August 30, 1999
This story was written by Mary Reimer, from the Interlake area of Manitoba. Mary lives in a Mennonite community north of Arborg. She is a member of a women's ESL/literacy class. Her interests are her church, handicrafts and learning. Mary is an original thinker with a cheerful outlook on life. She moved to Canada from Belize about three years ago.
When I was a school child, about eleven years old, I and my sister Elisabeth (who was next to me in age) and Elma (who was the next youngest), liked to play with little children, especially my cousin's children. They lived about one and half, maybe two, miles from our place, through the bush, one curve, and another curve, and up the hill, and a curve down to the water. The longest stretch was through the bush.
One day my mother said that when we got home from school and when we had finished our work, then we could go to my cousin's place.
Oh, dear, how wonderful it would be! And we worked eagerly to finish our work. And then we set out, happy as could be, because we were so glad to meet the little children. We also took something special to eat for them. When we arrived there, they were all so glad to meet us, and we to meet them.
When the time was up, we left for home. The happy time was over. We were almost at the creek by the curve. Elisabeth was in front - she was always faster than I. Suddenly she cried out and came running back. We could hear that she had cried in fear. I and my sister Elma also began to run as fast as we could. But we didn't know what was wrong.
"There is a tiger! There is a tiger!" shouted Elisabeth.
When we came out of the bush to where the people lived, we were very tired. I couldn't say anything. My oldest sister told the story; I was glad about that. They directed us to go to the next neighbour; they would take us home with a tractor and trailer because it was already dark. But first they ate their supper, and then they took us three girls home. My brother's birthday will be in two days, so they might as well go to our place today as on the 25th of March. When we met our mother, we couldn't hold back our tears as we tried to tell her why we came home so late.
That was the last time we girls went through the bush alone.
As for the tiger, we don't know what happened to it. Nobody ever saw it again.
[This story was taken with permission from a collection of learners' writings from the Interlake area of Manitoba, entitled Interlake Insights, p. 19, published by the Interlake Adult Learning Association (IALA).]