to him, “Duncan, I know many things about you. I commend you for your loyalty. I commend you for your love for your family and friends. I admire you for your good looks and cleverness. The Bailey Bunch is fortunate to have you. There is always room for a courageous one such as you among us.”

All this time Duncan’s nose had been rising higher. His head was now held so high that he could hardly see the ground.

The beautiful dog looked at him intently, and with a look of love, that only a dog can achieve, continued in a quiet voice that only Duncan could hear. She told him that he must be careful of his pride as it could cost him many friends. Then, she said, in a voice for all to hear, “There will be a place here for you also in the coming time if you continue to recognise the kingship of The Great One.”

Then Alias turned to Bailey. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he said, “You and your friends must now return home for a while, but at the right time you will be brought back to this place. Before you return, The Great One will have done his last work in the time of The Speaking. He will have made both man and woman. You must come back to see what follows. Goodbye, all of you, we will meet again.”

 

CHAPTER FIVE

The peace of the night was interrupted. Bailey woke to the sound of somebody in her room. She knew that she and Bear should have been the only ones there.

How she wished that Duncan was there but he was not allowed to sleep in her room. Yes, she wished he was there. He could be so fierce when he got his growl up, snarling and baring his teeth. No girl had a better protector than Duncan but now, alone with just fluffy, woolly Bear to protect her, she lay still, believing that her best defence was silence.

Then she felt a light touch on her shoulder and a voice, right beside her, said, “I didn’t mean to frighten you, but it is time for us to leave.” She recognised that voice and relaxed. It was Alias, the messenger of The Great One. They had met him during the time of The Speaking.

Bailey remembered that he had promised to take them to see what was going to happen next in the place where The Great One was establishing his kingdom.

She needed to get Duncan. They could not leave him behind. Very quietly, she went to the door of her parents’ room where Duncan was asleep on the foot of the bed.

She put her lips right against Duncan’s ear and whispered, “Your friend, Alias, needs you.” She didn’t know what she would do if her parents woke. There are some things that parents find difficult to understand.

Finally, with the three friends together in Bailey’s room, Alias said, “Join hands and hold onto me tightly. We will soon be in the place of The New Kingdom.”

Everything went dark for a few moments. Then they began to see again. They were standing on solid ground in a somewhat barren part of the country. There were no trees or shrubs, no fruiting or flowering plants.

“This isn’t like the place I remember,” Bailey said. It looks more like the kingdom of The Prince of Darkness than the kingdom of The Great One.” She did not feel comfortable.

Alias knew what was troubling her. He told her that this was a part of the country that was not yet fully under the control of The Great One. It was a task that was still being completed. They would understand better when they saw more of what was taking place.

They had travelled a short way along a faint path when Duncan gave an excited little yelp. It was obvious that he had seen something he liked. Yes, there ahead, coming quickly into view, was a lush forest. Bailey smiled. Duncan would love this.

It soon became clear that this was no ordinary forest. It seemed to be drawing them toward it as if it knew that it could provide them with everything they had ever hoped for, or needed.

On entering the forest, it became obvious that this was a truly wonderful place. There were trees bearing every kind of fruit you can imagine, including many that they had never seen before, and an array of other plants and nuts which made their tummies rumble with delight. It seemed too good to be true.

“Yes, you can eat,” said Alias. When she tasted some of the fruit, Bailey thought this had to be the best dream she had ever had. Could it really be true? Bear rubbed his tummy and licked his lips with delight. He couldn’t get this stuff into his mouth fast enough. Even Duncan found that a diet of fruit and veg was not too bad after all!

They followed the path a little further until they came to a small open space. Bailey looked in amazement for there, walking together and talking quietly, were three adult people.

They looked like any people she had ever seen, except for one thing. These were very bright. I don’t mean that they knew everything. What I mean is, they were glowing. Their skin was shining and seemed to give out a soft light that made them look very beautiful indeed. The light seemed to have its origin in the greater glow of the central figure.

Alias turned to the Bailey Bunch, as if trying to decide if he could trust them completely. Then, having made up his mind, he said, “The central figure is The Great One himself. The man on the right is called Adam and the woman on the left is named Eve. While you were away The Great One made them to be like him here on earth and rule over all the things he has made. He no longer rules this kingdom himself. He has provided a physical king to rule over the physical earth. The glowing you can see on their skin is a royal garment. Whoever sees it will know that these two have all the authority of The Great One himself. They are to be obeyed.”

Alias turned and beckoned the Bailey Bunch to follow. After walking quite a distance, they came to a very beautiful place in the garden. In the middle of a small clear space was a most peculiar looking tree. It looked like no tree they had ever seen before. In fact, sometimes they wondered if it was a tree at all, or something quite different.

Alias turned to them and said, “I am going to allow you to see something that is about to happen here.” They sat, waiting in the shade, looking closely at the tree in the clearing and trying to determine its shape and purpose. It seemed to them that somehow the whole garden radiated out from it; maybe the whole garden depended on it for its existence.

Alias took pity on them and explained, “That tree is very special because it is the only tree in the garden that Adam and Eve are not allowed to eat from. It belongs to The Great One. There is a severe penalty for anyone who steals fruit from it. To do that would be the same as when Lucifer stole from him in The Before. You know what happened then!”

“We do indeed,” said Bear, remembering how Lucifer and his followers had been thrown out of the Good Place where the music was so wonderful.”

“We do indeed,” said Duncan, putting his head down between his paws.

CHAPTER SIX

When Duncan and Bear looked up, they noticed that Adam and Eve were standing on the edge of the clearing, unaware that they were being watched. They were very beautiful with their kingly robes glowing in all their brilliance.

While the three friends and Alias were watching, someone else appeared on the scene. He stood close beside Eve and looked at her, as if she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Eve liked being looked at like that. He stood a little taller than she did and gave off a dazzling array of light.

“Oh no,” said Bear, who, as you know can be very wise. “Look at the light he is giving out. It’s not his light. It’s the light Eve is giving off being reflected back to her.” Alias spoke, “He is called Serpent. He has always been a thief and a liar.”

Serpent spoke very softly to Eve, as if she was the only person of importance on the whole earth. “Did I hear you correctly when you said you were not allowed to eat the fruit from this tree?”

So gently had Serpent spoken to her that she was already beginning to see things the way he saw them. She looked. Indeed, there was fruit on the tree, the most delicious, the most ‘I just must have some of that’ kind of fruit she had ever seen.

But Eve truly loved The Great One and wanted to do everything he asked of her. So she replied, “He certainly did say that we were not allowed to eat it. This tree belongs to him alone. He said that if we eat it we will die.”

“No, no, no,” Serpent said, “You must have misunderstood what he meant. I know The Great One very well and have known him for a long time. He is the most generous person that exists. There is nothing that he would not share with you. If you just take a little taste you will understand.”

Eve had fallen under the serpent’s spell. She reached out and picked just one fruit from the tree. She took just one bite. Her face lit up with surprise and delight. She handed it to Adam. He had seen the delight on his wife’s face and took a bite, and kept eating.

Suddenly Bailey and Duncan cried out together, “No, no, no.”

Bear began to cry and said, “No, no, no, no, oooh! No!”

They watched as Adam and his wife looked at each other in dismay. The royal garments of light were falling away from them. They were horrified. Nobody would accept their authority without the royal garments. This was their punishment for stealing from The Great One. They would no longer live in harmony forever, ruling the kingdom.

The kingdom that The Great One had given them to rule was fading away. It was mingling with the kingdom of the Prince of Darkness. There was disharmony. Again, it was like two different songs being sung at once, like the time Duncan and Bear had a fight and stood face to face shouting at each other and not listening to a word. It was all confusion, mingled with a great sense of loss.

Life for Adam, Eve and all the animals would be hard now. Tears would mix with happiness. Hard work would bring little reward and death would mingle with life.

There was great sadness throughout the land.

The First Kingdom had come to an end.

Bailey opened her eyes. Mum was shaking her and saying something that sounded like, “Time to get up. Breakfast is ready.”

She knew that she was home.

CHAPTER SEVEN

“Ouch,” said Bailey. She had just kicked her toe. She looked down and saw that she was wearing sandals. They didn’t give her toes much protection and the ground was very rough. Her clothing was different too. She didn’t usually take a lot of notice of what she was wearing, but this did not look right, her mother would not approve. She was wearing some sort of rough gown, loosely thrown over her. However, she decided she liked it. It was cool and easy to wear.

All this seemed very strange but she was not really afraid. After all, she was getting used to strange things happening around her. She knew that she was in the somewhere else but had no idea where that was.

As she looked around in every direction a different kind of fear grew within her. Surely she could not have been brought here all by herself. She needed her friends. She was just about to call out when a voice close by said, “Aren’t you a beautiful dog?”

Bailey turned and walked toward the trees in the direction from which the voice had come. In a little clearing, stood a young woman. A large bear was standing beside her. Bear, Bailey thought. I have found you. Duncan was there also, doing a most peculiar thing.

He was standing on his hind legs with his front paws high up on the woman’s body. You might not think that this was very strange. Duncan was always doing this to people. What was strange was that he had his left ear pressed hard against the woman’s tummy.

Bailey came near and said, in a stern voice, “Duncan! What do you think you are doing?”

“I’m listening,” he said. “There is a heartbeat.”

“Of course there’s a heartbeat,” Bailey said, still speaking sternly. “Everybody has a heartbeat.”

“This is different. It’s small and fast. She has a baby in her tummy.” Bailey looked and could see that Duncan was right. The woman was going to have a baby.

The woman spoke. “My name is Mary.” She looked both sad and happy at the same time. She patted her tummy, “I already have a name for the child. He will be called Saviour. There is a long story that I should tell you.”

“It’s not a long story,” Duncan interrupted. “It’s a short story.” Duncan needed to prove that Bear was not the only one that could be wise. “This baby is different. It was not put in Mary’s tummy by a man. It was put there by The Great One himself. Mary is his mother. The Great One is his father.”

Bear’s face lit up in sudden excitement. “Yes! I see what is happening now. A new King is going to be born. It is like when Adam was made in the time of The First Kingdom, only different. With The Great One as his father he won’t inherit any of the bad stuff from Adam. He will be able to wear the royal robes.”

Suddenly, while they were standing there, the whole place seemed to ripple. It was a strange feeling, like being in a cup of water when somebody blows onto the water’s surface.

When the rippling stopped, they found themselves standing together on the edge of a river. A large crowd was watching two people who were standing in the water together. One of the two pushed the other down under the water and lifted him out again.

“What are they doing?” asked Bear.

Bailey thought about it. She had seen this done before. “It’s a hard one to understand,” she said. “I think it’s like a prayer to The Great One saying that you want to be one of his people. It’s also telling everyone watching that you are going to be part of his Kingdom.”

Duncan looked at her and said, “Phew! that was a big speech.” While they were watching what was happening, a voice that they had learned to recognise as that of The Great One, said very loudly from somewhere up above them, “I love this man. He is my son.” As he said the word ‘son,’ the Bailey Bunch felt the earth tremble.

Now they knew that this man who had just gone down under the water and come back out again was the son of Mary whom they had met when they first arrived. He had grown to be a man while they were in the rippling.

Not everyone in the crowd heard the voice. Some thought it was thunder.

After hearing what the Great One had said, Bear said, “Wow! This has to be the beginning of something special for Saviour. He has come to reclaim the kingdom that was lost when Adam and Eve did that foolish thing.”

Then the rippling began again. They knew what this meant now and waited to see where it would take them. It took them to a place that was high up on a mountain. Looking around, Bailey and Bear said together, “I like it here, away from the crowds.” Duncan wasn’t so sure. “It’s lonely,” he said. He liked people around him. Then he picked up a scent and started following where his nose was leading him.

“Don’t go too far. We might need you,” Bailey said to his tail as it disappeared into the bushes.

Just then two people came into view, walking toward them. Bailey recognised one of them as Saviour. The other was vaguely familiar. She looked at him more closely and thought that it may have been Serpent, whom they had met in the garden. Duncan was thinking of nothing except the scent he had found in the bushes, but they knew that he would come if he was needed.

As they watched these two walking together they could see that Saviour was very tired. He looked as if the best thing that could happen to him would be a trip to Hungry Jacks followed by a long night’s sleep.

“So,” said Saviour’s companion, “it’s over a month since you had a good feed. You must be very hungry, but that’s easily fixed. Just look around; the answer to your hunger is right here. The Great One has made you king over everything. You have the authority over everything that is around you! Tell a couple of these stones to become bread and you will have more than you need. It is yours to command.”

Saviour could see that many of the stones did look like loaves of bread. The idea was very appealing and he knew that he could do it. He did have the power to change the stones to bread.

He turned to the Prince of Darkness (for that is who his companion was,) and said, “There is something that satisfies my needs even more than food. It is to do what my father, The Great One, says. I have not heard him tell me to do this.”

Bear looked at Bailey and said with certainty in his voice, “He will not fall under the spell of the evil one like Adam did.” By this time Duncan had returned. He was shaking his head. It was hard for him to take in that there could be anything in the world more important than food.

Duncan was impressed. He said, “Saviour will not do anything except what he hears his father telling him to do. That is so different from what we saw in the garden when Eve was disobedient and did the foolish thing and lost the kingdom.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

“Oops,” said Duncan. “Were rippling again.”

They were now on some kind of pathway. Walking quickly, they soon caught up with a group of people. Saviour was at the centre of the group. He was talking to a man who was sitting on the ground. Still seated, the man looked up at Saviour pleading, “Make me well. I know you can do it.”

While Saviour and the seated man were talking, Duncan had been sniffing the man all over. He was good at sniffing out problems that needed healing. He often licked them better. He turned to Bear and Bailey and said, “Nobody can fix that. He has always been like that and always will be.” His leg was indeed small and twisted.

Then Saviour looked at the man and, putting his hand on his shoulder, said the silliest thing, “Stand up.”

Duncan gave a yelp, almost of pain. How could Saviour be so thoughtless and cruel? This man could not stand. There was no way he ever could.

As they watched, the impossible happened. The man rose slowly to his feet. His face lit up. He had the happiest grin any of them had ever seen. He started jumping up and down and running around in circles, just like Duncan does when he gets excited. They looked. He had something to get excited about; Both legs were now perfectly normal.

“That man could not stand,” Bear exclaimed. What he saw was impossible. As he tried to understand this, he felt that his wisdom had deserted him. What he had seen could not have happened.

