Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 19

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Hopper and Quack head north from the Galapagos Islands,  not really knowing where they’re going. Quack knows he’s getting closer to his home, and Hopper hopes he will find his family going this way. When they come to rest on the coast of Guatemala, Hopper makes and terrible mistake, but he finds the help he needs.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 19

The Dancing Mushroom

Rolling waves were all Quack and Hopper could see in every direction as they swam in silence to the north, each of them coming to grips with his feelings about leaving their friends in the Galapagos Islands. They also wondered about the long unknown trip ahead of them. Hopper porpoised along at about half speed. Quack, whose wing had now healed, flew for a while, and then he would drop into the water to let Hopper catch up.
For a number of days they traveled like this with no land in sight and not really knowing where they were going, although Quack knew he was getting closer to his family going this way. The journey seemed endless, yet their spirits revived as they went on, especially as they talked about the good times they’d had together.
One day Quack was flying ahead to see what was there. He returned, whistling excitedly and saying, “Land ahead, Hop! I see land!”
This was good news to Hopper, who then increased to near top speed. Soon he too could see the coast of Guatemala with its volcanic mountains towering behind the shoreline.
By this time Hopper realized he wasn’t getting any nearer to his home, but he had been instructed to go north. Then the thought was impressed upon his mind that this was the direction to Quack’s home. “Maybe that’s why we’re going this way,” he thought. He felt glad for his friend, but a little sad at the thought of leaving him.
“Maybe this is your home?” he said aloud. “There are mountains here. You said you spent your winters in the mountains by the streams.”
“Maybe so,” said Quack, “but I don’t think these are the right mountains.”
Soon they were on the black sand beach. They decided that Quack would fly inland to the mountains to see if this was the right place, while Hopper stayed close to the water. It was very hot here for a penguin, and he needed to be able to cool himself off regularly, even though the water was also warmer than he liked it.
They found a place where a stream flowed down to the ocean from the mountains. Hopper would set up headquarters there and wait for Quack’s return. He would be sheltered from view at the edge of the jungle, and he could look out at the sea without being seen easily. He was wary of seals, though he hadn’t encountered any for a while. He figured by now they could very well have realized he had tricked them again on that little island when he had pretended to be a fox.
Quack’s plan was to follow the line of mountains to the northwest to see if anything or anyone looked familiar. Then he would return to Hopper in a few days.
Quack flew off, and Hopper sat in his stream, looking out at the ocean. “What am I doing here?” he wondered. He sat there the rest of the day, through the night and the next morning after getting his breakfast in the ocean. A number of animals came by: birds, reptiles, and mammals. Some were friendly, but most ignored him. By late morning Hopper was tired of sitting there and was feeling grumbly inside. He kept thinking, “What am I doing here? This is no life for a penguin.” About this time a beautiful, shimmery green bird with a long tail perched on a branch above him.
“Well, hello there,” he said.
“Hi,” said Hopper.
“You don’t look very happy,” said the green bird.
“Well, I’m all right. I’m just kind of tired of waiting here with nothing to do. It seems like I should have something better to do than this. My friend will be back today or tomorrow; then we’ll be moving on, but even then I don’t know where or why.”
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Hopper, a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin.”
“And I’m Quigley, a quetzal bird, undoubtedly the prettiest bird in Guatemala, if not the world. But that’s enough about me. You, Hopper, seem to be a bird of uncommon abilities, and one used to accomplishing great things. I perceive you have done great deeds, and you shall do more. I like birds like you for my friends. I can tell that you would be a great friend. I have a secret that I tell only my friends about. Want to know it?”
“Well, sure,” said Hopper.
The quetzal looked around, then dropped to a rock in the stream by Hopper, and spoke out of the side of his beak, “The dancing mushroom.”
“The dancing mushroom?” said Hopper.
“Yes, that’s what you need. The dancing mushroom will tell you everything you want to know about your life—where you should go, what you should do, and whom you will meet.”
Hopper was doubtful about all this, but these were things he really wanted to know. He was weary with the constant struggle, and especially with the feeling of being out of place and not knowing why he was here.
“Where is this dancing mushroom?” he asked.
“If you go upstream for about a half mile, you will come to a waterfall. From there turn east. You will come to a place of hot springs and geysers in about a half hour. From there turn north. You will soon see a huge rock in front of a hill. Behind the rock is a cave in the hill. The dancing mushroom lives there. She comes out to dance at sunset. If you can dance with her, she will tell you all.”
Hopper was somewhat excited about the idea of having all his questions answered, but at the same time his heart felt a little heavy. Before making the trip upstream, he decided he needed some lunch. He dove into the sea to find some fish. As he was eating, a sound he hadn’t heard for a long time returned to him—that almost eerie, low song. So many times it had come when danger was near. This time it sounded the same, yet somehow different. There was an urgency about it, very near and very loud.
He decided it was time to get out of the water. On the shore he wondered what that was all about. He headed for his stream, and as he did so a loud blast of noise from the water behind him nearly knocked him over. “What was that?” he asked himself. Looking out to sea, he saw nothing, and headed upstream. He came to his headquarters in the stream and sat down, looking out at the ocean. He saw and heard nothing, but kept thinking, “What was that?”
The thought came to him that it was the same sound he’d heard underwater, but now for some reason he’d heard it out of the water. “But why?” he thought. He scanned the sea for any sign of danger. He saw no squid, no sharks, and no monster or whatever it was that made that noise.
