Written by Diana Cooper, illustrated by Lisa Dickinson.
Tara woke early and stroked Ash-ting, her beautiful little grey kitten, who was lying beside her on the bed. All at once a shining light appeared in the corner of her room. It grew bigger and out of it a smiling face looked at her. Tara’s heart leapt with joy. It was her guardian angel!
The angel talked into her mind, ‘Hallo Tara. We love you very much.’
‘Thank you,’ replied the little girl, blushing with pleasure.
‘You have some lessons today,’ the angel told her.
‘No, it’s Saturday,’ Tara protested.
Her angel laughed. ‘Not school work. These are life lessons.’ That sounded very important and Tara listened. ‘Today you must remember that if you or anyone around you needs protection, call on Archangel Michael immediately.’
Tara nodded but she felt uneasy. What could the angel mean?
‘And,’ continued the golden voice, ‘you must listen to me.’
‘But I am listening!’ Tara felt indignant.
‘Yes, you are now while you are quiet and relaxed but when you are busy or flustered I can’t get through to you. Then I send you a signal you can feel in your body to make you take notice.’
‘What sort of signal?’ Tara was curious. She noticed that Ash-ting was sitting up now and nodding at the angel’s words.
‘If something is dangerous or someone is lying to you or you can’t trust them, I give you a tense feeling in your tummy.’
‘Oh yes!’ exclaimed Tara, ‘Is that you?’
Her angel smiled. ‘Some people call it gut reaction or intuition.’
Tara responded eagerly. ‘Mum says she knows if someone is dishonest because her eyelid twitches.’
Ash-ting and the angel laughed. ‘Yes and some people feel their scalp itch,’ agreed the kitten.
‘Or their eyes burn or they feel sick,’ added the angel, ‘but your signal is a tight feeling in your tummy.’
Tara nodded. ‘So what’s my lesson?’
‘You’ll find out today, so pay particular attention to the feeling you have in your tummy and remember to call Archangel Michael if you need to.’ And she vanished.
‘But you always tell me if something is wrong,’ the child said to Ash-ting as she cuddled him.
‘I won’t always be with you. You do need to be able to sense for yourself. What does your tummy say now?’
‘It’s a bit tight but I’m just scared I’ll get the lesson wrong.’
‘Do you sense anything else?’
Tara felt her tummy, then shook her head. ‘Good,’ responded Ash-ting and snuggled down for a lie in.
Just then the phone rang. Quick as a flash Tara jumped up. She threw open the door of her parent’s room and grabbed the phone before her mother had even sat up. ‘Hallo, it’s Tara,’ she said brightly……’Oh hallo Granny!……..I’ll do it. Mummy, Granny’s not well. Can I take the puppy for a walk in the meadow? Can I please. Please say yes!’
‘What’s the matter with Granny?’ Concerned, Mum sat up and took the phone from Tara. She listened, then said, ‘I’ll be with you in five minutes.’
Tara did not wait to hear any more. She dashed back to her bedroom and flung on her clothes. ‘Ash-ting I’m going to take Oscar for a walk,’ she chirped.
‘Be careful Tara. He’s a lively puppy,’ the kitten warned her but Tara tossed back her hair and rushed downstairs after her mother without responding.
It took five minutes for them to walk to Granny’s house and another ten for Tara to persuade, plead, beg and nag before they gave her permission to take Oscar out onto the field behind the house. It was the field that Tara’s house backed onto for Granny lived in the same road.
In the end Mum sighed, ‘Alright Tara, as long as you keep him on his lead and you stay where I can see you from the window.’
‘Hooray,’ shouted the little girl excitedly. ‘Thanks Mum!’ And in a flash she had the boisterous puppy on his lead and was running down the path. The little girl and the dog ran as fast as they could twice round the meadow, then that became a bit boring.
Tara sat down in the grass and looked into the puppy’s eyes. ‘If I let you off the lead will you promise to come back straight away when I call?’
She did not listen to any messages from her guardian angel. She ignored Ash-ting who was calling to her from the distance. The puppy sat in front of her and she was sure he was saying, ‘Yes!’ as if he understood. Tara leant forward and unclipped his lead. ‘There! Good boy.’
Oscar stood up and wagged his tail. Almost immediately he spotted two squirrels chasing each other through a little cluster of trees nearby. ‘Woof!’ he barked joyfully, ‘Woof, woof!’ and off he streaked.
‘Oscar come back!’ yelled Tara in alarm as she raced after him. ‘Oscar, come here!’ But the puppy took no notice. He swerved away when she tried to catch him.
