A civilized fable which snipes at respectability born of opportunism is evolved from a story of rascality, laid in the French West Indies in the early 20th century. For Ti-Coyo was born of a hunchbacked, vituperative father and an ugly mother, and determined to corner the coin-diving market which tourists to St. Pierre made so profitable. He adopted a baby shark, reared and trained it and with its help, brought wealth to the family. For Manidou -- not without some scandal as diving boy after diving boy went down into its maw and only Ti-Coyo was unharmed -- aided and abetted Ti-Coyo's dreams and in turn Ti-Coyo saved him when the envious would have trapped and killed him. Ti-Coyo found a planter's daughter to love and it was Manidou who helped them all escape when Mont Pelee erupted and wiped out St. Pierre, took them through the tidal wave that followed to a neighboring island, and it was Manidou who brought Ti-Coyo home again in a cyclone. The fairy tale quality here does not smother the acerb commentary.