“It is The Speaking come to us again, like we saw when everything was made and put in order at the beginning of time,” Duncan exclaimed. “The son of The Great One has the power of his father. He is bringing the kingdom back.”

Bailey had a flash of understanding. She said, “There is something like that in The Ancient Book of Writings. It says, ‘The Speaking became flesh and lived where we live.’ We are seeing it happen.”

The amazement and joy they were feeling grew even more the next day when something just as unexpected happened. They were watching when they saw Saviour take his three best friends away from the rest of the crowd. He led them away from the rest of his followers and took them up a track leading to the top of a mountain.

Our three friends were determined that they were not going to be left out of anything. They followed very quietly, being careful not to be seen. They thought that if they were seen they would be sent back, but there was no way they were going to miss what was happening.

On the top of the mountain Bailey and Duncan watched from where they were hidden in the grass. Bear was up a tree. He was too big to hide in the grass.

They continued to watch.

Saviour was standing a little way from his three friends when something strange and a little scary happened. His face began to glow with a bright light. Then he was shining all over, with a brightness that was both covering him and shining out from him.

For a while Bailey, Bear and Duncan were stunned by what was happening. Then they began to understand as they remembered the way Adam and his wife had once been clothed in light.

“The royal robes!” exclaimed Bear, a little too loudly.

“Ha, you have been discovered,” said a voice they had come to recognise as that of The Great One. “You must leave now.”

Immediately they found themselves in the rippling once more. It deposited them in a quiet place out in the country.

While they were waiting to see what would happen they were joined by a familiar figure. It was their friend Alias, messenger of The Great One. He said that there were some things that he wanted to tell them before they went home and he had one more event for them to see.

He said, “Something happened between what you last saw and now. It was so sad that The Great One thought it best for you not to be there. I must tell you a little about it.

You know that not everyone loved Saviour, don’t you?”

“Yes,” said Bailey, “We noticed that most of the church people hated him.”

“You are both clever and observant,” Alias said. “They hated him so much that they reported him to the police and had him arrested for leading a rebellion against the Government…”

“He never did that!” Duncan said, quite upset.

“We know that, but that is what happened. The sad part is that he was arrested and sentenced to death.”

Bailey said, “Surely they could not kill him. His father would protect him.”

Alias continued, “It was part of what The Great One had planned. He died, but because he never did anything except what his father asked of him, he was able to use death to take him right into the very centre of the kingdom of the Prince of Darkness – the place of death.

This proved to be the door to the very throne room of that terrible kingdom. When he died, he was still able to wear the royal robes. This gave The Great One the key by which he was able to unlock the gate to the throne-room of the Prince of Darkness.”

Bailey broke in with a question in her voice, “You mean he came alive again.”

“Yes.” Alias said, “That is exactly what I mean. Death is no longer a prison that holds its victims for ever. It is an open doorway that we can go through to the better life with The Great One.”

It was Bailey who spoke next, “I’m glad that happened, but I am glad I wasn’t there to see it. However, I feel so much older and wiser now. I want you to know that if there is ever another battle, I want to be there to fight with Saviour.”

When Alias had stopped speaking, The Bailey Bunch noticed that they had been joined by a crowd of people. Saviour was among the crowd, talking to them. As they watched a most amazing thing happened. Saviour left the ground and rose up into the sky. He kept going until he was out of sight.

They stood in amazement. Then Bear said quietly, “He has gone home to his father, The Great One. His work here is done.”

Alias said, “How wise you are, Bear. Don’t be sad. He will come back when the time is right.”

It seemed to be at that moment that Bailey shook herself awake and heard her mother saying, “Don’t you look good this morning. You are glowing.”

Home is good.

 

~

You have reached the end of Part One. Continue reading and you will take the story up three years later in Part Two, The Girl and The Presence in the Room.

 

~

 

Back to the beginning

CHAPTER NINE

Bailey, Bear and Duncan were together in Bailey’s room. Bear was lying with his head on the floor and his feet on the bed. He was totally bored.

There was nothing to do. It had been raining now for three days. They wished they could go outside and play. “It’s so absolutely boring,” Bailey said.

Duncan remained asleep on the floor. It wasn’t worth waking up. Looking for excitement, Bailey was remembering the times when they had travelled through time and seen exciting things. She wished that she could make things like that happen again, but it didn’t work that way. It wasn’t something you could make happen. It had been three years since anything like that had happened. She knew it couldn’t happen now to a grown girl. Those had just been childish dreams.

She said, “We’ve got to do something.” Without thinking of how it would help, or if it was a good idea, she said, “Let’s do The Bunch. We’ll do a ‘don’t be bored’ one that goes on until we feel good.” She hesitated, feeling foolish. She wasn’t a little child anymore. Was this really a good idea, or was it just boredom making a foolish, childish idea sound good? Then she said, “Let’s just do it.”

Bailey and Bear stood up and joined hands. Bear gave the sleeping Duncan a nudge with his foot. Duncan stood, shaking the sleep out of his head and joined hands to complete the circle. Then they began to dance up and down, shouting

 

“Paw to paw, hand to hand,

Together we will stand.

We will not be bored

We are the Bailey Bunch.”

 

All this time they were dancing and jumping up and down.

 

“Of boredom we will have none,

Of adventure we want a ton.

We are the ----”

 

Under their feet there was a groaning, followed by a loud crack.

They were falling.

Duncan was still cranky after being woken up. He had a slight snarl on his face. Grumpily, he said, “Bear, you shouldn’t have been jumping. You’re far too big and heavy. You’ve broken the floor. We’re going to be killed when we hit the concrete.”

Bailey interjected, “Duncan! Be quiet. We do not fight. We are the Bailey Bunch.”

In surprise, they realized that they had not hit the concrete. They just kept falling. A loud groaning and rattling noise was coming from above and all around them. They continued to fall for what seemed to be a long time. Then there was a clanking, juddering stop.

As the Bailey Bunch steadied themselves, struggling to keep balance, a slow speaking, mechanical voice said,

 

Ground floor, Jerusalem, Year 32, Beware of the opening door.”

 

A door was slowly sliding open in front of them. Not wanting to be trapped inside, they stepped out and looked around. Bailey could see that there were crowds of people, many wearing clothes that were similar to those she had worn when she was in the area close to Jerusalem during the time of The Second Kingdom. She remembered that the loosely hanging garments she had worn then were cool and comfortable.

There were people everywhere. She hadn’t seen it like this before, so she asked someone what was happening and was told that this was the feast of Pentecost, the biggest festival of the year.

Because of the crowds, Bear and Bailey kept close together but Duncan wandered around everywhere between people’s legs as if he owned the place. They knew there was no need to be worried about Duncan; he could find his way back to them anytime he chose. His nose would pick up their scent.

Then Bear stumbled. A heavily laden donkey had jostled against him. It was being led by an elderly, oriental man who apologised and explained that he was a trader from China. He was here because there was good money to be made in Jerusalem at this time of the year. Spices from the east were in high demand.

He suggested that if they wanted to go through the crowd a little further, they should follow close behind the donkey. He and the donkey would make a path for them. As they walked together, he continued to explain to them that he always came to Jerusalem at this time of the year. “I manage well enough to trade but I still don’t understand the language very well. It’s difficult because, at this time of the year, there are people here from every nation on earth.” They could see that this was the case, not everyone spoke the common language of Greek.

The man turned in surprise as Duncan spoke, “If you come every year, you may know a friend of ours. He was a great teacher and healer. His name was Saviour, the son of The Great One.”

“A truly remarkable man,” said the man with the donkey. “It is such a pity that he died.”

Bailey was about to tell him what they knew and how they had seen him alive after the time of his death, but they were distracted by the sound of a strong wind in the trees nearby. Hastily, they looked around for shelter. They would need to be quick. There would not be shelter for many if the storm came quickly.

As they looked around, their need for shelter was replaced by growing amazement. All around, the leaves of the trees were hanging still. There was no wind, but something was happening. As well as the noise from the ‘wind’ there was a strong display of lightning just ahead of them. It was incredible. There was no thunder and no clouds. This was something they must investigate. They continued ahead as fast as the donkey would allow them. In fact, the whole crowd was surging ahead toward whatever was happening.

It soon became clear that this was no storm. What had appeared to be lightning was, in fact, some strange phenomenon or apparition. Just ahead of them, in an open room on top of one of the larger buildings was a group of people. Bear estimated there were about three hundred of them.

Hovering over the heads of this group was a large ball of flickering fire. Bailey, Bear and Duncan froze in shock. What was this? It was no ordinary fire. Whatever it was it was powerful. Even from where they were standing, they could feel a power emanating from it. Bear was trembling. “It’s a Spirit; there is a Presence in the room.” Fear gripped the crowd.

Duncan had been sniffing for scent while the crowd stood motionless, their eyes wide with fear. Then, without warning, disaster struck. The flaming mass exploded into many parts and landed on the heads of the group on the rooftop.

Fear gave way to awe as it became obvious that this was no ordinary fire. There was no disaster. Nobody was burned, but the fires continued to be seen, burning on each person’s head. It seemed to cause nobody in the group any harm. In fact, it emphasised the fact that they all belonged together. Our three friends understood this kind of bonding. They had their own togetherness as the Bailey Bunch.

The fire seemed to affect the group on the rooftop in an exciting way. They became very animated and began speaking loudly. It was obvious that they had important things to say.

Bailey decided that she wanted to hear what was being said. Immediately she had made that decision, something changed. Even before she could move closer she could hear a couple of them talking together as clearly as if they were standing beside her. Her astonishment and delight grew as she realized that they were talking in English, with an Australian accent.

Close by she heard somebody sobbing. Looking around she noticed her friend with the donkey. He was weeping. It was not sadness that was bringing the tears, but joy, so intense that he could not contain it. Noticing Bailey looking at him, he said, “It is so long since I have heard my own dialect spoken.”

Bear tugged at Bailey’s sleeve. When she looked at him she saw such delight that she nearly joined the weeping. Bear said, “I feel so alive. I didn’t know I could still understand bear talk. I thought it had been lost in the stuffing.”

Duncan gave a long yodelling yelp that could only be pure Beagle and exclaimed delightedly, “It’s the Spirit of Saviour, son of The Great One, come to us. His friends are up there. I’m going to join them.”

He scurried off so quickly that there was nothing any of them could do to stop him. They saw him darting around between the legs of the group that was now the centre of so much attention. He seemed to be listening attentively, as well as sniffing for clues like a doggy detective. They could not see if he had his own little flame on his head. But they could see that he was delighted by what he was discovering.

CHAPTER TEN

The whole scene ahead of them was so amazing that it was disturbing, an assault on their senses. There was both excitement and anger in the crowd. Most were surging forward, wanting to be part of what was happening but others were becoming upset. For them, this was a disruption to their lives and business. They only heard the noise. They did not hear words that could be understood, just a confusion of voices. Angrily, they began to shout, “Drunkards! Riot! Police! Clear the area.”

Meanwhile, something new was happening on the rooftop. A burly, suntanned man came to the front of the group, seemingly unaware of the flame still visibly rising from the top of his head. Then, with a rippling of well-developed muscles, he gestured for the crowd to be quiet. It was as if that gesture contained some kind of magic. The people went silent.

He began to speak. “First let me demolish a false rumour. This mob is not drunk. These blokes haven’t been to the pub. Use your noggin mates. The pubs aren’t open yet.” This is how Bailey heard it, in dinkum, even exaggerated Aussie dialect.

The speaker, whom they would later come to know as Peter, went on to explain. He told them that what they were seeing was something that The Great One was doing. The flames, the sound of wind, and the ability to hear everything in their own language was due to the presence of the Holy Spirit, the new Presence that had come to be with them. He reminded them that their own teachings in the Jewish Book of Writings contained the promise that this would happen.

Then he continued to demolish another myth. “Saviour, whom we follow, was not a criminal, even though the courts condemned him. You may well ask how do we know this? We know it to be absolutely true because The Great One has declared it to be so.”

The crowd began to mumble among themselves. He continued, “Wait! I am not some religious crazy. The reign of this Saviour has been promised for a long time.

When your courts declared him to be guilty and had him put to death, The Great One proclaimed him to be King by taking him right through death and bringing him back to life. Yes, he was dead, dead until the third day. Then The Great One unlocked the gate and let him return to life, leaving the way open so we can follow without being trapped by death.

If you find this too incredible to believe, you can check up on the facts. He was seen alive by many people, including most of us up here. Ask around. Check it out. If you don’t believe that evidence, look around at what is happening right now. Isn’t it clear that The Great One is pretty excited about something?”

He went on explaining for some time and asked his listeners to declare themselves to be among those who wanted to be followers of Saviour, King of all the earth.

There was a great stir among the people as a result of this. It was indeed an enormous stirring as about three thousand people surged forward to claim a place as one of Saviour’s followers. This was the beginning of a great time for the followers of The Way.

Neither Bailey nor Bear had given any thought to Duncan during all this excitement until Bailey felt a furry body rubbing against her legs. Duncan looked up at Bear and Bailey. He welcomed himself back into the group of friends by giving them a good licking then said, “I’ve got a new friend. His name is Peter. He wants us to join him.” Duncan stood tall, raised his head up high like the leader of an imperial force and said, in a commanding voice, “Follow me.”

Bailey and Bear raised their eyebrows, looked at each other and fell into step behind him, marching like soldiers. They pushed their way through the crowd and climbed the stairs to the rooftop where a voice greeted them.

“Ha! Yes, you were right, my little furry friend. These indeed are worthy friends of The Great One and now, friends of mine also if they will allow it to be so.”

Bailey looked up into the eyes of the strong, handsome man who had spoken so well to the crowd, the man she thought of as the one with the fire on his head. She reached out and took his hand. He shook it as if she were a grown woman. The fire of the Spirit surged through her and she knew that there was no distinction between child and adult in Saviour’s kingdom, only followers. She felt tall and strong. She looked at Bear. There was no need to worry about Bear. He was standing beside Peter as if they had always been friends. She was surprised to realize that Bear was so big. He was nearly as tall as Peter. She had to admit that her friend, Bear, was a good looking fellow.

Peter seemed to enjoy their company and said one word, “Come.” Bear and Bailey were holding his hands while Duncan walked behind. He did feel a little left out, but he had difficulty walking if he tried to hold hands. As they walked, Peter told them that they were going just a little way to Isaac Street. “I live there with the mother of the woman who was my wife before she was taken from me by fever.”