Hopper sat in his place for a while, trying to figure out what was going on. As long as he sat there he didn’t hear the noise. Then the quetzal returned and said, “Aren’t you going to dance with the mushroom? If you don’t leave soon, you’ll be too late.”
“Well, I’m not sure if I’m going. I’m trying to figure out what that noise was.”
“Noise? I don’t hear any noise. But if you hear a noise, the dancing mushroom can tell you what it is. You have nothing to lose if you go, and if you don’t, you’ll always wonder what you missed, and you’ll continue living your life not knowing the things you want to know…”
The quetzal bird talked on for a time with similar words until finally Hopper said, “All right, I’ll go.”
“You’d better hurry if you’re to get there by sunset,” said the quetzal as he flew off. Hopper stood up and turned around to head upstream. Immediately the sound blasted twice, almost knocking him over. Hopper thought he almost heard it say, “Don’t go!”
He stood there for a minute, thinking, “Who’s making that sound? Is it trying to lure me back to the water to get me, or is it trying to warn me? It has always been there in times of danger, but is it the danger, or is it warning me of danger?” His mind was getting more and more muddled, and his desire to find the dancing mushroom won. Upstream he went at top speed.
The sound came regularly from behind him, still two blasts at a time. He was almost certain it was saying, “Don’t go!” But he kept going. The sound was still loud, but he was getting far enough away that it no longer hurt his ears.
Hearing the sound of splashing water ahead, he hurried on until he saw the stream cascading toward him over a cliff, creating a waterfall glistening in the sun. He paused briefly to gaze at it and then turned right, away from the stream. A half hour later he saw a pool of water that was steaming. He felt the ground rumbling beneath him, and suddenly hot water shot out of the ground in front of him, giving him a hot shower. “Grrr,” he said as he turned left, hopping through the trees.
Soon he saw the big rock ahead of him. The noise sounded, seeming to say, “Come back!”
“I’ve got to see the mushroom!” he said. The sun was almost ready to set as he hopped full speed for the rock.
He came around the rock, and there it was—the mushroom! It sat there in an open space between the rock and a cave in the hill. Hopper’s heart pounded with excitement as he hopped toward the mushroom. “Hello, there!” he called. “Can I dance with you?”
The mushroom didn’t answer. It just sat there like any other mushroom. Hopper approached it and said, “I have a lot of questions to ask you.” It didn’t respond, but he heard the noise from the sea, sounding in the distance, even now sounding more urgent than ever. Hopper’s heart felt like it was in his feet now. The farther he’d come on this little side trip, the heavier it had felt, but he’d kept telling himself, “I have to see the dancing mushroom.”
Now he thought maybe it was asleep, so he nudged it with his wing. It fell over. Hopper looked up, saying, “What a fool I’ve been! I didn’t need an answer from anyone but you! If I needed to know those things, you would have told me. Forgive me!”
Now he heard some snickering up on the hill, then more in the cave, and also in the woods in front of him and behind him. One loud, snorty voice called from up on the hill, “Hey, aren’t you going to dance?” Snorty laughter came from all directions. “Hey, what kind of stupid-looking thing are you, anyway?” called the voice again, obviously that of the leader of these creatures. Hopper could see some pig-like shapes moving closer to him.
He answered, “A penguin, a Rockhopper penguin.”
“Ha! A penguin, he says. Well, you’re the dumbest penguin I ever saw. Everyone knows you don’t believe anything a quetzal says. They’ll do anything for a free meal. In this case, I gave him something he wanted, and he gave me you for my next meal. Ha ha ha! Get him, boys!”
The shapes charged at him from three sides. Hopper could only go toward the rock. Once again an enemy didn’t count on his rock-climbing ability. He found a way up just in time to escape their savage attack with their sharp tusks.
“Don’t think you can get away from us,” said the leader. “There are fifty of us peccaries, and we’re all around this rock. You have no way to get food or water. You’re better off coming down now and getting it over with quickly than to starve on that rock.”
“Aren’t you better off finding some nice fresh meal, rather than waiting for a starving penguin?” asked Hopper.
“Don’t you give me advice! You’re the fool who fell for the old dancing mushroom trick!”
Hopper said a weak “Help!” and sat in silence. Before he fell asleep he called down, “Who gets to eat me, anyway? I’m not much of a meal for fifty of you!”
He heard a lot of quiet snorting all around as the leader yelled back, “I do, of course! I’m the boss here!”
“Then what about the others? What’s in it for them?”
Once again there was snorting all around, now a little louder, and the boss yelled, “You zip up that birdie beak of yours! That’s not your concern!”
Hopper dozed off with the sound of snorting in his ears. He woke up the next morning with a hungry stomach. He was getting thirsty and very hot. How he wished he’d stayed in the stream by the beach!
Below him he could see the peccaries better now. They were mean-looking hairy pigs with sharp, curved tusks. He wouldn’t have a chance of out-running or out-fighting them. He was trapped. He saw no way to escape.
By mid-morning he could tell he couldn’t last long in this heat. “I’ve got to get back to the ocean!” he told himself.
“Better come down soon!” shouted his tormentor. “I expect you’re getting pretty hungry and thirsty, and a little hot, ay?”
Hopper just sat there whispering an occasional “Help!” He had no hope, but about every 15 minutes he could still hear the sound from the sea. Before it had scared him, but now he saw that whoever was making it was a friend, and a very wise friend. The sound had come as a warning of danger, just as it had so many times before.
“Hey penguin, come on down!” snorted the peccary. “We’ll make it quick. Then you won’t be hot and hungry anymore. And I won’t be hungry anymore, either. Ha ha ha!”
Just then Hopper heard a buzzing sound in the trees, and a little voice saying, “Hey piggy-wiggy! Hey, piggy-wig!”
The head peccary bolted in the direction of the voice, yelling, “Who said that?” In the process he knocked over a few of the other peccaries who squealed and snorted.
