Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 11

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Hopper continues north because he was told that was the way to go to find his home…

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 11

 

Escape from Seal Island

 

Tired from his long day, Hopper dozed off for a few hours and woke up feeling much better. It was quiet below him now. When he crept to the edge of the cliff and peered over, he could see in the light of the setting sun one adult seal watching the cliff. Some mothers and pups remained there, but the rest had apparently gone to the other side of the island.

He had to find a route that would be easy enough for him to descend in the dark. He hopped along the edge of the cliff, being careful to stay back so as not to be seen from below. Before long he found a ledge angling down. It appeared to go all the way to the beach, although it went around a corner, so he couldn’t see the bottom of it. He sat down to wait for dark.

An hour later he was making his way down the ledge by the light of the stars. Below him all was black and silent. The only sound was that of the waves on the beach. He needed to be quiet in order to not attract the attention of any remaining seals. Once he accidentally sent a loose rock crashing below. He waited in silence, his heart pounding. He heard nothing and continued, trying to be more careful.

After a very long half hour, he was down on the beach. He slowly waddled over the rocky part, but when he reached the sand, he hopped as fast as he could. He could hear a few seals snoring, but more seemed to be awake. Suddenly he heard one yell, “There he is!” but Hopper hopped the last few feet to the water, dove in, and swam out to sea, heading northwest.

It didn’t take him long to be away from Seal Island and beyond their territory. Now he could relax in the sea, eat some krill and fish, and continue on his northward journey.

His friends would have at least a day’s lead on him, and he wondered if he would be able to catch up with them. He could swim faster than any of them, so perhaps he could. He increased his speed, and before long he realized the current was also with him, taking him north.

“Maybe I’ll find my home,” he thought. Remembering the reason for his journey awakened in him a new excitement, and he sped along. He also hoped to see Magellee and her parents again. They had almost become like his family.

On the second day since escaping from Seal Island, he was porpoising along, feeling a little lonely, yet happy to be moving toward home. As he dove under water, he heard that strange sound again, and it seemed nearer than before. Again he wondered what it was. A short time later, he thought he saw a movement behind him to the left. He turned his head as he swam along.

A dark triangular shape was cutting through the water toward him. Immediately he remembered Emmett’s words, telling him to beware of…yes, it was a shark! He knew he couldn’t match its speed or strength. He called a quick, “Help!” and swam with all his might.

The shark was getting closer. Hopper just kept swimming and swimming as fast as his wings would carry him. Closer, closer. The shark was almost upon him.

Then Hopper wasn’t sure what happened. He saw what looked like a great bluish wall move from ahead of him to the left and pass behind him. Then he heard a huge slap on the surface of the water. Hopper kept on swimming, but in a while he realized the shark wasn’t there anymore.

He dove under to see if he could tell if the shark was nearby. He couldn’t see it anywhere. He just heard that strange sound much farther away. He looked up and said, “Thank you.”

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 10

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Hoping to find a way to his family going north, Hopper begins a migration with his new friends, but his plans and hopes are interrupted…

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 10

 

Maggot and the Seal

 

Soon after coming to live with the Magellanic penguins, Hopper gained their respect, in spite of the initial ridicule. The only exception was Maggot, who continued to make fun of him whenever he could. When the others commented on Hopper’s great swimming and fishing ability, Maggot would say he must have had enough practice wandering around the ocean. If the others marveled at Hopper’s great agility on the rocky cliffs behind their burrows, Maggot would say he didn’t have any reason to fear falling, because if he did, those ridiculous yellow feathers on the side of his head would cushion the fall.

The day arrived for their migration to the north. Hopper was excited to be moving again with the possibility of heading home. He walked silently with Magellee and her parents while his mind raced with the thoughts of meeting his real parents and his relatives.

Thousands of Magellanic penguins and one Rockhopper dove into the sea and began porpoising in a generally northerly direction, eating breakfast as they went. They would be at sea for about four months. Their route would take them along the many coastal islands for about 400 miles. Then they would head out to sea to catch the northerly-flowing Peru Current, which would take them far to the north along the South American coast. Another advantage of heading farther out would be to avoid the many seals lurking among the islands.

So they continued for many days, swimming and eating. One morning as he swam next to Magadon, Hopper dove under for breakfast, and as he did he heard that eerie sound again. “What is that?” he wondered to himself.

When he resurfaced he noticed a grim look on Magadon’s face. He glanced around at the others and saw that no one was smiling, except a few young penguins. “These,” he thought, “are on their first sea journey, but the older ones know something.” Then he asked Magadon, “What’s the matter, sir?”

He replied, “In a few miles we’ll be able to head out to sea, but first we must pass by these islands where the seals seem to wait for us. Last year we lost many of our friends here. We’re hoping we can make it by here this year without being seen by the seals.”

On they went nervously for a few hours, hoping they wouldn’t be spotted. Then ahead on their right was an island where Magadon said the seals lived in great numbers. If they could get past that island they could then head out to sea and begin to catch the northbound current. If they headed out now they would be swimming against the current, which flowed to the east. Progress would be difficult and slow, and they would be much easier prey for the seals. Farther along they could get away from the effects of the eastbound current, but in those few miles they had to risk being spotted by the seals.

As Magadon was explaining these things, Maggot swam over to Hopper and said, “Hey there, Hop! I hope the little cliff-lover isn’t wishing he was back in the burrows, heh-heh.” After a few other similar remarks he swam off to the right.

Suddenly, of the corner of his eye Hopper saw out a round, brown shape appear near Maggot. Instantly he knew a seal was closing in on his persecutor. Now the seal had Maggot in his mouth and was diving under water.

Without much thinking Hopper dove under and swam in the direction of the seal. He saw Maggot struggling to free himself as the much larger and stronger seal was diving deeper. Hopper swam with all his might after them.

Deeper and deeper they went, but with a great effort Hopper was able to catch up and take the seal by surprise by biting his back left flipper with his strong beak. Not being used to this sort of attack by a penguin, the startled seal turned around to see the source of the pain in his flipper, and as he did so he let go of Maggot, who was badly shaken up and bruised, but not seriously hurt. He floated back up to the surface and then limped after the other fleeing penguins.

Hopper swam a quick ring around the seal, which caused the confused fellow to turn in circles. Hopper circled him again and then took off. When the seal stopped turning and realized what had happened—that he had been attacked and fooled by a penguin, and he would be the laughing stock of seals—he was furious. He swam after Hopper who by now had a good lead.

