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THE TIGER AND THE TREASURE
by Mary Ansell, Copyright © 2001

Once upon a time, there were two friends, Tianji and Jamie. Tianji had a small, yellow dog. Although the dog was small, it was very fierce. The dog was a good friend of the two boys, and liked to share their adventures with them.

One day, Tianji invited Jamie to go for a ride in the submarine. Of course, the dog came too. They had the idea of searching for more tunnels, under the waters of Halifax Harbour. Ever since he had heard about Tianji's adventure with the diamonds, Jamie had been anxious to find some treasure too. He and Tianji agreed that the old tunnels would be the best place to look.

Very early in the morning, before anyone else was awake, the three adventurers ran along the Halifax streets until they reached the place where the submarine was kept. They got in, and prepared to descend to the bottom of the Harbour.

Tianji and Jamie took turns steering. The person who was not steering had the job of checking the instruments - the compass, the water pressure gauge, and the gauge measuring the oxygen supply inside the cabin. The dog was the lookout. It was his job to use the submarine's sonar system to detect dangerous objects ahead.

"Let's head towards Point Pleasant Park," said Tianji. "There are many old forts in the Park - maybe some of them have underground escape tunnels."

"All right," agreed Jamie.

They steered the submarine close along the shore, until they came near the container pier. Suddenly the dog barked.

"The sonar shows two giant container ships ahead," warned the dog. "Even if there is room for us to pass underneath them, the water turbulence could be dangerous."

Right then, Jamie was steering. To avoid the ships, he guided the submarine towards the middle of the Harbour.

"Let's not go near the shore again until we see Black Rock Beach," suggested Tianji.

The dog raised the periscope to check the location of Black Rock Beach. Soon he said, "There it is."

Up until now, everything had gone smoothly. But now, the expedition ran into a little trouble.

The trouble began because the dog wanted to steer. Neither Tianji nor Jamie thought this was a good idea, because the dog had never done it before, and didn't have his steering license yet.

However, the dog kept complaining that it wasn't fair, and that he should be allowed to steer too. Finally, Tianji and Jamie got tired of arguing with him, and agreed to let him try.

The dog was determined to show off how well he could steer. First he made the submarine go in a big circle over the bottom of the Harbour. Then he steered in zigzags. Finally, he brought the submarine close to the shore.

Tianji and Jamie were so busy watching the dog's driving, and giving him hints and instructions, that they both forgot to keep a lookout. This almost led to disaster.

As they passed Black Rock Beach and came close to the Point, none of them remembered that in this area, there are many unexpected rocks under the water.

Tianji was the first to notice where they were. "Be careful!" He pushed the dog out of the way and grabbed the submarine's controls. "We have to go further away from the land. There are rocks everywhere here."

"We should get into the deep channel beyond Seal Rock," agreed Jamie. "It will be safe enough there."

But it was already too late. As Tianji tried to steer around the underwater boulders, he passed through a school of fish, and came very close to Seal Rock. Suddenly, there was a great stir in the water, and they were surrounded by diving seals, which pressed against the hull of the submarine.

The seals thought the submarine was invading their fishing territory, and they didn't like it. As the seals shoved against the submarine, they managed to force its nose between two rocks, trapping it so that it could not move.

"We'd better turn off the engine," advised Jamie. "If we try to force our way out, the submarine could be badly damaged."

Tianji recognized the danger. If the submarine were damaged, water might pour into it, and then how could they escape?

The dog volunteered to leave through the hatch and attack the seals in the water, but Tianji and Jamie would not allow it. The dog was fierce, but so were the seals, and the seals were much bigger. There were at least fifteen or twenty seals surrounding the submarine already, and more were arriving all the time. Each seal was larger than Tianji, Jamie, and the dog put together.

It was a very difficult situation. What could they do?

                *                                 *                                 *

Unknown to the submarine's crew, two friends of theirs were watching from the shore.

The monkey and the pig had stayed up late the night before watching videos, so Tianji had decided to let them sleep in, instead of waking them up to come on the expedition.

However, the pig was often hungry, and his stomach woke him up only a few minutes after Tianji had left.

"Where's breakfast?" grumbled the pig to the dog, who usually slept near him. When there was no answer, the pig opened his eyes and looked around, discovering that Tianji and the dog had gone. Only the snoring monkey could be seen.

"Wake up, monkey!" called the pig. "They've left without us!"

