Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 33


Finally, the last chapter arrives, in which the Rockhoppers seek to defend themselves and their homeland from the invading evil Caracaras.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 33

The Battle

Now for the next few days the penguins made defensive plans and practiced what they’d do when it came time to fight. Hopper was also making plans for an offensive move to rescue the penguins at the Jason Islands.
One morning he and Eudy were out in the ocean getting some food when suddenly he felt himself flying up in the air saying, “Wheee! See!” And indeed it was his good friend See who had also brought his family.
He brought news of events in the Pacific Ocean. “The Great White Seal has been moving down the coast, planning to come into the Atlantic and take over the Falkland Islands, and from there the whole Atlantic. He especially wants to rid the world of Rockhoppers. And now he suspects you are alive, and that makes him extremely furious. But something has been hindering his attempts to get here. In the meantime the caracaras are his servants in this ocean. When he heard they had already started a war against the Rockhoppers, he offered them great rewards to save the captives for his trophy ledge. The birds have sold themselves to be his servants because of what he has promised to give them in return, but I doubt that they’ll ever get their reward.
“Anyway, I listened in on some caracaras’ conversations and learned all this stuff. I brought my family to live here while I do more scouting.”
“Are the caracaras going to attack soon?” asked Hopper.
“They’re getting ready for the biggest attack yet. They’re really mad about being scared away twice. They say it won’t happen again. It doesn’t matter what tricks you come up with, they say. Next time they’re going to get all of you.”
“Do you have any ideas for winning this battle and getting our penguins back?”
“No, I’m afraid I don’t, but I’m going to see what I can find out.”
“Where are you going?”
“Back to spy out the Pacific. We need to find out what the Big White is up to. Even if we can beat the caracaras, we need to stop him even more.”
“When will the birds be back?”
“Probably tomorrow. And now I’m heading west. Hope to see you before too long!”
“Bye, good friend, See!”
See nosed noses with his mate and pups and slithered into the water and was gone.
Hopper called a meeting for all the Rockhoppers, saying, “We have a day to prepare for the fight of our lives. We need to store up food for a few days, and we need to practice our fighting moves without getting too tired out. Tomorrow we’ll all stay together. We won’t even send lookouts because we know the birds are coming. We need to make them wish they’d never joined with the Great White Seal and regret that they’d ever started this war against us in the first place.”
The next day everyone was excited but sober. They sat and waited, each saying a silent “Help!” The hours dragged on slowly until finally at midday they could see the cloud of caracaras approaching. They all got to their positions, ready for battle, with the young ones protected at the center of the colony.
The birds arrived, flying overhead, nervously shouting taunts at the penguins, such as, “There’s no help for you flipper wings. You guys can’t even fly. How can you possibly win? You might as well give up. You’ve been invited for dinner at the table of the Great White Seal! Ha ha!”
Hopper encouraged his friends to pay them no heed; just get ready to fight. Soon the battle began. The birds swooped down to snatch penguins, but the penguins snapped at them with their beaks. The birds were surprised by the determination and united effort of the penguins, but they attacked even more viciously, their claws slashing and their beaks slicing. The battle continued for hours. The penguins were tiring out. The birds had the advantage of being able to attack from the air, while the penguins could only defend themselves. A few birds were brought down to the ground, but more penguins were being carried off.
The caracaras began focusing their attention more on Hopper. He was fighting off three birds, then four, then five. He saw them ganging up on Eudy. He struggled to help her, but then they grabbed her and took her away.
His heart nearly broke to see her go, crying, “Help!” He felt helpless as he stood momentarily watching while she rose farther and farther into the sky, but then he was jolted back to his own fight with the stab of a beak in his side. Once again he was fighting for his life, his freedom, and his family.
Now there were ten birds after him. He was bleeding from his side, his wings, and even his feet where the birds kept pecking him. Now one flew hard at him and pulled out some of his beautiful yellow crest feathers. Then finally one big caracara was able to grab him, and up he went into the sky.
All the caracaras stopped fighting to savor the moment. “Ha ha!” they called down as they flew in circles around and above the remaining Rockhoppers. “Here’s your leader! Now what are you going to do! Give up, and come with us! It’s no use fighting against us.”
“Don’t give up!” shouted Hopper. “There’s still hope!”
“Ha ha! Don’t listen to the ravings of this young fool! Why expend effort and go through the suffering of another battle?”
“You know what to do!” cried Hopper.
At that they all cried, “Helllllllllllllllllp!”
“Ha ha, you fools! There’s no help for you. What can you do against us? You can’t even fly, and if you swim we’ll pluck you right out of the water!”
One caracara now flew closer to Hopper and said, “Hey! I think I’ve seen you before in the company of a couple of hummingbirds. Ha ha! Now I bet you’re sorry I didn’t eat you when you were an egg! Ha ha!”
Hopper said, “Oh, hi, Johnny Rook. I hope you didn’t take too seriously that little peck on your tail-feathers.”
“Mind? Me mind? Ha ha! I’m glad you did! Ha ha! Now I’ll get to present you to the Master for a good meal! Ha ha!”
The penguins’ heads were drooping lower and lower as the caracaras’ taunts grew sharper and sharper, and their gloating hearts rose higher and higher.
Imperceptibly at first, as the birds circled with their words of discouragement, a sound grew from the north. Soon it became audible as possibly a song coming from the sky. As it grew nearer, to Hopper it seemed to be a song he knew. The caracaras were too busy with their taunting to notice it at all.
Hopper listened and looked to the north. Far away he could see a bluish-gray cloud which grew bigger as he watched, and the song grew louder, although he still couldn’t hear the words.
The caracaras continued circling and gloating. The cloud and the song approached rapidly. Now he could hear the words:

A penguin and a duck! Hey!
A penguin and a duck! Ho!

And the cloud became an enormous flock of Harlequin ducks. Even in his pain Hopper could smile, for there, leading this great duck air force, was his great friend, Harley Q. “Quack” Duck!
Quack and his company took the caracaras completely by surprise. Hopper’s foes panicked and fled for their home, and the ducks pursued them. Hopper was dropped into the sea. No one seemed to notice, and he was left unconscious, floating in the water like a dead penguin.
He was unaware of anything happening around him and unaware of time passing. He dreamed of his life in Antarctica, his drifting in the storm, his life with the Magellanic penguins, his times with Hummer, Quack, Bhill, Meadowlark, the people and their dog, his stay in the Oceanarium, and his travels with Eudy, Gump, and Emp.
Then he heard a familiar voice gently calling him, “Hopper!”
Then another gentle voice called, “Hopper! Are you okay?”
He tried hard to wake up. His head hurt, and his whole body ached. “Hopper!”
He tried opening his eyes. It was very difficult, but finally he did, and there above him was an Emperor penguin. He focused his eyes, and then he saw there were two! And these two looked at him with the love of a mother and father. “Am I dreaming?” he asked. “Or has this whole thing been a dream? Am I back in Antarctica?”
“No, son, you’re not dreaming,” answered Emmett.
Then Emily continued, “We’ve heard all about your travels and the struggles here. We had to come and join you. Our good friends, Del and Delphina, found you floating and brought you home.”
“Home?” asked Hopper.
“Yes, the Falkland Islands,” answered Emmett, “and by the way, I’m glad you were able to follow my directions to get here.”
“Do you know how all the others are?”
“They’re all okay. The battle has been won, and all captives have been freed,” said Emmett. Emily said, “And there’s someone else here you should meet.”
A pair of older Rockhoppers hopped over to where Hopper lay. Hopper recognized one as the female he had seen with the captives on Jason Island.
“Mother!” he cried. “And Dad! I’ve been wanting to see you for so long!” Then he looked above and said, “Thank you!”
Hopper, Cliffider, Cliffidee, Emmett, and Emily talked a long time by the sea. They filled him in on what had happened while he was floating—the great victory that the ducks had won over the caracaras and the deliverance of the captured penguins. All were brought back safely, including Eudy.
“Hey, where is Eudy, anyway?” asked Hopper.
“She’s up the cliff with all the other Rockhoppers. We’ll see all of them when we go back up, and we’ll have a great celebration,” said Cliffidee.
A flutter of wings and a voice came from above, “Hey, Hop, where’ve you been? I come thousands of miles to see you, and you disappear for three days!”
“Hey, Quack! Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad, this is Harley Q. Duck, better known as Quack, the best friend a penguin could have.”
“We saw him in action,” said Cliffider. “He leads quite the air force of ducks. They took care of those caracaras pretty quick and easy.”
Emmett added, “It’s good to meet you, Quack. We’ve heard some stories about you, and now we get to meet the actual duck. But one thing I’ve been wondering—who ever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends?”
They all laughed, and then Quack told his story. He had assembled his flock of ducks, planning to hunt down Bhill Blue and run him aground. They had found the whale off the coast of Central America. “I was about to attack him,” said Quack, “and he lifted up his head and laughed at me. Then he said Hopper was alive and well, but he needed my help at the Falkland Islands.”
Quack also found out that the Great White Seal was attempting to come from California down the coast to the Atlantic Ocean. Bhill Blue had assembled his own navy of whales and dolphins to prevent him from going any farther than Central America.
“And you know what else I saw there with Bhill? There was an Emperor Penguin! I didn’t stay around long enough to see who he was.”
“Emp!” cried the penguins.
Just then See splashed out of the water onto the rocks and said, “The war is over! I’ve been told that the Great White Seal has gone back to California. His servants in the southern hemisphere are scattered. They won’t bother us for a long while.”
Hopper said, “Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad, and Quack, this is See, a great seal who befriended me even though it could have cost him his life. As it is, he was driven away from the other seals. Without him I don’t know if I could have made it here.”
The other penguins and Quack greeted the young seal warmly, and he told them more of his story and of his latest spy mission. “And by the way, Hopper,” he concluded, “Magellee and Maggot send their greetings.”
“Maggot? Why would he send me greetings?”
“After you saved his life he became a different penguin. He completely changed. He didn’t have to hurt others anymore. He became very kind and helpful. He and Magellee ended up together, and now they have had their own little penguins.”
“Wow!” said Hopper. “One thing that bothered me is that I never got to say goodbye to Magellee and her family. I’m glad everything turned out well for her and Maggot.”
Emmett said, “Well, it’s time for us to head back home.”
“Couldn’t you stay here?” said Hopper.
“We can’t climb the cliffs,” said Emily. “We’d sure like to be closer to you, but we can’t.”
“Why don’t you join the King penguins? There’s a colony of them not far away, and they don’t climb cliffs. You even look kind of like them.”
“No, Son, we need to go back to Antarctica. That’s our home, but we’ll visit you sometimes.”
So they bid their good-byes and the Emperors dove into the sea.
The Rockhoppers climbed the cliff, and Quack flew up to the top where all the Rockhoppers and Harlequins had a great celebration which lasted many days.
Then the ducks flew back to their home in North America. See and his family stayed at the Falkland Islands, and from them came descendants who were friendly to penguins.
Hopper and Eudy lived many more years and had many children and grandchildren. And some of them grew up to be great penguins with their own stories to tell.

The End (for now, anyway)


Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 32


Hopper and Eudy finally make it to the Falklands and find their Rockhopper family in great danger from the caracara birds, all in fulfillment of the prophecies of long ago.

To read from the beginning, click here.


Chapter 32

The Falklands

On through the night and the next day they swam, and finally they could see the island as the sun was setting. They swam along the western shore of the island and around a point at the southwestern corner, and then began the final segment of the journey.
Once again they were tired and decided to rest awhile on shore. There wasn’t much beach to land on, but there were a lot of rocks. However, they popped out of the water and found a good place to rest with a view of the ocean to the south and a cliff at their back.
For the first time Hopper could say and know for sure, “This is home. I’m finally home.” Eudy had the same thoughts and feelings. They all had a hard time sleeping because of their excitement and their thoughts of the battle ahead. And there were birds flying continuously, back and forth, overhead. It seemed there were millions of them. Finally, due to their exhaustion, they were able to sleep.
The next morning they woke up ready to go again. After a quick breakfast they headed east and then slightly northeast as they approached the Rockhopper colony. Hopper was wondering things like, “What do they expect me to do?” and “Am I really the one they’re waiting for?” and “What am I going to do?” At the same time he was excited and very happy to be home at last.
Now they could see the other big island as they entered Falkland Sound. “Not much farther now!” said See. “Around the next point and we’ll be there.”
As they rounded the bend, Hopper was very excited and was straining his eyes for a better look at his home. He wasn’t sure why, but he climbed up on See’s back as they came within sight of the Rockhoppers.
Suddenly there were thousands of them along the top of the cliffs and on the cliff face and on the rocky shore, and they were shouting, “He’s here! He’s come! And he’s riding a seal! He’s really come!”
Hopper was astounded. He didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but he and Eudy popped out of the water onto the rocks at the base of the cliff and were instantly swarmed by Rockhoppers. See stayed in the water, watching and smiling.
“Look at his eyes!” shouted a penguin. “He has yellow eyes!”
“Yellow eyes! Yellow eyes!” the shout continued up the hill.
Hopper looked at Eudy and said, “Is there something wrong with yellow eyes? Hey, I guess all you others have beady red eyes, don’t you? I hope you don’t mind if I have yellow eyes.”
“I don’t mind, Hopper,” said Eudy. “Actually, I think they’re kind of nice.”
“Mind?” said another penguin. “Don’t you know? It means the time of terror from the sky is about to end. We’ll be able to live our lives without always looking up in the air for an attacker.”
“What does yellow eyes have to do with it?” asked Hopper.
“Don’t you know the prophecy of the great old Rockhopper, Cliffking, which he spoke before he died?

When the trouble comes from the skies
He of yellow crest and eyes
Swims from the north.
He will suddenly come forth
With his mate by his side
And a seal as his ride.
Soon the flying ones will flee
And the Falklands become free.