Hopper couldn’t out-swim his bigger foe for long. The seal was closing in. Hopper called out quick and silent, “Help!” Then up ahead he saw some kelp, a long tube-like plant that grows on the sea-bottom and grows up to the surface in thick patches. He swam desperately to reach it before the seal caught him.

The seal was not many feet behind him when Hopper entered into the kelp where he was able to hide from the seal who pushed himself madly through and around the plants, looking for the little penguin.

Hopper, finding himself concealed from the seal, swam to the surface to get some air and to look around. He could see no penguins. To the west was open sea. To the east in the distance was land, the South American continent. To the northeast not far away was an island. All around in the water he could see the round forms of seal heads. He could hear them arfing.

What should he do? It was a long way to land. To head out to sea was to swim against the current and to be easy prey for seals patrolling the area. His best plan, he decided, was to head for the island. They wouldn’t expect him to enter their territory. He figured he could swim under water, coming up for air only a few times. Then maybe they wouldn’t see him.

He didn’t know exactly where his pursuer was now. The problem with the kelp was that even though he was hidden, so was his enemy. He needed to head for shore without the seal’s knowing which way he was going, so the seal couldn’t warn his comrades.

He decided to wait until he knew where the seal was. He stayed motionless at the surface, looking periodically under water. Then not far from him a black whiskered nose poked out of the water, drawing in deep breaths. Hopper remained motionless, forming a plan in his mind.

Then he skimmed on top of the water to the outer edge of the kelp patch. When he saw that the seal spotted him, he dove under water. The seal was after him, swimming furiously.

Hopper darted back into the weeds, swam among them to the left and waited. Soon the seal dashed into the weeds at the same place Hopper had and proceeded straight ahead to the middle of the kelp patch.

When Hopper saw he wasn’t going to be seen he swam out of the kelp, all the way around the patch and headed for the island. He figured the seal would be looking for him in the weeds long enough for him to make it to shore unannounced.

In a few minutes, Hopper could see his plan had worked. He had eluded the seal in the kelp, but now as he poked his head out of the water about 10 yards from shore, he could see a whole colony of seals lounging on the beach.

It was a sandy beach with a few large rocks from which seals scanned the waters for potential victims. Beyond the sand was a good-sized rocky hill about 100 yards from the water. He counted about 40 adult seals and many pups. He watched the crowd for a few minutes to see what they were doing. The mothers were mostly preoccupied with watching the pups. Many of the others were sleeping, talking together, or looking out at the water.

He looked up, saying, “Help!” and then, “Well, here goes!” He swam slowly to shore and nonchalantly began waddling and hopping toward the hill. No big seals were near him where he landed, and none had spotted him. Some pups were playing not far away. He walked past them, but when they noticed him, he said, “Hi there, fellows. What are you playing?”

One youngster responded, “Hi. I’m See. These are my friends, Si and So. We’re playing Nosepush. The first one to push a kelp bulb with his nose from here to where the sandy beach becomes rocky up there toward the hill, wins. Do you want to play with us?”

Hopper looked quickly around. Apparently no adults had seen him yet. He answered, “That sounds like fun!”

“What’s your name?” asked See. Hopper told him his name and took his place between See and Si, who provided him with a kelp bulb.

“All right, go!” yelled So. The four began nosing their kelp up the beach toward the rocky part. Hopper did amazingly well for someone who had a beak instead of a seal nose, but he fell behind the others.

Up on a rock the pups’ mothers were talking about their pups and other seals. Si’s mother noticed the race going on and that Si was winning. “That a way, Si, Honey,” she called. Then she noticed Hopper following along. She asked the other mothers, “Who’s that little slow fellow there. He’s a strange-looking one.”

So’s mother said, “He looks a little deformed, doesn’t he?  Poor fellow. It’s nice of our boys to play with him.”

See’s mother, who had a little better eyesight, said, “I don’t believe that’s a seal, girls. I believe that’s a…a penguin, maybe a Rockhoppper penguin.”

Hopper finished the race and said, “Thanks for the good time, fellas. It was really kind of you to let me play.”

“Would you like to play some more?” they asked.

Hopper replied, “I’d love to, but I must keep going.” Off toward the hill he continued.

Soon he heard a lot of excitement among the seals on the rocks. He heard the word, “penguin,” spoken many times with great excitement. “Here they come,” he thought as he continued hopping as fast as he could toward the hill. All the adult seals were now after him.

One was coming out of the water behind him, yelling, “There you are, you little trickster! You’ll pay for taking a good meal from me! You’ll take its place as my meal!”

Hopper kept hopping toward the hill. The sound of the seals’ arfing was getting closer and closer. The hill was slowly getting closer. They were closing in from the sides with no seals in front of him. All he could do was go straight ahead toward the hill. Now as he approached it he could see it was actually a cliff about 50 feet high. He looked up at the cliff, and then turned around to see the seals. The whole crowd of them had him surrounded on three sides, now 15 yards away.

The seal from whom he had escaped yelled at him, “I guess you’re not tricky enough! We’ve got you now!”

The seals closed in on him, closer and closer. Suddenly a little seal voice was louder than the rest, “Daddy, daddy, what is everybody doing to my friend, Hopper?”

Hopper’s foe answered, “See, my boy, don’t you know what this Hopper is? He’s a penguin! We don’t have penguins for friends. We eat them!”

“But Daddy, he played with us!”

This discussion created a diversion for Hopper to quickly examine the cliff, find a route up, and begin hopping his ascent. The seals were shouting, “Hey, look at that! Hey penguin, you can’t do that!” They rushed at him and lunged up at him. One narrowly missed grabbing him, but he had just gotten above his reach.

Up and up he hopped with angry arfs sounding farther and farther below him. Finally he was at the top of the cliff. He looked down at the angry mob. “No hard feelings, I hope!” he called down.

The little voice called up to him, “Goodbye, Hopper!”

Hopper called down, “Goodbye, See! Goodbye, Si and So! Thanks for the nice game!” Then he hopped out of sight toward the other side of the island.

Now that he was out of danger, he realized how tired he was, and he remembered all that had happened that day. He was separated from his friends and had narrowly escaped with his life. He missed Magellee, Magadon, and Magdalena and wondered if he could catch up with them. He wanted to keep going to find them, but he knew he couldn’t go any farther today.