When they arrived at the house they went inside and were greeted by a kind faced woman who looked quite old to Bailey but she greeted them kindly and welcomed them. The house consisted of just two rooms with an upstairs area which took up the entire rooftop space. It was to this area that she led them saying, “You may like to sleep up here.”

About one third of the rooftop was screened off and covered by a roof of its own. Bailey looked at that area and thought that they would like it there. Peter’s mother in law explained that they also had their meals in the open area unless the weather was bad.

Bailey was very interested in all that Myrna, Peter’s mother in law, had to say. She followed her downstairs and offered to help in preparing the meal. What she really wanted was to be able to find out more about Peter and his household.

While she was busying herself with the preparation of the meal Myrna kept chatting and constantly referring to a group which she called The Way. “I’m sorry,” Bailey said, “I don’t understand. What is The Way?”

“No, don’t apologise. I keep forgetting that you are a newcomer. You seem to be so much one of us. The Way is the name that the followers of Saviour have given themselves.”

“I like that,” Bear said. “They are followers, not leaders. The Spirit has been sent by Saviour to be their leader. They follow in the way he shows. They are the army of The Great One, establishing his kingdom.” Bear had not lost his wisdom.

Duncan walked into the room and looked around. The cooking area and serving tables were full of food. He couldn’t help it. He began to drool. Myrna looked down at him and smiled. Seemingly by accident she knocked a piece of freshly cooked mutton from the bench and, by the same kind of chance, it fell almost under Duncan’s nose. The wide grin on his face was enough thanks for Myrna.

Bear looked at her and said, “I wish I was more like Duncan. He enjoys life so much. He is so spontaneous. I think too much.”

Myrna replied, “You know, I remember Saviour saying something like that when he was with us. He said that if we wanted to be part of his kingdom we would need to become like little children.”

Bailey was thoughtful for a moment and said, “You are right. He could just as easily have said to become like Beagles.” Duncan went on licking his lips.

Myrna gave them a mischievous grin and took pity on them by answering the question that was in all their minds. “Yes, there is a reason for having so much food. We don’t know how many there will be for the meal tonight. The people of The Way are so excited by what The Great One is doing in Jerusalem that nobody eats alone. Everybody wants to know what is happening and what The Great One is doing and saying, so we share meals and talk.

If there is food left over, I will take it to some of the poorer families in Jerusalem and share it with them. It gives me an opportunity to talk with them and answer questions.” In this way the number of followers of Saviour kept increasing rapidly. There were thousands in Jerusalem now.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

They soon discovered that this meal sharing was happening right throughout Jerusalem, wherever there were followers of Saviour. It was part of the excitement that was building throughout the city. Thousands of people were meeting in small groups, sharing what they were doing, what they were seeing and what the Spirit of The Mighty One was saying and doing. There were reports of dreams and visions, all sealed by unbelievable signs through healings that could, in no sensible world, be happening. This was to be impressed in the memories of the Bailey Bunch shortly by what they were later to think of as ‘The Event.’

It happened the next day, shortly after lunch. Bear remembers it as being about three o’clock in the afternoon. They were wandering along toward the Jewish temple area with Peter and John. They did this most days. There was nothing unusual about what they were doing, no unusual sense of excitement or anticipation. They were simply going to pray and share what was happening with other members of The Way, and with anyone else who was interested.

As they approached the gate to the temple courtyard, a man grabbed their attention by calling loudly to Peter and John by name. They recognised him easily as one of the street people who gathered there to ask for help to support their families. “Please, just a small coin. Look at me. Nobody will employ me. I can’t work. I have no other means of income.”

Bailey, looking on, could feel the tears welling in her eyes. The man’s legs were twisted and without muscle. Somebody must have carried him here because he could not walk. She thought that she could see tears in Peter’s eyes also. Peter looked at the man and said, “I am sorry but I have no money on me. However, I do have something that I can give you. Will you accept that?”

“I have learned not to be proud,” the man replied. “If it will help I will use it.”

Peter reached out and took the man by the hand and said, “In the name of Saviour, Son of The Great One, stand up.” Still holding his hand, Peter helped him to his feet. The amazed man looked down and saw his legs, strong and firm, supporting him solidly on the ground. Weeping and laughing, overwhelmed with joy, he began dancing and singing as he followed them into the temple courtyard. He was out of control with happiness. He could not, even for a moment, pause in his exuberant expression of delight. He wasn’t the only one who was excited. The whole crowd was overcome with a surge of astonishment and began jostling for position. There was nobody in the whole crowd who was not determined to gain the best position to see what was happening.

Bear’s head was in such a spin that he could hardly see where he was going. We know that Bear was usually very wise, but there was no way his brain could cope with what he had just seen. This was impossible! He didn’t believe that impossible things could happen. Maybe that was because he thought too much. Duncan didn’t have that problem. He just said, “It’s like being back in the Time of The Speaking. Anything The Great One wants can happen.”

Bear stumbled on until he collided with a young woman, just a little older than Bailey. They both lost their balance and almost fell to the ground, clinging to each other for support.

Feeling Bear’s soft fur against her, she clung onto him and continued to hold him a little longer than seemed necessary. Then she held him away from her at arm’s length, looked at him longingly and said, “Bear, you are so beautiful. I have so wanted a bear just like you all my life. Poor lost bear. Now that I have found you, I will take you home. You will be my very own bear.”

Bear found that he was beginning to love this young woman and was very flattered by what she was saying, but he knew that he could not leave his friends. He shook his head with a gentle ‘no’.

Duncan had seen and heard everything. He came over to join Bear. Facing the woman, he crouched low beside Bear and, pinning his ears back, gave a low growl, exposing his teeth. Nobody was going to take Bear from him.

Bailey turned toward the growling dog, “Duncan, no!” The young woman’s face lit up with understanding when she saw Bailey. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I thought the bear was lost. I wanted to take him home. I can see now that he belongs to you.”

When the Bailey Bunch looked around they were surprised at the number of people around them. Everything that had been happening had attracted a considerable crowd. Everybody was jostling to get closer to Peter. They all wanted to see him and touch him. They wanted to be part of the action. Some wanted to obtain healing or strength for themselves, others just wanted to observe. The urgency of their need to get close to Peter was so great that people were being pushed and jostled without thought for the needs of others. It was beginning to become dangerous.

Bailey was standing quite close to Peter and getting jostled considerably when she noticed someone tugging at his elbow, obviously having difficulty getting his attention. It was the young woman they had just been talking to. She was having difficulty getting his attention. Then she amazed Bailey by saying loudly, “Uncle Peter, you must speak to the crowd. Explain what is happening or we will be hurt.”

“Uncle Peter!” exclaimed Bailey. “Peter, the follower of Saviour, the leader of The Way, the man upon whom The Presence is so firmly resting, he’s your uncle?” She put her arm around the young woman, who was now among the most special people she knew, and said, “That is the most marvellously, fantastic thing. I would give anything just to be your friend.” She was so excited that she did not know what she was saying. Then she added, “Except for Bear, oh – and Duncan. I would never part with them.”

CHAPTER TWELVE

While Peter was still speaking there was violent jostling among the crowd with people being pushed in all directions. Suddenly, four burly policemen emerged. One of them laid his hand firmly on Peter’s shoulder and said, “Peter, the Fisherman, by the authority vested in me, I am arresting you on charges of riot and unauthorised teaching. Will you accompany me peacefully, or will we have to take you by force?”

Bailey and Ruth stood stunned by this turn of events, while Duncan, well trained in the skills of defence and warfare, was not so slow to react. He came in fast and low. It was so fast that nobody saw what really happened; just a dog lying screaming on the ground and an officer standing by with a drawn sword.

There was no doubt that Duncan was badly wounded. Blood was pouring from his scalp and his right ear was hanging by a thread.

Peter’s voice rose to a commanding shout, “I will come to trial in peace. Please let me stay one moment for the dog.” Peter was remembering a time when he had drawn a sword to defend Saviour and one of the arresting officers had suffered a wound similar to Duncan’s. He did for Duncan what Saviour had done for him. “In the name of the King, Saviour, I bind your ear back on.” The crowd gasped as Duncan stopped screaming and got to his feet as if nothing had happened. Bailey stroked his head, including both ears, and reassured him that he was a good, brave dog.

Bailey and Duncan stood among the crowd as they watched Peter being led away with his friend John. They knew they would not be allowed into the judgement area. It was different for Ruth. She had taken Bear with her, following closely behind the prisoners. She said that she would be allowed in as she was well known to the authorities and Bear would be seen as a harmless toy. Bear was quite happy to be considered a toy if it allowed him to be where the action was. Maybe he would be able to do something.

As it happened, there was nothing any of them could do. The arresting officers decided that it was too late in the day to convene a court, so Ruth and Bear returned to join Bailey and Duncan with the news that they could do nothing. There would be no trial until tomorrow when a proper court could be convened. Then things would be done properly and in order.

Early next morning, they went to the courtroom, and pushed their way to the front. The room was packed. Everyone gave way before them, not because they were fearsome or important but because Ruth had brought with her the man who had been crippled. Nobody wanted to stand in his way so they were able to stand right at the front where they could see and hear everything that was happening. They could also be seen clearly by the whole judging panel.

The eyes of the judging panel swept over the courtroom, noting its crowded state and resting momentarily on the man who had been healed and on Ruth standing next to him. She was now clearly identified as one of the supporters of The Way.

Two charges were read out –

First count – Unauthorized teaching within the jurisdiction of the temple authorities.

Second count – Teaching and preaching under the authority of a known criminal, the man called Saviour, and teaching a subject disallowed by the authorities.

“What stupid charges,” Bear muttered. Ruth responded, “Stupid or not, they are serious charges, and legally, Peter and John could well be found guilty.”

Bear was not the only one to object to what was going on. The whole court was in uproar. There were shouts from all around the court. The confusion was so great that it was impossible to distinguish what was being said except for words like “Resign! Unfair! Release them!”

The crowd went quiet as Peter stood to give evidence in their defence. He spoke clearly, and in the silence, every word could be heard. He stated again many of the things he had said when he addressed the crowd from the room where The Presence had descended with fire and wind. He encouraged all those present to become followers of The Way, accepting all the evidence The Great One was giving that Saviour had been established as king.

Bailey was beginning to read the signs that were part of the kingdom. She saw the stunned silence of the judging panel and the power of Peter’s speaking and knew that The Presence, the Spirit sent from The Great One, was active in the courtroom. Peter was not just speaking from his own intellect, or in his own authority. He and The Presence had become one when he stood to speak.

The court was in uproar. Finally, the Chief of Court spoke, giving the order to clear the room and the prisoners were led back to their cells, allowing the court to continue in private.

The Bailey Bunch filed out of the court with everybody else. Bear was trailing along a little way behind when he tripped and fell. He lay on the floor, somewhat bruised where people had been tripping over him. To any casual observer he was just a discarded toy, but those who knew him well would have seen a little grin on his face. He knew his plan was working.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Bear had used the confusion of the emptying courtroom to manoeuvre himself into a partially concealed position close to the presiding judges. He lay there, looking like a large, discarded, stuffed toy. He remained very still, mouth stitched tight shut.

An animated discussion began among the judges. Bear was amazed as it became obvious that these men, the opponents of The Way, had been tremendously impressed by Peter and John. They were confused. Over many years they had been the ones who were the representatives of The Great One. What these two men on trial were teaching was contrary to everything they believed to be the truth. But what they had witnessed had a power about it that they found difficult to attribute to anyone other than The Great One.

Bear wanted to interrupt with some of the things he had seen and heard but knew that he must keep his lips stitched tight shut. He kept listening, nodding his head slightly as they discussed the problem of keeping order in the city. There was such great support for the followers of Saviour that they were afraid to act against them. Their control of the city could well be lost. They could easily be replaced in the present political atmosphere. At last they gestured to the Supervisor of the Court to bring the prisoners back.

Bear was feeling good about himself. His plan had succeeded. He had heard everything that had been said and knew now that Peter and John would be released. They would be cautioned to stop preaching and teaching under the authority of Saviour and then released.

Now he could think about himself. He had to get out of here. Slowly, he began to move himself toward the exit. Ever so slowly he made progress. Then he relaxed. He was out of sight and near the door. As long as he didn’t make any noise he would soon be out of here. He resumed his stuffed toy mode and rolled out through the door as if he had been thrown.

He blinked in the bright light and waited for his eyes to focus. What he saw caused him to stiffen in shock. Right in front of him, close enough to touch, was a pair of boots with two strong, sturdy legs rising up from them. He allowed the focus of his vision to rise higher. Above him was a pair of greenish brown eyes, looking down at him. Shock paralysed him for a moment. And that was just as well. It meant that he had not moved and given himself away. He was still accepted as an ordinary stuffed toy.

The person belonging to the eyes spoke quietly to himself “Where did you come from? I’ve been patrolling this area for the past two hours. There wasn’t any toy bear here before.” He stood tall and alert. A Roman officer must always remain calm and confident. His troops must never see indecision. He called out in his parade ground voice, “Officer Brinoni.”

“Sir,” came the response.

“Take this bear to my quarters. Pack it with the rest of my gear, ready for our departure for Rome in the morning. Such an animal will greatly increase my daughter’s prestige.”

Bear thought quickly. He decided that to continue to play soft toy was a safer option than flight. He would wait for a better opportunity.

He felt himself being lifted. Then he was moving. Under different circumstances he would have loved this. It was the first time he had been on a horse. He remained alert. If a suitable time and place came he would slip off and run but there was no chance of that here. There was nowhere to hide. He would soon be recaptured if he attempted an escape and he was being held tightly by a large clump of hair in his captor’s hand. If he jumped, he would lose that patch of hair. His hair did not grow back very easily and he was proud of his appearance. He would wait.

Meanwhile, back at Myrna’s house there were some very worried people. Bear was missing.

Bailey and Duncan had called in the help of Peter, Ruth and Myrna. They knew that Bear had disappeared somewhere about the time the courtroom had been cleared but none of them had seen anything to cause concern. The truth is they didn’t have any idea where to start looking. Myrna was not only older than the others; she had also accumulated a little more wisdom during the years of experience. Peter, on the other hand, had a different advantage. He’d just had a direct experience of the empowering from The Great One.

Myrna said, “In the past I have found that the best thing you can do when you have a problem that has no solution is to talk to The Great One. I know he is not here, but he does seem to hear and sometimes things change.”