Then the voice was in the trees in the opposite direction, “Hey, piggy-wiggy! Hey, piggy-wig!”
The peccary was furious. “I hate it when they call me that!” he fumed. He charged through the herd, knocking over more of them. Then the voice came from a different direction. He kept following it, knocking over more peccaries. This went on for a while, and now all the peccaries were fighting mad and began attacking each other. Then the voice came from deeper in the trees, and the leader followed it, yelling threats.
While the peccaries struggled with each other, Hopper saw a chance to escape. No one seemed to be watching him anymore. He made his way back down and hopped as fast as he could in the direction from which he’d come. He wove around fighting peccaries who didn’t notice him. The leader had gone in the opposite direction.
Hopper left them squealing and snorting. Soon he was to the hot springs. He headed for the sound of the waterfall. Then he heard an angry voice, “Where’s my penguin, you fools!”
Another answered, “I thought he was up on that big rock.”
“No, he’s not there. You let him get away while you were goofing off. I leave for a few minutes, and he’s gone. Do I have to do everything myself?”
“Well, he’s your meal, isn’t he?”
“You don’t talk to me that way! After I catch that penguin and have a full stomach I’ll be back to take care of you!”
Then Hopper could hear hooves on the ground, charging in his direction. Behind them he could still hear the snorting and squealing continuing. The head peccary was on his trail! Hopper hopped with all his might for the waterfall. The hooves were getting nearer. “Help!” he said. Then he heard a rumble and a spray, and then a squeal and a snort, “Arrrr! That’s hot! How many times have I passed that geyser? Arrrr!”
Hopper made it to the stream and dove in. He swam underwater and came up under the waterfall, where he couldn’t be seen, just as the peccary charged up to the stream bank.
“All right, I know you’re here somewhere, you little birdie-beaked, flipper-winged penguin! You can’t get away from me. I’m the head peccary! One call from me and I’ll have you cut off from going downstream. All my peccaries are just waiting for the word! You can’t get away. You might as well come out of there now. The only place you could be is under that waterfall. I suppose you’re hoping I’ll start chasing some voice again. Ha! I could tell it was a trick as soon as I’d gone into the trees. You were throwing your voice! You won’t fool me again! And when I catch you, you’ll wish you’d never called me a piggy-wig!”
Just then a buzzy voice right behind the peccary said, “Hey, piggy-wiggy! Hey, piggy-wig!”
The peccary quickly turned around, saying, “Arrr. I hate that. You’d better stop that, penguin!” Then the voice came from directly above him. He looked up and saw a little bird.
“Arrrr! You’re just a little bird!”
“Hummer!” thought Hopper.
The peccary shouted, “You come down here a little closer and say that, little fellow!”
“Okay,” said Hummer, who then descended to within a foot of the peccary’s snout, looked him in the eye and said again, “Hey, piggy-wiggy! Hey piggy-wig!”
The peccary furiously lunged at Hummer, who easily flitted away, causing the peccary to fall into the stream. He thrashed around in a rage, splashing water all over. Then he came out, shook himself off, and looked for Hummer.
“Here I am, piggy-wig!”
The peccary charged after the voice away from the stream, into the woods. Hummer hovered in the air above a familiar spot, calling his taunt at the piggy-wig who continued his charge. He aimed his tusks at the little bird and lunged again. Once again Hummer removed himself quickly and easily at the last moment, leaving the peccary flying over the ground and landing just as the geyser erupted, hitting him square in the chest. The force of the eruption bowled him over, causing him to roll a few times. He ended up stuck in the mud by a hot spring. “Arrr!” he said. “Hey, you idiots! Quit playing around and come get me out of here!”
Hummer found Hopper heading downstream, and Hopper said, “Hey Hummer, my good friend. I must thank you again for your help. I was a goner, for sure. How did you get here?”
Hummer answered, “Not far from here is where I come for the winter. When I heard the call for help, it was my pleasure to come.
“The peccary won’t be able to bother you for awhile, but I’d suggest that you move on from here soon. He may be able to get more peccaries after you when he gets out of the mud, and he’s not in a very good mood.”
Hopper said, “Speaking of the call for help, what was that…”
Hummer continued, “Peccaries aren’t the smartest creatures in the world, but they are fearless and mean. They even attack people sometimes.”
They arrived at Hopper’s waiting place, and he said, “I wonder when Quack will get here. Oh, you haven’t met him yet, have you? He’s been my friend and companion since the Galapagos.”
“I heard he’s quite the duck,” said Hummer. “I’m glad you’ve had some company. Two are better than one, you know.”
“Where did you hear about him?”
“Well, speaking of two, I’d better get back to Hummeressa. It sure has been great seeing you, Hopper.”
“Do you have to go so soon?” called Hopper as Hummer flitted away. “Thanks again for the help!”
“I hope to see you again on less dangerous terms!” called back Hummer, and he was gone.
Hopper’s stomach told him to get some food. He dove into the ocean and ate some fish. He didn’t hear the sound, and he returned to his headquarters.
In the mid-afternoon Quack returned and found Hopper sitting there. “Hey-ho!” he called. “Well, this wasn’t the place for me. I think we’ve got to head north a ways still. Looks like not much excitement here, ay?”
“Not much,” said Hopper. “In fact this place is so dull, I vote that we exit here immediately.”
The sound of many hooves thudding on the forest floor approached rapidly on both sides of the stream.
“What’s that?” asked Quack.
“Peccaries,” said Hopper.
“Peccaries?”
“Peccaries.”
“What are peccaries? How do you know what they are?”
“In a few minutes you’ll see for yourself what they are, but I suggest we head for the water.”
Quack flew over Hopper as he swam downstream. Now they were at the place where the stream crossed the beach. The peccaries, hundreds of them, thundered across the black sand, snorting with anger.
“Have a good day!” shouted Hopper as he dove into the ocean.
“I think you fellows have had some sort of misunderstanding with my friend?” called down Quack.
“Ha! That penguin is your friend?” answered the head peccary. “Whoever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends?”