Lying down near the top of the cliff, he could hear the seals below talking about him. “So you let one get away, ay Seep? That little runt sure pulled one over on you, heh-heh.”

Seep answered furiously, “You better watch your tongue, and that goes for the rest of you sorry group of seals! You let him walk right past you, playing with our pups! Well, we’ll get him! You in with me on this? That penguin won’t get off this island! He’ll be heading for the northern side. We’ll be waiting for him there!”

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 9

flap1_9-1-13jpg

 

Hopper finally finds some friends, but is still going the wrong way to find his home.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 9

 

Island of Penguins

 

 

In the distance he saw an island. He swam for it with all his might. He crashed through the surf and tumbled onto the sandy shore, shouting, “Yaaaa-hoooo! Finally I’m home!”

He looked right and left. Far down the beach he thought he saw a waddling form. He hopped and waddled as fast as he could, shouting, “Yo-ho, there! Hey there, cousin!”

Soon he was face to face with another penguin. It seemed like years since he’d seen one, although it had really only been a few weeks. Hopper, excited and out of breath from his long swim and hop, gasped, “Hi there! My name is Hopper. I’ve come home!”

“Well, hello,” said a young female penguin. “You are a different sort, aren’t you? There’s never been anyone named Hopper here, and certainly nobody who looked like you.”

“You don’t understand. My dad told me that he and my mom weren’t my real parents, and I must go find my real parents. He sent me here, to the Falklands, where the Rockhoppers live.”

His new acquaintance giggled, “You are a strange one, for sure. This place is not the Falklands. It is called Ballanero. And I’ve never heard of Rockhoppers before. We are Magellanic penguins.”

Hopper’s heart sank so low he felt it not only in his stomach, but also in his legs and his feet. It weighed him down, and he collapsed to the sand, crying out, “Oh, no, where is my home? Are you sure there aren’t any more like me here? Are there other penguins?”

She replied, “There are many, many of us, but none like you.”

“Can I meet them? Maybe there will be someone who can tell me where my home is.”

“Come with me,” she said. “I’ll take you to see my dad. He knows just about everything anyone needs to know to be a penguin in these parts.”

“Thank you very much,” said Hopper. “And what is your name?”

“My name is Magellee,” she said as she started waddling inland.

As Hopper followed her he began hearing a noise he’d never heard before, although in some ways it seemed familiar. It grew louder the farther they went on, and soon he could see that the source of the noise was many, many Magellanic penguins. It seemed they were all talking to each other at the same time as they stood around the holes in the base of a hill where they had their nests.

Suddenly they caught sight of Magellee and Hopper, and much of the noise turned into a braying sound like a donkey. Someone called out, “Hey Magellee, who’s your new friend? He’s a funny-looking fellow!” Many more sounded in agreement.

“His name is Hopper,” replied Magellee.

“Hopper! What a name!” came a chorus of penguin voices.

Magellee continued, “He’s looking for his home. He seems to have lost his way…”

“Well, this sure isn’t his home, is it!” shouted one belligerent-looking penguin named Magus, but was usually called Maggot. “The funny-looking fellow can’t even find directions. Hey Hopper, where did you learn to navigate, at a school for peccaries? Ha! Ha! Ha!”

They all laughed and continued shouting similar insulting remarks.

Normally a mild-mannered penguin, Hopper was growing angry. He’d had a long, tiring, and disappointing day, and now these penguins who didn’t even know him were making fun of him. The yellow crest above his eyes bristled, his eyes sparked, and he said, “I don’t know what happened, but I know this, my dad Emmett is the best navigator of all the Emperors. He taught me everything he knows…”

“Taught you everything he knows, and you still don’t know anything! Hooo hoooo heeee hah hah…”

Making fun of Emmett was about all Hopper could take. He was about to challenge them all to a fight, but his conscience reminded him that that wasn’t the way to handle it. He turned around and headed back toward the sea. Tears were starting to stream down his face.

Then Magellee called to him, “Wait, Hopper! Don’t mind them. They’re actually just a little afraid, because they’ve never seen anyone like you, and they don’t know what to do. Besides, we haven’t gotten to see my dad yet. He won’t treat you like that.”

Hopper began to calm down, and after a few minutes he said, “Okay.” They walked in silence for a ways down the beach. By the time they reached the burrow where Magellee’s family lived, the word was buzzing all over that a strange penguin had come. Most of the penguins were gabbing to each other as they stuck their heads out of their holes, but one distinguished-looking penguin appeared to be waiting for them, standing outside the entrance to his burrow.

“Hello, Magellee dear. I hear you’ve found a new friend.”

“Hi, Daddy. This is Hopper. He’s looking for his home, and he thought this would be it. He’s had a very disappointing day. Hopper, this is my daddy. His name is Magadon.

Hopper said, “Hello, sir. Magellee was telling me perhaps you could help me find my home.”

“Welcome, Hopper. For now, what you need is rest. Come on in to our home.”

As they went into the burrow, Hopper met Magellee’s mother, Magdalena, a kind and gentle sort who constantly tried to make sure everyone was comfortable. It seemed to Hopper she went out of her way to make him feel at home. She reminded him a little of Emily, and he missed his old home in Antarctica. He wondered if he ever should have left.

The remainder of the evening was pleasantly spent with Magadon telling stories of his adventures out at sea, not far from here in the Pacific waters off the coast of South America. Then he said, “Enough for tonight. We must all get some sleep. Tomorrow we will hear your story, Hopper, and we’ll see if we can do anything to help you along. Goodnight, all.”

With that he closed his eyes and began snoring.

The next morning as Hopper awoke he found he was alone in the burrow. He poked his head outside and saw a huge crowd of penguins waddling toward the sea. He was torn with the feeling of being left behind by his friends and wanting to join them and the feeling of fear that all the others would continue to ridicule him.

His disappointment came upon his heart again until he remembered that Magadon said today they would talk about his situation. But where were they going now? Anyway, he had to find out what was going on, ridicule or not, so he hopped out of the burrow after the others. Somehow he managed to find Magellee in the crowd and made his way toward her. “Hey, where are you all going?” he called.

“We’re getting our breakfast, of course,” she said. “Come join us. We didn’t want to disturb your sleep. We could tell you were exhausted.”

So Hopper swam out with Magellee and together they ate their fill of fish and krill. “Great fishing here,” said Hopper as they headed back to the burrow. When they got there, they found Magadon and Magdalena waiting for them. “I trust you had nice sleep and a good breakfast, Hopper,” greeted Magadon. “Now we must hear your story and see if there’s a way we can help you.”