“So don’t you see that you are that one who was foretold? You are the one to lead us to freedom.”
“Arg,” said Hopper.
The Rockhoppers invited Hopper and Eudy to come up to the colony at the top of the cliff. Hopper turned to See and asked him what he was going to do. He answered, “I think I’ll do some looking around and then get back to my family.”
“Thanks for everything, See. Hope to see you again before too long.”
“Bye, Hopper!”
The penguins all made their way to the top of the cliff. Hopper felt great, knowing he was home at last, but he knew something was missing to complete his happiness.
“Where are my parents?” he asked.
“Who are they?”
“Cliffidee and Cliffider.”
“Cliffidee and Cliffider! You’re the son of Cliffidee and Cliffider? That’s incredible!” All the Rockhoppers started shouting in amazement at this news.
“But can I see them?” shouted Hopper above the noise.
One penguin named Rockhurst approached Hopper nervously and told him, “Cliffidee was carried off by the birds a few weeks ago, and Cliffider was taken last night. I’m afraid, young Hopper, your parents are dead.”
Hopper was crushed. He had missed his mother by a few weeks and his dad by a day. His mind raced as he considered how he might have gotten here faster, if he hadn’t delayed in various places. If he hadn’t rested so long at the Jason Islands, maybe he could have at least seen his dad. He thought of what could have happened to speed up his trip so he could have seen his mother.
Then he remembered the penguins he saw on that island, especially the older female. Then he knew who she was, and his heart leaped in hope and almost joy. “They’re not dead!” he exclaimed. “I think I know where they are, and soon we’ll organize a rescue mission for them and all the others who have been taken.”
Rockhurst said, “ It’s true that we didn’t know where the birds took our friends, but we have tried following after them in the water, and we were like sitting penguins in the water. The birds would swoop down on us whenever we were on the surface. They poked us with their beaks. Some of us they carried off.”
“I can see that is a problem. It’s a two-day swim to get there,” said Hopper. “I can see there’s one thing we must do first.”
“What’s that?” they all asked.
“We need to look up and call for help.”
“Yeah!” they all agreed.
So the whole group of Rockhoppers looked up and called out in unison, “Helllllllllllllllllllp!”
Hopper had a few ideas to give them some time to come up with a better idea. Right now the birds were absent, but would probably be coming in for an attack soon. Hopper told them his first plan.
Before long a penguin at the northwestern corner of the colony shouted, “They’re coming!”
All the penguins lay down, some on their backs, some on their bellies, with their wings out. They all looked dead.
The birds approached, thousands of them, looking for more penguins to carry away. Soon they were all overhead, blocking the sun and making it seem like a cloudy day. They circled lower and lower. Then one of the caracaras shouted, “Hey, look at those penguins! What do you think happened to them?”
Another said, “We’d better go down and find out.”
Closer and closer they came, lower and lower. Suddenly, the penguins all popped up and shouted, “Boo!” The birds were frightened and confused, and flew away in a great hurry.
The Rockhoppers shouted, “Hooray!” and hopped around and laughed like they hadn’t done for a long, long time. They joked around, playing dead and suddenly awaking with a “Boo!”
Hopper and Eudy joined them in their celebration, and then finally, as night drew on, and everyone was beginning to settle down, Hopper raised his voice, saying, “You all know we’ve won a great victory today, but it was only a minor battle. The birds will regroup and return. Tomorrow we’ll start practicing for Plan number 2, which is also just a temporary measure to keep the birds away while we can be thinking of a more permanent solution to our problem. We still must come up with our final plan of attack to free our captives.”
The multitudes of penguins agreed and retired with joyful hearts. This was the first time since the war began that they’d really been united.
The next day Hopper divided up the flock into groups, each group having a leader. He took the leaders aside to teach each of them the accent of a different animal. Each leader then taught the voice to his group. Then the next time the birds attacked, they would hear voices of foxes, pumas, peccaries, raccoons, bears, and alligators. The caracaras would once again be frightened and confused. The penguins spent that whole day perfecting their imitations.
Hopper gave strict instructions that nobody was to go out alone, away from the flock. He sent out groups of penguins to the extremities of the island as lookouts. They were to return when any flocks of the caracaras were sighted.
About a week later the lookouts returned with the news of the approaching birds. “All right, everyone to your place!” said Hopper.
They all concealed themselves among the rocks. Some lay on the ground, looking dead. Soon the birds came overhead, circling somewhat warily. They came in closer, close enough to hear. Then the penguins started saying things like, “Aha, caracara lunch!” and “Ah, my fine feathered birds of prey, come dine with me today.” The birds were baffled and frightened, and once again they flew away.
The Rockhoppers had another day of celebration. The next day they were still rejoicing and laughing about their great victory, but toward the end of the day some were coming over to Hopper and Eudy, asking things like, “What’s next?” and “How are we going to rescue the others?”
All Hopper could say was, “I don’t know yet. We need to keep calling for help.” That night he and Eudy talked a long, long time, but they couldn’t think of any other clever tricks.
The next day he addressed the whole colony, “The second most important thing is to stay together and to be ready at any time for the caracaras. We scared them away, but they’ll be back. We must be ready to fight, and we must fight together. Anyone who goes out alone is easy prey for them. If we’re together, even though it will be hard, they can’t easily hurt us. But first of all, we need to call again on our Creator.”
So they all sang out in unison a long and loud, “Hellllllllllp!”

Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 31


Hopper and Eudy meet a friend from long ago as they near the end of their journey, one who will help them greatly along the way.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 31

A Reunion

In a few days they reached the place where they knew it was time to head directly south. But first they needed to do some fishing. Hopper and Eudy dove under for their breakfast before starting the last portion of their long journey.
After Eudy had eaten her fill, she waited at the surface for Hopper. Suddenly she saw him flying out the water about four feet into the air and flop back down into it. Then up he went up again and back down. “What is he doing?” she asked herself with growing alarm. Then she realized he must be under attack. Soon she saw what it was—a seal!
She raced toward them, hoping to find a way to save Hopper from certain death and his impending commitment to the food chain. She porpoised toward the battle at ramming speed.
She heard Hopper shouting, “Wheeee! See!” as he went up into the air, and then he came down with a splash.
“We see? We see what?” she said.
Then there he was up in the air again saying, “Wheeee! See! Wheeee!” and then down with a kersplash!
She said, “We see? Seaweed? My poor Hopper! The seal must have jiggled his brain loose!”
Now as she approached the scene of the battle, she heard Hopper say, “One more time, See! And then give Eudy a ride, too!” Then up he went saying, “Wheeee!” and down again with a splash.
The seal approached Eudy, and she wasn’t sure if she should flee or fight. Her indecision undid her, for soon she was flying up in the air and came down with a splash. “Hey, that was kind of fun,” she thought, but what she said was, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
Hopper answered, “Didn’t I ever tell you about See, the little seal I played Nosepush with on the beach at the very beginning? He’s quite a bit bigger now, or maybe I’m smaller. Anyway, he had to leave the Pacific, because he was turned away by his family, and now the Big White Seal wants his tail.”
“But why?”
“Well, he befriended a penguin and spoke up for him.”
“Ah, now I see,” said Eudy.
See said, “No, I See. You Eudy. He Hopper. We go now to shore. Meet my family.” Then See said to Hopper out of the corner of his mouth, “Hop, you should teach this mate of yours to speak a little better.”
They all laughed and headed to shore where they met See’s mate and three pups. Her name was Selly, and the pups were Seeing, Seen, and Saw.
Selly and Eudy soon became great friends as they talked of all the things that had happened in their lives. After playing Nosepush with the pups, See and Hopper brought each other up to date on their lives and the events of the world as they knew it.
See was able to inform Hopper of events in the Pacific, such as the Great White Seal’s fury over losing Hopper to the whale, and also of his plans to extend his influence into the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps he already had a little. See’s friends, Si and So, were able to remain in the Pacific because they hadn’t spoken out as much as See, even though they agreed with him. They were able to pass on information to See about what was happening in the Pacific.
The Falkland Islands were in turmoil. The caracaras were trying to wipe out the Rockhoppers. Instead of taking only the weak chicks, they were going after healthy ones too, and even at times attacking adult penguins. Some they carried away. It seemed they were determined to drive the Rockhoppers from the Falklands. See thought perhaps the Great White Seal was behind it after all, wanting to make the Falklands a base for his invasion into the Atlantic.
The caracaras were also attacking the colonies of King penguins in the Falklands. The penguins, both Kings and Rockhoppers were disorganized and about ready to give up their islands. Their only hope, it seemed, was that someone would rise up to lead them in driving the caracaras away.
“And you know what?” continued See, “They are waiting for you!”
Hopper replied, “Me? Ha ha. I’m the penguin who couldn’t even find his way from Antarctica to the Falklands.”
“Yes, but now you’re the penguin who just came from Louisiana to within a few weeks’ journey to the Falklands. You are the penguin who escaped from the Great White Seal, who freed Emp the Traveler, who befriended ducks, rabbits, lemmings, and even seals, as well as many different kinds of penguins and other creatures. Who else but you? They’re waiting for you.”
“How do they know about me?”
“Well, I guess they don’t know about you yet, but they’re waiting for the one who was foretold long ago by the wise elder of their colony. Who else could it be but you?”
“But I’m only a little penguin. I’m nobody special.”
“Why do you think your mom and dad had you raised in Antarctica? They knew what was about to happen, and they also knew you were to be a special penguin. No use fighting it, Hop. Tomorrow we’ll start the final part of your journey home. Within a few weeks you’ll be there, and you will lead them in victory over the caracaras. The Great White Seal will not be allowed to take over the Atlantic. And I’m going with you to make sure you get there.”
That night while the others slept, Hopper stood alone on the beach, but he wasn’t really alone. He had been calling, “Help!” all night long and wondering things like, “Why me?” and “What can I do?”
His musings were interrupted gently by the knowledge that he wasn’t alone. That same presence was present, that presence that led him from the Galapagos, that led him to help his friend, Quack, that spoke to him before his first meeting with the people, that led him and Eudy out of the Oceanarium, and now—
“Swim with me, Hopper. Don’t worry. Swim with me.”
“Will the penguins really listen to me? I’m no better than they are.”
“Don’t worry. Swim with me. You’re not alone. In the morning go south and swim until you reach your home. Lead your cousins in victory.”
The next morning the seals and penguins dove into the water for their breakfast. Selly would then stay behind with the pups while See escorted Hopper and Eudy to the Falklands.
They were saying their good-byes when a buzzy voice from above said, “Hey, Hopper-wopper, hey Hop!”
Hopper almost flew out of the water saying, “Arrr, I hate it when they call me that!” Then he said, “Hey, Hummer, my old friend! It sure is good to see you. What brings you this way?”
“I was sent here to encourage you before the final part of your journey home. Swim with your Creator. Fly like a penguin. Lead your cousins in victory.”
“He told you the same thing he told me, didn’t he?”
“I think he wanted you to know it was really he who spoke to you.”
“Are you coming with us?”
“No, I must get back to Hummeressa. I can’t be much help to you anyway on this part of your journey. So, farewell, Hopper. See you later, See. Good seeing you Eudy, Selly, Seeing, Seen, and Saw!”
“Bye, Hummer!”
See and the penguins then headed straight south. See encouraged them along the way and also made the journey more enjoyable with his jokes. Occasionally he would sneak underneath one of them and throw them up in the air.
On the third day Hopper had an uneasy feeling come over him. It took him a while before he realized he was being warned of danger. “Help us!” he breathed, looking above, and then to the others he said, “There’s danger ahead.”
They swam warily onward to the south. They didn’t talk much. Hopper began thinking of his arrival at home and the coming battle. Suddenly he was flying up in the air saying, “Wheee! See!” but at the top of his flight he saw See and Eudy swimming along as usual, but now looking at him up in the air, a bit higher than usual.
He looked down and saw the jaws of a huge shark waiting to catch him. He twisted in mid-air and flapped his wings. This changed his course just enough to miss the big mouth. He bounced off the shark’s nose, slid down his back to the dorsal fin, which he grabbed onto with his beak.
See and Eudy swam toward the shark, and it thrashed around to shake Hopper loose. See dove under and came up and bit the shark in the belly while Eudy was staring at one of its cold eyes.
The shark had had enough. He had wanted an easy meal, so he began to swim away. Hopper let go, and they continued their journey south with thankful hearts.
They swam in peace for a few more days, although Hopper continued to brood over the task before him. What could he do? He also talked with See to find out what the seal knew about the caracaras and their attacks, and what the penguins were doing to defend themselves. See told him what he knew. The rest he’d have to find out when he got there.
One day See said, “Well, friends, less than a week and we’ll be there, if all goes well.”
“It will be great to be home,” said Eudy. “We can raise some little penguins and have many Rockhopper friends.”
“And maybe some seal friends, too,” added Hopper.
“Of course,” said Eudy.
Hopper said, “Yeah, they’re not so bad once you get to know them.”
See said, “I could eat you two if I wanted to, but I don’t, so I probably won’t.”
“I appreciate that,” said Hopper.
For five more days they swam southward. All this time the current had been pushing them to the northeast, but they were able to continue on their course to the south. Here the current was cold, and that was a relief.
On this day, as they were porpoising along at a comfortable speed and getting a bit more excited because the end of their journey was so near, Hopper looked at the sun as he came out of the water. Then under water he listened. Then out of the water he scanned the horizon. He determined they were on course. The others agreed.
In the afternoon they saw clouds forming quickly over the ocean. They became big dark clouds. The wind began to blow a little stronger. The waves became higher and higher.
Hopper remembered his first attempt at reaching the Falklands and was starting to think, “Oh, no, not again,” but he was determined to continue on the course he’d been called to swim, believing that with the calling was the promise of help to accomplish it.
“Swim through it,” was the thought given to him, and he passed it on to the others. So they continued south, swimming under water for longer stretches, then coming up for air.
They stayed together as the storm became a raging hurricane that attempted to drive them off course, sometimes to the west, sometimes to the east, and sometimes even north. They continued going south, however, as the wind blew and the rain poured and the waves towered over them.
Staying on course became increasingly difficult, and they were tempted to give up and let the storm take them wherever it would. But Hopper fought to stay on course. He must get home. Too much was at stake now. He had a desire growing within him not only to see his Rockhopper family, but also to help.
They all called for help and committed themselves to the one who could accomplish good from a storm. It was hard to stay together and on course, but they battled the storm without knowing how much time was passing. It could have been a day or perhaps a week.
Finally the storm abated, and they were near total exhaustion. They felt like quitting, but through the spray of the waves they caught a glimpse of land! Their strength was renewed enough for them to swim to the shore where they collapsed.
The penguins found a hole in a pile of rocks to crawl into, and See slept on the beach. The penguins fell asleep vaguely wondering if they were home, but too tired to think about it.
They were awakened by See the next morning. “Stay where you are for now,” he said. “This place is totally over-run by the enemy. The birds are all over the place. At least the storm has passed.”
“Did they try to hurt you?” asked Eudy.
“No, they probably figure I’m on their side. Most of the seals are, you know. But I don’t think they trust me completely. When I tried to see what was inland a ways they got very nervous and flew at me. I would really like to find out what’s over there.”
“Do you think we’re home?” asked Eudy.
“No, this is not the Falklands. I suspect it’s one of the Jason Islands a little to the north of the Falklands. The caracaras must be using this as their headquarters.”
Hopper said, “I’ve got to find out what they have there.”
“How will you do that? The place is crawling with the birds.”
“I don’t know yet, but I’m being led to go see. Tonight we’ll call for help, and I’ll sneak in there. See, you’d better stay here, and Eudy…”
“I’m going with you,” she said.
That night as soon as it was dark, after a call for help, the penguins started inland. They moved quickly and quietly. No birds were overhead, but they kept checking the skies as they went.
Soon they arrived at the place See wasn’t allowed to see. Before them were hordes of caracaras, and they all seemed to be asleep. In the center of all these birds was a little pond with a group of penguins! Most of the penguins were young, but one was older and seemed to be trying to comfort and encourage the younger ones.
Hopper and Eudy crept a little closer. Then they stopped short when they heard caracara voices a few feet in front of them.
“Boy, we better stay awake. The boss won’t like it if we all fall asleep. He wouldn’t want anything to happen to these penguins before he gets their tails.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure. Time’s getting short, too. He’ll be here soon enough, and we don’t have nearly enough of these Rockhoppers to satisfy him.”
Then the birds fell silent. After waiting a while, the penguins could tell that they too had fallen asleep. They decided to creep closer to the captive penguins, and perhaps even lead them out. Eudy said, “We’ve been granted a gift of sleep to our enemies, and perhaps deliverance to our cousins.”
They crept toward the pond. They went around sleeping birds without any of them stirring. They came to within ten yards of the pond. The older penguin was standing as if on guard for the sleeping young ones. She looked back and forth continually, watching her captors as well as her young companions. Hopper loved her the moment he saw her. He wanted to run to her and bring her to safety.
He was about to try to get her attention, when suddenly from above the hill beyond the far side of the pond came a fluttering of wings. Hopper and Eudy could make out shapes of birds flying over the hill toward them. They quickly hurried beyond the ring of sleeping birds, and then they heard the voice of one of the flying birds announcing, “Hey, look here! We’ve got a few more to add to the master’s trophy ledge.”
Hopper and Eudy lay low and watched with sadness as more young penguins were dropped into the pond. They saw the older penguin go to the young arrivals to see how they were, and they heard her say to the caracaras, “Don’t be too cocky. Your time is getting very short.”
The caracaras laughed at her and told her, “If penguins were really birds, they could fly, and we wouldn’t be taking them away whenever we wanted! Ha ha!”
Now the other birds were waking up and making a great noise, kind of like laughter or jeering. Whatever it was, it was an ugly noise to the penguins. “At least we know where they are,” said Hopper.
“Yes,” said Eudy, “and we need to rescue them soon.”
“Let’s get See and head for home and get our cousins to return here for the deliverance of these poor penguins.”
Soon they were back to See and went back to sea, heading south again for the Falklands. See was familiar with this area and was able to lead them in the right direction, and although he’d never been to the Rockhopper colony, he knew its location on the southern shore of the western big island overlooking the Falkland Sound, which runs between the two big islands.

Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 30



Hopper and Eudy travel with Emp until they reach Panama, where Emp goes through the canal to the Pacific. The Rockhoppers follow the coast of South America as they seek to reach their home in the Falkland Islands. Along the way they encounter peccaries, anteaters, monkeys, and manatees.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 30

Back to South America

Traveling with Uncle Emp was great, because he could guide them through these unfamiliar waters—around the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico past Cuba. At this point Hopper had a sense of familiarity about this place. Uncle Emp informed him they were off the coast of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
“Aha, Guatemala!” said Hopper. “I have been here before, and I don’t think I want to stay. Let’s head south for home, wherever that is!”
As they swam along they had lots of time to tell each other their life stories. By the time each of them had had a turn, they could all see the great plan that had brought them here. Emp was free to travel the seas again, and Hopper and Eudy were free to find their home, and they could also see that they would find it together, and they would stay together to the end of their lives.
They didn’t do much sightseeing in these waters. Their desire for the colder waters far to the south drove them on. Also, they had to be on their guard, Emp warned them, against the possible attack of sharks or barracudas.
However, they traveled in safety for two weeks until they came to Panama. Here Uncle Emp surprised them by telling them it was time for him to go south and west, and for them to go east and south.
“What do you mean? I thought we were traveling together to the Falklands!” said Hopper.
Emp answered, “Well, I need to get back to the Pacific, but you can’t because you’re bound to be seen. It would be a shorter route to your home, but much more dangerous and actually foolhardy. They don’t care about me, and even if they did, I can out-swim the fastest seal. But I must go that way. I need to see some of my friends in the Pacific, and then I want to travel. I feel like I’ve missed so much.
“As for you, head east, staying within sight of this land, which is South America, and then as you follow the coast, you will go south. You have a long way to go, and much of it will be in the heat of the Equator. Stay near the coast until you get to Argentina. Then you are very close to home. Go straight south and you’ll find it.”
“I wish you would come with us,” said Eudy. “Don’t you ever go home anymore?”
“Well, I probably should go back some day, and I’ll give it some thought on the way,” said Emp. “I’ve really enjoyed your company. We may see each other again. Many thanks again to you and Gump, and especially to the one who made us. And remember not to forget him! Goodbye, little friends, and may you have many descendants who will grow up to be great penguins like you.”
Uncle Emp swam off into the Panama Canal. Hopper and Eudy, saddened by his departure, headed east along the coast of South America, following his instructions.
They swam for many days along the northern coast of South America, usually staying well away from the shore in order to be unseen by people and not an easy prey for fierce South American animals like pumas, peccaries, and snakes. The current was against them here, making their journey much more difficult, and sometimes they would come quietly ashore to rest awhile. If they rested in the water they would drift backward.
One time in the country of Suriname they found a river where they could swim upstream to find a place to rest. This was strange territory to them. It was hot, and they stayed by the river. However, they got out to stand on a rock with their wings outstretched.
They could hear all kinds of noises in the jungle around them, many creatures making animal or insect sounds, and there were plants blowing in the wind.
One particular sound was somewhat familiar to Hopper and made him uneasy. He wasn’t sure what it was at first, but then he realized it was a peccary snuffling around in the bushes for a good meal. Hopper wasn’t very fond of peccaries.
“Arg, a peccary,” he whispered to Eudy out of the side of his beak.
“A piggy-wig?”
“Yeah, that’s the fellow. I wonder if they’re all alike. If he’s like the ones in Guatemala, he deserves a good beak in the tail.”
“Well, Hopper, I don’t think that’s up to you to decide, and you know you can’t let things that happened in the past affect the way you treat someone else today. Besides, you said it was your own fault you got yourself into that mess. The piggy-wig just wanted a good meal.”
“Yeah, I know you’re right, but I’d still like to beak him in the tail. I’d say nose, but those tusks are too sharp. Whatever the case, we’d better stay out of sight.”
They got down off the rock and hid behind it, waiting to see what would happen. An animal with a long, curved nose came to the river not far upstream from them. She had a young one with her, and they took a drink.
A gruff voice came from the trees, “Hey, who said you Big-noses could drink out of this river. I’ll teach you to be more careful with your baby, Mama Big-nose. I’ll have to make him my breakfast! Ha ha!”
Mama Big-nose put herself between her baby and the taunting peccary, making sure he could see her claws, which were quite long.
“Those things you use to dig for ants don’t have a chance against my tusks!” he said as he began his charge.
Then a small voice from downstream said, “Hey piggy-wiggy! Hey piggy-wig!”
“What? Who said that?” he said, stopping abruptly.
“Hey piggy-wiggy! Hey piggy-wig!”
“Arrrrrr! I hate it when they call me that! Who said that? Where is he?”
“Grrrrr!” said the peccary as he charged toward the voice in the river. “Come here and say that to my face!”
“Piggy-wiggy!” came the voice a little farther downstream.
Soon the peccary was charging downstream toward the ocean, yelling threats and other interjections as the voice kept leading him away.
A while later Hopper came swimming upstream to where Eudy was talking with the mama anteater and her little one. “That piggy is heading toward Venezuela,” he said. “Maybe he’ll join his cousins in Guatemala. Ha ha!”
The anteater, whose name was Tamady, said, “Many thanks to you, my penguin friend. And my little Jubady thanks you too. Where did you learn a trick like that?”
Hopper replied, “A friend of mine did it once to save my life.”
“Eudy has told me you two have come on quite a journey and have much farther to go. I’m not familiar with penguins at all. Where do you come from?”
“Well, I was raised in Antarctica originally, but I’m…”
Tamady interrupted, “Did you say, ‘Antarctica?’ I suppose you have ants there?”
“Well, yeah, of course. Lots of them.”
“Well, it’s like the whole colony, all the female…”
“A whole colony of them? How big?”
“It’s hard to count them, actually, because there are so many, or do you mean how big they are? Well, they don’t like to talk about their size much, but they’re about twice as big as I am.”
Tamady was visibly getting excited now and said, “Perhaps when my Jubady is grown, I could take a trip to Antarctica, do a little sight-seeing, a little eating…”
“That would be great! My mother would love to show you around, and my favorite aunt, Penny, would make your visit most enjoyable!”
“Well, if you don’t mind…even your favorite ant?”
“Of course not, and they’d love to have you!”
So Hopper and Eudy visited with Tamady and Jubady for a while and became great friends. Then they all realized it was time to go—the anteaters to find some ants and the penguins to continue their journey to the Falklands.
Hopper and Eudy continued their struggle against the current past French Guiana and into the waters of Brazil, arriving after many days at the mouth of the Amazon River. This is right at the equator and a very hot place for penguins.
They rested briefly here and befriended some manatees, but had to move on because of the heat. They knew eventually they would come to cooler waters if they continued on.
Now they swam southeast along the coast of Brazil. As they passed many towns and some big cities like Sao Luis and Fortuleza, they managed to keep out of sight of people.
About three weeks after leaving the Amazon they found themselves swimming up another smaller river. It was still hot here, and there was jungle on both sides of the river. They were tired and wanted to find a good place to rest.
Strange sounds were all around them. They heard voices saying, “Hoohoo hooo hah hah. Hey, look at that pair. Hoo hoo hah hah hah!”
“Yeah, look at them! Hoo hoo hoo…”
“I’m not sure about this place,” said Hopper out of the side of his beak.
Eudy said, “It only sounds like monkeys.”
Then a form was swinging on a vine from one side of the river to the other, then back again. It looked almost human. The penguins’ hearts beat faster. The creature swung back and forth across the river. It seemed to be doing it for fun, and they began to relax.
Then suddenly on the next trip it hung by its tail and passed over them, grabbed Eudy, and took off through the trees with her. Hopper could hear them shouting, “Hooohooo hoo hah hah hah…”
Hopper was stunned. They had just taken his companion, his mate, this penguin he would spend his whole life with and have little penguins with, and now they had taken her away and were laughing. Who were these creatures anyway? What did they want with her? He couldn’t let them get away with this. In spite of his fatigue he was spurred into action. He popped out of the river and hopped into the bushes to search for Eudy.
The jungle was thick, and the going was tough. Hopper couldn’t see much except green all around him. He thought he saw movement in the trees far above him, and he could hear laughter echoing throughout the forest.
The situation seemed hopeless and he said, “Help! Please don’t let them hurt her.”
Then he yelled, “Hey! Where are you guys, and where’s my Eudy? Hey! Why don’t you take me too?”
He heard a voice call out, “Say, that’s a good idea, boys. Let’s take him, too. He feels left out!”
Soon he was grabbed and taken quickly up to the top of a very tall tree and set there with Eudy on a limb. “You all right?” he asked her.
“Yes, I’m fine. How about you?”
“I’m a little perturbed right now, speaking of which, who are you, anyway?” This question he directed to the monkey who had brought him up there.
He answered, “I’m Monny, a mean monkey.”
“A mean monkey?”
“Yeah, I love playing mean little tricks on creatures who swim by our place here.”
“What are you going to do with us now?”
“Nothing. You can go. You’re birds aren’t you? Just fly away.”
“You mean you’re not even going to eat us or anything? You brought us up here for a joke? Ha hah hah, hoo hoo hoo. That’s a good one, and a great relief, except for one thing. We’re penguins. We don’t fly.”
“Don’t fly? Aren’t those wings on your side? What good are they if you can’t fly?”
“We fly through the water.”
“Did you ever fly in the air? They look like bird wings.”
“Some people say my ancestors flew in the air long ago, but actually our wings were designed from the beginning to fly through the water.”
Monny was simply amazed at these penguins, because of course, he’d never seen one before, and had never heard of the concept of “flying through the water.” He said, “Well I’ll be a human’s uncle!”
“That’s what they say you were. They look at your hands and the general shape of your body and say, ‘It is obvious that man, apes, and monkeys are related. They have common ancestors. The ancestors of man are the lower primates.’”
“Lower primates?”
“That’s monkeys and apes.”
“Do you think that my descendants some day will be people?”
“They might think that, but maybe, heh-heh, it goes the other way. Maybe they’ll become monkeys.”
Monny said, “Hey, now that makes sense! In fact I like that so much that I hereby appoint myself the monkey-in-the-know, and from now on this will be what is taught around here.”
“Can you do that?” asked Hopper.
“Of course! Once I’ve dreamed up enough evidence, all the while sounding like the great authority that I am, and telling them what they really want to believe, my name will go down in history as the father of modern monkeyism, the one who finally put together the great theory of our origins—that we indeed are descended from Adam and Eve!”
“That sounds kind of bizarre.”
“Does it matter? It will be what they want to hear.”
“Only kidding!”
Hopper laughed and said, “You monkey, you!”
Monny lifted up his chin and replied, “Yes, I am a monkey and proud to be one. Where would this world be without us?”
Hopper and Eudy made as if they would throw Monny off the branch, but he leapt up to the next branch and hung there by his tail and made stupid faces. Pretty soon the penguins and all the monkeys were laughing hysterically, and they became good friends.
Monny, his family and friends, and the penguins talked awhile, and then the monkeys gave them a few rides on the swinging vines before setting them back in the river. Here they rested for a day without fear. The mean monkeys made sure nothing could harm them.
The next day Hopper and Eudy headed back to the ocean. They continued easterly along this portion of the South American coast for a few more days.
Then they realized they were beginning to head more directly south, for they were at the eastern-most point of the continent. They passed the cities of Natal, Joao Pessoa, and Recife, and other smaller towns.
After they passed Maceio, the coast even went a little west. They could see everything was as Uncle Emp had told them in his directions. Now the current was going their way, and they let it take them along when they needed to rest.
A few weeks later they were nearing Rio de Janeiro. Here they swam further out to avoid the many boats. Then they continued southwest along the coast for many days and passed by Florianopolis, Porto Alegre, and Montevideo.
Their excitement began to grow because they knew that soon they could head due south for that last stretch to the Falklands. Here was another populous area with many boats, because they were near Buenos Aires. But they were able to avoid the people and continue their journey in peace.



Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 29


Having escaped from the Aquarium, Hopper and his mate find themselves in the Mississippi River heading south, which is the direction to their home. Danger lurks in the river along the way, but they also find new friends and one important character, Emp the Wanderer.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 29

Life in the Mississippi

After such a long time, it felt so good to be in the water again! Even though it wasn’t salt water, it was wet, and they felt greatly invigorated.
They dove under water and caught some fish and then porpoised around just for fun. They laughed at the thought of all those scientists running after them.
A number of boats were in the lake, and they hadn’t been paying much attention to them. There were sightseeing boats, ocean going freighters, small pleasure craft, and lots of sailboats.
One small boat came closer, little by little. Then Hopper noticed it was full of scientists. He recognized some of them from the Oceanarium. They were trying to sneak up on them. Hopper and Eudy dove under the boat, and the scientists headed out away from the shore to keep the penguins from swimming far off into the vastness of the lake.
Hopper and Eudy swam toward shore under water. As they came up for air, they could see two other boats closing in on them from the sides. Hopper said, “I don’t know if we can out-swim these guys. Their boats are faster than we are, and we have to come up for air. How long can we keep going?”
“We have to try,” said Eudy.
Hopper said, “I have an idea. Let’s dive under heading away from the shore, and then turn around under water and head for shore. Maybe we can find a hiding place until they give up the search.”
So when they dove under heading away from the shore, the boats headed out a ways. When the penguins surfaced in a few minutes, the boats were farther away, and the scientists were watching for them to come up farther out. Hopper and Eudy dove under again and headed toward shore.
Not far from the Shedd Aquarium is the place where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. At that place is a lock system to keep the Chicago River water out of Lake Michigan. The lock is like a movable dam that opens to let boats pass from the river to the lake, or from the lake to the river.
As the two penguins headed to the shore, they found the lock opened to let a big boat into the river. They swam in beside the boat, because it wasn’t one of those being used by the scientists. It served as a cover for them. Soon they found themselves in the Chicago River with the locks closed and their pursuers on the other side.
The river wasn’t much to their liking, but they swam on in the murky, smelly water. They had to dive occasionally to miss being hit by boats of all sizes, but continued on, unnoticed by the millions of people all around them.
From the river they swam into the Ship and Sanitary Canal, which eventually came to the Illinois River, which flows into the Mississippi River. This is where Hopper and Eudy found themselves in a number of days.
Swimming down the Mississippi was fairly peaceful. Their main concern was to avoid being spotted by people on the boats, especially passing by St. Louis, which they did at night.
When they needed to rest they could let the river carry them, so they were always moving, although they wondered where the river was taking them. About the only time they got out of the water was when they thought it was best to hide from boats by concealing themselves in the grass at the water’s edge.
As they passed through Memphis, they were getting braver and decided to go through in the daytime. They swam under two bridges with many cars zooming over them. The noise was unnerving to them, but they continued on.
About a half mile after the second bridge they saw a little girl of about six sitting on the bank of the river. She was staring at the water and looking very sad. She saw the penguins, but didn’t seem to pay much attention to them as they floated by somewhat nervously. They knew they’d been spotted. What if this little girl said something and the scientists were after them again?
“Hi, little birds,” she said. They pretended not to understand and swam a little faster. Yet they felt sorry for her, because she looked so sad.
Then they heard a woman’s voice calling from the ridge far above her, “Marie! Come quick up t’ the house! Ya got a phone call. It’s yo’ daddy!”
“Really?” she shouted. “Daddy? Yippee!” And up the hill she bounded out of sight.
The penguins continued their journey down the river, cutting the border between Arkansas and Mississippi, and then Louisiana and Mississippi, and finally into the final stretch through Louisiana. It was getting hot for penguins, but a certain excitement was growing in each of them. For one thing, they could tell the ocean was getting nearer. And Eudy was also feeling a familiarity with this area. She felt she’d been near here before.
Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans she exclaimed, “I know what it is! We’re near my old zoo. This river goes right by it in the city of New Orleans. You know what, Hop? Your Uncle Emp is still there, still wanting to get out. We have to try to get him out.”
“Yeah, we can’t just pass by on our way to freedom and leave him there, but how can we do it?”
“If we can get out of the Oceanarium, we can get him out of the zoo.”
Hopper looked up and said, “What shall we do?”
Just like the time he’d been told, “Help your friend,” he received the answer, “He’s your uncle!” So they knew they must get him out, and the way would be provided.
On they swam, closer and closer to New Orleans. At night they could see the city lights. The next morning they figured this would be the day they would come into the city.
They were floating along, talking about freeing Uncle Emp, when suddenly Eudy went under water with a gurgly, “Help!”
Hopper dove under and saw her being carried down by a huge alligator. Hopper flew under water at top speed and rammed his beak into the reptile’s back. It didn’t seem to faze the alligator, but it was painful for Hopper.
Then he tried beaking its belly. It may have tickled him a bit, but he still held on to Eudy. Hopper swam around to the front of the beast and looked him in the eye, and then swam toward the varmint, intending to beak its eyes out. The alligator opened its jaws to bite Hopper, thus letting go of Eudy. Hopper quickly grabbed her and swam for shore.
The alligator was briefly surprised and confused, but recovered and swam after them. Hopper wasn’t sure how Eudy was. She wasn’t moving and he had to carry her. The alligator was gaining on them, but Hopper found incredible strength to propel himself to shore and to drag Eudy up the bank and into the trees.
The alligator came out of the water shouting, “What do little black and white foreigners like you think you’re doing in my river? I better not find you in here again! Next time you’ll be swimming in the digestive juices in my belly before you knew what hit you!”
Hopper didn’t pay much attention, but dragged Eudy farther into the woods. When he felt safe he stopped and looked at her. She was lying still, not breathing.
“Help,” said Hop. “Do I have to be alone again? Do all my friends have to leave me?”
Eudy opened her eyes and said, “Sure is hot here, isn’t it?”
Hopper hopped and shouted as he looked up, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“I don’t think I like it here much,” she said.
“Neither do I,” said he, “but you’re alive!” Then he looked at her closely and said, “How are you? Is anything hurt?”
“I’m a little sore, but I’ll be all right. It sure is hot, though. We need to get back in the water.”
“Yeah, I know, but the big guy with the teeth warned us to stay out. He’ll be waiting for us.”
They stood and thought for a while, and then Hopper said, “There have been lots of little streams flowing into our river. Maybe there will be more we’ll come to if we head into the woods and walk along with the river for a while. If we get too hot we’ll have to take our chances in the river.”
They looked up, asking directions, and felt they should follow the river on foot through the woods.
It was slow and frustrating, especially since they knew they were getting close to the ocean and to New Orleans where Uncle Emp was. Now they were walking in a hot forest, not really knowing where they were going or how long it would be until they could return to the water.
They walked all that day and into the next. In the early afternoon they heard laughter ahead of them. The accent of the talking they could hear was unfamiliar to Hopper, but Eudy said, “It sounds like rabbits. Maybe they’re friendly ones who can tell us a better way.”
They crept behind some bushes and watched the rabbits, about ten of them around one sad-looking bunny. “Jump, Gump, jump!” they yelled with a mocking tone. “Jump, Gump, jump! Jump, Gump, jump! Jump, Gump, jump! Gump, jump, Gump!…” Then they all laughed and hurled insults at the poor rabbit, whose name apparently was Gump.
He just sat there with his head down and said quietly, “Aw, c’mon, Harey, you know I can’t. I’ve tried, and I can’t.”
Then Harey replied, “You have the nerve to talk to me like an equal, and you call yourself a rabbit! Come on, fellas, let’s fix this fluff of fur. We don’t need his kind around here giving us real rabbits a bad name.” With that, the ten bared their teeth and closed in on the helpless Gump.
The yellow feathers on the heads of Hopper and Eudy stiffened, and they charged out of the bushes saying things like, “Ah, rabbits, my favorite food!”
The ten bad rabbits, who had never seen a penguin before, scattered, saying things like, “Let’s get out of here and leave Gump to them!”
Gump cowered on the ground as the penguins hopped up to him. “Do it quick,” he said. “I’ve never been eaten before, and I don’t think I’m going to like it very much.”
Hopper answered, “Well, generally the food I eat doesn’t suffer long. One quick snap of my powerful beak and bam! That’s it. You don’t feel anything any more.”
“Hopper!” reprimanded Eudy. “What are you doing? This poor bunny has been kicked around by his fellows for no good reason, and now he thinks we’re going to eat him, and you’re acting like we really are!”
Hopper replied, “Oh, yeah. Sorry, Gump. I couldn’t resist. No, we’re not going to eat you. We’d like to be your friends, and I’m sorry if I scared you.”
“Who are you guys, anyway?” said Gump.
Eudy answered, “We’re penguins, Rockhopper penguins, and we’re a long way from home.”
Then they all walked along together toward New Orleans and told their stories to one another.
Gump, as it turned out, was a very intelligent rabbit, but he couldn’t hop as most rabbits do. He could only walk, and that is why the other rabbits were ridiculing him.
As they traveled, the penguins gave Gump some hopping lessons, and gradually he began to catch on. By the end of the second day he was hopping about as well as the average rabbit.
He hopped around and around the penguins for joy. He hopped away and then back again. “Hey,” he said, “There’s nothing wrong with me. I can hop like the rest. I just needed someone with some patience to help me. Yippeeeeee!”
The next day they all hopped on. The penguins were starting to drag from the heat, and they were very hungry and thirsty. “We need to get back to the river,” said Hopper. Eudy agreed.
Then they spotted a little river ahead of them, and shouted, “Aha! A place to cool off and get some food! Maybe we won’t have to return to the big river yet.”
In they dove, drank some water, and caught a few fish, which wouldn’t have tasted very good if they hadn’t been so hungry. They popped out of the water to where Gump was waiting for them. Now feeling refreshed, they were ready to continue their journey.
“How will I get across the river?” asked Gump. “I can hop now, but I can’t swim like you guys.”
“Hop on my back,” said Hopper as he jumped back into the water. So he ferried Gump across the river, and they continued their trek through the woods.
The penguins and the rabbit became good friends as they traveled the next few days. He enlightened them on the ways of this area and its creatures, which ones were friendly and which ones should be avoided, especially the alligators.
“I’ve heard there’s one huge alligator who thinks he owns the whole Mississippi River. He’ll eat any creature he finds swimming in “his” river. He’s been known to grab animals who were walking along the bank of the river. Some say he’d even attack people he caught swimming in the river.”
Hopper said, “That must be the varmint who caught my friend Eudy here and warned us to stay out of the river.”
“No doubt,” said Gump. “And I think he’d like to get a second chance at you two.”
After a while they came to another little river, a welcome sight to penguins who were not well equipped to travel through the woods in a climate that to them was very hot. They dove in and had their fill of fish.
Then they began to wonder why they were walking when they could be swimming. They realized it was fear that was keeping them out of the big river. At the same time they saw it was part of the plan to meet Gump.
After hopping out of the water, they approached Gump hesitatingly. “Uh, Gump,” said Hopper. “We need to head back to the River.”
“I know,” said Gump. “I’m sure glad for this time we’ve had. I wish there was something I could do for you.”
Eudy answered, “We were only doing what we were called to do. And now we have a new calling in New Orleans.”
Gump knew they were talking about the plan to free Emp from the zoo, because they had told him about it earlier. They talked for a little while longer. Then Hopper ferried Gump across the little river, they said some affectionate good-byes, and the penguins swam downstream to the Mississippi.
“What do we have to be afraid of?” said Hopper. “We can swim faster than that big blowhard alligator.”
“Who’s a blowhard?” growled a mean alligatory voice.
Hopper answered, “Oh, uh, the all-invader. It’s an incredible creature. Wherever you are, it invades, and irritates you. He’s sometimes called the all-irritator. You never know when it’ll come. You wouldn’t believe it.”
“And I don’t think I do believe it. I thought maybe you were saying ‘that blowhard alligator,’ and were possibly referring to me.”
Hopper replied, “Would I say such a thing about such a fine, respectable blowhard as you? But if you don’t believe me, I guess I can’t change your mind. If you think you’re a blowhard, far be it from me to try to wrongfully influence you otherwise. So I think instead of trying, I’ll just say ‘good-bye.’”
Hopper and Eudy took off at top porpoise speed and were soon well away from the alligator. As they were almost out of earshot they heard the alligator yell, “I’ll get you yet! Time is on my side!”
“No, it isn’t,” shouted back Hopper.
“Yes, it is!” returned the alligator.
Soon they were drawing near the city, and they had to slow down because there were so many boats. They were a bit unnerved, and spent a day hiding in the grass by the river.
They wondered how they could ever get into the zoo, and free Uncle Emp, and they said many “helps”. Continuing on to the ocean wasn’t even a consideration, even though it would be so much easier, and more comfortable, and the ocean was calling them. They could smell it in the air. But they knew they must get old Emp out where he could be free in the sea once again.
They continued swimming, and finally the city came into view. Now they sped along at a fast pace, following the curves of the river into the city. As they rounded one of these bends, Eudy exclaimed, “There’s the zoo!”
They climbed out of the water and up to the fence surrounding the zoo grounds. After finding a penguin-sized hole under the fence, Eudy said, “Over this way to the penguin house!” It was a much cooler day than most, and they felt more comfortable than they had in a long time. It was actually a very chilly day for people, especially people of the South, but quite nice for penguins.
They hopped rapidly across the zoo grounds. Not many people were in sight. Still they tried to take cover behind bushes as they moved along.
Then ahead of them across the green expanse, they saw a tall bird-like form moving somewhat in their direction. It didn’t fly. It didn’t run. It actually waddled, and it was drawing nearer.
Eudy said, “Hey, that looks like a penguin, an Emperor Penguin!”
“That is an Emperor penguin!” said Hopper.
“That’s Uncle Emp!” shouted Eudy.
Indeed it was Uncle Emp. He was about to pass by them when Eudy called to him, “Emp! You got out! How did you do that?”
Emp replied, “Well, Eudy, my little Rockhopper friend! And you must be Hopper, my nephew I never knew I had! And how could you be my nephew? Well, we must keep moving. We’ll have time for all these things later. I can smell the sea, and it’s beckoning me!”
They turned toward the river at full land speed. Now they could hear a crowd of people approaching rapidly and shouting, “There he is!” and “Look! There’s those two Rockhoppers!”
In short order they were diving into the river with the crowd of people gathering on the bank, saying things like, “Boy, that was close! We almost got them!” and “We’ve got to get those birds! They can’t make it on their own!” and “Head for the boats!”
The penguins headed downstream, now led by the great traveler, Uncle Emp, or Emp the Wanderer. He could smell the direction to go with his eyes closed, and he could hear the right way with his nostrils plugged, and he was so excited to be back in the water, free to wander and explore!
Now my good (and perhaps somewhat critical) reader is likely thinking, “This is a little far-fetched, isn’t it, that old Uncle Emp just happened to escape on the same day that Hopper and Eudy arrived at the zoo, and they didn’t even have to do anything?” Well, this will all be explained.
As they porpoised along toward the sea, Hopper asked, “Hey, how did you get out of the zoo? I thought we were going to get you out.”
“Rabbits,” said Uncle Emp.
“Yep. Rabbits.” Then he told them what had happened.
When the penguins headed back to the River, Gump headed for New Orleans as fast as he could. The ground seemed to be flying under his feet, or maybe he seemed to be flying over it, because now he could run and hop. His heart was filled with gratitude.
He decided to check the city parks for any other rabbits who might come with him. Besides, they could probably direct him to the zoo.
At the first park he came to, he was in some bushes, a likely rabbit hiding place, when he was startled momentarily by people talking. After he got over his original shock, he peeked out to see two men sitting on a park bench.
They were ragged looking, except one had on new-looking pants. These fellows looked like they lived on the park bench. Their newspaper was their blanket. Beside the bench were a suitcase and a trunk.
“Hey, did ya see this article in the paper here?” said one. “It says some little girl in Memphis saw some penguins swimming down the Mississippi. When she told her daddy, he found out that two penguins had escaped from the Oceanarium in Chicago. Imagine, penguins in the Mississippi. Be a shame if they became alligator food.”
“Yeah,” said the other. “Hey, how do ya like my blue jeans? My mother made them. She’s a tailor, ya know.”
“Yeah, fine. I guess some scientist fellows are aiming to catch up with those penguins and bring ‘em back to Chicago. I say let ‘em go. If they’ve gone to all that trouble, I say let ‘em go.”
“Yeah. You know what my daddy did? Well, I followed in his footsteps, and here I am…”
Anyway, Gump was off in a flash. He rounded up all the rabbits he could, and headed for the zoo. He also enlisted the help of all the rabbits living on the zoo grounds.
Because it was a cold day for Louisiana, quite cold for people, but almost comfortable for penguins, the zookeepers let the penguins outside for a while. People could come by and look down into a pit with a better view of the magnificent Emperors and Kings that were there. However, not many people were there that day.
Gump located the penguins with the help of the zoo rabbits and led the charge into the pit with what seemed like millions of rabbits. This was quite annoying to the penguins, and all but one of them backed away to the extremities of the pit and even back into the penguin house. One brave penguin stood to watch this strange outpouring of rabbits into his cage.
“You must be Emp the Traveler,” said Gump to the tall, dignified old penguin.
“Yes,” he answered, “but I haven’t traveled in a long while.”
“Well, it’s time to travel again. You must go quickly and get your friend, Eudy, and your young nephew, Hopper, back to the sea before the scientists catch them and return them to captivity.”
As they were talking, the rabbits were piling on top of each other, making a ramp from the floor of the pit up to freedom.
“Up you go, Mr. Emp!” said Gump.
Emp said, “How will you get out of here?”
“Some will use the ramp, and the rest of us will jump, and if we can’t make it we’ll entrust ourselves to the zoo keepers. I think they will treat us kindly.”
“Yes, they’ve been good to me, but I sure want to be free to travel again. There are so many things I’d like to see. So, here I go, and many thanks to you!”
Emp then went up the ramp of bunnies, and soon joined Hopper and Eudy.
“Good old Gump!” said the Rockhoppers. “He really wanted to do something for us, and he sure did! I don’t know how we could have gotten you out of there. Many thanks be to the one who holds us in his plans, and to Gump and the bunnies!”
The ocean beckoned them onward. They felt freedom was about to overtake them as they porpoised along. Their beaks were set like flint toward the south and the sea.
Then they saw a row of logs across the river in front of them. “Ramming speed!” called Emp.
“Ramming speed?” asked the Rockhoppers.
“Ramming speed!” repeated Emp, and off he went at ramming speed.
Hopper said to Eudy out of the corner of his beak, “I guess we better do ramming speed,” and so they did. Ramming speed was quite fast, and it appeared they were going to ram their beaks into the logs, which they were approaching rapidly. In fact, they were now so close they could see they weren’t logs at all, but many alligators waiting for them, trying to act like logs.
Now their great jaws were getting ready to invite the penguins in for a meal.
“Okay,” said Emp in the above water portion of their porpoising, “When I say, ‘Now!’— fly!”
“Fly?” said the Rockhoppers.
“When I say, ‘Now!’—fly!”
They approached the gators, and Emp said, “Now!’ just as they were about to ram them. The jaws were opened wide as the penguins porpoised higher than they ever had before, over the open mouths, clear to the other side of the log-jam. They splashed down into the water and continued south at ramming speed.
“I’ll get you yet, you little wise guys that dared to come into my river!”
Hopper wanted to yell something back at the old blowhard, but decided against it. The sea was calling him. Freedom was ahead.
They entered that final wide stretch of the Mississippi just before it is swallowed up by the ocean. Actually the ocean here was on either side of them, separated by a narrow strip of land and vegetation.
The smell of the sea was all around them. They could even taste it a little as it mixed in with that dirty river taste.
“Going home!” sang Hopper.
Then what they saw dampened their enthusiasm. Waiting for them, a line of small boats stretched across the river.
“Ramming speed?” asked Hopper.
“No, indeed,” answered Emp.
“I thought we’d be freed!” said Eudy sadly.
They swam on in silence, unable to think of any more rhymes that really fit the situation.
Then Emp said, “The ocean is calling us, and that’s where we’re going.”
The boats were about 100 yards away. The penguins had slowed down, and the alligators were catching up from the rear.
“Head for the bushes on the left, “ shouted Emp.
As they climbed out of the river they heard excited shouts from people ahead of them, and angry yells from alligators behind them, saying, “There they are!”
The boats and alligators began converging toward the spot where the penguins had left the water. Then they saw each other. The alligators thrashed angrily in the water. The scientists in the boats said things like, “Whooa, oh, oh…!” Confusion set in, but there were no casualties. The penguins crashed through the bushes, and soon found themselves in the sea, swimming free toward the south.



Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 28


Hopper finds a temporary home in Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium where for the first time he meets other Rockhopper  penguins, as well as some other species. Of course, we know he can’t stay there…

To read from the beginning, click here.


Chapter 28


Every little movement of his cage seemed like a wave to Hopper, and he was hearing many unfamiliar sounds. He didn’t like feeling trapped in the dark, but perhaps it was better than seeing what was going on around him.
He lost track of time. In a while he could tell his cage had been put in a resting place. He wasn’t moving anymore, but then there was a very loud sound, and everything shook. Then he felt like something was happening. He was moving again, but not especially fast.
Then suddenly he was pushed to one side of the cage. “We’re moving!” he thought. Then he felt a bump, and a strange sensation came over him. He remembered the man’s words, “And now, you’ll finally get to fly.”
“Wow! Am I flying?” he thought. “But how could I be flying in this cage?” His mind was spinning so fast that he couldn’t deal with it all, and he fell asleep. As the airplane took him to Chicago, he was dreaming about flying with Hank the hungry hawk and about flying through the water to escape seals.
The seals had just about caught up with him, and he was flying out of the water on to the shore, and about to land on the hard rocks, and then bump! He awoke in his dark cage, and could tell he was still moving, but slower. Soon the movement stopped, and after a while he heard voices. Then someone picked up his cage.
For the next few hours he heard many different sounds as he was being moved around. Finally, he heard a woman saying, “So this is my new Rockhopper?”
“Yes indeedy, ma’am. They say there be a penguin in there.”
“Well, thank you, sir.”
He heard footsteps and a door close. The cover came off the cage. A kind-looking lady with blue eyes was looking at him, smiling. Hopper didn’t return the smile. The light was bright and he was uneasy about being held captive in a strange place.
“Welcome to Chicago,” said the woman. “After I check you over, I’ll take you to your quarters with the other penguins.”
After what seemed a long time being poked, having his feet and wings pulled, and his head turned from side to side by the woman’s gentle hands, Hopper was carried down the hall and into another room.
A man said, “Hey, our new Rockhopper! Hello, little fellow! How do you like Chicago?”
Hopper didn’t mean to seem unfriendly, but he refrained from answering as the woman handed him over to the man and left, saying, “See you later, little penguin!”
Hopper acted as if he didn’t hear her, and the man carried Hopper toward a little door on the other side of the room. “See that door?” said the man. Hopper didn’t answer, and the man continued, “That door leads to your new home. In there are other penguins—some Rockhoppers, some Magellanic, and some Gentoos. They will be your friends and family.
“By the way, what’s your name anyway? What could we call you? They say you were found in Puget Sound. I wonder how you got so far from your home. You’ve done a lot of traveling. We could call you Traveler; no, how about Pilgrim?”
“Pilgrim, indeed!” thought Hopper, who didn’t appreciate having a new name.
“Well, Pilgrim—yes, I like that name—how’s it going, Pilgrim? You look like a fine young penguin, Pilgrim. Well, Pilgrim, it’s time to see your new home!”
When the man opened the door, Hopper saw a huge room that looked like the outdoors. He saw rocks to climb and water to swim in. But what Hopper noticed most were the penguins. He saw Magellanic penguins and Gentoos, both of whom he’d seen before, and then he saw other penguins, little stocky ones with long yellow feathers sticking out above their beady red eyes.
“Hey,” he thought, “Rockhoppers!” and he almost wept for joy.
“Hey, everybody!” said the man. “Here’s a new cousin! This is Pilgrim, a Rockhopper who’s traveled far and wide to come to this home here with you.” Then he gently shoved Hopper through the door and closed it behind him.
“Hello, everyone,” said Hopper. The other penguins didn’t seem very friendly. Some glanced at him and looked away, continuing to stand as they were, some with their wings outstretched. Some didn’t even look at him. Some were swimming in the moat of water at the other end of the room. All of this troubled Hopper. He was so happy to see other penguins, but they didn’t seem to care that he was there.
Twenty-nine other penguins lived there, four Magellanic, eighteen Gentoos, and seven Rockhoppers. He made it eight.
He moved uneasily into the center of the room. He waddled up to a Magellanic penguin and said, “Hi.”
“Hi,” she said softly, but continued looking straight ahead away from the door. So Hopper continued on to each penguin standing on the rocks and got similar responses from each of them. He went down to the water to greet the swimming penguins, who didn’t seem to pay much attention to him, either.
Then he saw what they were looking at. This room almost had the feel of any outside home for penguins, but at the far side of the room, just beyond the swimming moat, was a glass wall, and beyond it were people watching them. They were smiling and pointing at them, but he couldn’t hear them. Now he understood the other penguins’ strange behavior. They didn’t want the people seeing them talking.
Hopper turned with his back to the people, so they couldn’t see his mouth as he said, “Hello everyone. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Maybe we can talk tonight when the people can’t see us.”
He thought he saw some slight nods and smiles on their faces. He spent the rest of the day swimming, standing on the rocks with his wings out, wandering around his new home, and eating the food provided by the people. He was feeling happy. Finally he was with other Rockhoppers. He’d found a home.
When the lights were turned off and the people were gone, Hopper shouted, “Can we talk now?”
“Shhh!” answered many penguins. “The people who feed us will be here for a while. We can’t let them know what we’re really like.”
So for another hour or two they talked, but quietly and cautiously, keeping their eye on the door. Finally the door opened, the man brought in some fresh fish and krill, and then he said, “Goodnight, everyone! I’m going home.” He closed the door. They listened quietly until they could hear the door in the other room close.
Then they all erupted in shouts of “Hooray! We can play!” And play they did. They rolled and hopped and waddled and shouted and swam and carried on for hours. After all that they stood around and talked. Hopper told them his life story, and they all grew fond of him and welcomed him warmly into their family.
Time passed and Hopper was enjoying his stay at the Oceanarium. The penguins had accepted him, and the people were good to them and always made sure they had enough to eat. The place was comfortable, and he had everything he needed to enjoy himself.
All of the penguins told Hopper how they had ended up at the Oceanarium. Some had been brought there from their homes in places like the Macarie Islands or South Georgia. Some had been at other zoos. He liked hearing all their stories.
One in particular got his attention. One young female by the name of Eudychrys had been at a zoo where Rockhoppers shared the same area as Emperor penguins.
“One of them,” she said, “had been accidentally caught in a fisherman’s net in the north Pacific and ended up being brought to the zoo. He had all kinds of stories to tell. He had traveled all over the seas and befriended whales and other penguins, and even turtles and tortoises. He, of course, came from Antarctica, but just loved adventuring. He was getting pretty old, but still was hoping to escape from the zoo and be out in the sea again.”
As Eudychrys was telling this story, Hopper became more and more excited. “My uncle!” he cried. “My Uncle Emp! He’s still alive! He used to travel about with my dad, Emmett, until he suddenly disappeared. Everyone thought he was probably dead. He’s alive!”
Eudychrys said, “Yes, Emp was his name. He was the nicest of the Emperors. He didn’t look down his beak at us other penguins.”
“Yeah, that sounds like my uncle. My folks are like that, too. The other Emperors looked down on them because of it. If only all the others knew how great my folks and Emp are!”
That night when Hopper would normally be sleeping, he was awake, thinking about Uncle Emp and his desire to be free in the sea again. Then he heard that voice, saying, “What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Isn’t this my home?”
“Is it?”
“Well, I’ve felt at home here, but really I guess I know it isn’t. What should I do?”
“I’ll open the door for you.”
“Then where should I go?”
“I’ll show you.”
“When should I go?”
“Be alert. Be ready to go at any time.”
“One more thing, Hopper. Don’t go alone.”
“You mean I get to have company this time?”
“Yes, take Eudychrys with you.”
“Really? Will she want to?”
“She’s been waiting for you for a long time.”
A few days later, something caught Hopper’s attention by the door. It was a rock. Maybe it had always been there. It was just a rock, but Hopper had a plan. He told Eudychrys his plan.
That night their feeder opened the door, greeted the penguins, and began giving them their food. Hopper nonchalantly waddled over to the door. The man said, “Hey there, Pilgrim! Aren’t you being friendly today! How are you liking your stay here?” Hopper didn’t answer. He acted like he didn’t understand what the man said. Then the man said, “You aren’t thinking of leaving us are you?”
Hopper’s knees started shaking and his heart beat rapidly, but he tried hard to conceal his surprise, and the man added, “Naw, I didn’t think so, Pilgrim!” He continued with his duties, addressing each of the penguins.
Now Hopper rolled the rock over to the bottom of the doorway, thinking, “I hope the man doesn’t notice this.” Then he wandered away from the door and over to where Eudychrys was eating some fish. He nodded at her and had some fish, too.
In a while the man shouted, “Goodnight, friends. I’ll see you tomorrow!”
“Maybe not,” said Hopper quietly as the man closed the door and was gone. Then Hopper said, “Well, Eudy, let’s see if our plan worked.” They hurried over to the door, and could see light around the edges of it. It wasn’t shut tight! They could hardly contain their excitement. Then the light went out. The man hadn’t noticed the rock or the fact that the door wasn’t shut completely, and now he had left for the night.
There was enough room for Hopper and Eudy to get their feet into the crack of the door. They pushed with all their strength, and the door opened wide enough for them to squeeze through. Hopper pushed the rock away and let the door close behind them. They were now in the people’s workroom.
It was dark and quiet. They looked the place over and found no way out. The other door was there, but it too was closed. “Creator,” said Hopper, “You said you would open the door, and I believe you. I see you opened the first door, and whatever doors remain, you can open them. Thank you.”
They stood there in the darkness as their eyes adjusted. Hopper pointed across the room and said, “Let’s go stand by the door until it opens. It might not be opened for long.”
They hopped over and stood under a table that was beside the door. They waited and waited in the dark, at least 15 minutes. Then they heard footsteps in the hall outside, the doorknob turned, and the door opened. A woman, the same kind woman with the blue eyes, came in and put something on the table above them, and then left. The door closed behind her.
Their hearts sank. “Ah, we lost our chance,” moaned Hopper. “We should have moved more quickly.”
But Eudy said, “Maybe she’ll come back.”
And sure enough, she did come back, put something else on the table, and left again.
“Maybe she’ll come back again,” they said.
Soon she was back. This time she put the doorstop in place to prop the door open, and made some more trips back and forth with more stuff. Finally she stopped right by the table and stood there working with all the things she had brought in.
She left the door open while she worked.
Hopper and Eudy looked at each other. They looked at the open door. They looked at the legs of the woman. Her legs moved to the end of the table farthest from the door. Hopper gestured with his beak toward the door. Slowly and quietly they waddled out the door, down the hall, and up some stairs.
At the top of the stairs, they found another open door, apparently left open by the woman bringing in her materials. Through that door they found themselves in another hall, which was dark, except for a light in the distance. They headed left down the hall toward the light, which they found was mounted high on the wall above a set of six glass doors that were shut.
Beyond the doors was another set of six glass doors, and beyond them was the outside!
“Two more open doors and we’re out of here,” said Hopper.
“Maybe there’s another door already open,” said Eudy.
They waited in the darkness a few minutes to see if the doors opened, but they didn’t. They decided to remember the location of these doors and go see if any other doors were already open.
Trying to keep track of where they were, they wandered down the hall. They found some stairs going down to the right. They heard water and hastened toward it.
At the bottom of the stairs they found a large pool. In it swam a small white whale.
“Hey there, Mr. Whale, how’s it going?” called Hopper.
“Well, I’m not particularly going anywhere, if you get my drift.”
“Don’t seem to be drifting anywhere either, heh-heh,” added Hopper. “What do you call yourself, anyway?”
“Whell,” said the whale.
Hopper waited awhile for him to continue. Then he tried to get him to finish answering his question. “Well…?”
“Yes,” said the whale. “Whell.”
Hopper decided to pursue a different topic and asked, “Do you know any way out of this place?”
“There’s no way out of this tank, and I can’t see much of anything else. Why would I want out of here?”
“I don’t know about you, but we’re looking for a way out. It’s time for us to move on. There’s an open door for us somewhere, and we need to find it. See you later, Mr. Whale.”
“You can call me Whell if you like. Goodbye, little penguins.”
Hopper and Eudy found some more steps leading down to a dark hallway with windows on one side. Behind the glass was water. In the water they could see a white whale, but he couldn’t see them.
“Hey, there’s Whell,” said Eudy.
They continued on and came to another window with dolphins behind it swimming unaware of their presence. They were having a wonderful time gliding through the water, and sometimes jumping up and coming down with a great splash.
Farther on they came to a glass enclosure on the other side of the hall. “Hey, there are some penguins,” said Eudy. “Maybe we can help them get out of there.”
They watched the penguins until they realized that they knew those penguins. These were their friends, and this place had been their home an hour earlier.
They decided to move on before their friends saw them, so they continued in silence. They passed some sea otters and climbed some steps that led them back up to the hall they were in before.
They returned to the door that led to the outside. The door was closed, and they couldn’t budge it. Two tired Rockhoppers looked at them, reflected by the glass in the door. “This is the way out,” said Hopper, and Eudy agreed. “We’ll have to wait until it’s opened.”
Not far from the door they found a place to hide among some fake trees that were planted around the Oceanarium as part of the design to make this place look and feel like the outdoors where these creatures would naturally live. Here they would wait and watch for the door to open. Hopper said, “We’ve got to get out before they notice we’re gone. So let’s keep watching.” Soon they were asleep.
In the morning they were awakened suddenly by lots of people coming and going down the hall. So far no one had noticed them standing there with their wings outstretched.
A few people used the door they were watching. These were scientists and other people who worked here, and the door remained closed behind them. The penguins stood silently watching and waiting.
Later they noticed a lot of people roaming the hall, and going down the stairs they’d gone down the night before. These were the tourists who came to see the dolphins, seals, penguins, whales, and other creatures. One little girl looked at them and said, “Look at the cute penguins, Mama!”
Her mother said, “I wonder who made those! They look so life-like!”
“But, Mama, I saw one of them blink!”
“Come on, honey, let’s go see the real penguins.”
A short time later they saw a crowd of people gathering outside the door. Sensing their time was getting near, they watched the door with great anticipation.
A woman with a light green jacket arrived and opened the doors. The people started filing in and stood in the hall near the doors. Hopper said, “Let’s go before the last of that group gets in. We need to act nonchalant, like we work here.”
With that, they waddled out of their hiding place with their beaks in the air, past the lady in green, who was looking the other way, past the line of people coming in the door, while some said, “Ah, look at the penguins,” or “What a place; they even let the critters roam free like it was their natural habitat. I can’t wait to see the whale!”
Soon they were through the second door, and they were outside! They thought they heard the woman yell something, but freedom was calling louder. They followed the walkway for a short distance, then turned left through some bushes and came out on a sloping lawn.
They hurried down the slope until they came to a wall, where they had to hop down onto a concrete walkway. Up until now they had been able to see Lake Michigan not far in front of them, but now blocking their view was another concrete wall which they couldn’t see over, and it was too high for them to climb.
Then they heard excited shouts behind them and could see many green-jacketed people running down the slope toward them. Hopper and Eudy turned left, hopping at full speed along the walkway, with the Oceanarium building on their left and the insurmountable wall on their right.
They could hear the people shouting things like, “We have to get them!” and “Quick, someone cut them off before they get to the end of the wall!”
The penguins continued hopping as fast as they could. The people were getting closer. Then ahead of them they saw a break in the wall where they could either go to the left up a grass slope toward the building or to the right down to the lake.

