Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 18

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The story of Hopper the Rockhopper penguin and his new friend, Quack the Harlequin duck, continues with their stay in the Galapagos Islands where they meet some more new friends, the Galapagos penguins.

To read from the beginning click here.

 

Chapter 18

New Friends

Over and under the waves they swam with mounting excitement toward that part of the strait where Galoppy had said the penguins lived. They encountered no seals and soon came to a little peninsula that jutted into the strait from Isabella Island. Hopper was sure this was the area the tortoise had told him about.
It was late morning as they hopped onto the rocky shore of Isabella Island. Marine iguanas basked in the sun, but no penguins were in sight. Hopper wasn’t going to bother with the iguanas, but Quack, who had never met one before, was quick to approach one and say, “Hello there, friend, have you seen any penguins around here?”
The iguana replied, “I believe, duck, that is one behind you, is it not?”
“No, that’s Hopper. He’s my best friend. Well, I guess he is a penguin, but I’m wondering about penguins who live here.”
“Well, I’m not very interested in penguins,” said the iguana as he began crawling back toward the water and added, “or ducks.” As he was disappearing under the water he was muttering something to himself, “Whoever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends?”
Quack was hopping mad and wanted to dive in after him to tell him a few more things, but Hopper held him back, saying, “Don’t bother with him. It won’t do any good. Those who only think about themselves won’t be changed by our angry words. Let’s look around a bit.”
A half hour later they had still found no penguins. Hopper was getting discouraged, but then Quack came across a cleft in a rock where there were some black feathers and a comfortable place for a few small penguins to hide. Soon they found a few more similar places.
Hopper was starting to get excited, but said, “I wonder where they are?” Then he noticed how hot he was and said, “Aha!” He hopped on top of a rock and looked out at the water. “Let’s go!” he said. He dove in, and Quack followed, wondering what Hopper was up to.
The water felt good again as they swam out and dove under. They grabbed some fish, and then Hopper pointed with his wing toward the surface. Above them they could see the unmistakable form of a small penguin swimming on the surface, although he was a little hard to see because from below his white belly blended in with the water and sky. Hopper and Quack went up to meet him, and popped out of the water right beside him.
“Hey,” said the little penguin, “you look like the southern penguin the tortoise told us about, but we heard he was taken away to Fernandina Island by a hawk. We figured we’d never see him again. I don’t suppose that could be you, could it? No penguin has been known to return from the Pit of the Hawks. The tortoise tells us it’s a place of sulfurous fumes. Hey! Who’s the duck here? Whoever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends? The tortoise didn’t say anything about a duck. You must not be the same southern penguin. What kind of penguin are you, anyway? I’ve never seen one like you.”
“Well,” said Hopper quickly before the little fellow had a chance to start talking again, “my name is Hopper, a Rockhopper penguin traveling from the south, looking for my home. This is my friend, Harley Q. Duck, a Harlequin duck looking for his flock. We met in the Pit of the Hawks. Without him I wouldn’t have escaped. As for me, I was hoping this place would be my home, but it doesn’t appear to be. You don’t look like a Rockhopper penguin.”
“I’m Galant, a Galapagos penguin. No, I’m not a Rockhopper, but you and your duck friend are welcome to stay with us as long as you like. Most of us are out in the water now to keep cool, but soon we’ll head for shore. You can come home with me and meet my family. Boy, will they ever be amazed to hear and see you, the penguin (and duck) who escaped the Pit…” And so little Galant talked on until it was time to head for shore.
That afternoon Hopper and Quack met Galant’s mate, Gail, and their little girl penguin, Galee. They made them feel very much at home. Galee took a special liking to Quack. She loved to sit by him and hear his jokes, songs, and stories.
Over the next few weeks they got to know almost everyone in the colony, and everyone began to regard them as one of the group, as if they’d been Galapagos penguins all along.
Hopper especially liked to spend time with old Mendicule, who was considered the wise elder of the colony. He was an old friend of Galoppy the tortoise. Indeed, during some of these sessions with Mendicule, Galoppy would saunter by and add his wisdom to the discussion.
Hopper learned lots of new things from these two. They knew about different creatures, the different kinds of penguins, fish and other sea creatures, as well as mammals and reptiles. They even knew about humans. They especially loved to talk about the one who made all these amazing things. Hopper learned about the currents in the oceans, the winds of the air, and the heavenly bodies. He also began to see the reason he missed getting to his home, and he could see there was a plan behind his error. He now accepted the fact that he was a long way from his true home in the Falklands.
One day Mendicule was talking about people, and Hopper, as usual, found himself trembling. He asked the old penguin, “Why do we fear people? I found myself trembling at the mention of them, even when I didn’t know who they were.”