Hopper then related his story—how he came to be born and raised in Antarctica, why he left and how he ended up here. He concluded, “Sometimes I think Emmett must have given me the wrong directions, but that doesn’t seem likely, because he’s the best navigator among the Emperors, except for his brother, Emp.”

“No,” said Magadon, “it’s unlikely he steered you wrong. Without doubt the storm threw you off your course, and you, being alone at sea for the first time, didn’t know how to compensate. Take heart, young fellow, you have a home. You’ll find it. For now, however, why not rest with us for a while? In a month we will be migrating north for the winter. I have heard of other types of penguins farther north than we go. Come with us, and we’ll help you on your way. You see, we are near what is called the Straits of Magellan, and that is why we are called Magellanic penguins. Around here I haven’t seen any like you, and I haven’t along the way where we’re going, but perhaps the ones farther north are your kind.”

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 8

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Here Hopper finds a friend who needs help. He also has some brushes with dangerous creatures as he continues seeking his home in the wrong direction.

To read from the beginning, go here.

 

Chapter 8

 

A New Friend

 

Rest wasn’t an option for Hopper as he swam on for hours through a strait that was taking him west to the Pacific Ocean. He kept expecting to be able to head north at any time, but a barren landscape was always on his right.

Finally in the mid afternoon he decided to stop for a rest. He was tired, discouraged, and lonely. “I must go north!” he kept thinking. “I must find my home! Oh, help!”

He popped out of the waves onto a rocky shore and hopped up on some rocks to think and look around. Just then he heard a buzzing sound nearby. He turned his head, and something shiny green flew by almost quicker than his eyes. Then he saw it heading for some nice yellow flowers growing up on the hill above the beach.

Hopper hadn’t seen any flying birds before, except seagulls and other sea birds, and he watched with great fascination as the little bird zipped back and forth among the flowers, sucking nectar from each one as he hovered in mid-air. Then it looked like he might fly away up the hill, so Hopper called out to him, “Hey there, little friend! Have you been in these parts long?”

The little bird started zipping up the hill, then quickly changed directions, came back toward Hopper, and hovered right in front of his beak. In addition to its green body it had brown wings, a white throat with brown spots, and an orange head. He answered, “Well, I’ve come from far to the north to get here. I come back here every year.”

“You’ve been to the north?” Hopper asked excitedly. “Then maybe you can tell me how far I have to go to my home. Have you seen any penguins near here?”

“Well, if you go about 50 miles up the strait to the west, you will find a place where you can swim to the north, and there will be many islands. There is one I call the Island of Penguins. Many of your cousins live there.”

“Yaaaa hooo!” yelled Hopper. “I’m almost home! Thank you, my little friend! By the way, what’s your name?”

“My name is Hummer. I’m a hummingbird, a Greenbacked Firecrown hummingbird.”

“It’s great to meet you, Hummer! I’m Hopper. I’m a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin, and a penguin heading for a home he’s never seen. I’m going to meet my mom and dad.”

“Excuse me, Hopper, before you leave, could you help me with something?”

Hopper’s heart sank a little because he was so excited to get going again. He figured he could be home by the next day. But he said, “Sure, Hummer, what is it? I’m sorry. I’ve been so concerned about my problems, I didn’t even notice or think that you might have your own.”

Hummer said, “Well, I’m down here getting nectar for my mate. She hurt her wing and can’t fly. If I don’t move her to a safer place, she will die, and I can’t do that by myself.”

“Well, let’s go!” said Hopper. As they started up the hill, Hummer explained, “With a little rest her wing will get better, but where she is now…well, there are many enemies.”

“Enemies?”

“Yes, like the fox, the puma, and the caracara.”

Hopper gulped a quiet “Help!” as he continued his climb, which was his first on rock instead of ice. He found it an exhilarating experience, and he did it with ease, just as if he were made to climb.

As Hopper climbed, Hummer would fly ahead to check on his mate, Hummeressa, and then fly back to guide Hopper in the right way. Finally after about an hour, Hummer said, “She’s just around the next corner.”

Hopper made his way around a large rock with Hummer flying beside him. Just as they came around the corner, a large gull-like bird landed between them and Hummeressa with its back toward them. The bird struck up a conversation with her, saying, “So the poor little birdee cannot fly. That is too bad. Such a thing might end up a small meal for a caracara!”

Hummeressa replied, “Leave me alone, Johnnie Rook! Why don’t you go file your beak on an armadillo or something!”

While they continued their friendly conversation, Hopper had a plan. “You go fly around his head to distract him while I sneak up behind him and bite him in his tail feathers. That’ll teach him a thing or two.”

Hummer took off shouting at the bigger bird things like, “You’d better mind your manners!” and “One step closer to her and I’ll peck you on the head!”

Johnnie Rook watched as Hummer flew toward him and then darted back and forth in front of him. It made him a little dizzy, but he pretended it didn’t bother him, and said, “So the little lady has a hero here to save her. Isn’t that cute!”

In the meantime Hopper had quietly hopped up behind the bird, and now he grabbed him by the tail-feathers. “Yaaaah!” shouted the caracara, and he took off into the air, leaving a number of feathers in Hopper’s beak. He circled around and screamed at Hopper, “You’re a little bit out of your territory, aren’t you, Penguin? Someday I’ll make sure you’re sorry I didn’t eat you when you were just an egg!” Then he flew off.

Hummer said, “Ah don’t worry about him. He’s just a big windbag. We can take Hummeressa to safety now.” Hopper gently picked up Hummeressa in his beak and followed Hummer to the place he had picked out.

To most animals it would have been a little hole in a pile of rocks, but to the hummingbirds it was a cave. Hummer flew back and forth, picking up straw and leaves to make a soft place where his mate could rest. “I don’t know how we could ever thank you, brave Hopper!” said Hummeressa as she was finally resting comfortably in her hiding place.

Hopper felt a little sheepish and a little choked up. No one had ever called him brave before. Indeed, hardly anyone, except his parents, had given him such a nice compliment.

Now he knew it was time to continue his journey, and once again he had to leave some newfound friends. In such a short time these hummingbirds had found a special place in his heart. So after a few sad good-byes Hopper started down the mountain. Hummer called after him, “Watch out for the fox and the puma!”