Thank you, mother in law,” Peter said, “I was so afraid for Bear that I had forgotten that. You are wrong about one thing though. The Great One is here with us, in the person of The Presence. He will never leave us now.” With this knowledge, they all joined hands, in much the same way that The Bailey Bunch had frequently done when they were younger. This time they did not shout the Bunch together but quietly opened their thoughts and concerns to The Great One, sometimes using words but mostly in silence and togetherness.

Almost immediately they felt a spine tingling sense of The Presence in the Room. Bailey spoke very tentatively, “I know that I am not the one who should be having visions, or seeing things but I did see a picture in my mind, as clearly as if I was seeing it with my eyes.”

Peter spoke quietly, “Bailey, there are no favourites with The Great One. Tell us what you saw.”

“I saw a road. It was curving around two large rounded rocks on the left, with a large spreading tree on the opposite side.”

“I know that spot,” Myrna said. “It’s about two Roman miles south of here.”

“We need to get there quickly,” Duncan said. He knew that part was right. The truth is he wanted to get there as quickly as possible. He had seen something too but hadn’t said anything. After all, what would a dog know? He was excited. If what he saw was right he wanted to be part of the action.

They took a flask or two of drinking water and something to eat in case they were away for a while and set out in the direction Myrna had indicated.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Meanwhile Bear was distraught. Nothing as bad as this had ever happened before. He was in a crate, nailed up tight. He could see out through the cracks between the boards but could not move. He assumed that being in the crate was to keep him safe and undamaged. No harm must come to the officer’s precious cargo. He did not want to be precious cargo. He wanted to be Bear.

His ruse of being just an ordinary soft toy was still working. If the soldiers had any suspicion that he was anything other than an ordinary soft toy they would not have packed him upside down.

But, upside down he was, in a box, being carried away on some kind of horse drawn vehicle. He had seen the vehicle through the cracks in the crate while he was being loaded. To him it looked like some kind of cart out of a historic museum; however, the soldiers kept referring to it as a Plaustrum. “Stupid, foreign sounding word,” Bear muttered. Bear was frightened and angry. He pushed at the boards with his paws and but there was not the slightest sign of movement. He kicked with his feet. Nothing moved. If only he had a lever he would be able to shift something, but there was nothing in the crate that could be used that way.

Then they were moving. It proved to be more painful than he could imagine. This vehicle didn’t have the kind of suspension that was built into the car Bailey’s parents had back home and now, being upside down, with all his weight on his head it really hurt when the cart went over bumps.

Bear was hurting. He was getting even more angry. He could not remember ever being so angry and we know there is nothing as fearsome as a bear with a sore head.

He felt his strength building. He bent his legs back as far as he could and kicked with all his might. For a moment, he lost consciousness from the pain this caused in his head and neck. But when he recovered and looked up he saw that the planks above him had given away. Anger gave way to elation. It didn’t hurt anymore. He was free!

For a moment he remained as he was, revelling in his freedom. Then elation gave way to despair. Bear was sobbing like the baby he had never been. The realisation hit him like a thunderbolt. There was no way he could ever get out of the crate. The opening was at the top and he was jammed in upside down. He could not move. How he wished Duncan was with him. Duncan would understand and maybe even find a way to get him out. Bear would have felt better if he had known the truth. Duncan was much closer than he realized.

The group of friends had gone cross country to Benjie’s Bend. On the way, Peter had explained that this was a place that had commonly been used as a hold-up point by bandits looking for loot from travellers. Famous among those who had used this spot was a scoundrel by the name of Benjamin bar Jonas, commonly known as Benjy. He had used it as a secure hiding place. Here, one man with a sword could hold an army at bay indefinitely.

They found the spot easily and settled down in the shade of the rocks. In the stillness, while they were waiting, Duncan kept sniffing at the bag Peter was holding. He had good reason to be sniffing. He was not just some silly ‘sniff at anything for the sake of sniffing’ kind of dog. No, he was intelligent and he intended to attract Peter’s attention to a bag that was surely meant to be opened.

Peter smiled at him and said, “Alright, Duncan, we’ll eat while we wait.” They ate what Bailey would have described as savoury biscuits and drank a little of the water. Yes, Duncan got his share and perhaps a little more.

Their waiting was rewarded by the sight of a cloud of dust moving slowly up the road toward them. Knowing that they were about to have company they moved to a more concealed position among the rocks. As the cloud of dust came closer they could see what was approaching. It was a vehicle drawn by two magnificent horses. “A Plaustrum,” said Peter, “probably Roman soldiers with their luggage.” Sure enough, when it came closer, they saw two Roman soldiers seated at the front, while the load carrying platform at the rear was full of luggage. It was not a vehicle built for speed. It was moving at little more than walking pace as it entered the passage between the rocks and the tree.

This is what Duncan had been waiting for. He was excited. He recognised this scene. This is what he had seen himself doing in the mind-picture that The Great One had given when they had asked for help at Myrna’s house. He knew exactly what to do.

He ran out into the open right in front of the horses. He gave a growling bark, just sufficient to cause the horses to rear momentarily. Then, continuing to move back and forth across the road in front of them, he maintained a snarling growl, making it impossible for the vehicle to move forward. Most onlookers would have seen a dangerous dog attacking the horses. But anyone who knew Duncan well would have recognised the hidden smile beneath the snarl. He was enjoying this. This is what he had been made for. He was in control.

Duncan was well satisfied with himself. There was no way he could have done this when he was a puppy. He was now an experienced warrior dog, in control of himself as well as the horses. He had no doubt now that The Great One loved him, because only love could have given him this job. He was the happiest dog in the universe.

Seeing the Plaustrum stop and hearing the barking, Bailey and Ruth ran around the rocks. With a voice surprisingly full of authority, Bailey shouted, “Duncan, stop.” A quiet and submissive Duncan came and stood by her side. “Sit,” she said quietly.

The two soldiers had dismounted from the Plaustrum. What they saw in front of them was like a vision of the homes they had been away from for so long. It brought tears to their eyes. In front of them stood a beautiful young woman, a girl just approaching womanhood and a dog. Together they made the most peaceful family scene you could imagine. Ruth looked at the soldiers and knew that these two would not pose any threat. She was happy to talk with them for a while.

Then Peter, looking from the other side of the rock, noticed something. He remembered a ditty he had heard somewhere in his childhood. ‘One of these crates is not like the others; one of these crates is not quite the same.’ There was something very unusual about the crate at the back of the Plaustrum. It had two furry feet protruding from the top of it. He knew those feet.

He looked down the road and saw that the two soldiers were crouched, fondling Duncan, while talking to Bailey and Ruth. He was satisfied that their attention was firmly fixed the other way.

He went over to the crate, grabbed the two legs that were protruding from the top and pulled. Up came Bear, like a carrot being pulled out of the ground. In a low voice Peter said, “Quiet, there are people around. Come. You’ve got some explaining to do and it had better be good.”

When Bear was safely hidden between the rocks Peter wandered casually into the view of the soldiers. “Ruth,” he said, “there you are.” “I’m sorry,” Ruth said. “We had to go after Duncan. We found him barking at these poor horses. He could have got himself into real trouble.”

Peter stayed and talked with the soldiers for a while. Then, with the girls waving and the dog’s tail wagging, they made their way back to the rocks where Bear was still concealed. They stood and watched the two soldiers seat themselves and continue on their way, laughing and joking as they went.

So ended Bear’s big adventure. This is the story he would tell his grandchildren years later. If he had no children of his own, he would tell Bailey’s grandchildren.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Peter and Bailey were standing on the rooftop of Myrna’s house. Bailey could see that Peter was worried, while Peter, in turn was aware of her concern. He wanted to put her mind at rest but didn’t know if he could without unsettling her. He had come to love her as if she was his own daughter. He decided to be honest with her. It would help her to make wise decisions in the coming days. He said, “Bailey, will you sit with me for a while. There are things I must tell you. We all need to be prepared. Trouble is coming.”

Bailey’s simple faith rebelled. “Surely no harm will come to us while we continue to follow the direction Saviour gives us. The Great One has given him authority to rule over everything and The Presence is always with us.”

“I believed that at first,” Peter replied, “but there are many things we do not understand. When The Presence came to us on the rooftop I was so excited. I thought that all the evil in the world would be driven back and everything would be perfect peace and freedom. I am still excited and have no doubt that his kingdom has been established, but it is not as simple as that. What is happening has threatened those who rule over our own regional area. We have enemies among the rulers and among the people. I wish I understood more - - -.”

Duncan’s voice was sharper than he intended. Unable to contain himself, he exclaimed, “Humans! Humans are so stupid. Think. Think. Understand. Explain. How does that help anything? Life doesn’t have to be that complicated. Bailey is my ruler. When she says sit; I sit, even if there is something else I would rather be doing. Yes, bad things happen sometimes. Then I do what I have to. After a while the bad stuff goes away. But I live in the good. Some dogs live in the bad. They are cranky, angry dogs. They end up in that place we call ‘The Pound.’ I trust Bailey. She loves me. I do what she says,” and then he mumbled something that sounded like “or get into trouble.”

Bailey and Peter looked at Duncan in amazement. Had he really said all that, or had The Spirit of Saviour been telling them something through him? They would never know, but they would remember and take note of what had been said.

Peter continued to explain. “When the charges against John and I were dropped, we held a meeting of the leaders of The Way to decide what our future action should be. Many ideas were put forward. It would probably have become a pretty heated discussion if something special had not happened.”

“What happened, Uncle Peter?” Bailey asked.

“The Presence is what happened,” Peter said. “It was so powerful that the whole building shook. We would have believed it to be an earthquake if we had not felt the strength of The Presence within and around us. It was so powerful! It made us realise how powerful The Great One is. We knew that he could destroy the whole building in the blink of an eye if he chose.”

“We know. We saw that very thing happen to Lucifer in The Before,” Duncan said. Peter gave Bailey a puzzled look and she promised to explain later.

“The thing is,” Peter continued, “we knew then, without any doubt, that The Great One was in total control and that we must obey any direction he gives us without question, so we simply asked him what we should do.”

Bailey was puzzled. She wondered why this hadn’t been clear to them from the beginning. Peter seemed to know what she was thinking and continued, “Of course we knew that Saviour, son of The Great One, was to be obeyed without question. What we didn’t know was how to view the demands of the regional governing body.

They too have been put in place by The Great One and must be respected. The answer we received was to continue as we had started, telling people clearly about the establishment of the Kingdom and demonstrating its reality with signs that could only come from him. Tomorrow a group of us will go to the public area of the temple and begin teaching again.”

Peter explained to Bailey and Duncan that he believed there was great danger for all of them in the days ahead. He told them that he had made arrangements for Myrna to take them, along with Ruth, to stay with friends in Damascus if the situation became dangerous. He would follow later.

In Jerusalem, the ruling party was feeling threatened by the rising popularity of The Way which was beginning to be seen by many as the opposition party for leadership in the city. Because of this threat the ruling party had also called a meeting to decide how to handle the situation. They decided to apply the law forbidding unauthorised teaching. Trouble was inevitable.

Life continued and word got around Jerusalem next morning that Peter, John and the other leaders of The Way were holding a teaching seminar in the temple courts. This caused a great deal of excitement. When the time arrived it was hard to find space in the area surrounding the temple, so many had come to be a part of the occasion. Many had come to listen, while others had brought sick or injured friends and relatives to be healed.

While all this was happening, a contingent of armed police pushed their way through the crowd. They had come to arrest Peter and John.

The support of the crowd for Peter and John was so great that it would only have taken one word from either of them for the whole scene to explode into bloodshed but, well aware of how dangerous the situation was, they turned and allowed themselves to be led quietly away to await trial.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

That night was a night they would all remember. Strange things would happen. There would be a demonstration of the authority of Saviour, ruler of the kingdom of The Great One. Many would respond by becoming his followers. Others would blind themselves with anger and align themselves with the authorities to destroy The Way.

With Peter in prison it was not an easy night for Bailey. She was having trouble sleeping. Her concern for Peter and John was keeping her awake. There was nothing she could do for them. Not even Ruth, with her contacts among the religious and government leaders could be of any influence now.

Finally, she gave up, rolled off her mattress, walked across the rooftop room and leaned against the low mudbrick balustrade. Looking out over the city, everything was so peaceful that she found it hard to believe there was trouble anywhere. For a moment she allowed the peace to penetrate her mind and body. Enclosed in her little bubble of quietness, she was not surprised to find somebody standing beside her. It was with joy, rather than surprise that she turned toward him and said, “Peter.” Then the shock of reality hit her; it wasn’t Peter. Of course it wasn’t. Peter was in prison. There would be no mercy for him this time. She may never see him again. The penalty for his offence was death.

She was worried and confused. How many times could her emotions bounce from one extreme to another in such a brief space of time?

Then she recognised who was standing beside her. It was Alias, her friend from previous encounters. She knew that he was totally trustworthy. His very presence brought her peace; the kind of peace that could only come from The Great One himself.

His presence reminded her of the time of The Speaking, when The Great One first brought order and life to the world he had created. She now believed that The Great One was again bringing order out of chaos. She could not yet see what he was doing but she was determined to be part of it. Alias was the messenger of The Great One. She would do whatever he asked her. She looked at him expectantly.

Alias said, “Bailey, Saviour needs you and Duncan. Come.”

She did not hesitate but calling quietly to Duncan, followed Alias down the stairs and onto the street. In the darkness of the night, they walked along the deserted road until they arrived close to the entrance of the prison. Alias signalled for Duncan and her to stop, while he continued toward the Prison.

There were two guards at the prison gate. How were they going to get past them? Then she remembered that Alias was not from this world. He had come directly from the throne-room of Saviour.

She watched as he continued past the guards without them being aware that he had gone by. To her amazement he disappeared into the prison, straight through the door, as if it did not exist. She wondered why her presence was needed when he could do such extraordinary things without her.

A few minutes passed in silence, when suddenly Bailey’s whole world was turned upside down. Duncan had run in a circle around her and launched a surprise attack from the rear striking her forcibly in the back. “Duncan, no!” she screamed with terror rising in her voice. Her own dog was attacking her! He had never done anything like this before. In panic, she ran and felt his teeth graze her ankle. What kind of a fool was she? Surely she knew she could not outrun Duncan. She stumbled and fell. Everything was chaos. Duncan was snarling. She was on the ground screaming and the guards were yelling but they did not dare leave their post, even to help someone who was so obviously in distress. To leave their post could cost them their jobs and even their lives.

