I followed the harbor seal a few paces into the old pier's wreckage into a cleared space.
There was a table in the center of the space and behind the table, the awesome, dangerous bulk of Leo the Leopard Seal.
"Crab. Constable Crab." he said in his familiar, deep, resonant voice. "How have you been?"
"Fine, Leo. You look well."
"Can't complain,Constable. I suppose you have surrounded the pier with police walruses and your usual help?"
"They should be here any moment."
"Always the cautious Crab, eh? Ah, well. The life of crime is not what it used to be. Sending that ignoramus of a Jellyfish on a man's job..."
"You could always change, Leo."
"It's not easy to try a new career at our age, is it Constable? Ah, well. Come closer--you see this pretty coffer on the table? Open the lid--it's hinged--and take a look inside."
I followed his directions. The cover of the well-made small coffer opened easily and revealed a mass of glittering, black bead-like objects.
"Pearls, Crab. More black pearls than you will ever see again in one place."