Below him Hopper could see the narrow strait of water, which would soon lead him home, or so he thought. “Yup!” he said to himself. “Just a few more hours of swimming and I’ll be home. I’ll see my mom and dad whom I’ve never seen!”

On the other side of the strait was a large island, and beyond that was the blue of the ocean he had crossed to get here. He thought fondly and a little sadly of Emmett and Emily. They were such good parents to him.

Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a quick movement behind some rocks to his left. “Yo, there!” he shouted in a friendly tone. “Who’s my friend behind the rocks? My name is Hopper.”

A gray snout and some pointy ears peaked up over some rocks. A gray fox, actually somewhat frustrated that he’d been spotted, came out smiling and said, “Say there, my fine friend! If I’m not mistaken, you would be a penguin, wouldn’t you? Some of my best friends have been penguins. When I spotted you walking along there I said to myself, ‘My, isn’t that a fine-looking penguin! I must invite him to my place for a visit and for a fine meal.’ The name’s Graif. My friends call me Graif. You can call me Graif if you like. How about it, my fine friend, Hopper?”

“Well, Graif, actually I’m on my way home—to meet my parents. I’ve never seen them before. I’m really looking forward to getting there.”

“Where do they live?”

“A ways up the strait, less than a day of swimming.”

“Hopper, what you need before you undertake this journey is a good meal. You don’t want to show up there all bedraggled and worn out!”

It dawned on Hopper that this was the fox that Hummer had warned him about, so he said, “Thank you, Mr. Fox, er Graif, but I really must be going. I’ll be all right.”

Graif’s countenance changed. His eyes flared in anger, and he said, “So you’ll turn down the offer of a friend, will you? I guess I’ll have to drag you there for a fine meal—mine!” Then he wrapped his paw around Hopper’s neck and began dragging him back toward the rocks.

Hopper called out, “Help!”

“There’s no one who can help you here, Penguin!” growled the fox. “You’re all alone up here!”

Suddenly something brown and much bigger than the fox sprang out from behind the rocks and bowled over Hopper and the fox. The force of the collision made Hopper roll head over heels down the mountain. He just caught a glimpse of the fox running from a large cat, which was the Puma, who intended to make a fine meal of him if she could catch him.

Hopper found himself back down on the beach, quite dizzy and sore but unharmed. He looked up and said, “Thank you!”

After resting a while to regain his composure, he said, “Here I go!” and dove into the sea, heading west. He swam for miles, resting occasionally to eat. After a time it seemed the strait was getting wider. “I must be getting closer!” he said excitedly.

A little farther on he could see the strait had indeed widened, and it looked like it might even turn to the right shortly ahead. He dove his head under and swam as fast as he could, gliding along through the waves like a porpoise, down and up again.

Soon he could see that it did indeed turn to the right—to the north! “Finally!” he yelled. “Back on course!”

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 7

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Chapter 7 finds Hopper still traveling alone, hoping to arrive soon at his home, but finds disappointment.

To read from the beginning, go here.

Chapter 7

 

Drifting North

 

Hopper continued riding on his log because the current was still taking it to the north. He knew what direction he was going, but he was still unaware that he was much farther west than when he started. Not even considering that possibility, he forgot to use all the direction-finding techniques Emmett had taught him.

On to the north he drifted. If he’d been on his original course, by now he would be close to his new home. Emmett had told him, “Keep going north, and you’ll get there at the right time,” and “You’ll know the place when you get there. You’ll know it’s your home.” But he hadn’t said how long the trip should take.

Now Hopper had been drifting on his log for what seemed years to him. Still surrounded by the endless blue, he couldn’t see any land and had nobody to talk to. How he missed Emily and Emmett! And how he wished the dolphins had come with him!

Then he started thinking about what Emmett had said about sharks and seals and their kin. He began to feel afraid as he sat on his lonely log. That night as darkness deepened around him, he called out a sad, “Help!” and fell asleep.

The nights were indeed getting longer, but still not all that long, and he woke up with the sunrise and stretched his wings and legs. He hopped from one end of the log to the other for exercise. Then he looked to the north, and in the distance he saw LAND! And it looked like it might be some islands. “This must be the place!” he thought. “I’m going home!” he shouted, and dove into the sea.

Once again under water he heard that eerie sound. “What is that?” he thought. “It sounds like someone is talking to someone else, but it’s not someone like me.” The sound seemed a little closer now.

On he swam as fast as he could. He was so excited, and shouted to himself, “I’m almost home!”

Soon he was crashing through the surf near the shore. He bounced without harm like a rubber ball off the rocks and then hopped out of the water onto the beach.

“Here I am!” he yelled. He looked right—no penguins. Again he shouted, “Here I am! I’m home!” He looked left—no penguins. No one was coming to meet him.

“Mom! Dad! It’s Hopper! I’m here!” Now he was hopping down the beach, looking inland for a place where Rockhoppers would live, and he was beginning to feel slightly worried. Maybe this wasn’t the place.

Emmett’s words rung in his ears, “You’ll know your home when you get there.” Then he knew he wasn’t home.

“But where am I?” he wondered. “And why am I not home?”

It hadn’t yet occurred to him that the storm had changed his course. If he had known that, he would still have a fairly short swim to the east to the Atlantic Ocean and north to the Falklands.

Hopper’s heart sank in disappointment, and he sat for a while wondering what had gone wrong. Doubts troubled him about Emmett’s directions and teaching about navigation. After all, he was getting a little old. But he shook off his doubts. He knew Emmett was trustworthy. He was the finest of Emperors and the best at sea of any.

Hopper knew somewhere on his journey he must have erred. Then he remembered the storm and the fact that he had been unconscious for a while. “Aha!” he said. “I must have been taken by the current while I was riding on the log. I recall Emmett told me the current goes east in these waters, so I must be too far to the east, and still a little south. So I’ll head west and north. Soon I’ll be to the Falklands.”

What he didn’t realize was that the storm was an unusual and very severe one that actually blew him against the usual current about 300 miles to the west, bringing him now to the southern tip of South America, really not too far southwest of the Falkland Islands.

He decided to head back to the water and swim west near the shore until he could head north again.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 6

flap1_9-1-13jpg

The story continues with Hopper traveling alone for the first time, hoping to find the home of his natural family in the Falkland Islands.

To read from the beginning, go here.

 

Chapter 6

 

The Sound and the Storm

 

Comfort fled from Hopper’s heavy heart as he glided easily under and through the waves. He didn’t want to leave his parents, but he knew he must, so on he went toward the north.