 

 

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 18

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

To read from the beginning click here.

 

Chapter 18

New Friends

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

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 17

I forgot to post for a few weeks here. Anyway, Fly Like a Penguin continues with the story of Hopper and his newfound best friend, Quack the duck.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 17

Out of the Pit

Loud taunts and threats began coming from the hawks every day. Hawrk said, “There’s no way out of this place, you poor excuses for birds! You can’t even fly! You might as well give up now! We’ll get you in the end anyhow!”
And Hank added, “Whoever heard of a penguin and a duck being friends? I’ll tell you what I’ll do, penguin—if you give me the duck, I’ll let you go free. Or you, duck—give me the penguin and I’ll let you go!”
Hawrk said he’d do the same, and they both flew over the lake, yelling out similar things, trying to demoralize Hopper and Quack. Each one of them hoped he’d be the one to get the penguin and the duck. As for Hopper and Quack, even though they had plenty to eat and were enjoying each other’s company, they didn’t like the feeling of being trapped, prisoners in this crater that could never be their home.
Finally the time came for them to put their plan into action. Once again they called out for help. They agreed that as soon as it was dark they would begin the ascent up the hill. They had spotted what looked like a good route up to the northeastern rim of the crater. The drawback to it was that it led right through Hawrk’s territory. They hoped they could sneak by him in the dark.
This morning Hopper went fishing a little longer than usual. After breakfast he swam around for a while, acting like he wasn’t watching the skies. Suddenly he heard, “Aha, penguin!”
Just before the talons grabbed him, Hopper was under water. He had been ready for the attack. He swam over to where some rocks poked out of the water and surfaced. Then he called out, “Hey, Hank, my old friend, does your offer still stand?” If I deliver the duck to you, will you let me go?”
“Why, of course, penguin. But I thought that duck was your friend.”
“If he was, what good would it be if I was dead? Like you say, you’re going to get us in the end anyway. But really, how can a penguin and a duck be friends? As for you, Hank, you were a pretty nice fellow for someone who was planning to eat me. I’d be glad to give you a good meal in exchange for my freedom. But that Hawrk, on the other hand, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could sink him. He’d steal a meal from his mother.”
“You’re right about that, penguin. So anyway, how do you propose to deliver the duck to me?”
“Well, Hank, we’ve planned an escape after it gets dark tonight. I figure we could make it up to the rim in the dark, but we’d never make it down the other side without you hawks seeing us. So how about if I meet you half way down the other side just after dawn. The duck will be yours, and I’ll head for the sea.”
“Sounds good, penguin. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Hank flew off, and Hopper swam back to his shelter.
The rest of the day passed slowly, and Hopper and Quack were fairly quiet. In the late afternoon Quack said, “What if our plan doesn’t work?”
“Well,” said Hopper, “we have to try. We don’t belong down here. All we can do is commit it to our maker, and if it’s our time to be someone else’s food, that’s what’s best.”
At dark they said one last, “Help!” and quietly slipped into the water. They swam most of the way under water to the other side of the lake in order to be quieter. On the shore they found their route up the hill, picking their way around and over large boulders. Quack had to risk using his wing and possibly re-injuring it as he jumped up on the boulders. He wasn’t able to hop like the penguin. It was very difficult, but as they went up the rocks gradually grew smaller.
As they neared the top they could see the sky beginning to glow slightly. “We’d better hurry,” they said. They made it over the top still in darkness. Then Hopper hopped downhill around and over rocks and boulders while Quack almost flew. Soon the light grew, and dawn broke out as they were about halfway down the mountain. Hopper said, “We’d better rest here awhile and keep a lookout for those hawks.” They found a shelter in the rocks where they sat down to rest with their eyes watching the skies.
Soon a dark figure appeared overhead and quickly descended. It was Hank, who landed in front of them on a little pinnacle. “Aha, penguin, you little traitor, I see you brought my duck!”
Hopper said, “Hi, Hank. Yeah, here he is, but I think you can have me instead…”
Quack nudged Hopper, saying, “Hey, what is this, Hop? You can’t do that…”
Hopper brushed him back with his wing, saying, “I’ll be all right.” Then to Hank he said, “I figured you probably have ducks all the time. You’ve probably never had Rockhopper penguin. I’ve known some seals who would love to have me for a good meal.”
“All right, all right, enough talk! Let’s get going, you foolish penguin!”
So Hopper slowly walked out of the shelter with the duck trying to stop him. Then as Hank leapt off the pinnacle to grab Hopper, a voice sounded from above, “Ar-har! Let go of my penguin, you thieving scoundrel!”
“Your penguin! Hawrk, you are the thieving-scoundreliest poor excuse for a hawk I’ve ever known! Penguin here and I worked out a deal. He’s mine!”
“Well, no deal is valid in my territory! Whatever comes through here is mine!”
“Not if I catch him first! Then he’s mine!”
And so the argument continued for an amazing length of time, each hawk dreaming up reasons why Hopper should be his. What they didn’t realize was that their penguin was no longer there, nor was the duck. They were far down the mountain, heading for the sea.
As the sound of the argument grew fainter and fainter, Hopper and Quack found themselves diving into the nice, cool, refreshing salt water. They laughed and frolicked in the waves and dove under for some good salt-water fish. Hopper even found some krill, which he hadn’t had for what seemed like years.
When they had eaten enough, they rested on the surface with their eyes on the skies in case the hawks decided to come after them. “That was a noble thing you did up there,” said Quack.
Hopper replied, “Well, I figured the only sure-fire way to escape was for them to start arguing over the same meal. I was almost certain they would. After all, we were going right through Hawrk’s territory, and I didn’t think he’d let anyone else take a meal from there, especially Hank. So it wasn’t really that much of a risk. But for now, let’s go find my home. You can stay with me as long as you like.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 16

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

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 16

 

A Penguin and a Duck

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 15

Hopper’s search for the Galapagos penguin colony is interrupted by a hawk who intends to invite him to lunch with his hungry family.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 15

 

Fernandina Island

 

His heart was sinking lower and lower, just as he descended lower and lower toward the bay below him. “Why am I here if this isn’t my home?” he wondered. He thought about his journey and all the friends he’d met on the way—Del and Delphina, Hummer and Hummeressa, and Magellee and her family. And he thought of Emily and Emmett, and now Galoppy. They knew where they were supposed to go. “Why not me?” He looked up and said, “Help!”

He had a faint reassurance that all would be well. “Thank you,” he said.

Far above him a dark shape was circling, lower and lower. Hopper didn’t see it because he was looking down at the bay below him and wondering how he would swim that last little way without being caught by seals. Suddenly a shadow was on the ground in front of him and talons dug into his shoulders.

“Aha!” said the hawk as it lifted him off the ground. “Up we go, penguin! Want to see what flying is like? Ha ha!”

Hopper replied, “Well, I’d rather not. Maybe you’d like to do some swimming with me?”

“Not much chance of that, little flipper wings! Nope, no more swimming for you. No more fishing. You see, now I’ve caught you. You’re coming home with me—for lunch! Ha ha ha!”

