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FICTION FOR CHILDREN

 

The Tiger Hunt

One day her Nana was sitting doing some knitting and Katy Lee was reading. She took her book to show to her grandmother.

"Look, Nana, this is a picture of a Tasmanian tiger. They are extinct but some people say there are still some of them around Nannup."Tasmanian tiger

Her Nana looked at the picture.

"Lots of people think there might be a thylacine in the thick bush near here. A thylacine is the proper name for a Tasmanian tiger. It wasn't really a tiger but it had stripes like one."

"Did you ever see one?" asked Katy Lee and her Nana laughed.

"No," she said. "I never did, but I know lots of people who thought they did. When I was young I lived here in Nannup."

"I didn't know that," said Katy Lee. "Did you like it?"

"Yes," her grandmother said. "We had lots of fun. One day some people came down from Perth to look for a Tasmanian tiger in the bush."

"Did they find anything?" asked Katy Lee. Her eyes were wide with curiousity and her Nana laughed again.

"Yes, they did. But it wasn't a thylacine."

Katy Lee decided her grandmother might tell her a story. She liked listening to her stories and so she climbed up into her lap and made herself comfortable.

"Tell me about it. Was it like a real tiger hunt? Did they have drums and guns and things?"

"No, not like that. There were lots of people with nets and sticks and some with cameras. They wanted to catch a thylacine, but they didn't want to shoot one. There were people from the television news and the radio and the newspapers. Everyone was really excited."

"Did you go to the tiger hunt, too?" she asked.

"Yes, I did. But I wasn't as excited as some of the other people. I never believed there was a real thylacine in the thick bush and I never thought they would catch one even if there was. But I did think that they might catch something. And indeed they did."

"What did they catch?"

"They caught a sheep."

"A sheep?"

"Yes." Her Nana smiled. "Some people who lived here in Nannup thought it would be great fun to play a trick on all the people who believed there really was a Tasmanian tiger hiding out in the thick bush."

"What did they do?"

"They borrowed a sheep that had just been shorn, and they painted stripes on it with wool marking dye. Then they tied an old horse hair tail to it. It looked very strange."

Katy Lee's eyes were even wider.

"But, Nana, didn't they hurt the sheep when they did all that to it?"

Her grandmother shook her head.

"Oh, no. Nobody did anything to hurt the sheep. They weren't cruel to it. The lady who owned it had to chase it afterwards and she said there was nothing at all wrong with it. She thought it was very funny. But she didn't do anything. She just owned the sheep. She let us - um - them borrow it to play that trick."

"I think all the people with cameras and nets and sticks would have been very cross when they found out. I'm sure they didn't think it was very funny. Whatever happened to the people who played that trick?"

Her grandmother shook her head and smiled. It was a big wide smile.

"They never did find out who it was. The people who painted the sheep didn't go to the hunt, but some of their friends did. But before they did that, they let that poor striped sheep go loose out where someone would see it and all the others would chase it. We - ah - they had to try very hard not to laugh when it was surrounded by people. It turned around and went 'baa' at everyone."

Katy Lee looked at her grandmother.

"Did you know who those people were? Were they friends of yours?" She paused. "Nana, did you help to play that trick?"

Her grandmother was smiling and there was a twinkle in her eye. It was a very wide smile and a very bright twinkle.

"What do you think, Katy Lee?"

Her little granddaughter looked at her and laughed.

"Nana, I think that was a funny thing to do."

"We thought so, too." She winked. "Don't tell on me, will you? It really was a long time ago, but the people who organized that tiger hunt are still alive. They are old, just like I am. But they still don't know for sure who it was."

"They never found out?"

Her grandmother shook her head.

"No, not for sure. I think maybe they thought they knew who it was, but they never found out for sure. I think maybe I like it best that way." Her eyes twinkled again as she looked at Katy Lee.

end
Tiger sheep