That day passed and then another, and he swam on, stopping occasionally to eat some fish or krill. It was summer in the southern hemisphere, and he was still far enough south so there was no night, but Emmett had told him that in the north he would experience days and nights as we know them in those areas which are not so far north or south.

Sometimes he wondered if he was really heading for the Falklands, because he couldn’t see anything but water in every direction, but he knew Emmett had taught him well and that he would send him in the right direction.

In a few days he noticed that the sun dipped below the horizon briefly, and then in a few more days it actually got dark for a while. This was a new experience for him and gave him hope that he really was making progress. Before long he would be with his family. This thought excited him, even though he still considered Emily and Emmett his family.

After many days he thought he could see land in the distant north, or was it clouds? He porpoised along; that is, he swam along like a porpoise diving in and out of the waves at a high rate of speed. This is where he first heard that sound, something he had never heard before, an eerie and almost indescribable sound that he could hear when he was under water. It was kind of like seagulls in the distance, but this was something under water. “What is that?” he wondered.

Soon the sea was getting rougher. It was harder to swim over the waves. He found it easier going under water for longer periods. As he did so, the sound was still there. On the surface dark clouds grew bigger and bigger, seeming to surround him.

Rain poured down, lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and the wind beat the water into his face. Even under water the ocean was in turmoil. He kept struggling toward the north, but the storm began to wear him down. He grew very tired, fighting the wind and waves, and felt he couldn’t go on any longer. Then remembering Emmett’s words, he cried, “Help!” A wave crashed over him and everything was dark.

The next time Hopper was aware of anything, he knew he was alive, because he was very sore. His wings ached, and so did his legs. He didn’t know how much time had passed. The storm was over, and he found himself lying on a large log in fairly calm waters. A current was moving his log to the north, so he thought he’d rest there as long as it went that way. What he didn’t realize was that the storm had blown him for a few days to the west, and now going north he would come to the southern tip of South America instead of the Falkland Islands.

“How did I get on this log?” he wondered. The last thing he remembered was going under in the storm, calling out for help.

Then he heard some splashes in the water and a squeaky voice saying, “Oh, I think he’s awake now.”

Another squeaky voice answered, “Really? Oh oh oh.”

Hopper turned his head and saw a couple of black snouts poking out of the water. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m Del!” said the first voice.

“I’m Delphina!” said the second.

“I’m glad to meet you. My name is Hopper. I’m a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin. What are you? And how long have you been here?”

“We’re dolphins,” replied Del. “Delphina and I were out looking for our lunch when we received instructions to change our course and find a penguin who needed help in the storm. A few minutes later we heard you call out, ‘Help!’ so we knew you were the right penguin. Anyway, we pushed you up on this log, and have stayed with you ever since, which has been two days. The storm has passed, and you appear to have made it through all right.”

“Well, I’m a little sore, but I sure want to thank you for taking care of me.”

“We just did what we were told to do, and it was fun for us. And now that we can see that you can make it all right, we must be heading back to the others in our family.”

“Are you sure you can’t head this way with me?”

“We’d like to, but we must go. You’ll be okay now, and don’t forget to remember the one we should never forget.”

“Well, thanks again. I hope I can see you again sometime.”

“Bye-bye!” said the dolphins, and then his new friends disappeared under the gently rolling waves.

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 5

 

 

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Here’s Chapter 5 in the story of Hopper the penguin. If you’d like to read from the beginning, go here.

Chapter 5

 

Heading for Home

 

Some time passed, and Hopper continued to grow, and then after a while he didn’t grow anymore. He was still a little fellow to the Emperors, and not just a little fellow, but a runt!

One day as he was hopping around on piles of ice near his place, he saw Emily and Emmett waddling in from the ice wasteland. To him they seemed to be waddling slower than usual, and their beaks hung down to their chests. He called out from the top of an ice hill, “Hi, Mom! Hey Dad! Where’ve you been?”

They each lifted up a wing in a weak sort of wave and kept heading for home. Hopper began to worry. This wasn’t like them. They were usually so happy. He wondered if they were sick or if something had hurt them.

He quickly hopped down and hopped and waddled to meet them. “Is something the matter?” he asked.

“No, not really,” replied Emmett.

“But something is wrong. What is it?” Then he saw the tears in their eyes. He walked between them with his wings on their backs and decided to keep quiet until they wanted to tell him.

When they returned home, they stood in silence for a long time. Then Emmett spoke, “Hopper, this morning your mother and I were called out to the ice wilderness to receive some instructions, and what we’ve heard has saddened our hearts, even though we’ve always known this time would come, and we also know it’s what’s best for everyone. Son, we’d like to hold on to you forever and keep you here, because you’re our only child, and we prayed for years for you to come, and finally you did. But now it’s time for you to go home.”

“What do you mean?” broke in Hopper. “This is my home. Where can I go?”

Emmett continued, “No, Hopper, there is a place called West Falkland Island which is your real home. There you will find your real parents, and many other Rockhopper penguins, for that is what you are. They need you there, so you must make that journey back there to your family.”

Then they told him the whole story of how he came to be born in Antarctica and how they were given the joyful privilege of raising him. After many tears Hopper realized what they told him was true, and he must prepare for a journey north to the Falkland Islands.

“Can’t you come with me?” he asked.

“We’re getting pretty old for that journey,” they replied. “Besides, we have a few things to do here still.”

Hopper spent the next day saying goodbye to all his relatives and his few friends. As he returned home, he knew this would be his last day in Antarctica. Now he just wanted to be with Emmett and Emily. She did her best to put on a happy face, but it wasn’t hard to see she was on the verge of crying, and she didn’t say much.

Emmett had words of instruction for the journey: “The way to the Falklands is due north. Remember what you’ve learned about navigation, and you’ll get there at the right time. You’ll know the place when you get there. You’ll know it’s your home. Beware of sharks. Beware of seals and their kin, especially those serving the Great White Seal. Don’t believe anything they say. They may look friendly, but they’d like to have you for dinner. Most importantly, call for help when you need it, and it will be sent to you from above. You’re starting a new life now, Hopper. You will find new friends, especially if you remember how to treat others. Remember the lessons you’ve learned here because you were different, and treat others like you would like to have been treated. You will find others who look like you in the end, those of your Rockhopper family. I hope you will remember your Emperor family here, Son, and know that you have been the joy of our lives.”