Then, as if a switch had been flipped, everything went quiet. Duncan was licking her face and apologising, “I’m sorry. I couldn’t warn you. I had to do it. I was acting under orders from Alias. Can we please go home now? I don’t like it here anymore.” Bailey got to her feet saying, “Yes. I need time to recover too. Did you have to be so convincing?”

When they got back to the roof-top room she crawled under the blanket, patting the mattress to indicate that, for just this once, Duncan could come in beside her.

As they drifted off to sleep they both wondered the same thing. They knew that they had done what was required of them but could not work out what had been achieved. Only later would they understand.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Today was the day when judgement would be passed on the leaders of The Way for unauthorised teaching. The judging panel was in place, supported by the governing body and religious leaders. The court was in readiness. The guards were ordered to bring the prisoners in.

The court waited, and waited. There seemed to be an undue delay. Finally, one of the guards returned and spoke quietly to the presiding judge. The guard appeared agitated as he told the judge that there was a problem. They had gone to the prison, he explained, where everything appeared to be in order. The prison guards were exactly where they were supposed to be. The gates were locked but the prisoners were not to be found. Nobody knew what had happened.

Before the judge had time to take this in, another messenger approached and said, “Did you know that those people you arrested yesterday are back in the temple courtyard teaching and the whole of Jerusalem has come to hear them.”

When he heard this the presiding judge was clearly agitated and spoke in private to the Chief of Police, who responded by taking a small number of officers out into the temple courtyard. Their task was to bring the offenders back for sentencing. They knew that, with the mood of the crowd this would need careful handling if a riot was to be avoided.

It was with some difficulty that this small party of officials pushed their way through the crowd to the place where Peter and John were speaking. To avoid upsetting the crowd more than necessary, the officer in charge left his attendants at the edge of the crowd surrounding Peter and John and quietly approached them alone. He was very gentle in his approach and the prisoners agreed to come before the court. Neither party wished to provoke a riot.

As they entered the courtroom there was obvious consternation among the judging panel. They were afraid that any mention of how the prisoners had been released from the prison would lead to more claims of divine intervention. This would be taken as a demonstration of the approval of The Great One for what the prisoners were involved in. Some things, they thought, were better left alone. No new charges were made.

When asked to defend the charges that had already been laid against them, the reply of the prisoners was the same as when they first come before the court. Peter again said that they had seen Saviour alive after his execution. If the claim that this had happened was not convincing enough they only had to look at the miracles that were happening all around them. If they did not believe the testimony of men surely they could not ignore the testimony of the presence of The Great One who was doing these things right in front of them.

The court was having difficulty knowing how to resolve the case. It was only a matter of a couple of months since the execution of Saviour. At that time, they had seen his teaching as a threat to their control of government and so to national security. On the other hand, the followers of this Saviour had believed him to be the promised king whose coming had been prophesied in The Ancient Book of Writings in times long past.

The members of the judging panel also believed in these prophesies and had long taught about the coming of the promised king, but this Saviour in no way lived up to their expectations, or the teachings of the theologians in any of their recognised colleges.

The panel still believed that they had done the right thing in having him condemned to death. They had eliminated a threat to national security but now the whole episode was coming back to haunt them.

They believed that these claims about Saviour coming back from the dead were being supported by all kinds of lies. If they were sure of anything, it was that people do not come back from the dead. These claims would not matter if it had not been for the hysterical response of the people. Against all reason, thousands were joining Saviour’s followers.

What was even more difficult to understand was what kind of sorcery was being used to back the movement up. However, the movement was gaining ground so quickly that there was no time to investigate any further. It must be crushed immediately. The death of the leaders of The Way was the only course open to them.

The Council was in uproar and unable to reach agreement, until one man stood up and commanded attention. His name was Gamaliel. In today’s world he would have carried the title of Doctor of Theology and chief lecturer in the University of Jerusalem. Now, he spoke with authority, “Clear the court.”

When the prisoners had been removed, he continued, “Right through history there have been movements like this. It is obvious that we do not yet know what is happening here or, indeed, if this movement has its origin from an earthly base or a heavenly one. In the past such movements have died a speedy and natural death by just being left alone. That is what will happen here, if its origin is in man’s trickery. However, if by some chance, the power behind it is that of The Great One there is nothing we can do to stop it. It will be us who are destroyed. I say wait.”

The prisoners were brought back to the courtroom and judgement was passed. They were given a warning not to teach the claim that Saviour had risen from the dead and been appointed by The Great One as the promised king. To re-enforce the warning, they were sentenced to a flogging, then released.

The court was still in considerable confusion, when above the uproar Peter’s voice was heard, loudly and clearly, saying, “On behalf of the prisoners, I want our position to be clearly understood. We do not dispute the ruling of this court. We totally respect it as the legitimate court of law in the city of Jerusalem. However, there is one question, which both we and the court must consider in the coming days. Is it legally more correct to obey the ruling of the court, or that of The Great One?”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Myrna was presiding over her household in her own competent way, supervising the preparation of the midday meal – a very large meal, when Bailey said, “Myrna, tell me something. How do you know how much food to prepare? There is such a lot here and nobody to eat it, yet you always seem to get it right.”

Myrna paused, as if surprised, “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. It is just something I do. You are right though. It does seem to work out. I know I don’t experience The Presence like Peter does but I do know that he is here with us. I think he tells me how many are coming, without my even thinking about it.

I think I like it best that way. Has he been saying anything to you lately. Bailey, you look kind of excited and subdued at the same time as if something special has happened?”

Bailey nodded, “I had a visit from an angel last night.”

“Ha!” Myrna chuckled, “Was he, by any chance a boy about your own age, very good looking and conjured up by your imagination? I had visits from lots of angels like that when I was your age.”

Bailey nearly shrivelled up with embarrassment. “No. It wasn’t that kind. I didn’t imagine it. Would you think me really mad if I said that Duncan also had a visit?”

“Ha!” said Myrna again. “No, I would say that Saviour had something to say, especially to you. And no, it doesn’t surprise me that he would visit Duncan. Saviour is King over the whole of creation, not just over you and me. What does surprise me is that you would recognise it. You had better tell me about it.”

Myrna listened with great interest as Bailey told her about Alias and their night’s adventure. By the time Bailey had finished Myrna had an image of Alias in her mind that was as clear as if he was standing in the room. She also had a fresh image of Bailey. Here, indeed was a warrior of the king. She felt proud to know her and a little fearful of where it could all lead.

The house was already beginning to fill. It was as if there was some secret signal that called the followers of The Way to Myrna’s house for the midday meal. Bailey thought that this must be the case, but it still seemed like magic to her. Among those who came were Ruth and a young man named Stephanos who were prominent members of The Way. Nothing had been said, but their growing relationship was constantly being betrayed by looks and accidental touches. Myrna was already viewing him as Ruth’s young man, a situation she thoroughly approved of.

Stephanos was a young Greek man, just recently appointed to a position of importance in the community of The Way. He stood out as one who was totally filled with The Presence and completely devoted to telling others about the resurrection and kingship of Saviour. Many new members had been added to The Way through him.

Myrna was excited, anticipating the arrival of Peter. Word had spread of his release and there was an atmosphere of expectancy in the room.

When Peter finally entered the room Myrna’s face fell. He was covered in blood from the flogging. Peter was quick to comfort her. Don’t be concerned about me and please don’t blame the courts. They are only doing their duty as they see it. It is not them, or even the anger of those who stand against us that we are fighting. We are fighting against the Prince of Darkness who has been dethroned by Saviour. He is trying to bring the world back to darkness and chaos.

Be sure of one thing. What we achieve under the authority of Saviour will last for as long as this world continues and beyond. The anger and chaos and hurt that are being thrust against us will pass into oblivion, like the passing of a dream. Their reality is only for the moment, so join me in being excited. I see great things happening. All this must stir us on to greater achievement. The Presence is with us.”

Bailey was still puzzled about something. She said, “Uncle Peter, there are all sorts of strange stories going around. Did you really get out of prison somehow? Is that one of the great things you see happening?”

“Yes, Bailey, we did get out of prison and it is one of the things that tell me clearly that Saviour is still with us and in control. We must keep spreading the good news. What happened is hard to explain, not because it is complicated, but because it is unbelievable. We were together in a cell with no means of getting in or out except through one very secure door. I happened to be looking at that door when it happened.”

“The door opened all by itself,” Bailey guessed.

“No,” said Peter, “somebody came in. I saw it with these two eyes. The door didn’t open. He just emerged through the door and kept walking as if he didn’t even know it was there. I thought I was dreaming until the others turned and saw him standing there; an ordinary man.”

Myrna was back in her ‘Ha!’ mood. She said, “Ha! And did this ordinary person have a kind of white badge thing over his heart?”

Peter looked at her in amazement. “How did you know that?”

“Bailey saw him earlier,” she said. “He instructed her to take Duncan to the prison gates and create a distraction.”

Peter looked at Bailey in surprise and said, “That was you? There was a girl and a dog near the gates. There seemed to be some kind of trouble and the guards were completely occupied, watching what was happening and didn’t notice a thing when we walked straight out through the main gate.”

Duncan grinned.

“Did you walk out through the closed doors like Alias could?” asked Bailey. “No,” said Peter. “He simply pushed the doors open and shut them behind him. But who, may I ask is Alias?” Bailey had to explain again how she came to know Alias, the messenger of The Great One who came from the heavenly place on errands at the command of The Great One.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

The period following this was an exciting time for the people of The Way. Under the temporary protection of the court they continued to grow rapidly in number and numerous healings and other signs demonstrating the authority of Saviour were taking place amongst the followers of The Way. The Presence continued to be with them in great power.

Meanwhile, at the University, in the Campus of the Free, a meeting was taking place. The meeting had been convened by the head of the Student’s Association, a man named Saul, to discuss ‘Matters of concern to the purity of the Jewish faith.’

Saul was a man who was used to defending his faith and his God, The Great One, maker of the heavens and the earth. He had grown up in the prestigious city of Tarsus and had, of necessity, learned to defend his beliefs against the religions and philosophies of that place. It had been a good training ground.

Saul had carried the prestige of that city with him into the Campus of the Free. He also carried a strong personal prestige. Being born of a longstanding, elite Jewish family he could claim what few of his colleagues could, full Roman citizenship as well as pure Jewish lineage.

He was not an imposing figure but when he spoke he commanded attention. He was speaking now, addressing the students’ meeting. The subject was the advance of the sect known as The Way. “I have great respect for our Head of Staff, Gamaliel. He has contributed more to my faith and insight than any other person, much more than I can begin to tell you. However, there is one matter in which I cannot agree with him. I cannot agree that the people of The Way should be allowed to continue to teach misleading heresy as they are. They must be stopped. They cannot be allowed to bring dishonour to our faith, or to turn people away from the true expression of honour and worship of The Great One.”

One of the students interjected, “There is no disagreement among us on that but what can be done? The leaders of The Way have already been tried before the court and there was found to be insufficient evidence to bring a conviction.”

“Your point is a valid one,” Saul continued. “However there is a way. Consider what our ancestors did. You know what is written in The Ancient Book of Records as well as I do. Didn’t our revered ancestor, Jacob become known as the trickster because of the deceitful ways in which he achieved what was rightfully his?

I have no doubt that what I am proposing is the will of The Great One. The rules of the true ‘way’ are all written in The Book. We must follow Jacob’s example and use guile. Witnesses can be bought. Truth can be purchased. We must make a move before more damage is done.”

Saul’s words fell on fertile ground and a religious and political movement was born, having one aim, the destruction of The Way. They would be relentless in their pursuit of their goal until The Way ceased to exist.

CHAPTER TWENTY

A matter of a few weeks later there was another meeting in progress. This was a joyous occasion. The house was full. The meal was finished and animated conversation was taking place. Stories were being told of new members being added to the followers of Saviour and of healings and miracles. It was a joyous time and a time when the power of The Presence was felt in its full force.

At first they didn’t hear it above the hubbub of conversation. Then Myrna said, “Ruth, there is someone at the door. Will you let them in?”

They heard a cry of anguish and Ruth stumbled back into the room. Myrna threw her arms around her. “Ruth love, what is wrong?” Between sobs, they made out the terrible truth, “Stephanos is dead.”

Gradually the story began to unfold. Stephanos had been arrested and brought before the court on charges of treason; of teaching and preaching beliefs which were destructive to true religious faith. The charges were backed up by statements from honourable witnesses. The court had no option but to accept their validity and bring a guilty verdict.

Even through this tragedy there was a touch of encouragement for the people of The Way. Saviour was building his kingdom. They heard how The Presence had accompanied Stephanos at his trial and execution, bringing undeniable evidence that Saviour was alive and establishing his kingdom. Some said that his face glowed like that of an angel at the trial and when he spoke it was as if that angel was speaking, such was the power of his words.

That something extraordinary had happened was obvious by the response of those who heard. In spite of the court’s intention to engender fear into those who followed The Way, there were many who aligned themselves with the Kingdom on that day. The followers of The Way were beginning to understand that something far greater than an earthly kingdom was being built, but the tone of the gathering at Myrna’s house had now changed. The aura of celebration quickly gave way to that of grief and loss.

After a brief time of being comforted, Ruth sought a place of solitude to mourn her loss. She was only now beginning to understand the full significance of the friendship which had been growing between her and Stephanos.

Bailey glanced over to the small, screened off section of the roof space which they used for sleeping. She smiled a little knowing smile when she saw Ruth sitting on the mattress, cuddling Bear. Of course she would go to Bear. He was always such a comfort in times of tears.

Bear, also, responded to the need that was placed on him. In spite of what he knew about the tiredness he was feeling, he roused himself. He would always be available to his friends in times of grief and distress.

He knew what was happening to him. That knowledge had been passed down in his family from generation to generation. He knew that he was beginning to slide into the intergenerational hibernation that was common to all members of his species. Bailey was growing up fast. She seldom talked to him now, only giving him a brief hug now and then. He had difficulty making her understand bear talk at all now, except when she was distressed. He must now allow his task of being a companion to her to be taken over by others, even if some of those others were boys.

Bear tightened his arms around Ruth ever so slightly and they murmured softly together. After a while, Ruth gave him a hard hug and said, “Bear, you are the best comfort anybody could ever have. I love you so much.” With this she released him and went back to join her friends. Bear went back to sleep.

