Hopper’s adventure brings him to the Galapagos Islands, which becomes an important stop on the way.
To read from the beginning, click here.
Spotting islands in the distance many days later, Hopper once again had his hopes raised. Perhaps he was home!
He swam quickly for shore and hopped out on the beach. By this time he wasn’t as eager to shout his arrival, having been disappointed so many times. He would look around first before being convinced it was home. He also knew he was better off staying out of sight of any seals or sea lions. The seals he had tricked might find out there were no foxes on that island, and the search to the north would continue stronger than ever.
He went cautiously along the beach, hoping to see a penguin colony. A huge sea turtle was making her way over the sand toward the water. Hopper approached her, saying, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you know if any penguins live on these islands?”
“Well, little fellow,” she began, “I’ve been stopping by these islands for nigh on 99 years, and I’ve never known a Galapagos penguin to be bold enough to look me in the face. ‘Course you seem to be a might bigger than the average penguin on these islands, a might bigger.”
“You mean there are penguins here, then!” Hopper interjected.
“Well, my boy, you’re one, aren’t you, little penguin?”
“Yes, ma’am, I sure am. Can you tell me where I might find them?”
“Well, Sonny, what’d you say your name was, your name?”
“Well, Sonny, my boy, Hopper (that’s a fine name), little fellow, the penguins don’t live on this island. If you were to cross this island and look to the northwest, you’d see another island, a big island. That’s where they are, on the far side of it, northwest side. But you don’t want to cross this island, not this one. Dogs live here, wild dogs. Cats too, house cats. You’d never make it to the other side, never make it.”
Hopper said, “Then I’ll swim around!”
“Well, there are sea lions and fur seals you’ll meet before you ever see penguins. You’ll never make it, never make it.”
“There must be a way. I’ve got to get to my family!” insisted Hopper.
“Well, my boy, I wouldn’t count on it. You don’t have a hard shell as you see I have, a big hard shell. That’s why I’m nigh on 99 years old, ninety-nine. Good luck, Hooper, my boy. Oh, and watch out for the rats, big ugly rats.” The turtle slowly continued her trek across the sand into the water, and she was gone.
“This is not too encouraging,” mused Hopper as he gazed after her, “but I’ve got to get to that big island. A few dogs and cats and seals and rats aren’t going to keep me from my family.”
Just then a rat ran by him on the beach, and it was being stalked by a cat. From around the bend a dog came barking wildly at the cat, who bristled and climbed up a nearby rock, leaving the dog leaping vainly up at her with a slobbering mouth.
“Look at yourself, you nincompoop,” said the cat. “Jumping around and making all that noise. You scared away my rat.”
“Yeah, yuh yuh yeah. Well, well, well a guy’s gotta catch himself an honest meal, you know what I mean, heh heh heh.”
The cat put her mouth behind a paw and whispered to the dog out of the corner of her mouth, “Don’t look now, but look at yonder honest meal. I do believe that’s a bird of some kind. I like birds.”
The dog spun around exclaiming, “Yeah yuh yuh yeah, so do I yigh yarf, yarf, yarf!” and off toward Hopper he dashed.
Hopper took this as signal to abandon this island. He dove into the water and swam westward around the island. A few hours later he arrived at the west side where he could look to the northwest and see a big island, perhaps 45 miles away. It appeared to be a mountain rising high above the sea. His heart and his thoughts were racing as he sped toward the mountain. It was an island. It was high. Therefore, it must have rocks to climb. Penguins lived there. This must be home. If it wasn’t, he doubted that he had a home.