The next day they waddled with Hopper to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. What needed to be said had been said, so they went on in silence. Finally they reached the edge of the ice where Hopper must take to the sea.

“Remember what we’ve told you, and especially remember the one who made you,” were Emmett’s final words.

“Goodbye, Hopper, dear son,” sobbed Emily.

He hugged them a long time, and then they all knew it was time to go. He looked out at the ocean before him, the seemingly endless blue broken up by countless white waves. “How could I ever find anything out there?” he thought, but he knew if he followed his navigating instructions, he would make it to his home.

Turning to them once more, he said, “Thank you for being my mom and dad. Thank you for teaching me so many good things. Thank you for always loving me and accepting me. I’ll always love you, too. Bye!” Then he dove into the sea and headed north for the Falklands.

Emmett and Emily watched him swim out to sea, becoming a smaller and smaller black and white spot surrounded by blue. Just before he was out of sight, Hopper turned around for one last wave and then was gone.

They slowly and sadly returned home, but glad they had done the right thing and glad they had had the privilege of raising Hopper.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 4

The story continues for the fourth Sunday. The scene is Antarctica, but that will soon change…

flap1_9-1-13jpg

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Hopper’s Early Education

 

Under the care of Emmett and Emily, Hopper learned the ways of the Emperors. At this time he didn’t realize he was different. Emily and Emmett were his mom and dad, and parents are always bigger.

But as they waddled among the other Emperors, Hopper would happily waddle and often hop along between his parents. They received looks of disgust from others as they passed and many not very friendly remarks about Hopper’s size. He was much shorter than the smallest Emperor chick. Also they didn’t like Emily and Emmett’s breaking with the tradition of hatching chicks in winter. However, the light season was a much better time for a Rockhopper to be born. So he grew up among the Emperors with the best of Emperors for his parents.

In his younger days, Emmett had been a great swimmer and diver. Hopper loved the stories he told about his adventures in the oceans and under the sea. What incredible things he had seen and done!

There were stories about his brother, Emp, who was a great traveler whom he hadn’t seen for years. “Is he still alive?” asked Hopper.

“I hope so,” answered Emmett. “I would really like to see him again, and to know he’s all right.”

Emmett loved to tell of his times with his friend, Bhill Blue, who was a whale. “He was the greatest swimmer and diver I’ve ever seen, and also the greatest friend a penguin could ever have.”

“Where is he now, Daddy?”

“He’s still traveling the oceans.”

“Does he ever come home?”

Emmett answered, “To Antarctica, you mean? Well, he comes by once in a while, but then he’s off traveling again.”

“By himself?”

“Usually, but I don’t think he’s lonely. He swims with the Creator, and he meets friends along the way, and it seems he’s always helping someone. And he’s not afraid of anything. Once I saw him look at the Great White Seal who was railing at him and threatening him, and what did Bhill Blue do? He laughed at him and swam away. I was hiding behind Bhill, hoping the Great White wouldn’t see me or my tail might be gone.”

“Who is the Great White Seal?”

“He is actually a sea lion, and the biggest one you’ll ever see. He rules over much of the Pacific Ocean, and he thinks it’s his. I think he would like to rule all the oceans. Some say he’s been alive for hundreds of years, and they say in his lair he has countless trophies, the tails of those creatures who got in his way or bothered him in some way, or those who opposed him.”

“Where is he?” asked Hopper.

“His headquarters are on the coast of what people call California…”

Hopper found himself shaking, and not about the Great White Seal, and he asked, “What are people?”

“People are the greatest of the creatures on earth, special to the one who made them. They were created to rule the earth and all of us animals. Long ago they turned away from their Master, and he’s had to deal with them firmly to bring them back to himself. Now we are forbidden to talk to them. Only one animal, one particular donkey, has been allowed to talk to a person. We have been made fearful of them, and that is why you started to shake when I mentioned them. They can see us, but can never be close to us as they would like to be.”

“Why?”

“It helps to put a longing in their hearts for what they had before they turned away from their Maker and what they can have some day if they will only turn back to him.”

Hopper learned many things from Emmett and Emily and heard many other great stories. As time passed his gray feathers turned into black and white, and long yellow feathers grew at the sides of his head above his eyes. This was no concern to Emmett and Emily because they had seen his Rockhopper parents, but to others it was hard to bear. He was the object of much ridicule and cruel jokes. Sometimes the yellow feathers bristled straight out when someone insulted him, but his parents would tell him not to let it bother him. Then they would tell him there was nothing wrong with him, and fighting back wouldn’t make it any better.

Now that he had his adult feathers, Hopper could learn to swim, and also to navigate, that is, to find his directions when traveling in the water. Emmett took him out into the cold ocean, showing him how to get from one place to another, and how to get back home again. He taught him how to catch his meals, whether it was fish or krill, and how to be wary of leopard seals and other potential enemies. Hopper became a great swimmer, diver, and hunter.

On one of their excursions, they came to land near a colony of Adelie penguins. In these waters patrolled the fore-mentioned dreaded leopard seals who would love to have a penguin for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The Adelies were hungry also and wanted to go fishing, but they were afraid to jump into the water. They peered over the edge of the ice into the water to see if any seals were lurking there. They were all telling each other to dive in.

“You dive in, you coward!”

“No, you dive in, o you who are a coward and from a long line of cowards!”

“If you weren’t such a coward, you’d be jumping into that water to prove you weren’t!”

“And how about you, you coward of cowards!”

These encouragements continued until finally one of them told his neighbor, “You dive in, you dodo bird!” and with an evil smile shoved him into the water. When the rest saw he wasn’t eaten, they all dove in for their meal.

Hopper and Emmett headed home, braying with laughter.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 3

The third installment of serialized Fly Like a Penguin, the Adventure for Kids and Other People…

flap1_9-1-13jpg

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Hopper

 

Since the days of their courtship, Emily and Emmett hadn’t been so happy. Emily huddled over the egg on her feet while Emmett waddled back and forth exclaiming every now and then, “Wow! We’ve got an egg. We’re going to have a chick! We called for help, and here it is!”

During this time of waiting for the hatching, they talked over many things, like how they would walk proudly among their fellow Emperors with their new little one, and what the name should be. They decided on Peter or Penelope.

Finally the day arrived when the little penguin began poking his beak through the shell of the egg. They could hardly contain their excitement as they watched that beak pecking the hole bigger and bigger.