They were almost there, and then they could see more people coming down the slope. They were almost cut off! Just barely making it to the break in the wall before people reached them, they hopped down toward the lake.
They heard the people shouting and saying things like, “No, penguins, you don’t want to leave us!”
Hopper and Eudy looked at each other and said, “Oh yes we do!” and dove into the lake.




Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 27


Hopper injures his wing as he flees from the sight of the city of Seattle, and soon has his most significant encounter with people and  a dog.

To read from the beginning, click here.


Chapter 27

Attle and Friends

“Raccoons are interesting creatures,” thought Hopper as he swam along, catching his breakfast as he went. The water felt good, but he was still not feeling right. His wings ached and his whole body was sore. He kept wondering about that glow in the night sky and who or what Attle was. “Racky said I’d see it if I headed south,” he mused.
The further he went the more uneasy he became. Land covered with evergreen trees was on his right and left, the waterway being about 10 miles across. In the distance he could hear sounds he’d never heard before, and the level of noise in the air seemed to be growing.
Then he noticed along the shore things which he knew belonged to people. He’d seen them around Port Angeles. They were, in fact, houses, but he didn’t know what they were. The sight of them shook him to the bones. Then he saw boats in the water, and before long there were many boats, some small and some big. Their waves began to jostle him around. The water became choppy.
“Help!” he called. “Help, this is too much. I can’t take any more.” A little further south he caught sight of it to his left around a bend. All he could do at first was yell, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa…Help! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…,” as he swam west, away from it.
What was it that he saw? It was the city of Seattle with its buildings towering up to the sky. This is where the noise was coming from. He knew this must be where the glow came from also.
He swam and swam and found that instead of running into the shore, there was a narrow passage of water that allowed him to continue to the west. After a while it headed in a more southerly direction. To his left was a fairly large island called Bainbridge and on his right was the mainland of the western side of Puget Sound, although he had no idea of where he was.
Fear had totally gripped him. He swam like a mad penguin. His only thought was to get away from that city and all the boats and all the people.
Then suddenly he felt a snap in his wing, followed by great pain as he tried to use it. He was done. He couldn’t swim anymore. All he could do was let the current take him, and now it was flowing in the direction he was heading. He could paddle and steer some with his feet, but this was slow going. At this rate he’d never make it home. He just lay there in the water and let it take him.
Gradually reason returned to him, and he lay there, weakly saying, “Help. I can’t get anywhere like this. How can I ever get home if I can’t swim? And how can I catch my food?”
Now as he drew near the western shore, he noticed the current was slowing down. Soon it would be flowing back the other way. He decided to get on land before that happened. He slowly paddled his way to shore, hauled his sore body out of the water, and waddled slowly over the rocks to a grassy bank covered with trees.
He found a resting place under a tree that was leaning out over the beach. He sat there in silence for a long time, feeling sorry for himself and very miserable. Then the silence was broken by that familiar voice, which said, “What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’ve been swimming and swimming, and I hurt my wing, and I want to go home, and now I can’t swim, and I can’t catch my food.”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’m trying to get away from that city with all those people and boats and…”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I uh, I guess I don’t know, but will you help me?”
“Have I ever failed you? Why are you so afraid?”
“Well, there are people there, lots and lots of people. Who knows what they might do to me? They might even try to make me talk. I might not be able to resist talking if they say something stupid. Then you won’t be pleased with me.”
“Don’t fear them so much. They are my creatures too. Remember your purpose. You are here to glorify me before their eyes. Through you and all the other animals, I am creating a longing in them for the way things could have been, the way it used to be in the Garden.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“In the morning, ride with the tide.”
The next morning Hopper saw the current flowing to the right, in the direction he had been heading. He slowly made his way to the water and let himself float along with the current. He felt so helpless. He couldn’t dive or porpoise. All he could do was float along and paddle his feet.
Then he saw a log a little ways ahead of him. Paddling as fast as he could he caught up with it, and then using his good wing and his beak, he crawled on top of it. He let it carry him south and then west with the current.
He just stood there on the log as the beach went slowly past him. He began seeing more and more houses, although he didn’t know exactly what they were. He knew they had to do with people. This place happened to be the eastern part of the city of Bremerton.
The fear tried to grip him, but he remembered the words, “Don’t fear them so much.” Then he relaxed a little and kept riding his log.
He also began seeing more boats. Some were big, and some smaller ones carried only one or two people. Some boats were long and thin and cut through the water quietly. Others were quite noisy. One huge white one with many windows went by in the distance and then disappeared around a corner, heading mainly east. It was hard for him to keep from shaking, but he stood on his log, waiting to see where all this would take him.
Now the log was slowing down. Soon the current would head back the other way. He considered going ashore, but he figured he’d better “ride with the tide.”
He stood on his log with his wings outstretched. He was about a hundred yards from the beach in front of a brown house. He saw two people come out of the house, and then it looked like they were looking at him.
The fears once again welled up within him. What could he do? He couldn’t swim away or dive. “Help!” he said.
The two people still were looking at him and talking excitedly to each other, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Then they went inside the house and came back out with three more people. Now they were pointing at him and talking very excitedly.
All Hopper could do was stand there saying, “Hellllllllp, help, please helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp!”
Now three of the people were walking toward the beach. They dragged a little rowboat down to the water, got in and began rowing out toward him. He stood there calling for help.
Soon the boat was about 10 yards away, and Hopper heard one of them say, “Yeah, it looks like a penguin, all right! How could a penguin get here? He’s thousands of miles from home.”
Another said, “He doesn’t exactly look like the penguins I’ve seen pictures of. Look at those yellow feathers sticking out above his eyes. He’s kind of a squatty little fellow, isn’t he?”
Now the yellow feathers bristled. Hopper wanted to tell them a thing or two, but resisted the urge. He decided he’d better at least try to get away, so he dove into the water and paddled furiously with his feet.
The people rowed after him and easily caught up with him. Soon he felt strong hands grab him firmly but gently. He tried to struggle, but his wing hurt too much. He was captured, held firmly in the lap of a man while a young boy rowed the boat toward the shore, and a little girl watched him and asked her daddy questions.
“This little fellow must be hurt,” said the man, “or we couldn’t have caught him so easily. I think it’s a good thing you saw him out here. He wouldn’t be able to live very long if he can’t catch his food.”
“Daddy, can we feed him? Can we keep him?”
“I’ll have to find out what penguins eat. Sure, we’ll feed him, but we can’t feed him dog food. We’ll keep him until we can find out the best place to take him.”
“Then can we take him to his home? He must be lonely.”
“I’ll have to make some phone calls to some people who will know what to do with him, but I think his home is a very long ways away from here, and I don’t think we’ll be able to take him there.”
When they got back to the shore, the man carried Hopper over the rocky beach, up some steps to the top of a bulkhead, and on to their grassy yard. He put Hopper down in the middle of the yard. He was now free to hop around a little, but he just stood there for a while trying to get his wits together.
Suddenly there was a great “WOOOOOF!” from up on the porch of the house. Hopper instantly headed for the water with thoughts of his first landing in the Galapagos Islands running through his head, and thinking things like, “Arg, they’ve brought me here to give me to the dogs!”
Now the boy was cutting him off. His escape was blocked. The dog was charging from the porch. The man was shouting instructions to his daughter. Actually, he was saying, “Lizzie, take Goldie into the house,” but Hopper thought he was telling the dog to “come and get it now.”
Soon the man and the boy had him trapped again and they grabbed him. He expected to be handed over to the dog in short order, but the man said, “You don’t have to be afraid of Goldie. She’s probably afraid of you!”
Then the man said, “Ezra, you be in charge of our little friend while I make him some new quarters.” Then Lizzie came out with their little brother, Enoch, who was very excited to have a penguin visiting them. They all sat around Hopper on the grass.
Hopper thought about trying to escape. He figured it was his duty. It was expected of him. He was a wild and free animal. He should at least look like he was trying to escape. Actually, he wasn’t sure he wanted to escape. They had said they would feed him, and he couldn’t catch his food.
He stood still for a while, and then suddenly darted for the water. He had caught them off guard. He was by Enoch, and freedom was in sight. Then there was Ezra standing in front of him. Hopper darted left. There was Lizzie. He darted right. Enoch was almost there. Hopper sped up to pass by him, but there was Ezra again. After darting back and forth a few more times, he could see that he had made a good enough show of trying to escape and gave up. They gently grabbed him and brought him back to the yard.
In the meantime, the man and his wife were setting up a pen for Hopper on the big porch of the house. They put up a fence to keep dogs out and Hopper in. Inside the fence they put a large metal tub and filled it with water from the bay. Beside the tub they put a little platform for Hopper to stand on, and some makeshift stairs for him to hop up to the platform. From there he could jump into the water to keep cool. On the floor of the pen they put newspapers, even though Hopper couldn’t read.
When all was ready they put Hopper in his pen, and then they brought him some fish to eat. After watching him for a while, the woman said, “Okay everybody, we better leave him alone for a while. Let’s go eat.”
They all went inside, and the dog came out, saying a mild, “Rrrruff!”
“Well, if it isn’t the friendly cur!” said Hopper.
“Well, it’s my job to warn the family when strangers come.”
“Do you think I wanted to come here? Couldn’t you see that they brought me here?”
“Well, I thought maybe you were trying to hurt them. I had to let you know you have me to deal with here.”
Goldie was a big, black dog with a white spot on her nose. Hopper asked, “Did I hear them call you Goldie? You don’t look too gold to me.”
“I’m part Golden Retriever and part St. Bernard, so they call me Goldie.”
Then Hopper asked, “How can you stand living here? Aren’t you afraid all day long? After all, we’re supposed to be afraid of people.”
“Well, I’m not terrified. I fear displeasing my master, but I’m not really afraid of him anymore, because I know he loves me, and I love him.”
They talked for a while, and actually began to like each other, but tried not to show it much when the people were around.
Hopper stayed there for many days, and gradually his fear of the people began to fade. He could see they weren’t going to hurt him. They were always gentle to him and kept him fed, and they were careful to keep his pen and water clean. They also visited him often, and talked to him, even though he never talked to them. He only talked to Goldie, and only when the people weren’t around.
One night after the people had gone inside for the night, Goldie strolled up to the pen. Hopper greeted her with, “Here she comes, the Cur of curs and Dog of dogs!”
Goldie replied, “You know, if I could get in that pen, I would probably take you in my mouth and whip you around, back and forth, and then tear you in pieces. Then I’d probably gobble you up. But if I did that they’d call me a ‘bad dog’, and I hate it when they call me that, so I probably won’t.”
Hopper said, “I appreciate that. You’re a fine dog for a cur.”
They talked into the night, speculating what the people were planning to do with Hopper, who was starting to get a little bit tired of being confined. However, his wing was getting better.
Then Hopper said, “Hey Goldie, did you ever notice that you smell like a dog?”
She replied, “It’s a lot better than smelling like a penguin.”
Time and space would probably allow for the telling of the adventures of Goldie the dog. However, it probably wouldn’t have much interest for most readers, consisting primarily of eating, sleeping, and begging at the dinner table.
Around this time of his stay here, Hopper began to molt. Perhaps the reader is now speculating that the heat in this mild climate was too much for a penguin, and now he was slowly turning into a blob of black and white jelly. That word is melt. Or perhaps one might think green fungus was growing on him because of his inactivity in this humid environment. That word is mold.
Neither of the preceding schools of thought is true. Penguins molt annually. That means they lose their feathers and then grow them back again. During this time they don’t swim, and they don’t feel their best. And of course, Goldie let him know how ridiculous he looked.
So Hopper stood around looking miserable until his feathers grew back. Then he felt better than he had in a long time. His wing was usable again, but still not as strong as before. He needed exercise.
The man began to see he was looking a bit anxious. One morning the family was visiting Hopper, and the man was saying, “I think we can’t keep our little friend much longer. He needs a bigger place with more room to move around and other penguins.”
“Can we take him to his home, Dad?”
“Well, that’s a long, long way from here. Rockhoppers live in the islands of the southern seas, like the Falklands. We can’t afford a trip there right now. But maybe we could find a good zoo to take him to, where they’ll take good care of him, and he’ll be happy.”
“Do you think he’ll be happy in a zoo?”
“It will be better than being here.”
A few days later the kids came to Hopper’s pen with sad faces. Lizzie said, “Well, Mr. Penguin, I guess, you’re going to be leaving us. You’re going to Chicago to live in the Oceanarium there.”
“Oceanarium?” thought Hopper. “What’s that?”
“You’ll like it there. There’ll be other penguins, even some Rockhoppers. You’ll have a nice place to swim around, and rocks to hop on. There are dolphins and whales and sea otters and seals.”
“Seals!” thought Hopper.
“But they can’t get at you, of course. They have their own swimming area.”
Ezra added, “But maybe if you’re bad, they’ll dangle you by your feet over the seals’ pen for a while, heh-heh.”
“Oceanarium,” thought Hopper. “I don’t know if I’ll like this place.” But he was excited about the idea of meeting some other penguins, and especially about meeting some Rockhoppers.
A few days later the man brought a little cage with a handle on it to Hopper’s pen. He grabbed Hopper and put him in it. Hopper, of course, had to struggle. It was expected of him, even though he liked this family and knew they wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.
“It’s time to head to Chicago, Mr. Penguin,” said the man. “It’s been great having you here, but it’s time for you to move on to better things.” He put a cover on the cage, and all was dark for Hopper. He heard the man say, “And now you’ll finally get to fly.”
“Fly?” thought Hopper. “What does he mean?”
The man carried him to their car, and the whole family rode rather sadly to the airport, a drive of about fifty miles. There they checked him in for his flight to Chicago.
He heard each member of the family say something like, “Goodbye, Mr. Penguin.” Hopper couldn’t see them as they sadly returned to their car. He was left in the dark of his cage, not really understanding where he was or where he was going.
“Bye,” he said, but not loud enough for them to hear, of course.




Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 26

Hopper has another narrow escape as he passes by the city of Port Angeles and then begins heading south into Puget Sound.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 26

Puget Sound

Cautiously Hopper swam downstream, although the men who were fishing on the river were gone. He was feeling weak, tired, and scared, as well as lonely. He would have liked traveling with Meadowlark. He was a good friend. However, he could see it would have been difficult for them to travel together, because of their differences. Hopper was so much better at sea, and the lemming was more adept on land.
In a short time he was back to the sea. He turned right toward the east, swimming warily, and wondering what would befall him as he approached the city. In all his travels he’d had many encounters with creatures who could hurt or kill him, but he’d never been near a city of people. He was terrified. Still he knew he must go on. He could hardly even think of a good plan. All he could do was say a weak, “Help!”
He had swum for a few minutes when a thought hit him, and he said, “And please help Meadowlark. Protect him from the bears and whatever else is up in the mountains. Thank you.”
Soon he was approaching the city of Port Angeles. It was still early morning. There wasn’t much boat traffic, but the few little ones he saw struck fear into his heart. He figured his best plan was to swim underwater as far as he could, coming up for air briefly when he had to, hoping nobody saw him.
The problem was his weakened condition. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to go very fast or very far underwater, and if someone decided to chase him, could he get away?
Closer and closer he came to the city. He could see the docks and boats along the shore. So far no boats were near him, so he swam slowly on the surface a few hundred yards from shore.
He started thinking, “Well, this doesn’t seem so bad,” when from around a bend in the shoreline there emerged a huge boat, actually an ocean liner, but Hopper didn’t know what it was. To him it was just huge beyond his comprehension. He knew it was a boat carrying people, but it might as well have been an immense penguin-eating ugly monster. He was terrified.
The thing was gradually moving faster and faster and now it was turning right toward him! It made terrible vibrations that hurt his ears when his head was under water. It was getting closer. His only recourse was to dive under and hope it couldn’t dive after him.
Now it was about fifty yards from him. He dove as deep as he could and swam as far as he could, hoping it couldn’t follow. When he had to return to the surface for air, he could still hear and feel the vibrations of the ship. It was still near.
“Why me?” he asked. “I’m just a lonely, insignificant penguin. Why would you want to get me?” He surfaced, and there it was right behind him. The waves bowled him over. “Aaaaaa! Here I go! I’m done for! What a way to go!”
He tried to right himself and swim. “Aaaaaa! Swim, Hopper, swim!” He swam and swam. Waves washed over him. He kept on swimming. The waves grew smaller. His wings were sore. He kept swimming. Then the waves were gone, except for the gently rolling ones that had been there before.
Eventually he mustered up the courage to look behind him. The ship wasn’t chasing him. It was steaming away toward the north. “Whew, that was another close one,” he said to himself, and then he looked up and said, “Thank you, again.”
Other boats came out of the harbor, heading in different directions. None seemed to be after him, so he began to feel a little more relaxed. He swam slowly because his wings were growing a little more sore.
As the sun went down and darkness began covering the waters, Hopper swam on. He could see little lights along the shore and some on the water. Behind him the city lights of Port Angeles astounded him, but he gradually put more distance between him and the city. He didn’t want to stop for rest until it was out of sight.
He swam all night. When the sky began to lighten up he could hear sea gulls crying in the skies. “I hope those guys don’t know the California gulls,” he thought. But the gulls didn’t seem to pay any attention to him.
Then he saw land in front of him. To the right, which was south, was no more shore, but water. He could swim south! “The way home!” he thought. “Time for all penguins to turn right.” So that is what he did. His heart was a little lighter, though his wings were a little heavier, and his body didn’t feel quite right. “I’ve got to keep going,” he said. He swam on all that day.
As it grew dark he knew he needed rest. He couldn’t stop in the water, because the current would carry him backward. He headed for shore, to his right, and hopped out on the beach. He found a place to rest in some brush under a stand of fir and cedar trees.
Soon it was totally dark. The clouds overhead covered the stars and the moon. However, to the southeast a strange glow in the skies bothered him. He couldn’t figure out what it was, and it gave him an eerie feeling. It didn’t fit any of the descriptions of things in the world and in the heavens that he’d been taught by Emmett, Mendicule, or Galoppy.
He was too tired and sore to worry about it much and soon fell asleep. In the early morning while it was still dark, he awoke hearing a slight rustling of twigs not far away. He was stiff and sore and knew he wasn’t up for a fight or a flight. He sat motionless.
Then he saw the creature lumbering over the rocks to the water’s edge. It had a long, black tail with white rings around it, and it fished with its front paws. Then Hopper began to feel hungry and decided the creature probably wasn’t a penguin eater. Besides, he felt like meeting someone new. He emerged slowly from his bed and waddled toward the water.
“Hey there! How’s the fishing?” he called as he approached the creature, and now he could see a black and white, mask-like face.
The creature replied, “Well, not too bad. I’ve caught a few. Could use a few more, though. Hey, I don’t recognize your accent. You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No, I’ve come from a long ways away. I’m on my way home. I’m a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin. My name’s Hopper. Actually, I’ve never seen anyone like you before, either.”
“I’m a raccoon. Always been a raccoon. Always will be.”
“How do you like being a raccoon? I suppose your name is Racky.”
“Hey, how did you know that? Most folks call me Rocky. He was a relative of mine who looked a lot like me. He became quite famous, but no one knows where he is right now, and when folks see me I guess they think I might be him. Yes, I like being a raccoon. How do you like being a penguin?”
“It’s great, although I’m still pretty new at it. I hope I can find out what it’s like to be a penguin at home with other penguins before too long.”
Racky said, “Well, I haven’t heard of any penguins around here, and I have connections. I know these parts pretty well.”
“I was hoping to find my family a little further to the south. That’s where I’ll be heading today. Oh, by the way, what is that glow in the southeastern sky? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”
Racky replied, “You don’t know? Seattle.”
Hopper said, “Who is Attle, and why do I have to see him? Can’t you tell me?”
“I already did,” said Racky. “But anyway, you’ll see for yourself if you go south.”
Hopper decided that’s what he’d do and plunged his sore body into the deliciously cold water. He quickly caught a fish and brought it back to Racky. “Here’s one for the road, my friend,” he said, and then dove back into the water, heading south.


Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 25

Bhill the Blue Whale leaves Hopper to continue his journey alone, leaving him on the northern coast of Washington State, where he finds a new friend, a new enemy, and a new direction.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 25


Listlessly Hopper swam east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He wasn’t at full strength. Three days in the hot belly of a whale had sapped much of his energy. He’d had krill to eat in there, but the heat was nearly unbearable for someone who was born and raised in Antarctica. Much longer and he wouldn’t have come out alive.
Now as he swam along slowly he was even having a hard time catching fish to eat. At least the water temperature suited him better now.
He swam near the shore of Washington’s northeastern coast where the great evergreen forest meets a sandy beach, and little rock islands stand as sentinels in the water. Hopper swam cautiously in this new country, watching the skies for any birds of prey, the waters for seals or any other potential foes, and the land for hungry looking creatures. He was thinking he might need to rest on the beach before long.
Plenty of seagulls were flying around, but they didn’t seem to take any notice of him. He doubted if they knew the ones who were serving the Great White Seal, but still he didn’t trust them. Even though he was no longer the Number One Enemy of the Pacific, and that was a great relief, it was still hard to relax. He had gotten used to potential danger lurking behind every wave.
He was exhausted after swimming for a few hours, but didn’t want to rest in the water because right now the current was flowing toward the west. Finding one of the rock islands an inviting place to rest, he hopped out of the water onto a ledge and stood there with his wings outstretched and his beak in the air.
A flock of bluish-colored ducks flew northward far above him. “Hey, those look like Harlequins,” he said to himself. Then the thought of his great friend brought a mixture of happiness and sorrow to his heart. How he missed that duck! He couldn’t help singing aloud:

A Quacker and a Hop
They say this friendship has to stop
But together we will stay
Until we go our separate ways
A penguin and a duck, hey!
A penguin and a duck, ho!…