Mendicule answered, “People were created to rule this world and to be our masters, although they kind of forfeited that position since they rebelled against our Creator, even though he made a perfect place for them with him. Now they still have great potential for greatness and goodness, but also great potential for evil, and if we meet one of them we might not know which it will be. Our fear of them is a safeguard for us, and for them it produces a longing for what they’re missing out on because of their rebellion. It reminds them of what they could have had, and what they still can have some day if they return to their true home. Some day all creation will be in harmony again. People and animals will have their intended relationship with no fear.”
Hopper said, “It seems like that could never happen. It feels like things will always be the way they are.”
Mendicule answered, “Many times in the past the ruler of all has changed things unexpectedly, and only those who listened to him were ready. Once the whole earth was flooded, and everything had to start over. Once he himself came to the earth, and so many didn’t even realize it. But his coming changed everything—it made it possible for people to return to him. So you see, things may seem like they’ll always be the way they are, but it could change at any time.”
Hopper asked, “How did you learn all these things?”
“I’ve listened to him for a long time, and when you listen, then you can hear what he wants to say to you.”
As time went on, Hopper began to feel more and more at home here, and his desire to travel was diminishing. Quack also enjoyed these little penguins, especially Galee.
One day Hopper and Mendicule were lounging in the water having one of their usual talks. The old penguin asked him, “Hopper, do you think you’ve come to the end of your travels? Is this your home now?”
“Well, I love it here. I have great friends, especially you. You’ve taught me so much. Galant and Gail have come to treat me as a brother. I have plenty to eat. It’s relatively safe here.”
“But is this where you’re supposed to stay? What do you think you will accomplish here? Is this the place you were sent to as your final destination?”
“Do you want me to go, Mendicule?”
“Hopper, you have become like my son, or grandson. But I know there is a purpose for your life, and this is not it. You were sent here as a temporary blessing for us, and as a resting place for you. Now just as Emmett knew it was time to send you off, I too must do the same, even though it will tear our hearts.”
Hopper knew Mendicule was right. He must move on.
“When?” he asked.
“Soon. You will know the right time.”
“Where? My home is back to the south where I came from. Can I go back there?”
“Hasn’t the one who knows everything taken care of you and actually guided you all along? He will show you where to go.”
That night Hopper told Quack he must soon move on. This news saddened Quack. He was enjoying his time here. He had almost forgotten he was a duck. But as he thought of Hopper renewing his journey, he knew he must get back to his real flock too. “We’ll go together, old friend,” he told Hopper.
A few nights later Hopper sat in the dark, thinking. The others were asleep. He couldn’t imagine ever actually arriving at his Rockhopper home. It seemed like he would always be traveling. He would keep coming to places that seemed like they might be home, but would turn out to be a disappointment, like someone who thinks he sees water in the desert, and it turns out to be a mirage. He’d always have to go through the heartache of moving on again and leaving friends he’d grown to love.
His thoughts were interrupted by a question almost audible in his mind or heart, “Has your time been wasted?”
“Well, no,” he answered, “but I’m not at home with my family.”
“Have you been alone?”
Hopper had to think about that for a while. There had been times of great loneliness, times of missing Emmett and Emily, times of longing for his Rockhopper family, times of facing dangers alone…and then he realized that even in those times he’d never really been alone. If he had been, he would be dead.
Finally he answered, “No. You’ve always been with me, and you’ve given me many friends along the way.”
“And you won’t be alone on the rest of the journey. You will arrive at your home at the right time. Don’t be afraid. Head north tomorrow.”
“North? Did I hear right? Isn’t my home to the south?”
“Go north tomorrow.”
The next morning Hopper and Quack visited all of the little penguins to tell them good-bye and to thank them for letting them be part of their family. Finally Hopper went for one more visit with Mendicule, and Quack wanted to be with Galee for a while.
“I can tell you’re ready now,” said Mendicule after Hopper told him about the instructions he’d received in the night. Your ear has been opened, and you’re willing to go north when you think you need to go south. Yes, my son, you’re ready.”
Then Galoppy emerged from behind a pile of rocks. He agreed with what Mendicule said.
“I’ll miss you two,” said Hopper, “and I’ll miss your counsel and great wisdom.”
“Now it’s time for you to apply it,” said Mendicule
Galoppy added, “And you can’t live off the wisdom of others, especially two old-timers like us. If your ears and eyes are open, you’ll learn even greater things.”
So they talked with him until Hopper knew the time had come to leave. He bade them farewell and went to say good-bye to Galant, Gail, and Galee. Then he and Quack, with their hearts in their feet, but their minds resolved to the journey, headed for the water.
The whole Galapagos colony escorted them a good ways out into the ocean north of their island., and raising their wings in a final salute ,they headed back toward their home, while Quack and Hopper turned their beaks toward the limitless blue expanse to the north.

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