Then out popped a little gray head with two beady eyes that were also radiant with joy and determination. Then the whole egg split apart as a little male penguin hopped out onto the ice at Emily’s feet. He didn’t look at all like them and was much smaller than the usual babies they had seen among their acquaintances.

When it came time for him to venture outside of the warmth of Emily’s feathers, he did something else that surprised them, although it probably shouldn’t have. Instead of waddling as they did, he hopped around as he explored his new world. He hopped over to Emmett and rubbed his beak on his feet, and then hopped back to Emily.

“Well, Emmy dear,” said Emmett, “I think we had forgotten what he was here for. He’s not here to make us proud Emperor parents. He’s here as a gift and for us to teach him the right way, loving him as he is, even though he’s not much like us. He’s a Rockhopper, and Hopper will be his name.”

Emily smiled as she cuddled the baby penguin and said, “We’re glad you’re here, Hopper. I don’t know why you were brought to us, but I’m sure you’ll grow up to be someone special.”

News traveled fast about the hatching of old Emmett and Emily’s baby, and soon their place was surrounded by friends, relatives and others from the colony. Many came to offer congratulations as a matter of social courtesy, but when they saw Hopper, they would say something like, “We just wanted to say how happy we are for you, that you were finally able to have a chick. He’s such an interesting-looking little fellow, isn’t he?” Then they would leave, whispering rapidly to each other.

Others were more honest about what they thought and said things like, “He’s really quite small, is he not?” or “You’ll have to teach him to waddle, I can tell you that right now,” or “Where’d he get those beady eyes?”

By the end of the day, Emily and Emmett were feeling crushed. The most important event in their life, and no one really cared. They’d rather find fault. But they decided they wouldn’t let it bother them. Hopper would be their son, and he would be a part of the colony. He would learn to love others who didn’t understand or care about him.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 2

The story continues, as it will every Sunday until we reach the end…

flap1_9-1-13jpg

 

 

Chapter 2

 

An Answer

 

Emily sighed a long and deep sigh and said to her mate, Emmett, “It looks like we’ll never get to have children. Everyone else in the colony thinks there is something wrong with us, and they look down on us.” Tears flowed from her eyes, turning to ice at the end of her beak. Emmett put a wing on her shoulder, saying nothing. He didn’t know what to say. It was true. They were becoming too old to have any children. They were penguins, Emperor penguins.

They lived in a colony of proud Emperor penguins in Antarctica, on the great peninsula that juts north toward South America. In their colony it was very important to remain proud and to pass on the proud tradition to the children. After all, they were Emperors.

For Emily and Emmett, most of their pride had been taken away by the years of waiting and the many times they’d heard their friends whisper as they passed. The sadness they now felt wasn’t from what others thought or said, but because they had no children.

Emily looked up and cried softly, “Oh, help. I know if we had a child, we would raise him to be a special penguin.”

Emily and Emmett stood gazing at the children playing at the center of the colony. Normally they enjoyed watching them play because they loved children, but today it saddened them all the more. All the children looked so much alike. Certainly each had his or her own looks and personality, but they seemed to learn to be so much alike. They had to waddle the same way and talk the same way. If anyone accidentally said something that was considered unfit for an Emperor to say, he was soon made to feel like one of the “lower” breeds of penguins.

Emily and Emmett decided to take a walk away from the others. Emmett, who had been deep in thought for a long time, broke the silence, “We’ve been shown an important thing, my dear. If we had had a child before now, he would have grown up like all the other children, and like us—proud and selfish. But if we were to have one now, we would teach him love and humility; but perhaps now it’s too late.”

They spent a long time surrounded by the white, icy landscape, talking together and calling out to their Creator for help and wisdom.

As they were returning to their place in the colony, they were met by two strange creatures. Drawing near, they realized they were penguins, but not Emperors, and they weren’t Adelies or Gentoos, the neighboring species of penguins in Antarctica. These two were kind of stumpy looking, not even half as tall as they were, and they had yellow feathers sticking out above their beady red eyes.

They looked tired with a certain sadness in their eyes, but they straightened up as the Emperors approached. Emily and Emmett said a polite “Hello” as they were passing, and would have continued on if one of the little penguins hadn’t said, “Excuse me, I believe you are the Emperor penguins we’ve been directed to visit. Are you Emmett and Emily?”

Emily answered a little nervously, “Yes, but wh…who are you?”

“My name is Cliffider, a Rockhopper from the Falkland Islands, and this is my good mate, Cliffidee. Not many days ago we were told to come here to meet you, and if you will have us, to stay with you for a while.”

“If the Creator has led you here, you are certainly welcome,” answered Emmett. “Come along with us to our place in the colony, and tell us about it.”

As Emmett and Emily waddled back toward home, the Rockhoppers hopped along beside them, telling them about their visit with Cliffking and his prophecies about the coming battle with the caracaras. “And as we were calling for help in the days that followed, finally we each received an answer,” said Cliffider. “We were to come here to find you.”

“But why?” asked Emily.

Cliffidee answered, “I’m going to be laying an egg any day now, and this little penguin is to be raised with the Emperors, while we return to our home to prepare for the war. We are to leave this egg in your care. We know there couldn’t be a better set of parents for our child.”

The Emperors were stunned into silence. Thoughts and emotions waged war in their minds, joy over their answered prayer, but sadness for their new friends. They wondered what the other Emperors would think, having an egg in the summer when Emperors always have theirs in the dark of winter. In the end came the calm assurance that this was the answer they had been waiting for. They would finally be able to have an egg and then a baby penguin.

When the time came for the laying of the egg, Cliffidee put it on the feet of Emily to keep it warm, and she whispered to the egg, “Goodbye, little one, and always remember your Maker, and come see us if he so leads.”

Knowing they must now return home, the Rockhoppers thanked the Emperors for receiving them and for taking their egg. Cliffider finished with these words, “I’m sure you realize that your new baby will be different from the rest of the children in your colony. Some will laugh at him. Some won’t understand him. You have been chosen because you will be able to keep loving him no matter what anyone else says. At home we’ll be having a war. He may have his own here, but it won’t kill him, and with your help it will strengthen him. To him you will be his mom and dad, yet someday he may decide to find where he came from. He may be called to help in our battle. We leave that to the great one who made us all. May he be with you in all you do.”

So Cliffidee and Cliffider said goodbye and headed north to their home. Perhaps I don’t need to mention how many times they looked back toward the feet of Emily.