Hopper was thinking, “Seems I’ve heard that one before.” In the meantime they were climbing up and up above the island and then over the bay, across the bay, and over Fernandina Island.

If it weren’t for the pain in his shoulders and the undesirable circumstances he was in, he would have thought this was a wonderful view. To the north he could see the strait where Galoppy said the penguins lived. The hawk was heading toward the crater of a volcanic mountain, and inside the crater was a lake. Soon the hawk, whose name was Hank, descended, saying, “Here we are!” as he landed on a pinnacle just inside the rim of the crater.

“Is this your home?” asked Hopper.

“No, this is my lookout. I can see the whole inside of the crater from here. I thought you might like to see it before we have our lunch together. Ha ha. Actually, you’re a bigger catch than I’m used to. My family’s nest is still quite a ways away. I’m going to get my mate and youngster and bring them here to join us for lunch. You might notice that it’s a long way down from my lookout.”

Hopper looked at the barren expanse below him. It was a long way down. The crater sloped away from him and eventually came to the dark blue lake. Behind him the pinnacle dropped 100 feet to a point not far below the rim of the crater.

“Yeah, that is a long way down,” admitted Hopper to Hank. “I think I’d rather be eaten by a family of hungry hawks than be dashed to pieces on the rocks way down there,” he said, but actually he was forming a plan in his mind.

“Yeah, that’s the attitude, my little flipper friend. Too bad you can’t swim up here, eh? Ha ha! I’ll be back shortly with my hungry family. Ha ha!” Hank soared off the pinnacle and over the lake.

Hopper watched him grow smaller and sighed another weak, “Help!” His shoulders were sore. He was thousands of miles from home in a hot and barren land. He’d had nothing to eat for a few days. He was getting to the point of being too weak to go on. He had to get back to water or he would die. “Help, please!” he said.

He knew he needed to find a way down from the pinnacle. Hank had obviously never met a Rockhopper before. On one side of the tower was a possible route down. He’d have to be very careful. If he misjudged it, he might end up being dashed to pieces on the rocks far below. But he had to try it. It would be better than being lunch for a family of hungry hawks.

The first step looked like the hardest. He had to hop down about ten feet to a narrow ridge of rock and then follow that ridge down to a place just below the rim of the crater.

“Well, here goes!” he almost shouted and hopped down, landing with a jolt on the ridge. He bounced over the edge that overlooked a great drop into the crater. “Well, here I go-o-o-o-o-o!” he thought as his claws and his beak were grabbing for a hold. He found a claw hold, and then he grabbed on with his beak. For a few minutes he stayed there shaking. Then looking around him, he clambered back up on to the ridge. From there it was fairly easy going to the bottom of the pinnacle, but he was very sore, tired, thirsty, and hungry.

He needed to get to water. There was the lake far below him. Probably even farther away was the sea he was used to, but it was just a little ways to the top of the crater. Then it would all be downhill to the strait where the penguins lived. “Home?” he wondered, and that made up his mind. Up he climbed to the crater’s rim. It was a struggle, but before long he was there, and there it was—the sea! Actually, it was a narrow strait, and beyond it was the island he was on not long ago.

A lazy iguana, basking in the sun, observed, “You don’t belong up here, penguin.”

“You’re right about that, sir. Excuse me, but do you know where I could get some water?”

“Down there,” said the iguana, looking at the sea, and then facing the lake he continued, “or down there.” Then he slowly slunk under a pile of rocks.

Instantly Hopper felt the pain in his shoulders again, and the voice, “Ar-har!”

Hopper’s heart sank lower and he asked, “Is that you, Hank?”

“Hank? Did you say, ‘Hank?’ Don’t even mention that thieving rascal’s name in my presence! I’m Hawrk, and I’m hungrier than Hank. Well, here we go, penguin—home to my hungry hawrklings!”

Hawrk flew over the lake, more toward the north than Hank had flown. Hopper, looking toward Hank’s home, saw three spots getting bigger.

“Here he comes now!” said Hawrk. “I’d better fly lower and hope he doesn’t see me. Otherwise he’ll come and try to steal you. He always was a thief.”

Hopper could see Hank and his family heading for the pinnacle. Then when he was still a good distance away—hawks have great eyesight—Hopper heard a screech of rage that echoed throughout the crater.

Hawrk dove lower toward the lake, and Hank dove toward him. His mate and child followed more slowly. Hank was screaming, “Hawrk! You no-good, thieving rascal! Steal my lunch right off my own pinnacle, will you? We’ll see whose lunch it is!”

Hawrk and Hopper were flying faster than Hopper could imagine, but Hank was rapidly closing on them. Hawrk and Hank threw insults back and forth as the two thieving rascals flew toward the north over the lake, not far above the surface of the water. Hank’s talons were about to grab Hawrk’s neck when Hawrk saw it was time to drop his load in order to defend himself.

Hopper splashed into the lake. It was warm, and it smelled of sulfur, but it was wet, and he was immediately relieved, except for the pain in his shoulders. He dove deep down. It was great to be in water again, even if it wasn’t the nice, cold, salty ocean. Finally he was able to be relieved of his great thirst.

To his surprise he found fish in the lake. “How did these guys get here?” he wondered, as he ate his fill.

When he poked his head out of the water again, he could see and hear the hawks squabbling far above the lake. They had apparently forgotten about him, at least for now.

“Thank you,” said Hopper. “Thank you for the water and the food, and for keeping me from being someone else’s food.”

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 14

Hopper continues to look for penguins at the Galapagos Islands, hoping this may be his home. He finds a friend in an old tortoise.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 14

 

Isabella Island

 

The day was late as Hopper approached the shore of Isabella Island. Remembering the turtle’s warning about seals and sea lions, he swam cautiously, not wanting to be spotted by any. He wasn’t sure if they would have connections with those who were after him, but even if they didn’t, they would probably want to make a meal out of him.

Hopper’s plan was to cross the island by scaling the mountain instead of swimming around. The main problem was that it was so hot here compared to what he was used to. The water was cool enough, but the air was getting very hot. After all, the Galapagos Islands are right on the equator. He wasn’t sure if he could last long out of the water. “But I need to get used to it here,” he thought as he surveyed the shore for a good spot to land.

