Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 31

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

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 31

A Reunion

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

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 8

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

To read from the beginning, go here.

 

Chapter 8

 

A New Friend

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Enemies?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where do they live?”

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

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

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

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

Hopper called out, “Help!”

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

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

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

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

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

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