Li had recovered from his harrowing journey in the time it took the animals to build him a raft to get back home. He had watched them work as he rested and he was looking forward to being reunited with his family. But it also made him sad to have to say goodbye to his new friends.
The monkeys fetched long vines from the forest and tied them around the dolphin’s large dorsal fin. They attached the other ends of the vines to the raft that would carry Li back to his island.
All the animals gathered around to wish the little panda bear a safe journey. Patricia was going to accompany him to make sure he got there safely. They boarded the raft and the dolphin began to swim, pulling Patricia and Li behind him. The parrot, who had agreed to show them the way, flew overhead and kept a lookout for Li’s home.
“According to Li’s stories, I should be able to recognize the island by the tall bamboo grass growing there,” the parrot thought.
They had been out at sea for hours and the wind was picking up. The dolphin was swimming with all his strength, but it was getting harder and harder for him to pull the raft. He wouldn’t make it much further on his own but the parrot hadn’t seen land yet. Patricia and Li tried to help by paddling along, but they couldn’t make much difference.
Suddenly, the raft was surrounded by a pod of small whales who were looking at Li.
“Are you the little panda that was swept away in the old wooden boat by the big hurricane? Your parents and brothers have been looking for you for several days. They asked us to try and find you!”
“Yes! That’s me! We are looking for the way home!” cried Li excitedly. “But my friend the dolphin is already exhausted and can hardly pull the raft.”
“We’ll take it from here,” the whales said in chorus.
Patricia freed the dolphin from the vines and thanked him for his help. He wished everyone luck for the rest of the journey and swam away.
The parrot landed on the raft and said, “I have had to fly against the wind this whole time, and visibility is getting worse. I need to rest too.” He wished them luck on the rest of the journey, and flew away.
The whale pod formed a line behind the raft and began to nudge it with their noses.
The whales swam so fast that they all arrived quickly at the beach where Li had begun his involuntary adventure. Patricia saw the tall bamboo trunks that surrounded the land and knew they were in the right place.
Word spread very quickly that the missing panda bear was back. Li’s parents were very happy to have him in their arms and his brothers couldn’t get enough of his exciting stories.
The little panda enjoyed the attention. Then he said, “I am soooo hungry for delicious bamboo shoots!”
There were plenty of those around and the old turtle could see that Li was very comfortable. She said goodbye to everyone and then turned to Li to say, “You’re a brave little panda, and you’re alright just the way you are!”
Smiling with satisfaction, Patricia returned to her island in the company of the whales and told the other animals about Li’s successful return.