Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 7

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

To read from the beginning, go here.

Chapter 7

 

Drifting North

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 6

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

To read from the beginning, go here.

 

Chapter 6

 

The Sound and the Storm

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Del!” said the first voice.

“I’m Delphina!” said the second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 5

 

 

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

Chapter 5

 

Heading for Home

 

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

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

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

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

“No, not really,” replied Emmett.

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

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

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

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

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

“Can’t you come with me?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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