The conversation was now sombre. They agreed that plans must be put in place to cover all contingencies. It seemed inevitable now that The Way would be declared an illegal religious group by the courts. If this happened, they would need to be ready for immediate flight to an area outside of the control of the Jerusalem courts.

Agreement was reached that every member who had a donkey or other animal that could be used as a beast of burden must have them available to be used by the whole group at a moment’s notice. The same applied to those who had any kind of cart or other conveyance that was suitable to carry luggage, the elderly, infirm and the very young.

Bailey was surprised to see Duncan hiding in the most obscure space he could find. She looked at him and knew what he was thinking, “Don’t be silly. You won’t need to carry things. You aren’t a beast of burden.”

The next few days told their own story. The courts had convened. A ruling had been made. The Way was now an illegal religious movement. A number of repressive laws had been passed:-

 

Any gathering of more than three members of the sect known as The Way is to be dispersed. Those present at such a gathering will be liable to arrest.

 

All teaching, or preaching, referring to Saviour as anything except a justly condemned criminal is an illegal act. Any persons involved will be subject to immediate arrest.

 

Any person performing a magic act and in any way attributing it to the power or authority of the condemned criminal known as Saviour will be subject to immediate arrest.

 

The maximum penalty to be imposed is death.

 

Action by the authorities was immediate. The prisons quickly filled and some followers were made an example of by being executed. Crowd support was stirred against The Way by the authorities, eager to gain political impetus.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

The roads were full of refugees fleeing Jerusalem. Thousands were fleeing in every direction. Media speculation estimated around ten thousand adults, plus children.

Each of the surrounding countries had their own practical and political battles to fight. Decisions had to be made immediately as to what their attitude would be toward those who were fleeing to them for protection.

The flight was not altogether random. The pre-arranged plans were put into action. The group centred on the household of Myrna consisted of about three hundred people, divided into small travelling parties of about thirty each. Each group had at least one donkey-drawn cart and several riding asses for the infirm. These small parties were designed to minimise the risk if they should be stopped by the authorities.

Bailey was finding all this hardship and chaos difficult to cope with. If this was a dream, she wanted to wake up. She wanted to go home and I don’t mean back to Jerusalem. I mean back to Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, Twenty First Century. It was as if, for a moment, a door had opened and she knew where her real home was.

Her legs ached. Her feet were covered with blisters. She was tired, dirty, sore and screaming mad with the whole world, but she would not get on that cart! There were others who needed it more than she did. She looked at Duncan. He looked back. He was enjoying it. “Isn’t this great; new things to see; new things to smell; lots of other dogs? I am king of an ever-changing world.”

She glanced at Ruth. Ruth was carrying Bear who was too sleepy to do anything but be carried now. Bailey knew that she should probably have left Bear in Jerusalem but she could not part with him, neither could Ruth. Ruth was still lost in her own world of grief. She needed Bear and was glad he was with them.

It was the third night since leaving Myrna’s house. For Bailey this evening time was the best part of the day. Each night, they set up camp in the open, just off the road and out of sight of other travellers. She had a vague memory of another time when she used to camp like this with her family. It was a time to relax under the light of the stars and share stories, true and imaginary, before drifting off to sleep. Although there was danger all around there was no sense of fear in the camp. Someone was always on guard.

As they sat in the soft light of the camp with Myrna tending her blisters Bailey thought that she could cope with the discomforts of the rest of the journey in exchange for the pleasures of the campsites.

Bailey also had another, more personal, pleasure which she would not share with anybody. It was the making of new friends, some of whom were boys. The excitement she got from these tentative new relationships was still so new and personal that she could not share them with anybody.

They had travelled almost due east from Jerusalem when they reached the major road running north all the way to Damascus. They were now on The Kings Highway. Travel would be easier and a little safer because of the number of travellers and the occasional contingent of Roman soldiers.

They knew that they had nothing to fear from the soldiers. Those who belonged to The Way were considered by Rome to be Jews, and the Jewish religion was legal throughout the Empire and under the protection of Roman rule. It was only the local authorities of Jerusalem that they feared.

At their present rate of travel, it would be another seven or eight days before they reached Damascus. Even so they were better situated than many of their fellow travellers who had no travel arrangements or planned destination.

The plans that Peter had made for them before sending them off smoothed their way. They were able to send a runner ahead to contact Judas, one of Myrna’s close relatives. This ensured that, by the time they arrived, at least temporary arrangements for their accommodation would have been made. Bailey calculated that the runner would probably be in Damascus by tomorrow evening. She relaxed a little. The end seemed nearer now.

Apart from discomfort, tiredness, and stiffness, the journey was uneventful. On the evening of the tenth day after their departure from Jerusalem they made camp early and within sight of Damascus. Again, a runner was sent to alert Judas of their impending arrival the following morning.

What a difference one day makes. Everything was peaceful. The full realisation hit her. Today they would enter Damascus. Aching feet would be able to heal.

Relief flooded them as they realised that the gates of the city were open and they could walk straight in. The city was accepting refugees. The anxiety they had secretly been carrying had come to nothing. They would not be turned back.

Myrna joined Bailey and Ruth as they turned left into a winding street that went across the city. Myrna grinned at them, “We’re almost there. This is the longest street in the city. If you ever get lost, you can always find your way home. This street goes right across the city and intersects with all the streets running north or south. They call it Straight Street.” Spontaneous laughter burst out around them. “I can see why,” somebody said, observing its bends and twists.

They stopped in front of one of the largest houses in the street. Myrna said, “This is the house of Judas. We are fortunate to have him in the family. He is very influential and a follower of The Way. A group of followers meet in this house in much the same way as they do – ah, I mean did, in my house.”

Myrna, Ruth, Bailey and of course Duncan and Bear were taken into this house and shown a guest room which they could occupy. To the weary travellers this was pure luxury, almost like having their own household again. They were even allocated a servant to do their cooking, cleaning and to run messages. The rest of the group they had travelled with were taken to various households throughout the city. In this state of luxury, life continued peacefully for some time. Their coming had caused quite a stir in Damascus. It was a great encouragement to the believers in that city, and the stories and experiences that were being shared caused a dramatic increase in the number of followers there.

If they had known what was about to happen their excitement may have been lost in anxiety. Back in the city of Jerusalem, Saul had not been standing idly around allowing events to take their own course. He was not a man to be thwarted in any task he undertook. He had been busy. His prey would not escape him. He would spare no effort to cleanse the blight of The Way from the name of the Jewish religion which he loved and from the honour of The Great One whom he served.

He had wasted no time in visiting the court in Jerusalem and obtaining legal papers authorising the arrest and extradition of any of Saviour’s followers from the surrounding areas.

Within the space of a few days, several messengers arrived in Damascus quite independently of each other, all bringing the same news. Saul, the militant leader of the movement against The Way in Jerusalem, was coming to Damascus.

The news of the impending arrival of Saul and his contingent of officials from Jerusalem spread fear throughout the city. Every group of followers must now make their own decisions. Would they flee again, or stay? Bailey’s group decided to stay. At least they were protected by the influential household of Judas. They would trust in that protection and the presence of Saviour. They could not keep running for ever.

Three days after the initial rumours of trouble reached them there was a knock on the door of the house of Judas. When the door was opened two men could be seen standing on the threshold. One stood tall and erect, looking every inch the sergeant of police that he was. The other was smaller and appeared disorientated and weak. He was visibly shaking and could not stand without support.

The servant of Judas, who answered the door, took control. When he saw that he was confronted by an official from another city he said, “In what way can the household of Judas be of assistance to you, sir?”

The sergeant answered with the clarity of his training, “We have been directed to this address as that of an important and trustworthy official in the city. We have a very sick man who cannot travel or participate further in our mission. We request shelter and care for our friend here. Could we speak to your master?”

The servant replied, “My master is a good and kind man. There is no need to worry him about such a matter. We will provide rest and care. Our own doctors will care for him.”

The sick man was taken to a small guest room and laid on a bed where he could rest comfortably. The departing sergeant left a small bag of coins to pay for any expenses. In this manner Saul was admitted to the household of Judas without anybody being aware of his identity.

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Duncan was the first to discover the new guest in the household. It was his nose that led him to this discovery. He had smelt a weird mixture of terror and excitement, of sickness and vitality, and went to investigate. His nose took him to Saul’s bedside, where he settled himself comfortably. In the household of Judas, the beds were not raised from the floor like ours. They were mattresses placed comfortably on the floor. When Duncan settled himself on the floor beside the sleeping Saul, his nose was almost level with where Saul was lying.

Duncan was completely unaware of who Saul was, or of his background, so he had no fear and was comfortable in his presence. He wanted to help. He sensed the man’s deep distress and knew exactly who would be best to help. He went looking for Bailey, but could not find her anywhere. He would have to help this troubled man by himself. He went back into his sleeping quarters where he found Bear, propped up in a corner, deep in his hibernation sleep.

He went over to him and gave him a shake. “Bear, I need your help.” Bear slept on. Nothing was going to wake him now that hibernation had set in.

No, that wasn’t quite right. There was one thing Duncan knew would wake Bear. He knew that for sure. Duncan was not like humans. Sometimes he didn’t have to think. He just knew things.

He looked at Bear and burst into laughter. Somebody had put a belt around Bear’s waist. Bear hated belts. It wouldn’t have stayed there long if he had been awake. He would have been so embarrassed. But, for now, this was good. Duncan knew what to do now. He could drag Bear into the sick room without any danger of hurting him.

He got his teeth firmly around the belt and pulled. Bear fell to the floor but continued to sleep. Bear was big, but Duncan was strong, and he pulled with all his might. Little by little Bear slid along the hallway.

Duncan found this very difficult. He moved slowly and carefully, so as not to knock anything over, or make a noise to attract attention. He hoped desperately that nobody would see him. He knew that he would be in big trouble if he was seen. He was not allowed to drag things around the house like this. Humans don’t always understand the things that a dog must do, but he knew that what he was doing would help.

He was determined to assist this kind and gentle man lying helpless on the bed, whatever the cost, even if it meant being put outside, or receiving a punishment like being denied his biscuit. He would pay the price willingly. His belief that what he was doing was right and good was so strong that he would pay almost any price to see it through.

He realised that this was much the same attitude as his humans had when spreading the good news of the Kingdom. He felt justified. Eventually, and without incident, he got Bear into the sick room and placed him close alongside the sick man. He knew that the close proximity of this man’s distress would soon wake Bear from his slumber. It was the only thing that would.

Saul stirred, almost to the point of consciousness and reached out a hand. He made contact with something soft and warm. As he moved his hand over this soft, furry thing he was comforted. As consciousness returned, Saul realised what it was. It reminded him of when he was a little boy, safe and secure in his mother’s house, with his favourite, cuddly toy beside him; not a fear or worry in the world.

Bear stirred. He felt Saul’s distress but did not speak. He simply moved a little closer to Saul and very gently gave him a hug. He knew that the kind of pain this man was feeling must not be intruded upon. He knew it must be absorbed without question or judgement.

This was his third generation of experience in such matters. It was not the first time he had hibernated between the needs of the generations, nor the first time he had helped in situations such as this and absorbed the pain of suffering friends.

He drew on that experience now. Like a poultice on a festering sore, he gradually drew the pain out of the mind and spirit of the man beside him. Saul burrowed deeply into the fur that he could feel. It was so comforting. In a very hesitant voice, almost a whisper, so unlike his usual manner, Saul began to tell his story. It was as if he was practicing for his confession before an adult audience later.

It was just a few moments later that Bailey looked into the room and saw the sick guest hugging Bear. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Both Bear and the stranger were awake and talking together. How had this happened? She turned and continued down the corridor, deciding that it would be better to return later to see if there was anything she could do. She did not want to embarrass her guest by intruding right now.

It was later, some time after the midday meal, that Bailey returned to the room of the sick man, as she had come to think of him, and saw that he was now sitting up and leaning against the wall. This was the most animated she had seen him since he arrived two days ago.

Until she had seen him with Bear he had seemed almost paralysed. She noticed that the meal beside him was still untouched. This was a bit concerning. He had not eaten anything since his arrival and this was the third day.

The doctor did not know what was wrong, except that he appeared to be suffering from some kind of shock and was blind. He thought that he had probably always been blind. His eyes were covered with some kind of scar tissue. To determine the cause for certain would need further investigation, but his initial diagnosis was that he had been born that way.

Until now nobody had been able to talk to Saul as he had been only semi-conscious. All anybody knew about him was that he was some kind of official from Jerusalem. The one thing they all agreed on was that he must be someone important or they would never have sent a blind man as part of an official delegation.

Bailey sat beside him, thinking that it might be good for him to have a companion. Bear was already leaning against the wall on one side of him and Duncan was lying with his head on the man’s lap, looking contented and at peace. Before she could decide on any remark to make to open a conversation, Saul spoke. “I like your animals.”

Bailey smiled, “I think they are my best friends. They are always my companions but it is when I am in trouble that they become so special. They seem to love me just as much when I’m bad as when I’m good. The one on your right is Bear and the one on your lap is Duncan. I am Bailey.”

Remembering how she had seen this man talking to Bear when she looked into the room earlier, and wanting to remove any embarrassment, she said, “Do you want to hear something really funny? Sometimes I actually talk to Bear. Mostly, it’s when I am in trouble, or have done something bad.”

Very quietly the man said, “I am in trouble, more trouble than I could have ever imagined. I have done something bad, worse than I could ever have believed that badness could possibly be.”

He paused. “My name is Saul, known as Saul of Tarsus.” Bailey stiffened momentarily, then relaxed. This man was not to be feared. The testimony of two witnesses could not be ignored. Duncan and Bear both trusted and loved this man.

CHAPTER TWENTY- THREE

As Saul spoke, Bailey felt a strong sense of The Presence in the room with them. She realised now that there was no doubt as to the trustworthiness of this man. She had a third witness who could not be doubted, The Presence.

Bailey told him that they knew why he had come to Damascus and how they had feared his coming and then continued, “But something has happened hasn’t it? I did not realise that you were blind. Why would they send a blind man?”

Saul replied, “I was not blind when I left Jerusalem. But first, would you call the master of the house. Now that my identity is known, he must be given the chance to decide if I will be allowed to stay.”