The rocky island grew to a great height above him. The peak called Sierra Negra towered over him. He decided he would traverse the northern side of the peak. He found a spot on the black lava beach where it looked safe to come ashore. No seals were in sight. A few colorful marine iguanas on the rocks watched him with little apparent interest as they sunned themselves with the last rays of the setting sun.

Hopper wasn’t sure if he should talk to them, but he decided to ask them how far it was to penguin territory.

“Aren’t you a penguin?” replied one, somewhat haughtily. “Why do you ask me about such unimportant matters? I am not a penguin, obviously. I am a marine iguana.”

Hopper considered responding, “Pardon me, O magnificent sir, for intruding on the greatness of your presence.” He thought better of it and said nothing, but began his uphill climb.

After climbing a few hours with great difficulty, he found it hard to see where he was going in the, so he crawled under an overhanging rock and fell asleep.

The next morning as he woke with the gradually lightening sky, he could tell the heat would be hard for him to handle. It seemed to rob him of his strength. He looked up at the mountain and still couldn’t see the top of his climb. “I’m so close to home. I’ve got to make it.” He looked up and said, “Help,” as he trudged up and up, slower and slower. He was hungry and thirsty and hot, very hot. “I’ve got to make it,” he repeated.

Then he heard a voice, “You’re new around here, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” replied Hopper, looking around for the source of the voice.

“I’m over here,” said the voice. Then he saw him, a great tortoise whose shell blended into the surrounding rocks, making him hard to see.

Hopper was glad to hear a friendly voice and hopped over to the tortoise, who said, “What are you, a penguin?”

Hopper said, “Yes, a Rockhopper penguin. My name is Hopper. What’s yours?”

“I,” said the tortoise, “am Galoppy, a descendant of the great tortoises after whom these islands are named.” Galapagos means “tortoises” in Spanish.

“It’s nice to meet you,” said Hopper, “and a great honor.”

It’s important to note at this point the state of Hopper’s mind concerning where he was and the place he was trying to reach. He knew from the beginning he was supposed to find the Falkland Islands, and that he needed to go north to get there. He had gone much farther than he had expected, and this put doubts in his mind, but they weren’t able to let themselves be heard completely. Galoppy’s last statement about the islands being named after the tortoises was baffling to him, and he was trying to figure out how it fit in with the Falkland Islands when his thoughts were interrupted by the tortoise continuing their conversation.

Galoppy said, “Well, the obvious question is, ‘What is a penguin (such as you) doing up here on a mountain such as this?’ I’ve seen a few penguins in my day, but never known one to climb up here.”

“I’ve heard that penguins live on the other side of this island, and I think they might be the family I’m looking for.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier for you to swim around the island?”

“Yes, it would be much easier, but there are seals in these waters, and for some reason all the seals are after me! Up here they can’t get me. But can you tell me—are there penguins living near here?”

“Yes, indeed, especially on the northwest side of this island and on the next island, Fernandina. They’re little fellows and a friendly sort, but I don’t spend a lot of time down by the ocean. I like it better up here.”

Hopper’s excitement grew within him again, and he asked, “Could you tell me the best way to get there?”

Galoppy answered, “This country is pretty rough to travel, even for us tortoises. I think I’d better show you the way until it’s easier going. Follow me.”

Having a friend and the hope that his journey was nearly over helped our penguin a great deal. It was still hot, and the way was rough, but he plugged along behind his steady companion. Along the way Hopper was able to tell him about his adventures and why he was traveling the way he was. He found out a lot about the tortoise also. He was quite old and very wise.

Galoppy had talked to many different birds as well as swimming animals in his lifetime, and had learned about many different things, although he had never been off this island. He was content to stay here. He was never bored or impatient.

“Some folks are always in a hurry,” he said, “and they don’t live so long either.”

Aside from the discomforts of his situation, Hopper had an enjoyable day. As it began to grow dark, they came upon some puddles that had been left by a recent rain. Hopper was glad to see some water.

Galoppy said, “We’ll spend the night here. Tomorrow we’ll be out of this rough terrain, and you’ll be able to see the way to the territory of the penguins.”

The next morning they resumed their journey in silence. Galoppy seemed deep in thought and didn’t talk as he had the day before. In a few hours they rounded a ridge, and before them was the sea, actually below them and still a good day’s journey away.

“That’s Elizabeth Bay below us,” said Galoppy, “and in the distance is Fernandina Island. The penguins live along the strait between these two islands, to the northwest of us about 40 miles. Once you reach the water it will be an easy swim for you, but you must look out for the seals. I doubt if any of them know about you yet, but they would still like to have you for dinner.

“I will be leaving you soon. You won’t need me the rest of the way, but I have some things to say before I go. I didn’t want to say this at first, because I didn’t want to dampen your enthusiasm, and I wasn’t really sure, but now I’m quite certain your family members aren’t Galapagos penguins. You are not a big penguin, but you are quite a bit bigger than the penguins here. They don’t have the yellow plumage you have…”

Hopper’s yellow plumage bristled, and he blurted out, “This has to be my home! Where else can I go?”

“Well,” said Galoppy, “the Galapagos penguins are very kind and hospitable. I’m sure they would accept you as a friend and as one of their own. But concerning where your true family is, I have a guess as to where that may be, and how you missed getting there. You told me of a storm at the beginning of your trip. That storm, I suspect, blew you completely off course, and the many islands at the southern tip of South America confused you. You continued north, but you were too far to the west. Instead of being on the east side of the South American continent, you ended up on the west. You are now about 4500 miles from your home.”

“Forty-five hundred miles? How can I ever get there? Is it possible you’re wrong? Maybe I am a Galapagos penguin.”

“There is only one who is never wrong, my friend, and I am not that one. But remember it’s the Falkland Islands that you’re trying to find, and these are the Galapagos, and you are a Rockhopper. But don’t worry about how long it will take to get back there if you decide to go. Things take as long as they take. There is a plan. Even in your navigational error there is a plan. I suspect it wasn’t really an error.