At last the squirrels disappeared and he raced after an imaginary rabbit. The girl called frantically after him. She was already out of sight of her Mum but she had to catch the dog.
The meadow dipped down and she was not allowed past this point alone for not only was it out of sight of her house but the river flowed through the meadow and on the other side of the bridge was a road.
‘The road!’ Tara felt cold at the thought of Oscar being hit by a car. She ran even faster and the puppy thought it was a great game.
She remembered that her guardian angel had told her to ask Archangel Michael to protect anyone in trouble. ‘Archangel Michael, Archangel Michael,’ she called out in her head, ‘Protect Oscar. Please keep him safe.’ She thought she saw a flash of deep blue light. She did hope so, for she knew Archangel Michael was blue.
She ran down the forbidden hill. What else could she do? She could not leave the puppy now. But she knew she should not go any further.
And then she saw a man standing under a tree. She had not noticed him before and she stopped running. Her legs trembled suddenly. There was no one else around. Her angel had said she must learn to listen to her instinct. What did she feel? She tried to listen to her tummy. She was scared because she had let Oscar off the lead and she should not be out of sight. Then she realised her angel was telling her the man was friendly.
At that moment the man shouted loudly, ‘Stop at once. Turn round and run back. Your puppy thinks you are chasing him for a game. Go back.’
Without a word Tara turned and ran as fast as she could up the hill. Sure enough, seconds later the puppy raced past her wagging his tail enthusiastically. But he still would not let him catch her.
Just then she saw a familiar grey form hurrying across the field towards her. It was Ash-ting.
‘Oh Ash-ting,’ she wailed, ‘I let Oscar off the lead and I can’t catch him. I was so stupid.’
‘I know,’ the kitten rubbed against her legs gently even though she had been disobedient. ‘I’ll talk to Oscar.’ He called out to the puppy, who stopped running away, then walked over to the little girl looking sheepish. ‘I don’t want to get Tara into trouble. After all she did rescue me and find me a lovely home,’ he replied to Ash-ting.
Tara slipped Oscar’s lead on again. Then she picked up her kitten and gave him a cuddle. ‘Thank you special kitten,’ she murmured. ‘You are the best cat in the world.’ Ash-ting purred smugly.
As they walked back to Granny’s house Tara said, ‘Ash-ting I asked Archangel Michael to protect Oscar but he still ran towards the road.’
‘Archangel Michael made sure the man was there who told you to turn round so that the dog would follow you back to safety,’ Ash-ting reminded her.
‘Oh yes,’ Tara nodded understanding. ‘So he did protect Oscar.’
Suddenly she exclaimed, ‘Look!’ and pointed to something shiny by the path. She bent down to pick it up. ‘It’s a beautiful diamond earring. I wonder who lost it?’
Ash-ting’s ears pricked up. ‘It’s that man. That’s what he’s looking for but he is in the wrong place.’
‘I daren’t go down the hill again.’ Tara looked towards her Gran’s house and saw her Mum watching from the window. She asked Ash-ting what they could do.
The kitten reminded her that he talked into her mind, so did her angel. Everyone does it without realising it. He told her to focus on the man and send a message to say she had found the earring, then imagine him walking along the path towards them. ‘I’ll do it too,’ he added.
So they both did this. Tara was still surprised when a few minutes later the man walked into sight obviously looking for something. The little girl carrying Ash-ting and holding the puppy’s lead, moved towards him.
‘Ah you’ve got him on his lead then,’ smiled the man. ‘Well done.’ He stroked the puppy who wagged his tail madly.
‘Thank you for telling me to turn round,’ smiled Tara shyly. ‘Are you looking for something?’
‘My wife has lost her favourite earring. She’s very upset about it.’
‘Ah,’ responded Tara, smiling broadly now. She held out her hand, ‘Is this it?’
The man’s face lit up. ‘Oh where did you find it? Thank you so much. She’ll be overjoyed.’ He took it, then reached into his pocket to give her a reward but Ash-ting whispered to Tara. ‘No Tara, he did you a favour and you have repaid it. That’s even.’
The child understood.
She shook her head when he offered her money. ‘No it’s okay thanks. You saved Oscar.’ He saw that she meant it and put it away. ‘Well thanks again.’
She had a warm fuzzy feeling in her tummy as she walked back across the meadow with the puppy and kitten.
And when Granny gave her some money for walking the dog she was very happy to accept it.