In her brief stay, Bailey had absorbed much of the atmosphere of the household, and now, sitting proud and confident, said, “This is the household of Judas. In this household, when need is a guest, no questions are asked and no judgements are made.” She felt confident in this statement but did wonder if Ruth would forgive so easily. Saul said again, “I was not blind when I left Jerusalem. Yes, something did happen on the way here that has changed my life for ever. Let me start at the beginning. Ever since I was a boy in my father’s household, in Tarsus, as far back as I can remember, I was a follower of The Great One. I was determined never to be simply a passive believer, but to actively defend the honour of his name in every way that presented itself.

After coming to Jerusalem to complete my education, I was confronted with the teaching of Saviour. When the followers of Saviour claimed that he was alive, after being dead, I could not believe it. I saw the followers of The Way as being so completely misled, or deliberately wrong that they were destroying everything I believed in and stood for.”

Saul held up his hand and said, “Please hear me out. I am not trying to defend myself, or justify what I was doing. I know how wrong I was. Saviour told me.”

“You met Saviour?” Bailey was puzzled.

Saul continued. “We were almost at Damascus, a group of about twenty of us, mounted on horses, when, without any warning, I was enveloped in a light so bright that it knocked me to the ground. I never knew that a light could have the physical force to actually push one over before. This light did.

I knew that I was in the presence of something supernatural. I did not lose consciousness, rather, my senses were heightened, so that I seemed able to process a thousand thoughts in that one moment. I fell to the ground and even as I landed the light spoke to me, “Saul! Listen carefully.”

I knew immediately what was happening but needed a moment to know how to respond. I could do nothing but respond with what was in my heart. I said, “What do I call you, commander of my life? He responded immediately, I am Saviour. The one you are hounding to death.”

Saul continued, “I could do nothing except marvel that I was still alive. The force of the light had knocked me to the ground, but the thing that hit me with greater force than this was the love in his voice when what I deserved was devastating punishment. He loved me, a violent, misguided murderer. I knew that this Saviour was what he had claimed to be. He was the Son of God. He was, as his followers claimed – alive, even after being dead. I was totally enfolded in the presence of Saviour.

I knew that he was alive in The Presence that surrounded me so strongly and I knew that he was also alive in his followers, the members of The Way. My whole thinking was turned upside down. I now wanted to direct all my energies to serving him, so I asked him what he wanted me to do.”

Bailey had a thousand questions. “What did he say he wanted you to do? Did the others in the group become followers too?”

Saul held his hand up again in a wait a moment gesture. “No, I was the only one who became a believer. In fact, for some reason, I was the only one he spoke to. The others were confused by what was happening and did not understand. They saw the light and heard a noise but did not hear any words. For some reason I was singled out. Perhaps I will understand when the messenger comes.”

Bailey was remembering Alias and broke in excitedly, “You are expecting a visit from an angel?”

“No.” Saul replied, “At least I don’t think so. When Saviour spoke to me out of the light on the road he told me that I would be given instructions as to what I must do when I got to Damascus.”

Then a realisation hit him. He turned to Bailey and said, “Do you know? Has he told you anything? Think hard.”

“No.” Bailey said, “I don’t know any more than you have told me.” Then, with mischief in her voice, she said, “Bear might know. I saw you talking to him earlier.”

For the first time since meeting him, Bailey saw a smile light up his face as he said, “No, I am convinced Bear knows many things but he is not speaking. I think your friend, Duncan, knows more than he lets on also but my knowledge of dog talk is very limited. When I was a boy there was a dog I used to talk to a lot. We spent a lot of time together, that dog and I. I don’t know if we understood each other or not, but we spent a lot of time talking.

Thank you for letting me talk. It has been good for me to talk and to remember those happy days of childhood. I had a good home and a good childhood. I needed some happy memories of a time when life was stable and content. Those memories have given me something to stand on again; a place from which I can begin to reconstruct my life.”

Bailey decided that she liked this man.

She and Saul had been sitting comfortably together for a while when they heard footsteps coming down the hallway. They knew that two people were approaching. Then a voice called, “Can we come in?” That was the voice of Judas, the master of the household. As he entered with his companion, a man of mature years, about his own age, he said to Saul, “Allow me to introduce myself. Your condition has not allowed me to do so before. I am Judas, Master of this household. I welcome you. It is good to see you recovering.”

“Yes I am very much better now thanks, in no small measure to Bailey and her two friends here,” looking toward Duncan and Bear. “But do you know who I am?”

“Indeed I do,” and then he repeated some of the words that Bailey had said previously. “In this household, when need is a guest; no questions are asked. Welcome, Saul of Tarsus to the household of Judas.”

Bailey stood and was about to depart and leave the men to their business but Saul said, “Bailey, please don’t go. I want you to know what is happening here. I knew you were special when I first saw you and I feel as if you belong. If ever I could have a daughter, I would want her to be exactly like you but I am beginning to believe that there will be no place in my life for a wife or family. People like you will have to fill that place in passing moments of life.”

Judas’ companion then spoke to Saul, “My name is Ananias. I greet you formally, both on my own account and on behalf of the followers of The Way in Damascus. Saul of Tarsus, fellow believer and follower of Saviour, I welcome you to Damascus and to the fellowship of The Way.”

He placed his hands on Saul’s shoulders and said, “Stand up. I want to talk to you face to face as a man and an equal under the authority of Saviour.”

When Saul was on his feet, Ananias said, “Saul of Tarsus, look at me.” Saul turned his eyes toward the sound of the voice and found himself looking straight into the eyes of Ananias. He could see.

Ananias continued, “Saul of Tarsus, Saviour wants you to join us in welcoming The Presence into your life,” Immediately Saul had another experience of being able to see. What he saw was a total awareness that the love and Presence of Saviour would never leave him.

Bailey sat in silence, aware of the power of The Presence filling the room and of the new life flooding into her friend, Saul.

Saul had one more question for Ananias, “Did Saviour give you any other message as to what I must do next? He promised to send someone to tell me what he wanted me to do.”

“Yes he did. He said to tell you that your job would be to spread the good news that the kingdom of heaven has come, all throughout the Empire, to the non-Jewish world, as well as to the Jews. You will even have the opportunities to tell Kings and Rulers about it. When those opportunities come you must grasp them with both hands.”

Saul sensed that Ananias was not telling him everything and said, “Was there anything else?”

“Well, yes, there was something that I don’t quite understand. He said something to the effect that he would be treating you to a display of the problems and difficulties that you will have to face right throughout this task.”

“Thank you.” Saul said. “That goes a long way to confirming what I had already begun to feel; that there will be no space in my life for wife or family. I think that there will be too much turmoil. If this proves to be the case I am sad about it, but the satisfaction of obedience will be greater than the loss. We are in service to the king.”

That evening was marked by the fact that Saul sat down with the household and shared a meal with them. Nobody complained when he came back for seconds. He had some catching up to do.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

The next morning, Saul was in conference with Judas, explaining his plans for the immediate future.

Earlier, he had told Bailey that he had just experienced an eventful night. During the night The Presence had been strongly with him and he had been given instructions for the days that lay ahead. He said, “I fought what I was being told. I wanted to get on with spreading the good news right away but Saviour told me clearly that I must first go on a pilgrimage throughout the Sinai Peninsular in Arabia and visit the places where The Great One had spoken so clearly to our ancestors and to Moses. He said that there are many things I must learn if I am to tell the story accurately and effectively.”

Saul had wasted no time and departed early that morning. Life settled back to normal in the household of Judas and in the city of Damascus. Without Saul there was no threat to The Way. After all, he had the extradition papers, so the rest of his party returned to Jerusalem and settled into their normal routines. A life of routine returned for Bailey as well. Perhaps it was a little too predictable for her comfort. She had become so used to excitement and change that she missed it.

She remembered those times that she thought of as her journeys. There had been the time in The Before when The Great One had spoken and everything had changed so dramatically. The worlds of material stuff had been made. Bailey remembered the Time of The Speaking when chaos and darkness had become order and life. The Great One had spoken it all into being. Always it was The Speaking in one form or another.

She remembered the loss of the Kingdom that man had ruled over in the good place on earth and the sadness it had caused both man and The Great One when man had done that foolish thing and lost his ability to rule.

She remembered how, because of the foolish thing that man had done, The Great One had been forced into another kind of Speaking that brought great sadness to Him. This Speaking put a curse on the earth and all its inhabitants which took them outside of the awareness of His presence. Everything that was on the earth was thrown into a state of confusion, so that no path was straight and no truth complete.

Then, Bailey remembered a young woman giving birth to a baby boy; a boy who had not been conceived in her by a man but by The Great One himself. This was the most amazing and impossible thing to comprehend. Through his mother the child had been born human but through his Father he had been born as the true son of The Great One.

Bailey pondered this and was reminded of how the first King, Adam had been moulded from the stuff of the earth but had his life and spirit breathed into him by The Great One.

She had seen this new son reveal himself to be The Speaking of The Great One, again bringing order and light into the chaos caused by the foolish thing man had done. He had grown up and done all this in the community and nation in which he lived. She had seen this man, this second King, open the gates to the place where the dead go, removing the power of the curse that The Great One had been forced to put on the earth. By only doing what he saw his Father doing and only saying what he knew his Father wanted him to say, he had re-established The Kingdom in the name of both man and The Great One.

She knew that what she was in the midst of now was part of another journey. She was seeing the Kingdom being re-established in an ever-broadening way. It would no longer be confined to the community and nation to which Saviour had belonged. It would extend right throughout the world.

The Speaking was again central. It was coming through man and the words of The Speaking were originating from The Great One himself through The Presence. Bailey knew she was witnessing a truly remarkable thing. It was the establishment of a combined rule with man standing hand in hand with The Great One. She did not believe that anything could break the rule of this kingdom. The Way was being ever more firmly established.

What she did find hard to understand was how it could be that she remembered all these things so vividly but could not remember at all where she lived or what she did when she was not on a journey.

She wished that she could talk to Saul about this. There was something special about the way he grasped the truth about events. But he was a long way away, in some inhospitable place called Arabia.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

It was just a few days after these events that Bailey received a summons to the room of administration in the household of Judas. She was a little fearful as Judas was an important man with responsibilities throughout the city and she had been given no explanation as to why she had been called.

When she entered the room she was relieved to see a smile of welcome on Judas’ face. She stood formally before him and waited. He waved her aside and said, “No, no please sit. There is something I must talk to you about, but first let me give you an apology. I am sorry that I have not been able to spend more time with you. I have been exceptionally busy and, if truth be told, have not been home very often.”

Bailey was still feeling a little embarrassed but waited patiently until Judas continued.

“Something very unusual happened last night that concerns you. I wanted to see you alone so that you can make your own decisions without interference or pressure, and so that any necessary plans and explanations can be formulated.”

Bailey was surprised because Judas seemed to be having trouble getting to the point. What could have happened that caused a man of his experience to become unsure of how to approach a simple meeting with a girl? She decided that the simple approach might be the best, so went straight to the point, “Judas, Master of the House, what has happened?”

“Yes, of course, you are right, Bailey, I must tell you. Last night I was sitting right here, where I am sitting now, planning today’s activities when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was shocked, almost paralysed with fear. It was impossible for anybody to be in the room. The door was locked. I jumped to my feet and, turning to face the intruder, found myself looking into the face of a youngish man with the most intelligent eyes I have ever seen.”

“While I stood, for a moment immobilised by the shock of his sudden entry into my life, he apologised and said, “I am sorry I did not mean to alarm you. My name is Alias. I am a messenger from The Great One. Your young friends, Bailey and Duncan know me and will vouch for me. I am speaking to you because you are the Master of this house. I have a task for you to organise that involves them.”

Judas continued, “I did not know what to think. I have never before had any kind of heavenly messenger visit me. Of course I have read about such incidents in The Ancient Book of Records but could not believe that such a thing could intrude into my life. I still think that I may have been dreaming and it is all a meaningless nothing.”

Bailey was no stranger to the confusion that unexpected and new experiences can cause. She felt a sudden kinship with this man and came quickly to his rescue. “Yes, I know Alias. He was with us, and helped us on some of our journeys. Duncan and Bear were with me. They would vouch for him also if you could understand their talk.”

It was then that Judas gave the most surprising command, “Get Duncan!”

Bailey turned and ran, for she felt the urgency in Judas’ voice. It took a little while to wake Duncan and make him understand that he was needed. When she returned with Duncan they were met by Judas who crouched in front of them. Duncan immediately went into sniff and search mode, which wasn’t unusual for him. What was a little unexpected, was the fact that his nose took him immediately to the exact spot where Alias had placed his hand on Judas’ shoulder. He sniffed that spot over and over, all the time pushing against Judas as if he had discovered a special friend.

Judas seemed about to accept this as sufficient confirmation when Duncan’s nose went into overdrive. He became crazy, mad, excited, out of control! Bailey did not know what to do. There was a box in the corner that was in danger of being destroyed, or at best badly damaged. It was some kind of storage box and Duncan was sniffing it frantically up and down, all the time scratching at its lid and yapping uncontrollably.

“Duncan! No!” Bailey screamed, almost as out of control as her dog. Now it was Judas’ turn to do what Alias had done to him. He put his hand on Bailey’s shoulder and said gently, “Leave him.”

He went over to the box and, squatting beside it, carefully opened the lid.

Incredibly, Duncan sat and waited.

Judas reached into the box and carefully removed a short piece of wood. It looked like a piece of a straight tree branch that had been smoothed at both ends. Duncan took this gently between his teeth and lay with it under his chin. His look of absolute bliss was unmistakable. If Duncan had been human Bailey would have said, “Duncan is in love.”

It was at that moment that Bailey remembered something that had seemed insignificant at the time. She recalled the time when they had been together in the Beautiful Place. Just after the animals had been spoken into existence by The Great One, this Beautiful dog had come to greet Duncan. It had been carrying a piece of wood exactly like this.

Judas looked at Duncan and then at Bailey and said, “Well, I need ask no more questions. Duncan has vouched for Alias. When he came to me with his message he said that piece of wood was a gift to Duncan from a very special friend in the Beautiful Place. I don’t know where that place is but I do know that, in all my travels, I have never seen timber of this type before.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

Judas wasted no time in implementing the instructions that Alias had given him. Shortly after the household had retired to bed, Bailey, Duncan and a donkey called Asbuz, stood outside by the stables. A closer look showed the observer that the Donkey was loaded for travel. Another figure was standing in the doorway, watching the proceedings.