“Hopper, my friend, I’ve enjoyed your company, and you have added something to my life. Now I’m being called elsewhere, so I must go. You will be in good hands. Goodbye, my penguin friend.”

Hopper knew it was no use arguing with the tortoise if he was being called elsewhere, so he said, “Goodbye, Galoppy, and thank you.”

The tortoise slowly moved out of sight, and Hopper began his descent toward the bay.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 13

 

Hopper’s adventure brings him to the Galapagos Islands, which becomes an important stop on the way.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 13

 

Galapagos

 

Spotting islands in the distance many days later, Hopper once again had his hopes raised. Perhaps he was home!

He swam quickly for shore and hopped out on the beach. By this time he wasn’t as eager to shout his arrival, having been disappointed so many times. He would look around first before being convinced it was home. He also knew he was better off staying out of sight of any seals or sea lions. The seals he had tricked might find out there were no foxes on that island, and the search to the north would continue stronger than ever.

He went cautiously along the beach, hoping to see a penguin colony. A huge sea turtle was making her way over the sand toward the water. Hopper approached her, saying, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you know if any penguins live on these islands?”

“Well, little fellow,” she began, “I’ve been stopping by these islands for nigh on 99 years, and I’ve never known a Galapagos penguin to be bold enough to look me in the face. ‘Course you seem to be a might bigger than the average penguin on these islands, a might bigger.”

“You mean there are penguins here, then!” Hopper interjected.

“Well, my boy, you’re one, aren’t you, little penguin?”

“Yes, ma’am, I sure am. Can you tell me where I might find them?”

“Well, Sonny, what’d you say your name was, your name?”

“Hopper.”

“Well, Sonny, my boy, Hopper (that’s a fine name), little fellow, the penguins don’t live on this island. If you were to cross this island and look to the northwest, you’d see another island, a big island. That’s where they are, on the far side of it, northwest side. But you don’t want to cross this island, not this one. Dogs live here, wild dogs. Cats too, house cats. You’d never make it to the other side, never make it.”

Hopper said, “Then I’ll swim around!”

“Well, there are sea lions and fur seals you’ll meet before you ever see penguins. You’ll never make it, never make it.”

“There must be a way. I’ve got to get to my family!” insisted Hopper.

“Well, my boy, I wouldn’t count on it. You don’t have a hard shell as you see I have, a big hard shell. That’s why I’m nigh on 99 years old, ninety-nine. Good luck, Hooper, my boy. Oh, and watch out for the rats, big ugly rats.” The turtle slowly continued her trek across the sand into the water, and she was gone.

“This is not too encouraging,” mused Hopper as he gazed after her, “but I’ve got to get to that big island. A few dogs and cats and seals and rats aren’t going to keep me from my family.”

Just then a rat ran by him on the beach, and it was being stalked by a cat. From around the bend a dog came barking wildly at the cat, who bristled and climbed up a nearby rock, leaving the dog leaping vainly up at her with a slobbering mouth.

“Look at yourself, you nincompoop,” said the cat. “Jumping around and making all that noise. You scared away my rat.”

“Yeah, yuh yuh yeah. Well, well, well a guy’s gotta catch himself an honest meal, you know what I mean, heh heh heh.”

The cat put her mouth behind a paw and whispered to the dog out of the corner of her mouth, “Don’t look now, but look at yonder honest meal. I do believe that’s a bird of some kind. I like birds.”

The dog spun around exclaiming, “Yeah yuh yuh yeah, so do I yigh yarf, yarf, yarf!” and off toward Hopper he dashed.

Hopper took this as signal to abandon this island. He dove into the water and swam westward around the island. A few hours later he arrived at the west side where he could look to the northwest and see a big island, perhaps 45 miles away. It appeared to be a mountain rising high above the sea. His heart and his thoughts were racing as he sped toward the mountain. It was an island. It was high. Therefore, it must have rocks to climb. Penguins lived there. This must be home. If it wasn’t, he doubted that he had a home.

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 12

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Danger continues to follow Hopper, and now he finds the whole Pacific Ocean against him.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 12

 

A Wanted Penguin

 

I hope I don’t meet any more sharks,” said Hopper as he floated along with the current the next day. Then he heard a buzzing noise that seemed familiar to him, followed by a familiar buzzy voice saying, “Hopper, my friend!”

“Hummer! How are you, and how is Hummeressa?”

“All is well for both of us. She has made a complete recovery. But I have something else I must tell you. I can’t stay out here long. Hummeressa and I were flying north up the coast, and yesterday we flew by the island of fur seals. We go by there often, but yesterday the seals seemed to be all worked up about something, so we flew down to see what it was. We heard them talking about you. They were furious that you had eluded them on two occasions. They’ve put a reward on your head and sent messages along the coast to all the seals and sea lions. Whoever catches you and brings you back to Seep will be treated like a king and given a year’s supply of fish. You must stay away from the coast, and even out here you must keep alert for them.”

“Have you seen my friends?”

“Yes, they’re a ways ahead of you. I told them you were okay. I’m sorry for the disappointment you had there. I didn’t realize they weren’t the family you were looking for. My advice to you is to go with the current to a group of islands you will find in about three weeks if you don’t stop somewhere along the way. The seals will expect you to return to the coast to your friends, and I think you would be trapped.”

Hopper said, “But they told me there was another kind of penguin along the coast not far from here. Perhaps that is where my family is.”

“No, Hopper. I’ve seen that penguin, the Peruvian penguin. He doesn’t look like you, but on those islands (and remember, you are looking for an island), I’ve heard there is yet another kind of penguin. Perhaps he is the one you’re looking for.”

“Then I’ll go there. Thank you, my good friend.”

“I will always be grateful to you, Hopper, for saving Hummeressa’s life. I must return to her now. Farewell!”

“Goodbye, Hummer!”

After Hummer left, Hopper felt very alone. He’d been separated from his friends, and now his life would be in continual danger. He knew he couldn’t trust seals anyway, but now they were looking specifically for him, not just any old penguin.

