Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 16

Finding refuge in a crater lake, Hopper also finds an unlikely best friend, who is not a penguin, but a duck.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 16

 

A Penguin and a Duck

 

Even though he’d been saved once again from an early demise, Hopper knew he must still find a shelter from any further surprise attacks from the hawks. At the western edge of the lake he found some rocks he could hide under. From there he could easily dive into the water to escape attack or to go fishing. He rested there for the rest of the day.

The next morning he dove under water for breakfast. The fish were plentiful, and he had no trouble eating his fill. Thinking one more fish would be enough for now, he swam under water, looking for one of the right size for his appetite. He sped toward a likely candidate near the surface, and just as he was about to grab its tail, he felt a commotion in the water, and something else grabbed the fish and went back to the surface.

Hopper also went to the surface where he found a duck about to eat the fish. He was bluish-gray with red feathers on his sides, white stripes on his wings, neck and head, and white spots behind his eyes. He said to Hopper, “Hey-ho, was this your fish?”

Hopper replied, “I was about to beak him on the tail, but you are welcome to him. I’ve actually had enough. Thanks for asking, though.”

The duck asked, “Say, what’s a fellow like you doing in lake like this?”

“The hawks dropped me here. How about you? I’ve never seen anyone like you before. What’s your name?”

“The name’s Harley Q. Duck. My friends call me Quack. I’m a duck, a Harlequin duck. I got separated from my flock a few weeks ago and ended up here with an injured wing. I’m recuperating here until I can make the flight back to the north where I belong. I think I’ll be here a few more weeks or so. What’s your name? Where do you come from?”

“I’m Hopper, a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin. I’ve been traveling from the south for a long time, looking for my home. I think I might be there if I can get out of this crater.”

From there the two birds told each other how they ended up in this crater lake. Hopper invited Quack to his shelter, and they spent the day there telling stories.

Hopper greatly enjoyed his new friend who made this pit seem not so bad a place. But he knew they must find a way out. First he would rest a few days. It had been so long since he’d had water and food. He didn’t like the thought of climbing that hill to the rim of the crater.

Quack, as his story goes, had been flying with his flock from far in the north toward their southern winter home. He was flying in the middle of the group, very much wanting to show everyone how good a flyer he was. He darted from his place toward the front and began showing his great speed and his duck air acrobatics. They passed through some clouds as he was flying upside-down and doing loop-the-loops and figure-eight’s.

He didn’t consider that no one could see him now anyway. Then he straightened out and flew at top speed through the clouds in an attempt to show them that he was the fastest Harlequin known to duck. He sped south through the clouds, planning to reach their destination first. Then when the others arrived much later, he’d say, “It’s about time you guys got here.”

On he flew for hours and hours, then through the night and into the next day. He stopped to rest and noticed that his wings felt a little stiff. But he had to keep going. Back to the sky he went. Now the clouds were behind, and apparently so was his flock. He could see them nowhere. He felt a little uneasy, but he had to go on. They’d catch up, and he’d see them at their winter home.

The air was getting warmer now, and in a few days it was getting hot. Now this didn’t seem right.

Quack was a young duck, and while he was indeed a very clever and fast flyer, he hadn’t learned the art of navigation too well. Besides that, he flew a little higher than normal and unknowingly was caught in an air stream that took him farther south than he thought he was. These things combined to get him off course, just as the storm had done to Hopper.

He ended up flying many, many miles south of his destination. That is how he ended up at the Galapagos Islands, and as he was flying over this very crater, he too was attacked by a hawk. He saw it in time to avoid its grasp, but the quick maneuver he made in his weary condition strained a muscle in his wing as he quickly descended into the lake. So here he would stay until he could fly safely out of the crater and back to his flock.

As they talked, Quack and Hopper were impressed with the similarity of their situations, and the desire to escape this pit grew within them. They had the increasing awareness that they were brought together for a reason, and they would work together for that purpose.

“Quack, when we get out of here,” said Hopper, “why don’t you come visit the penguin colony with me?”

“Sure, I’d like that, but you know I can’t stay.”

“Well, you could at least stay until your wing is better.”

So for the next few days they rested and made their plans. When they went out into the lake for food, they also surveyed the hills surrounding them to see where the best place to ascend would be. Wherever they went, it would be hard and dangerous work with hawks lurking all around with their great eyesight, and with an injured duck and a penguin who is used to cold water instead of a hot, barren mountain.

 

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