After he finished his song and was beginning to grow thoughtful about his old friend and all the good times and adventures they’d had, someone on the rocks above him said, “Whoever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends? And what’s a penguin, anyway, eh?” This was an accent Hopper hadn’t yet heard. He looked up and saw a brown, furry fellow peering down at him.
“Hello there. My name is Hopper, a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin. I’ve been traveling a long time, and I’m a long ways from home. How about you? What are you, some sort of rodent, I suppose?”
“Well, technically, I guess you could say I’m a rodent, but I don’t like that label. Some folks might think I’m a rat or something. I’m a lemming. I’ve been traveling for a long time also. I’ve come from far to the north.”
“I suppose your name is Lemmy?”
“No, that was my brother’s name.”
“No, that was my cousin. My name is Meadowlark.”
So these two, a penguin and a lemming, became good friends. They both had great stories to tell and took turns telling them. Time and space don’t permit the telling of all the adventures of Meadowlark Lemming.
They spent the night on their little island, and the next morning headed east. Meadowlark had to swim to shore and then run along the beach while Hopper swam near the shore. Sometimes he’d come ashore and hop along beside his little friend.
Once as they went together Hopper asked, “Have you met any people during your travels?”
“Well, not face to face, but I saw some of their boats from a distance. Mama always told me to keep my distance from them, but if I ever saw them I must act scared.”
“Quack and I saw some once, and we actually were scared. We panicked and took off.”
“Why? What did they do to you?”
“Well, actually nothing. We were just plain scared. We couldn’t help it. I hope I don’t see any more of them, but if I do I really hope I can resist the temptation to talk to them.”
They continued along this beautiful, desolate shore for a number of days. Then they both started feeling more and more uneasy. Something was changing, but they weren’t sure what. They thought they heard strange sounds. Some seemed vaguely familiar to Meadowlark, but he couldn’t say why.
Then Hopper said, “Aaaa, what’s that?”
Meadowlark followed his gaze out to sea and said, “That, my friend, is a boat.”
“A boat? What is a boat? What kind of creature is that? Is it friendly? It sure is big.”
“The boat is made by people. They ride in it.”
“People? Oh no.” Then they saw another boat, and then another. “Why are there so many people here?” asked Hopper.
Meadowlark said, “People tend to live close together in places they call cities. We must be getting close to one now.”
Indeed, they were approaching the city of Port Angeles. One might wonder how such a big city could have been moved from Southern California, but closer inspection will reveal that it is a different place in many ways. Hopper was shaking as he hopped. He wanted to swim away as fast as he could, or maybe head south into the woods and into the mountains. Anywhere but here with all these people. They might make him talk.
They came to a river as the sun was beginning to set. “How about if we stay here for the night and make our plans for tomorrow?” said the lemming.
Upstream a little ways they found a grassy place to rest by a huge fallen log. If danger came Meadowlark could hide under the log and Hopper could dive into the river. They sat in silence as it grew darker, both thinking what they should do.
Hopper said, “How about if tomorrow night we swim around the city?”
“I can’t swim that well.”
“You can ride on my back.”
“That’s a right noble plan, but I think I must explore these mountains. I’m heading upstream in the morning. How about you, eh?”
Hopper was glad to have a reason to avoid the city and said, “Sure. That sounds like a great adventure!”
A short time later they heard very faint footsteps in the darkness. They thought they saw something pass by them, a lumbering form of something much bigger than they were. Meadowlark quickly and quietly found his place underneath the log.
The creature lumbered on a ways, then stopped. Hopper could see it waving its nose back and forth, and then it turned with its nose facing them. Hopper stood still, hoping it wouldn’t notice him. The thing was big, and it was heading toward him. Hopper remained motionless, hardly breathing, but when it was within a few feet of him, he said to the creature, “Hi there, how are you tonight?”
It replied, “I’m hungry. What are you, anyway?”
“I’m a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin.”
“Never heard of you. You don’t look like you taste very good, either. But there’s something under that log that smells like a good dinner, so step aside while I proceed to dig it out of there.”
“Nice night, isn’t it?” said Hopper. “By the way, what are you, anyway?”
“What d’ya mean, ‘What am I’? I’m a bear, a black bear. Haven’t you ever seen a bear before?”
Hopper, who had never seen a bear before, replied, “Never seen one as big as you. You’re name wouldn’t be Barely, would it?”
“No, that’s my twin brother. My name is Blarely, and I have a cousin named Barry. My mother’s name is Barley and my dad is Birney. My mother taught me how to dig little edible critters out from under logs, and now I never fail. Speaking of which, I believe I need to find my meal now. Step aside, please,” said Blarely the Black Blear, er Bear, as he nudged past Hopper, making the penguin lose his balance and tumble into the river, shouting, “Hey, Whoa!” and then Splash!
Blarely proceeded to dig after the lemming, even though he didn’t know what it was, and even if he were told it was a lemming, he wouldn’t know what that was. All he knew was that it smelled like food, and his powerful claws were digging after it.
Meadowlark had nowhere to go. It looked like the end for him. He had no chance against a bear. He said a weak, “Help!” and then resigned himself to become part of the food chain.
Then came Hopper’s voice from the river, “Hey Blarely, want a fish?”
“Quit bothering me, pinhead, or whatever you call yourself. If I wanted to fish, I wouldn’t be digging for this little rodent here, speaking of which I will have him in my belly in very short order. I can tell he will be a tasty meal.”
Hopper, who was still weak from the effects of his whale ride, was beginning to feel helpless in his desire to help his friend. He wasn’t sure if he had the strength to catch a decent fish, and even if he did, it might be too late, and the bear would already be having lemming for his midnight snack.
He looked up and said, “Please help Meadowlark,” and then dove underwater.
Soon he spotted a good-sized trout. New strength came to him as he sped toward it. He grabbed the fish with his strong beak. A great struggle followed, but eventually the trout tired, and Hopper hauled it ashore and up the bank where he laid it beside Blarely, who was still digging. Hopper was overjoyed to see he hadn’t reached Meadowlark yet.
Blarely was saying, “You might as well give up, rodent. I’ll have you in a few seconds.” Then he began to reach with his paw to grab Meadowlark.
Hopper said, “I didn’t ask you if you wanted to fish, but do you want a fish?” He pointed a wing at the fish flopping around by the bear.
“Hey, that’s a nice looking fish there,” said Blarely. “How’d a little pendin like you catch such a big trout?”
“It’s what I do,” said Hopper.
“Hey, a guy like you might come in handy around here. Could you catch me another one?”
Hopper, who was feeling weaker, said, “Well, I think so.”
The bear began eating the fish, so Hopper dove in again. He saw a big trout, but he couldn’t catch it in his state of fatigue. He was certain he wouldn’t be able to wrestle it into submission. There was a smaller one. He sped after it and caught it by the tail. The little fish didn’t appreciate the beak on its tail and thrashed wildly. Hopper wasn’t sure if he could even hold on to this little fish, but he didn’t let go.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the fish tired out and Hopper hauled it ashore and up the bank and laid it beside the bear, who had just finished the other fish and was continuing to dig after Meadowlark.
“Here’s your fish, Blarely,” panted Hopper, who felt about ready to collapse.
Blarely looked around at the fish, and then at Hopper. The fish didn’t look very big next to the bear. “You call that a fish?” he said.
Hopper said, “Well, I thought it was a fish. It looked like one. It fought like one. Where I beaked its tail, it tasted like one. What do you call it?”
Blarely said, “Come over here a little closer so I can hurt your feelings.” Hopper waddled a few inches closer to the bear who continued his complaint. “This little thing flopping around here doesn’t deserve the name of fish. You say this thing gave you a good fight. Well, you must be the poorest excuse for a puny little pengon that ever passed these parts.”
“I know I am, but what are you?” replied Hopper.
“I,” said the bear, “am a hungry black bear named Blarely, and I’m tired of you interrupting my digging, and not only that, you try to pass off this little floppy thing here as a meal. I have a good mind to try something new for my midnight meal, and that would be you!” With that the bear pinned Hopper down with his great paws as Hopper was saying, “Help!” The bear’s teeth began closing on Hopper’s belly.
“Stop, that tickles!” shouted Hopper.
The bear opened his mouth to say, “It won’t for long!” and began to close on the little penguin again. Then suddenly he stopped, lifted his head in the air, listening and smelling. “Arg, gotta go!” he said. “If you don’t mind waiting here until tomorrow night, we can pick up where we left off.” Then the bear was gone.
Hopper looked up and said, “Thank you, again!” Then he called, “Hey Meadowlark, are you all right?”
The lemming replied, “I’m fine, with many thanks to you. Hey, what happened to the bear, eh?”
“I’m not sure. Something scared him, I think.”
Then they heard a strange noise on the river, a splish, splish, drip, drip, sound. They looked and saw lights on the water, and then they heard voices, saying, “Yeah, this is the best fishing place in the area. We’ll have our limit in less than an hour.”
“Well, we’ll see…”
Hopper wanted to scream, “Aaaaaaaaa…,” but he was too tired and he knew he would reveal his presence to these…people! People! The very thought made him cringe, and now here they were—two men in a boat in the river he’d just been in.
Meadowlark’s whispering broke him out of his panic-stricken thoughts, “Come on, Hopper, let’s move around to the other side of the log. They crept around the log and found a place beside it where they could lie down, hidden in the grass.
“Oh please don’t let them find us,” moaned Hopper as he fell into a deep sleep.
He began to dream: He was walking upstream with Meadowlark along this beautiful river as it flowed through a magnificent forest. Eventually they climbed higher into the Olympic Mountains. They met deer, elk, marmots, and other friendly creatures. They encountered no enemies and were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Hopper felt like staying on permanent vacation here. He was lounging with his feet in an ice-cold blue lake, spending many days at ease there. One day in his dream, a crow flew to him from across the lake and said, “Hey, Hopper, you should swim to the other side of the lake and climb up that hill over there. Just beyond the summit there’s an old goat who can give you anything you want if you ask him.”
“How could a goat do that?” asked Hopper.
“He’s not just a goat. He’s a very special, ancient goat. C’mon over. He’d love to see you.”
“But why? I’m happy here. What else would I want?”
“Well, how about your family and home. Don’t you want to go home?”
“Oh yeah, home. I want to go home.”
“Then come on. He can send you home with the blink of his eyes. Think of it. No more struggles with creatures who want to eat you, no more long journeying, no more traveling in places unsuitable for a penguin, and no more people.”
“Yeah, that sounds good—home, my family, no more struggles…” Into the water he jumped and started swimming to the other side of the lake.
In his sleep Hopper was thinking, “No, don’t go over there, Hopper! Don’t go!” Dream Hopper swam on. “Turn back, Hopper! It’s not too late!” On he swam, hopped out on the far shore, and started up the hill.
From behind him he heard a low and loud noise coming from the lake. He turned and saw nothing but a ring of waves where something big had been. The sound was vaguely familiar. “Hopper, you fool! It’s Bhill! He’s warning you again!” Dream Hopper climbed on, thinking, “Home, family, no more struggles, no more people, no more people. I’ve got to get home and not see any more people…”
He approached the summit, climbed over it, and looked down the other side. “No! Turn back! It’s a trap! Listen to the warning!” In the distance he could see what looked like a white mountain goat. Hopper waved a wing. The goat nodded his bearded head.
Hopper hastened toward him. “No, Hopper, you nincompoop!” Closer he came to the goat. When Hopper was about ten feet away, the goat said, “So you want to be done with your struggles, do you? You want to be away from people? I can do that for you.”
The goat lowered his head, pointing his two sharp horns toward Hopper, and charged. Hopper was so surprised that he couldn’t move. There was no escape.
“No!” shouted Hopper aloud and woke up with his heart pounding. “Oh boy, am I glad that was a dream,” he said. It took a long time to calm down, but finally he did and went back to sleep.
Soon he was dreaming again. Here he was back relaxing at the lake in the mountains. He heard a voice, “What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’ve been traveling the world, trying to help those I meet. I’ve fought off many enemies.”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“I’m resting from my journey.”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’m…I’m…I’m…hiding, hiding from people.”
“Hopper, face your fear.”
Hopper awoke and it was daylight. Meadowlark was already awake and said, “Hey, Hop, I thought you were never going to wake up, eh? Boy, you look terrible.”
Hopper replied, “Why, thank you. I was given a message as I slept and I guess my sleep wasn’t so great.”
“What was it?” asked Meadowlark.
“I’m to continue on my journey even if I must face the possibility of meeting people along the way. I can’t go with you into the mountains. I must head east until I can head south to my home.”
So once again Hopper made a good friend, and once again he had to part from his friend. Meadowlark was called to adventure in the mountains. Hopper must travel to the east by sea. They said goodbye and continued on their journeys alone.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 24

A turn of events perhaps unexpected by the reader, but many of the previous mysteries finally find their explanation, and the story has a vision of new life.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 24

The Whale

Less than two days after Quack’s return home, a great blue whale swam north off the coast of Washington state. He swam slowly on the surface. If someone had been watching from above, he would have seen a small black and white form lying on the whale’s head, near the blow-hole. If that imaginary person came lower for a closer look, he might have heard the whale’s low voice saying, “Hopper, Hopper, wake up, Hopper.”
Yes, Hopper! The little Rockhopper was alive, although he was unconscious riding on the whale’s head.
“Hopper, Hopper.” The penguin stirred a bit and groaned, “Oooh, where am I? Am I dead? Is that you, Creator? I didn’t think we animals had an afterlife. Ooooh.”
“No, Hopper, I’m not the Creator. I’m a whale. He made me, too.”
Hopper leapt to his feet and saw the waves splashing past him on both sides. “A whale!” His last memory was the whale’s mouth gulping him, and then all was dark and not very nice smelling.
“Don’t be afraid, Hopper. I’m your friend. Didn’t you ever hear about Jonah? He was swallowed by a great fish and lived in there for three days. I figured if a fish could do that, so could I. Now the seals think you’re dead.”
“What about Quack? Where’s he?”
“Well, Quack tried to run me aground for a few days, but I sent him home. I couldn’t tell him you were still alive. I was afraid he’d let the secret out. But he’ll be all right. He’s with his family now. He’ll be amassing a great duck air force to come after me. Then I’ll tell him what has happened.”
“You mean I won’t see him anymore?”
“You knew the time would come for you to go your separate ways. He had to return to his family. You knew that.”
“Well, yes. But we didn’t even get to say good-bye.”
Hopper rode in silence for a long time on the whale’s head. He thought of his great times with good old Quack, Harley Q. Duck, the best friend a penguin could have.
Then he started to wonder about this whale. How did he know what Quack was doing? How did he know about the seals’ attacks against him? How did he even know who he and Quack were? He almost felt as if the whale knew everything he’d been through.
“How do you know about Quack and me?” he finally asked. “And how do you know about the seals?”
“Well, Hopper, first of all, it’s not that I’m that smart or that great, although I am pretty big. In fact, I’m considered the biggest animal in the world. But there is someone who is a lot bigger than I am, even though you can’t see him, and he’s the one who has all the wisdom. I’ve swum with him for a long, long time, and he told me to watch out for you. He keeps me informed of things I couldn’t normally see.”
“But who are you?”
“I’m just a whale. My name is Whilliam Blue Whale. My friends call me Bhill or Bhill Blue. You can call me Bhill if you like.”
“Bhill? Bhill Blue? Dad Emmett told me about you long ago, at least it seems like long ago. I never thought I’d get to meet you!
“Ah, yes. Emmett is a great friend. I haven’t been around to see him in a long time, but I’ve been glad to watch over his boy.”
“So that was you who made that sound whenever danger was near? It was you who saved me from the shark and the squid, and who warned me not to listen to the Quetzal bird. I’m sorry I didn’t heed your warning. And then you remained silent before swallowing me so that the seals wouldn’t know you were coming. Was that it?”
“Yes, you’ve figured it out. And sometimes Hummer has told me more about where you are and what you’re doing.”
“Thank you for saving my life on this journey. I’ve been through a lot, but I guess I’m learning. I hope someday to swim and hop with our Creator as you swim with him now. Too often I forget to call on him, except when I’m in trouble.”
“Don’t worry, little fellow. It’s all in his plans.”
Hopper and his newly discovered friend were heading north off the coast of Washington, near the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where Puget Sound enters the Pacific Ocean. As they swam along they talked of many things. Bhill was able to fill him with rich thoughts just as old Mendicule and Galoppy had. He was thinking how great this was to have such a wise friend and to be able to travel with him in all the oceans. Maybe Bhill would even take him home.
Then Bhill said, “Well, Hopper, my little friend, here’s the Strait. I have to leave you here. I can’t go any farther. There’s no room for a Blue Whale there. And I’m called back to the south. There’s a certain young southern fur seal who needs my help. He was bold enough to speak out against how other seals had treated a certain young penguin. They all turned against him, and now he’s on his own. If they find him, well… I need to help him.”
“Is his name See?”
“Yes, that’s the one. I must go now…”
“But can’t I go with you?”
“That would defeat the purpose of the Jonah trick. The seals think you’re dead. You don’t want them to see you anymore. You have other adventures and other challenges to face, other creatures to deal with. Now you must swim east into the Strait, and I must head south. Good-bye Hopper, little friend. The great one who made us all will be with you.”
“Bye, Bhill Blue, and thank you for everything.”
Bhill lifted his tail in the air and then dove underwater. Hopper was left to swim on his own. He headed east. As he dove under he heard the once mysterious sound again, but this time he knew it wasn’t a warning, but good-bye.