Hopper looked toward the coast. In that direction were his friends. Also in that direction somewhere, perhaps anywhere, were those who wanted to hurt him. He could see neither. The Andes Mountains towered above him, seeming to rise straight out of the sea.

“Why me?” he asked. “I didn’t intend them any harm.” The mountains didn’t answer, but they increased his feeling of being small and alone.

So on he swam to the north toward some unknown islands where there might possibly be penguins, and even less probably his family.

Several days later he was 1000 miles to the north. He noticed the air was getting warmer, but the water was still cold as he traveled in the current. The cold was more to his liking. He wondered how much farther he had to go. He was lonely. He had no one to talk to. He missed Magellee. He missed Hummer. He missed Emily and Emmett. Would he ever have a home and friends who would always be his friends?

His thoughts were interrupted by that sound again, once again nearer. “What is that?” he thought. “Last time I heard it was when the shark was after me. Could the shark be back?”

He swam a little faster, even though he realized it probably wouldn’t do any good. A shark is much faster, and there’s no place to hide out here in the ocean. You just have to hope one doesn’t catch sight or scent of you.

He decided to swim under water for a while to see if he could see or hear what was there. The eerie sound grew slowly louder, but he could see nothing. He couldn’t really tell if it was ahead or behind him.

He returned to porpoising, nearly at top speed, and then he checked under water again. The sound grew nearer. “Help!” he said.

Porpoising again, he saw what he thought was an island ahead and a little to the west. “I’d better head there,” he said. “This couldn’t be the one Hummer was talking about, could it?”

In a half hour the island was near, and he could see it was part of a small group of islands. The near one rose quite a ways out of the water, apparently formed by volcanic activity. Could this be home? There was no time to think about it. The sound grew nearer and nearer.

He swam with all his might and made it to shore, hopped onto the sandy beach and said, “Whew, I made it!”

Just then a long tentacle arm with huge round suction cups on it snaked out of the sea and wrapped around Hopper before he had a chance to look up and say, “Thank you!”

Instead he said, “Hellllp!” as the thing pulled him back into the water. It was a squid, a giant squid. He knew that, although he couldn’t see much of it besides this long tentacle that held him. He was helpless against it.

Then there was a disturbance in the water. Something happened to the squid, and it let him go! He was sent flying into the air, turning over and over again before he landed in the water a few feet from shore.

He couldn’t tell what happened, but he caught a glimpse of the squid’s brownish body, and also something blue as he was hurtling through the air. Then as he hit the water he heard a tremendous slapping sound on the water where he had seen the squid. Then all was quiet.

Hopper hurried out of the water and away from the reach of any tentacles. “Whew, thank you again,” he said, looking above. “I’ve heard of giant squid, but I wasn’t sure if they were real or just legends. But who, besides you, knows what dwells in the depths of the seas?”

Hopper wasn’t too anxious to get back into the water, so he decided to walk along the beach for a while. He turned to the right and hopped along a sandy beach that was bordered by some low rocky hills. Beyond them were higher hills.

After about a half hour he put his head in the water to listen for any sign of danger. He heard the sound, seemingly farther away than when the squid grabbed him. “Better not get in now,” he said as he continued down the beach.

Ahead of him was a ridge of rock that jutted toward the water, nearly cutting off his route along the sandy beach. As he was going around it he heard water splashing, and then he heard voices. He recognized them immediately as seal voices.  He stopped short, hoping they wouldn’t see him. From their conversation he could tell that they hadn’t yet.

“Ah, this looks like a good place to rest,” one was saying. Hopper heard them flop down on the beach with a sigh.

Another voice said, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having that reward. Can you imagine just sitting back on the beach while they bring me my meals every day for a year?”

“That would be nice, all right. But we’d better remember what we’re out here for. It’s not too likely we’ll find that little penguin, but Seep wants him, and he doesn’t care who brings him in. Our pay is pretty good just for running this errand.”

Hopper’s heart was racing. He knew they were talking about him. These seals had gotten here from Seal Island just after him, and now were seeking to spread the news about the reward, as Hummer had told him.

Hopper knew he had to keep from being seen, but he wanted to know what these seals were up to. He peeked around the corner. There they were, lounging on the sand, ten yards away, in the shade of the rocks.

“One of the seagulls who watch the Magellanic penguins for us told us this Hopper fellow was heading north. Apparently he’s a Rockhopper penguin who got separated from his family and is hoping to find them again. Seep is willing to pay a lot to make sure that never happens.”

Hopper’s heart was dropping lower by the second. All he wanted was to find his home, and now the whole world was against him. He decided to go inland to escape the seals’ notice. Keeping the rock ridge between him and the seals, he began climbing toward the center of the island. He could still hear them fantasizing about the life of luxury.

Suddenly an idea occurred to him. He needed to go north, but the seals were heading that way also. He must find a way to make them think he was heading another direction. How could he do that without being caught?

He crept around to a point right above the seals and hid behind a rock. One of them said, “Well, I guess we’ve rested here long enough. Better get back to our mission. Back to the water and north to the Galapagos!”

As they started pulling themselves toward the water, they heard a voice calling from the hill, “Wait, not so fast, my fine friends! Why don’t you stay and have a good meal with me before your long journey. You need a little sustenance to help you on your way.”

The seals stopped, and the younger one said, “Say, that sounds like a good idea.”

The other nudged him, saying, “Shh. Let me handle this. It’s a fox.” And to the voice he said, “That is mighty kind of you, sir, but we have an important errand to run, and we’ve delayed too long already. Er, by the way, have you seen a little penguin named Hopper pass by this way?”

“Why, sure, my fine friend. He too was a good friend of mine and had a nice meal with me. Then I sent him on his way to the coast of Peru where he said his family lived.”

The seals looked at each other, each knowing what the other was thinking, and said together, “Peru, or a nice meal!”

The older one said, “We’ve got to get back to Seep about this!”

The seals dragged themselves quickly back to the water and headed south.

Soon Hopper was able to return to the beach, continuing his walk along the shore to the other side of the island. Then he listened again in the water. Not hearing the ominous sound, he dove in and resumed his northward journey.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 11

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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

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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!”