The Penguin Princess
By Karl Egbert
The Penguin Princess
“Tell us the story Grandpa Shackleton”, pleaded the little penguins.
“And which story would you like me to tell?” responded the wise, old penguin.
“Oh come on Grandpa Shackleton, you know what story we want, the legend of ‘Enyal’—the penguin princess.” shouted the little penguins.
“Very well,” said the old penguin softly, “gather around close to hear the tale of long ago.”
“It all started in the springtime many, many seasons ago. As all of you know our home of Antarctica is a frozen land covered with ice and snow. In the springtime, when the weather gets warmer and the sun shines almost all day and all night, the mighty ice bergs and glaciers melt down to allow others to visit our lonely home.
That is what happened that spring when the explorer the humans called “Inneje” came to Antarctica. He was a kind man who came to study us penguins, as well as the whales, seals, and birds that live here with us on this land. That was the same year that our king and queen penguins, Chim and Naivive hatched our great ancestor, Enyal.
Inneje came with cameras and books to observe and live with us that year, he would sit for endless hours, writing and drawing as we would build our nests, hatch our eggs, fish for food, and soak in the sun.
Then for many days he would disappear to observe the whales or the seals, but always he would return to us as a friend. The penguins came to know and trust this man named Inneje. The bond became so close that year that the penguins began to accept food from him, and in return the penguins would leave fish for him along the cold beaches.
It was on one of those cold summer mornings when the young Enyal went out to explore her own world, she would often go out alone upon the great ice cliffs to sing because she loved the beautiful echoes that her voice made through the vast caverns of ice. As she waddled along that fateful morning, the ice cliff gave way and sent her crashing down to the rocky beach below.
As she lay there unconscious with the waves beating upon her poor battered body, the lion seals caught wind of the injured princess. The lion seals began to approach the helpless princess as a easy meal of penguin. It was at this moment that Inneje noticed the injured penguin, he raced down the beach to save her from certain doom of the lion seals. The penguins noticed as Inneje returned from the beach that he carried their princess in his gentle hands.
He took her into his small hut by his boat. There Enyal spent many days, as the other penguins stood an endless watch.
As the days passed, Enyal began to grow in strength, but also the summer slipped away at record pace. The day assigned for the explorer to leave our home came and went as he patiently nursed our princess back to health.
Then came the cold days of winter. As the winds grew stronger and stronger, the days grew darker and darker, until there was almost no sun during the days. The penguins could see that Inneje’s fate was growing dim.
Finally the day when Enyal was well, the explorer packed his boat for the long cold journey to his home. He tried to power the boat past the giant ice bergs that now littered the bay by the great herd of penguins, but it was no use. The maze of ice proved too difficult to maneuver. Frustrated and cold he returned to his hut for a few days.
Over the next days, he would try again and again to work his way through the ever increasing ice bergs. But every attempt was met with greater and greater despair. The penguins, because they spent so much time swimming amongst the ice bergs knew of a safe path out of the bay, but try as they might to lead the explorer, he could not understand. Day after day the penguins would leave dead fish floating in the icy waters as a path, but the currents would toss them quickly away. Often times the penguins would squawk at Inneje, but he only would look up for a moment and go back to his task of maneuvering the boat. The penguins realized that Inneje would not survive if he didn’t leave soon, even our trick of gathering in huge herds around him to share our warmth was not enough to save this man.
When all seemed lost a voice was heard softly through the gusting winds. A comforting voice of solemn beauty. A voice that seemed to pierce the explorers’ heart and beckoned him to follow. Inneje climbed out of his hut for the last time and entered his boat.
The darkness of winter and the wind blown snow made it almost impossible to see what lay ahead for the explorer but that singing captured his soul as he pushed out into the darkness. It seemed that Antarctica would not let the man go without a fight for the winds became more and more intense, but as the winds increased the voice of comfort pierced the gales. None of the penguins knew from whence the voice came, but all stood quietly as the explorer disappeared into the fog. Eventully the voice too faded away into the distance, soon the voice and the man were gone completely.
It was then that Chim and Naivive noticed that Enyal was gone. The entire herd went on alert, they searched for many days but Enyal was nowhere to be found.
Finally on the fifth day of searching, one of the penguins noticed a slow moving ball of ice covered feathers on a distance ice berg—it was Enyal. As they warmed her with the gathered heat of the entire herd of penguins, her smile again appeared for the herd. But why had she gone? Where had she been? The answer soon came to the delight of the herd as she recalled her story of Inneje’s safe passage to the open sea. He had waved thankfully to the young princess penguin for he now knew that it had been her voice that had led him safely through the maze of dangerous ice bergs and he was on his way home.
The legend lives on today and forever among the explorers of the sea around Antarctica of the beautiful voice of Enyal the penguin princess that brought a man to safety and freedom.
Thank you to my special story consultant Jennifer
© Karl Egbert 2004