The observer was Judas. He was not comfortable with what he was doing. He was used to giving orders, not following them. His discomfort was intensified by the fact that these instructions had been given in such a mysterious way that no rational mind could understand their significance. He did not like acting blind but knew that the messenger of The Great One must be obeyed.

As he stood watching, something even more frightening happened. The air around the group before him began to shimmer like the rippling of water when a pebble is thrown into a pond. Then they were gone – just gone. Judas would have panicked if The Presence had not been so strong around him, reassuring him that all was well.

Lost in a sense of awe, he returned to Bailey’s sleeping quarters and looked around. It was just as Alias had told him. Bear was gone. He had been taken home, whatever that meant. But he knew that was not where Bailey was being taken. His misgiving was strong as he realised the one thing he had forgotten to do was to tell her what Alias had said about her destination. She would not know where she was going.

The shimmering that Judas had seen when Bailey was taken from them was experienced firsthand by her. She immediately recognised what was happening. The memory of a previous journey was immediate. She may not have known where she was going but she did know what was happening. This was a pleasant way to travel, not like being in that ancient lift that had brought her to this place in the beginning.

Nobody was in sight when a girl, a dog and a donkey appeared in the desert. When the shimmering stopped and the landscape began to come into focus, Bailey could see that the night was coming to an end. The eastern horizon was just beginning to lighten. She needed time to get her bearings. She looked around. It was a dreary place with little sign of life and no sign of habitation. She didn’t know which way to go.

Asbuz, her donkey, didn’t have any such problem. He seemed to know where to go. She let him walk freely. Holding his lead in her right hand and her bundle of personal things in her left, she let him have his head and followed him slowly southward.

As the visibility increased with the rising of the sun, she noticed a small tentlike structure ahead. She wanted to stop and consider whether to proceed, but Asbuz didn’t see any reason to hesitate. In this decision she had little choice. A determined donkey can be difficult for a girl to control, so she continued her slow trudge toward the camp, determined to appear as unconcerned as possible. The last thing Bailey wanted was to attract attention with any undue disturbance.

As she approached the camp, a figure emerged from under the shelter. He was a slightly built man, heavily bearded and leaning heavily on a stick. She judged him to be no great threat. At least he should be easily outrun if flight became necessary.

Her cautious approach was completely ruined by a flurry of activity beside her. Duncan had taken off from beside her. Like a bullet, he rushed toward the man. Duncan knew something that Bailey did not. In some things dogs are cleverer than humans. This man was unrecognisable to Bailey but not to Duncan. This scruffy, frail man looked nothing like the upstanding, aristocratic scholar they had known in Damascus but, to Duncan, he smelt like Saul. Duncan was an expert when it came to smells. His nose was never wrong. He ran straight to Saul and jumped up to hug him in a doggy embrace.

Saul was not as quick at recognition as Duncan, but he did know the difference between aggression and welcome. He responded by examining the animal closely, making sure that there was no message attached to him. There was none, but he could not help noticing that this dog had a scar on his head. It was identical to the one Duncan had. Everything matched; colour, behaviour, scar and those eyes. He said softly, “Duncan?”

Duncan turned and ran swiftly to Bailey and Asbuz. He gave a sharp yap to make sure Saul’s attention was focussed on that spot. As on many previous occasions, Duncan pondered the problem of how humans could be so slow in some things when they were so clever in others. Surely it would not have been difficult for The Great One to have given them a good set of nostrils that could pick up scent properly. He would hate to have to go through life with such a handicap.

Saul looked up and, squinting into the rays of the rising sun, saw that the girl trudging beside the donkey toward him was indeed Bailey. He did not know how this could be but had to believe his eyes. His wounded leg would not bear his weight. He stood, in forced immobility, and waited for her.

He looked at Bailey and could see that she had not recognised him through the grime and beard. He called loudly, “Bailey, it’s me, Saul.”

“Saul, is it really you?” she yelled back. “Please wait where you are. I must tether the donkey and then I will be with you.”

“Take him round behind the rocks. There is food and water for him there; there is also company, by the name of Kharub.”

When Bailey came back to join Saul she said, “I assume Kharub is your donkey. Asbuz certainly seemed to recognise him as a friend.”

“He is friendly to everybody.” Saul said, smiling behind his beard. “I got him at the same time I got this.” He patted his ankle, indicating what he meant.

Saul proceeded to tell her what had happened. “It was very early one morning, three days ago, when there was a noise out the back. I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. The horses were screaming and moving around violently. I thought it was animals threatening them, so took my stick and went out to investigate. It wasn’t animals. It was people, thieves.”

Bailey asked if the heavy cudgel-like walking stick he was leaning on was the one he had taken with him. When he told her that it was indeed the stick he used, she said, “I would run pretty quick if I saw you coming at me waving that.”

“Something certainly frightened them,” Saul said, “but I doubt if it was me. There were three of them and only one of me. I only had a stick, they had an array of knives. They seemed to go into some kind of panic. I think they saw something that I could not see.”

Bailey interjected here, saying that she was not surprised that something had spooked them. The power of The Presence was so strong around the camp that if she had not recognised what it was, she would have been terrified too. If those thieves had seen something, as well as feeling the intensity of power around them, wow-eee they would certainly have run for their lives. She smiled at her own secret thought. Maybe Alias had poked a face at them.

“How did you hurt yourself?” She asked.

“I tried to chase them. They had my horses. I twisted my ankle very badly. Maybe it was just as well I did fall. One of them threw a knife and I think it would have hit me if I had been standing.”

“And the donkey was theirs?” Bailey guessed.

“It was theirs. Now it’s mine,” Saul said. “It escaped in the melee and came wandering back. It looked glad to be with me and seemed to be saying, “Will you look after me and be kind to me?”

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

The next hour was a little like some family festival, with the opening of presents. Bailey brought all the packages that Asbaz had been carrying, into the area under the shelter. Saul, being almost completely immobilised, devoted his energy to investigating the packages.

In everything that had been packed onto the donkey, there was nothing that was not useful. In fact, some of the items were of particular value, due to the situation they found themselves in. There was a length of cloth which Saul immediately recognised as being suitable to provide a private area for Bailey. There were lots of food items and some light cord which could be used to snare animals for the pot. This particularly excited Saul because he recognised that, without it, they could well starve. His own snaring and trapping equipment had gone with the horses.

Saul looked at Bailey and said, “Who packed this?” She responded by telling him that she had no idea. Asbaz was already loaded and ready to go when she first saw him. She explained how her journey had been arranged by Alias.

Saul looked at her with growing amazement and said, “The hand of The Great One and of his son Saviour, our commander is in this. No one else could know our needs so accurately. “Look at this.” He handed Bailey a jar containing a jellylike substance. She sniffed and almost threw it to the ground. “Phew, if that is what I suspect, I am glad it’s meant for your ankle, not our faces.”

Saul smiled. “You are right about the smell, but it’s the only thing I know that actually does anything to help an injury such as mine.” He proceeded to smear an application on the offending ankle.

While Saul was doing this, Bailey watched Duncan with interest to see what his reaction would be to such a strong odour. His nose certainly twitched but he did not leave the shelter; in fact, he went over to Saul and sniffed all around, paying particular attention to the ankle. If the twitching of a nose can give any indication of what its owner is thinking, then Duncan found the smell to be most unpleasant, but somehow, not undesirable. He even went so far as to give it a tentative lick, then settled beside Saul who said, “I think your dog approves.”

Bailey responded “Yeah, I reckon he’s saying that’s exactly what he would have recommended,” her Aussie accent breaking through unexpectedly.

Saul looked at her quizzically. “Where does that accent come from? I have never heard anything like it before?”

For a moment, Bailey looked lost and then said, “I don’t know. Most times it doesn’t matter because this is where home is but on occasions, like just now, I get the tiniest glimpse of another place where I remember being loved and belonging. Then I can’t remember any more. I know that I will be taken back sometime. I always am.” Then she proceeded to tell him about her journeys and the things she had seen. She looked puzzled for a moment, “What I do find strange is that I can remember everything about those journeys, in different times and places, but I know nothing about where I come from.”

Saul was a very wise and educated man but all he could do was look puzzled. He asked the only question that he could think of. “Are you sure you are not a messenger from The Great One?”

“Oh no, no, no,” Bailey said, “I know nothing of The Great One except what I have seen and heard here on earth. As for the journeys, I think I do go home, but I can’t remember anything of it, except that I am loved. I am sure of that.”

Saul stood to his feet supporting himself with his staff and said, “Come outside with me and I will explain where we are and what our situation is here. While we are doing that I will ponder some more on what you have told me.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

With the aid of his staff, Saul took her a little way from the camp, where they could see the surrounding country more clearly. “Firstly,” he said, “our position is not good, or it wasn’t until you came. That is why I was so excited about that piece of cord you brought. I was almost out of food, with no means of obtaining new supplies. With that cord I can snare prey, even with my ankle the way it is. With the supplies you brought, we can live quite well for some time.”

When she heard this, Bailey pondered on the provision that The Great One had made for them.

Saul continued speaking. “As to where we are, I must tell you a little of what I have been doing since I left Damascus almost three years ago.”

This was news to Bailey! She had to adjust her thinking as she realised that the time she had spent in the rippling of travel had used up three years of everybody else’s time. She said nothing, just waited for Saul to continue.

“It had always been my ambition to make a pilgrimage through the Sinai Peninsula and retrace the journey made by Moses and his people. I particularly wanted to visit the places where The Great One had spoken to him. When Ananias touched me and invited me to welcome The Presence into my life I was overwhelmed with new experiences. One of the things that flooded into my awareness was the certain knowledge that I must make that journey immediately without stopping to talk to anyone. I am learning to follow instructions. That is what it means to belong to The Way.”

“Did you discover why you had to go immediately?” Bailey asked.

“Yes, I did. It was so that I wouldn’t mess things up by teaching my own ideas. By the time I had finished my education in Jerusalem I was well on the way to becoming one of the leading scholars in Judaea. No, that is false modesty. I should say, I was well on my way to becoming one of the leading scholars in the whole world. There were positions waiting for me throughout the Empire.

So far as my knowledge of the The Book of Ancient Writings is concerned, I could almost recite it from beginning to end. I knew every interpretation that had been put forward by the best scholars. I thought I knew it all. It has taken me the three years I have spent here to unlearn all that I had come to believe, and to discover the simple truth.

“What truth is that?” Bailey asked.

Saul’s reply was immediate. “It is the same as Saviour claimed it to be when he was with us. He said then, ‘Follow me and you will be in the Father’s Kingdom.’ That has not changed. Entering the Kingdom of Heaven is a free gift. It is still the result of becoming his follower and welcoming The Presence into your life and surrounds. There are no absolute laws, no demands of understanding or ability. It just happens.”

Bailey nodded, “That is what Peter believes also. It is how the followers of The Way live.”

As Bailey said those words Saul looked at her in a puzzled way and said to her, “You’re speaking in that strange accent again. I have never heard it so strong before.”

“Crikey, mate!” she exclaimed. “You’re weird.”

All this time Duncan was tugging at her. In the clearest doggy language he could muster, he was saying, “Come this way. It’s urgent.”

Finally, she gave in to his persistence and went with him. Just a few steps seemed to be enough to satisfy him.

Duncan was not encumbered with a brain that demands to make logical sense of everything. He knew something that she was unaware of. He could smell the leaves of gum trees, mixed with the smell of the best treat that his doggy bowl could produce – Lucky Dog, the kind that comes out of a tin, the kind you eat – if you’re a lucky dog. Without any need to understand, Duncan knew that he had to make a little distance between Bailey and Saul.

Saul was amused by the little drama he saw unfolding between Bailey and Duncan. Then his amusement turned to awe as he saw a faint shimmering around them and watched them slowly disappear into a hole in that shimmering air. The Presence remained strong all around him, reassuring him that they were perfectly safe and been taken home to the land they loved best.

Saul walked briskly back to his simple shelter and busied himself, preparing for the journey that he knew he must make, back to Damascus where it had all begun for him. It was there that Ananias had promised that he would receive a sample package of the kind of difficulties he would have to face throughout the rest of his life.

The certainty grew within him that Damascus was his destination. He was becoming happier by the moment as he realised how well prepared he was. He had two donkeys, food and trapping material. As he pondered this, there came the sudden realisation of the most amazing provision of all. All the time that he had been packing and preparing for the journey he had been getting about briskly on two good legs. His spirit soared. He knew now how much The Great One loved him.

He sang as he walked beside the donkeys. He talked with Saviour, his friend. He surrendered his wisdom and accumulated knowledge. He surrendered his bondage to The Ancient Book of Writings and gave it back into the keeping of The Great One. He was even pondering whether he should discard it altogether, as a hindrance to his work with the non-Jewish people.

The voice of The Presence was with him, “Do not discard it. Do not be bound by it.” As he walked on, one other phrase kept going through his mind. “It is useful. It is useful. It will be valuable in every phase of your life. It will be a channel of revelation for you and those you teach. It is not the absolute authority of your truth. Do not become enslaved to it. You have only one master. Remember Saviour said, ‘I am The Way. I am The Truth. I am The Life. Nobody gets to the throne room of my Father except through me. Walk in The Way.”

With an ever increasing sense of freedom and purpose Saul danced a little as he walked beside his donkey. Like a child, for whom the final school-bell had rung, he leapt into the air as he shouted, “Onward to Damascus.”

The end

 

About the Author.

The author was born into a farming family in south eastern Queensland. He later trained in theology and counselling and is now living a relaxed lifestyle in his home on the banks of the Mary River not far from where he grew up. He happily shares his retirement with his wife, his fishing rod and The Presence.

 

~

 

Back to beginning

 

 

Look out for the expanded version

The author plans to release an expanded version of this book early in 2017 for adult readers.

It will be designed for group sharing – watch for

The Biovantic Bear


The Bear the Girl and the Dog

Do you find God stuff boring and irrelevant? Bailey had no choice but to think differently when she was confronted by The Great One, a God who spoke. Her travels take her to a number of destinations where she is faced with situations which, at first, seem unbelievable but become everyday events in a world in which The Great One is establishing his kingdom. At times she would be overwhelmed if it were not for the wisdom of her friend Bear and the instinctive knowledge of her dog Duncan who are her constant companions. Her story begins in the period leading up to the creation and continues into New Testament times.

  • Author: George Thomson
  • Published: 2016-09-26 01:35:12
  • Words: 30947
The Bear the Girl and the Dog The Bear the Girl and the Dog