Once upon a time, Christian Garter was outside playing with his pet tiger, Kato, when his mother told him that it was time to come back inside to get ready for school. Christian disliked leaving Kato alone, locked up in a cage during the day, but they were the rules that his mother and father had set out for him. “You will lose Kato forever if people find out about him,” his mother would say. His father wasn’t any more supportive, saying that it was, “For his own good that we keep him locked away.” Christian could not have agreed with his parents less, however arguing with his parents was also a fast-track to having Kato taken from him as well, so he thought it best to keep his thoughts to himself.
No one in the Garter family was sure how the cub had found its way into their backyard, but it was Christian who had discovered it by accident one afternoon while building a small cubby house out of some abandoned wood he had found behind the shed. Christian was extremely afraid at first, but he took his time and let the cub know that he wasn’t going to hurt him. Before long, the two of them were exploring the garden together and had become very best friends ever since. For Christian, Kato was a gift. For his parents, however, Kato was something that needed to be hidden. His mother and father had argued several times about what to do about the tiger, but, in the end, they agreed that Christian should be allowed to keep him on the condition that he remain a family secret and was locked up in a cage behind the shed during the day.
At first, Christian was satisfied with this arrangement and was happy playing with Kato in the afternoons after school. Kato also appeared to be at ease staying in the cage during the day while Christian went to school, bounding over to the cage door whenever Christian would arrive home. Over time, though, Kato started growing and the Garters felt as though they could no longer refer to him as a cub. Christian’s feelings had changed as well, and, as a result of the bond that he was forming with Kato, he was struggling to hide the fact that he wanted to introduce his pet tiger to his other friends. Christian could tell that Kato was becoming restless and that neither his cage nor his backyard, were big enough to contain the tiger’s natural curiosity.
One weekend, Christian’s mother and father had to leave town for work and Christian was going to be looked after by his grandparents. Christian had stayed with them on several occasions, so he knew with certainty that they went to bed early and woke up relatively late. They also knew nothing of Kato, so Christian decided to use his parents’ absence to sneak three of his friends into the backyard and introduce them to his pet tiger. With his parents gone, Christian woke up at the first sign of sunlight. It was not uncommon for him to meet friends this early on the weekend, so he went outside where they were waiting and hurried them through the house and into his backyard. The three of them were excited to see what Christian was showing them, as there was a great deal of excitement in his voice when discussing his plan. Christian ushered his friends behind the shed and, to everyone’s surprise, there was nothing there except some old bikes and the remains of a partly built cubby house.
Christian went to apologise to his friends, but they had reached the conclusion that he wanted them to finish building their clubhouse and had started gathering up bits of wood to add to the incomplete structure that Christian had started many months ago. As he helped his friends, he realised that his mother and father were right; Kato should have remained a family secret, but now he was gone forever.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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