Chapter 7 finds Hopper still traveling alone, hoping to arrive soon at his home, but finds disappointment.
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Hopper continued riding on his log because the current was still taking it to the north. He knew what direction he was going, but he was still unaware that he was much farther west than when he started. Not even considering that possibility, he forgot to use all the direction-finding techniques Emmett had taught him.
On to the north he drifted. If he’d been on his original course, by now he would be close to his new home. Emmett had told him, “Keep going north, and you’ll get there at the right time,” and “You’ll know the place when you get there. You’ll know it’s your home.” But he hadn’t said how long the trip should take.
Now Hopper had been drifting on his log for what seemed years to him. Still surrounded by the endless blue, he couldn’t see any land and had nobody to talk to. How he missed Emily and Emmett! And how he wished the dolphins had come with him!
Then he started thinking about what Emmett had said about sharks and seals and their kin. He began to feel afraid as he sat on his lonely log. That night as darkness deepened around him, he called out a sad, “Help!” and fell asleep.
The nights were indeed getting longer, but still not all that long, and he woke up with the sunrise and stretched his wings and legs. He hopped from one end of the log to the other for exercise. Then he looked to the north, and in the distance he saw LAND! And it looked like it might be some islands. “This must be the place!” he thought. “I’m going home!” he shouted, and dove into the sea.
Once again under water he heard that eerie sound. “What is that?” he thought. “It sounds like someone is talking to someone else, but it’s not someone like me.” The sound seemed a little closer now.
On he swam as fast as he could. He was so excited, and shouted to himself, “I’m almost home!”
Soon he was crashing through the surf near the shore. He bounced without harm like a rubber ball off the rocks and then hopped out of the water onto the beach.
“Here I am!” he yelled. He looked right—no penguins. Again he shouted, “Here I am! I’m home!” He looked left—no penguins. No one was coming to meet him.
“Mom! Dad! It’s Hopper! I’m here!” Now he was hopping down the beach, looking inland for a place where Rockhoppers would live, and he was beginning to feel slightly worried. Maybe this wasn’t the place.
Emmett’s words rung in his ears, “You’ll know your home when you get there.” Then he knew he wasn’t home.
“But where am I?” he wondered. “And why am I not home?”
It hadn’t yet occurred to him that the storm had changed his course. If he had known that, he would still have a fairly short swim to the east to the Atlantic Ocean and north to the Falklands.
Hopper’s heart sank in disappointment, and he sat for a while wondering what had gone wrong. Doubts troubled him about Emmett’s directions and teaching about navigation. After all, he was getting a little old. But he shook off his doubts. He knew Emmett was trustworthy. He was the finest of Emperors and the best at sea of any.
Hopper knew somewhere on his journey he must have erred. Then he remembered the storm and the fact that he had been unconscious for a while. “Aha!” he said. “I must have been taken by the current while I was riding on the log. I recall Emmett told me the current goes east in these waters, so I must be too far to the east, and still a little south. So I’ll head west and north. Soon I’ll be to the Falklands.”
What he didn’t realize was that the storm was an unusual and very severe one that actually blew him against the usual current about 300 miles to the west, bringing him now to the southern tip of South America, really not too far southwest of the Falkland Islands.
He decided to head back to the water and swim west near the shore until he could head north again.