The monkey was not sound asleep, but was dozing and dreaming of bananas. He woke up at once when the pig called him.

"How mean of them!" said the monkey. "Let's grab some bananas from the kitchen, and run after them."

Bananas were not the pig's favourite food, but he quickly munched a couple of apples, and then they were ready to go. Since the pig could run faster, he let the monkey ride on his back.

The pig was very out of breath, and had a stitch in his side, by the time they reached the place where the submarine was usually moored. There was no sign of it.

The pig sat down to rest, but the monkey was not about to give up. He jumped down from the pig's back, bounded over to the edge of the water, and scanned the Harbour, trying to find some clue to tell him which way the submarine had gone.

Then he felt someone looking at him. He turned around, and found himself facing a seagull, which was eyeing his remaining banana. The monkey had an idea.

"Did you see a submarine?" he inquired.

"A subma-what?" asked the gull.

The monkey explained, and described what the submarine's periscope looked like when it was sticking up out of the water. "If you will fly out over the Harbour, find out where the periscope is, and come back and tell us, I will peel this banana and give you half of it," promised the monkey.

The seagull agreed. The monkey watched him fly up very high, to where he could see a long way up and down the Harbour. Then the seagull began to glide downwards, flying in the direction of the container pier.

The monkey scampered back to the pig, who had closed his eyes. "I think they've gone towards the mouth of the Harbour," cried the monkey, beginning to peel the banana.

Sure enough, a minute later, the gull returned to report that it had seen the periscope moving in a circle, a little way beyond the container pier. The monkey threw the gull the peeled banana, leaped onto the pig's back, and began prodding the pig with his feet, to urge it to action.

"Quickly, run to Point Pleasant Park!" demanded the monkey. "From there we can wave to them, and maybe they'll see us and take us on board."

"Why would they be going in circles?" wondered the pig. "Maybe something has gone wrong, and they need our help."

Fortunately, the pig had got his breath back, and was ready to run again. He ran all the way down Barrington Street, to the surprise of the few people who were up so early. Then he took a shortcut through the rail yards behind the container pier, and reached Black Rock Beach in time to see the periscope moving towards the rockiest part of the coast.

The pig had to pause for breath, but the monkey ran on ahead. "What can they be doing?" the monkey asked himself. "I wouldn't have thought there would be any tunnels in that part of the coast."

The pig caught up to him just as the submarine swung about and headed towards Seal Rock. Near the rock could be seen the heads of six seals, which were swimming in the water. "I hope Tianji and Jamie know what they're doing," muttered the pig. "It almost looks as if they're heading for trouble."

Suddenly, as if at a signal, the six seal heads disappeared, as the seals dived under the water. The seals slapped the water with their fins and tails as they went below the surface. After a few moments, the periscope tipped over at an angle. It didn't take much imagination to guess that the seals were holding down the nose of the submarine.

The monkey wrung his hands in distress. "Tianji, Jamie and the dog are in danger!" he cried. "What can we do?"

Just then, they both noticed something large on the beach below them, slowly moving its tail back and forth.

"An enormous tiger!" gasped the monkey, and, not knowing whether the tiger was hungry or not, leaped into the middle of a bush to hide.

However, the pig was much bigger than the monkey, and wasn't afraid. "We must ask the tiger to help us," decided the pig. "Tigers can swim, and they're very good at fighting."

Feeling just a little nervous, and trying to behave very politely, the pig sauntered towards the tiger.

"Excuse me," said the pig, when he had come within a few paces of the tiger. "I don't think I've seen you here before. Are you a visitor?"

The tiger saw that the pig was nervous, and decided to be very polite too. "Please don't hesitate to come closer. It's quite safe; I've already had my breakfast." The tiger nodded towards the water. "I was thinking of going for a swim, but there seems to be some kind of commotion going on out there. Can you tell me what is happening?"

"Our friends are trapped in a submarine!" cried the pig, forgetting to be polite for a moment. Seeing the tiger's puzzled expression, he explained, "A submarine - you know - an underwater boat. Our friends are inside it, and the seals - those big animals in the water - are attacking them!"

The monkey was so worried about his friends that he came out of the bush, to help persuade the tiger to go to the rescue. "We're looking for treasure," said the monkey. "If you help us, we'll give you part of the treasure when we find it."

The tiger swished his tail faster, and his eyes lit up. "You want me to fight the seals? That sounds like fun!"

