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 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.