The tiger took a deep breath. When a few of the seals raised their heads above the surface of the water for air, the tiger gave a tremendous roar and sprang forward into the water, making a gigantic splash. The pig and the monkey ran forward until they were standing at the very edge of the water and cheered him on.

The tiger could not dive, but he found a foothold on Seal Rock, which, at half tide, was covered with only a few inches of water. Then began the attack by the seals, and the battle between them and the tiger.

The seals were even more indignant that a tiger was standing on their rock than they had been at the approach of the submarine. One seal after another tried to heave itself up onto the rock and bite the tiger's paws, but the tiger was so agile he was able to avoid the seals, even when they came from five directions at once. He pushed them back into the water by ramming their sides with his head when they least expected it. The tiger roared, and the seals grunted with rage.

More and more seals joined the fight against the tiger, until finally none were left guarding the submarine. Tianji and Jamie saw their chance. They swiftly backed up the submarine until its nose was free of the rocks, eased themselves forward into the deep channel, and then sped towards the old Chain Rock Battery at the far end of the Park. At the Chain Rock Battery, they would be able to land the submarine and check it for damage.

The pig and the monkey guessed where Tianji and Jamie were heading, and raced along Arm Road to meet them.

The tiger valiantly continued fighting the seals for another five minutes, to provide a distraction, and then sprang over the backs of the nearest seals, into the water. The seals, feeling somewhat exhausted, and a little intimidated, didn't try to attack the tiger as he swam back to shore.

Using his nose, the tiger followed the trail of the monkey and the pig, and arrived at the old Chain Rock Battery just as Tianji, Jamie and the dog were disembarking from the submarine.

Tianji and Jamie were startled at seeing the tiger, and the dog barked fiercely. But the monkey and the pig quickly explained that it was the tiger who had fought the seals and given the submarine its chance to escape. Once they understood the situation, Tianji and Jamie each shook hands warmly with the tiger.

The submarine seemed to be unhurt, except for a few scratches. The monkey and the pig explained how they had happened to arrive at Point Pleasant Park at just the right time. Then Tianji and Jamie wanted to know how the tiger had happened to be there.

"I'm making a tour around the world," explained the tiger. "I started from India, then I visited China, then I crossed the Pacific Ocean by hiding on a container ship and landed at Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada. In the last three weeks, I've come all across Canada to here, the Atlantic Ocean."

"You must be exhausted, having travelled so far," said the pig sympathetically.

"Would you like to stay with me?" invited Tianji. "You know, you can't really find out much about a place unless you live there. You're welcome to live with me and the other animals."

"Thank you very much," said the tiger. "That's very kind of you."

The monkey was trying to pay attention to the conversation, but suddenly felt someone looking at him. He whirled around and saw a seagull standing behind him, holding a half-eaten mussel. As the seagull put down the mussel and began to speak, the monkey realised it was the same gull he had spoken to earlier.

"Subma-whatsit," said the gull, nodding towards the submarine. "You gave me a whole banana this morning, when you only promised me a half. It was very good, too. So when I saw this, I thought I might as well let you have it. I already have enough of them." The seagull quickly finished eating the mussel, and dropped the shell at the feet of the surprised monkey.

The gull flew away, as the monkey curiously picked up the shell and turned it over. Then his eyes widened with excitement. "Tianji! Jamie! Look!" he cried.

Inside one corner of the shell was a glimmering white stone.

Jamie stared at it. "Treasure! We've found treasure!"

"What is it?" asked the dog.

"It's a mussel pearl," replied Tianji. "It's not as valuable as an oyster pearl, but it's a jewel, all the same."

"Let's look for more," suggested the pig. "The beach here is inches deep in mussel shells. I'd be surprised if we couldn't find more pearls here."

The pig began searching immediately, digging through the mussel shells with his nose. Tianji, Jamie and the other animals soon began to help. Within an hour, they had examined hundreds of mussel shells and had found eleven more with pearls. Everyone agreed that this was as many as they were likely to find. That made two pearls each.

In this way, the monkey's promise to the tiger, that he would have a share of the treasure, was fulfilled. The tiger was very pleased with his pearls. "In my country, these jewels are called moonstones," he said.

Tianji, Jamie and the animals all squeezed into the submarine and headed for home. The tiger proved to be a very good companion, and became firm friends with Tianji, Jamie, the dog, the monkey and the pig.

"Now that we have a tiger to help us, we should plan another adventure as soon as possible," said Tianji.
 

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